More of my friend's new speaker woes... what makes speakers 'grainy'???
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Joe Bloggs

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So, I was going to go out with her to audition speakers tomorrow, then I hear her tell me that she bought new speakers yesterday. And doesn't like them.


She got these RA Labs speakers (model unknown) for ~$240, and (I'm translating here) says they sound grainy. I think. And it's 'very noticeable'.

Guy at the store says that she needs a better CDP. I highly doubt that the CDP is the culprit here--I mean I've tried comparing a DISCMAN to a Sony XA-777ES, fer god's sake, and I didn't notice any extra 'graininess' associated with the discman... and she's using a Denon minisystem CDP, which ought to be better than a discman, at least...

She said that it sounded ok at the store but not at home. I would rather suspect her amp...

On another note, maybe what she's trying to describe is actually more brightness than her old speakers. I think she said that the 'graininess' is associated with the hi-hats... there IS some grain associated with them isn't there??
 
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Beagle

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Grain is a roughness to the sound, a texture, a coldness. The highs might lack smoothness. Think of sandpaper and the types of coarseness. Digital can be grainy, if there is a lot of jitter.

Sounds like the speakers might be exposing problems with the rest of the system. Or the speakers may need decent running-in time, a good break in period. Then they might smooth out.

A lot of factors might be in play here.
 
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Budgie

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MAybe that will go away when the speakers burn in, but if it doesn't will she be able to return them in a month? (Probably not.) I would take that pair back to the store and ask them to hook them up to the demo system in the store and see how they sound compared to the store demo pair.

Edit: I can't find a web site for RA Labs. They still in business?
 
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lini

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Mhmmm, I guess, I'd wait for possible positive effects of burn-in, first. Then I'd change the speaker cables. Then the cd player interconnect. Then the amp and at last the cd player. (Next steps only taken, when previous had no positve effect, of course...). And, I guess, before daring an amp change, I'd try to audition the speakers in a similar chain somewhere else, first. It wouldn't be fun to change the whole chain just to find out that a defunct capacitor in the speaker network was the actual culprit in the end...

Greetings from Munich!

Manfred / lini
 
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Joe Bloggs

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eh? Defunct capacitor? How does that work out?
 
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Ctn

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Try a more powerful amp 1st.
 
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Nick Dangerous

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Grainy. That's the key word. It's an adjective that frequently comes up when discussing amplifiers. Cables, CD sources, and speakers are described with many different adjectives but "grainy" isn't usually one of them.

Your original suspicion is a good avenue to follow. It's probably the amplifier.
 
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Jeff Guidry

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"what makes speakers 'grainy'"

Insufficient sanding.


*sands his speakers furiously, applies laquer coating, allows drying*

Ahhhhh, smooth and liquid! I used a clear laquer, so the sound is close to transparent! And I can still resolve all the ambient detail in the wood!
 
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Joe Bloggs

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Right, must remind myself of that next time I rub my ears up against the speaker to listen to the grain...


Seriously though, it's nice to know that my intuition is probably right, but why? Why do amps make speakers grainy?
 
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timoteus

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lini's post shouldn't be overlooked. Speaker burn-in may help but a bad crossover network or even a poorly designed crossover or a crossover with cheap capacitors could be the problem. And $240 speaks will have a cheap crossover.

The crossover's effects are right where we will hear them the most and right where we live, in the mids. A full-range driver avoids this and the problems that a crossover can cause. A bad crossover can ruin a good speaker.
 
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