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When an upgrade turns out to be a downgrade...

Oliverswing77

New member
Aug 18, 2012
38
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Hi everyone :wave:

First of all I hope this is the correct section to post this... here it goes my story:

The setup I have atm is a 5.1 system which revolves around the Focal 8xx WSE. This particular problem is about the stereo capabilities of the fronts (Focal 816 WSE) driven by a Marantz SR7005 receiver.

I'm literally hating the sound of my Focal 816W SE right now and today I just got reminded why. When I bought the speakers I was very happy with the sound. At that time I was very impressed with how great they sounded driven by my old Denon AVR 1911 receiver and I was relishing getting a even better receiver to get the best out of them. And so I did... got a Marantz SR7005. I listen to electronic music mostly and I loved how the Focals sounded with the Denon when listening to music in 2 channel stereo, clean treble, great clarity and detail with really good dispersion too, an open and detailed midrange and good bass extension but always controlled. They sounded really well balanced and the different frequencies on the tracks used to come out as one. The imaging was great, great dynamics and big scale. When I got the Marantz I was expecting big improvements with music but I got exactly the opposite! Treble and midrange sound veiled and smeared to a point that the imaging is really bad and the upper frequencies stay hanging from the cabinets. If I'm a couple of meters away from the speakers they sound awfull! Even close to them they still sound congested with no sense of scale... can easily locate them as the imaging is really poor. They sound worst than my old BX5, and by much. :(

I've been so disappointed that I started trying to sell my Marantz receiver to get a Denon 3312 thinking that I would get the speakers to sound great again. Today I finally got a pair of 806V which I was planning to use as rears and just out of curiosity I decided to try them out on their own with music. I removed the cables from the 816W SE and connected them onto the 806V. I was stunned when I started listening to some tracks which I'm familiar and with and started hearing that clean open sound which I've been missing since I sold the Denon receiver.

For the first time in a while I can sit on the computer which is right next to the opposite wall to where the speakers are and be able to hear a clean balanced sound instead of boomy bass and veiled high frequencies.

So in the end I'm left with two choices. Or I sell the 816 and replace them with one of the floorstanders (I'd hate doing this as I used to love the sound of them initially and I paid £900 for them just a month ago roughly) or I sell the receiver and get a Denon instead but the risky bit is that I don't know whether the 3312 (or any other Denon for that matter) would make the speakers sound more like the way they did with the 1911 or with the Marantz.

Would really appreciate any input, all the best ;)
 

Theo

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2011
16
1
18,525
You don’t mention your room size. Anyway, I don't have direct experience with ANY of the models you mentioned but something about your post rings the bell so I thought of writing a few thoughts.

Reading reviews on the web on the 806 and 816, there is one aspect that jumps out straight away which is that the 806s are supposed to work well in smaller rooms vs 816s needing a good amount of space to breathe. And some reviews say that 816s tend to become harsh and lean ( a kind of loudness that’s not to everyone’s taste ) with down-to-earth hifi as opposed to hi-end separates. Here is an extract taken from whathifi review of the SR7005; "Hefty midrange is an issue, It's the midrange, and consequently the centre speaker, that proves most problematic. There's an undeniable thickening of low-midrange/upper-bass frequency information, which stifles transparency and hampers dynamic subtleties. This rather muscle-bound approach to dialogue spoils an otherwise well-judged tonal balance and impacts negatively on the overall agility of the sound. Plus it leaves the SR7005 palpably more difficult to match to speakers than the best of its rivals"

So my analysis of your story is that your Denon AVR 1911 would have driven the speakers at a "safe" well-rounded operating point. The Marantz SR7005 is perhaps trying to be more aggressive and detailed but not quite up to the expectations of the 816. I know this is a vague, non-technical way of looking at it but I am deliberately avoiding the usual audiophile jargon as I have not had firsthand experience with the speakers or receivers you mention.

I guess you have several options - go for a receiver with more authority and control so that the 816 reach their best potential, second option would be to replace your 816s with one that works well in your room. You also have a third option of going for a receiver with a less-forward presentation, in my experience, speakers with metal dome drivers need careful matching to avoid them sounding harsh. Either way, it seems this is a classic case of component mismatch and does not necessarily point to one component as the culprit. Perhaps someone with more direct experience with these receivers can comment. The only suggestions I have are:

1. Try experimenting repositioning the speaker a bit more.
2. If the 816s can be bi-wired, I would try doing so with some good LCOFC cable, minimal length
3. Have you experimented with speaker toe-in angle (tilt) ?
4. Check if you can get a fiend to bring over another receiver
5. If you decide to get another receiver, try demoing with your exact speakers and similar room size first
 

Oliverswing77

New member
Aug 18, 2012
38
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0
Thank you for the input Theo. I tried moving the speakers around and they definitely sound better really close to the wall. The midrange comes out quite a bit more and better. Too far from the walls and they sound even more lost. With the Denon the soundfield was wider at the front and the sound was better dispersed. The sound across the frequencies was more balanced while now there's too much emphasis to the bass which is very noticeable when I'm sitting across the room listening to music. Also there are a few tracks on the 'Henry Saiz- Balance vol. 19' cd which are midrange heavy and there is a coloration to the midrange that really gets annoying at high volumes. Maybe the Marantz is great for music but not the one that I listen to.

I was thinking of trying a more forward sounding receiver, maybe the Yamaha RX A1010 or another Denon but I don't know which one would keep the tonality of the Denon AVR 1911 while improving on it.

Anyway, this is leaning more and more towards the AV receiver territory so if a moderator could move this into the correct section I would appreciate.

Thanks :)
 

andrew_cawood

New member
Nov 13, 2011
34
0
0
I've got a Marantz SR6006 and I had to play around with the settings a lot to get the sound right - e.g. are you using Pure Direct? What size have you set your front speakers to (large or small)? For music I have 2.1 set up, but there were also many sub settings on the receiver to play with, I assume you're not involving the sub with those speakers?
 

ear

New member
Aug 24, 2008
118
0
0
i really hated a marntz pm4001 i had for a brief time.no ability at all to drive large speakers.
 

Oliverswing77

New member
Aug 18, 2012
38
0
0
Hi Andrew, I tried different settings and no luck. I listen to music in Pure direct and to my ears the music with the Denon 1911 sounded much better. Really punchy and imaging and clarity was more my type. The sound was more balanced and I could play music loud without it getting fatiguing. Some people might think is crazy but it's very true... to my ears at least. I'd like to experiment with either the Denon AVR 3312, 2313 or a Yamaha RX A1010 but I'm worried that the Denons I mentioned might be warmer sounding than the old 1911. Apparently the Yamaha is slightly brighter than the Denon and for what I can gather by reading the review here it has that open sound that I'm looking for but I'm not sure. If I knew of a receiver which could make my Focals sound as good with music as they did with the 1911 while maintaining the great surround processing and LFE with movies I would snatch it without hesitating.

Thanks everyone ;)
 

ISAC69

New member
Mar 13, 2012
73
0
0
ear said:
i really hated a marntz pm4001 i had for a brief time.no ability at all to drive large speakers.
I think that your Focal speakers needs a lot of power to fulfill their full potential , receiver can't do it only a decent

integrated amp dedicated to music .
 

Oliverswing77

New member
Aug 18, 2012
38
0
0
ISAC69 said:
ear said:
i really hated a marntz pm4001 i had for a brief time.no ability at all to drive large speakers.
I think that your Focal speakers needs a lot of power to fulfill their full potential , receiver can't do it only a decent

integrated amp dedicated to music .
I really don't think that is the main problem. The Focal 816WSE are fairly easy to drive. The entry level Denon receiver I had before wasn't any more powerful than the Marantz and music sounded amazing in stereo. I think it has more to do with the sound characteristics of the receiver. The Marantz SR7005 has that warm, laidback sound which makes the Focals look like they're playing music for themselves, instead of playing for people in the room. Driven by my old Denon the speakers used to project the music across the room more effortlessly. After reading the review of the Yamaha RX-A1010 it sounds like it might be the kind of receiver that would help opening the things up a bit.

I definitely will try an external amp in the future seeing that the receiver has pre outs but I would like something that can act as a power amp most of the times but can also in some occasions be used to add some different (hopefully better) flavour to the sound. Does anyone know what units should i keep an eye out for?

Thanks for the input so far :)
 

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