Why does my hifi system sound lean?

Status
Not open for further replies.

OllieC

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2021
26
7
45
I bought a hifi system that I've been using for around 5 months. It consists of the following components:

Arcam SA20 integrated amp
Kef LS50 Meta speakers
REL T5X sub
Bluesound Node streamer

I use the DAC of the BS Node and the amp/speakers are connected with some mid-range silver cable. The size of the room is around 5.5m x 4m and it is relatively dampened.

The sound is overall quite lean, which is particularly noticeable at lower volumes - mids and vocals don't have much weight to them and the bass is lacking. When the volume is turned up the bass is fine, but the vocals are still thin.

Any idea what the culprit(s) might be?
 
I bought a hifi system that I've been using for around 5 months. It consists of the following components:

Arcam SA20 integrated amp
Kef LS50 Meta speakers
REL T5X sub
Bluesound Node streamer

I use the DAC of the BS Node and the amp/speakers are connected with some mid-range silver cable. The size of the room is around 5.5m x 4m and it is relatively dampened.

The sound is overall quite lean, which is particularly noticeable at lower volumes - mids and vocals don't have much weight to them and the bass is lacking. When the volume is turned up the bass is fine, but the vocals are still thin.

Any idea what the culprit(s) might be?
Welcome to the forum.
on paper it looks to be a very nice system.
Has it always sounded lean? Did you audition before purchase?
Amps often had a loudness button to resolve some issues when playing at low volumes.
Without wanting to turn this into another cable thread have you tried it with some cheap copper speaker cables?
I haven't heard most of your kit so cannot comment on individual items.
 

OllieC

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2021
26
7
45
Has it always sounded lean?
Amps often had a loudness button to resolve some issues when playing at low volumes.
Without wanting to turn this into another cable thread have you tried it with some cheap copper speaker cables?
Yes it's always sounded this way. I haven't tried any other speaker cables but I have been reading about the perceived differences between cable materials. I think I see what you're saying though - try some cheap copper cables and see what that does to the sound before investing in something pricier (if required)?
 
  • Like
Reactions: Al ears

OllieC

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2021
26
7
45
Welcome to the forum.
on paper it looks to be a very nice system.
Has it always sounded lean? Did you audition before purchase?
Amps often had a loudness button to resolve some issues when playing at low volumes.
Without wanting to turn this into another cable thread have you tried it with some cheap copper speaker cables?
I haven't heard most of your kit so cannot comment on individual items.
I auditioned it without the sub and then added the sub later. When auditioning I didn't notice any lean-ness. I could try listening without the sub for a while and see what that does to the sound.
 

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
221
116
970
Sometimes my system sounds lean also, but it's usually down to what I'm listening to, not the fault of my system.......put on some 90's indie music...lean, lean, lean....fire on some Floyd, well recorded jazz or solo vocals and it soars....just a thought, in case you've not tried lots of different recordings etc..oh and I always stay well clear of silver cable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: aversaurus

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
455
306
19,270
Hi,
Have you tried using the DAC in the amplifier, and changing the filter options ?

The DAC IC in the Bluesound Node will have different filter settings too. Why not try those ?

Also, move the speakers closer to the wall or some other change, such as height ?

Seems to be folly to buy interconnects or different speaker cables to change the sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

OllieC

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2021
26
7
45
Sometimes my system sounds lean also, but it's usually down to what I'm listening to, not the fault of my system.......put on some 90's indie music...lean, lean, lean....fire on some Floyd, well recorded jazz or solo vocals and it soars....just a thought, in case you've not tried lots of different recordings etc..oh and I always stay well clear of silver cable.
Yeah you’re 100% right certain genres or certain recordings sound lean and there are some that sound bang on the money. I just get the feeling the system leans towards lean overall.
Why do you avoid silver cable?
 

OllieC

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2021
26
7
45
Hi,
Have you tried using the DAC in the amplifier, and changing the filter options ?

The DAC IC in the Bluesound Node will have different filter settings too. Why not try those ?

Also, move the speakers closer to the wall or some other change, such as height ?

Seems to be folly to buy interconnects or different speaker cables to change the sound.

Regards,
Shadders.
I haven’t tried the DAC in the amp yet - it’s a good shout. The Node doesn’t have filter options by the looks of it.

I have limited ability to move the speakers - they’re on top of side cabinets either side of a fireplace. I’ve experimented a little with what I can and couldn’t tell much difference (might just be my ears).
 
I haven’t tried the DAC in the amp yet - it’s a good shout. The Node doesn’t have filter options by the looks of it.

I have limited ability to move the speakers - they’re on top of side cabinets either side of a fireplace. I’ve experimented a little with what I can and couldn’t tell much difference (might just be my ears).
Speakers are obviously designed to work best on dedicated stands. Your silver cable probably isn't, more likely silver coated copper.
when you auditioned you say you didn't notice any leaness so you have to try to recreate the set up as you actually auditioned it, simples!
 
  • Like
Reactions: robdmarsh

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
221
116
970
Yeah you’re 100% right certain genres or certain recordings sound lean and there are some that sound bang on the money. I just get the feeling the system leans towards lean overall.
Why do you avoid silver cable?
I used silver anniversary with my arcam kit a while back and it always sounded a bit on the bright side, then I went over to A Naim amplifier and it was just a absolute no no with silver cable, some information just steer clear and use a good quality copper cable,..can't go wrong with linn k20 (aka naim nac a4) can get it on eBay at a decent price..it's not expensive, I use mogami quad core 2972 at present.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
1,448
426
19,570
First, silly question, you haven't bunged the Meta's ports?

Second and most crucial, make sure they're sat absolutely stable on your side cabinets - I now recall with the mk1s that they won't give their best unless firmly placed. Put your hand on top of one speaker - is it easily lifted to one side? They need to be firm and stable - and I suspect this may be the problem.
 

robdmarsh

Well-known member
Jun 28, 2015
445
149
19,070
It doesn't sound right that your system should sound lean - plenty of power in the amp, Metas known for having a meaty sound if fed enough watts, and you have a sub. Does it sound lean with everything or just some material?

My system sounds nice and weighty with most material I play on it, but it can sound lean with material that I think was produced to sound lean, maybe not intentionally so but maybe turned out sounding lean in the final mix.

An example of music sounding surprisingly lean might be Tame Impala's albums which you would think would be weightier as psychedelic tinged dance music. Examples of surprisingly nice full-fat and rich sounding mixes are 50s jazz like Frank Sinatra with big band backing and Brizilian jazz and Bossa Nova. Generally, though, I'm very happy with the overall tonal balance of my amp and speaker combination. My speakers are small like yours but renowned for their lively nature and punchy bass, characteristics which I thought were shared by the Metas. My amplifier is renowned for having a fairly neutral frequency response but for having some warmth in the mid range, again something I thought would be attributes of your Arcam.

Perhaps the Metas are just not a good marriage with the sa20.
 
Ignore the sub. If you cannot get system sounding right without it change the speakers, would be my suggestion.
If it sounds lean a sub isn't going to rectify that at low volume.
another item to note is that the Arcam, at low volumes is essentially operating as a Class A amp and this may be detrimental when trying to drive something like the Metas at that volume level.
perhaps a different amp is required.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
1,448
426
19,570
another item to note is that the Arcam, at low volumes is essentially operating as a Class A amp and this may be detrimental when trying to drive something like the Metas at that volume level.
perhaps a different amp is required.
A class A amp should be better than other amps at lower volume because the current is constant and not fluctuating, so I don't know where you got that notion from.

And the subwoofer settings may well be the problem, because some amps let you adjust the crossover frequency.

My first check would still be to ensure his speakers are stable and firm wherever he's placed them.
 
  • Like
Reactions: robdmarsh

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
109
72
170
This has nothing to do with the gear and everything to do with the placement and setup. Especially if you have a subwoofer involved, there is no reason it shouldn’t be nice and full sounding, your room is not what I consider big at all.

This could be as simple as the subwoofer is out of phase, knocking out the rest of the sound. Or it could be that your simply sitting in a null (from what you discribe this is more than likely) and simply moving your seating position slightly will flesh out the sound.

Until you narrow down these possible problems don’t spend any money. No amount of money will solve a null/phase/timing/ cancellation issue.

You need to tell us more about the room it’s always the room.

edit: does the subwoofer have an auto sensing circuit? When at low volumes the sub might not be registering the input from the amp. Thus not turning the subwoofer on. A 12 volt cable will solve that problem
 
Last edited:

twinkletoes

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2021
109
72
170
another item to note is that the Arcam, at low volumes is essentially operating as a Class A amp and this may be detrimental when trying to drive something like the Metas at that volume level.
perhaps a different amp is required.
Sorry that’s just not true at all. 1 watt will provide what ever db rating it’s quoted ie loud, and if the amp can’t deliver that one watt then it will dip into the rest of its power range to drive the speakers. The arcam has ample.
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
495
222
19,270
Go here https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/ and select a 100Hz tone, keep the volume down so you can hear the tone but it isn't too loud. . Set the crossover for the highest frequency and put your head between the speaker and sub and set the phase switch to the higher volume. Those Kefs don't have much at all in the bass department so leave the crossover set high.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
@Ollie
I bought a hifi system that I've been using for around 5 months. It consists of the following components:

Arcam SA20 integrated amp
Kef LS50 Meta speakers
REL T5X sub
Bluesound Node streamer

I use the DAC of the BS Node and the amp/speakers are connected with some mid-range silver cable. The size of the room is around 5.5m x 4m and it is relatively dampened.

The sound is overall quite lean, which is particularly noticeable at lower volumes - mids and vocals don't have much weight to them and the bass is lacking. When the volume is turned up the bass is fine, but the vocals are still thin.

Any idea what the culprit(s) might be?
Just out of interest, what system did you have before your current bundles?

Couple of points: firstly, when I had the original LS 50s on home demo, they weren't as good at low volumes as my PMCs. I can only put that down to the efficiency of the KEFs as well as the cabinet size. Secondly, they did need a lot of tinkering in terms of placement to hit the sweet spot.

Silver cables shouldn't have much bearing on the depth. Having previously owned Chord Odyssey, the major difference is the 'Silver' can be pick up sibilance.

It just seems to be a number of subtle things that collectively influence a leaner sound
The KEFs need good, heavy stands
 
  • Like
Reactions: manicm
This is nonsense.
Why, do you own one?
"As with Arcam’s two-channel FMJ amplifiers, the SA20 has a Class G hybrid power amp section, which operates in Class A up to 12 Watts then switches in an additional power supply that produces Class B for situations that require greater power. "
Perhaps you have a panacea that will solve all the OPs issues......
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 12th Monkey
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS

Latest posts