Help. System sounds thin and bright or harsh

Hope this isn't redundant tried to post in Tech Talk

Just moved my system to a new home/sound room and it still sounds harsh and a bit thin despite supposedly "warm" sounding Harbeth 30.1 speakers. This issue is not new and I had put the blame on the old listening room.  Can't figure out what the problem is. I listen loud at 80dcbl or higher and sit nearfield about 8 feet from the speaker plane. (sound is thin and bright from afar as well) I have experimented in both homes with speaker placement, toe-in and the like. Speakers are placed a lil over 3 feet from the rear wall and about two and a half feet from side walls.  I feel something is off. Perhaps a component or two that is known to be tipped up in the highs and a lil bass shy?? Also, I leave all solid state components fully powered up 24/7. (not the tubes)


Modwright/Oppo BDP 105 disc player  (all mods with tubed power supply and pricey NOS tube upgrades throughout)  Looking to replace once the harshness/bright issue is nailed down.

Parasound JC2 Preamp

Pass Labs X250.5 Amp

Harbeth 30.1 stand mount speakers

Puritan Labs PSM 156 power conditioner. (less "edgy" sound with it in system)

System is run all balanced with fairly costly Cardas interconnects.

All input is welcome. Thanks in advance.

Happy listening.




A fix no one has mentioned yet.

I've had the same problem over the last few years. Most of my listening time is at night from 11PM to 2AM. Supposed to be the best time to listen. System would start off great and get progressively brighter and thinner. Tried everything, amps, speakers, room placement, vinyl, digital, room acoustics. Nothing really helped. 

I started having a problem with the Oppo 105. Sometimes it would get stuck playing off the external hard drive. Had to be unplugged to unfreeze the gui. My VTL ST150 popped a resistor causing a tube to glow red. 

I joined the free Orchard Audio Starkrimson amp tour on the Hoffman website. The sound was so nice I had Leo build me an amp. New amp arrived and it wouldn't play! It automatically went into protection mode. The voltage was too high. As an experiment ran the amp with 300ft of 16ga extension cords. Wanted to drop the voltage. The amp played!

I now have the amp and Oppo plugged into a 20 amp variac set to 110 volts. Sounds nice throughout the night and, fingers crossed, the Oppo hasn't messed up since. Check your voltage. Mine steadily increases later at night. Funny thing, my big wire dedicated ac lines actually made the problem worse. Normal house circuits had more voltage drop and sounded better.

Loving the system and new amp.

Good luck,



thanks for your input.  I still come back to the oppo as my main problem aside from room maybe too big for the Harbeth 30.1's (no rear wall) I find i cannot tolerate music past 70 dcbls. voices "kill" in trying to get the music to excite the listening room. Very irritating.  I am running the oppo as a transport through a puritain 156 conditioner into a very good dac. Using an after market power cord (Puritain).

Sounds pretty good with the right recording at moderate levels.  Looking to try out another cd/transport before replacing the oppo.  

Also need to check voltage levels when sound gets worse.



I might have missed it, are you using the Oppo’s Modwright DAC or an external one? The factory stock DAC in my Oppo 105 is relatively smooth, but a little bass lite and lacks depth, compared to the Ayre Codex. The Ayre has their proprietary digital filter that is as ring free as possible. No pre ring and only 1 cycle of post ring. The analog out put stage has great dynamics and bass power. First song scared the he.. out of me. The Oppo never did that.

The variac didn’t solve all the problem until it was also hooked to the Oppo.



E.S I haven't delved into actually measuring power. Don't have the gear or real knowhow for that matter.

Had a windstorm last night but the system didn't seem to exhibit any real symptoms. Just the usual lean/bright sound with lesser quality recordings, (voices way too hot)

Aldnorab I am by passing the oppo/modwright dac for a musetec dac that sounds pretty good with the right recordings. Connected via a DHLabs rca coax.  Even using the analog, tubed outputs of the modwrighted oppo in the past, I always felt the sound was a little brittle or hard.  The musetec dac brings a whole different sound..more detail, and layers of instruments and voices with more separation.. Hard/brittle sound has not been eliminated.  (weakest link the oppo?)

Oppo 105 as transport

Musetec 005 dac ( xlr balanced outs)

Benchmark LA4 Pre (xlr balanced outs)

Pass Labs X250.5 amp

Harbeth 30.1's

Just wanna get to a decent base point before deciding on possibly changing speakers. I love what the harbeths do but they lack bass/involvement and I no longer need to be bass shy since I don't live in an apartment at this time.