Midrange and imaging issues with Vantage

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Nutshell

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Perhaps this is a silly suggestion... But... Do you have very thick cushions on the back of your listening seat, that are very close to your ears while seated?
 

Ziba

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I've been pretty busy the last couple of days, but I finally managed to try the Vantages in another room (the living room), something I never actually tried before. And behold, everything sounds right! I simply hooked the speakers to an AVR using generic speaker cables. I'm not even using an external DAC, just a cable straight from the headphone jack connected directly to the AVR. I'm a little shocked! Voices sound like voices, and imaging is clear!

So, to answer a few questions that were asked in the last few posts:

- There is definitely no phase issue.
- When listening a few inches away from the speakers, there is no nasal issue.
- There is no object located directly behind the listening position in both my main listening room and living. The back wall is located approximately 12' and 4' behind behind the main listening positions, respectively.

It's reassuring to confirm that the Vantages themselves aren't the problem. Seems like it's either a room issue or preamp/amp issue. I'll move the speakers back to my main listening room and test the receiver their to issue what happens. Hopefully I can give it a try later this week.
 

Brad225

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That is good to hear you have at least eliminated one piece of the system as the problem Ziba. As you said go through each piece of equipment to see which is the issue. Does you AVR have pre out on it? if so try that with your amp, though I'm sure you know that already. Good luck.
 

Ziba

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That is good to hear you have at least eliminated one piece of the system as the problem Ziba. As you said go through each piece of equipment to see which is the issue. Does you AVR have pre out on it? if so try that with your amp, though I'm sure you know that already. Good luck.
Yes, that's what I'll try first. I'm hoping that my preamp is the culprit, that would be a simple solution. I kind of doubt it though. I'm thinking it's a room issue, but hopefully I'm wrong, because there is no easy fix for that.
 

roberto

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And the speaker cables too. You can´t believe how some good brand and sometimes very expensive cables are RF contaminated, producing this unwanted nasal sound. Try it! you might nail your nasal problem. I am not saying that the cables that you are using with your main system are bad. What I am do saying is, that these cables could be the culprit of your nasal sound. They are so good conductors that even RF are allowing to pass through them.

Happy listening.
 

Ziba

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And the speaker cables too. You can´t believe how some good brand and sometimes very expensive cables are RF contaminated, producing this unwanted nasal sound. Try it! you might nail your nasal problem. I am not saying that the cables that you are using with your main system are bad. What I am do saying is, that these cables could be the culprit of your nasal sound. They are so good conductors that even RF are allowing to pass through them.

Happy listening.
Thanks for the suggestion, but I forgot to specify that I did try other cables I have (Nordost Blue Heaven, Totem Tress) and it didn't fix the sound. I might as well bring the generic cables that I'm using with the receiver too when I try it in my main listening room.

Also, another possible variable that I ruled out for the time being is the electrical system. I've got PS Audio power ports along with a PS Audio Power Plant and I've tried every possible permutation of plugging components (amp, preamp, DAC, turntable, speaker amps) in the Power Plant and it did not affect the sound in any significant way.
 

Brad225

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Leave everything exactly as it was in the living room when you go back to the original room. Then introduce one thing at a time and the issue should recreate itself.
 

Gordon Gray

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From what i have heard from various HiFi experts that conrad johnson makes very good preamps.
Having owned CJ pre's for over 20 years, I would concur. I'm currently on my third model.

GG
 

timm

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I've been pretty busy the last couple of days, but I finally managed to try the Vantages in another room (the living room), something I never actually tried before. And behold, everything sounds right! I simply hooked the speakers to an AVR using generic speaker cables. I'm not even using an external DAC, just a cable straight from the headphone jack connected directly to the AVR. I'm a little shocked! Voices sound like voices, and imaging is clear!

So, to answer a few questions that were asked in the last few posts:

- There is definitely no phase issue.
- When listening a few inches away from the speakers, there is no nasal issue.
- There is no object located directly behind the listening position in both my main listening room and living. The back wall is located approximately 12' and 4' behind behind the main listening positions, respectively.

It's reassuring to confirm that the Vantages themselves aren't the problem. Seems like it's either a room issue or preamp/amp issue. I'll move the speakers back to my main listening room and test the receiver their to issue what happens. Hopefully I can give it a try later this week.
I'm sticking with room issue.... I thought that if you listened real close to the speaker - the issue would go away - possibly indicating an issue with how the sound was integrating with the room.....
 

Ziba

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Hi everyone,

Apologies for abandoning this thread for so long, it's hard to believe that's it already been 8 months... Part of the reason for not replying is that I basically gave up trying to resolve the issue after trying everything I could think of.

Since then, I've:

- replaced my Audiolab with a Classé CP-60 preamp to match my Classé CA-201 amp;
- added some DYI tri-trap corner bass trap to add behind my 2' x 4' bass traps (4” thick) mounted in each corner, floor to ceiling on the front wall;
- played numerous times with speaker placement, anywhere from 2' to 9' in front of the front wall, and 1' to 4' from sidewalls;
- changed the main listening position, anywhere from a near field setup, to an equilateral triangle dimension, to 2.5 times further than speaker distance;
- changed my setup from short wall placement to long wall placement;
- tried removing all acoustic treatment.

While most of these changes did have some effect on sound, imaging and clarity still remains problematic and I can't figure out why. Voices still aren't natural and lifelike, hi hats and cymbals sound recessed and lack any sparkle, saxophones and trumpets sound aggressive. This causes listening fatigue to set in pretty quickly. Even when listening to dialogues while watching television, voices become irritating at low to moderate volumes, so I need to turn the volume down the very low volumes as a result.

Another important issue is that instruments cannot be located precisely in space. I always "kind of" knew it, but it's only when I happened to cup my hands behind my ears that this became obvious. When doing so, everything snaps into focus and it becomes easier to locate each instrument and to hear them individually within the sound stage. They do not blur in together. Putting 2" broadband panels on the front wall behind the speakers helps a little. As I've mentioned previously, moving the Vantages to another (untreated) room with basic electronics seems to improve the sound significantly. I've also tried a pair of Totem Mites in my main listening room and most issues are apparent.

Therefore, I getting fairly certain that my room is the main culprit. I can't figure out what is causing this, though. I was wondering how much of an effect on sound the ceiling has? My other room (first floor) has a regular 8' dry wall ceiling, whereas my main listening room (basement) has a drop ceiling, so I was wondering if ceiling height and/or material may have something to do with this? The ceiling height is 91" (7'7") in the first half the room where my equipment is, then 82" (6'10") in the second half. The first half also has 3" of Roxul Safe N Sound between the joists, but not in the second half. The ceiling tiles are very thin and made of fiberglass.

If someone has any suggestion, please let me know. Thanks!
 

Rich

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Just out of curiosity, have you tried a different source? I don't know any thing about the Cambridge Audio DAC, but I know my transport and DSDAC from PS Audio made a huge difference in my sound and imaging, and I was using a darn good CD player before that.
 

Ziba

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Just out of curiosity, have you tried a different source? I don't know any thing about the Cambridge Audio DAC, but I know my transport and DSDAC from PS Audio made a huge difference in my sound and imaging, and I was using a darn good CD player before that.
I've heard the Directstream around a year ago in a very nice system and it sounded fantastic!

I haven't tried another DAC yet in my own system though. It's likely going to be my next upgrade. I do have an entry level turntable as my other source (Project Debut III with Denon DL-110 cartridge). It's not much, but I'm having the same issue soundwise. This, along with the fact that the sound improved by moving the speakers to another room with basic electronics (including using my laptop's soundcard through the headphone jack) leads me to believe that upgrading my DAC might not fix everything.
 

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Have you tried absorptive acoustic panels or diffuser panels on the front wall directly behind the speakers to absorb or diffuse the back wave of the speaker?

To answer one of your questions, I don't really see how the ceiling could affect the sound as you describe. Being line sources, ML's don't really have a problem with floor/ceiling reflections, and anyway if your ceiling is fiberglass panels those tend to be more absorptive than reflective. This seems like it has to be either speaker setup and speaker interactions with the walls of the room, or some defect in the equipment chain. Or the speakers themselves are defective somehow.

I think I would try a lot of absorption and diffusion across the front wall (like three or four absorption panels and two diffusers, with the diffusers placed to catch the back wave of the speaker), with the speakers placed five to six feet from that wall and two feet away from the side walls. Maybe some diffusers on the rear wall as well, directly behind the listening position. If that didn't fix it, I would look to upgrade the source, and possibly the speakers themselves.
 

Ziba

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Have you tried absorptive acoustic panels or diffuser panels on the front wall directly behind the speakers to absorb or diffuse the back wave of the speaker?

To answer one of your questions, I don't really see how the ceiling could affect the sound as you describe. Being line sources, ML's don't really have a problem with floor/ceiling reflections, and anyway if your ceiling is fiberglass panels those tend to be more absorptive than reflective. This seems like it has to be either speaker setup and speaker interactions with the walls of the room, or some defect in the equipment chain. Or the speakers themselves are defective somehow.

I think I would try a lot of absorption and diffusion across the front wall (like three or four absorption panels and two diffusers, with the diffusers placed to catch the back wave of the speaker), with the speakers placed five to six feet from that wall and two feet away from the side walls. Maybe some diffusers on the rear wall as well, directly behind the listening position. If that didn't fix it, I would look to upgrade the source, and possibly the speakers themselves.
I've already tried putting some panels on the front wall behind the speakers. I tried again tonight putting four 2' x 4' panels along with bass traps in corners. It does tame some aggressiveness and reduce listening fatigue. Imaging gains focus and I can hear the different instruments better, but the soundstage gets narrower, as everything seems to be more centered. Voices still don't sound natural though. Most importantly, the sound loses it's holographic quality or "magic", for lack of better term. I don't have true diffusers, but I've got four Ikea cd shelving units on the front wall (those tall ones), two on each side of the, which should theoretically help.
 

Ziba

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Panel azimuth? Floor decoupling?
I assume azimuth is the same as rake? If so, they used to be at the default position, but they're currently at 90 degrees (perpendicular to the floor). To be honest, I feel the change in sound to be very subtle. Also, I use ETC spikes with floor shoes.
 

Rich

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I've already tried putting some panels on the front wall behind the speakers. I tried again tonight putting four 2' x 4' panels along with bass traps in corners. It does tame some aggressiveness and reduce listening fatigue. Imaging gains focus and I can hear the different instruments better, but the soundstage gets narrower, as everything seems to be more centered. Voices still don't sound natural though. Most importantly, the sound loses it's holographic quality or "magic", for lack of better term. I don't have true diffusers, but I've got four Ikea cd shelving units on the front wall (those tall ones), two on each side of the, which should theoretically help.
That's what the diffusers are for. A diffuser behind each speaker panel will bring back the wider soundstage and holographic magic, while absorption between the diffusers will help with imaging and taming the aggressiveness.

Honestly, the cd shelving units on the front wall is a bad idea. They will not help with diffusion, and could be in part responsible for some of the sound issues you are having.

If you moved the cd shelves elsewhere, put a diffuser panel behind each speaker, with absorptive panels in between the diffusers, put the speakers at least five feet from the front wall, and upgraded to a better DAC, I suspect all of your issues would disappear. If not, there may be something seriously wrong with your speakers.

By the way, when I say absorptive panels, I'm not referring to the thin 2" thick ones. I'm referring to panels that can effectively absorb from 500 Hz. on up (the effective output from the panels). Those are generally 4" thick. Lower midrange reflections can be just as damaging to the sound as higher frequencies.

In my system, I actually have three diffuser panels on each side, wrapping around each front corner of the room, as well as three diffuser panels side-by-side in the center of the rear wall, behind the listening position. Lots of absorption everywhere else, including bass traps covering all wall-wall corners and some wall-ceiling corners. The sound is excellent.

One other thought . . . Given the dimensions of your room, you may need a lot more bass trapping in this room. 12' X 24' is pretty awful for exciting room modes in the bass response. Over time, I would consider adding bass traps as you are able.
 

Tosh

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Another important issue is that instruments cannot be located precisely in space. I always "kind of" knew it, but it's only when I happened to cup my hands behind my ears that this became obvious. When doing so, everything snaps into focus and it becomes easier to locate each instrument and to hear them individually within the sound stage. They do not blur in together. Putting 2" broadband panels on the front wall behind the speakers helps a little. As I've mentioned previously, moving the Vantages to another (untreated) room with basic electronics seems to improve the sound significantly. I've also tried a pair of Totem Mites in my main listening room and most issues are apparent.
If cupping your ears solidifies the image, then I think you have Left-Right asymmetry of the first or second reflection points. You could attempt to correct some asymmetry by using a panel (which doesn't have to be all that large if it's in the correct place). Could you show us pics of your room?
 
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