B&W CDM 1 SE and ARCAM sounds HARSH, WHY>?


Bronze Member
Username: Stifa

Post Number: 32
Registered: Jun-04
So my systemis as follows:
Arcam Alpha 8r integrated
Arcam alpha 9p power amp
Arcam alpha 8 CD Player
VanDenHul CS-122 speaker cable with D-102 mk3 interconnects

Sound has brutal resolution and dynamics but it is hard on the ears , highs are harsh ,
It lacks a bit of warmth too.

What is the problem? should I change to new cables and which?

Bronze Member
Username: Stu_pitt

NYC, NY Pakistan

Post Number: 78
Registered: May-05
Cables influencing sound is a huge can of worms. I would say it is probably your room. Things like hardwood floors, no curtains on windows, lack of furniture (especially softer furniture like couches) can all make the sound very harsh or bright. If this is the case there is not enough stuff around to absorb the sound, and it is basically bouncing around everywhere.

To put it in perspective - remember the last time you moved. When you went to see an empty house/apartment (especially with hardwood floors) what did it sound like in there? Voices echo and sound different, you can hear every little step someone takes, and so on.

Not that I'm a room acoustics expert by any means, but I think the room is just as important, if not even more important than the stereo system itself. The "perfect" system in the living room could sound horrible in the kitchen.

New member
Username: Cousin_it

Post Number: 8
Registered: May-05
I agree with Stu, I used to have an Alpha 8R/8P combo and Alpha 7 CD player powering a pair of KEFs, and I found the sound pretty smooth. Arcam's motivation back then was to tame "the digital" sound with their Alpha gear. Like my old KEFs, I would imagine the B&Ws would be a good match, so that leaves the room.

Silver Member
Username: Frank_abela

Berkshire UK

Post Number: 557
Registered: Sep-04

What volume do you tend to play the system? If it's higher than about 12 o'clock on the volume dial, then you're going beyond what the Arcam can cope with. The CDM series of speakers were quite a 'lazy' set of speakers to get going so it was always tempting to push them to get them motoring.

Are you biamping with the output of stage of the 8R as well as the 9? If so, you may wish to try NOT doing this. It's strange I know, but try plugging in the speaker cables to just the 9. Let the 8R take care of the preamp duties with no load. This may sweeten the sound.

How big is the room? If it is big, then the system may simply not be big enough to drive it. Let us know.

I am not a fan of vdh cables, but I don't think this is the root cause of your problem. As the others here have said, the Arcam is a smooth and - if anything - a warm sounding combination. For it to sound harsh, it's more likely having problems driving the speakers...


Bronze Member
Username: Stifa

Post Number: 34
Registered: Jun-04
Room is 3 by 6 meters, and my volume is around 8 to 9 o'clock all the time.

If I get Classe CAP-100 and drive it with a descman or a cheap dvd-player will I get better or same sound?
Classe is said to be better than Arcam but then I have no doe for CD Player.

Should I consider acoustic treatments?

Gold Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 1140
Registered: Jan-05
There isnt enough info to make any comment.

Is the house fully furnished with drapes hanging etc, etc, etc.

Its a given that if the room is empty and echoing, it will sound awful.

Bronze Member
Username: Oknessad

Post Number: 78
Registered: May-04
I can attest to room treatments making all the difference. Its amazing to me how many people completely neglect the idea. To me it is important enough that I have done the 30% coverage rule on most of my walls and have a couple bass traps in the corners. I still have a couple of pretty bad room nodes but have tamed what looked like a pretty bad response. I suggest trying hanging up a big blanket behind the speakers first to see if that offers you anything. If so, usually more is better to a point. There are lots of great articles on here about room acoustics and methods. Let us know what you decide on. I'd like to hear the before and after.
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