Speaker or amp at fault?

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Michael Crump

Active member
Nov 14, 2021
13
8
25
Thanks to everyone who has helped on this forum. The succession of posts from me must have been bewildering and I confess that I am rather bewildered and a bit concerned. As I mentioned earlier, the piano tuner came today and was good enough to listen to the system for five minutes or so, which was all I required of him. During those five minutes I heard plenty that I thought would convince anyone that something was amiss, but he heard none of it.

Once he had gone I tried most of the combinations of equipment that I could (short of changing the amp back to my old RA-06, but I'd already proven that the amp made no difference). I tried all three sets of speakers that I have:
  • my new B&W 607s
  • some rather beaten-up old B&W 601s, kept just as spares
  • Some Tannoy P10s, even older but I have always been fond of them

I hear distortion from all of them. I got rid of the speaker stands and put the speakers on the floor. Same result. I changed to an old CD player that still works acceptably. No difference. I took speakers, amp and CD into a different room (a hallway, far from ideal, but at least it has none of the electronic gadgetry that I thought might be interefering). The room made no difference. I tried a different make of RCA cable to no effect. I did not change the speaker cable this time, as one of the very first things I did when I noticed a problem was to change the cable. I've tried with and without bi-wiring (removing connectors as necessary). There was one last test which clinched the deal for me.

I had been listening to the same passage over and over (the start of Berlioz' overture 'Les francs juges' for the curious) and noticed it was the same passages and the same sort of instrumentation that sounded distorted every time. Loud passages sound good; it's the middle volume range that suffers most. I also noticed consistently more distortion from the left channel, so I swapped left and right RCA cables at the amplifier. The sounds that I thought tended to cause most distortion now moved over to the right speaker, of course, but I still heard most of my distortion coming from the left.

So I am left assuming that my own hearing needs some investigation, which is not the outcome I envisaged when I asked for help here. Music is a passion of mine, of course, but for a number of years it is also how I have earned a living, writing about it and publishing materials for performance using Sibelius software. So I shall make my appointment with fingers firmly crossed and just hope that nothing serious emerges from the investigation.

Thanks to everyone here for being so helpful - this truly is a first-rate forum.
 
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Michael Crump

Active member
Nov 14, 2021
13
8
25
An interim update. I decided to go for wax removal to see if that would cure the problem. I didn't think I had all that much wax, but quite a lot was removed, from the right ear especially. Now it seems that the wax was concealing the full extent of the problem, not causing it. Music sounds bad from a variety of sources, such as the TV or just the piano and other noises are affected too - such as a boiling kettle, or jingling coins in my pocket. I am booked in for further investigation, but that won't happen until January 4.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
An interim update. I decided to go for wax removal to see if that would cure the problem. I didn't think I had all that much wax, but quite a lot was removed, from the right ear especially. Now it seems that the wax was concealing the full extent of the problem, not causing it. Music sounds bad from a variety of sources, such as the TV or just the piano and other noises are affected too - such as a boiling kettle, or jingling coins in my pocket. I am booked in for further investigation, but that won't happen until January 4.
I remember vividly my first experience of ear wax removal. Walking back to my car all I could hear was this loud roaring and rustling. It tuned out to be my trouser legs rubbing gently. I started the car and it sounded like a helicopter was landing!
It will take you a few days to adjust. Your brain has been turning up the treble control to compensate, and it’ll readjust quickly.
You may find that your Hifi is fine, if there’s a subtle change you can make, but give yourself some time. And relax!
 

Michael Crump

Active member
Nov 14, 2021
13
8
25
You may be right. This whole episode has taken place during an intensely stressful period for other reasons, which will probably get worse before it gets better. I have wondered whether stress can be a factor, though I have not found any real evidence to support the idea.
 

Michael Crump

Active member
Nov 14, 2021
13
8
25
It seems that I have a retracted ear-drum, on the left. I hope this accounts for the symptoms and can be fixed. ENT appointment early Feb.
 

Edbostan

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2021
212
103
970
I decided the amp MUST be at fault. Since I've not been feeling well for some time, I skipped the visit to the retailer, which would have involved a 2-hour round trip. I ordered a new amp and expected the result to be a revelation - but I actually hear the same faults! I kept the installation as simple as possible - no bi-wiring, attached the speaker wire direct to the binding posts at both ends and attached no other equipment to the amp other than speakers and CD player.I have even put them on small tables instead of their speaker stands (which are not the B&W ones). I think I've now changed every possible variable, so I will see about getting the speakers changed. I don't regret my amp purchase, but this is getting really frustrating!
Interesting that you said you felt unwell because that does affect how you listen to sound. I know that if I feel unwell my perception of my system changes for the worst. I read an article years ago where the author felt the same
 

Michael Crump

Active member
Nov 14, 2021
13
8
25
I have started funding treatment of the hearing problems privately. So far, my money has bought me very little that I didn't already have - advice I got from the local audiologist for free. It does, though, appear that my eardrum is not retracted - two audiolgists have now contradicted that initial finding, but it's possible that things have changed a little since the first observation.

I've been using Otovent balloons to try to equalise inner and outer ear pressure, but don't think that this treatment is actually relevant to the problem. I have had an MRI scan but await the results.

My hearing problems remain as they were. I had found very little on-line which described anything like my symptoms - i.e. not a hearing loss but an unpleasant change in the quality of the sound - until I found this video:

View: https://youtu.be/OQobPtSJbrE?t=3


It is an interesting video to watch and introduced my to the term dysacusis. It is the only video on Youtube which talks about this phenomenon in any depth. I include it just in case it may be of interest or benefit to others with similar experiences.
 
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