There are many things I like about my system: soundstage, imaging, detail, sweet treble, smooth, tight bass.
One thing I hate about my system: thin sounding; when I listen to a piano, it sounds like a keyboard, not like a real piano.
18 x 30 (living room + dining area together)
hardwood floor with funishing, rugs, plants, no room treatment
speakers out in the open along the long wall(3 ft to the front wall, 5+ ft to the side wall)
Pioneer juke box -> mapleshade digital -> B&K AVR 307 -> Kimber PBJ -> Aragon 8002 -> Kimber 4VS -> Dynaudio Contour 1.1
Sub for H/T only; Dynaudio 42s for surround & center
B-P-T power conditioner.
Every thing but hard rock & rap, but female vocal & jazz is the stuff I listen to the most.
Iíve listened to 2 speakers that sound like real piano: VMPS RM2 and Gershman Acoustics Opera (?). I noticed both are full range speakers (20Hz Ė 20KHz)
What should I try to get a fuller sounding system?
I used to have Dynaudio 1.1 in a small room (12x13) and I also did not like their reproduction of the piano, so I sold them.
But guess what - the reason was absolutely opposite.
In my room there made the piano to sound leaded - too bass heavy.
As well as everything else - like orchestra was playing leaded violins.
So - I agree with previous posts that said the problem is certainly your room/speakers interaction.
Experiment with posistioning! Take the same gear to a bedroom.
The good thing it's all free!
highly unlikely that you will actually need anything below 40 hz to get that full sound you want.
i have not heard the dynaudio but it may very be that its simply optimised for a smaller room than yours thus has leaner than you want bass.
get an equalizer and play around, run some sine sweeps - change EQ settings run them again. i do not suggest that you keep the EQ forever (like i do) but i think this will tell you what youre missing in that bass and then you can decide what to do about it.
Iím thinking aloud here. Iím writing down my thoughts as I think my problem is not unique and somebody else may be helped by all the discussions here. Further suggestions are welcome and greatly appreciated.
The problem is one of tonal balance. Suggestions sofar point at 3 sources:
- Speaker / sub / room interaction: I think this may be the most likely problem since the other two speakers that I referenced in my original post are either full range speakers that can move a lot of air or were listened to in a room smaller than mine. One must obey the law of physics here and the small woofer can only move so much air. To produce the piano sound I think the speakers need to be full range, especially in a larger room. I use sub for HT only because I had problem integrating the sub to the monitors. My approach here would be to build or buy two woofer units (one for each monitor) with high level high-pass & low pass XO at around 300Hz. The woofer may not need to go all the way down to 20Hz but need to move some air. Then I need to play around with monitor / woofer unit placement no eliminate any suck-out.
- Amplification Ė Ozzy pointed out Aragon / Pioneer juke box is a thin sounding combination. Admittedly this amp is cooler sounding than other amps, but it is also more powerful and smoother. The amps that it replaced, Odyssey Stratos, Outlaw, and B&K internal amps, all have this problem, even though it is less so. I wonder what other amp would cure this problem???
- Source Ė Iíve tried the Sony 500V, Sony CE775, Art DI/O. All sounded thinner or harsher than the current combo. I donít think going for a 555ES, for example, would cure the problem because Iím guessing that it would have the same tonal balance as the Sony CE775 (Sony sound?). I think I would try a different front end if the woofer thing doesnít work.
Thanks again, everybody...
"- Speaker / sub / room interaction: I think this may be the most likely problem since the other two speakers that I referenced in my original post are either full range speakers that can move a lot of air or were listened to in a room smaller than mine. One must obey the law of physics here and the small woofer can only move so much air. To produce the piano sound I think the speakers need to be full range, especially in a larger room. I use sub for HT only because I had problem integrating the sub to the monitors. My approach here would be to build or buy two woofer units (one for each monitor) with high level high-pass & low pass XO at around 300Hz. The woofer may not need to go all the way down to 20Hz but need to move some air. Then I need to play around with monitor / woofer unit placement no eliminate any suck-out."
You don't need extra woofers or subs. Your main speakers will do just fine if they are positioned correctly in the room. Even though the woofers in your main speakers are small, they have no problem reproducing powerband (upper bass) frequencies. A larger woofer would produce this passband with less power, but this is not an issue. You don't need huge woofers to reproduce the 100 Hz to 300 Hz passband, and even if you did have large woofers, they would still be subject to the same boundary effects that are nulling the output of your existing speakers. All you need to do is reposition you speakers as I outlined below...then...voila...no more deep nulls.
"- Amplification Ė Ozzy pointed out Aragon / Pioneer juke box is a thin sounding combination. Admittedly this amp is cooler sounding than other amps, but it is also more powerful and smoother. The amps that it replaced, Odyssey Stratos, Outlaw, and B&K internal amps, all have this problem, even though it is less so. I wonder what other amp would cure this problem???"
The amp is definitely not a causative factor. You can keep your existing amp if you like it. It feeds the speakers a ruler flat frequency response. So, the problem is at the speaker/room level not the amp level.
"- Source Ė Iíve tried the Sony 500V, Sony CE775, Art DI/O. All sounded thinner or harsher than the current combo. I donít think going for a 555ES, for example, would cure the problem because Iím guessing that it would have the same tonal balance as the Sony CE775 (Sony sound?). I think I would try a different front end if the woofer thing doesnít work."
You can also rule out the source. It feeds the amp a ruler flat frequency response (which the amp amplifies with complete linearity if it is properly impedance matched to your speakers). Again, the problem lies downstream, at the speaker/room level. To solve boundary suckouts, you will need to get your measuring tape out and re-position your speakers.
Your explaination makes sense. I think I'm gonna go home and read more about room / speaker interaction & start playing again with speaker positioning. I only know to get the speakers out in the open as much as practical to achieve a good soundstage & image. Perhaps I'll lose some of it, but balance is the name of the game..
I hope other will be helped by the discussion here...
You have one of two problems. Either the speakers have a natural cancellation in the (100 Hz - 300 Hz) passband (known as the power band - a cancellation caused by driver to driver interference) or (more likely - given a well designed speaker) you have a problem with a room reflection nulling the drivers output in the powerband.
You can correct the suckout by repositioning your speakers in the room. The frequency of these quarter-wave boundary suckouts can be calculated using the formula (N = 1130/D x .3), where D equals the distance (in feet) from the woofer to the boundary and N equals the frequency at which the first 1 dB boundary null appears. If the center of the woofer is the same distance from each of the nearest two boundaries, such as the wall behind the speaker and the floor below the speaker, the dip is 3 dB. If the center of the woofer is the same distance from each of the nearest three surfaces, the suckout is approximately 11 dB. For instance, a woofer positioned 24 inches above the floor results in a null at 169.50 Hz (1130/2 x .3 = 169.50 Hz) everywhere in the room. If the woofer is also 24 inches from the back and side wall, we are talking about an 11 dB deep null in a frequency band (the power band - 100 Hz to 300 Hz) responsible for much of the weight, warmth and impact of music. Nulls at power band frequencies result in diminished musical scale, "smallness," "thinness" and "brightness" as the entire treble band sounds subjectively enhanced. The trick (to avoiding serious bass nulls) is to make sure the speaker is a different distance from each room boundary and none of the distances are multiples of any other.
I agree and have tried to follow these rules since reading Roy Allison's article and graphs in Stereo Review years ago, but one thing was never made clear. When calculating the distance from the center of the woofer to the rear wall, does one include the distance from its center to the edge of the baffle and then back to the wall, or just straight back? Thanks in advance.
You can set up the crossover to the sub so that it operates up to powerband frequencies (100 Hz - 300 Hz) , but doing so adds way too much mud and thickness to the overall sound. Furthermore, the output of the sub and that of the main speakers can cancel if they overlap. Most sub-woofers work best reproducing the really low stuff, sub-60 Hz bass (leaving upper bass reproduction to the main speakers). I think subwoofers are mostly ineffective with correcting the boundary nulls which afflict your main speakers in the powerband. Don't forget...that subs too are subject to boundary effects, so the lower you set the sub's crossover, the less the sub's bass will be affected by these quarter-wave cancellations.
Do you mostly listen at loud or soft levels?
Maybe your system is alright. The frequency perception of the human ear will make a correct frequency response appear thin if you listen at less than realistiuc sound levels. In other words: does your system still sound "thin" if you crank it up about as loud as the actual instrument (say, the piano) would have been?
If no, then your system is probably OK.
If yes, then the first culprit would be one of the output buffers in the audio chain that can't fully drive the next stage. You could try different preamps/amps with higher input impedances. You could try for instance a passive 100k volume pot instead of your preamp and see if it makes a difference.
Op amp replacements at output stages of your existing gear and power supply upgrades (inside the gear! caps etc.) may also help if you like tweaking.
I agree with the ideas on room treatment, and also I think a good sub might really help. Also, good power conditioning can make a difference in 'body', but it will be hard to find the right piece for that.
Speakers and room acoustics are 90 percent. If you can try some room treatment also that helps more than most people know. The VMPS RM 2's sound great I know and VMPS is well know for giving excellent bass at all price points. A subwoofer can help alot too if you don't want to spend much money. Point is speakers make the largest improvement. Good Luck
A long time ago I read (maybe Audio magazine?) that pianos are one of the most difficult instruments to reproduce correctly--I think it has to do with the amount of energy created by the hammers pounding those wires.
Anyway, I looked up the Contour 1.1. Ummmm, that small low frequency driver--I hesitate to call it a woofer--probably is incapable of moving enough air for a realistic piano experience. In my experience, a 6.5" woofer--minimum--is needed to better recreate powerful musical notes, at realistic levels.
I wouldn't worry about the CD player, amp or interconnects causing problems.
...you guys must be multiplying lately.
Amps, seedee players, and cables can have a very large effect on the end result of any system.
I agree the room and setup are very important, but I would point the finger at that pioneer jukebox and Aaragon amp. I am sure that is a brutally thin and bright sounding combination.
Unless that Dynaudio "woofer" is constructed like a Sunfire subwoofer driver (i.e., huge excursion capability), I still believe it is just too small to recreate piano notes properly.
Just out of curiosity, why is it that cheaper CD players/transports always supposedly sound overly bright, "tizzy", or harsh? How come they never sound bloated, overly thick, warm, etc.?
Ever listened to studio monitors? I have, and they ARE quite bright sounding: sparkling highs, quite foward midrange & quick/tight bass. And many use horn-loaded drivers. Very articulate sounding. You can just about hear everything right and wrong with a recording. They have to do this--the recording engineer and musicians need to hear exactly what is being recorded before signing off on that recording.
Yet I continue to encounter supposedly "accurate" (and very expensive) speakers with depressed highs and a generally dull sonic presentation. Hmmmm.
And what's strange is that those studio monitors--using advanced drivers, rock-solid cabinets and built-in amplifiers--cost much less than most "hi-end" loudspeakers of similar size.
Something weird is happening in The Land of High-End Audio, and it seems rather suspicious..................
> They have to do this--the recording engineer and musicians need to hear exactly what is being recorded before signing off on that recording. <
Does that explain why most of the new music that hits the streets these days sounds like crap? I'm sure that is part of it, along with "perfect sound forever" seedees, makes me glad vinyl is king in my home.
Before you go out and change components and spend money, try moving the speakers around. You might pick up a little bit more low end which should make it sound fuller. OTOH, you may consider adding a sub for music (you said sub is on for HT currently). Play with placement of the sub and it should also add a little more low end to your monitors. Or a combination of the above.
... if that does not work have an audition of a different CDP. If the front end is not producing the right signal then nothing further on in the chain will improve it. It can only make it worse.
And yes, piano sound can sound realistic from CDs - with the right gear it can level with analog. We have both here and have done the comparison.
Peace at AA
Since 99.9999999999% of CD players produce ruler flat frequency response, I think we can safely rule the CD player out as a culprit behind any bass or mid-range suckouts.
Have you tried your receiver plugged into the wall rather than into the power conditioner? Big improvement at my house!
Here we go :
1) Definitely replace your juke box. Get a more high-end single
cd player or a good changer like the Sony SCD-C555ES. This is the source and if it's not up to snuff you'll never hear a full bodied
sounded even if you you had more expensive speakers.
2) When you've done step #1, you need to play around with the cables
the Kimber PBJ is a thin sounding noisy cable. I haven't heard the
Kimber 4TC speaker cable, so I can't comment. But cables will make a
Do the above replacements and see what happens.
I guess this could also be the problem. With audio you'll never know
till you use the trial and error method and the process of elimination. I have very little experience myself so far in the room acoustics side of the fence but I have experienced many similar problems that turned out to be from a poor source. Bad room acoustics
can really muddy up the sound but I don't think it will make a piano
sound thin and bodyless the way EventHorizon described it.
In my system Sony Jukeboxes thru a modified Perp Tech P-3A beat my SCD-C555ES (on CD) both before and after mods to the C555ES.
I do use my DVP-S9000ES and C555ES indiscriminantly for listening to SACDs but the convinince of jukeboxes and great sound thru the external DAC win for me for listening to CDs.
Agree with you on the principle. I have a similar digital set-up to
yours. Mine is Pioneer DV-09 driving an Assemblage DAC 3.1 Platinum/
D2D-1 Combo. However, I found through critical evaluation that the
upsampling in the D2D-1 unit does take away from the body of the music
so I decided to quit using upsampling from this unit and I only listen in the Trans mode to regular cd's (24/44.1) or pass a 24/96
signal from DAD's when listening to such software.
A good source makes a great different. Cables can make some influences but not as much.
Thanks Starlet. I think the problem with EventHorizon's set up is
mostly with his Jukebox. I had a similar incident when I compared
using a regular (cheap) dvd player as a transport to a high-end
one and the difference was night & day. The cheap player's output
digital signal conveyed bodyless and thin sounding music whereas the
more expensive unit's sound was full bodied and soft in the good sense of the meaning.
You need to fully replace your current system and to step into the high-end.
The offerings are endless and the price of admission is not necessarily high.
You need to set a budget first and then start looking around.
The help of an honest expert would be very helpful at this stage too.
You should listen to a pair of upgraded Newform R645s. I have a grand piano in the room next to my audio room and a Grand Piano sounds like a Grand Piano on my upgraded R645s.
If you're interested in hearing a pair, email me your City and I might know someone who will let you have a listen.
Have a great day,
It's kind of tough playing CDs with only the speakers, amp, and wire...
Have you listened to the B&K & Pioneer? If you dump it, what would you replace it with? Or do you just assume it sounds thin because it does HT too? For what it's worth, I like the Pioneer + B&K better than Art DI/O & Sony CE775 (even thinner sounding & way more harsh)
BTW, here's the context of the other 2 speakers:
VMPS RM2 driven by Aragon 8002 + Accuphase CD + silver wire in a large room (17x25) with full carpeting: Full body sound, but terrible imaging and soundstage. Bass is also sloppy.
Gershman Acoustics driven by Ayre CD player + Kora Tube amp in a hotel room. Full body sound, but no imaging. I think the speakers were too big for the room, way expensive too...
Thanks for you input though.
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