Crackling in right channel, what do I do? Help, please.


Sadly, I am experiencing crackling in the right channel of my system. The crackling happens intermittently and has happened on different sources, including my FM tuner, and from my DAC. It seems like the crackling is not related to the source. 

I have a monster of a system, including a Gryphon Colosseum amplifier, and a pair of Gryphon Cantata speakers. 

My system is described in the link below. How should I go about debugging this problem? Do I dare play the system? Should I buy a cheap amp and swap that in to see if the problem persists? Do I buy a cheap preamp as well? Do I start by swapping the speaker cables to the opposite speaker cables to see if the crackle moves to the other speaker? 

My system has been performing flawlessly for a number of years now. I did have to get cheap part replaced on the amplifier about three or four years ago, and used Soundsmith in Peekskill, NY.

I'm pretty brokenhearted about the possibility of having to get my system repaired. I had total hip replacement surgery two months ago and I can't lift anything. Moving the beast of an amp or the heavy speakers is out of the question. I suppose I could find somebody to help me if it comes to that. 

Sigh. 

Larry
 

 

larrykell

Do you hear this phenomenon simply listening, at any volume, or is it related to volume change, or power on/off etc? It could be just about anything. Could be as simple as ground noise, or as bad as an amp on its way out. More details would be helpful.

Is it a crackle or a rattle? If it’s a rattle I would check if everything’s tightly secured - speaker/stand coupling, whatever else can be potentially loose. 

If it’s a crackle, it could be a damaged driver (possibly tweeter). Swap speaker cables to have your amp’s left channels drive your rights speaker and right channel drive the left. If the crackle travels together with the cable swap it’s the amp. If still crackling in the right speaker your speaker needs to be looked at. 

Thanks for the replies, much appreciated.
 

It’s a crackle not rattle and it appears to be at any volume level. When I heard it, I switched sources and it kept happening. I then took the volume level to 0 and there was still some noise on the right channel. When I turned off the amplifier, you could hear a noise in the right channel.

I suppose it could also be the preamp. How do I figure out if it is the preamp?

First, I will swap both ends of end cable from left to right to see if the sound moves to the other speaker. 
 

I’ll tighten all connections. I’m running a big AudioQuest power conditioner. Could it be that? Seems unlikely. It’s either the speaker, amp, or preamp, I think. 

I guess I’ll swap the amp end cables first and then swap both ends with of the cables to see if the cable could somehow be bad. 

Hi @larrykell 

 

Sorry to hear about your troubles, first world or otherwise, and I hope your hip is mending according to plan.

 

First thing to do would be to isolate to a particular channel so swap your speaker cables from left to right and right to left. Im almost certain the noise will move to the left speaker but thats step one. In the event the noise stays in the right channel it s your right speaker.

 

Next up, replace the speaker cables to the way they were before. Turn everything on and ensure the noise is still present. Then turn off one component at a time to see if the noise ceases with each subsequent power off. Repeat until only your amp is on and if the noise persists, your last checkpoint would be to disconnect everything from the amp except power and speaker cables. If the noise is still there, then the right channel in your amp requires attention.

 

If the noise is NO LONGER there, then you will have to chase it back up through your chain. I would switch left interconnects with right interconnects for each piece of gear and methodically take notes as to what you. Have done and what you will do. This will help you stay on track in the event the phone rings, the doorbell sounds of if Judge Judy comes on the TV. In the event the noise moves from right to left channel then you might have a bad interconnect or more likely, that the interconnects needed to be properly seated/re-seated.

 

You will get it sorted, just be patient, it will work out. Getting a high quality piece of gear serviced isn’t the end of the world…it might be something as simple as seating your cables properly or removing tension from the routing of certain stiff interconnects. It might even be a fuse in your amp slowly faining or improperly seated due to transit/moving it around.

 

Good luck.

 

I have an update! 

I swapped the speaker cables at the amplifier and the crackle moved to the other speaker. This happened after the amp was running for about fifteen minutes. So, I think we can conclude that it is not a speaker problem. 

How do I figure out if the problem is in the amplifier, preamp, or interconnects? 

I realize that this is a first world problem. Sorry for that. I should have replaced the whole thing with a Bluetooth speaker. :) 

Before my hip surgery, I had started Olympic weightlifting. It was kind of a joke for me, but the guy who runs the gym can squat over 500lbs so perhaps I can pay him to loud the amplifier into the back of my car, if it comes to that. That's what I did a few years ago when I needed to get the amplifier fixed. A seatbelt is recommended on a 150lb amplifier, lol. 


 

Hmmm, so, my preamp allows me to switch LR channels without switching cables. What if I swap the channels there and see if the noise persists in the Left channel, where it has moved to?

Do another swop L-R of cables from the preamp to the amp.  If it moves the problem is the preamp, if it stays put it's the amp.  You're already ruled out the source units and the speakers.  One more to go.

@larrykell 

How do I figure out if the problem is in the amplifier, preamp, or interconnects? 

See my third paragraph on in my post above.

Ok, I swapped the inputs to the amp and the crackle stayed in the same channel as before, so, I guess it is the amp. Sigh. I really wanted an excuse to upgrade the preamp. 
 

I’ve shut down the power to the amp and will see about getting it repaired. I hope Soundsmith is still repairing Gryphon gear. 
 

Now, I need some kind of amp to stand in for the Gryphon

Colosseum. I hate those Class D amps but may have to get one. 
 

Yes...sounds like the right channel to your amp. Im a tube guy myself but you will be very surprised with some of the better engineered class d amplification. Atmasphere has come out with a new pair of small monoblocks but maybe your dealer has a loaner?

Thanks for the help. Yes, I'll have to find some kind of amplifier to stand in while I wait to get the Gryphon repaired. I did this years ago when something else went wrong and the Class D amplifier I bought did not defeat the Colosseum. I guess there is no surprise there. 

The only reason I have the Colosseum is that it has a vertical footprint that fits into a rather cramped space. Now, Gryphon has gone away from vertical designs, so, I don't see any replacement in their current amp lineup. 

Speaking of tube amplifiers, I thought about trying the Cary CAD-120-S Mk II with its XLR inputs but I have no place to put it and I just know my wife will kick a tube if it is left on the floor, so, I'd better stick to solid state designs, lol. 

My friends at Soundsmith got back to me and said they're working through a backlog of repairs. I'll have to figure out when I can strap the Gryphon in the backseat of my car and make the long journey out there. 

 

 

If 100W is enough, a really compact and good class D is the AGD Tempo di Gan.  It may have more immediate availability than the Atmasphere monoblocks.

Is the amp you purchase to tide you over going to get sold when your Gryphon returns or will you keep it for the occasional "something different" mood that plagues so many of us? What is your budget for your given scenario?

That AGD Tempo di Gan does sound interesting but I'm not so sure I can find one for sale. Let me know if you see one. 

I don't know if I'll ever swap out the Colosseum to listen to something else, to be honest. With that said, it would be nice to have something that I enjoy listening to. I'm thinking that I might go to $3k. I'm sorry that that is so cheap.

I don't upgrade very often and so I am wondering what would move the needle the most in terms of sound quality. I was thinking that breaking the bank on the Gryphon Pandora preamp would make a noticeable difference but now I have to pay for an amplifier repair. 

So it goes. 

Post removed 

swap the interconnects between the preamp and amp and see if it moves. That will tell you amp vs preamp.

Yes, first I switched the speaker cables and the crackle switched channels. Switching the inputs from the preamp did not move the crackle. 

Just to throw this out there Larry it could also be a short in your speaker cables maybe check that before hauling the monster amp someplace. I had a short in an interconnect cable that made the same type of noise.

Ok, well, I’ll buy a replacement amplifier, swap it in, and see if the crackle comes back. I don’t want to take any more chances with the monster amp. 

@larrykell 

1. Swap left and right speaker wires at the output of the amplifier. Please switch off the power amp when you do this otherwise you may damage your speaker. If the problem also moves from right to left speaker, then  you can rule out the speaker. Otherwise, problem is the right speaker probably a bad driver.

2. Now swap left and right connectors at the input side of the amp. If the problem also moves from left to right, then you can rule out the amp. Otherwise, it is the amp.

3. You can repeat this to the preamp as well.

Hope this helps

I switched the speaker cables and the crackle went to the other speaker. 

I'd go for a Son of Ampzilla II for around $1500. I missed one on Reverb. 220 watts into 8 ohms, 350watts into 4 ohms. A 20lb transformer is a good start. James Bongiorno always tried to provide a lot of bang for the buck. 

I probably won't be happy with any Class D in my price range and might be somewhat happy with Class AB. For me, Class A is the destination. 

Actually it’s better to start switching the interconnect from the source and head down stream until it changes channels. Just because you switched at the pre amp doesn’t preclude the problem isn’t before it. I realize you found it's the amp but that’s what i had to do to isolate a problem in my pre amp 2 months ago.

Before the preamp are my sources, and switching between them did not get rid of the crackle. Hopefully, I’ll have a new amp to try within the week to see what happens. I’m not going to be able to move the monster amp for probably a month or more. 

@larrykell

I am happy to hear you found the problem with amp. I had this happened twice with my Mark Levinson 23.5. First time, it was a capacitor gone bad. So I sent the unit to George Meyers AV and they completely replaced all electrolyte capacitors. Then earlier this year, my left channel became barely audible. I sent the unit back to George Meyers and they found the problem and fixed it at no cost to me except shipping & handling.

 

So I had to do this drill to isolate the problem. I have tubes upstream and some tubes can give similar problems you described. I always start from the speaker side and work up the chain to all the way to source. One time, I had a bad tube in my Audio Research PH5 phone and right channel began to fad in and out.

 

You have an excellent system. But have you noticed that impedance of your speaker drops to 3.5 Ohms and your amp is rated at 160 W Class A at 8 Ohms? Since it is an all Gryphon system, it may be working. However, I would recommend you find an amp also rated at 4 ohm and 2 ohm preferably power doubles as impedance is halved. Since you are now looking for an amp, this may be an opportunity to find out if you can breath new life to your speakers. For an example, ML 332 advertised below may be a worth a shot. This unit was recently serviced by George Meyers.

 

The Gryphon Colosseum can produce 1250w at 1ohm and 5400w at 1/2 an ohm. The capacitors are huge. The amp has plenty of power and can handle far larger speakers than the Cantatas.
 

See here: 

 

I think my system sounds good and has life. Here is an iPhone video of one minute of Dame Janet Baker singing Where Corals Lies from Elgar’s Sea Pictures:

Elgar video

I hope this works. It’s hosted on Imgur. You may need to turn the sound on by hitting the speaker icon in the upper right. 

@larrykell 

I didn't see those specs, but I will take your word for it. Are these all power rating Class A? I read the brochure and it only gave 160 W rating at 8 ohms.

 

The specs are here:

Gryphon Colosseum Specs

in the right column. The whole system is on a dedicated 20a line and the amplifier is plugged into a high current plug on an AudioQuest Niagara 5000.

The amplifier is Class A the whole way. There are some low, and medium bias modes of 30w Class A and 70w Class A but I never use them. 
 

The manual Is here: 

 

the front and rear edges of the amplifier are heat sinks and, yes, they get hot. The amplifier wastes a watt in heat for every watt it produces in sound but it is a sweet sound.  

I had a similar problem with a crown xls 1502 and 2502 a very close to the same noise it ended up being the amp had to be cleaned 

Larry…before you conclude it’s the amp and to make sure you cover all bases, try a different pair of interconnects and speaker cables to eliminate a potentially faulty cable. 

Sometimes, troubleshooting is a pain. I had intermittent bursts of static in one channel. In the process of troubleshooting, I found one bad tube socket (replaced) and a bad XLR plug on an interconnect (got that re-terminated by manufacturer at no cost). I retubed everything -whole lotta tubes, almost none new stock. Still, despite this, and before sending equipment out for repair, I did a cross-channel exchange of the battery packs on my line stage- a fairly sophisticated device. In the process, I saw a bit of "fluff" on the metal contact plate. Dusted that and noise went away.

Moral: It could be something really stupid. I don’t know if there is a tech who could test some basic stuff at your home- like a house call. I almost resorted to that here in a town that’s thin on hi-fi (but lots of tube amp repair people in Austin for tube guitar/organ/other musical instrument amps).

I would also ask Grypon by phone (though you may have to set it up by email first) to tell you where they think the problem might lie if it is indeed the problem. Sometimes, those discussions give you leads to check something else.

Sympathize with you in suffering that "what’s the problem" phase until you suss it out. Some of the logic of troubleshooting is straightforward in terms of switching channels, trying to isolate to a particular component. It’s almost always got an answer, though. If that isn’t your thing maybe, depending on where you are located, somebody qualified could help do the troubleshooting. IT can be a PITA>

Good luck, you’ll find it and fix it.

 

Also, if you have a contact cleaner like DeOxit I would clean all connectors (xlr pins, RCAs, speaker terminals and binding posts).

Good point, there @audphile1. And before applying any contact enhancer, might be worth checking that all connectors are firmly seated. 

Thanks everybody. I’ve seen enough to swap the amp to see what happens. I can’t take any more chances with the monster amplifier. The crackling appears to be happening more frequently now.

I’m not going down the tube road. You guys have convinced me to stay away. 😁

I know the people at Soundsmith will get it fixed. They’re wonderful. 

""I swapped the speaker cables at the amplifier and the crackle moved to the other speaker.""

Run one single attached speaker cable then the other to determine if it is the cable? Maybe you did that as I did not read every post. 

Who makes a good 150w into 8ohms Class AB amplifier for about $3k? I need to be able to lift the thing. It has to have balanced inputs. No tubes. 

Yes seriously Larry make sure its not the speaker cable before you buy a new amp.

Who makes a good 150w into 8ohms Class AB amplifier for about $3k? I need to be able to lift the thing. It has to have balanced inputs.

Check out the Benchmark ABH2 power amplifier, 100w x2 @ 8Ω, 190w x2 @ 4Ω, should has enough power to drive your speakers and only weight 12.5lbs.

 

I swapped the speaker cables at the amp and the crackle moved. It’s a channel on the amp.

I was excited about the Benchmark until I realized that the speaker binding posts will only take small spades. My Gryphon speaker cables have huge spades. To make matters worse, the Benchmark puts the speakers posts above the XLR inputs, almost guaranteeing that they’ll block my input cables. Sigh.

The reviewer of the Benchmark in Stereophile mentioned that he was looking for lighter amps because he could no longer lift or move heavier amps. I’m in the same boat, at the moment. 

 

 

 

 

I need binding posts like this:

Gryphon speaker connections

or at least connectors that are open on all sides so my spades can fit.