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Can amps lose their high frequencies over time?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by everton, Jun 10, 2021 at 1:41 AM.

  1. everton

    everton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    During the past 15 months or so, I have been working from home. In my "home office," I set up a makeshift stereo system. It consists of a (previously neglected) 17-year-old Yamaha entry-level home-theatre receiver (used in stereo mode), a pair of Fyne Audio F300 bookshelf speakers, and an iPOd Touch and an iPad as a source (streaming Tidal and Spotify).

    For the past two weeks, I noticed that the sound has become a bit muddy. It is as if the high frequencies were truncated. I checked all the cable connections, and they were fine. The speakers are at the exact same place as before. I sit in the same spot (at the desk), and so listening positions are not an issue. So I am wondering what is going on.

    I realize that this may just be in my head. The sound might have been like this from the start. But I would just like to know if it could be because the receiver is getting old. As mentioned, the receiver is a 17-year-old Yamaha. Back then, Yamaha receivers were not known for warm sound. The sound should be brighter than what I am hearing.

    Thanks.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 1:54 AM
  2. p.analogowy

    p.analogowy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Warsaw PL
    It is possible that capacitors in your amp started failing, it could certainly happen after 17 years and muddy sound is a primary symptom.
     
  3. everton

    everton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for your reply. So it is possible.
     
  4. harby

    harby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, OR, USA
    Fortunately, frequency response is relatively easy to measure. Test tone in, voltage out. Only that you can't rely on an RMS multimeter to also have a flat response to 20kHz, you need an interface to a sound card that can knock the voltage down 30dB or an oscilloscope (ideally with integrated digital voltmeter).

    Technically, there's no reason why you can't "plug" an amp right into a sound interface with a speaker wire to RCA or 3.5mm cable, if you keep the volume down. The max out of an amp might be 55 volts vs max input 2 volts on a sound card. The dangers would be any turn on thump, any DC bias, and shorting the amp while plugging the cable into the interface, so one would need to make the final connect to speaker terminals only after amp is warmed up.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 4:37 AM
  5. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    More likely you have changed. Human high frequency response hearing goes out the door first. Likely could hear well up to 19 or 20k as a youth. Now, not so much.
     
  6. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Relaxed Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    Sure, it’s possible but any time I’ve heard an amp with caps that were out of spec it wasn’t subtle. And...caps don’t go bad in 17 years unless there was some trauma beyond normal use. Anything can happen but that would be way beyond common. You might just be getting burned out on listening to that system.
     
    The Pinhead, Panama Hotel and timind like this.
  7. everton

    everton Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks for all replies.
     
  8. JBryan

    JBryan Forum Resident

    Location:
    Baltimore/St Louis
    You mentioned that you had checked the cable/wire connections but did you remove and clean at the contact points? Just twisting the connections will sometimes create better contact and 'lift the veil' but a good cleaning and polish - especially with older gear can make quite an improvement.
     
    unclefred and chervokas like this.
  9. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Forum Resident

    Location:
    Iowa, USA
  10. krisjay

    krisjay Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maine
    Specs, sound quality certainly can shift over time. As was mentioned caps and such can fail, drift, what have you. So yes, I'd think that is possible.
     
  11. Maggie

    Maggie funky but chic

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    As others have noted, it is indeed possible that a capacitor or group of caps are failing. But caps usually do not fail that quickly. A 17-year-old solid-state device should not show that kind of degradation, unless the caps were bad to begin with (very rare and would not have passed QC). Maybe after 30 or 40 years.

    All of my audio equipment is from the '90s, much of it was not in continuous use, and I've never noticed this kind of thing.
     
  12. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    A few years ago there was a thing called "capacitor plague" where bad caps were going out in droves to popular consumer devices. Not sure if that was applicable to OP's device, but I wouldn't necessarily rule it out either, particularly if it dates from the time period when that was happening. OP could also get hearing checked.

    Ask Hackaday: Experiences With Capacitor Failure

    Capacitor plague was a result of defective electrolytic capacitors made between 1999 and 2007, with the first problems showing up sometime around 2002.
     
    McLover and Maggie like this.
  13. Maggie

    Maggie funky but chic

    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    Fascinating. I had no idea (I wasn't into gaming during that period). That is right in the time period of the OP's device.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  14. Acapella48

    Acapella48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Elk Grove, CA.
    As @p.analogowy points out components like resistors, capacitors, etc. suffer from thermal stress and over time degrade or fail.

    Your receiver may not require a full restoration but just minor servicing and a few key components may need to be replaced. It could be something simple but you have to troubleshoot to find out.
    If you have DIY electronic experience and test equipment and soldering skills, you may be able to diagnose and repair yourself.

    If you are considering keeping your receiver you might consider taking it to a reliable repair technician and have them bench test it.

    Once you have determined the problem, you then need to decide if it's worth the cost of repair vs. replacement.

    The video below may be helpful:

     
  15. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Relaxed Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    I think one thing we can all agree on is it’s time to move on from a 17 year old AVR. It doesn’t sound good no matter what the cap in it are doing. So yes, let’s say those caps are cooked down to Mud.
     
  16. vegafleet

    vegafleet Forum Resident


    Many of us here wish you hadn't shown that. We like to live in our little world of fantasy. (I am 61.)

    The caps! The caps! It must be the caps!
     
  17. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    Don't know what the answer is to the OP's question but, as we age, almost all of us lose high frequency hearing. At 70, mine now hovers around 10-12 kHz. The good thing is that it's so gradual over the years, you barely notice the change. I enjoy my music as much today as I did 50 years ago even if I'm missing some of the sizzle of the upper register.
     
    patient_ot likes this.
  18. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Relaxed Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    I wouldn’t take that as gospel as much as “generally true”. Lots of guys out there with basic soldering skill that like to overstate the need for new capacitors. I have a 46 year old Sansui that I just had bench tested and the caps were testing within spec.
     
  19. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Location:
    USA
    This is going to sound gross, but many people also develop earwax buildup over time that can impact hearing. That's a fairly easy fix.
     
  20. that chart actually makes me feel a whole lot better- to the point where I'm not sure it's accurate. At minimum, it looks like an unweighted graph. A -40dB hearing loss at 4kHz at age 60? I notice that my hearing isn't as good as it once was, but a loss of 40dB in the upper midrange really messes with the ability to hear speech- the high consonant sounds start to drop out.

    It's flattering to think that my hearing is better than most 40 year olds- it's scooped by around 10-15dB between 1kHz and 4 kHz, more in the left ear than the right- and then rises to near 0dB at 12kHz.
     
    vegafleet likes this.
  21. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Relaxed Member

    Location:
    Ohio
    This is absolutely true. I had a buddy that went to a loud concert and was experiencing hearing loss. Went to the dr and there was just a bunch of junk in his ear. The loud concert was just a coincidence.
     
    Tim 2 likes this.
  22. TarnishedEars

    TarnishedEars Forum Resident

    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I hate to tell you this, but you may be losing your HF hearing sensitivity...
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2021 at 9:14 PM
    The Pinhead likes this.
  23. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    do you have another system to reference ? this would confirm or deny the hearing loss idea.
    plug another amp in your office system too.
    my guess is that the office system has mellowed a little bit, possibly from being played constantly which it likes. a bit more smoothness in the amp, speakers well burned in with more warmth and midbass, just a well honed system.
     
  24. Razakoz

    Razakoz Forum Resident

    Location:
    Utah
    If it's a tube amp with badly worn tubes, yes. Otherwise it seems weird unless it's a 30+ year old ss amp.
     
  25. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Location:
    Idaho, USA
    Funny you should mention that as I had a doctor's appointment this afternoon. I asked him to take a look and my ears are clean as a whistle (everything else is A OK as well :)). It's simply an aging thing. The good thing is I have no hearing loss other than above 10-12kHz).
     
    patient_ot likes this.

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