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ATH-A900 distortion problems

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone. First post here although I've been lurking for a while. Thanks to this and some other sites I took the plunge and stepped up from my E2c's to a newly purchased set of ATH-A900's from audioocubes.com. Ordered them on Saturday and I got them in Seattle on Tuesday. Seems really fast to me! I have a really bad flu though and my head is all plugged up so I am saving judgment on the sound until I'm 100%.

I am noticing some distortion though. Seems like its in the lower mid range, both ears although the left might be slightly more noticable. I have only been running it direct off my Harmon Kardon AVR 140 receiver and will check it out tomorrow on my ipod. It's a very quiet crackling that gets louder as the volume gets louder.

Is this a normal thing? Break in period quirks maybe? Any help/ advice would be greatly appreciated.
post #2 of 10
First off, welcome. The water is pleasantly warm in these parts so jump right in. I am sure someone will be able to help you.

This doesn't sound like a typical break in issue to me, unless it is specific to these HP (that I am not real familiar with). I am quessing that it could be an issue with impedance where your amp doesn't have enough current to drive these low impedance HP. (The ATH-A900 impedance is 40 ohms.) First thing to do is to see if the problem clears up on the iPod. If, so it rules out defective HP.

Also sometimes there can be distortion on your amp's internal circuits. Also dirty volume pots (the volume dial) can sometimes cause such a sound, but this is usually only when you are actually in the act of changing the volume up and/or down, unless it is a really bad case. If a dirty volume pot was the problem it should also effect other HP or speakers you playback through (assuming you have one volume pot for all playback- speakers/HP jack). An internal circuit distortion could be with any output, or it could be specific to the headphone jack. Try to get another HP, especially one with a higher impedance, say at least 80 but 120 or higher would be better yet, to see if the distortion occurs with another HP as well. If you don't have any other HP available, get a 1/8" to 1/4" adapter and plug you iPod earbuds into the amp and see what happens. You would do well to go to your amp manufacturor site and find the impedance range of you amp HP jack. I am no expert on impedance, I just know that having a mis-match can cause distortion.

Hopefully someone with experience with the ATH-900 and/or your amp will weigh in here.
Good luck
post #3 of 10
Thread Starter 
ldj325, thanks for the suggestions. unfortunately testing the ipod wioll have to wait another day since I left it (and the apple buds) at work and I'm calling in sick again.

I am familiar with the noise made with dirty volume pots. I had an old HK receiver that had this problem. I don't think it's the same issue though. This new receiver is only maybe 5 months old and the distortion is present in changes in the song volume, but not when i change volume on the amp itself.

Found the specs for my amp online. I too don't know much about impedance so maybe someone else with a little more knowledge could chime in.

Anyway, great site.
post #4 of 10
Thread Starter 
post #5 of 10
what is your HK receiver receiving?
post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Well I've just got a nothing-fancy Panasonic DVD player and (gasp) RCAs running up to the receiver. I'm changing to optical tomorrow in the hopes that that will improve things.

Listening on the computer doesn't give me the same feedback so I'm fairly confident it's not a headphone issue. These new phones are just allowing me to hear problems that were always there. This is my first step into the viscious cycle that is higher-end home audio. It's only as strong as the weakest link... right now I'm betting that it is those rcas or the DVD player itself.
post #7 of 10
So now you have more information. The only way to track these sorts of problems down is trial and error to isolate the faulty unit. Also when you get the iPod use it via RCA as a source (could rule out any DVD issue). RCAs are cheap so try switching those out if you suspect them. Also consider that an input may be bad, so try switching those. In fact you could do that right now with no additional gear/expense involved.
post #8 of 10
Thread Starter 
So, not that anyone cares about this anymore but... turns out it was the headphones that were the problem.

I only mention this as a way to give another plug to the nice, helpfull folks at audiocubes.com where I bought them. A guy named Kohn responded to my email within 2 days and was very helpfull in letting me know how to exchange them. I only just shipped my defective cans back this last saturday so I don't have the replacements yet, but I plan on using audiocubes for future purchases and would recommend anyone on here who hasn't heard of them (all 3 of you) to check them out.
post #9 of 10
Did you drop them by any chance? Might've knocked the drivers loose.

- lk
post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 
Maybe. They don't seem very fragile and I know they haven't had any super dramatic but it definently sounds like something is loose. It only happens when there is some loud bass. Mostly it sounds fine and it only in the right ear.

Oh well... They're sent back and hopefully a new, as yet undropped pair should be on the way soon.
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