System sounds too polite on rock music

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Hi All

I have the following system: Marantz Pearl CD and amplifier with Esoteric MG20 speakers wired up with Chord Epic twin speaker cable and Chord Anthem 2 interconnect.

With acoustic, blues, jazz, vocal music etc. I would do the Pepsi challenge with any other system: it has the "it can't get better than this" factor.

But the problem is the system just doesn't rock! Put on some Led Zeppelin or Pearl Jam and it sounds too polite! The dilemma I have is do I add a sub woofer or two or bite the bullet and admit the speakers just don't do it for me. It's quite difficult to hear a selection of speakers here in the Netherlands and it seems home demos are not encouraged.

I would prefer to have speakers (without the problem of subs) that sound good and dynamic at all volumes and on all types of music (maybe impossible?) and would like your thought on something like ATC SCM50SL AT using the Pearl as a pre-amp or the KEF Reference range.

The room is quite large so plenty of room for big floor-standers!

Thanks
 

ID.

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Feb 22, 2010
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My initial thoughts are that the fault might lie with the source and amp, but then again, I've ony listened to the MG10s and only know the MG20s by reputation. I wonder whether the Marantz are enough for the speakers.

From your post I'm not sure what it is you are looking for. You say more dynamics/something less polte but your comments about subs make me think you are looking for a warmer/bassier sound. A bit more bass oomph. My experience with Esoteric's speakers is that they are very fast and dynamic, but very neutral and transparent (not overly polite by any measure), so they might seem lean to many people, and you might be left wanting more bass extension and more bass (quantity), particularly in a large room.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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I think that your idea of the Kef Ref is a good one, and may well give you what you're after - I would say that as I own the 205/2.

It seems to be very versitile....accurate enough for classical; realistic enough for acoustic/blues/vocal etc; enough "bite" for Rock; and exciting enough for AV.

I listened to the 203/2, but for me, it needed more bass.....with the right amp, the 205/2 almost sounded like they had a sub. I could never have settled with the 203 having heard them.

Even though the 207/2 were out of reach, I also gave them a listen. They were even more impressive, but I felt the 205s gave 85% of the sound for 60% of the cost.....ie IMO. This is the sweetspot ot the range (David of F.Harvey will also be able to give you his view).

I'm not familiar with your Marantz, but I suspect it would be an excellent match, provided the amp has enough current......definately worth a demo.

The ATC is rightly on your list, but for me it's the Kef's all the way.

Regards

Cno
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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never heard any of kefs higher end speakers, so can't comment. but having recently made the change to active, i will never buy passive speakers again.
 

WishTree

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May 18, 2010
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zekezebra said:
But the problem is the system just doesn't rock! Put on some Led Zeppelin or Pearl Jam and it sounds too polite!
Are you already convinced that the amp + source are upto your definition of rocking? The reason why I say is this, I have lived with Marantz gear all through the x00x range till 11S1 and strangely but honestly they are shy to the extent of feeling clinical in case of 11S1 and 8003 for example feels a little muddy..

So far Pearl Lite is the best Value for Money and if I have to buy Marantz then that will be it.. But.. I have other options in the market.. Like Roksan or Audiolab for example..

Adding a sub will add heft in the bottom and make it a little more heavy.. but Rock, I believe, needs a very high resolution and timing needs be perfect!
 

TheHomeCinemaCentre

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Oct 1, 2008
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The amp is more than likely the issue here. The KI Pearl equipment is very good but it wont grab your attention with rock. The Marantz will not have the grunt to make the most of the KEF's. I am not sure a sub will give you what you are looking for. More bass for sure but you still wont get the impact and bite it sounds like you are after.

As an easy start I would swap out the Chord Anthem and then if you cant get that to work look to a new amplifier.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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Reading this review here ( http://www.stereophile.com/content/esoteric-mg-20-loudspeaker-page-2 ), it seems that rock might not be their strong point, but shouldn't be disappointing. I have no experience of the speakers at all, but can only make a recommendation based on speakers of a similar price point. Most high quality speakers, while they don't really need a vast amount of power to be driven, will usually require more stable amplification that can provide big dynamic swings. Speakers like this like to be grabbed by the scruff of the neck and ordered what to do - cut them any slack and they'll start misbehaving.

While I agree that the KEF Reference range will bring about the sort of sound you seem to be after (it's open to interpretation), they definitely need the right amplification in order to produce the sort of sound they've been designed to. I would assume that the same would go for your Esoterics - so first I'd recommend trying a few amplifiers with them so you can see what sort of difference an amplifier can make. Don't be scared of trying something out of your price range - the KEF 205/2's, for me, work their best on the end of a Bryston 4Bsst2 - other amps will drive them, but not necessarily make them sing. At least if you try your speakers on an amplifier that does drive them properly, you'll know what they can (and should) sound like, and give you something to aim towards. This may also decide for you whether the speaker really is what you want.

Give your speakers a chance first, but be prepared to invest in a nice beefy amplifier.
 

lindsayt

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Apr 8, 2011
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Zekezebra, I think you're quite correct in pointing the finger of blame at the Esoteric MG-20's.

Those twin 6.5" bass units in a ported box will only give you craptastic bass. The frequency response of those units falls off a cliff below 100hz. You get a bit of port noise from 20hz to 100hz - but this is a few dbs below the output from 100hz upwards.

I'm not surprised they sound great with jazz, blues, acoustic music but not so good with rock. After all, in a 4 piece rock band half the musicians are the bass guitarist and drummer. If your speakers can't play below 100hz properly then they can't play half the band properly. I find that lean speakers like the Esoterics sound really uninvolving with rock and pop music.

The good news is that there are speakers that should be at least as good as the Esoterics for jazz and acoustic stuff whilst also being far better for rock. The other good news is that you've got a proper sized room for proper size speakers. And even more good news is that speakers I'm thinking of should cost you less than what you can sell the Esoterics for.

There's quite a few speakers that would be good candidates for you, including:

Horn hybrids such as: Altec Model 19's, EV Sentry III's, JBL 4435's.

Big sealed boxes such as: Bozak Concert Grands or Symphonys.

Some people love the active ATC 50's. I think they're great at medium to loud volumes for acoustic and electric guitars. For averagely well recorded rock I find them a bit uninvolving, a bit lacking in bass impact. I also find them a bit flat and undynamic at lower volumes. If you want a fuss free amp and speaker combination, active ATC's are a good solution.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks all for the input. David are you saying that the marantz Pearl would not be up to driving something like KEF 205/2's?

If I did try a Bryston power amp could I use the Pearl as a pre-amp as a stop gap, I know this is possible.

As an aside has anyone got any experience of Aerial Acoustics Model 9 speakers?
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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David's link about your speakers was an interesting read.

I also think you should try a different amp before giving up on your speakers, but my recomendation would take you in a different direction.

Normally I don't just recommend what I own, but in this case I believe it would do justice to all genres of music, give tremendously deep bass, while also working with your speakers.

The amp I'm referring to is the Musical Fidelity AMS35i full Class A. Don't let the 35w put you off (when I turn it on, my lights dip); it sounds more like 200w, and keeps doubling it's power as the ohms halve. There's a good review on the MF website (follow the links), and it's HFW's integrated amp of the year.

This amp runs hot and draws a lot of current from the wall (330w), so if this is a problem, then look else where. Aside from that, IMO it is one of the best sounding amps under £10k and a must demo. It can drive my Kefs (which fall to 3.2 ohms) in a large room, to loud volumes.
I've also heard it driving Focal Scala Utopias without problem.

Just throwing out another option for you to mull over.

Regards

Cno
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I recently had a chance to audition some Chord Epic with my setup and found that it produced quite a heavy, laid-back sound. Perhaps it might be worth replacing yours to see if it makes any difference?
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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ChesterG said:
I recently had a chance to audition some Chord Epic with my setup and found that it produced quite a heavy, laid-back sound. Perhaps it might be worth replacing yours to see if it makes any difference?
If that is the case, try to find some Telurium Q cable to demo (very fast, clear & neutral sound). It is always worth a shot, but I suspect the problem is deeper. Also in my system, mains cables had a positive effect.

Cno
 
zekezebra said:
Hi All

I have the following system: Marantz Pearl CD and amplifier with Esoteric MG20 speakers wired up with Chord Epic twin speaker cable and Chord Anthem 2 interconnect.

With acoustic, blues, jazz, vocal music etc. I would do the Pepsi challenge with any other system: it has the "it can't get better than this" factor.

But the problem is the system just doesn't rock! Put on some Led Zeppelin or Pearl Jam and it sounds too polite! The dilemma I have is do I add a sub woofer or two or bite the bullet and admit the speakers just don't do it for me. It's quite difficult to hear a selection of speakers here in the Netherlands and it seems home demos are not encouraged.

I would prefer to have speakers (without the problem of subs) that sound good and dynamic at all volumes and on all types of music (maybe impossible?) and would like your thought on something like ATC SCM50SL AT using the Pearl as a pre-amp or the KEF Reference range.

The room is quite large so plenty of room for big floor-standers!

Thanks
Hi zekezebra

Did you listen to any of your components individually or as a system before you bought them? If so, then at the time did you also listen any other components/systems? Any of these systems rock?

What other electronics and speakers are available for you to audition locally?

Are you willing to travel beyond the Netherlands to audition components/systems?

For an alternative amplifier to your Marantz would you prefer an integrated, pre/power or either will do?

In addition to a sub/pre out connections are there any features/facilities you would also like a new amplifier to have (remote control, mp3 input, phono stage, tone controls, headphone socket etc.)?

Distance between the speakers?

Is the room lightly or heavily furnished?

Room floor (concrete, carpeted, wooden etc.)?

Your listening distance?

Your overall budget?

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Are you sure the referred rock CDs are well recorded? Most rock CDs are recorded with compressed dynamics. That'll procuce a lean flat sound. "Rubish in, rubish out"!

The truth is, there're just a few rock CDs with audiophile quality. Before you take a definitive conclusion make sure about the quality of CDs.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hi All and Rick

I did hear the system as a whole before I bought it but maybe not on all types of music. As stated before: if I listen to something like Rickie Lee Jones on my system it sounds fantastic, it's only when I ask it to rock it then sounds a bit flat and unexiting.
I can always, and probably will, come to the UK to audition new alternatives. Room is lightly furnished and distance between speakers is about 2.5 meters. I dont't really have a preference between integrated or pre/power but if I go for the latter I would hope to use the Pearl as a stop-gap pre and add a dedicated pre later. Budget is, to a certain extent, open.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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I always use Rage Against The Machine's self titled album to test a system's abilities with, shall we say, 'noisier music'. Even though it's very well recorded for it's genre, it's finesse and fine detail are lost on lesser systems. If the system sounds polite or 'so so' with this album, it gets no further in my book! :)
 

ID.

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Feb 22, 2010
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CnoEvil said:
ChesterG said:
I recently had a chance to audition some Chord Epic with my setup and found that it produced quite a heavy, laid-back sound. Perhaps it might be worth replacing yours to see if it makes any difference?
If that is the case, try to find some Telurium Q cable to demo (very fast, clear & neutral sound). It is always worth a shot, but I suspect the problem is deeper. Also in my system, mains cables had a positive effect. Cno
As much as I'm a believer in mains and speaker cables (Oyaide Tunami mains and speaker cable brough that extra bit of bass and warmth I was looking for in my system), from what I've heard of the Esoteric speakers, I don't think cables are going to bring enough of a change. Then again, if you can trial them for free, no harm in giving it a go.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Thanks to all for the input. I think the suggestion of a beefier amplifier is a good start. I guess I could try something like the Bryston 4BSST2 and use the Pearl as a pre-amp and later (when funds permit) add the matching pre-amp.

David: you are correct about Rage Against The Machine, it's a bit more minor complaint against the machine on my system at the moment!

When the amplification is right then go for new speakers. I will of coarse listen to a target system before making any firm plans.
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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There's nothing wrong with trying the Marantz as a pre, but do be aware, like a few people who have borrowed a 4Bsst2 power amp recently to try on their AV systems to drive the front pair - some find the Bryston reveals shortcomings of their system, which is due to the pre-amplifier quality of their AV receiver. It's still en eye opener though!
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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FrankHarveyHiFi said:
I always use Rage Against The Machine's self titled album to test a system's abilities with, shall we say, 'noisier music'. Even though it's very well recorded for it's genre, it's finesse and fine detail are lost on lesser systems. If the system sounds polite or 'so so' with this album, it gets no further in my book! :)
There's no doubt that the preamp stamps it's signature on the sound (eg. using a tube pre).
I also agree that it is often the pre amp that can hold a system back.

The only caution that I have, is that you don't loose what you like about your system now ie. change it's bias, so it now sounds good on Rock, but loses it's magic with the rest. If you had to choose, which is more important to you?

The reason that I mentioned the AMS35i is IMO it seems to do both....it is not overly warm, just incredibly clear with lightening fast dynamics, that digs up remarkable levels of detail and with timing that is spot on.

I think the Bryston is "a must listen", but not the "only listen".

Sorry to keep banging on, it's just I feel strongly that this is a special amp that shouldn't be dismissed lightly.

I'll shut up now and wish you luck with your search.

Cno
 
zekezebra said:
Hi All and Rick

I did hear the system as a whole before I bought it but maybe not on all types of music. As stated before: if I listen to something like Rickie Lee Jones on my system it sounds fantastic, it's only when I ask it to rock it then sounds a bit flat and unexiting.
I can always, and probably will, come to the UK to audition new alternatives. Room is lightly furnished and distance between speakers is about 2.5 meters. I dont't really have a preference between integrated or pre/power but if I go for the latter I would hope to use the Pearl as a stop-gap pre and add a dedicated pre later. Budget is, to a certain extent, open.
Hi zekezebra

Thanks for your reply.

If you wish to remain with a passive system then in the first instance you should look at alternative amplification. Yes, use the Marantz as a pre amplifier and consider power amplifiers such as the Plinius P10 or the SA103. Tonally i have found these amplifiers to be balanced and (amongst their other qualities) have zest, are very fluid, extremely fast (without being cold or clinical) with excellent depth and weight throughout the range. The P10 and the SA103 have much greater reserves and quality of power (partially due their ability to deliver high current output) which will help control, grip and propel the speakers far more effectively regardless of listening levels. At a later stage a Plinius M8 pre amplifier should be used to further open the performance potential of these power amplifiers. If the Plinius amplification is to your liking then at a later on look at changing the speakers then followed by the cd player. Speakers such as ATC's SCM40 monitors, Dynaudio's Contour S 3.4's or Monitor Audio's PL200's and source components such as Chord Electronics QBD76 or Plinius CD101 are worth bearing in mind.

ATC SCM50ASL active monitors certainly an interesting alternative route and offer excellent VFM. Their resolving abilities by laying everything bare (from the quality of the recordings, source component/s and pre amplification) is just superb. Ime ATC active monitors are particularly critical about the pre amplifier which they are used with. In the interim the Marantz will be fine however ATC's CA2 or their Reference SCA2 pre amplifiers are the most suitable partners. Fwiw, i use SCM100ASL Profesional monitors with SCA2 and QBD76 and i've yet to hear a passive system better this.

Btw, your room floor is (concrete, carpeted, wooden, etc.)?

All the best

Rick @ Musicraft
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Hi All

Once again thanks for the input. I also have a Benchmark DAC which can be used as a pre-amp so I could also try this together with a power amp as an alternative.

I guess I bought the Pearl pair on a bit of an impulse as they just loooked so damn sexy. The dealer suggestion at the time was LFD which looked (and is I belive) as if it was built on a kitchen table. I guess the (expensive) lesson here is buy in haste repent in leisure!!

As for speakers: I would much rather get the sound I am looking for from a set up without using seperate sub woofers and the integration problems that they can introduce.
 

jerry klinger

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Jun 26, 2010
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I don't think the culprit is the Pearl CD player because I recently tried the cheaper CD6003 in my Naim system (!!) and it sounded superb and definitely rocked! I suspect the speaker/amp combo, always a difficult synergy to get right.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
the trait of japanese equipments produce kind of sterile sound, more so with their entry level stuff(it's the japanese way of building up their upscale products, better musicality and quality will cost you, but doesn't mean their entry level is badly built). i am currently using esoteric cd player, and have been working really hard to make the sound more involved and warmer, i've succeeded with cables so far, in case u wanna change cdp or amp, avoid japanese stuff, replace one of your component with European or american equipment will give it a nice balance, like nad or roksan amp is great with rock, tons of details and power to drive the speakers. if u got a lot money to spend, i'd go american amp, like pass, ayre or mcintosh, speaker wise, go with high sensitive ones, though ones i know sound great with rock are JBL, elac, JMlab.

Good luck with that

andy
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I do not know your speakers but I've recently auditioned several amps, among which the Exposure 3010s2. I've never heard an amplifier faster than that, it might give your system what it lacks.

Then again, I thought the amp sounded much too bright and forward for my speakers (Spendor SA1) and my taste. The Marantz equipment I've heard is much less forward in comparison so you might fare better. If you live near Rotterdam I could give you at least one dealer that I've had good experiences with (where I've auditioned the Exposure).
 

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