Getting the static out of an old receiver, in praise of Alta Audio speakers, great traveling combo (Week 20, 2023)

Sound Advice
By Don Lindich

Week 20, 2023

Q. In 1996 I purchased a stereo system with a receiver. I recently started hearing static in the treble from all three sources, so it seems the problem arises from the receiver. Do I need a new receiver, what should I do?

-J.R., Minneapolis, MN

A. This is a common problem I discuss every few years. With time and use, dust finds its way into the rotary volume, balance and tone controls, causing static. You can have it cleaned professionally, but I would try and fix it yourself first. Get some electrical contact cleaner, pull off the control knobs and spray in the cleaner. Rotate the controls lock-to-lock several times, then repeat the process. This should eliminate the static.

In praise of Alta Audio: I don’t discuss extreme audio high-end equipment that often, but I know there are readers interested in purchasing it and others who simply like to learn something new about the hobby and the industry. I heard Alta Audio speakers in several demo rooms at the AXPONA audio show last month and it seems that every time I come across them, year-to-year, they consistently provide some of the very best, perhaps THE best sound at the show. These shows are filled with a lot of speakers that are far more expensive, but often do not sound very good. If you are shopping in the luxury segment for a high-end music system, Alta Audio speakers are a great place to start.

The cabinetry rates comparison with the very finest furniture and the graceful, sloping lines are both functional and beautiful. The ribbon tweeters have impeccably sweet sound that is also realistic in tone, and they effortlessly float images in the air. Bass is tightly controlled, defined and deep. These speakers may be expensive, but given the looks, workmanship, finish and sound they are absolutely worth it.

Alta Audio speakers start at $5,000/pair for the Alyssa stand-mounted speakers, a bargain in this category because despite the size, they sound like a full-range tower speaker. The Adam towers are especially impressive and start at $17,000/pair. It may be hard for some to consider speakers this expensive a “value” but building a system around them is like buying a Patek Philippe or Vacheron Constantin watch.

Great traveling duo: When I travel I like to bring two items with me for enjoying music and on-screen entertainment: noise-cancelling headphones for the flights, and a Bluetooth speaker for hotel room. In the past I have written about how well-suited ZVOX AV52 headphones are for flying because the AccuVoice feature makes it easier to hear the voices when viewing in-flight entertainment. The AV70 Bluetooth speaker is a great companion for watching programming on an iPad because it also makes dialogue more clear. I recently came across a deal that makes it easy and inexpensive to get them both.

The offer is simple and is valid through the end of June. Buy both the AV70 speaker and the AV52 headphones, and the price for the combo is $99.99. If you buy the speaker alone, the price is $99.99. Buy the AV52 headphones by themselves, and the price is $149.99. But if you put them both in your cart the total price is $99.99, not almost $250. It seems somewhat silly that if you but the headphones alone you pay $149.99, but if you get the speaker as well you get the speaker and save $50. Usually if it seems too good to be true, it probably is, but in this case it is all for real and a great way to get ready for summer fun.