Headphones and piano glare

Firstly we must take account of the fact that the ears are now in their 84th year.
I am building a headphone system for sleepless nights.
Audiolab cdt9000:Chord Hugo tt2:Meze Empyreans. Digital connect by Mark Grant. That should sound pretty sweet and most of the time it does.
With a poorly engineered cd it is merciless. Nowhere to hide.
But some cds Stephen Hough’s Hyperions’ piano editions for example,there is a distinct ‘glare’ at about two octaves above middle c.I should not hear this.
Electric guitars and voices are seamless.

NDX2 playing Qobuz into Trilogy Headphone amp seems glare free (although Hyperion not on Qobuz)

I will have a chat with dealer next week but wonder if the fold might be able to offer any thoughts. Apart from fiddling with cables and power supplies I am a bit stumped.


Not sure if it’s the same cause, but I walked out of a Hough recital (at intermission) in April because I couldn’t stand the jangly sound of his Yamaha piano. A little research after the fact revealed that not very many classical pianists (with whose names I am familiar) use Yamahas. Another exception is Maria João Pires, whose recordings I do like.

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Yes Hough’s Hyperions are the worst offenders.
Some jazz cds I can nail down to the engineer. He must hear the piano in a different way or he has a Yamaha in his studio.
I think I have to be very selective about what I play.
Nothing is perfect.

I believe that the great Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli insisted on taking his own (very highly strung) Steinway wherever he went to perform.

And there was a dreadful incident a few years back when Angela Hewitt’s own brand new Fazioli concert grand fell from a hoist and was smashed to bits. Ouch! (Actually I confess to a degree of Schadenfreude on reading about that, just imagining the recriminations that followed that incident!)

I see that Audio Lounge have the item but at nearly £8000. Plus any cabling etc that would be a stretch too far for me.
Thanks for the information. Interesting read from Mr.Sircom in hi fi plus.

Deleted, please remove.

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Hi Nick. I don’t use headphones for serious listening and I don’t have a Chord DAC, but I do have several recordings by Stephen Hough on Hyperion. So I fished out a couple: his recent set of Chopin Nocturnes (hi res download) and a disc of music by Frederic Mompou (CD rip) and don’t hear the glare you mention on either. But the piano tone is certainly brighter in the upper registers than other recordings. The more recent set is a slightly worse “ offender” in this respect, which might reflect Yamahas getting brighter, or, I suspect, the recording environment.

For contrast I put on Angela Hewitt’s gorgeous Hyperion disc of transcriptions, played on her new Fazioli and the bright edge is missing. It’s one of the best piano recordings I know. So perhaps it is the Yamaha, or perhaps the recording environment, or perhaps the DAC that’s the problem. Of course you can only do something about the last of these. Could you rip a couple of offending CDs to a memory stick and try them on, say, an Atom HE at you dealer’s?

I do hope you get this sorted. It would be such a shame to miss out on listening to a player of Hough’s quality.


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The Hugo tt2 and Audiolab dt9000 have been packed off to dear Andy at Signals who will try to understand why the combination sounds less than brilliant.
We now have in position an Atom HE and together with the empyreans and this is a fabulous combination. They sound as though they were made for each other. No brassy glare to be found anywhere (yet).
I suppose a Core will now have to be the next purchase to capture many of my jazz and Mosaic box sets but at the moment I am so pleased with the Atom. Perhaps now Hyperion has been sold the cds might start to appear on Qobuz.

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