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HELP ME with Harshness!!!


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Every time I listen to music with my Legends (KLF 20 & KLF C7 - no surrounds) it sounds extremely harsh.

Ive owned these speakers for over 6 months now and they still are harsh. I have just now been able to describe the harshness.

It is not anything specific that stands out, rather it is just an underlying sound that is there. My ears get worn down and begin to hurt after just 2 songs. I have no problem when watching movies, just when listening to CDs (this happens with all CD's, not just old or poor quality ones)

Im powering them with a Denon 2801 and have Monster bulk speaker wire (the $1.50/ft kind). I have a Toshiba 3109 DVD player that I also use to play cd's and it's connected by an optical cable.

I have tried using a coax cable, but it does not make a difference. I turned down the treble, it did not help either.

Any suggestions on what's causing this and how to get rid of it????


This message has been edited by jason577 on 08-26-2001 at 05:04 PM

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It could be your room, too reflective. Try some wall treatments. As an experiment, hang quilts on the side walls. If it works buy something attractive like Persian rugs.

I have a -C7 and have listened to the KLF-20. I didn't find them harsh. I like them a lot.


This message has been edited by John Albright on 08-26-2001 at 06:15 PM

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Don't know those particular speakers but if they are true to Klipsch speakers in general they are very revealing.

In other words, it could be your source that is aggravating you. This is not a happy answer to hear, since it usually is big bucks to improve, but you might consider dropping some change into better electronics.

Start with the amp (I know, source is supposed to come first, but I am a big believer in amp/speaker synergy).

Then, beg, borrow or steal better source equipment (CD player that is).

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Dont get mad at this suggestion, as I have a receiver not too unlike yours in respected quality..I have a Sony STR-V333ES receiver which my Klipsch RF3s are connected to....While an excellent home theater setup, I wanted a warmer, clearer, fuller musical experience. There is virtually NO av receiver today which will provide the same musicality that you will get with a dedicated external amp...Use your Denon preouts to drive a decent 2 channel amp, and connect your front r and l speakers to it...Continue to let yoru receiver drive your center and surrounds, and you'll find that your 2 channel music experience is significantly improved.

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So you are using your DVD player for CD playback as well, hmmm. Unfortunately, I am unaware of any DVD player that can playback CD's with equal quality as it can with DVD's. I would suggest getting a separate CD player that was designed and intended for the sole purpose of CD playback. I would not even think of using my Nakamichi DVD-10 for CD playback simply because it was not the task that it was designed and built for. So I use a separate CD player for that purpose. Try borrowing one of decent quality and try it see if it is any better. Just my thoughts. Hope it works out for you.


Sony KP-43T70 43" Television

Denon AVR 3300 A/V Receiver (ALF/ARF) LWE-I's w/Motion Feedback (Walnut)

DBX BX-3MkII Power Amplifier (LF/RF) (Belle's - Oak Clear/Cane)

DBX BX-3MkII Power Amplifier (RR/ARR/LR/ALR) (Heresy II's (Walnut/Cane) & ESS Mini Monitors (Walnut)

DBX MPA-150 Mono Split Spectrum Amplifier © (KV-4 - Black)

Klipsch KSW-15 Powered Subwoofer (2)

Nakamichi DVD-10 DVD/LCD/CD Player

Nakamichi MB-10 Music Bank CD Changer

Technics SL-DL5 DD Linear Tracking Turntable

JVC HR-S7500U SVHS Video Cassette Recorder

RCA DRD-303RA Satellite Receiver

VC3 Deluxe Video Clarifier

DBX 400XG Program Route Selector

DBX 120X-DS Subharmonic Synthesizer/Electronic Crossover

DBX 3BX-DS 3-Band Dynamic Range Controller (2) (1-LC) (1-RC)

DBX 14/10 14-Band Computerized Equalizer/RTA Analyzer/SPL Meter

Panamax 1000+ Surge Protector/Line Conditioner

Sega Dreamcast w/3 Controllers & VMU's/S-Video Output


Yamaha RX-900U Receiver

Panasonic DVD-A120U DVD/CD Player

Sony SLV-740HF Hi-Fi VCR

BBE - ARS Audio Recovery System

DBX 2015G 15 Band/Channel Equalizer

A/D/S L300E Mini Speakers

GE 20" Television

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I'll bet it's the DVD player too.

Try tuning in to an FM station and see if there's a difference. From what I understand,Klipsch and Denon match up quite well. Thats why I'm going to buy a Denon in the very near future and then eventually a good poweramp.

I had the problem with harshness when I used my Yamaha 596. I deep sixed it and now I am using my 21 year old reciever with my RF-3's. That took care of the harshness and now they sound just incredible.

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I was in the same boat two years ago. I hated my KLF20's. I used my Denon as a pre-amp and bought a Parasound amp. No difference. One CD and ears hurt.

I went thru many different speaker wire. Had the speakers for sale in the paper.

Last resort I tried Audio Quest Type4 speaker wire. Big difference. I liked AQ so much I bought CV4 to use for HF and use the Type4 for LF.

All my stuff right now is in storage until I find a house. In the mean time I'm living with a friend who has a garden home (nice, but not right for HT). I bought a pair of speakers and a CD player so I would have something to listen to. The dealer gave me 30 feet of monster cable so I could bi wire the speakers. Last week I ordered 30 feet of Type4 and 30 feet of CV4. I will stick with AQ.

For me it was worth it.


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Thanks for everyone's help so far.

Now that I have read everyone's suggestions I realize that it may be the DVD player. The sound is great when watching DVD's and I have a few concert DVD's that sound incredible too. Absolutely no harshness when playing DVD's.

I will also look at the speaker wire and consider an additional amp (which I was going to add eventually already, just for more power), and sound dampening.

I will start by trying to find a decent CD player. Hopefully I can borrow or audition one. If that proves to be the problem, any suggetions for a decent quality one for around $200 (if one exists at that price)?

Thanks again for everyone's help and I will let you know how it turns out.

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Jason---Could be as simple a thing as you just don't like the speakers themselves, maybe they simply aren't you're cup of tea. You wouldn't be the first person to think Klipsch speakers are harsh. I doubt very much that any change in electronics will make the sound go from bad to good, speakers are the most imperfect device in a hi-fi and have far more effect on the sound than competent electronics do. If you decide you want to EQ then get a proper equalizer rather than looking for wires and such that will EQ the rig.

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My experience is that speaker placement and room acoustics can make a BIG difference in how a speaker sounds. Klipsch speakers tend to be bright so reflections, especially first order reflections can produce harshness. Try absorption and diffusion material (some inexpensive stuff can be obtained from parts express or expensive stuff from RPG). But first experiment with quilts or foam rubber pads (absorption) or books in a bookcase or the bottoms of inverted egg crates stapled to a board (diffusion) at the point where the sound from the speaker first hits your walls. Of course, I am sure you have already experimented with a variety of speaker placements and listening positions.

HT-1 Klipsch Heritage System (music oriented)

Klipschorns w/ ALK crossover upgrades

4 Klipsch LaScalas (surround & rears)

Heresy components in custom cabinet /monitor stand (center)

Panasonic 32 Monitor W/ component video input

3 Sony CX400 CD changers

Sony CX-200 CD Changer

MSB Technology Digital Director w/ jitter reduction

Nirvis DXS digital controller (auto selection of whatever changer is playing)

Nirvis Slink-e computer interface

Nirvis jukebox software (downloads net cd info, album covers& lyrics- programs & controls changers searchable for songs, artists, albums).

Nirvis CDJ (CD Jukebox Software)

Monster 5000 Power Center

Sony Viao Laptop Computer

Sony S530D DVD Player

Sony 798HF VCR

Sony XA1ES CD player

Sherwood HX-PRO dual cassette deck

Dynaco PAS4 stereo preamp W/ Tesla Tube upgrades (also outputs to HT2)

Technics SL3300 DD Turntable w/ Shure cartridges

Outlaw 1050 6.1 A/V Receiver (Dynaco inputs directly to amp section)

Perpetual Technologies P1A Digital Correction Engine (jitter reduction, 16 to 24 bit conversion, future speaker frequency correction, and room acoustic correction )

Perpetual Technologies P3A DAC ( plus 44.1k to 96k CD upsampling)

Klipsch KSW-15 sub (for DVD LFEs )

Klipsch LF-10 sub

Phillips Pronto TS2000 Programmable Remote

Scientific American Explorer 2000 Home Communications Terminal

X10 computerized lighting controls

Radio Shack Wireless Remote Control Extender

Cables: Onix , MSB, Monster, AR., Iced Purple, RS Gold

Monster Bi-wire speaker cables.(Khorns)

HT#2 Klipsch THX System (movie oriented)

4 Klipsch KT-LCR THX Speakers

4 Klipsch RS-3s (side & rear surround)

2 Klipsch KT-DS THX Surrounds

10 Linaem Tweeters

Outlaw 1050 6.1 A/V Receiver (Dynaco inputs directly to amp section)

Monster 3000 Power Center

Sony X111 ES CD Player

Sony 775HF VCR

Sony STR-G3 (supplemental amplification for extra speakers)

Toshiba 61 High Definition TV

Sony NS700 Progressive Scan DVD

Toshiba 4205 DVD/ CD Changer

Klipsch SW-12II Sub

Klipsch LF-10 sub

Sony AV2100 remote

Scientific American Explorer 2000 Home Communications Terminal

X10 Computerized Lighting

Vibrapods (vibration isolation)

RS Gold , Monster, Iced Purple, AR Cables

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I just wanted to clear up the "harshness" issue. I know Klipsch speakers can be bright, this I dont mind. This is not the "harshness" I am hearing.

It's really hard to describe the harshness. I cant really hear it as a definite sound, but it's more of an underlying background noise. This noise is not very audible, but it leaves my ears hurting and I cannot finish two songs.

I have heard several pair of Klipsch demos and loved them and I also love playing DVD's on my system, so I know it's not the speakers. Thanks for the replys and I will think about everyone's suggestions.

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About 6 months ago I had the same problem. I upgraded almost everything, but the biggest improvement came when I got the CAL gamma DA converter see reviews from soundstage @

http://www.soundstage.com/todd02.htm http://www.soundstage.com/entry07.htm

After I got it the treble was more detailed, but was not harsh. The biggest improvement was the bass. The stock YAMAHA DA was a little thin, but the gamma had very warm deep bass. I didn't really notice a huge difference in the soundstage, it was a little better defined though.The gamma is available on sensoryscience.com for $99 (at one time it was $295)

I would either use this with a CD player or if your DVD player has 2 digital outs you could run one to the DA and one to the receiver and use the analog CD in on the denon for music.


My bedroom system:


CAL GAMMA D/A converter


ADCOM GTP-400 preamp

Monster M350i

ADCOM GFA-545 mK II amp

Monster MCX 1s

KLF 10



YAMAHA RX-V596 for surround



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now we may be on the right track (so to speak) Smile.gif by using the digital connection to your receiver, you are using the denon's d/a converters. the idea of a cd vs. dvd player as a 'transport' device should not make a significant difference (at least not enough to make the cd's sound 'harsh') try using the analog output from the dvd player to a different audio input on your receiver, and switch back and forth between the two with a cd playing. be sure the 'sound mode' of your s.s.receiver is set to 'stereo'. see if this makes a difference. be sure to use the digital connection when you're playing dvd's, though, or you won't be able to use dolby digital or dts surround modes. i have been around klipsch speakers for a long time, and used to compare their sound to pushing knitting needles through your ears, then i 'saw the light'--for me the answers were: turn up the bass, play them in a room that is not too 'bright' or reflective, add a movie or cd, and ENJOY!! p.s.: i listen to them WAY loud at least half the time. avman.


1-pair klf 30's

c-7 center

sony strda-777ES receiver

NEW! sony playstation 2!

dishnetwork model 7200 dishplayer satellite receiver/digital bitstream recorder

pioneer dvd player

sharp 35"tv

panamax max dbs+5 surge protector/power conditioner

monster cable interconnects/12 gua.speaker wire

surrounds and a 'teens sub coming!

KLIPSCH-So Good It Hz!

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Jason, before you do anything really expensive, do yourself a HUGE favor and try this cheap tweek...bi-wire your main speakers. When I first bought my KLF-20s I was so unhappy with the sound the first few days, I was about to haul them back for a refund. As a last ditch effort, I removed the golden bridge and bi-wired them and that helped smooth them out considerably.


Bill W.

Klf-20s (mains)

C-7 (center)

RS-7/white (rear surrounds)

Rotel 1095 (200X5)

Lexicon DC-2 (preamp)

ONKYO 444 (to power side speakers for Logic 7)

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I second the suggestion that you try a different CD player.

I have a pair of 30's and found them a little overly bright and somewhat harsh on occasion but then I picked up a Nakamichi CDP 2A CD player at a second hand store and they now sound much smoother.

In addition, I notice that the sound is more defined. In other words instead of hearing a vocalist andapianoandatrumpetandabass I now hear a vocalist and a piano and a trumpet and a bass.


It is meet to recall that the Great Green Heron rarely flies upside down in the moonlight - (Foo Ling ca. 1304 BCE)

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Tweaking audiophiles have known for some time that the source of their beloved music is less than perfect. Of all the various ailments and complaints about recordings, not the least of which is the heavy hand recording engineers employ to steer their recordings into the low bass and high treble ranges. It is well known that CDs are engineered for the boom-boxes, mini-systems and car audio of the masses, and not your exotic, multi-buck, this is a serious hobby for me, home audiophile system. Popular CDs are NOT cut for flat room response or accurate musical imaging. Ergo, tweaking audiophiles have to:

a) Listen to something other than mainstream music (sorry, no Santanna or Back Street Boys), like the finely recorded discs from DMP or Chesky; I rarely find excessive harshness with high quality recordings.

B) Use mechanical adjustments, like equalizers, to modify the sound of their systems to suit the heavy handedness of the popular CD; a generous twist of the treble dial can dramatically reduce harshness.

c) Pad and polish their systems and rooms to dampened all excessive extremes and learn to live with a smoother and more balanced, but possibly duller sound; digital to analogue converters (DAC), which may or may not reduce jitter, fall into this category. So does power insulation, horn wraps, vibration isolation platforms and cabinet reinforcements.

If there are any other choices, please let me know.

P.S. I ordered the CAL DAC: It was the price I wanted, a name I respect, their CDs are rated for low jitter, I really like horn lover Greg Smiths reviews and I like low cost tweaks ...


Cornwalls, Bottlehead 2A3 Paramours, Dynaco II, Rotel, KSW200 & LF10, pipe insulation, paving stones, rubber mats

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I agree with avman - I don't think it is the dvd player.

Jason said in his first post


Im powering them with a Denon 2801 and have Monster bulk speaker wire (the $1.50/ft kind). I have a Toshiba 3109 DVD player that I also use to play cd's and it's connected by an optical cable.


Is that the only connection you have - the optical cable? If the Denon is doing the decoding, then maybe it is the receiver that is making it harsh. I own a 3802, and use its internal DACs for CD's, and it sounds fine to me on my RB5s.

Do what avman said, try using the internal DACs of the DVD player (using the analog input) and compare to the digital input. On your Denon, you should be able to just switch between digital and analog mode. If there is no change, then I doubt it is your DVD player or receiver that is causing the problem. It may just be the CD as others have said. I know there are certain CDs that I just can't listen to on my main system because they are so poorly engineered. However, I can listen to them on a boombox or in the car with no problem.

Good luck!




"... But Honey - I promise this is the last thing I will have to buy for the Home Theater"

Mistubishi 60" RPTV (VS60603)

Denon AVR 3802 RCVR

Denon DVM 1800 DVD



Klipsch RB5 - L&R

Klipsch RC3 - Center

Klipsch RCW3 - In-wall surrounds

Klipsch KSW12 - Sub (hopefully an RSW12 whenever they come out!)

Monster Power Conditioner

Radio Shack Gold Series Interconnects

Radio Shack 12 AWG Mega Cable

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