I'm confused - Different music...different speakers?

Thanks for allowing me this exploration. I've been on Audiogon before and find myself here for a very different reason this time.
I do believe my system is well resolving and will define gear at the end
Yet I keep getting steered to music genre based on sound.
What I mean by this is simple.
I can't seem to listen to old rock n roll favorites anymore.
There are albums I know from the past inside out and upside down - one example: The Allman Brother's at Fillmore East. I can mostly play every bit of this on guitar. I own three good copies on vinyl and can stream it at hi-res on Qobuz.
There are two drummers and Berry Oakley on bass- no slouch. Duane on slide...etc. An Epic and dynamic album
I can't listen to it - the metal tweeters are just aggravating. And what I remember from the bass and percussion is slam from the very opening to the end - it's not here.
What is going on here?
Gear is as follows:
Analogue side is a Nottingham Space 294, 12" Ace arm, Lyra Delos Cart and an EAR 834 MM/MC phono stage
Digital is an Antelope Zodiac plus with Voltikus power supply
All good and better cables
Totem Hawk floor standers
Amp is a Rogue Cronus w/ KT120 output tubes
Play Bill Evans or Bach ....and I can watch the paint melt off the walls and love every second of it......
I'm at a loss and thanks


Most 60s and 70s rock albums were mixed down on big horn driven studio monitors. Play that stuff on JBL, Altec, or Bozac monitors and you’ll feel the vibe. A little Totem just ain’t going to do it, sorry.

A JBL200 should do the trick.

Think bigger. That will work. The old Infinities work well. Kerwin Vegas, too. Any of the old VMPS will rock the joint. You can spend a lot of money and get half what most will do. Tekton is a good one I bet.. All kinds of choices there. Like russ69 said JBLs, Altec, Klipsch, etc. Very efficient horns, they blast and sound good.


I had the Hawks for a few years, great at low volumes. Turn it up and

the little Revelator just can't handle it. I sold them. I also have a pair

of Polk LSi 15s. I compared them at the same time. The Hawks sounded

much better at low volume. Crank it & the Polks killed them, you can

knock the pictures off the wall with them and they sounded really good.

I use the Polks as HT fronts now.


Maybe you could add a nice sub because they do sound really nice.

every demo in every shop of every metal dome tweetered speaker i ever heard - this is what i recall when i read OP

wonder why audiophile recordings tend to be either trad jazz or small scale classical almost exclusively? (a few jazz rock coryell ones on chesky notwithstanding)?

they sound airy, extended, etc with metal tweets

think thiels.

playing nirvana.

driven by krells.


I’ve owned the Hawks, Forests and Model 1’s and never found them bright. I think the "metal tweeter = harsh" thing that so many throw around is not always true. Harbeth, Spendor and Chartwell all use metal tweeters and are not harsh. I think it has more to do with the crossover level and frequency than the material itself. That said, I think the trouble you are having is due to a lack of impact in the midbass, where most of the "slam" frequencies in rock reside. IMO, real low bass is found in organ or orchestral work, as well as some synth stuff with sub-bass frequencies. You are probably cranking the speaker up to generate midbass impact, which overloads the drivers and stresses your amplifier, leading to an unpleasant sound. If you like the Hawks for acoustic music, I would leave them and add a sub to fill out the midbass and give you more fullness at lower volumes. There are several companies now putting out high-quality compact subs that I think would mate well with the Hawks. Take a look at SVS for one.

It's always tricky to pin things on one factor, such as a tweeter. But different tweeters do have different characters, at least for me. I've moved toward ribbons over metal tweeters. Focal 936s were too bright for me, and Dyn Evoke 30 soft domes were too rolled off. If you ever get a chance to hear a well implemented Beyma AMT, tweeter, well, that's both good with rock and with audiophile jazz and classical.

As a prior owner of Totems with that exact same tweeter for many years, and going through a few different higher current amplifiers, and cables, I had to kinda beat them into submission to get them to sound reasonable to my ears across different types and generations of music and recordings of varying quality. These speakers caused me to move to monoblock tube amplifiers, and ultimately to different and more sensitive custom built speakers with different type tweeters and crossovers..

@smaarch1 fwiw, if you must keep the Totem Hawks, there are a few different things you might try to help curve the alloy dome tweeter "aggravation" some, if you have not already attempted these band-aids. 1. try changing the front center 12AU7 preamp tube in the Rogue to a softer tube to take a little edge off. 2. good quality copper multi-strand speaker cables can help a little; tried several types with my former Totems with varying results. 3. Research and check capacitance pf/ft of your existing interconnect cables between the source and preamplifier. Ask Rogue what the acceptable limits are pf/ft, it matters with some tube amps too. Sometimes other/softer sounding copper interconnects can help a little. Your results may vary. Best of luck.


How upgrades / your components effects different genre of music has interested me for a few decades. I used to have three or four disks I would take to auditioning sessions, influencing my purchasing. I noticed over time that while that music was sounding better, other genera at home would not sound as good. At the time I was really into electronic. The lightbulb went on… this is not a good ruler, electronic is fabricated and I am making it sound good to,me, not necessarily what the author intended. I listen to all music types, not just electronic..


Over time I realized the only music I could really use as a standard was acoustical. That I would have to hear it live and take recordings in to audition equipment that were the same. Quite abruptly the direction of my system changed… away from planar speakers and massive amps to tubes and dynamic speakers. All genre of music improved with each purchase. Season tickets to the symphony really sealed the deal and over a few years I had the best sounding system.


Now, that is not the only way to go. If you primarily like rock, then there is a know collection of stuff to optimize it. McIntosh electronics and B&W speakers sound exceptional with rock. But not as much with some other genre. JBL another speaker well suited for rock.

So the choice is yours. It is a lot of work to correctly improve the sound of all genre. But if that is your goal then tune your ears to acoustic music and evaluate systems based on it. Then you will most likely to be heading in the right direction.

Thanks every one. A lot here to think about. I should say I listen to a lot less rock - preference is really jazz and classical. I'm also not looking for outright volume.

I did roll out the 12Au7 preamp tube several times over the last year. Starting with the original JJ (very decent) to a reissued mullard that was frankly not listenable, to a tungsol (which I like) to a NOS raytheon (a definite improvement). - I'll research this a bit more as my choices were simply stabs in the dark

In general, I like the Totem's. They do a lot right for my level of listening - which is in a condo with limited opportunity for LOUD.
That said - maybe a sub is the way to go?- Something I had been trying to avoid.
I also should take some time to audition other speakers as my knowledge is limited.
Thanks Everyone

@smaarch1 Your ears can act as a tone control to a certain degree. If the bass is missing the ear will tilt things towards the treble. So if you add a sub (and have it placed properly so its audible at the listening position) you'll find the highs to be a bit calmer.

To get the sub to blend properly the trick is it should not have any output above 80Hz or it will attract attention to itself. In most rooms below that frequency the bass is entirely reverberant owing the wavelength being so long- at 80Hz its already 14 feet long, so within a couple of iterations its bouncing off every wall in the room. The lower the frequency the longer the waveform.

Yeah love those Totems but they are undersized to deliver everything with any kind of music. Think bigger! Klipsch Heritage line would be a good place to start with a good quality tube amp like yours.


OR adding a powered sub or two and integrated well is also a good option as suggested.

@smaarch1 I ran two custom 12" 500w Scanspeak subs with my former Totems. It was overkill for the Totems, not for my current speakers though. Possibly quality dual 9s, 10s, (faster) could be really nice with the Hawks.

With levels adjusted down I will say it helped the overall presentation and deferring to some of the comments above by @atmasphere yes, it helped it to sound "calmer" for sure. Another good recommendation for consideration.

One thing I noticed is over tightening the cartridge bolts can take the life out of rock music, what I don’t know is if this is specific to my arm and cartridge but it’s easy to try the cartridge bolts just tight enough to hold it in alignment and no more, listen for a bit and then progressively tighten them and listen to what it does.

I don’t suppose this is going to cure the problem but it might help.

If you’re using a mains conditioner try without.

if there’s a mains block experiment with plug order.

Make sure your cables aren’t tangled up,  power cables shouldn’t  touch signal cables and if neither touch the rack so much the better.

Might as well try the free tweaks first.

So it appears I'm looking at subwoofers. A friend has a REL to loan me and I'll give it a try.
I should qualify my complaint about the Totems. They have been very enjoyable for the last year I have owned them. 
My system has undergone a  lot of changes in this year and I'm tempted to pull the little B&W's out of the closet and have another listen
It seems the more I listen...the more I hear.

I own a set of totem’s with a matching subwoofer for my office I love them. 

If you want a great subwoofer you cannot go wrong with REL. They are outstanding and bring amazingly capable integration with them. 

...from 2:00 on.....



If you're not cracking sheetrock, it's not loud enough....;)

OP, thanks for drawing attention to The Allman Brother’s Live at Fillmore East. Steve Guttenberg of Audiophiliac recently mentioned that recording. Your post got me to listen to the hi-rez version on Qobuz to verify if it was or was not the recording. Forgot how good that record was. For a live rock recording from 1971 it doesn’t get much better than that one. It is not the recording.

I concur with the live feel for rock. When you go to a see a band the guitarist is playing through a stack of 12" speakers and the bass player 15". Real drums have massive attack. A HiFi system for rock should have size in both speaker and amplifier but in my opinion should not be too "transparent". I recently attended a demo of the KEF Muon hosted by KEF's owner. They had the scale but I thought were maybe too transparent - I don't really want to feel like my ear is inside Don Henley's throat. So the remaining question is whether one needs 3 systems - a dynamic one for rock and cinema, a smooth/imaging one for jazz and a large soundstage/transparent one for classical.

@ghdprentice looking forward to experimenting with the REL
@georgeab this is also my memory - epic recording and alas....my system doesn't do it justice
@asiaaudiosoc interesting and I suppose that is my first post and my "confusion"
Maybe it's super simple in this way: If I want to here a piano in a cafe - that is the volume I should be listening at, no more and no less.
If I want to listen to a band in Madison Square Garden, I think it is clear the db's need to go up. And the reverse is true
I remember seeing Joni Mitchell as the kick off for a Bob Dylan concert in MSG back in the 1990's...it was rather sad. As great as she is, her solo voice just wasn't enough to fill and vibrate the space...it all felt lost.
Maybe I'll buy a pair of headphones for the Rock n roll stuff......
Thanks again Everyone

Did anyone mention speaker positioning/room acoustics? 

A lack of “slam” may be related to a dip in response around those frequencies. Plenty of financially reasonable methods to measure what you are hearing. 


Oh I've been playing with speaker positioning alright. I just last night moved them closer to the front wall (2 feet instead of 3 feet). The bass response is improved. My listening space (my Living Room) looks across the Hudson River and the Palisades...so yes we are unapologetically making compromises regarding room treatment.

@snaarch1 Thought I’d go from another approach. What is your room size? Untreated? Lot’s of hard surfaces? High/low ceiling?

If so, I would look into that as well as a possible source of the high frequency issues. Perhaps a DSP solution?

Understandable the constraint on room treatments but you’d be surprised at what’s out there that my actually work aesthetically.

Also, what’s the budget? Any constraints on placement that would affect your mains and/or sub(s?)

btw. happy to hear you enjoyed the results of your speaker positioning.


Thanks @hleeid. To answer your question the space is 14' wide by 28' long, roughly half living room and half dining room the Totem's fire down the long axis....after rearranging everything. It was not this way before and this is a big improvement. Ceilings are a standard American 8' NY condo ceiling height. Construction is a plus - floor  and ceiling slabs are concrete, as are demising walls. Floor is a floating hardwood floor over concrete. Ceiling is concrete (stippled). Speaker positioning....jury is still out but I've played with the position a lot. I had settled on the method describe by the Sumoku guide and was very pleased. Placing them closer to the front wall has added some bass but I've had them here before and I'm not sure I like the overall presentation. And here is way I think this.... The front wall is glass.....I know and am venturing a guess this has a lot to do with what I'm hearing.
so I think in many ways you and @kingdeezie  get to the heart of the matter no matter what speakers end up here. Budget? I'd like to retire one of these days and stop investing in stereo gear. LOL

Here’s one more for you @smaarch1

Check out: DECWARE - Article about Setting up a Listening Room without Treatments

I tried this one room at a time.

My 12’ x 16’ foot office space most closely resembles figure 2. Harbeth SHL5+40s were initially firing down the long wall, then the short wall. I liked it the best set up as indicated on the decware site.

My 15’ x 15’ room (I know, squares are really bad) is set up in a similar manner as my office (but with a little asymmetry with the room corner they span). Both a new pair of Magnepan LRSs and an old pair of B&W 801 Matrix S2s sounded much better after the new vs traditional placement. Best improvement of all rooms.

My 10’ x 15’ spare bedroom is also now set up with corner asymmetry placement.

Only tried a new (ish) pair of LS50s and an old pair of Rogers LS3/5As in there. Since these are so easy to move around, I tried the long wall/short wall thing first before going with the diagonal placement.


Although not bad I'd say the Fillmore East recording is a bit unbalanced with most happening in the right speaker which makes a hard listening at higher volumes.

Studio albums fine.

A sonically (to me) better live recording from the same year would be Free - Live!



I have a different system for analogue and a different one or digital. Amps and cables and speakers naturally lend themselves to one or the other. There seems to be no universal compatibility

@smaarch1 Oh I've been playing with speaker positioning alright....

Forgot to mention what a colleague and I landed on with our former Totem's with the same metal dome tweeters.  If you have not already done so, face them dead straight forward, no toe-in at all.  It rolled highs off a tad, more bass, deeper sound stage resulted. Seemed odd a first, and yet it worked really well for our rooms, fwiw. 



YES; different speakers/amps for different music! Vocals sound amazeballs through my Magnepan 3.7i's [Parasound JC1 ss monoblocks]. But jazz? Jazz just destroys through my JBL4315's [Grommes G101a tube monoblocks] The Magnepans can NOT produce jazz recordings as well as the JBL's. AND the JBL's can NOT produce vocals as well as the Magnepans. They are simply two completely different beasts; wonderful in their different ways.


Before purchasing the Cronus Magnum 3, I auditioned it at home with the stock K120 and didn’t like the overall sound especially with older recordings. When I returned it to the dealer, l told him I didn’t care for the sound. I tried KT120 with my previous Primaluna integrated amp and didn’t like the sound either so I installed KT77 tubes which improved the overall sound. Fortunately the dealer had a set of used KT77 and installed them in the Cronus. We were both surprised how more musical and less glaring the sound was compared to the KT120. So I ordered the Cronus with KT77s and couldn’t be happier. I also replaced the preamp tubes with NOS tubes.

There is no guarantee you will experience the same. It might be worth spending $200 for a set of 4 KT77 instead of going thru the process of trying other pieces of equipment. If you do try the KT77 you will need to reduce the bias from 35 to 30 as recommended by Rogue. Good luck.

BTW- Live at the Fillmore sounds great especially Stormy Monday

There are no such sounds in nature (rock) - this is every time the author's invention ... interpretation

P / S - if a person after 30 years old listens to such music - I feel sorry for him - he remained a child ...

sometimes 1-2 songs can be listened to (if nostalgia)



@decooney Thanks and yes toe in is not necessary on the Hawks. I think I have them in an optimal position, although I keep moving them closer and further to the back wall - too close and the bass gets "bloomy". What surprises me about these speakers are their wide dispersion. The B&W's they replaced did some great things but not dispersion - If you moved your head 1 inch, everything was lost.
@ronrags this is very interesting - talk to me some more about this please. Different bias setting is noted - thanks. Any reason the KT77's and not the KT88's? This should like it has great possibilities. What speakers are you running please? Thanks ronrags.
@serjio your comment is noted and ignored. Best regards in any event.
Thanks again everyone

I have the Totem Rainmakers, powered by all tubes. I also find no toe-in works best and love the wide dispersion. I also find distance from the wall is critical, and closer than a foot has proven to give me a lot of accurate punch without boominess (too far away, they get thin or confused). I add a REL sub when I'm listening more critically, or when there's something big down there, like synth-bass. My amp is 35 wpc, so I'm not crazy loud, but it's not soft, and I've played in bands '-).

The other thing I thought this thread might get at is how a lot of older rock albums just don't resolve to audiophile, even on CD. I've been in studios back in the day where the final mix was signed off on through auratones. Especially in the bass; I often wonder if the RIAA needed to keep it under control so it rolls off. I'll give the Fillmore recording a listen!

I went through something like this in the past. I had all tube gear with Infinity Kappa 8 speakers. Listening to Led Zeppelin through them was amazing. Wall to wall big sound with good bass. I could hear John Paul Jones's bass amp speaker rattling. I mentioned this a long time ago. Friends would come over and say that it sounded great except my right speaker was rattling. I said, no that's JPJ's amp speaker. Later, I switched to Monitor Audio studio 6 speakers, because I wanted something more transparent for acoustic jazz, etc.. They were really good speakers and I enjoyed them. Recently I replaced them with Monitor Audio Silver 500's. Bigger speakers with strong midrange and bass. It's kind of a middle ground between the Kappa's and the Studio's. So now I can enjoy Led Zeppelin again, as well as other types of music. Good luck. 

P / S - if a person after 30 years old listens to such music - I feel sorry for him - he remained a child ...

sometimes 1-2 songs can be listened to (if nostalgia)

Not sure about anyone else, but reading this, the term "Idiot" came to mind...

The OP brings up a very good point. Why do some types of music sound great on our systems and others, not so much? 

I think one of the detriments of high end audio is that as one's system becomes more and more resolving, the ability to enjoy marginal recordings gets less and less. While one could debate that the Allman Bros recording referred to is good or not, it is certainly NOT a high resolution recording with ultra realistic sounding 'live un-amplified' instruments. Therefore, the better systems will typically pull out its flaws more. Same goes for a lot of rock recordings from the 70's. OTOH, there is a chain of thought that the very best speakers and gear will still portray these albums like the OP is hoping to hear them. This is somewhat true, IME, BUT it is still a factor that the better sounding recordings will still sound far more realistic than these older rock recordings. Depends on what one is listening for, because IF one is happy with the rock sound that I think the OP is striving for, then a large horn based system is the way to go...and the other aspects that he likes so much will become secondary. It really is horses for courses with a lot of this music...IMHO. 

@daveyf - I think the OP does bring up a great point. I frequently read where "audiophiles" have their specific "audiophile" recordings (e.g. Diana Krall) they use for auditioning. I have several as well, but they run the gamut of my listening tastes. IMO, using the former approach leads folks into choosing equipment tailored only to specific music genres (e.g. female vocal, jazz, acoustic). Sounds wonderful with that limited material, but not optimal for other genres.

Secondly, a number of folks here have stated their inability to enjoy music that isn't perfectly (in their estimation) reproduced, to the extent that they, for example, can't ever enjoy music in a vehicle. They have *IMO* lost the ability to just enjoy the music itself, and are more interested in / moved by the reproduction than the music. Not to say that better reproduction doesn't, or can't, enhance the musical experience, but if you have to have the best or you can't listen, well I think you're missing the point.

I think what you are experiencing with “At Fillmore East” is more complex than it appears. The easiest issue to address is the lack of impact or slam as you call it. Impact, is largely experienced in the 40 hz to 50 hz range, created mostly with the kick drum and to a somewhat lesser extent, the lowest three to four notes of the bass. A 5.5” woofer is just too small to deliver impact, They just cannot move enough air. To move air you need a large driver. I know you can achieve impact with a 12” driver, but I do not know if you can achieve it with a 10” or 8” driver.

As others have stated, adding a sub should add a lot to your system, though beware, adding a sub can bring great pleasure, but if not implemented correctly it can bring immense frustration. I would look into the Audiokinesis swarm. The swarm is designed to help eliminate a lot of the issues that powerful bass reproduction can cause. It probably is also, pound for the pound the best value. The one draw back might be that the swarm, I think, uses 10” drivers, but if Duke says that they will supply the impact you are looking for, I would trust him.

Now having said all of that, in my opinion there is not a lot of impact on “At Fillmore East”. The kick drums are pretty much berried in the mix, which was pretty typical for the era. The bass is more prominent, but the lowest notes, in my opinion are masked by a 3 to 6 dB bump between 125 and 160 hz and another bump at around 500 hz. If you have a way of removing those bumps, then the low bass becomes much more prominent and more of a dominate factor.

Other things that may help you achieve more impact would be to look into room treatments and if you decide to add a sub to your system, would be to eliminate the frequencies that sub is reproducing from your main speakers. This is something, I believe the swarm is designed to do but I’m not sure if it can do it with the Cronus.

Have you mass loaded the Hawks?

Have you placed them on isolation platforms? Depending on the platform used, either with the ball bearings in the feet or without the ball bearings?

Have you driven them with other amplifiers?

Personally, I’d replace the Hawks. Since you are in a condo and have neighbor ’concerns’ a much higher efficiency (2 way max) with a much wider driver will allow for quality low SPL listening.

The Hawks need more power [and amplification with iron fisted control] than what you can achieve from the Rogue Cronus vis a vis the Hawks.

Rather than "fix" problems, starting fresh may be much easier and far wiser...speakers that are a better fit for your Rogue amp. Or depending on the speakers chosen, a different amp.

Just listened to the entire Fillmore East album while reading your thread and looking into your speakers and amps.

FYI. Former Totem Wind owner.

Vintage Cerwin Vegas for rock and metal are really good! My DX9s were made for that stuff wish I would have kept them around although they would only be in rotation sometimes. They ain’t perfect but they get to the heart of hard music like few others.  Ever heard the newer ones. Probably measure like hell but they are fun and make rock enjoyable even acoustic rock rocks on these. 

You folks are awesome - thanks for all the responses.
Yes a sub is being considered. Which I am unsure but REL looks promising
Yes Totems are sitting with the factory feet, or claws as they call them
And yes I’m asking for a lot from a 5.5" woofer - that makes sense
No I haven’t mass loaded them - maybe something to consider
I also listened to the Fillmore East album again - interesting in that there is an unevenness of the recording from track to track, with some tracks sounding much better then others.
I do think switching to the 4 ohm taps will help - maybe this weekend
I’m really not much of rocker anymore and for most of my listening I very much enjoy this system. I’d be fine if I did nothing...but we all know how this hobby works........
Room treatment - this is the elephant in the room so to speak - My coffee table consists of two flat files for drawings. There are 30 plus years of paper - literally weighing a ton. If that isn’t a bass sink I don’t know what is. So my next effort will be to find another spot for them. This is really a big deal. Stupid me....
Thanks again everyone for some great insight. A pleasure to be here.

Look for the acoustic rendition of Elizabeth Reed on An Evening With...2nd set. Nice for your Totems!

Yes Totems are sitting with the factory feet, or claws as they call them
And yes I’m asking for a lot from a 5.5" woofer - that makes sense
No I haven’t mass loaded them

Since you are sticking with the Hawks, before going forward with room treatment, mass load them AND try them on something like Townshend Audio Seismic Platforms. Then room treatment. Then sub.



There are no such sounds in nature (rock) - this is every time the author’s invention ... interpretation

P / S - if a person after 30 years old listens to such music - I feel sorry for him - he remained a child ...

sometimes 1-2 songs can be listened to (if nostalgia)

This statement strikes me as the posing of an ignorant person who assumes a pretense of sophistication by criticizing the musical tastes of others.