Can a valve amp tame treble-happy speakers?

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CarlBkk

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I'm loving both my Ushers and new Wilson Sophias. Both are fast and dynamic with awesome scale and tight deep bass, however as the Ushers are slightly polite in the top end, the Wilsons can be a little harsh with high volume levels (they're fine with lower levels, but I usually like to crank it up).

Is it worth me trying a good valve amp in place of the Krells or maybe just a valve pre-amp? I'd be worried about losing some fast, dynamic properties so I'd need a valve amp that retains this. Emille KI-40L is worth considering, but any others?

 

i_should_coco

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The problem is the speaker, not the amps. It's the rising frequency response that makes them subjectively fast and dynamic. But it's false, a specific tailoring to get that effect. If you flatten it off by using an amp with a roll-off they won't sound like that any more.

 

bluedroog

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You could try valve pre with ss power. I'd recommend trying out the Croft preamps, I use a 25 with Quad 909 and am very happy. I demoed PMC 22 which in many respects were wonderful but a little sibilant in the treble, I'd love to have some demo on my amps.

 

crimsondonkey

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Agree with Coco, its the Wilson's response, perhaps not being ameliorated by the Krell. I think that's why lots of yanks match Wilson with Audio Research more commonly than Krell.

 

bluedroog

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I have to say Krell with anything has been a painful experience for me. I don't know the power amps so well but tried out the kav 300 and 400xi and found them overly aggressive.

 

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Twisted
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The low end integrated Krells are not in the same league as the pre/power and do have a slightly aggressive top end. The amps that Carl is using can't be classified as aggressive.

What cabling are you using, as Wilson's are really sensitive to cables? You could use a valve pre, but the Croft is soft and sloppy in comparison, far better would be a ARC pre (SP16 or LS25) or a Concordaunt.

 

crimsondonkey

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The low end integrated Krells are not in the same league as the pre/power and do have a slightly aggressive top end. The amps that Carl is using can't be classified as aggressive. What cabling are you using, as Wilson's are really sensitive to cables? You could use a valve pre, but the Croft is soft and sloppy in comparison, far better would be a ARC pre (SP16 or LS25) or a Concordaunt.
I've a bit of experience with ARC preamps, mostly LS26 and Ref3/5. I'm interested why you picked out SP16 and LS25 - was the choice based on vfm? Also if you don't mind, what are the relative merits of the 16 and 25 in direct comparison?

 

greengoblin

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Carl have you consider some acoustic treatment for the room? I've found often some appropriately placed panels do wonders for bright treble, and soundstage, placement, stereo, etc

 

Fatmarley

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The problem is the speaker, not the amps. It's the rising frequency response that makes them subjectively fast and dynamic. But it's false, a specific tailoring to get that effect. If you flatten it off by using an amp with a roll-off they won't sound like that any more.
Just looked for some measurements out of curiosity and found these: Stereophile. Are there any other measurements around that show a rising response? Perhaps later versions are worse?

 

i_should_coco

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Your link is broken, but a flat in-room response is not desirable, it always sounds bright, subjectively. What you want is a gently downward sloping response in the HF.

 

i_should_coco

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I imagine those peaks in the HF would be pretty audible, especially the ones at 1.8kHz and 4kHz. It looks pretty ragged.

 
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CarlBkk

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Ideally I want the sound in between the two speakers I have. Before I sell one or the other speaker I might just try to demo a valve amp with the Wilsons. Audiogon always say they're a great match with LAMM amps but I'll be buggered if I can find history of any for sale 2nd hand in the UK, and even more deeply buggered if any would come up at a price I could consider.

ATM the Wilsons are placed quite a way from the side walls, no acoustic panels just bass traps. Using Chord Rumour as a make-do and would change it if I keep them (my MIT cables are bi-wire and Wilsons are single wire only).

 

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Twisted
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I've a bit of experience with ARC preamps, mostly LS26 and Ref3/5. I'm interested why you picked out SP16 and LS25 - was the choice based on vfm? Also if you don't mind, what are the relative merits of the 16 and 25 in direct comparison?
I prefer the reference ARC's, but I was basing the suggestions on cost grounds as well as sound. Not heard the LS26, but the LS25 impressed me a lot and I used to own a SP16, which apart from the dodgy volume control was a really nice amp. The LS25 is better on sound quality grounds, but is much more expensive. The SP16 of course has a phono input as well.

- - - Updated - - -

Ideally I want the sound in between the two speakers I have. Before I sell one or the other speaker I might just try to demo a valve amp with the Wilsons. Audiogon always say they're a great match with LAMM amps but I'll be buggered if I can find history of any for sale 2nd hand in the UK, and even more deeply buggered if any would come up at a price I could consider.ATM the Wilsons are placed quite a way from the side walls, no acoustic panels just bass traps. Using Chord Rumour as a make-do and would change it if I keep them (my MIT cables are bi-wire and Wilsons are single wire only).
Ah ha, stick the MIT's on and tape over the unused cable plugs so you don't short them. Chord cables can be quite bright and hard, although Rumour is a nice cable. Worth trying as it costs nothing. Also what interconnects are you using?

 
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bluedroog

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Soft and sloppy isn't my experience of Croft at all, quite the opposite in fact. For me there is a real sense of drive and authority, quite forward but in quite a forging way.

what amps did you hear the Croft with?

for me I've always found them very open and natural but with a slight darkness which is why I think they'd work well with some quite treble happy speakers.

i suspect you're correct on the

higher end Krells, they are more know for their huge power amps after all, would love to hear some. There is one, the model escapes me but is build like a vault door.

 

JANDL100

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ARC LS25 ? -- OMG :shock: - horrible - coloured and vague. Poor rez. Slow and blurred.

Hugely big (overblown) soundstage, though.

That was the Mark ii I heard.

The LS26 is said to be very much better. But I haven't heard one of those.

imo :)

 

George 47

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Jeez guys.......

Do NOT get rid of the Wilsons unless you want the fey sound of SETs and efficient speakers.....

The trademark of the Wilson is power, dynamics and real reach. Nope they are not the issue. They need real control and the Krell is one of the best. Now if you like it loud you need to get everything right as you are using a powerful 'microscope' and anything not quite right will be heard. Forget Crofts, Quads they just won't control the Wilsons and expect to nod off when listening to rock music or listen to the music trip up and all timing go out of the window. No, no and thrice no.

If the effect is minor then some tuning could do it. Sometimes CDs can sound bright and excessive because that is how they are recorded. You could try turning it down a bit or possibly take a route with a softer overall sound such as a valve preamp. ARC preamps do not have the Audionote softy, softy sound they will keep the dynamics but have a softer top end. If you do not want to lose too much power and dynamics then a Ref 3 would be ideal as it keeps the dynamics and details. They are also much lower noise than other valve preamps. If you want a more 'rosy' picture without too much dynamics loss then a Conny Johnson would do it.

I suspect our softy valvey, valvey guys are not the best to advise on Krells and Wilsons.

 

George 47

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I imagine those peaks in the HF would be pretty audible, especially the ones at 1.8kHz and 4kHz. It looks pretty ragged.
What with those divisions at +/- 5db......not large peaks....now let's try the Audionote Es (that sound great) and most commercial horns including those reviewed in HFN.

 

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