Need recommendations for a warmer sounding speaker

Some how you and Blues Fan want to keep telling me that my XS-2 and source is not good enough or needs repair. How arrogant for not hearing it to make such a statement. My system never sounded like garbage for 10+ years before I was hit with Tinnitus. And to my ears the new B&W/KEFs with Arcam electronics that I heard at a local dealer was even worse than what I have now in terms of my high frequency intolerance. It would nice if this forum allowed people to hide users from view who just want to say other people’s gear is garbage, not good enough, or needs repair.

I’m not in any way calling your electronics garbage. You’ve missed my point completely.

Simply put, if you’re going to spend $6000 you are better off going with a better source and a cheaper pair of speakers that meet your need. You will get better sound with this approach, especially with a sensitivity to high frequencies.

It’s up to you how you want to perceive my advice.

Side note: As someone who has occasional bouts of tinnitus I have had great success with Flare Calmers. Good luck.


I need to give a counter view. In my experience of hifi over the last 40 years quite frankly I have personally found the speakers and the room matching are absolutely the most important aspect to get right. Then focus on the source and then amp. Clearly components must be compatible … ie amp be able to drive speakers etc…
But absolutely speaker first… then focus on source. Sure a great speaker for your room need not be super expensive but don’t skimp here, and get tge best for your budget… otherwise I suspect frustration will creep in and it might well be a major bottle neck performance wise. To get the best sound you need the right speaker for your room and tastes… get that right and you will be likely delighted how wonderful many sources sound.

Sure some mention garbage in garbage out… absolutely key for data systems… if I am to extend to hifi… then let’s focus on sound… if the sound into your room is garbage from your speakers, it’s going to be garbage into your ears…but I don’t think that expression is really apt for hifi, as there is too much subjective assessment


It seems to me that all sensible - and some frankly bizarre - suggestions have been given here, and mostly rejected or found inadequate.

I understand that tinnitus doesn’t bring joie de vivre, but from the average tone of the OP’s posts, my one is this:


I do understand. It happened to me too.

That old computer based analogy again! GIGO, so popularly trotted out by source dusciples, is an inappropriate expression in respect of hifi: Whichever component makes garbage of the music that is all that will be heard, not just relating to source. More particularly, provided the source is half decent, then although it may not give as much detail etc, it isn’t likely to be producing garbage (and of all sources this is true of digital source today, most certainly if any Naim streamer is used), whereas a poor speaker can make garbage of any signal, distorting it, adding noise from resonances, falsely curtailing some frequencies etc. Certainly a speaker can’t reproduce anything missing from the signal it is fed. But equally relevant is that anything in the signal not reproduced by the speaker is similarly not heard. A better source resolvefine detail that indeed if missing will not be resolved further along the chain, but detail is not the be all and end all of sound reproduction and enjoyment

All chains are only as good as their weakest link - whether in hifi that be source or speaker (or amp). Ideally all links should be as strong as each other (with a perfectly balanced system), but in the real world for anyone having a future goal towards which they are progressing with upgrades it is a more rapid route to the end goal and lower overall cost if things are upgraded separately, inevitably shifting out of balance. The question then comes down to what sounds better, and to me the answer is unquestionably getting the character of the system to sound as good as it can, which is fundamentally down to the speakers because they have the biggest single effect on sound character - all provided that the source is reasonable and the amp capable of sufficient control to avoid unpleasant wallowy bass.


Applied to hi-fi by Linn Products in the 1970’s when advertising/promoting the LP12. A superbly successful and astute bit of marketing which pretty much convinced the whole of the hi-fi community that only the source really mattered. Judging from the hi-fi mags of the time systems along the lines of a full spec LP12 with a Tandy Realistic amp and speakers were not uncommon.

Q: “I need a tape deck to make cassettes to play in my car - can you recommend a good one?” A: “Forget a tape deck, save up to buy a Linn LP12 instead”.

Crazy days. But great fun.


I still think you should look at demo-ing an amplifier with tone controls. The new Rose RA280 has excellent reviews.

Exactly - a doctrine promulgated by… a company selling sources (originally only a source)

That indeed might be another option if simple capacitor approach doesnt do enough (but definitely needs trying before buying). Also of course the analog graphic equaliser suggestion, or, probably better but more challenging to find and more expensive, a dsp box. Both, though dsp significantly better, could sharply cut narrow frequency bands if it is identified that specific frequencies are the culprit rather than broadband treble cut, leaving much of the sound intact.

Actually, it is your posts that come across as arrogant, to me. The first post asked for help, which people freely offered, having thought about the issues in the light of their experience, only to be strenuously argued against and called arrogant. I, too, owned a Nait XS and learned its limitations in terms of what speakers it could drive really well and later the advantages a more powerful amp (SuperNait) could bring to the system, so I’m in the camp of @Bluesfan and @ChrisBell .

And on the tinnitus issue, I do suffer from it. I describe it as mild because I have learned various mental techniques whereby my brain can mostly process the hissing out of my hearing, though it’s always there if I focus on it. What I have never experienced is that it is particularly exacerbated by high frequencies and, if anything, I prefer speakers with good treble response. I do wonder if perhaps you have another hearing issue and whether it might be worth discussing this with your audiologist.

This really is meant to be helpful advice, but you will probably interpret it differently, so I will leave this thread, now.



I think you are right. I have read a lot of good things about Sonus Faber in various audio forums. They seem to focus on musicality rather than thrilling the listener.


I asked for advice from folks who may have heard the speakers I listed in hopes of getting their impressions. When did I ask for people to advise me on changing my amp and source?

And when I stated that I have been very happy with the sound of my amp and source for over 10 years before tinnitus hit, how is it polite to continue to state that my gear is not sufficient, in need of repair, or to infer that they are garbage? As they write “Garbage in / Garbage out” to support their opinion.

My very targeted question was to ask about speaker changes to mitigate Tinnitus. Not to discover that what people think about the gear I have had for 10 years and liked enough to keep it until tinnitus changed my hearing.

So yes, I consider it arrogant for someone to proclaim someone else’s gear is not good enough, broken, or “garbage”. I also find that both impolite and off topic. The topic was about speakers. If in your mind that make’s me arrogant, then you are welcome to think whatever you like.

For what it’s worth, over the years I had both SF bookshelves and floor standing speakers. While i did like the tonal balance and I did find them easy to listen to, they did not work well in my relatively narrow listening space. I moved on. They were real eye candy if that mattered. I found the imaging to be problematic, particularly climbing up the side walls. I was using the SF speakers with Ayre integrated and Ayre CDP.

The center imaging got bunched and compressed and when I spread the speakers farther apart was when the side images climbed up the wall.

Not sure how much this helps you. I too have tinnitus.

FWIW a good friend of mine who is a genuine rock legend - with tinnitus - recently set up a system with Linn Isobariks and an amplifier with tone controls.

The problem is that is not easy to find speakers that are warm and in meantime easy to drive, as you have a Nait XS. This later is not recommended for Harbeth or Sonus Faber.
I would then recommend Audio Note speakers or Apertura, or Living Voice. These 3 speakers are warm and not aggressive, and easy to be driven.

1 Like

This makes perfect sense to me. And it also follows my thought that a stand mount monitor might interact with the room less and maybe reduce the high freq reflections.

1 Like

A pair of NEAT Motive SX2 or 3 speakers match a XS 2 amplifier really well and present a lovely refined balanced tone without being tiring or unexciting at the same time. Really nice on the ear in the high frequencies.


Floorstander vs stand mount per se is of no significance to top end output/reflections (unlike bass. However the degree of off-axis dispersion from the tweeter is something that differs between speakers. While unrelated to stand or floor standing, factors such as width of front baffle and position of tweeter, can affect, and of course the type and model of tweeter. If not already done you can play with toe-in/out of your present speakers. Another option may be to consider room treatments (including soft furnishings) to reduce HF reflections.

1 Like

If you are open to something old Carlson speaker from the 70’s are very smooth. A more modern speaker that might do the trick is Spendor classic 1/2, only demoed but sounded smooth to me. Not heard the other speakers in the Classic line so can not comment on those. What about panel speakers?