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Making my first Hi-Fi setup less bright/warmer

Hepanlol

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Hey there, any opinion on this would be much appreciated. So I got my first hi-fi setup two weeks ago and it consists of:

Klipsch RP-500M
SMSL DA-9 (amp)
Aune X8 (dac)

Retrospectively I should do better due diligence regarding the sound characteristics of each component instead of the »spray and pray« approach. The thing is, I quite enjoy the sound the system produces but it is a bit too bright for my preference as I tend to enjoy warmer sound (on the neutral side). I read that Klipschs are notoriously bright, so I am not really sure what did I expect. I also read that the mentioned AMP is on the brighter side as well so yes, here I am.

I should also mention that my room is small and packed, so the only free place left for the setup is on the top of the book-shelf, cca 3-4 inches from the wall which is everything but ideal, I am aware of it, but there is just no way I could fit speaker stands in there.

So here is my dilemma. I would be prepared to replace one component of the setup or add a sub-woofer to it. I assume the most critical link in the setup is the speakers so replacing those would have the biggest impact. Or maybe replacing the amp with something warmer as Denon PMA-600NE for example? Or adding a sub-woofer (I could snatch Klipsch R-100Sw), that would add more low end frequencies but the overall brightness of the sound wouldn’t change that much?

Sadly I don’t have the luxury of equipment testing, but I have constructed a short list of well regarded speaker alternatives that are available to me from domestic vendors (for my budget) and are not blatantly bright (per my information):

KEF Q150
KEF Q350
Q Acoustics 3030i

The only AMP alternative I found that could potentially change the overall sound of the setup even slightly is aforementioned Denon PMA-600NE, even if I would have to sacrifice some detail because of it.

So yes, any input/opinion would be more than welcomed. Or even a hint on which component should I center my attention. Thanks.

tl; dr: my setup is too bright, I need to “warm it up" somehow.
 

DVDdoug

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It sounds like you need to reduce the highs with Equalization. If you're using a computer that can be done in software.

FYI - To me "warmth" is mid-bass boost but it's not that well defined and it can also mean slight "desirable" distortion.

that would add more low end frequencies but the overall brightness of the sound wouldn’t change that much?
I'd say no, but you might tend to turn everything else down a bit which might "soften" the overall sound. If the highs are too strong/harsh, I'd focus on the highs.

I also read that the mentioned AMP is on the brighter side as well
I don't know about that amp but most modern electronics has flat frequency response. Speakers, headphones, and rooms make a difference.
 

tomtoo

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Stop this talk about amps. They are usually flat as a autobahn.
The klipsch sound bright, thats it. Couse they go up in the highs like the alps.
Use a Eq and get them down a littel over 6kHz.
At least if your source is a PC. Its cheap, works, and complete esoteric free.
 

tomtoo

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If your source is not PC, then for a low cost solution, you could put a small EQ between the dac and power amp, such as the Schiit 4 band tone control.

Purists will cry - but if it gets the sound you want it doesn't matter.
https://www.schiit.com/products/loki-mini-3

Purists like the audiophiliac? People that make the rp600 to the speaker of the year?
I better not tell you what i think of purists like that. If i dont hear a ugly FR like this? Dont call them purists, call them .....
 

DSJR

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The Q Acoustics will definitely calm the sound down, but initially after the Klipsh models, you might find it too soporific until you've become used to it for a few hours to wean yourself off any previous hf issues.

I'd suggest you'd need REW software and a Uni-Mic or similar to see just what your system's doing in your room, but then you're well on your way to DSP as suggested above ;)
 

tomtoo

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Its realy so fucked up. Saying this, in the highs boosted speakers are great, and then saying vinyl is great. Sure they fit better to a vinyl mix. Fight sh* with sh*
 

Trif

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Bright speakers aren't a bad thing per se, but bright speakers in a small room are. Try adding pillows on the floor, rugs on the walls, drapes even if you have no windows.... or a real acoustic foam treatment if that fits your decor.
 

Beershaun

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OP
Hepanlol

Hepanlol

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Thanks a lot to all. I will surely follow your lead and fool around with some EQ settings, APO is already installed. Maybe I will even try out Q Acoustics, I can always return them if their performance will be underwhelming. That Loki Mini+ solution sounds tempting as well as I plan to upgrade my source in the future (right now my source is PC). I should really stop listening to Youtube "experts" as they rarely mention EQ as the first step towards shaping the sound signature to individuals liking.
 

Snarfie

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Try mathaudio room eq for free incombination with foobar2000. Use a Propper measuring mic an you will be amazed.
 

Erici

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EQ-APO is very powefull but not so easy to use directly. If you load the Peace front end it will be a lot easier for you. Peace is free also, and if you try Amir's EQ suggested earlier, it would be a fairly fast and easy way to see if the speakers will work for you. If you can return the Klipsch speakers, then that would be the next step to take. There are many better speakers reviewed here on ASR.
https://sourceforge.net/projects/peace-equalizer-apo-extension/
 

GXAlan

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You can also play with toe-in and out to help decrease direct treble energy and also move the speakers closer to the wall to increase the bass reinforcement.
 

DanielT

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In any case if you are thinking of difference, or if you have read that there are sound differences, hard, soft sounds, between different types of material in tweeters check out this video first.


Another statement that you can read about is the so-called vintage sound. Yes there is, believe me. However, not the beautiful, round comfortable for the ears vintage. On the contrary, you may encounter loud, distorted sounds. This summer I bought a Philips AH794 for a few $ at a flea market

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/philips/ah794.shtml

Mostly because I was curious about the sound. Vintage sound. It was awful. Loud, distorted, the treble screamed. Brr.

With that said, there is of course good vintage. For example this one. Here, What Hifi got it right for once.

"No product is perfect, and expecting that from a 40-year old budget design isn’t realistic. However, we are utterly charmed by the 3020. Our test room is packed with excellent, far more capable alternatives, yet we carry on listening to the little NAD way longer than we need to.

We love its enthusiasm and the way it encourages us to play just one more track. That’s the true mark of greatness, and make no mistake, the NAD 3020 belongs up there with the very best the industry has ever made."

https://www.whathifi.com/features/that-was-then-nad-3020

By the way, I agree with other writers in the thread, ie tinkering with room acoustics. Thick carpets in front of the speakers. Sensible, a lot with furniture and bookshelves. An acoustician mentioned that as it looks in a classic English pub, with furniture, etc. is a sensible starting point if you have to fix your own room acoustics. He probably said it a little with a twinkle in his eye. What he meant was to furnish for the sake of good sound.

Also test with EQ. Maybe you like it. To color the sound ie.
 

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tomtoo

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In any case if you are thinking of difference, or if you have read that there are sound differences, hard, soft sounds, between different types of material in tweeters check out this video first.


Another statement that you can read about is the so-called vintage sound. Yes there is, believe me. However, not the beautiful, round comfortable for the ears vintage. On the contrary, you may encounter loud, distorted sounds. This summer I bought a Philips AH794 for a few $ at a flea market

https://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/philips/ah794.shtml

Mostly because I was curious about the sound. Vintage sound. It was awful. Loud, distorted, the treble screamed. Brr.

With that said, there is of course good vintage. For example this one. Here, What Hifi got it right for once.

"No product is perfect, and expecting that from a 40-year old budget design isn’t realistic. However, we are utterly charmed by the 3020. Our test room is packed with excellent, far more capable alternatives, yet we carry on listening to the little NAD way longer than we need to.

We love its enthusiasm and the way it encourages us to play just one more track. That’s the true mark of greatness, and make no mistake, the NAD 3020 belongs up there with the very best the industry has ever made."

https://www.whathifi.com/features/that-was-then-nad-3020

By the way, I agree with other writers in the thread, ie tinkering with room acoustics. Thick carpets in front of the speakers. Sensible, a lot with furniture and bookshelves. An acoustician mentioned that as it looks in a classic English pub, with furniture, etc. is a sensible starting point if you have to fix your own room acoustics. He probably said it a little with a twinkle in his eye. What he meant was to furnish for the sake of good sound.

Also test with EQ. Maybe you like it. To color the sound ie.


With the klipsch speakers you use EQ to decolor the sound.
 
OP
Hepanlol

Hepanlol

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Yep, I have been fooling around with APO/Peace trying to find that sweet spot for me. One question, is it better to higher low frequencies and keep treble range the same or lower treble levels and keep the bass frequencies unchanged? I guess I could do both at the same time and keep testing it until I find something optimal. Too bad there is no APO preset for these speakers specifically or at least I was unable to find one (I assume RP-600M one from the review here could work, but the 500M is apparently more balanced than its bigger brother, so the result would not be the same). I am also using one of the amp EQ modes which fills the sound and enhances lower frequencies quite a bit. Thanks again for everyone's input.

I decided to keep Klipsch's as I enjoy them regardless their imperfections, but if I wont be able to achieve optimal sound via EQ, I will probably get a pair of Kali LP-6, Adam T5V or JBL 306P MK II monitors as a "backup". They are highly regarded as budget monitors everywhere, here on ASR as well. I listened to some demos of their performance on YT (not optimal, I know) and they all sound very pleasing, maybe Adams are a bit too bright for me, so I will probably go with Kali's.

Also if anyone is aware of any passive budget speakers that have a very similar sound characteristics as those Kali LP-6s, I would gladly take some suggestions.
 

DanielT

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Klipsch, are they still bright? Their new models ie. That rumor about Klipsch may be true. It's been many years since I heard of any
Klipsch. Now it does not matter. If you Hepanlol experiences them as bright, too bright, excessive treble, then thats what you experiences.

Then it's just a matter of either changing the speakers or EQ.

I decided to keep Klipsch's as I enjoy them regardless their imperfections,...

If you like them, go for it.:)
 
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Erici

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Yep, I have been fooling around with APO/Peace trying to find that sweet spot for me. One question, is it better to higher low frequencies and keep treble range the same or lower treble levels and keep the bass frequencies unchanged? I guess I could do both at the same time and keep testing it until I find something optimal. Too bad there is no APO preset for these speakers specifically or at least I was unable to find one (I assume RP-600M one from the review here could work, but the 500M is apparently more balanced than its bigger brother, so the result would not be the same). I am also using one of the amp EQ modes which fills the sound and enhances lower frequencies quite a bit. Thanks again for everyone's input.

I decided to keep Klipsch's as I enjoy them regardless their imperfections, but if I wont be able to achieve optimal sound via EQ, I will probably get a pair of Kali LP-6, Adam T5V or JBL 306P MK II monitors as a "backup". They are highly regarded as budget monitors everywhere, here on ASR as well. I listened to some demos of their performance on YT (not optimal, I know) and they all sound very pleasing, maybe Adams are a bit too bright for me, so I will probably go with Kali's.

Also if anyone is aware of any passive budget speakers that have a very similar sound characteristics as those Kali LP-6s, I would gladly take some suggestions.

I suggest that you select the Graphic Equalizer choice in Peace and play with the sliders to reduce the highs until you're happy with the sound. It's usually better to reduce the highs than to increase the lows. But it's really a shot in the dark until you get a USB mic to see what is actually going on in your room.

As an alternative to your speakers, the JBL A130 would be a great choice. Amir recommended them even without EQ and and they are available on Amazon for $250.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/jbl-stage-a130-review-speaker.18260/
https://www.amazon.com/JBL-Stage-Black-Bookshelf-Speakers/dp/B07H9JMCG9
 

digitalfrost

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Yep, I have been fooling around with APO/Peace trying to find that sweet spot for me. One question, is it better to higher low frequencies and keep treble range the same or lower treble levels and keep the bass frequencies unchanged?
In terms of house curve, you need to find a balance. In general boosting above 0 is not a good idea, because theoretically it could clip, and so you need to lower the level via preamp. That said, it depends on the circumstances and how you normalize your levels. Personally, I like a treble level that is down between 6-8dB at 20khz and after that, if the bass is not sufficient, I would start boosting it starting from ~80-100hz instead of turning the treble further down to increase bass.

For your specific application, if you don't have measurements, I'd start by thinking in octaves. So maybe go 1000hz -1db, 2000hz -2db, 4000hz -3db, 8000hz, -4db and 16000hz -5db and see what that gets you. Then adjust from there. You can easily calculate other tilts than 1db/oct.
 
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VanO

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I'll second experimenting with toe-out of the speakers. Just a couple of degrees can make a big difference. Depending on your LP it should lessen the highs and it will maybe also make the soundstage a little wider. Tilt and the angle of the tweeters to your LP is important also so play with that too, you can use speaker pads or cobble mouse pad material.
 
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