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


With tubes it all depends on how many hours you have on them ,if used often it may be well overdo for tubes to be replaced , and if you have these new modern tube even more so ,I buy only NOS tubes night and day better quality on many levels ,and the small input tubes you can even voice your tone .

speakers that old the capacitors on Anything are drying out gor sure 

I have been modding o for over 20 years and capacitor technologies has greatly advanced. I still see people using electrolytic capacitors in speakers ,why for its cheap and sound like crap very gritty , I just rebuilt a so called crites upgrade 

A electrolytic on the bass $4  i I use poly caps ,or Foil  capacitor depending on budget ,if you have to go cheap and use a electrolytic cap at least put in a 2uf poly or mylar cap on a 100 uf bass cap to filter the highs ,electrolytics belong in power supplies,even they filter with a poly cap if done right , most mfg under $10 k use cheap Xover parts Solen good enough and cheaper ceramic resistors . I refuse to go to their standards ,it’s a petpeave with me , you get what you pay for .



Good luck, JR.  Some good advice here ... definitely let us know what you find!!


As others have said, tubes are consumable.  So there’s that and also different tubes have different sounds.  After five years,  I’d replace at least the output tubes and if you liked the tubes five years ago, then buy more of the same.  But if you didn’t, try another company.  And don’t go cheap!  You get what you pay for.

Another thought.  What time of day do you listen?  I have had the exact same problem later in the evening, but not in the morning. Electric guitars, saxophone’s and women’s voices would hurt!

All the best.


jrcotner OP

First: Switch equipment: Isolate the Problem: preamp?/amp?/speakers?

Don't jump around changing tubes before you know if it is the speakers themselves or your amp or your preamp.

go from there