Taming the top end

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Perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions is how to tame an aggressive top end.

The culprits are almost always dome tweeters offering greater detail to the music. And that’s the catchphrase to be wary of.

It’s not that I have something against domes. I’ve heard a number of fine examples over the years. It’s just that the trend in speaker designs today seem pointed at folks who are attracted to the heightened sense of detail, like an over-etched picture or an oversharpened video screen. But whatever the reason, owners of these speakers seem prone to fatigue over time and then search for cables and electronics to tame the high-frequency aggression.

By the time the question gets presented to me it’s usually at the point of wit’s end: Too late or too deep in and hopeful to fix the problem by tailoring system synergy.

Sometimes a simple repositioning of the hot tweeter to a more off-axis focus (not directly at the ear) works wonders. Cables, vacuum tubes, and even careful music selection can ease the problem too, but it’s not the perfect solution.

Here’s my advice. If in the market for new speakers be careful of that shiny object called a “detailed” tweeter. Live music rarely is as detailed as these products suggest.

Enjoy the extended detail and then get down to brass tacks. Does it sound like live music?