Spendor A4 highs rolled off after about a weak of low level listening. Is this normal?


My new system (10 days old) is SN3, CD5si, Highcap DR, ND5XS2, Rega P9 with Exact and Spendor A4. Highs sound a bit rolled off after 10 days of low level listening. Is that yo be expected?

My former system was Regs RX3 speakers , Saturn and Elex integrated with the same P9.

Is it because of different tonal balance between the two systems or is it just the A4 speakers need more time to open up?

The new system has more “flesh and bones” better imaging and better PRAT, but less prominent highs. Maybe I’m just not accustomed to a system without hyped highs.

With the exception of the TT, my prior system was damaged from a home renovation so I could not compare old and new systems and acoustic memory is not reliable.

Have you “toed in” the speakers?

Yes. They are toed-in where you see half the speaker side wall. Room is lively b/c of construction materials.

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I also have SN3.
It does not have that very explicit high treble, that some other modern amps have, from what I have listened.
Your speaker cables can make a difference too.
And of course signal cables.

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@Bassman53 i have Chord Speaker cable. I am using the Naim DINN interconnect. Better Chord interconnect is on order. Thanks.

I also think that the SN3 really shines when you crank up the volume a bit.
Low level listening benefits from ”loudness”, which it does not have.

@Bassman53 thanks. The system is only 11 days old. I am playing internet radio at low volumes to break in components and speakers. I am hopeful that the sound will improve.

I rarely go past 8:30 with my SN3 and I really like the highs. It just seem more natural than other amps I’ve listened to, less fatiguing after hours of listening. It could be the nDAC that I use as most feel it has a dark tone to it. I like it!

I’ve always wondered if my rolled off highs was something I just got used to. When I went to hear a NC 300 level system with expensive speakers I came back home satisfied that my system is setup correctly.


@marcusman it just may be getting used to more natural highs. This raises the issue of how to judge a system? Some say the absolute standard is comparing a system to live music. Others say that is impossible.

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Agreed. So many factors come into play. I love live music but if I’m being honest not sure I want it at home. Sure a solo artist playing acoustic would be nice but not Led Zeppelin

Trouble is live music is very much in the hands of the guy on the mixing desk plus where you’re sat, and the hall you’re in.
At a recent concert we were too close at 2 rows from the front and central. With the band about 10ft away.
The mix from the speakers at each side of the stage wasn’t good for us at all.
With a well mixed recording and hopefully well placed speakers you’re sat in the perfect spot.
I’ve found especially with a recorded live concert the end result is diapointing

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I’ve had the A4’s with an Atom and a Nova, I certainly don’t recall the highs as been rolled off, they’re a nice speaker and IME more balanced then the A7 which I’ve also had.

Go and listen to a symphonic orchestra.
Compare it with a record.
It’s not even close.
A real life performance is very loud and like a thick soup of sound, not the superdetailed sound of most recordings.


Out of curiosity how were the a7’s different? I’ve heard the A4’s and did wonder if the a7’s were worth a demo

Well, besides the quality of the performers it depends on the venue and the seat. Unlike many I’m a fan of the Barbican hall since it renders the music very transparent. Not soup at all.

Many people like the soup though. Soup hides flaws, interpretation et cetera.

Oh and there are fabulous concert halls like the one in Amsterdam which it utterly brillliant.

I found them a little too precise and upper mids too accentuated and ultimately fatiguing, could have been my room but I moved them on

It’s perfectly possible with acoustic music. We have a piano in the house, so it’s very easy to tell if a pair of speakers can do piano, which is one of the hardest tests. You only have to hear a jazz band or string quartet playing and you’ll soon know if the stereo is able to render music naturally.

I remember a Theatre of Hate concert at the Wedge in Southsea. It was deafeningly loud but absolutely clean, just fantastic. So live rock music can be done well. No stereo can come close, so it’s about whether it can manage a reasonable facsimile.

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It’s been a little more than a month with my new Naim system. Highs are still slightly rolled off compared to my former all Rega system.

However the tonal balance is much more natural. I am amazed how the system captures both low level details and contrasts. Imaging is much more “fleshed “ and human life like. It’s hard to put into words. Imaging across the stage is so much better than my previous system. I have also subscribed to Qobuz and for the most part it is better than Apple Music. Not always.

Monday I am getting my Chord interconnect cables installed. The order was delayed and I have been using the standard Naim
Cables. Thanks to all that have helped. For now I have no desire to upgrade. I am spending time with LPs and CDs purchased long ago and I am loving recreating my audio youth. Thanks again.

Not sure what speaker cables and analogue cables you have but you can most likely top the higher end of the spectrum by choosing cables that let more information through there. Naim original cables are pretty rolled off IMO which in someones system, home and their ears can be the same as neutral. But it is indeed possible to tweak the full frequency range by choosing different cables.

That would be my suggestion, based on what you’ve described. Assuming your whole system is new-new (i.e. out-of-the-box new, not new to you but secondhand), what you’re describing sounds like my experience of what’s usually called burn-in. In particular, new kit can sometimes be quite harsh in the treble until it settles down. I often also notice the bass being lumpy or boomy but becoming smoother, warmer and more natural over several weeks - maybe this has happened in your system too?

Your previous kit may well have been quite harsh in the treble and it’s taking your ears/brain a while to get used to the new system.

My advice is give it a few more weeks and see if any further changes happen; if you don’t like it there are lots of tweaks (many already mentioned above) one can do to adjust a system’s sound.