Difficult Sopranos

Perhaps I am not using the correct term, but when I bring my opera cd's to audition a "high end" showroom I have yet to come across a system where the soprano, when singing, say "questa reggia" from turandot, doesnt eventually come to a part where the sound just beams and drills into my ears. Have listened to Meridian, Arcam Rega, Musical Fidelity Cd players with assortments of speakers, SACD, amps in sound treated rooms. I am the first to admit I havent heard a great many systems, - but if I knew there was a cure for this, I would be encouraged to continue to look and audition systems. For now, I am enjoying a "no dramatic soprano zone" with the Musical Fidelity A5 /Vandersteen 2Ce sigs and Rotel 1080 amp. So tell me opera fans- has anyone tamed the dramatic soprano?
Is it just possible that the cd that you audition systems with is just flawed by tecnical standards?
It could be partially the CD itself. The system is accurately playing harshly recorded female vocals. That is why you cannot find the right system. Your source material sounds that way.
"Her Royal Icy Highness, Princess Turandot". Try Callas/Schwarzkopf/Serafin on EMI or Sutherland/ Pavarotti/ Caballe /Zubi Mehta on Decca. (performance wise, I prefer the former to the latter) If I remember correctly, there's no (or little) over load on the soprano recording.

I have literally felt your pain. Another audiogon member described this experience as akin to having ice picks stuck through one's ear drums. In my opinion, it is likely that this is due to multiple factors resulting in an inappropriate reinforcement of certain frequencies. It is likely that the recordings themselves are at least part of the problem.

In my own system, I experienced a similar phenomenon most prominent with certain female vocals, but on occasion I would get the same thing from French horns. Further, it seemed that Chandos recordings were especially prone to this sort of thing. I successfully tamed this using a combination of room treatments and purchase of an Audio Mirror D-1 DAC. No more bleeding ears!
You could have 2 different issues going on .The recording itself and or the loudspeakers.The best top end reproduction I ever encountered by a wide margin is the B&W 800 Series with the new Diamond Tweeter.This speaker will not impead any of the top end response at all.
But then again based on my experience most recording engineers
don't allow enough headroom for the dynamic range of a Soprano
to be voiced.
I have made several live recordings of our local community orchestra over the years and have excellent results from Soprano recordings and duets.You must be extremely important to allow for the dynamic envelope to expand naturally without the use of any compression at all.
When this is done properly you will witness with your ears
and unbelievable live sound of the voice true to the original event.
The engineer needs to be extremely familiar with the piece
and have a copy of the musical score with him to anticipate when a fff will occur from the voice,But that is called gain ride and even that needs to be done very carefully as well.
I hope this answers your question.
Here, I insert my usual plug for the dirt cheap $12.50 Herbiesaudiolab.com Grungebuster2 CD mat which is the best I have found for ameliorating exactly what you describe. No big expense, even if you don't end up singing its praises as I do.
With no intention of causing too much of a stir, this may also be hard clipping, which is how digital recordings handle distortion overloads as opposed to soft clipping which is a little more natural and ear-friendly which is found in anolog playbacks of hot signals.
Then again, it may well be that even in the concert hall itself, that a given Soprano, on any given night, might just enter dramtic piercing levels which no sliders on the sound board are going to stop. When you're hot, you're hot.
The problem Is not caused by the cd or any cd for that matter, the fault lies with a systems inability to play music. Avoid any lo-fi system (masquerading as hi-fi) that makes vocals sibilant or harsh. A good set-up will make you forget instantly the equipment a cd is being played on, thereby allowing you to be engrossed totally in the music you are hearing.
I would say Junior is the most difficult of all the Sopranos with Tony a close second.
Good one, Dreadhead. But I would vote for A.J.