PSB Image T6 fuzzy sound


I just got a pair of PSB Image T6’s. I am noticing that on source material containing female vocals (Norah Jones, Feist), the high frequencies are accompanied by a fuzzy, “staticy” muddled sound. Sadly it makes the recordings pretty hard to listen to. I do not recall hearing such coloration at the store where I demo’d them (I unfortunately did not listen to the same material at the store… I plan to head back there with my discs in hand when time permits). After initially thinking I got a defective pair, I played the same material on my surrounds which are PSB Image T5’s. Interestingly enough, I heard the same coloration. Given the similarity in the sound between the two sets of speakers, I am wondering if its one of my other components. Before I go down that path and shop for and swap out cables and amps, I wanted to get some idea from those out there who have listened to these speakers. Is this fuzzy, “staticy” muddled sound a characteristic of the latest incarnation of the PSB Image line? More importantly, is there anything I can do to clear up those highs?


Additional Associated Equipment and Room Information:

20’ X 20’ with a 20 ft pitched ceiling at the center.
Arcam AVR 200 as Pre/Power amp
Oppo BPD 103 as CD player
Acoustic Research 6ft interconnects
10’ pair of 11 guage IXOS speaker cables.
I don't know if what I'm hearing at times is the same thing you are describing too. Give me some track names and corresponding times that you are hearing this fuzziness and I will tell you what I think. It may just be that when you have a system that is more revealing, it makes the good sound better and the bad sound, well worse.
Lol, oops, this thread is super old! Don't I feel stupid.
Hello limo. Thanks for the reply. From what I am able to tell, the thread is just a few days old. In fact, I was in the process of finding the second markers in the tracks to continue the discussion There are quite a few. I hope to have a proper reply tomorrow. Have you stumbled on another thread that addresses the same issue? If so, feel free to point me in the right direction.

Thanks again
Lol, so it is only a few days old! Anyways, I quite often hear a fuzziness, or crunhiness almost like distortion or what I used to think was a partially damaged tweeter. Do find some tracks and second markers. I'm interested to see if we are in fact hearing the same thing :-)
It's funny. By you writing that the thread was old, I looked at the op and immediately assumed it was from 2008. I've only had one vodka drink tonight. Maybe I should get off the Schmirnoff.
Hello B_limo,

If I may ask, what convinced you that the sound wasn't indicative of a blown tweeter? Although I did a comparison with my T5's, part of me still can't shake the idea that the tweeters are blown. It really just doesn't sound right. It may just be a matter of adjusting my expectations. I bought these with the intention for home theater.

Anyhow, here are few of the tracks and times that I noticed the high "fuzz" on. I hope you have access to some of the same CDs.

Artist Norah Jones, Album "Come Away With Me"
Track 1 "Don't Know Why"
0:10 through 0:13
1:00 through 1:04
1:10 through 1:18
Track 2 "Seven Years"
Track 3 "Cold Cold Heart"
1:22 through 1:24
2:00 through 2:11 (the whole piano part has this fuzzy hiss to it)

Artist The XX, Album "Coexist"
Track 9 "Unfold"

Artist Diana Krall, Album Live in Paris
Track 4 "The Look of Love"
0:49 through 0:51
1:22 (the "Long I've waited" part really brings out the hiss)

Artist Bic Runga, Album Drive
Track 1 "Drive"
0:41 through 0:43 (pay particular attention when she sings the word "know")
1:05 (notice the sound of the singing "feeling I guess")

Artist Coldplay, Album Parachutes
Track 1 "Don't Panic"
The chorus "we live in a beautiful world" brings out the hiss
1:20 through 1:23 (the piano part is pretty bad sounding)
1:50 through 1:54
Track 6 "Trouble"

Thanks again,
Eek! That must of took some time to compile that list. Just one or two tracks would have done, my man! Anyhow, all I had to do was listen to the Norah jones cd to realize we definately aren't talking about the same thing. The fuzziness I am hearing is more of a distorted crunchiness that is only apparent in some rock music (mainly three doors down) during electric guitar solos.

Anyhow, I would think that you definately have an issue here. You are noticing it quite often. The Norah Jones cd I am listening to sounds perfect. I also listened to the coldplay cd and heard nothing.

This is definately not a charecteristic of your speakers. It's interesting that you heard it in your surround speakers also. I was going to say that you should hook up another pair of speakers and see if you still hear the sound. It may be a pair of rca patch cords going bad on you. I've heard rca's do what you are describing. Go to best buy or wal-mart and pick up a new pair. You can take them back, and I would even if that is the problem, once you order yourself a good pair of the net.

Hope you get it figured out soon! Must be a drag to get a new pair of speakers and not be able to enjoy them. Those are nice speakers and they will sound great once you get this figured out. If there is anything else I can do to help you I will! Nice taste in music by the way :-)
Thanks Limo! I will look into the cables next.

I don't think it's your speakers, if your speakers are new maybe the company upgraded something in the crossovers, better caps? compared to older versions of the same model speaker giving you a little more detail, i ran your test on my infinity IRS epsilons, these speakers were $16,000.00 when they were new in 1995, they have so much detail from top to bottom that they will reveal the weakest link in your electronics and the good and the bad in all recordings...much better than any other speaker i have ever owned, they use planar tweeters, planar midranges, planar midbass drivers and a servo controlled 12"woofer, if you want to see what they look like you can search them on the web, i listened to where you marked the points in the Nora Jones cd and i hear the noise to, actually i heard this years ago and had to laugh at how bad it was recorded, it almost sounds like at times it gets distorted when they play or sing too loud but then at some points in the recording when they are not playing loud you can hear it too, i don't think it's your speakers i think it's just a bad recording.
I don't know about the bad recording idea. I do agree that some recordings are bad in some spots but you are hearing it all over the place. I don't know though I could be wrong, but still, good speakers should sound good most of the time and if they make "the recordings hard to listen to" why would people buy them. The point is to make the recordings enjoyable to listen to, to take you away so you get lost in the music. Keep us informed on what you find out!
I've had CD's that have gone bad that can make some funny sounds, sometimes similar to what you are experiencing. If you can get your hands on a duplicate CD, it'd be interesting to pop that in and see if the problem persists.
Hello Okeeteekid. Thank you for taking the time to go through the listening exercise. The reply is much appreciated. You may be onto something with the bad recording idea. After B_Limo's response regarding the cables as a possible culprit, I swapped out the pair running out of the OPPO that went into the CD inputs of the Arcam for a different set (same model, same manufacturer). I heard the same thing, which leads me to think that the bad sound isn’t coming from that cable itself. I have a 99 cent pair that I am looking to try later today to see how the sound changes. I am not expecting much, but for a buck, it has some entertainment value. The only drawback is, my wife is getting pretty tired of Norah Jones.

During the process, I started to wonder if it was that particular set of RCA jacks on the Arcam, so I used an auxililary set instead. I got the same results. I guess if there is anything positive to come out of it, I am happy to know that the Arcam is consistent.

Being even more curious, I next decided to bypass the analog output from the Oppo and use the optical output instead. The bad hissing sound was not there. Unfortunately, some of the other resolution also went with it as I suspect the DAC in the Arcam is no where near as capable as that of the Oppo. I’ll have to spend some more time listening to determine what’s been improved and what’s be degraded. That’s all part of the maddness that makes this hobby fun right?

In terms of the Norah Jones recording, the thought of it being a bad recording never really occurred to me. For as long as I’ve been dabbling in this hobby (on and off since 2002), I’ve always thought it was a great recording. Thank you for giving me the new perspective. On my previous system which I thought was superior component wise (Meadowlark Ospreys, Bryston BP-20, Bryston 4bst, Arcam cd72) to my current setup, I never recalled the sound being so apalling. That system is still in the “family” so one day I think I’m going to take the Oppo over and see if the hiss is there. Should be fun.

Thanks again,
Last year when i auditioned the magnepan 1.7's i brought along my Nora Jones cd to see what it sounded like on them, the dealer told me that the Nora Jones cd was badly recorded, he actually pointed all what you are hearing out to me on the new maggies, on less revealing speakers you won't hear it.
Thanks Okeeteekid. I've heard magnepans are super revealing. I think I may have stumbled on the source of the problem. Last night I spent some time listening to Pandora through the Oppo. I heard the same high frequency fuzz. I started to think a bit and decided to poke around the "audio processing" features that come with the Oppo. It turns out that the factory settings have some dB adjustments that come with the player out of the box. There is a feature that lets you fine tune these for movies. Taking a stab in the dark, I set the levels to 0. After playing the Norah Jones CD with these new settings, the fuzz was taken away. Looking back, it turns out the Oppo is a really "smart" player. To "smart" for someone like me =).

Thanks again everyone,
That's interesting you made this discovery. It makes perfectly good sense because audiophiles are not Oppo's target market. It's home theater people. Each unit is preset for home theater optimization for the same reason a television is set for store display. The manufacturer can't take the chance that the store will improperly adjust the settings and therefore lose sales.

I'm sure you've noticed what a pain in the neck it is to get a new tv to have a nice picture. There's actually web sites that you can go to now that tell you what settings to use for the best picture. I've been told that these sites save people hours of time.
Indeed... for music I do miss the old system. I only had a few knobs, balance, input selector and a volume control.
Interesting. So it sounds like it's a combination of the oppo and your speakers. I wonder if you hooked up a different cd player if you would still hear the hissing. I also wonder what the "audio processing" feature is adjusting in your oppo. I researched the nora jones cd being a bad recording and sure enough, many complaints about the recording. I would have figured that my rig would have brought those recording shortcomings out also, but I can't hear any of it. Part of me is glad that I can't hear it, the other part of me is wondering what link in my chain of equipment isn't revealing it. Hmmm....
I share your sentiment. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss. I have a feeling if I had a dedicated CD player, I would not hear as much "hissing" on the upper end. A lot of this thought is attributed to my belief that there are just fewer settings the user can mess with. I think my next purchase may be a DAC as I have a hard time convincing myself that CD players are still the way to go. I really liked my Arcam CD72. But given that its a bit dated, I can't help but think the new DACs on the market are inferior in capability. In addition, I really like the versatility of being able to plug in different digital inputs. As I am only looking to spend $400 (which is what I paid for the used CD72 back in 2002) I just have this feeling that $400 can buy so much more today (I hope). Anyhow, on with the madness.

Oh, what components are you using now?

Hey, K! I'm using a classe ssp-25 pre-amp, classe ca-150 amp, denon dvd 2900 as a transport, a wadia 170i to stream spotify premium and pandora one, a musical fidelity v-dac ii with upgraded power supply, paradigm studio 20's (v.5), svs sb12 plus, signal cable silver resolution xlr's and speaker cable, ps audio power cords :-)
I' super happy finally with my rig although another ca-150 and some cullen power cords along with some gik absorbtion panels and diffusors are planned future upgrades.
I've really been enjoying spotify premium lately. Once I figured out the wadia 170i, it's been all good. Spotify premium through a good dac equals c.d.'s on my system. It just opens up the door to so much music, which is really what this is all about; the music that is!
Wow, that album is just recorded badly. The producer added a lot more air in the 10-14k range to the vocals. It is very distracting. It's a hiss to me, not fuzz though. They mixed it for earbuds. If you listen through your standard Apple white crap you will not notice it, I suspect, but you can still kinda hear those frequencies are attenuated.

Also, my speakers seem to be pretty fast and the notes in her vocal with much greater volume nearly hit me in the head. Hard to listen to at a decent normal volume. Compression, used judiciously, is sometimes highly necessary for making vocals palatable on stereos! And it's possible to automate compression just the way you would ride a vocal with a fader. That's a different issue though.

Probably turning down the output on the Oppo is helping because it might be causing actual clipping in the AVR, making it more of a fuzz than a hiss (pure distortion).
Nice rig. I like the components you selected as they are also on the top of my list for best "bang for the buck". If I had my druthers, I'd probably end up with the same components. Although, I can't say I know much about Paradigm's. I have always been tempted by the great value Classe components provide on the second hand Audiogon market. I think if I get the upgrade bug, I'll have to go down that route. The VDAC caught my eye as well. I am thinking either that one of the Music Hall 15.2. How do you like the IPOD/IPHONE as the portal to Pandora? Do you think it is any better than using a network enabled blu-ray or TV?

Hey, Kevin! Thanks for the nice reply! I love the musical fidelity v-dacii with the upgraded power supply (I use a pangea p-100). I think it's a great sounding dac for around $500 for dac and upgraded power supply. As for your question about the i phone vs. blu ray or t.v for a portal to pandora I couldn't tell a difference between my ps-3 and the i phone but I couldn't stream spotify premium over the ps3, and there is a pretty noticeable difference between pandora one (192kbps) vs spotify premium (320 kbps) so I had to go the i phone route. The user interface between spotify and pandora is totally different in that with spotify you can pull up multiple albums from one artist and all of the tracks on those albums whereas pandora is more like a radio station in that you just get whatever the want to play. I have pandora one but only use it to find new artists and then use spotify to delve deeper. Like I mentioned in my last post, spotify is really close to c.d. quality on my system, whereas pandora one is not.
Another thing to consider between the v dac and the music hall is that the v dac is asynchronous and the music hall is synchronous. If your planning on streaming music off your p.c., asynchrous is the preferred method because the dac corrects jitter and reclocks the signal.
Hi B_limo,

Thanks for the info. I didn't know what "Spotify" meant until your last post. At first I thought it was a new-fangled verb related to doing something with digital music. After poking around the web, I find that it's a service... one that I actually might be interested in. I'll have to look into it a bit more. Interesting what one can learn by asking seemingly unrelated questions. I've been living under a rock for the past 10 years!

Thanks again,
Lol, no worries Kevin! I'm new to the whole streaming audio thing myself but now that I've tapped into, there's no looking back. I used to look through hundreds of used c.d.'s and make multiple trips to the library to get new music everyday, but no more :-)
Spotify premium has a free month trial. You ought to give it a try! I think you'll like it.
got no idea what that is but i heard the exact same thing when i auditioned a pair of jamo R909's. The dealer scolded me and almost kicked me out of his shop
I had a pair of totem forests shipped to me and they sounded like they were buzzy,from main drivers mainly.voice coils damaged in shipping, got new pair problem solved?