What happened?

I recently added new speakers, (Kharma 3.2's) to my system, and for the last 3 weeks have been in audio heaven. Whatever I played, either LP or CD sounded great. I found myself listening to things that I haven't played in years. This weekend, I sat down for a nice long listen, put in a CD and all was well. I put an LP on and the sound was horrible - thin, and bright. Nothing had changed, and as I said the CD sounded as it always had. So the problem has to be in the phono stage - built in MM in Hovland HP-100 preamp - or the cartridge - Clearuadio Virtuoso wood MM. When a cartridge goes is this what happens? It is only about 9 months old, with no more than 1000 hours on it.
Just when everything had finally come together.
Rest of system:
CAT-JL2 amplifier
Hovland HP-100 preamp
Accuphase DP-75V CD player
Kharma 3.2 ceramique speakers
Basis 2001 w/ Graham 2.2 and Clearaudio Virtuoso wood MM cartridge.
Any thoughts are greatly appreciated
Hard to know for sure what's causing your problem, given that you only swapped out the speakers. However, you should check / eliminate the following possible causes of the problem:

1. check the tubes in your preamp -- one of them may need replacement;
2. check the cartridge's cantilever to see if it has gotten bent or damaged.

Hope others on the forum can offer some other suggestions.
Carl, nothing is wrong with your phonostage and cartridge. The problem you describe is unfortunately well familiar lately for many people I know. For the last 2 weeks the power lines are horrible with a huge amount of noise in it. I know some serious installation here in Boston and in NY that are practically unlistenable. I could describe how your system sounds not and you will be very surprised how exactly would be my description: it is the way in which ALL OUR SYSTEMS sound during the last 2 weeks. Your problem is that you were “stupid enough” to buy the decent speakers that can actually discriminate results. Most of the others will not get it. So this is NOT your system but what you hear are the sound of your currently faulty power lines.

Romy the Cat
Hmmmm, "stupid enough"? Isn't that a bit harsh? It looks like Romy did not read the posting very well here. Since the LP sound changed for the worse even though the CD sound was unchanged, the focus should be of course on the TT/Arm/Cartridge/PhonoStage in the Hovland. Since the MM input is being used, I highly doubt this is susceptible to major changes in power vs the CD sounding as good as before. Is the Hovland MM stage that poorly designed? I doubt it. Perhaps a super low output cartridge might be more vulnerable to this.

It's not easy to analyze the change to thin and bright however. Generally when something goes astray in my system, the sound is more 2-dimensional as in a loss of harmonic richness. I swap tubes between channels and with spares to try and remedy this. Or the issue is an increase in background noise. This once was due to the shield on the phono connector not being tight. A quick crimping and re-solder and all was back to normal.

With a Koetsu cartridge, I could hear the slow degradation of the sound as it reached its end of life. One night the sound was suddenly greatly reduced. But again, it was not bright but rather the opposite. All the magic of the system had collapsed like the sound of the first generation of CD players.

You do not mention if the problem is one channel or if equally poor in both. Try disconnecting and reseating the phono cable. Also a quick visual inspection of the stylus and cantilevel is in order.

A visit to your local audio shop with your TT would save a lot of guess work on where to focus your attention with this problem. It could very well be the cartridge was faulty. And why not have the dealer assess this for you?

Hope this gives you some ideas.

It's also possible that your speakers are still breaking in, and will likely even out in the near future.

A lot of good points brought up for you Carl. How many hours are on the speakers? Break in is a roller coaster ride for the first 400+ hours. The "dirty" power could effect your phone stage more so then any other component- its certainly possible(and Carl is in Boston, or at least I believe he is). Another potential problem could be with one of your ceramic midrange drivers, on my friends midi grand's he had crack's in one of his drivers which caused the system to sound VERY inconsitent and it was more noticeable with vinyl then digital. The cracks would be VERY tiny and hard to see, look through the grill with a flash light around the edges and see if there are any hair line cracks. I am by no means a vinyl guru so I will leave that up to the others! :)

Congratulations on the new speakers!

I do not think so. The recent degradation of sound due to quality of electricity is more observable on the better systems then on the dull. The fact that his CD still sounds “OK” says only about an unfortunate quality of that Accuphase player” it even with the good power lines sounds not particularly interesting.

BTW, to your information only during the last week I intentionally auditioned 12 totally deferent systems the sound of which I know very well and ALL of them demonstrated the VERY SAME sonic signature that never was there before. (Also I have a conformations from MANY other listeners). Besides… the problem might and has already been corrected by using the clean power lines… So, I might propose that my diagnoses was correct, or at least VERY plausible.

John, I understand that you have fan to BS about the application of the habitual “audiophileic wisdom” but unfortunately to sing the songs about the changes of the tubes, apply shielding and end of the life of your funny Koetsu will not work in this case. Fortunately for you, kids, there was an idiot who already went over all imaginary troubles after the sound suddenly died two weeks ago. The idiot knew what he was doing, and went through everything lately (!) event totally rebuilt his phonostage! This idiot was “Romy the Cat” and he shares it with your guy just in order you do not panic and do not rapid my stupid actions.

I have a number of VERY serious and very credible people who experienced the VERY same result at the SAME TIME in their context of serious and very capable installations. So, I am not kidding, and sincerely proposed that in Carl’s case it was the electricity. Besides it is very simple to verify. Are any bids accepted?

Good luck,
Romy the Cat
Sitting next to the dead system.

The following email I have sent out least week:


I have a question to ask. I am experiencing very severe worsening of Sound sense the US” blackout started. The sound (both analog and digital) begins to sound like a chip digital from 70s : VERY harsh upper MF/HF along with a total luck of dynamics. Frankly speaking I spent a LOT of efforts to change tube and do the use audio BS but nothing helped. I assume that the problem somehow connected with the current state of electricity. Perhaps they use some type of auxiliary powers souses the screw everything up. Some of my friends in New England are experiencing the similar results.

I BCCed this email to the people from the different locations within US and Canada and would like you to reply if you find that you experienced the same problem during the last 10 days.

I appreciate your replies.

Romy the Cat"
geez- maybe Romy is on to something. I am here in Toronto, and was ALSO complaining to an audiophile buddy that my system was sounding 'not right' a while ago. Then, I got a BPT 2.5 balanced line conditioner, and things were WAY better with it in the system, but all the same, maybe you are on to something Romy, as I couldn't pin it down either...
Hey Romy
Wow! Not only was I "stupid enough" to buy the Kharma's but what a moron I was to go for the Accuphase too.
Thanks for all that help.
I'm experiencing the same thing in Florida, however I attribute it to breaking in a new pair of Thiel CS 2.4's (with about 150 hrs. so far). At times I think they are the best thing I've ever heard & at other times it is so fatiguing it runs me out of the room. I hope more hours will take care of this....associated gear:
Pass X250
Pass X2 pre
Cary 306/200
Golden Cross XLR interconnects
Neutral Ref spkr cables (soon to be Golden Cross)

any ideas?
I think it is the tube problem in the preamp or caused by a dieing cartridge.........
Hello All
Thank you for your responses. The most confusing thing here is the enormous difference between CD and LP playback. CD's sound as they always have - rich and full bodied. I am borrowing a phono stage from a friend so that I can determine if the Hovland is the problem.
If that doesn't work, then I know it is the cartridge. Tim -
I will check the ceramic drivers as soon as I get home.That is a scarey thought. Feffer - the VTA hadn't changed from the position it was in. I did try to play with it, but I could not restore body and weight to the sound I was getting. The drivers have about 100 hours on them.
I know they are far from being broken in, but I do think this is a different problem.
Thanks again for all your suggestions