Just a guess, speakers?
18 responses Add your response
The first obvious question relates to system set up. Have you eliminated hard surfaces at the first reflection points on the side walls, floors and ceilings? They are a big contributor to sibilance, overall brightness, and 'distortion'.
Second biggest contributor (If not the first - I'm not familar with your speakers), are you listening to your speakers on the speakers axis? Many speakers are hot on axis and must be pointed straight ahead, or something in between. On occasions I have gone so far as to toe my speakers in so that the axis crosses in front of my listening position to avoid both sidewall reflections and still listen well off axis.
Lastly, have you listened to other sources on your present stuff and found the presentation to be with out the same sibilence?
I'll not comment on the wires. While I've found wires can seem to be a contributor to brightness on occasion I have no experience with your equipment. Perhaps someone with your stuff will have first hand knowledge, but FWIW I've never been able to tame sibilence with just wire changes.
Have you noticed any change in sibilance across the LP (i.e., outer track compared to inner track and middle track)? Also, try increasing your tracking force to 2.0 grams. Finally, try a different alignment protractor.
Also, and my apologies if you already know this, ensure that you are aligning the cantilever and not the front of the cartridge - I'm not familiar with the VPI alignment rig, it may "force" you to align correctly.
Good luck and keep us posted on your results!
speakers closer together get warmer and have more attack. too close gives "third tweeter" ...also suggest corner tunes, echo tunes, wall tunes. wall behind speaker is reflective, so do you have a picture or something behind speakers? ...last thing ....maybe ear height/ time alignment of tweeter. ...have you heard other great systems lately? could be your spoiled.
I'd go with Doug's suggestion, EXCEPT that you've had the problem with (at least according to your description) so many different cartridges. It could be that something is being overdriven -- like too high a gain setting in your phono preamp.
OR, if it happens with all sources and not just vinyl, it could be due to an impedance mismatch between your preamp and your amp. I've certainly run across that one before! And this particular amp needs to be configured to match your speaker drivers. Both of these issues are mentioned in the notes published on the First Watt website:
"It is well suited to sensitive full-range drivers such as Lowther or Fostex, and allows easy use of parallel loading networks to tailor the driver response.
It has both balanced and single-ended inputs. The input impedance is nominally 80 Kohm, and the output impedance is 80 ohms."
I suspect the problem is your extremely unusual choice of amp and speakers.
First Watt F1 is a current power amplifier...it will attempt to drive your speakers with a current that is independent of impedance load.
Your speakers only have one driver...it is unlikely that the impedance curve is anywhere near flat ....even it might be an easy or efficient load to drive.
I don't know the impedance characteristics of your speakers but most speakers are such that they tend to be of higher impedance at higher frequencies and usually high around the resonance point of the driver (which for 4 inch is probably some where in the lower mid range or bass).
The end result of this combination is that you will accentuate the speaker response according to the impedance curve...i.e. emphasize the resonance frequency and accentuate the treble (if your speaker behaves as most speakers do) => you will get significant bass and treble response boost and this is why you hear so much sibilance
Current amplifiers are rarely used in audio applications for this very reason....they need to be carefully matched to a speaker with a flat impedance curve.
First off let me say in my humble opinion you have a fantastic system.I don't believe the problem stems from one thing over the next.If you are putting together a system then you have to look at the system as the source of the problem.You have been given a number of great responses of which i would look into trying each one,but do it one at a time and listen for the changes that come about as you go on.Good luck
Hornshoppe are those very little very nice back horn loaded full range drivers, Fostex right?
I can bet your problem is the Whizzer...
I used to have a kinda Bazzilla speaker with DX3Lowthers on open bafle, I had to really fight ot get the SSSing down.
First point: silver cables give cleaner highs.
Second point. Add a super-tweeter, I started with a Fostex FT17H and then upgraded to a Beyma CP21-f
I have the Martin TL boxes with Fostex FE 207E drivers on a second system and its pretty nice, I got those to get better bass than I was getting with the the Lowthers, transparency is better with lowthers though.
I think you have a great system, I dont mean to be rude but I think its time to upgrade your speakers, I got Cabbase Loudspeakers after a lot of fiddling around with Full range drivers and they beat every Fullranger I heard in any aspect, more transparent more dynamic more coherent and of course better bass and better highs.
They say lowthers have a lot of bite, my Cabasse have more bite than my lowthers, I had to tame them good and they are sooo sweet now!!
PS- Not connected to Cabasse....
All the Best
Dear Socoaste: Shadorne is right on target: speaker/amplifier synergy, there is a severe mismatch between them because each other impedances.
If you like your speakers then you have to change the amplifier or the speakers if you like the amp.
It is a very hard task to match your amp to any speaker. I have a lot of respect for N. Pass but I don't know what he was thinking when put on sale those amps.
Btw, ask to N. Pass what to do about. His amp is the trouble.
Regards and enjoy the music.
First off thanks for the ideas everyone....
The problem is showing up on digital And vinyl, but is
worse on vinyl playback.
speakers reflections......I don't think so, I have diffusers & studio foam to tame that area.
does not matter if at start of record or at last track.
speaker to amp mismatch....well, I know a few persons that
have the F-1/Hornshoppe combo & they are quite happy with it. the drivers I have are the Fostex 4" FE126E which are the latest driver that Ed (Hornshoppe) uses in the Horns.
most guys (including Me) are using accoustic stuffing in the horn throat
to damp the driver, since there is practically no damping factor with the F-1.
later this evening when it is cooler, I'll turn on the F-1
and maybe do a little more experimenting, (I don't have A/C
& that F-1 puts out some serious heat!).
Socaste, Logic, not hands on experience, leads me to a few conclusions based solely on what you have posted regarding your equipment and things you have done to solve your problem.
To review, as I understand it you have sibilence with any source materiel but it is worse with vinyl. The sibilence remains without regard to the amp/pre-amp or tubes you are using. You have ruled out room/set up acoustic related problems. What's left? Your speakers of course. Now that could be your speakers themselves(probable) or their interface with your amp (more likely, except you have tried other amps).
Perhaps it would be meaningful to review how your problem first manifested itself.
When did you become aware of the sibilence?
When you first introduced the speakers to your system?
When you first introduced your amp to your system?
When you first introduced or modified your TT system?
You have sort of dismissed the suggestion that your speakers and your amp might be a mis-match because you know folks who have them and are happy with them, but you do not indicate that you auditioned either or both in your home before your acquired them or that you auditioned them at the homes of the folks who were supporting the combo.
As your thread now stands the only common denominator for the source of the sibilence which you have not ruled out is your speakers. FWIW, some years ago, I bought some highly regarded and extensively reviewed, speakers which I auditioned in a showroom before purchase. I was a neophyte and didn't think about amplification issues. I spent the next two years looking for the right amp (my speakers were sibilent as hell!) and I finally discovered by accident the amp used by the manufacturer to voice the speaker. Bought the amp and the speakers were every bit as good as I had been told, except of course, by then I hated them!
Bottom line, call the Manufacturer and ask them what amp they used to voice their speakers. While most won't tell you, you might luck out on this one. :-)
Socoaste, I still think, based on the notes published on the First Watt website, that you should call them and find out how to configure the parallel loading networks to tailor the driver response. As Raul mentioned, and I agree, I think the problem is due to impedance mismatch between the amp and the driver, and it should be quite easy to rectify. With these kinds of amps and speakers, it's a bit like loading a moving coil cartridge -- very critical, and will (almost) never work "right out of the box."
The Fostex drivers you use are very interesting and yes they dont have a whizzer (good) but they do not give you the upper crust of high frequencies, thus you get ssssing.
Do try a super tweeter, play around with IC.
I am almost sure your speakers were voiced with SET amps.
I am sure Raul will back me up on this one: Try a tube amp.
I had extreme sibilance, so much so that I could only listen to about 20% of my software. For a (very) long while I tried to make my system darker, but the darker I made it the more noticeable became the sibilance.
I now have zero sibilance and I attribute it sole towards my stands. Your problem my be different from mine, but after getting a decent platform/stand both my analogue and digital source produce no sibilance. I can actually listen to Sarah Brightman without knives going through my ears.
Dear Socoaste: +++++ " speaker to amp mismatch....well, I know a few persons that
have the F-1/Hornshoppe combo & they are quite happy with it. " +++++
If you already heard those systems and you find that don't have your problem ( not even approach to your problem ) then other than the mismatch between speakers/amplifier/cables it will be a fault in the speakers drivers or a fault on the amplifier, what else?
Why not take your amplifier and hear it with any of those systems or take the amplifier of one of your friends system and hear it on your system?
Regards and enjoy the music.