A lot music is recorded below par to others. The bright/harshness isn't contributed only to gear. I can tell the difference in my car as well ............
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Quality varies from CD to CD, LP to LP, SACD to SACD, etc. That is just the way it is. Once the stereo has enough resolution, this will all become noticible - as you're finding out. The trick is to find the right balance of virtues that allow you to still hear the music despite the problems and yet not dumb down the great recordings.
The Lector is about as sweet as it gets at its price point. It also has very good bass, midbass, and a midrange richness that can counteract the negative effects of bad recordings. However, it is a high quality player and also resolving, so if it is on the recording you will hear it. You didn't mention whether your Lector is MkI, II, or III, or how many hours it has on it. If it is not broken in, you could be looking at days or weeks to hear how it will eventually sound. Even assuming the tubes are not new, you should let them warm up for a good day or two if the unit hasn't been played for awhile. Keep it powered up and play a good burn-in CD or just let it play something busy with a wide range of frequencies for 4-8 hours at a stretch, then after a few days, see what you think about the CD's you initially found to sound grating. Also, I would rate the Nola speakers as sounding more neutral or accurate, rather than warm or forgiving. I eventually sold a pair when I couldn't make them sound good as rich as I wanted while using SS equipment. Let us know what you think after some playing time, and also let us know what player you are comparing with. Good luck.
the 20 bit original lector is a bit more forgiving of "harsh" sounding recordings. i would surmise that you are auditioning a 24 bit lector which is more reolving and hence less euphonic.
you may decide to change your interconnect cable from the preamp to the cd player after the lector breaks in.
Some CDs are indeed produced badly. Bad production can happen in the studio, when dynamic range is erased to produce a hot recording... and it can happen at the mastering plant, when the digital nasties creep in.
I have just been getting to know Dolly Partons The Grass is Blue; what a superb performance, and from every musician in the band as well. Not a dud riff. But the extreme top end is steely and Miss Partons voice has a zing on the high notes and even a bit of edge lower down sometimes. I can live with it for the feeling and the mastery in the voice and instrumentssuch performances dont come along every daybut gee whiz Maam, I bet the master didnt leave the studio like that.
Now you can tell the performance is great even on an ordinary player. On my best setup, there is more emotion and the songs touch me more easily. But there is not one of my players that can take away the digital artifacts that were put there somewhere in the process of getting the disc to me, and I suspect the pressing plant.
I have many CD's that have a quality variance from song to song as well . Cd's , especially classic rock , are not very well done . That's just the way that it is .
I have found that tubed components will help with this issue , the more the better . And I do have rather resolving speakers .
If I were you I would change the amp to a tubed integrated . Pick up a used one here and try it out . The worst that could happen is that you loose a couple of bucks on the resale and shipping charges ! Or you may like what you hear and keep it . Just a thought .
Good luck .