Realistic Cymbals/ hi hats?

Anytime I listen to acoustic or small Jazz combo recordings, I can’t help but to think that the cymbals don’t really sound realistic on my Klipsch RP-600Ms. I’ve noticed this on 2 different amps (First Watt F8 and SMSL SA300) and 2 different DACs (DirectSteam on Sunlight and Schiit Modi3+). Should I be looking at different speakers or is there something else in my stereo I should be looking into?

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Which kind of wrong?

Well, when I was younger I played in a symphony and a jazz bad for about 5 years and the cymbals just don’t sound realistic. I’m not sure how to describe it, the cymbals on my current setup sound… flat… no sparkle to it.


Cymbal reproduction through my proprietary RAAL ribbon tweeters are accurate, natural and sublime! They’re very fast on attacks, but also very fast to stop the signal (under 2oo milliseconds). Possessing excellent tonality and timbre with a lot of air, openness and natural decay, they are never harsh, strident or edgy (unless it is recorded like that)! The Only moving part in their build is a super thin 10mm wide pure aluminum ribbon with a total moving mass less than 1/100th of a gram. This translates into a very dynamic and uncompressed transducer that excels at cymbal attack, resonance, decay and realistic reproduction!

Due to their inherent accuracy and realism, they allow my monitors to be very revealing and analytical of source material recordings and system component synergy changes!! :slight_smile:


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I would do a toe in sweep to see if there’s a sweet spot for your tweeters that expresses more of the sparkle.


Above 13kHz, however, the horn-loaded tweeter becomes very directional, which might make the speaker sound a little lacking in top-octave air in large or overdamped rooms.


The speakers are certainly one of the reasons. To better understand the compromises made by Klipsch for their price I suggest checking out Danny at GR Research. In my opinion, to get great sounding cymbals requires very good tweeters, crossovers with better than average capacitors, high end connectors both on interconnects and speaker wire, properly set up speakers isolated from the room, etc.

Almost forgot about this company. This seems to be the most cost effective solution, or closer to a solution… might have to look into this some more before shelling out money for new speakers. It sounds like the speakers might be the limiting factor, or at least a major contributor.

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I also think so. If you have a focus on the highs, you might need one with a ribbon tweeter. I think it’s easy to take your speaker to a dealer and compare. But if you have high demands, there can be other limiting factors, too. You should find out what does it for you by comparing.

The mentioned upgrade doesn’t seem to alter the FR on top.

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Thanks for the feedback @jazznut
I need to find a good dealer in this time of Cholera… I mean Covid.

What is your budget? Beryllium drivers are great for crisp, dynamic and smooth highs.

Great reference (". . . in the Time of Cholera").

Cymbals are difficult. Often they sound more like a combination of bacon frying and white noise than a musical instrument.

Good luck!

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AC-related things can surprisingly affect transients and percussion quite a bit, as can speaker and IC cables. But not always practical to implement if you’re not settled on main components or the solutions cost as much as the system.

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Budget… well, since everything has gone over budget, I guess I’ll say 3k… +/- 2k depending on if I feel like I’m getting a great deal. lol When you say Beryllium drivers, are you pointing to Focal?

I’m thinking about picking up the BHK Pre, so if I pick that up, this speaker shopping might have to wait, but I love window shopping. I think it prepares me to pull the trigger when it’s time. Also, I’m not against buying used gear, as long as I know it is in great working order. It saves me from having to break it in myself and usually a few bucks in the process.

Have you heard satisfying cymbals from a stereo before or just live?

@badbeef thank you for this feedback, I’ll know what to listen for when I test out these upgraded Power cords and RCAs arrive. I am aware that there are some really expensive cables out there. In relation to what I spent on my stock cables, these are pretty expensive. I’m hoping it’s noticeable enough for me to justify investing more in this part of the system.

I’ll list the details here. Feedback is always welcome, but these on en route, they are here to stay, at least temporarily:

  • Decware DHC-1 Power cord
  • Nordost Shiva Power Cord
  • Decware Silver Reference RCA cables

I have a Decware tube amp coming 2nd or 3rd quarter of next year, so if these don’t work out in my current system, they should create “synergy” with the Decware system.

To tell you the truth, I never really noticed cymbals sounded bad on a stereo (or at least mine) until recently. I noticed it only because it sounded so fake. I just got back into audio after about 25 years or so. For about the last 10+ years, I played most of my music through my computer on Bose Companion computer speakers, so the expectations were low then. With the upgraded DAC, Amp, speakers, etc… I just expect more. Accepting donations :joy: I am suffering every day.

If you have a high demand, cymbals sounding rich and bodily enough and at the same time open, airy and extended (therefore lively) are hard to achieve, not so much from vinyl, but especially from digital.

It will be interesting to observe, which upgrades get you near to what you expect and when the journey ends.

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I would caution against buying peripherals such as cables until you are settled on main components. Those are highly synergy-related things. My guess is that the Klipsch are the main thing determining the current percussion sound.

Having said that, I would also caution against buying gear based on how good it sounds for a particular aspect such as cymbals or transients. Listen more for naturalness and realism in vocals and acoustic instruments.

I have a Decware amp I’m going to sell if you want one sooner😉 It is a huge beast though - a whole 20 watts!


As others have suggested, set an appointment with your local dealers, send them your set list and go in for some auditions.

I made some… mistakes early in my HiFi journey that would have been prevented with a day’s worth of listening and comparing.

This journey is highly personal.

If you don’t mind sharing, what are the exact tracks (song, album, source) you’re listening to? Sometimes the mastering is just poor for certain sounds.

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I can’t remember the worst offender right now, but it’ll play again soon and I’ll take note when it does. Where it can see some improvement are on my Brubeck recordings and Phil Woods - All Bird’s Children albums which are currently ripped to mp3s, ranging from 128 to 320kps. I’m going to pop in the actual CD on my Jay’s Audio transport and compare. Right now, I feel like my setup isn’t doing Joe Morello justice. I have to say though, voices and other instruments, brass, woodwinds, strings sound pretty good… definitely a step up from my Bose Companion Computer Speakers :clown_face: