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


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,

There’s your answer , I recently finished upgrading a pair of older Klipsch


the capacitors get dryed out  and start loosing their harmonics it just gets worse 

I replace the resistor so with much better quality then the old cement typeresistors which are gritty , and the stock capacitors in most speakers under $15k is nothing special.  I learned upgrades when I owned a Audio store 

go to Humble homemade hifi capacitor test, you should pul a bass driver out and take a picture, if you are lucky the wires from the Xover are just slide on terminals 

where you can remove the Xover ,if not it’s soldered-in place . If you like them and plan on keeping them that’s what I would do first ,upgraded Xovers sound much better then stock parts ,it’s Like going from a stock engine to a Hot rod. 

Thanks for all of the information, as well as confirmation that I'm in the right place.  I got this tube set from Upscale Audio, so I'll check with them regarding tube behavior.  Room acoustics is an interesting idea, but I've been here for four years and this is a recent phenomenon.  I plan on replacing speakers next year, and would like to get a new amp as well, but my CD player is at the end of its life and needs to get replaced first.  I'll report back when any repairs or replacements are performed.