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Why does my kit sound busy when I listen to Rock.

 

Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 52
Registered: Jul-07
Gentlemen/Women (If there are any in here)

Logitech Squeezebox.
Rega Dac
Bryston BP-26 Pre-Amp.
Bi-amped NAD C272,
Harbeth Super HL5s.

What I am noticing with my current setup is there is a little "busyness" in the high ends when I listen to Rock, that is non-existant when I listen to Jazz/Bluegrass/Country.

Examples of Tunes which are almost irritatingly busy in the mid and high end frequencies

Pink Floyd - Shine on you Crazy Diamond
SuperTramp - Rudy
Moby - South side

These are all very high quality rips... bitrates 1411 wav files and identical in data structure to the samples that sound just awesome.

My question is, Is it just that I am getting greater detail out of my system and it is just highlighting flaws in the recorded source? Or do I need to look at my Amps.. Compared to the rest of the system my feels are that they could do with an upgrade.

Anyway... any and all help is appreciated!
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17178
Registered: May-04
.

Please clarify, "These are all very high quality rips... bitrates 1411 wav files and identical in data structure to the samples that sound just awesome."


As I read that you've played the samples on your system and they sound fine. Is that correct? You have played the samples on your system? However, when you rip from the source and play back on your system, the sound is inferior?

When you say identical in data structure, doesn't that simply mean you assume the stream of ones and zeroes coming from the source to be identical to the sample's data stream? Or, does that some how imply you are capable of comparing the output of the Squeezebox - or more specifically, what is entering the Rega DAC - to the original sample's data stream?

Jitter or clocking errors would certainly contribute to a sense of something amiss. What cable are you using to connect the computer to the Squeezebox and the Squeezebox to the DAC?


Also, please try to define "busyness" in more specific terms.

Would you say you are listening to the rock albums at a similar volume level when compared to the jazz/bluegrass?

What sort of speaker set up procedure and room treatment process have you used to get things right before you beging changing out equipment?



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Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 53
Registered: Jul-07
So the files I believe are fine..created a while ago and well listened to on my older speakers. (Paradigm Studio 60s v2.0). They sounded great on the Paradigms. The sound ONLY seems to have appeared with the new speakers (Harbeths) .

"When you say identical in data structure" Correct... The 1 and 0 are I assume idenitical.

Interconnects = Van Der Hul D - 300 III HYBRID between the Squeezebox and DAC and DAC to PRE

Busyness... The Mid and High range seems to have lost all its clarity, it is flat with little definition. It is hard to deferentiate between the various instruments and they become non distinct.

Volumes..I do tend to listen to rock a little louder, but with the new speakers it seems to have evened out at a lower level. So I would say I am listening at the same level for the various genres.

Speaker Setup Procedure? Not sue I know what you mean.. but if u mean how are they wired. They are Bi-wired.

Room treament.. limited.. Largish room (20x34) Hardwood Floors with Oriental Carpets, Some Plants, Speakers awaya from walls as spec'd by Manufacturer.
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 3697
Registered: Jun-07
To add to Jan's question, what software are you using to Rip the music into uncompressed WAV format?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 54
Registered: Jul-07
Powerdb
 

Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 55
Registered: Jul-07
Sorry... Poweramp
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17179
Registered: May-04
.

"Speaker Setup Procedure? Not sue I know what you mean.. but if u mean how are they wired. They are Bi-wired."


No, sorry, I meant how have you gone about setting the speakers up within the environment of the room. There are several loudspeaker set up procedures which result in a balanced output from the speakers within any given space. Merely establishing the speakers away from the wall isn't quite the degree of precision the Harbeths require IMO.

http://www.tnt-audio.com/casse/waspe.html

Your room, though large, reads as if it might be rather lively. The varying dispersion patterns of the Harbeths vs the Paradigms should require some set up differences and some adjustments to room treatments - which you don't have any of.




"They sounded great on the Paradigms. The sound ONLY seems to have appeared with the new speakers (Harbeths) ."



Only with the new speakers? For real? Only with the new speakers? I think the Harbeths are far too much speaker for the NAD but then the Harbeths are more speaker than the entire system requires or should be paired to IMO. You've placed very high resolution speakers on the end of a moderately good system. Now the speaker is doing what you've asked of it, it's showing you the result of pairing it with electronics more suited to the Paradigms. The Pink Floyd and the Supertramp are 40 and 35 year old analog recordings - not that I find anything magical about digital but there are restrictions to what a 40 year old rock recording can manage as far as sound quality goes. What the Paradigms couldn't show you, the Harbeths can. But I've heard the remastered PF and it should sound reasonably good on a well put together system. I would here point out the Harbeths are not the Paradigms and I assume that's one reason you bought the Harbeths. The Paradigms would, I suspect, sound more "exciting" and more emphatic than the Harbeths. Where the Paradigms have some punch and a bit of sizzle, the Harbeths are more polite about what they show. It's just that they are not necessarily ready to gloss over the imperfections being fed to them either from the recording or the electronics.

My first impression is you're hearing the result of too much speaker for the system. The interconnects are - correct me if I'm wrong - still an entry level ic. I assume the speaker cables are also better suited to the Paradigms. The Squeezebox and the DAC would be fine for a speaker at about half the price of the Harbeths. The pre amp is nice but still outclassed by the speakers. How would you describe the system with which you auditioned the Harbeths? Better than what you presently own?

What about speaker stands? What are you using? The Harbeth stands are pricey. Did you go for them or something lower priced? Are the stands spiked? How are the speakers attached to the stand?

Have you tried single wiring the speakers?

What have you tried to remedy the problem other than consider a new power amp?




.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17182
Registered: May-04
.

John, if that link to the speaker set up procedure doesn't work, try this; http://www.sensusaudio.com/loudspeakersetup.html
 

Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 56
Registered: Jul-07
re Room Setup... Thanks, this make sense and I may be able to do some the stuff with out getting divorced.

"Only with the new speakers? For real?"

Yup! The sound as far as I as I can tell did not appear to exist or was "hidden" from me.

"You've placed very high resolution speakers on the end of a moderately good system "

You are correct... I have done that as part of my plan improve the overall kit. Specifically, when I picked the Harbeths to replace the Paradigms, it was with the intention of cycling thur the entire system over the next few years replacing and upgrading the entire kit.

"My first impression is you're hearing the result of too much speaker for the system. The interconnects are - correct me if I'm wrong - still an entry level ic. I assume the speaker cables are also better suited to the Paradigms. "

This seems to contradict what the Manufacturer has recommended.. at least wrt the Speaker cabling. Harbeth recommends QED 79 strand Cable. Which is exactly what I am using.
http://www.harbeth.co.uk/uk/uploadfolder/userguidance.pdf

Re the interconnects.. Hmmm Likely cheaper than a new amp...

I am interested in what you said about the squeezebox and DAC. My thoughts are that the Rega DAC is identical to the DAC used in the Saturn... Which I believe is one of the best CD on the market.

Re the Squeezebox... Does it it really impact the over all system? I am not being argumentative, I am just not really sure there is an impact. My view, it uses the most up to date FLAC codec, that maps direclty to the standards for FLAC. What more can be done? The Squeezebox is literally just the transport, a mechanism for delivering the stream to my DAC, which} does all the heavy lifting.

Anyway Your point is well taken.. I do need to upgrade.. and I understand your approach... Room treatment, Cables... Amps.. Is that correct?

If so... Any recommendations on Cables and Amps I should be investigating?
 

Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 57
Registered: Jul-07
"What about speaker stands? What are you using? The Harbeth stands are pricey. Did you go for them or something lower priced? Are the stands spiked? How are the speakers attached to the stand? "

Harbeth Stands as recommended by Manu

Stands for Harbeth have to options Spikes or Rounded Crowns. I used the crowns as I have hardwood floors...

Attached to Stands with BlueTak

One thing I did finds that is interesting.. Is they suggest that their is a resonance Issue with the Harbeth Stands.. Harbeth and others have suggested filling the stands with Kitty Litter or Expanding foam as a way to reduce the resonance from the stands.. I will be trying !
 

Gold Member
Username: Nickelbut10

Post Number: 3698
Registered: Jun-07
John, in my experience, transport does matter. Therefore the squeezebox IMO does make an impression. Good or bad.

Jan is right, the jump from Paradigms to Harbeths could account for a major issue. May I also point out you have a sub 3K Bryston pre amplifier which really shows what is slapped behind it for amplification, which is the 272's? Also you have a rega DAC. Rega IMO goes with Bryston, which goes with NAD like Oil and Water. YOu have nice stuff, but IMO its poorly put together. Big time. Thats not an insult to you at all, just trying to help. What the Harbeths are now doing, is showing you the system for what it is.

The Bryston Pre amp is definitely the top notch component in your setup minus the speakers. Would I build a system around that pre amp? Absolutely. Would I build a Bryston system to go with the Harbeths? Absolutely NOT. I hate to throw a Brand 'naim' out there, as everyones preferences are different. Your room should be the first thing you look at, but when you do get to re-building your system to match with the Harbeths, Naim comes to mind for me. Naim separates. A system like that wont come cheap, but thats the level of synergy the Harbeths are looking for IMO.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17183
Registered: May-04
.

"This seems to contradict what the Manufacturer has recommended.. at least wrt the Speaker cabling. Harbeth recommends QED 79 strand Cable. Which is exactly what I am using.
http://www.harbeth.co.uk/uk/uploadfolder/userguidance.pdf "



This goes first to taste and secondly to your beliefs regarding cables. The QED cables are good, solid and reliable standbys with not much to argue against their selection. And, more to the point, they have been so for several decades. Sort of like owning a good, solid, reliable fifteen year old car with not much to argue against its selection. The only real argument would be whether good, solid, reliable, older technologies are well suited to your goals for your new system. If even those should be your goals, there are other ways to achieve a solidly reliable recommendation in cables. If your intentions are to re-do the entire system, then I would begin thinking about the system holistically - as a whole unit where the cables become a component part of the system. Opinions differ of course but you can find a general agreement amongst the high end cogniscenti regarding what monetary percentage of your system's investment should go to cabling. I would think that most of those estimates would far exceed the cost of the QED 79's even in a biwired configuration. This thought process makes speaker cables a circuitry portion of the amplifier/loudspeaker component and circuit values do influence outcomes.

While the Harbeths are certainly capable of showing you improvements in cabling, the decision to change cables right now is up to you and it's a rather difficult one to make IMO. On the one hand, higher quality cabling than the QED should improve the overall performance of the system right now. On the other hand, which cable will best suit the final system can only be determined by the final system. On yet another hand, auditioning amplifiers with a lesser than ideal quality cable might lead you to a selection in amplifiers which isn't as correct as possible. The QED speaker cables you are using are parallel runs of stranded conductors. This makes the cable somewhat higher in inductance than would a twisted pair or a braided set. Inductance in a circuit can be used to roll off high or low frequency bandwidths depending on how it is placed in the circuit. For example, within the crossover components of your speakers, inductors are used as filters which roll in/out each driver component. I haven't come across the QED cables in ages so I'll admit to not being completely familiar with their sonic signature but my recollection suggests these are cables with a very ... "polite" top end. With that characteristic sound in mind, using these cables to audition amplifiers paired to the Harbeths will lead you towards an amplifier which would possibly be somewhat top heavy with another cabe choice. Yet, holistically, an amplifier with a less emphatic top end but displaying greater resolution to match your new speakers might be your better choice.

If nothing else, I would be asking that any amplifier audition be accompanied by at least a few cable choices to play with. Assuming, that is, you have the opportunity through a reliable dealer to audition your possible choices at home and with your own system.

I would pursue new ic's at this time. Bottle necks in the system are to be removed before you proceed to components further downstream in the system. Assuming the "chain is only as strong as its weakest link" would be the guiding principle here.

To that end, loudspeaker set up is crucial to a good result. The room is the single component most perceived in any system. Should the room be an overriding issue with system performance, then other changes to the chain will likely be swamped by the dominant room characteristics. Should a component or cable strike you as more pleasing in a speaker set up which is less than optimum or a completely untreated room, it could easily be that the specific component is simply playing to the room issues and together they are creating what amounts to a less than ideal sound quality but one that depends on the other for each one's success. Perform a good speaker set up and, if you find the speakers will perform best at a location not well suited to domestic bliss, mark the speaker location with bits of tape or some other discrete marker. Be precise in your set up, with high resolution speakers such as the Harbeths, milimeters count. While the Harbeths are rather large and unwieldly, they can, with the rounded tips on your stands, be moved from location to location for listening purposes. I'll leave it to you to determine what room treatments can be achieved but treating the major points of problems in all rooms is always beneficial. Those would be corners first with an emphasis on tri-corners where more than two surfaces meet. The size of your room certainly works to your advantage here as first reflection points are more easily dealt with. Toeing the Harbeths inward toward your listening position and assuming a more near field listening position (closer to the speakers) will do a large amount of good by minimizing room reflections. Once again, I'll leave it to you to decide but there are room treatments which nowdays operate on far different principles than the standby refrigerator door sized absorption panels which are sure to cause domestic unrest. Unobtrusive in size, they take an opposite aproach to absorbing energy from the room and, instead, use the music's energy to create open, airy sounding results. True, they defy what we commonly accept as "truth" but the results are in the hearing.


The Rega DAC is a very good product by all accounts and could easily be as good as the majority of listeners will ever require. I would only point out the ability of your speakers to reveal those weakest links upstream in the chain. I wouldn't make the DAC your first upgrade but by the time you've settled on the rest of the system and, if you've done the job well, I suspect the Rega will be ready for an exchange also.

Have you experimented with the DAC's various filter settings in your current set up?

Arguing the merits of a source with no moving parts which only shuttles 1's and 0's across the board is rather dfficult in that this again goes to your beliefs in the sanctity of digital playback. For the "bits is bits" crowd all digital is perfectly capable of recreating bit perfect samples. For those who delve further into digital playback jitter, clocking errors, error correction circuits, aliasing artifacts, etc. are areas to be addressed and improved upon. These are the areas where improvements in digital playback have had their greatest success over the last three decades. It can certainly be argued effectively that no digital playback can be strictly identical - even from the same source/disc/file - any two times through due to issues related to how digital files are handled.



Dry playground sand on the bottom and litter above the sand are good suggestions for stands. Expanding foam is irreversible and not always well suited to all systems. Dampening the stand though is virtually always the best idea. BluTak vs no BluTak should be a discernible difference with your speakers. While it is commonly accepted that speakers should become a part of the stand through the use of adhesives such as BluTak, don't accept "common knowledge" as the rule. Experiment and determine which you feel is the superior choce. Possibly cones under the speakers will create the sort of musical qualities you personally prefer. The problem with common knowledge, IMO, is it is all too common and not always applicable to the individual. Be aware too that your listening position - most especially the height of your ears relative to the Harbeth's mid/high drivers - will have a tremendous effect on your perception. Inexpensive laser pointers to map out precise locations for speaker/listening positions are quite useful at this point of speaker/chair set up. Toeing in the Harbeths so their high frequency driver's axis crosses slightly behind, exactly at or slightly in front of your head will make for what should be easily noticed alterations in sound quality.

I would experiment with single wiring and even doing away with the "bi-amped" (Does this mean simply two amplifiers, one for each channel? Or, one for each half of the Harbeths frequency band? Or, does this mean you are using active circiutry to split the crossover signals before the speakers?) set up. You've assembled a system of components which could fairly be said to all have a similar sonic signature. While I think this is a much better approach than mixing ying with yang/warm with cool/subjectively musical with strictly analytical and hoping for the best, at times too much of one thing can result in a lack of flavor to the entire recipe. Sliced white bread in a plastic wrapper comes to mind.

Do you have a good dealer who can begin to direct you toward a synergistic system which meets your goals?


I tend to advocate for "priorities" in system building, those musical qualities which are of primary importance to you and which immediately suggest live music is being performed. Getting a handle on which qualities of music are indispensible and which are merely icing on the cake guides many buyers to fewer missteps along the way. Do you regularly listen to live music? Can you create a short list of what would be your priorities in music reproduction? If so, what would those qualities be?




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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17184
Registered: May-04
.


https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/676769.html#POST1946124


https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/672623.html#POST1937065


https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/698793.html#POST1981862





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Bronze Member
Username: Sanio

South Wester... Canada

Post Number: 58
Registered: Jul-07
Thanks Jan...

You have given me a lot to work through and think about. I appreciate the effort...

The advise about room setup, and wholistic approach is IMO bang on.

But I am curious about your comments about bi-amping and single Wiring., mostly because I had not even consider going back to single wiring, until you mentioned it.

I have heard that bi-amping/bi wiring has fallen out of favour and I am wondering what is driving the view?

In my case, the bi amp configuration is that I have split the frequencies , low and high which I believe is called horizontal bi-amping.

I will have to think about the musical priorities, more specifically, how to communicate what is important to me. "I" know what drives my obsession, I am just not so sure that I can communicate it clearly yet.
For example, I can tell you that the Harbeths sound... (with the exception of the busyness in some rock cuts) significantly better than the paradigms. Where it is most noticiable is on the re-creation of the low end, like a really full body red wine. And this is where I am missing the lexicon. It sounds fuller, more rounded. The high frequencies seem to be tamer but clearer somehow. Less in your face.

Going to live events... I do... mostly jazz and bluegrass and as many out door fesitvals as I can get to. I find rock concerts (as much as I love rock) more about the specticale then the sound, so I tend to avoid these.
 

Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17187
Registered: May-04
.

Let me give you a little help with the wording of your response to musical priorities.

Here is an audio glossary devised by J.G. Holt as the primary writer/reviewer. editor and publisher of Stereophile which be began in the late 1960's. Its intent was to clarify certain words commonly used in reference to both music and the reproduction of music through an electronic medium. This has become a bit of a bugaboo for me lately as I find too many audiophiles who use words that have no specific meaning other than what they have come to regard as their definition of a word. With only a personal meaning to words we lack the ability to convey between ourselves exactly what we mean to say and, therefore, we talk but no one listens - or they listen in their own personal language which is possibly worse than not listening at all. Also the vocabulary of too many audiphiles, IMO, has shrunk to include a very small number of words which are used to describe everything about a component or speaker's performance. "Warm" encapsulates all that some folks need to know about a speaker. "Bright" does the same for any amplifier. "Lacks PRaT" rules out many components for some while igniting a flame of, "That's stupid, gear doesn't have PRaT", in others. All of those miss, first, that audio equipment is meant to reproduce music and not become a "thing" unto itself. Secondly, most audio gear has numerous subtle characteristics to the reproduction and presentation of music which cannot be entirely described in six words or less.

http://www.stereophile.com/reference/50


The other exercise I have been suggesting of late is to actually spend some time thinking about how various reviewers go about their profession.

Here's how an audio component reviewer describes their experience with a loudspeaker, "When I pushed the AT-1s to higher volumes, that tendency for hardness in the lower treble also flattened out the soundstage in this region, even with such good recordings as Pantha du Prince's This Bliss (CD, Dial CD09), lessening the wonderful illusion of space this recording can otherwise convey ...
The AT-1's bass was as impressive in my room as it had been at CES 2010 not only deep and powerful, but taut and tuneful. More than this, I found the quality of the bass to be more coherent than from most sealed or ported designs, especially as it seamlessly presented low, mid-, and upper bass with a coherence that passed over to the midrange without a blip. Cellos and double basses sounded full and natural, without a bit of that pipe-organ quality that they have through some ported designs, in which certain bass frequencies, usually those at or near the port resonance, have a fatter, looser quality than the rest of the low end."


This would be a music reviewer describing a night of entertainment, "After full-orchestra concerts in Carnegie's main auditorium on Tuesday and Wednesday led by the symphony's visionary music director, Michael Tilson Thomas, Thursday and Friday brought chamber-scale works to Zankel Hall. Amid tremendous variety (the demonic playfulness of Lukas Foss next to the serene loveliness of Meredith Monk; eerie Del Tredici Syzygy, his forbidding 1966 setting of two Joyce poems, sung by the fearless soprano Kiera Duffy followed by convivial Lou Harrison) the musicians were consistently remarkable: fresh, powerful and energetic even at the end of four demanding programs ... Mason Bates's 'Mass Transmission' (2011), scored for organ, chorus (here the Young People's Chorus of New York City) and electronica (a mess of radio static and light-techno beats), was inane schlock, unsatisfying in either its emptily propulsive mood or its cloyingly lyrical one. At least the brilliant organist Paul Jacobs was far better used in Harrison's magnificent 'Concerto for Organ With Percussion Orchestra' (1973), which has the raucous rigor and peaceful canons of a religious service on a much more enjoyable planet."


And here is a performer discussing another performer, "Reflecting on the period later, Dylan explained, 'Woody turned me on romantically. . . . What drew me to [him] was that, hearing his voice, I could tell he was very lonesome, very alone, and very lost out in his time. That's why I dug him. Like a suicidal case or something. It was like an adolescent thing when you need somebody to latch onto, you reach out and latch onto them'."

And, finally, a performer on his own merits, "In a letter to Alan Lomax quoted (with its creative grammar and spelling) by Klein, Guthrie expanded on this thought:
'A folk song is what's wrong and how to fix it, or it could be whose hungry and where their mouth is, or whose out of work and where the job is or whose broke and where the money is or whose carrying a gun and where the peace is, that's folk lore and folks made it up because they seen that the politicians couldn't find nothing to fix or nobody to feed or give a job of work'."



In those four opinions, you should be able to establish a few priorities in music and music reproduction.





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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17188
Registered: May-04
.

"But I am curious about your comments about bi-amping and single Wiring., mostly because I had not even consider going back to single wiring, until you mentioned it.

I have heard that bi-amping/bi wiring has fallen out of favour and I am wondering what is driving the view?"




"The problem with common knowledge, IMO, is it is all too common and not always applicable to the individual."




We can discuss bi-amping and bi-wiring if you'd like but they are topics which are a bit more involved than I have time for today. I would only suggest that you have a reasonable amount of flexibility in how you set up your system with the 272's. Explore what various options provide. Not all amps and certainly not all speakers are created equal and you might find a surprise in your experimentation. You might not, but, if you knew what to expect, it wouldn't be an experiment, would it?



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Platinum Member
Username: Jan_b_vigne

Dallas, TX

Post Number: 17193
Registered: May-04
.

http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue60/hirez.htm
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