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Help me evaluate my speakers - do I have a problem? (1 Viewer)

Martin Rendall

Dec 5, 2000
Sorry for the length of this. Please bear with me, or skip if it looks like too much.

Having recently upgraded to Paradigm Studio 100's (broken in now), and acquiring a NAD C541 CD player, hooked through a Yammie RX-V1000, I've been going through my CD collection, listening to stuff "again for the first time".

Anyhow, I've a concern about what I'm hearing. Too often, I can pick out distortions in playback. Some CDs play back flawlessly to my ears, while in others I can pick out distortions, but mostly during "noisy" portions. I own a variety of musical styles, but none are pop/mainstream, and they go back a bit.

So is quality on CD's really variable? Am I being too picky? Could there be a problem with my system somehow? Obvious defects, like pops or crackles, can be verified on my computer or cheap minisystem (and I always can reproduce the defects elsewhere in these cases).

But some of the distortions are more subtle and difficult to reproduce on other systems, and I don't know if I'm hearing a hardware problem, or just production problems or format limitations. They are higher frequency distortions, often to vocals or guitars.

Movies sound fine. But I'm not listening in the same critical fashion. I don't have SACD or DVD-A, so I can't compare there, either. The very few concert DVD's I own sound OK, except for the Roger Waters one which has some obvious crackling (which comes out all speakers, so I'm fairly sure it's a recording problem).

I've tried switching the NAD out with my DVD player, and I can still here the distortions, so I think I can rule that out. I could try other speakers, but they aren't nearly as revealing as the 100's, so I don't know how much that'll tell me.

How can I tell? Is there a good test CD available for "proving" systems? Can you recommend a CD which will sound "flawless" to me, but is "noisy" at the same time? Put it this way, Marilyn Manson "Holywood" sounds too distorted, while NIN "The Fragile" sounds much better. I could pick out some distortions on Dead Can Dance "Within the Realm Of a Dying Sun" today, too. Again, during more "noisy" parts. I tried Ministry's "A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste", and some songs sounded great, but two or three had noticeable distortion. Download's "Effector" CD sounds incredible. Not a blemish (well, actually one, but it's only 3 ticks).



Massimo N

Stunt Coordinator
Oct 23, 2000
Martin, it sounds like you are just hearing recording/mastering errors. I believe it's more to do with the production/mastering of the album rather than the format itself.

Your system is more revealing than mine (Paradigm Reference 40s, Yahama 995), but I do notice a lot more errors in recordings. During movies you'll also pick up some distortion.

Just this afternoon, I was listening to Ani Diffanco's Revealing/Reconing CD (great CD BTW) and notice some compression for a fraction of a second on one song. I first thought it was my speakers, but after being able to reproduce it at the exact time on all my speakers (I have 4 Reference 40s), I was put at ease.

As you said, a great produced/mastered CD will sound awsome on a good/revealing system, but a revealing system will also let you hear all the errors.



Arron H

Second Unit
Jan 17, 2002
Many of my CDs that are over 10 years old have recording flaws that I did not notice until I purchased my B&Ws. I would suspect that you are hearing recording flaws rather than experiencing hardware problems. I have noticed that Paradigm Reference plays the music back very true to the original recording which in some instances may also reveal the flaws in the recording. BTW, nice system!! I have a Yammy 1200 and really enjoy it ;)

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