I don't have sibilance problems, are my speakers dull?

Another poster asked for help dealing with sibilant performances.

It got me to thinking, the one thing I have not had a problem with in like forever is sibilance. Maybe this is because I don’t seek to make my system "revealing" which to me often just means bright.

I’m now kind of curious, exactly what kind of gear and recordings bring this problem out?


While I am no expert sibilant is the result of having a peak in the upper midrange (somewhere between 3.5-6kzh).  

Well designed speakers should not have sibilant issues no matter how revealing. The worst offenders I have come across are mid to lower model B&W speakers and several Sennhizer headphones. I have never had an issue on anything else. 
I saw that thread too, assuming it’s the recent one about Men at Work’s “Down Under”.  I have the vinyl and have played it on the Cadenza Bronze cartridge and never noticed any sibilance, which I relate to a distorted “s” sound.  I brought it out and gave it a spin on my current Goldring 1042.  The cymbals are very prominent and Dry, no body at all.  The singer “s” sounds are slightly elevated but not distorted or distracting.   Some would call that sibilant.  It’s definitely in the recording/mixing.
A lot of the early pressing CD’s had the issue.
They simply took the original master for the LP and dropped it onto the CD format.

The end result was a lot of sibilance and extremely dry sounding, bright recordings.

Later re-masters of the original analog recordings, specifically mixed for digital format (CD) eliminated much of the issue.

If your system and speakers are fairly accurate, it won’t be hard to test/prove out.

As for your speakers, they should pretty much be reproducing what they're fed. 

What volume? A song that sounds great at 95 db might sound sibilant at 105 db. Most speakers can handle normal volumes but the closer you get to ‘The Who live” concert levels the. More important room treatments and component matching become.
If you don’t hear it in vocals on the "Trinity Sessions" by the Cowboy Junkies then you have a dead spot in your setup’s response (just to name something you my have on hand).

It’s there on early original releases (both CD/vinyl).

I’ve found vocal sibilance prevalent throughout my musical library (which spans 60-80 years of recordings) regardless of what my system is/was.

I consider it to be a natural occurrence, and don’t have a problem with it.


It all starts with microphone selection and maybe goes downhill from there…
Will have to play Trinity Revisited this eve… 45 rpm, the famous church and nearly so Ambisonic microphone array….
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The recording by FDR when Declaring WAR. "A day which will live in Infamy" That is the definition of sibilance

"One giant leap for man kind".. that is sibilance.. mercy was that a bad recording..

I get it when listening to Diana Krall. As long as it doesn’t hurt my ears it doesn’t bother me. It may be a preamp issue. You could try changing you power cable on your preamps to a thicker gauge. It really makes a difference. The Puritan Classic Plus power cable is a cheep fix for this. 
Sometimes sibilance is just baked into the recording.

I think we all have that subconscious (or conscious) "Do Not Play" list.

Sibilance to me is very different than the sound I've very rarely heard when DACs just don't seem to like a particular recording.  There was a song by Halie Loren (now I can't remember) which I owned and on one DAC it would consistently distort, more like paper being crumpled.  Switch DACs, problem went away.
I used to have bouts of sibilance with various recordings (Linda Ronstadt's "What's New" for sure) on Martin Logan SL3s and on Dynaudio Sapphires with the Esotar 2 tweeter.

I feel I have no sibilance ever anymore on pretty much any recording I own since moving to Raidho D2s (sealed ribbon tweeter).  What is even better is that the D2's far superior resolution is simply stunning and they have opened up every recording I own over the other speakers. The greatest tweeter ever for me (and mid-woofers).
I think it comes down to overly bright speakers, probably the less expensive speakers, probably the ones you guys don’t use.  I had some Energy Veritas that were horribly sibilant, same with a bunch of paradigms.  Pair them with bright cables and harsh amps and as a novice you’d think “lots of detail” or “crispy” and then you find out what sibilance is…
That last sentence made me smile remembering my listening skills, or lack of skills, some 20-30 years ago.  Some lessons weren't fun. grin.
When I bought Sonus Faber sonettos, I was using a Sonos amp and immediately noticed horrible sibilance and overall brightness. When I ditched the Sonos amp and got a NAD m10 I had silky smooth, detailed highs and never again heard any sibilance. In fact the speakers got even more detailed. I think alot of sibilance is also caused by amps that have alot of distortion in the upper hand.
I’m now kind of curious, exactly what kind of gear and recordings bring this problem out?
Its a distortion problem. If you have a problem with the setup of your phono cartridge (or its suspension is shot) you can get sibilance.

Another way this can be caused is by a bad driver in a loudspeaker. A woofer that has a shot suspension can introduce sibilance that can sound for all the world as if its caused by a tweeter. A rubbing voice coil can do this too.

I've had a variety of speakers and amps yet not encountered the issues described by @dekay above. I started with the original American pressing of the Trinity Sessions and then eventually found the the Canadian press, which is a little more immediate. Neither version had any problems, which is why the recording was popular with audiophiles. Is there some peakiness in the recording? Sure, but not the point of sibilance.