muddled lows

abreezeMarch 30, 2014

My once marvelous Boston Acoustic A100 floor standing speakers are no longer producing rich lows. My system is old with a vintage Yamaha RX-500U Receiver. The system has been used sparingly for the last 15-20 years. I'm using it now to record my vinyl LP albums onto CDs with a Tascam CD-RW 900SL Professional machine.

There appears to be a poor connection to my speakers. I've cut the speaker wires numerous times and reinserted them in an effort to "clean" the signal but to no avail. The last time I did this I broke the plastic clip on the back of one speaker which complicates things.

I've often wandered if my receiver might be the problem. I know the volume control is "touchy".

What are your thoughts / suggestions? Thank you.


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I've got a mountain of thoughts to share but I'll start with the easiest one - if hypothetically you were attempting this project using much higher quality new equipment and unplayed vinyl, I'd all the same say to you that you'd get better CD sound from buying CDs for whichever of your albums they're available. Why? Because every medium has its own limitations and the mastering process tries to bridge gaps as is possible (not always possible). When one recording is put out in both CD and vinyl formats, the masters for each is different. A vinyl master on a CD will likely be inferior to listening to a version mastered for CD on a CD.

OK, that's the hypothetical case. Forget the speakers for now. You've got old (and dirty?) records, an old, perhaps worn (and dirty?) cartridge, an unmentioned turntable and a suspect receiver that in its day was lower end.

I'd start by buying or borrowing decent headphones and cleaning (as best you can) the cartridge and a few albums. Listen to several sides. What you're hearing is best case what can be recorded. Are you happy with what you're hearing, and willing to listen to a poorer version of the same thing (because of the mastering problem)?

Do you plan to get a new receiver or amp system? If yes, do so before doing the recording. Or maybe the CDs are for listening in the car?

I hope you know that for best results, you'll need to listen to tracks before recording and adjust volume and tone settings (EQ or at least bass and treble) for each record?

On the topic of speakers - woofers don't age well, they often need to be repaired or replaced. Open the speaker box, you may find that the speaker surround is torn or separated along the edges. That, of course, doesn't affect your recording but is a sign the speaker or the entire box needs to be replaced.

The Tascam recorder you're using will probably do a decent job but it's far from being a professional device.

If you're not able to get a clear signal from the records and adjust it using the receiver, my suggestion is to buy CDs. I have decent equipment in good shape (though it's sub-audiophile quality), clean records in good condition, and I decided after doing about 5% of my records that it wasn't worth the time and effort (using different equipment than you have) because the digital files I was getting weren't of acceptable quality.

Good luck, post back if you have other questions.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2014 at 3:04AM
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Make sure you have the polarity right on your speaker connections.

Try some other equipment to isolate the problem. If you can get another receiver, do that first, or take yours to another set of speakers.

Speaker connectors can be replaced with nice 5-way binding posts from Parts Express or other vendors. If you can solder a bit, it's not that hard. Just make sure the connections match the original.

You may have dirty tone, volume or loudness controls or input selector switch on the receiver. They can be cleaned with DeOxit. See and look for 'Idiot's Guide to DeOxit' in the DIY forum.

Woofer surrounds should be replaced rather than chucking the driver, IMHO. Especially in older speakers, it's difficult to find original correct replacements, and replacing woofers with different ones is a very complex process that should not be undertaken by the average owner. Foam surround replacment, however, is much simpler.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2014 at 4:31PM
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toxic, my guess (judging from the nature and tone of the comments) is that the original poster is not inclined to undertake any kind of DIY tasks as you describe. I think this is someone (who like most people) keeps her hands outside equipment boxes and never in.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2014 at 9:16PM
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Thanks for your comments, snidely and tox. I'm sorry that it took me so long to reply. Some unexpected issues developed that consumed my time.

Tox, I just ordered CAIG DeoxIT FaderLube Lubricant 5 oz. from Musician's Friend. I watched and read some tutorials and believe it's worth a try. I'll see how the sound is after that is done. If still muddled, I'll try to try the receiver with a friend's speakers.

Polarity is correct on the speakers... I googled 5-way binding posts, banana plugs, and foam surround replacements. Replacing the foam replacements looks tricky...

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 11:02PM
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Sorry for my own slow response. Sounds like you are on your way to sorting it out. If the foam surrounds on your speakers are OK and not torn, most likely that is not the problem. Your speakers may not even have foam surrounds - some are rubber. In any case a repair shop can do surrounds if necessary.

Are you sure both woofers are actually playing? A bad connection inside one speaker could cut bass output essentially in half. Remove the grilles and listen to each driver.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 4:01PM
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