• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required. There are many reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Need help. Ears hurting after upgrade.

rsc1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2024
Messages
57
Likes
59
Location
Jupiter, FL
Hi everyone,

Recently started out my journey into the (budget) audiophile world and really enjoying it so far. However, I'm having some issues that I hope someone can help me with.

For a long time, I had 2 JBL 308P MKii (studio monitors) as my main speakers in a 2.0 setup. They were hooked up directly to the headphone output on my TV with 3.5mm to 1/4" TRS cables. And they sounded very nice (neutral, detailed, and tight bass, as you'd expect from a studio monitor). For the money they're hard to beat. However, they have a very small sweetspot. Which isn't great in a living room. And that brings me to my next point.

Knowing I wouldn't become a real audiophile by making smart buying decisions, I decided I wanted a more expensive, more traditional, 2.1 setup (amp, dac, passive speakers, sub). After reading lots of reviews, I ended up getting a WiiM Amp, paired with Polk XT20 mains and a Jamo C910 subwoofer (I know, go easy). I'm not sure if my expectations were too high, but after setting it up, it sounded like absolute garbage compared to the JBLs. Muddy, slow, and boomy bass from the sub, extremely harsh treble, non-existent midrange from mains (frequency response measured many times through HouseCurve iOS app). I'm either using the HDMI ARC input with my TV, or the streamer itself as the source. Tried fixing it with EQ, but just couldn't get it to sound good at all.

Back to Best Buy the Polks went. This time I went for a warmer sound signature, the Wharfedale Diamond 225s. This made a significant difference; the sound is much more balanced now. But...it is still harsh and slightly fatiguing sometimes. How is this possible? These are supposed to be some of the "warmest, most rolled-off" speakers you can buy. This made me think - maybe my room is the culprit. But if that's the case, then why did the JBLs sound absolutely fine and not harsh at all? My ears are pretty sensitive, I feel like I definitely would have noticed..

This brings me onto the subwoofer. Yes, I'm one of those idiots who thought a cheap subwoofer would be fine. Luckily, I have until May to return this thing if budget allows an upgrade. I do wonder though - how much of this is actually due to the subwoofer not being great, and how much is due to placement, modes/nulls etc. Unfortunately, the Wife Factor is real, and I can't really move stuff around as it's a small space. Do I buy a cheap Dayton DSP for this thing, or just wait until I can get an SVS/Rythmik/RSL? Or will I just have the same issues again if it's in the same spot?

From what I've gathered, you EQ the bass range response (up to about 300Hz) to flat and adjust the higher frequencies according to the anechoic measurements of the speakers. Unfortunately, the WiiM as of now only has a 4-band PEQ. I used HouseCurve, and after making some adjustments settled on the EQ settings attached. Bass is now definitely a bit tighter and not as boomy, but still doesn't sound the way I'd like it to. Plus, now I've used up all my bands, and can't do anything with the high frequencies.

Check the HouseCurve graph. There is a 13dB (!) peak around 17kHz. What is going on here? Could the WiiM be faulty? Is it load dependency? Or is my room just shockingly bad for speakers with wider directivity? And what, if anything, can I do to fix it? Would curtains help? Tape a mattress to the wall? I'm lost.

Room pics and screenshots here.
 

Chrispy

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
8,055
Likes
6,186
Location
PNW
Were you using the eq switches on the JBLs? Sub issue could easily enough be due location, but what did you set crossover to on the Wiim amp? Did the tv have full range output or any sound settings to consider?

You could have just added a JBL 310S to match up with your speakers....
 
OP
rsc1

rsc1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2024
Messages
57
Likes
59
Location
Jupiter, FL
Were you using the eq switches on the JBLs? Sub issue could easily enough be due location, but what did you set crossover to on the Wiim amp? Did the tv have full range output or any sound settings to consider?

You could have just added a JBL 310S to match up with your speakers....
The LF I had set to -1dB for both speakers, I think. Crossover on WiiM is currently at 70Hz after lots of tinkering. TV has full range output, no EQ or anything was/is applied.

You're right, that would have been the smart move...but here we are. I liked the idea of going to passive speakers for future upgrades.
 

Chrispy

Master Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
8,055
Likes
6,186
Location
PNW
The LF I had set to -1dB for both speakers, I think. Crossover on WiiM is currently at 70Hz after lots of tinkering. TV has full range output, no EQ or anything was/is applied.

You're right, that would have been the smart move...but here we are. I liked the idea of going to passive speakers for future upgrades.

Maybe reserve one of your peq settings for the upper end rolloff to more be like the JBLs. Was more wondering if the tv actually had full range output for your JBLs too....I can't say I've even used a tv's analog output for many many years.

How did you match levels for sub to speakers? Does the Wiim help with that? You have the sub set to LFE input (or at least maxed out the lpf)? What does lots of tinkering with the crossover mean? What else did you try?
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
8,391
Likes
13,571
But...it is still harsh and slightly fatiguing sometimes. How is this possible? These are supposed to be some of the "warmest, most rolled-off" speakers you can buy. This made me think - maybe my room is the culprit. But if that's the case, then why did the JBLs sound absolutely fine and not harsh at all?
It's possible that the Wharfedale has a wider directivity than the JBL, leading to more reflected sound reaching your ears, which tilts the tonality upwards.

It's also possible that the WiiM Amp reacts to the Wharfedale's impedance response in a way that results in excessive brightness.

That super high Q, 15dB treble spike is really weird though, needs more investigation.

Do I buy a cheap Dayton DSP for this thing, or just wait until I can get an SVS/Rythmik/RSL? Or will I just have the same issues again if it's in the same spot?
If your WiiM Amp is working alright, then I don't see a reason why you couldn't use its built in DSP to knock off the biggest bass peaks, making an external DSP unit somewhat redundant.

Check the HouseCurve graph. There is a 13dB (!) peak around 17kHz. What is going on here? Could the WiiM be faulty? Is it load dependency? Or is my room just shockingly bad for speakers with wider directivity? And what, if anything, can I do to fix it? Would curtains help? Tape a mattress to the wall? I'm lost.
Try nearfield gated frequency response measurements of the speaker. That filters out all room acoustics and shows only the Amp+Speaker response.

Also try powering your Wharfedale with another Amp if you can.

Also try using another speaker with the WiiM Amp.

That's how you troubleshoot these kinds of issues: you change around the variables and see if you find a common trend.
 
OP
rsc1

rsc1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2024
Messages
57
Likes
59
Location
Jupiter, FL
How did you match levels for sub to speakers? Does the Wiim help with that? You have the sub set to LFE input (or at least maxed out the lpf)? What does lots of tinkering with the crossover mean? What else did you try?
The WiiM has bass management, I have the sub LPF set to max and am letting the WiiM control the crossover point (it automatically applies a HPF at that frequency to the mains). By tinkering I meant just trying to blend it nicely for a long time (which it doesn't really want to). It's a very low-budget sub, and I should have known better. Just curious if getting a much higher-end one will take care of some of my issues (the biggest one being the slow, unresponsive, untextured bass).
It's possible that the Wharfedale has a wider directivity than the JBL, leading to more reflected sound reaching your ears, which tilts the tonality upwards.

It's also possible that the WiiM Amp reacts to the Wharfedale's impedance response in a way that results in excessive brightness.

That super high Q, 15dB treble spike is really weird though, needs more investigation.
That was one of my suspicions as well. Never knew it could make that big of a difference though.
The Polk XT20s were also extremely bright with the WiiM, and I believe those are 4 Ohm speakers. Still don't understand where that massive peak is coming from. Some kind of interference?
If your WiiM Amp is working alright, then I don't see a reason why you couldn't use its built in DSP to knock off the biggest bass peaks, making an external DSP unit somewhat redundant.


Try nearfield gated frequency response measurements of the speaker. That filters out all room acoustics and shows only the Amp+Speaker response.

Also try powering your Wharfedale with another Amp if you can.

Also try using another speaker with the WiiM Amp.

That's how you troubleshoot these kinds of issues: you change around the variables and see if you find a common trend.
Unfortunately, as of right now, the WiiM only has 4 bands of PEQ. The reason I'd get an external DSP is to save those bands for the higher frequencies. I don't have any audiophile friends here yet (recently moved). Anyone in Palm Beach Gardens, FL area want to let me borrow theirs? :)
 
Last edited:

DamianW

Member
Joined
Mar 18, 2021
Messages
35
Likes
26
For a long time, I had 2 JBL 308P MKii (studio monitors) as my main speakers in a 2.0 setup. They were hooked up directly to the headphone output on my TV with 3.5mm to 1/4" TRS cables. And they sounded very nice (neutral, detailed, and tight bass, as you'd expect from a studio monitor). For the money they're hard to beat. However, they have a very small sweetspot. Which isn't great in a living room. And that brings me to my next point.

Knowing I wouldn't become a real audiophile by making smart buying decisions, I decided I wanted a more expensive, more traditional, 2.1 setup (amp, dac, passive speakers, sub). After reading lots of reviews, I ended up getting a WiiM Amp, paired with Polk XT20 mains and a Jamo C910 subwoofer (I know, go easy). I'm not sure if my expectations were too high, but after setting it up, it sounded like absolute garbage compared to the JBLs. Muddy, slow, and boomy bass from the sub, extremely harsh treble, non-existent midrange from mains (frequency response measured many times through HouseCurve iOS app). I'm either using the HDMI ARC input with my TV, or the streamer itself as the source. Tried fixing it with EQ, but just couldn't get it to sound good at all.

Back to Best Buy the Polks went. This time I went for a warmer sound signature, the Wharfedale Diamond 225s. This made a significant difference; the sound is much more balanced now. But...it is still harsh and slightly fatiguing sometimes. How is this possible? These are supposed to be some of the "warmest, most rolled-off" speakers you can buy. This made me think - maybe my room is the culprit. But if that's the case, then why did the JBLs sound absolutely fine and not harsh at all? My ears are pretty sensitive, I feel like I definitely would have noticed..

Check the HouseCurve graph. There is a 13dB (!) peak around 17kHz. What is going on here? Could the WiiM be faulty? Is it load dependency? Or is my room just shockingly bad for speakers with wider directivity? And what, if anything, can I do to fix it? Would curtains help? Tape a mattress to the wall? I'm lost.

Room pics and screenshots here.

From what you are describing the amplifier is likely to be the issue rather than the speakers. I would suggest getting a better amplifier.
 

staticV3

Master Contributor
Joined
Aug 29, 2019
Messages
8,391
Likes
13,571
It's possible that the WiiM Amp is at fault, but blaming it without further tests and supporting evidence is really short-sighted and goes against ASR ethos.
 

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,232
Likes
2,495
Buy a measurement microphone and do proper measurments. Plug the speakers ports and set crossover to 90 Hz. You're kidding regarding EQ. No boosts! Just first 3 peeks and we will see what to do with forth one.
 
Last edited:

kemmler3D

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
3,643
Likes
7,451
Location
San Francisco
My take: Looks like there's a window right where you might be getting first reflections at the couch... combined with wider directivity on the new speakers and a possible HF boost from the WiiM amp, you may have run into a perfect storm of a treble assault.

While you wait for a measurement mic to arrive... ;) maybe try putting a heavy blanket over the window and testing again.
 
OP
rsc1

rsc1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2024
Messages
57
Likes
59
Location
Jupiter, FL
Buy a measurement microphone and do proper measurments. Plug the speakers ports and set crossover to 90 Hz. You must be joining regarding EQ. No boosts! Just first 3 peeks and we will see what to do with forth one.
The Diamond 225 has bottom ports, how would you go about plugging those? The reason I have the crossover at 70Hz is because the bass coming from the C910 is so slow/muddy that this sounded better. I'll try it again at 80. Might just turn the subwoofer off completely for now. That screenshot is before I realized you could set EQ suggestions to "only cuts". I don't have anything boosted in the PEQ.
What microphone are you using for your measurements?
Currently using the iPhone mic. I know, not ideal...but from what I read, the measurements between that and an UMIK-1, weren't too far off. Or is that not the case? I've tried all the different internal mics and get the same result with all of them. Eventually I'll def get a better mic. Issue right now is also that I can't make FIR adjustments on the WiiM amp.
 
OP
rsc1

rsc1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2024
Messages
57
Likes
59
Location
Jupiter, FL
My take: Looks like there's a window right where you might be getting first reflections at the couch... combined with wider directivity on the new speakers and a possible HF boost from the WiiM amp, you may have run into a perfect storm of a treble assault.

While you wait for a measurement mic to arrive... ;) maybe try putting a heavy blanket over the window and testing again.
Treble Assault™ is a perfect nickname for the current setup. Thank you for that. I have some thick noise "reducing" curtains I could hang up if the wife lets me. Not sure how much those would actually do, but worth a try.
 

kemmler3D

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Aug 25, 2022
Messages
3,643
Likes
7,451
Location
San Francisco
Not sure how much those would actually do, but worth a try.

Since your problem seems to be really high in frequency, if the window reflection is the problem, you should be able to hear an improvement pretty easily. Absorptive treatments are generally more effective the higher up you go. If it doesn't help, keep hunting for the issue.

Also, welcome to ASR!
 
OP
rsc1

rsc1

Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2024
Messages
57
Likes
59
Location
Jupiter, FL
Since your problem seems to be really high in frequency, if the window reflection is the problem, you should be able to hear an improvement pretty easily. Absorptive treatments are generally more effective the higher up you go. If it doesn't help, keep hunting for the issue.

Also, welcome to ASR!
Will try this out, hope it helps at least a bit. Thank you, kind sir!
 

Zapper

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Mar 4, 2023
Messages
608
Likes
843
The WiiM amp can interact with speaker impedance, but the effect is small - typically under 1 dB. And according to the stereophile.com measurements, the is nothing going on at 16.8kHz that could explain that 13dB peak. The impedance is flat at 8ohm and the phase is near zero. Which is ideal.

1000002948.jpg


Have you explored where the sound is coming from with your microphone? Hold it close to the speakers, then at various locations in the room, to see where that peak is strongest. It could be that you have something in the room that resonates at that high frquency.

Pull up the venetian blinds to see if that makes a difference. All those parallel slats might form some sort of interference grating or resonant structure.
 
Last edited:

ZolaIII

Major Contributor
Joined
Jul 28, 2019
Messages
4,232
Likes
2,495
@rsc1 well very long waves under 60 Hz decay very slow especially when sub is ported but it's not that but subwoofer integration and boost of the speakers in mid and uper bass (boomines).
I told you measurement microphone and even with UMIK-1 under 45° vertically and same calibration file it's debatable how precise measurements are above 12 KHz. If it's a sharp wide peak in very high frequencies the PEQ will actually work.
For starters put heavy thick curtains over the window, see how it measure if you flip the phase on sub and PEQ the first three peeks definitely crossed at 90 Hz (with phase that plays along better) and good luck.
 

Sokel

Master Contributor
Joined
Sep 8, 2021
Messages
6,366
Likes
6,505
The WiiM amp can interact with speaker impedance, but the effect is small - typically under 1 dB. And according to the stereophile.com measurements, the is nothing going on at 16.8kHz that could explain that 13dB peak. The impedance is flat at 8ohm and the phase is near zero. Which is ideal.

View attachment 354934

Have you explored where the sound is coming from with your microphone? Hold it close to the speakers, then at various locations in the room, to see where that peak is strongest. It could be that you have something in the room that resonates at that high frquency.

Pull up the venetian blinds to see if that makes a difference. All those parallel slats might form some sort of interference grating or resonant structure.
@NTK ,@ctrl or @pjug may come to rescue here,they demonstrated the effect in some real speakers in this thread .

However,13db is an enormous peak at 17Khz,can't be right,I would expect a 3-5db reduction there if not more depending on the distance under normal circumstances.

Edit:The harsh sound effect can't come from this peak,whatever that is.Harsh is coming from the 3-5Khz and it's intolerable to some people (like me,so I know OP's pain,I wouldn't stand it for a minute)
 
Last edited:

Pareto Pragmatic

Active Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2023
Messages
233
Likes
254
Location
Upper Mid-West, USA
I suspect a faulty amp. You should swap things out as best you can to try to isolate the problem to a specific piece of equipment.,

But here is how I would check without swapping gear.

Use some form of real time analysis (REW, even a phone app). Play white noise (youtube will be fine, REW will be better). Set volume to zero.

Look at the noise floor. Is the problem there at no volume? If so, likely amp.

Turn up the volume. Does the spike stay at about the same level across wide volumes? Amp. Or does it really start to jump at a given volume? If it jumps when things get louder, you might have a loose driver, so check to make sure they are torqued down properly.

I do think inexpensive gear is great, but the downside is poor quality control. So bad amp is my best guess. Exchange it, once you are sure it is the problem.
 
Top Bottom