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


"I apologize if I offended anyone with my modest problems.  I settled on the Audiogon forum since it looked like it had the most knowledgeable and experienced members around.  If it is strictly for much higher-end participants than myself, please let me know and I will move off."


Not at all. This site would be better if people like steakster moved off.    

I concur that tubes are the place to start looking, 5 years is a fairly long time for power tubes if you're listening with any frequency.

The cause of your issue can be anything in the chain from start to finish, including the source material, cables, seating location and the room itself. All you can do is replace one item at a time and listen to see if the problem has gone away. Do you have friends or a friendly dealer, that can loan you gear to eliminate each piece in your system?

I would start with the speakers, but I wouldn’t be shocked if it turned out to be the room.

I had the same problem with the same source material and it took replacing my speakers to fix it. Even with trim pots on my speakers, I couldn't correctly tone down the shrillness and etch without adversely effecting the adjoining frequency ranges. Good luck with what you try.

All the best,