Question Sudden increased harshness to highs - possible damage to amp or speakers?

painter24

Active member
May 31, 2021
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Hi all,

Just looking for some advice; yesterday my system developed a harshness to the highs that wasn't there before.

I have the Rega Elex-r and Quad S2s fed by the Node (2021).

I don't play at high volumes, but the harshness became apparent yesterday. Before this, the system had a lovely balance between highs, mids and bass. But now there's an exaggeration of highs such as cymbals, hi hats, "s", and "ch" and "t" in vocals, pianos highs sound harsh, as do acoustic guitar plucks.

The only change is wiring up ethernet to the Node. I've tried back to WiFi but the harshness remains.

I've been running in my system for over 2 weeks now, probably loggin over 200hrs playtime. I don't think it's a result of further break-in, as I'm sure it happened instantaneously.

After I'd laid the ethernet cabling yesterday, I did remove and re-input the ethernet cable while the system was playing, just to see if I could discern a difference, although volume wasn't high at all; do you think I could have caused damage to amp or speakers? 😩

Sorry, just to elaborate, the harshness isn't extreme, but it is distracting as everything I listen to now sounds unbalanced, if that makes sense.

Thank in advance

Kind Regards

Lyndon
 
Last edited:

12th Monkey

Moderator
Aug 31, 2015
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Do you have another source? If so you could try that and see whether the problem persists. If it does, your source would seem to be OK, if not, it's your source. Similarly, it might be worth trying different inputs on the amp.

But it sounds highly unusual - my gut instinct would be it sounds like a component failing or malfunctioning in source or amp as it happened so suddenly.
 
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painter24

Active member
May 31, 2021
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Have you tried it with a cd player yet
I have, sorry, juggling work and hifi 😕. Same result. I've rang my dealer; I'm taking amp and speakers to the shop this afternoon to determine the component that's causing the issue. He suspects the Elex-r, but we'll see.

I'll let you know how I get on later.

Thanks all

Regards

Lyndon
 

painter24

Active member
May 31, 2021
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I suspect it's highly unlikely that both speakers have developed an identical fault at the same time.
I agree. I'm of the mindset it's the Elex-r. Leaving shortly for the dealer's shop.

I'm hoping, as aversaurus alludes to, the Elex-r isn't supposed to sound like this. May have to swap my original choice of amp otherwise. If that's the case, my dealer has the new Roksan Attessa Integrated in stock, I may give that a listen. I have no experience of Roksan amps, so no idea what to expect
 
I agree. I'm of the mindset it's the Elex-r. Leaving shortly for the dealer's shop.

I'm hoping, as aversaurus alludes to, the Elex-r isn't supposed to sound like this. May have to swap my original choice of amp otherwise. If that's the case, my dealer has the new Roksan Attessa Integrated in stock, I may give that a listen. I have no experience of Roksan amps, so no idea what to expect
you might be pleasantly surprised....
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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The description is more like excess sibilance, which is irritating once you’ve heard it. Easier to pin down if something has failed. Nothing to do with the 30C temperature across much of Great Britain, is it? Normally I think Hifi sounds better when it’s warmer.
 

Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
571
286
770
Hi all,

Just looking for some advice; yesterday my system developed a harshness to the highs that wasn't there before.

I have the Rega Elex-r and Quad S2s fed by the Node (2021).

I don't play at high volumes, but the harshness became apparent yesterday. Before this, the system had a lovely balance between highs, mids and bass. But now there's an exaggeration of highs such as cymbals, hi hats, "s", and "ch" and "t" in vocals, pianos highs sound harsh, as do acoustic guitar plucks.

The only change is wiring up ethernet to the Node. I've tried back to WiFi but the harshness remains.

I've been running in my system for over 2 weeks now, probably loggin over 200hrs playtime. I don't think it's a result of further break-in, as I'm sure it happened instantaneously.

After I'd laid the ethernet cabling yesterday, I did remove and re-input the ethernet cable while the system was playing, just to see if I could discern a difference, although volume wasn't high at all; do you think I could have caused damage to amp or speakers? 😩

Sorry, just to elaborate, the harshness isn't extreme, but it is distracting as everything I listen to now sounds unbalanced, if that makes sense.

Thank in advance

Kind Regards

Lyndon
How are those ribbon tweeters looking on the S2…? Any chance they have been touched or poked…..😳
My son had some Monitor Audio speakers ruined by a flatmate’s mum who decided to ‘dust’ them…….😣
 

painter24

Active member
May 31, 2021
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How are those ribbon tweeters looking on the S2…? Any chance they have been touched or poked…..😳
My son had some Monitor Audio speakers ruined by a flatmate’s mum who decided to ‘dust’ them…….😣
Hi Tinman,

Nope, no one else goes in the room, or touches the system. I haven't touched them apart to take them off the stands to reposition.

So, I've been back from my local dealer; he tried my Quads with their demo Elex-r, sounded good, but the top end was heightened from what I remember when I first went for my initial demo, as were the high mids. I put it down to the fact that the Quads that were used, and the Quads I took home were a new pair still boxed and not burnt in at all. This may have masked what the Elex-r was actually going to sound like when it was burnt in, through the Quads.

Tried my Elex-r again with my Quads in the shop; my Elex-r was noticeably brighter than their demo unit. The chap helping me postulated that my unit may have reached its post-burn period, and this is how it would probably stay more or less. 😕.

I was a little disappointed to be honest, but on a positive, its was a lesson learned - make sure demoed equipment has had some burn in, and is definitely a demo unit 😊.

I asked what my options were, as I really couldn't live with the Elex-r, it would drive me nuts; the manager brought in an Arcam SA10 for a listen (with my now burnt/broken in Quads 😜). I would have liked to hear the SA20 but they are on back order, expected in September. He got/sensed I was looking for a warmer sound than the Elex-r without me saying anything, hence the Arcam, which was a good shout; not sure why I never considered Arcam originally, doh!

He also brought out the Naim Nait 5i, which is a little over on price, but to be honest, I actually preferred the SA10...... I know, sacrilege to some folk. I've owned Naim gear in a previous life, but the SA10 regardless of the difference in cost and the iconic image of Naim, the SA10 just sounded where I wanted to be.

So, I've borrowed their demo SA10 to live with it for few days, and the consider my options. If I decide to go down this road, they've put a new boxed unit away for me. I suppose the only quandary here, is whether to hang on for the SA20, although I'm led to believe by the shop manager it's isn't as warm as the SA10. I can't argue as I've never heard either before today.

If I go with the SA10 @ £699, that's nearly £300 saved from the Elex-r I could use elsewhere. Or I could wait until the SA20 becomes available.

Does anyone have any thoughts over SA10 vs SA20, and is the extra £300 worth the step up to the SA20?

Thanks again everyone

Regards

Lyndon
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Feb 15, 2009
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Assuming you aren’t imagining the change - and I don’t mean that nastily, but we can be ‘fooled’ by many things - then maybe the Ethernet has affected something. Did you move any mains connections? Introduce any chargers, wall warts, led lights, anything that might produce nasty interference, RFI etc?

Sibilance can be a side effect of apparently innocent things like this. But unplugging an Ethernet cable can’t harm anything unless your amp made a very loud noise that could’ve upset something.

Burn-in or running in is highly speculative, despite frequent mentions, because our ears adapt far more than capacitors ‘forming’ and all the other notionally scientific explanations we read. And most report smoothing out not roughening up! I’d give it some more time, but yes an Arcam may well be slightly smoother. Sorely tempting to get a used A39 if you can return the Rega.

On the face of it a Naim might be less palatable, but it’s your ears not mine, nor anyone else’s here.

Take your time, and try to focus on the music, not the ‘sound’ per se.
 
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Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
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Does anyone have any thoughts over SA10 vs SA20, and is the extra £300 worth the step up to the SA20?
I really hope you get on with the SA10 ‘loaner’. Arcam were hugely respected a decade ago and now they seem to have been bypassed by many. The best integrated amp I ever heard was an Arcam FMJ32 years ago. I would buy one in a heartbeat if I could find a decent one…
Personally 50 watts on the SA10 would be plenty for me…I would not wish to pay twice as much money for 90 watts on the SA20 when it’s basically the same amp.
 

aversaurus

Well-known member
Jan 11, 2016
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I've always found new hifi sounds a bit brighter during burn in and settles down over time or I just get used to the new sound one or the other.i had a few nice arcam amps around 20 years ago they sounded very similar to the sansui,s of the late 1970,s
 

Gray

Well-known member
Burn-in or running in is highly speculative, despite frequent mentions, because our ears adapt far more than capacitors ‘forming’ and all the other notionally scientific explanations we read. And most report smoothing out not roughening up!
Yes, I just don't go with the burn-in theory on the amp.
Depends who's using the theory as to how it helps the story, in this case it seems the dealer has decided that the burn-in might have made the sound rougher :unsure:
 
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insider9

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Sep 20, 2016
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@painter24 very refreshing to see that you're prepared to admit things aren't working out and taking action straight away. I wish I had any valuable input on differences between SA10 and SA20. I love ribbons but they need to be in the right system to be enjoyed. Have you had a chance to listen to this new Roksan at all?
 
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Dom

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Aug 6, 2011
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Im interested in the Roksan Attessa integrated, I'm happy with my system, but am a fan of Roksan. And here's me thinking Roksan had gone. Whathifi are yet to review them, unsurprisingly. Maybe soon? I'm not interested in Vinyl nor multi room nor the CD player.

And as for the original question, I'm one thinking there maybe nothing wrong with the amp or speakers and given a bit of time, goes back to normal as fast as it started. How long can you wait? I know I can't wait for more than a day or so.
 

painter24

Active member
May 31, 2021
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@painter24 very refreshing to see that you're prepared to admit things aren't working out and taking action straight away. I wish I had any valuable input on differences between SA10 and SA20. I love ribbons but they need to be in the right system to be enjoyed. Have you had a chance to listen to this new Roksan at all?
Thanks insider9,

My dealer hadn't received their shipment of the Roksans, which was a shame. I think they were a little optimistic with their website advert 😊.
I've got until Saturday with the SA10, then I have to decide which way to go;

Stick with the SA10
Have another listen of the Nait 5si
If the Roksan has come in, try that as well

I'm enjoying the SA10 at home at the moment. It's a lot more restrained than the Elex-r. It's great with Jazz, and well produced/recorded material.

It's the complete opposite of the Elex-r; the SA10 is laid back, warm, and keeps itself under control at higher volumes, whereas the Elex-r likes to let rip. I'm crap at analogies, but to me the SA10 is like a ballroom dance, where the Elex-r is like pogoing at a punk gig.

In that context, I'm not sure if the SA10 is the one for me in the long run, I maybe need something that falls between ballroom and pogoing 😊. Which is why I'm inclined to give the Nait 5si another shot.

Saying that, I'm going to give it a good chance over the next few days. I've been playing the Node into the SA10's DAC most of the time and I've enjoyed it, going to swap around and see how the Node sounds through its analogue inputs, and also connect up the CDT to its digital input, see how that goes.
 
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