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.




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.

Cymivka, thanks for the extra info.

Not familiar with the sound of your DAC. I wouldn't consider the Oppo built in as warm. Sabre chips can be a little relentless. Good designers can overcome this  by not using all of Sabre's baked in digital filters and settings. My Ayre uses a Sabre chip and sounds nothing like the Oppo. Oppo seems to make a good transport. 

It is easy to check the AC power. A VOM can be purchased for around $20. They are even available at places like wally world. Just set dial to AC and insert a probe into each flat hole of the wall receptacle. Warning - don't touch the metal prongs. If you aren't comfortable doing this get someone else to help. 

Good luck,



thanks for the AC check advice.  I can easily go the VOM route,  Listened last night after a wine or two and the system actually sounded "choked" to me at higher volume

This video will give you ideas on how to verify your system set up and determine if there are changes to make improvements, such as reducing the harshness you are experiencing.

Using Key Measurements to Verify Basic System Setup

Deer Creek Audio is an authorized miniDSP dealer

I’m not sure if someone mentioned it, but subs always help. Harbeths are nice but may not handle the new room. 2 Rel s510’s would do the trick. That’s the route I’m heading as well. Sitting in front in listening chair, my system is awesome. In the kitchen area 15 feet away, missing just a bit. Enter the subs, which I’ve always had but not in the new system. It’s my next purchase.