Midrange Increasingly Harsh

Lately I've noticed some harshness in the mid-range, especially with violins, clarinets and female voice.  I recently bought a CD of female plainchant, and she hits the un-sweet spot so frequently I can't listen to it.  I don't listen at high volumes, rarely over nine o'clock on the volume knob.  The sound is not anything unnatural, just a less musical presentation and an unpleasant harshness.


I have twenty year old Forest Totems with their original cones, a Prima Luna Dialogue One amp which got new tubes about five years ago and an Arcam CD-73 which got a factory rebuild about three years ago.  I have neither the money nor inclination to just start arbitrarily replacing parts, but would appreciate some insight and guidance on likely culprits. 


John Cotner

New Ulm, MN


Do the tweeters have ferro fluid?  That can need to be replaced after many years, as it turns into sludge.

You may also have some capacitors in the crossover that are drifting from original values.  

Tubes are a consumable, and should be checked now and then.  How's the bias on the output tubes?

Potential sign of tubes needing replacement?

Also not fun to think about, but as we (and our ears) age, harshness can start to become increasingly worse, especially with speakers that tip towards being more on the detailed side.

Source; Pre/Amp; Speakers: Isolate the Problem.

Other speakers you can put in the system?

IF you have, or a friend has a fairly portable pre/amp setup, even an old receiver or AVR, you could try using that, it will isolate the problem: speakers or amp.

btw, this happens on more sources than your CD player, correct? If only CD, try a different one temporarily. Buy some cheap thingy from Amazon that is returnable.

Live near me, New Jersey 07062, I've got lots of stuff to help isolate this and/or that.

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Maybe the cheapest/easiest option would be to do some tube rolling in the PL amp.  That’s where I’d start, and best of luck.