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Taming tweeter brightness....the non destructive tweak on Usher S520

Wharfedale EVO4.1 Bookshelf Speakers

vivek.saikia

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I recently setup a stereo system after carefully considering each individual components.
This was going to be my 4th stereo setup and I wanted to avoid all the mistakes I had done before.
Also, I was more sure about the kind of music I listen to and about my sound preferences.

So, finally I decided upon the following components -

Source : Squeezebox Touch - As all my music is in digital format
Amplification: Dared i30 tube integrated amplifier - Simply love the tube sound, after owning many tube headphone amps, owning a tube integrated was inevitable.
Speaker: Usher S520 - They were perfect for my smallish apartment.

Initially, I was very much happy with the sound quality although when I did some long listening sessions (5-6 hours), I ended with some listening fatigue.
I realized the treble from the Usher S520 is a bit forward, atleast in my nearfield listening setup (6ft from my listening position). Although at no point they sound sibilant. Infact, many will find the sound perfect and I would say it is more of a personal preference, as I like my music to sound natural.
In the stock form, the male voices were having that extra sharpness which was bothering me, as they were not sounding as if the singer is singing in my room and was sounding a bit "synthetic".

I decided to take things into my hands. I knew the speakers can do much better than this and I knew I can somehow tweak them to customize them as per my taste.

And thus the operation of the Ushers begun...

First, I just wanted to take a good look at the drivers and the crossovers to see if there is any scope to tweak those.

I literally tore apart the speaker including the drivers.

Very beautiful and quality construction of the cabinets with ample amount of stuffing.





Impressively huge motor assembly of the tweeter



Textile soft dome tweeter





Cast aluminium frame....magnetic shielding.....nice!



The enclosure is quite small hence the crossovers are hardly accessible.
Also, tweaking the crossover would result into change of the tonality of the speaker, which I wanted to avoid.
I dropped the Idea of tweaking the crossovers and rather thought of some alternate ways to attenuate the tweeter output.

First option was to surround the tweeter with felt padding to control the diffraction. This might have worked but wouldn't have attenuated the tweeter much.

Second option I tried was to place the speakers facing straight rather than pointed at my sweet spot. This worked to some extent but still the treble was a bit pronounced.

Finally, I saw this excellent solution in one of the forums and decided to try it out.
The solution was to replace the jumper between the +ve terminal of this bi-wireable speaker with a resisiter, which will eventually attenuate the tweeter volume. You can experiment with different resistance values to see which one suits you better.
I ordered a pair of 1.5ohm and 2 ohm 10 watt non inductive resisters from parts express.
The resisters should be non inductive as it will not mess with the frequency response of the tweeter and it will just reduce the volume of the tweeter a bit without rolling off the high frequencies.
If you use inductive wound coil resisters then it will roll off the upper frequency, which you will not want.

Initially, I experimented with the 1.5 ohm resister to the speaker as jumper, did some listening and then swapped with the 2 ohm resister and the system sounded exactly the way I wanted it to sound. The sound was very detailed but without a hint of sibilance or brightness. Mission Accomplished!! :yahoo:
I cannot recall any speakers which had sounded more sweeter than this set up, including the thousand dollar speakers which I auditioned. :licklips:
The speakers now had more of the fullrange driver sound which I totally dig.





Only thing to make sure is to connect the speaker wire to the woofer terminal and not the tweeter terminal otherwise you will end up with even more brighter system.
Or alternatively, If you have a very dark sounding speaker then you can just connect the speaker cable to the tweeter terminal, with the resister as jumper. This will attenuate the woofer volume a bit hence making the tweeter a bit prominent, if you like it that way. You can try out different resistance values to get the sound of your liking.

Needless to say this tweak will work only for the bi-wireable speakers.
The best part of this tweak is that it doesn't mess up with the crossover frequency distribution and also is 100% reversible.

So, if you have a speaker setup which sounds too bright to you then at least try out this tweak before deciding on the next upgrade.
You will be very pleased with the results and you will save a lot of your hard earned money.

Happy DIY'ing!!

Bonus pictures...Enjoy :)



 
Last edited:

rikhav

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Hi vivek
More easy method whuic worked for me is to add proper footers to my power and pre amp and cdp. It added more weight to mids and lower mids , thus making the sound less bright but with no detail loss
Of course, sound is very subjective. You may nor hear what i and may not like a sound signature which i would

Also with the method you chose, the effect would be more prominent.

But if someone is fine tuning their setup and find their setup little much on a brigher side, and want to add little weight to the sound, using good footers under electronics would help.
Ofcourse, every equipment will react differently and every kind of footer will have its own distinctive sound

I used brass footers and alis first generation isopods
 

vivek.saikia

Active Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2009
Messages
882
Points
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Location
Minnesota, US
Hi vivek
More easy method whuic worked for me is to add proper footers to my power and pre amp and cdp. It added more weight to mids and lower mids , thus making the sound less bright but with no detail loss
Of course, sound is very subjective. You may nor hear what i and may not like a sound signature which i would

Also with the method you chose, the effect would be more prominent.

But if someone is fine tuning their setup and find their setup little much on a brigher side, and want to add little weight to the sound, using good footers under electronics would help.
Ofcourse, every equipment will react differently and every kind of footer will have its own distinctive sound

I used brass footers and alis first generation isopods

Thanks Rikhav!

Currently, my amp is placed on the carpeted floor.
Do you think the footers are going to make any difference in this setup?
 

rikhav

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Thanks Rikhav!

Currently, my amp is placed on the carpeted floor.
Do you think the footers are going to make any difference in this setup?

Fankly, i also never believed in isolation devices and thought its for ultra hiend setups until i got to try a few

Thanks to joshua , he gave me brass footers wbich he has designed himself and isopods. Tried them under my speakers and electronics and it made an apparent differnce. Listened to my setup for quiet long to make sure its no placebo effect

By the way i have no golden ears and i cannot immediately find a difference in sound between two cables or a cdp or with such accessories.

I cannot say how much percent change it did bring to sound of my setup but for me its quiet an obvious change in sound and in a positive way

See if you can get a few for trial and see if you hear any difference. I had placed 3 footers under speakers and electronics
 

sidvee

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@Vivek,
Interesting tweak. I have the s520's in a second system. However I do not find the ushers bright at all. Infact I find them slightly recessed, which is what I prefer just as you. I am using the speakers with the grille covers. How do you listen? I saw some stereophile measurements on these and with the grilles on, there was some measurable HF attenuation. Also the speakers I have do not have bi-wiring/bi-amp capability, so I wonder if the x-over for the US model is different, as I know for the Be718, the US had a different x-over.
BTW how cold is it in Minnesota this week?, are you in minneapolis?:eek:
Cheers,
Sid
 

vivek.saikia

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Messages
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Location
Minnesota, US
@Vivek,
Interesting tweak. I have the s520's in a second system. However I do not find the ushers bright at all. Infact I find them slightly recessed, which is what I prefer just as you. I am using the speakers with the grille covers. How do you listen? I saw some stereophile measurements on these and with the grilles on, there was some measurable HF attenuation. Also the speakers I have do not have bi-wiring/bi-amp capability, so I wonder if the x-over for the US model is different, as I know for the Be718, the US had a different x-over.
BTW how cold is it in Minnesota this week?, are you in minneapolis?:eek:
Cheers,
Sid

Hi Sid,
I have come across many posts in various online forums where people are concerned about the slightly prominent highs and they are otherwise highly satisfied with these wonderful speakers.
These speakers have been there for quite a while and have undergone multiple iterations. I am assuming there have been updates in the crossover and slightly in the drivers as well.
I have seen some pictures of the older crossovers and they surely have different components than the current iteration. Also, the woofer in the older version didn't have any magnetic shielding.

And about the cold in Minnesota, you better watch this video -

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151887851338525

However, it is getting better now.
 

reubensm

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Good tweak, this is a professionally accepted one since the early days. A lot of speakers of those times would have a control for adjusting the delivery of highs. Similar method.
 

vivek.saikia

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Good tweak, this is a professionally accepted one since the early days. A lot of speakers of those times would have a control for adjusting the delivery of highs. Similar method.

Yes, almost all the vintage HiFi speakers used to have L-Pads to tame down the highs and mids.
 

keith_correa

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Well, this would not be totally "non-destructive" but I doubt it would be "destructive" so to speak.

Adding a series resistor before the tweeter x-over would shift the x-over point just a little ahead from originally intended by the manufacturer. Also the tweeter impedance would change above certain frequencies.
 

manoj.p

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why not use treble tone control on the amp (if available?) That would be very non-destructive for sure.
 

Thad E Ginathom

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There is an even easier solution (especially when/if amp does not have tone control

Source : Squeezebox Touch - As all my music is in digital format

Do "tone control," ie EQ, on the computer source.

This occurred to me on first reading, because it is what I do. Parametric EQ is infinitely adjustable, but even Graphic EQ would be more so.

However, vivek wanted to take a hardware approach. Maybe he also wanted a solution that would be usable regardless of source.
 

Tanoj

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Although i really Appreciate this tweak and i would surely going to try on my system as well

i would also like to build a Active crossover , if anyone has the design i would really appreciate to share with me

i would like to keep the Active crossover verysimple, with just two controller knobs 1 for the Driver's and 1 for the tweeter

Regards

Tanoj
 

vivek.saikia

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Well, this would not be totally "non-destructive" but I doubt it would be "destructive" so to speak.

Adding a series resistor before the tweeter x-over would shift the x-over point just a little ahead from originally intended by the manufacturer. Also the tweeter impedance would change above certain frequencies.

Does the introduction of a non-inductive resister before the crossover going to change anything in the crossover?
I believe the (non-inductive) resistor is simply going to consume some energy and dissipate in the form of heat. It is not going to change the frequency of the signal, eventually just reducing the signal strength to the tweeter crossover.
However, if the resistor is induction (wound coil type) then it will definitely change the frequency reaching the tweeter crossover.
 

vivek.saikia

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Minnesota, US
There is an even easier solution (especially when/if amp does not have tone control



Do "tone control," ie EQ, on the computer source.

This occurred to me on first reading, because it is what I do. Parametric EQ is infinitely adjustable, but even Graphic EQ would be more so.

However, vivek wanted to take a hardware approach. Maybe he also wanted a solution that would be usable regardless of source.

I would rely on a hardware approach than on a software approach any day.
Moreover, I am using Soundcheck's Touch Toolbox 3.0 mods on the SBT.
 
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