I’m looking for a little help troubleshooting my system. I’m using the Bartok with Meze Empyreans and for some reason the sound has been painfully harsh. I’ve read reviews of this same combination, and nobody mentioned ear pain, so there has to be something more, probably to do with cables or peripherals that is responsible.
This is my setup:
Shunyata Denali 6000 power distributor fed by Sigma XC 20 amp cable
Shunyata Sigma NR v2 power cable from Denali to Bartok
Innuos Zenith Mk3 server connected directly to Bartok via network cable (I started with the stock ethernet, but now use Shunyata Sigma which I like better)
Double Helix Prion 4, balanced and single ended
Meze copper upgrade unbalanced cable
Meze stock unbalanced cable
Moon Audio Black Dragon balanced
IsoAcoustic Indigo vibration feet
Butcher Block Acoustics platform, with another set of Indigo vibration feet to the floor
What I’ve noticed so far: Single ended output is on the edge, but balanced is over the edge into painful treble. The Prion 4 and stock Meze cable (the warmest and fuzziest) are easiest to listen to, while the Black Dragon is absolutely horrid. USB tends to be easier listening that ethernet, but I like the Shunyata Sigma ethernet. I use the Mosaic player, and I’m not running Roon.
I’ve tried the various filter and upsampling modes, DSD and filters 1 and 2 being easiest, but still with very little wiggle room.
The Shunyata v2 power cables are a tad bright IMO, but I’ve also tried an older and mellower Alpha NR straight to the wall, and it wasn’t that much better. Basically most tweaks have brought me either just short of too harsh, or way over the line into harshness.
I’m kind of at my wits end. I just bought the Bartok, and I want to keep it, but it just starts hurting my ears at relatively low volume (low enough that the ambience and bass are not fully fleshed). With rock and electronic music I can last a couple minutes.
The only thing I can think of is going in for another spendy headphone cable, the Transparent Ultra headphone cable that is often paired with the Bartok, and sounded reasonably good in the showroom.
Is it the headphone pairing? Is there something I have overlooked?