Low volume listening

Huge posted:

Have you tried NOT bi-amping, just using the 250DR in singe wired mode may well work better at low volumes (make up jumper cables from speaker wire for the speakers, or even better use a 'F' connection at the speaker end).

To get the advantage of using two power-amps you need to move to a system with an active crossover; passive bi-amping is very unpredictable and rarely worth the extra expense.  If you can arrange an active crossover and remove the passive crossovers from the speakers this may work really well, but you may have to do an enormous amount of technical work to make an active crossover work properly with your speakers)

You say that the problem is lack of detail on the HF yet you have the higher quality power-amp on the bass-mid drivers - this should tell you something.

Stop the bi-amping and just use the 250DR (or even better a 300DR, it has amazing resolution and is particularly good at low volumes).  Don't be at all distracted by RMS power output - it's completely irrelevant at the volumes you are trying to use.


If this doesn't work then you'll have to change the speakers.

 

Huge, very much in agreement having changed from a 250dr to a 300dr last year so much more resolution low level listening is superb.

Huge posted:

Have you tried NOT bi-amping, just using the 250DR in singe wired mode may well work better at low volumes (make up jumper cables from speaker wire for the speakers, or even better use a 'F' connection at the speaker end).

To get the advantage of using two power-amps you need to move to a system with an active crossover; passive bi-amping is very unpredictable and rarely worth the extra expense.  If you can arrange an active crossover and remove the passive crossovers from the speakers this may work really well, but you may have to do an enormous amount of technical work to make an active crossover work properly with your speakers)

You say that the problem is lack of detail on the HF yet you have the higher quality power-amp on the bass-mid drivers - this should tell you something.

Stop the bi-amping and just use the 250DR (or even better a 300DR, it has amazing resolution and is particularly good at low volumes).  Don't be at all distracted by RMS power output - it's completely irrelevant at the volumes you are trying to use.


If this doesn't work then you'll have to change the speakers.

That's an interesting point....I had made an assumption that splitting the hf and lf load across 2 similar amps would improve the sound quality.

If that is a potential way forward then I will need a system overhaul...out with the Nova, in with new streamer and pre amp and perhaps 300dr......

 

Mike-B posted:
mech posted:

The subwoofer approach is also one that I repeatedly hear ppl mention with regards to low volume listening that I did not get from dealer. They just mention get a better power amplifier. Nobody mention getting a good sub for low volume listening.. 

The problem is the human ear has a variable sensitivity that falls off at lower volumes;  that cannot be compensated for with more power amps.   

I think Mike-B has hit the nail on the head here. I don’t think any system rebalancing will properly address what is really a problem with the human listener, perceived as less enjoyment listening at low levels. Why do we turn up the volume? Is it not for a more exciting experience?

Hi

 

i just saw this post

 

i have wondered about this very issue for many years. I have lived in a flat, and now have young kids that wake up easily.

 

the solution is sound treatment. Get several acoustic panels from GIK or someone cheaper.

 

think about the physics of sound and don’t spend on expensive  upgrades until you have treated your listening room first

How about higher sensitivity speakers? could this not be another and possibly cheaper solution?

Mind you having said that, I can see the difficulty in letting speakers go that one has become smitten with, so there probably isn't going to be cheap option here.

I agree with the point Huge made earlier in that going back to just single wiring with one stereo power amp is worth trying or upping the ante for a more powerful 'single' power amplifier and a higher (up the ladder)  pre-amp too boot.

But isn't this trying to build a system up backwards..?

Stephen Tate posted:

How about higher sensitivity speakers? could this not be another and possibly cheaper solution?

I can’t see how higher sensitivity speakers would help (other than that they would sound different just as any othe speaker would, and one might sound better than another). What higher sensitivity would do is mean the volume control would set be even lower for the low sound level the OP wants, and any noise from the power amp through the speskers - hiss and possibly hum - would increase in volume relative to the music, so actually decreasing sound quality. (If the problem was at high level listening, then higher sensitivity speakers might help, depending on the cause of the problem.)

I hadn’t picked up on the passive bi-amping when I wrote my first response. I have never really understood passive bi-amping, even more so with two amps feeding a three-way speaker, and it is possible that something undesirable is happening, Maybe compounded with amps having non-identical characteristics. As others have suggested, it makes every sense to try with a single amp, using the best one - which is almost an instant thing to do, simply disconnecting the other at the speaker terminals and refitting the links, and if that fixes the problem then end of story.

But if the issue then remains, it seems to me that there are three possibilities, assuming that all sounds great at higher sound levels:-

1) the speakers are not reproducing well the signal fed to them when at low levels - if that is the case, then the only answer is different speakers. Maybe some dealer demos at those same low listening levels will help you decide if the issue is confined to your speakers themselves.

2) the power amp is behaving poorly at low level- if that is the case, then the only answer is different power amp. However, this seems unlikely as problems with power amps tend much more to be with high levels.

3) the music is losing its frequency extremes, due to the reducing sensitivity of the human ear at high low frequencies as sound level reduces, the loss of bass being particularly evident. If this is the cause of the problem, the only solution is an artificial boost of the frequency extremes to compensate - loudness compensation, as I described in an earlier post. This may be anathema to the purist audiophile, but then it could be argued that listening at levels lower than music would be at a live performance is false, and all it is doing is compensating for the consequence of so doing. A simple manual approach is to use a digital signal processor inserted in the signal path, and factor in some boost until it sounds right to your ears. A few seconds of Googling will find you the charts showing what the ear’s fall-off in sensitivity looks like, the boost needed would be seeking to produce the reverse curve, though something vaguely approximate is likely to suffice. If you can borrow one you’d soon discover if it fixes the problem.

 

or just turn the volume up...

 

Hi Kristian,

Greetings from New York City. In your situation, the very first thing I'd do is go directly to the Mercado San Miguel, get a bottle of wine and some tapas de queso, and after that I'd get some more wine and perhaps some navajas a la plancha, and then I'd be happy, and I'd be in the right frame of mind to face the problem with which you are stuck, and for which there is only one lubricant: Euros. (That, or getting cheaper speakers.)

I think a 252 or 282, along with your 250, would be far better than what you've got. (I agree with the others that bi-amping is the road to hell.) But since you say you're missing some high-frequency information, I'd consider a Chord DAC instead of one from Naim, which I've always found to have a darker presentation.

Lastly, to those who've recommended dealing with the room itself: while one can hardly go wrong with room treatments, aren't diffusers and suchlike the prescription for too much information (i.e bass boom and spitty treble), rather than too little, as is the case here?

--Joe 

Kristian G posted:

Hello...

I was looking for advice to fix a problem of low level listening just not sparkling. I moved from Cyrus to Naim uni to Nova with a 250DR bi-amping into Kef Blade 2 speakers that fell in love at my dealers.

The system at mid to high volumes sounds amazing, but now my girlfriend has moved in I spend more time at lower volumes....around 20 on the Nova.....and the music looses all it's sparkle and interest....is there a fix without changing my blades ? Moving up to 300dr or more?

Many thanks for advice... 

Indeed your girlfriend could be causing this problem. Without you realising it, she is probably so exciting that your music is simply less sparkling & interesting than she is. This phenomenon happens a lot to young couples, it's a little thing called "love".

Take a look at courses.physics.illinois.edu/phys406/sp2017/Lecture_Notes/P406POM_Lecture_Notes/P406POM_Lect5.pdf

In this fascinating article how your ear works, you see the frequency/sound level curves on page 18. On page 19 is the famous Fletcher & Munson curve, who demonstrated in 1933 that at low volumes you hear less of the low & high frequencies.

From the dotted line in the graph: people will only hear 20 Hz notes when they are above 70 dB, and 50 Hz notes when they are above 43 dB. This explains why the subwoofer solution proposed by Richieroo works so well: At low volumes your ears hear less of the lower frequencies, and his subwoofer puts the sound back into the same balance when played louder. The same happens at higher frequencies. That is why they invented the infamous "LOUDNESS" button. It was not created to get "loudness (extra volume)" but to compensate for this "low volume effect".

If they would have called it the "LOW VOLUME COMPENSATION" button back in the seventies when it was introduced, it would have a much better reputation today.

Take care, and I would just play soft music to her

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