Metal dome tweeters vs. fabric dome tweeters

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by JohnnyK, Sep 11, 2003.

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  1. JohnnyK

    JohnnyK Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I use NHT speakers in my surround system and audio system. The left and right speakers are NHT VT2.4 towers with metal tweeters. I find the speakers to be fine for movies, but not very good for music. They are too bright and forward. Lately I have been using my old Linn Tucan mini monitors for music. Even though they have a ceramic tweeter, they are less "hard" sounding than the NHT speakers. However, they are too small for my room.

    Last night I auditioned a pair of new Audio Monitor Gold speakers in my house. They also have metal tweeters. To my surprise, they soundsd very similar to the NHT speakers. The only difference was that they were not as "forward" as the NHT speakers. However, they were still too "bright and hard" for me.

    Based upon your experience, do all speakers with metal dome tweeters sound similar? Kind of "too bright" and "too forward"? Do fabric dome tweeters sound less "bright, forward and hard"?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    In my experience, all metal domed tweeters that I've heard , have been overly bright. I am totally happy with my Legacy Audio Ribbon Tweeters. In fact, I'll never go back! I have not heard many silk/fabric tweeters, so I couldn't say if they're bright or not.
     
  3. PMC7027

    PMC7027 Forum Hall Of Fame

    Actually, there is more to it than just the tweeter's material. Many high end companies, such as Wilson Audio, use metal tweeters with great results.

    I'm sure you've heard this before, but please try not to get caught up in the "technology" of the speakers, listen to their sound.

    Just my $.02.
     
  4. Gary

    Gary Nauga Gort! Staff

    I've noticed that some metal speakers are pretty bright and uncomfortable. But I never listen to much high end stuff - mostly mid fi. It's sorta like driving a Mercedes and then shopping at the GM dealership. :sigh:

    Just the same, I've heard some Wilson Audio stuff that was great! I am suprised to learn they utilize metal tweeters.

    Obviously it's probably a quality issue.... Wilson probably spends much more time tweaking their speakers to get it "right" than most other companies do. Or that's my theory, anyway!
     
  5. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA

    That's exactly my experience, Gary. Mid-Fi is about all I listen to and audition, and that's probably why I've never liked the "brightness" of metal tweeters... High-end is another story, I'm sure.
     
  6. wallenjs

    wallenjs New Member

    Location:
    DC Metro Area
    I've got a pair of PSB Bronze Speakers with 1 inch aluminum-dome tweeters. I'll have to tell you they are smooth as silk to my ears. Most people would consider the speakers to be a little on the "dark" side of the spectrum.

    My previous speakers had metal tweeters and they hurt my ears like crazy. I went out to find a pair with silk tweeter when I ran across the PSB's...
     
  7. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana
    One word about metal dome tweeters: AVOID!!! They will drive you insane and make your ears bleed. It's funny, I have a customer who was running NHT speakers. I sold him a cd player and gave him the lecture about metal dome tweeters. He ended up purchasing a pair of Silverline Sonatas and the guy can't stop thanking me. He says I've changed his life. I've experienced the same in the past when I ditched my old Monitor Audios and got some fabric dome tweeters. The difference is dramatic. Do some A/B tests and you'll be stunned at just how abrasive those metal domes can be.
     
  8. Geoman076

    Geoman076 Sealed vinyl is Fun!!

    Location:
    Massachusetts
    I am now the proud owner of a pair of Jean Marie Reynaud Euterpes (thanks prix!), which do not have metal tweeters. They are awesome! no harshness whatsoever. You might be able to find some metal tweeters that would make you happy, but why take the chance? if your goal is to be able to listen to music for hours and hours, without fatigue, I would suggest staying away form metal tweeters.
     
  9. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    I've owned a number of speakers with metal domed tweeters, and all I can say to those who have bad impressions of them is - you've heard some duds, or you were listening to them on a system that was ill suited to their style.

    The top end of the Yamaha NS1000s (dome made of vapour-deposited beryllium) is so smooth and extended, not the tiniest smidgen of hardness, not one iota - when driven with good gear!!

    I originally bought these for my first system - a Dual 505, Sansui AU-217 MkII integrated. In Australia, I paid $250 for the Dual, $220 for the Sansui, and $1400 for the Yammies. I was a green audiophile, thought that you should buy the best speakers you could find.

    I upgraded through a number of turntables, cartridges, amps, preamps and cables over a period of 5 years. The sound from the Yamahappies improved remarkably as the rest if the gear moved from budget-fi, through mid-fi, and then to the lower echelon of high-fi. My system, at the end of this journey, sounded nothing like what I started with; yet the speakers were unchanged.

    Metal domes - done right - are not a problem.

    Another speaker I owned with metal domes was the original Celestion SL6 with the copper-domed tweeter. These are very inefficient, but they are relaxed, open and oh so musical in the treble. If anything, they are slightly laid back compared to electrostatics.

    Compared to the Linn Saras I owned - which do not have a metal domed tweeter but can strip the paint off - the Celestions are as sweet as one could ask for.

    And no one who has heard them could accuse the JMlab Be tweeters of being hard and aggressive. A beautiful treble indeed.

    Metal can work!

    Regards,
    Geoff
     
  10. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana

    Though it's interesting that both pairs of speakers that you currently own have soft dome tweeters, isn't it??
     
  11. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    They do. And I also have a pair of Paradigm MiniMonitors with metal domes and the JM Reynaud Twin MkIIIs walk all over them in the treble, that's for sure.

    I'd love to hear a pair of NS1000s in my current system.

    Regards,
    Geoff
     
  12. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    I'll back you 100% on these Geoff. These are the speakers that I grew up listening to. My dad's had them since around '81 or '82 when they were new. It's hard to find any around in his finish - Rosewood. Seems most are the Monitor series. I can't say if they are bright, but I remember the midrange being absolutely top-notch.
    My best memory about them, is when I listened to "The Immigrant Song" (JUST to learn Bonham's licks), and went back and showed my drum instructor the RIGHT way to play the song. These speakers were that clean, I could easily make out the kick/snare pattern that Bonham used.
    The only down-side, is the bass is totally lacking, IMO.
     
  13. JohnnyK

    JohnnyK Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    From 1975 till recently I used AR3a speakers with a soft dome tweeter and a soft dome midrange driver. They were very smooth, but did not image well. Plus they were having physical problems due to their age (bad tweeter, bad attenuation controls, foam rot, and a dislocated magnet on one of the woofers (I dropped the speaker onto the floor)). So I purchased the NHT speakers. Bummer on the ears.

    Maybe its my electronics that are to blame. I have an Accurus 5x125 amp and an Arragon Stage One processor. Maybe I need a different amp?
     
  14. Gerry

    Gerry New Member

    Location:
    Camp David, MD
    " I am totally happy with my Legacy Audio Ribbon Tweeters."

    Ribbons do have a way of spoiling you, don't they? I don't think the idea of a metal dome is flawed by any stretch, there are some wonderful drivers out there. It can be a bit more difficult to get one to work well, though. The same thing happens with midranges and woofers; magnesium, aluminum, dual-layer Kevlar (like the Legacies), etc. Stiff cones can do wonderful things but they require extra attention when the speaker is designed. Soft domes, on the other hand, tend to break up much earlier and more benignly, making the design process easier at the possible expense of some measure of performance.
     
  15. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA

    I have the Acurus A125X5 also, and it's a damn good amp, IMO (for the dough). I would not blame an amp for a speaker being overly bright, etc. You can have crappy speakers and a Mark Levinson amp, and they will still sound like crap. But, if you have wonderful sounding speakers, you can use mediocre electronics, and they will still sound wonderful :)
     
  16. fjhuerta

    fjhuerta New Member

    Location:
    México City
    Hmm. That's funny.

    The DefTechs I own are definitely too bright for their own good (aluminum tweeters), yet my big JBLs sound as smooth and nice as anything (not bright or harsh at all).

    Yet I *did* end up using soft dome tweeters for my "serious" listening setup (a pair of Margules Audio A3.2's), so you might somehow be right. I do enjoy a lot more music out of them.
     
  17. reb

    reb Long Live Rock

    Location:
    Long Island
    The last speaker I owned with a main firing metal dome was back in 1991. Personally, I still find even the best unpleaant to listen too.
     
  18. audio

    audio New Member

    Location:
    guyana

    I agree completely.
     
  19. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    They were more expensive.

    Mine were the monitors - finished in black (stained) birch. Still very tasty, and I was into black then. In fact, as a tribute to my long gone NS1000M speakers, I ordered my Coincident Super Eclipses in the black finish, which had just come out at the time I bought them.

    Regards,
    Geoff
     
  20. AudioEnz

    AudioEnz Well-Known Member

    Some metal dome tweeters can sound bright, forward and hard. Other metal dome tweeters are anything but.

    Some fabric dome tweeters can sound bright, forward and hard. Other fabric dome tweeters are anything but.

    Don't obsess on the technology; only obsess on the results.
     
  21. AudioEnz

    AudioEnz Well-Known Member

    My experience - and the experience of most hi-fi reviewers - has been the opposite. You can put even very modest speakers on the end of a great front end and amp, and they'll sing!

    But put a great speaker on the end of a mediocre front end and amp, and the best you can hope for is mediocrity.
     
  22. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Keep the faith mate.

    As I said in my little saga about the NS1000s - I bought truly great speakers and drove them with a cheap (but reasonable in it's day) integrated and used a modest turntable.

    Over a period of 5 years, I upgraded the turntable twice, the cartridge many times, the preamp four times, the power amps three times, a number of cables/interconnects, added speaker stands, room treatment and so on.

    Finally I was able to get the best out of these great monitors. It's not the right way to go.

    Regards,
    Geoff
     
  23. fjhuerta

    fjhuerta New Member

    Location:
    México City
    My experience, too. I used a pair of cheap mini-monitors on my new tube preamp / SS setup, and I was blown away at how disgustingly good they could sound.
     
  24. Cliff

    Cliff Magic Carpet Man

    Location:
    Northern CA
    I don't ever recall reading an article, or review where the author stated electronics were more important than speakers. I could very well be wrong, but would you post some of these articles?




    But put a very nice set of hifi speakers into the mix. You haven't done that yet (or if you did, you didn't mention it). Better yet, your experience never did it bass-akwards (as I've done) :)
    With my situation, I could put my Sony ProLogic "receiver" in the mix (circa 1994), and power my Legacy Classics with it, and it still sounds great. Sure the system loses a bit, but it would be satisfactory, and it CERTAINLY doesn't make these speakers sound mediocre. Now, if I hook up my Yamaha NS-??? Speakers (hey they don't have metal domed tweeters at least :D ), with all my seperates that I'm currently running, do you think they will even be in the same league? Well, I've done it, and it's not even close. I had my Sony when I first bought the Legacys. I gave them some time together as a good, solid reference point (Legacy has a 30 day money back guarantee, which I would have gladly taken advantage of), and then hooked up my Yamahas to make sure of my purchase. I am totally, 100% on the side of speaker manufacturers now (because they are usually the ones stating the speaker is the system's weakest link).

    BTW, if your speakers are only capable of a range of: 80Hz to 15Khz - without significant distortion (I know there are a lot of other factors for speakers than this, but it's an example), what kind of electronics could improve this?
     
  25. Metralla

    Metralla Joined Jan 13, 2002

    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Cliff,

    I'm sure we could all give counter-examples, but I think there are some solid principles behind what AudioEnz was saying. Perhaps your Legacy Classics are a nice easy load for the receiver.

    As you know, there have been a number of loudspeakers over the years that present a nasty load to the amplifier - the worst one I have had personal experience with was the big Acoustats, which dipped below 2 Ohms. A load like this will make mincemeat of a cheap receiver. It might sound OK at low volumes, but turn it up a bit and it will either trip the protection circuit, blow a fuse or run into meltdown.

    As far as speakers go (a) frequency extension, particularly bass frequencies, is expensive; and (b) the magic is in the midrange.

    Thus if you mate a modest pair of speakers with a top quality amp you will get the midrange right, and good sound will result. It may not flap your trousers, but it will give you goosebumps.

    One of the problems with this perennial argument is that speaker differences are fairly easy to assess. Amplifier differences, especially between a competent, but modestly priced, integrated amp and a high quality pre-power combination, are not as obvious, but reveal themselves over extended auditioning.

    Another thing is ... new big speakers are impressive. A buddy visits - sees the new big speakers - wow, dude! It's gotta sound great. New and expensive amplifier, tucked away - not obvious. Well, you know what I'm saying.

    At one stage during upgrading, I connected my newly arrived BAT VK-50SE preamp ($9000) into a modest system I had owned for 12 months - Arcam Alpha 9 CDP, Arcam Alpha 10 integrated amp, and Paradigm MiniMonitor v.2 on Sound Anchor stands. I had to open up the Arcam and flip a little internal switch so I could use the external preamp. I was absolutely knocked out by the fantastic improvement this wrought in my system - it made those $400 speakers really sing.

    The most important point about the amplifier (I'm thinking of the power amplifier) + speaker interface is .... it must be compatible. Low efficiency speakers with a cheap receiver is a dud. Similarly, high efficiency speakers on the end of a high powered but somewhat "noisy" sand amp will suck.

    I think it's easier to get it wrong with the more expensive speakers.

    Regards,
    Geoff
     
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