It depends on how much music is hurting your ears. If it is just an occasional cd I would leave things alone. But if it is a consistent problem that really annoys you then try the EQ. Sometimes an interconnect change can solve the problem
I forgot to say that that very logical thought had already crossed my mind, Arh, and until I switched to the Cary, I had gone one step further and stopped listening CD's that had significantly uncomfortable passages. I'm in the process of refamiliarizing myself with my inventory and have found that there will probably still be some that won't be played at anything but very low volumes. What you said makes sense but I'm just putting it out there for discussion.
Broadstone, I've been following your posts (I have hyperacusis). I've changed interconnects many times and tube preamps with different sonic signatures to pair with my SS amp to make digital more listenable for me.
Changing to the Cary tube amp is a great move for you.
Probably like you, I have a group of CDs that I will never play due to their poor remastering or new CDs mastered with very extended highs.
The thing that has helped me most is tube rolling; but this is in the preamp. Finding the right NOS tubes can get expensive, but now I'm listening to most of my CD collection.
Maybe you can get a recommendation for a change in one of the amp tubes, possibly the driver tube, that would change the presentation of the offending frequencies? Mullard tubes have a softer top-end and a warmer sound.
You'll get help here, or you can contact Brent Jessee. He's very responsive to email questions...
Thanks, Lowrider. It's always good to hear from you. The best thing I've done toward resolution of my hearing issues is the purchase of this Cary amp that I'm using in triode mode. Tube rolling hadn't occurred to me, thinking that further improvement over what I'd already experienced probably couldn't be significant. However, leaving well enough alone is not a common practice in this hobby, so I ordered a quad of EL34's to replace the KT88's to potentially gain even more warmth. I'm looking forward to installing them when they arrive.
You mentioned a factor that I have come to believe is one of the most significant, recording quality. A while ago I began buying recognized high quality recording studios and, although not a panacea, they are generally superior.
Getting back to the tube issue, when it comes to vacuum tube VS solid state, I have no opinion which is superior. My choice, though, will be to stay with tubes in one form or another for strictly personal reasons.
Hi Broadstone, good move trying the EL34's. They'll give a different colour to the sound of your system.
But, if there is still a problem with annoying frequencies, ask your tube dealer if a change in one of the small input tubes, such as the driver will help. If so, go with a classic sounding NOS tube.
Keep us informed of how it sounds.
Broadstone, I think you do indeed have an opinion about tubes vs transistors based on your experience. Tubes do indeed have a more 'rounded' quality as you pointed out in your initial post.
This is because they tend to have less higher-ordered harmonic distortion than transistors tend to have. The ear is very sensitive to these harmonics (5th and above) and uses them to determine how loud a sound actually is (rather than trying to get that information from the fundamental frequency).
It may interest you to know that you can take this a step further. Amplifiers that employ loop negative feedback will also have increased amounts of higher ordered harmonics as a result of the feedback itself. I know this sounds counterintuitive but this has been well-known for the better part of 60 years! The amount of additional harmonic content is slight (in trace amounts and hard to measure on test equipment) but since our ears are tuned to detect these harmonics (which, when feedback is added, can go up as high as the 81st harmonic), we can hear them with ease.
If you can find an amplifier that does not employ loop feedback and will also work correctly on your loudspeakers (feedback is often used to get flatter frequency response) then the distortion components will be lower orders and generally are considerably less annoying. Tubes, triodes in particular, can be quite linear so feedback is not a requirement for low distortion. As a result there are a good number of low or zero feedback tube amps on the market. Something to think about...
OK, I installed the EL34's, biased them to 165 mA and started listening. With only about 15 hrs on them, though, I didn't expect much and, sure enough, they sounded pretty bad and the only way to get them to sound nearly as good as the 88's was to switch from triode mode to UL. A friend, though, traded me a set of 34's that he had in his PrimaLuna for mine and, what a difference. This amp, then, is definitely a keeper and the EL34 tubes will remain at least until I try the 6L6's that also came with the amp.
Lowrider, in regard to your suggestion that I look into the front end tubes, I spoke with Mark at Cary who suggested that I try 12AX7 in place of the BZ7's. I haven't tried it yet but I do have some spare ones that I keep for the DACs that I have so will try it later. I don't, though, like making multiple changes at the same time for obvious reasons.
Atmasphere, re your last comment, you ALWAYS give me plenty to think about especially as regards the importance of feedback and harmonics and how they influence sound quality. I'm using the Cary Rocket 88R which I thought did not incorporate loop feedback. I don't know where I got that info or if it's even true.
Anyway the progress I'm making is very satisfying and even fun.
Behringer also sold a parametric Equalizer that you may benefit from in your situation. It has adjustable notch filters that could be adjusted to the offending frequency. Also the Parametrics are not locked into a set number of frequencies that are adjustable, it is variable from top to bottom broken up into bands. The frequency and bandwidth of the frequency are adjustable as well as the gain or attenuation for the frequency. I have a pair of these and found them more useful than the DEQ2496.