Speaker or amp at fault?

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Michael Crump

Active member
Nov 14, 2021
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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