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Maccar
15-02-2012, 06:30 AM
Hi all,

Had my Supers for a few months now and absolutely delighted with them.

My next mission is to find the best disc spinner to compliment these wonderful speakers.
I've tried Krell Evo 505 and Esoteric DV60, but not for me. I've also tried a Wadia 381 which was very impressive, but a little out of my budget at the moment.

I've now been offered an Audio Research CD5 at a very good price... If any of you have experience with these players, or just have an opinion which player would work best, all comments would be most welcome.

For reference my current set up is Sugden Masterclass IA-4 amp, Naim CDX2 CDP, Siltech Paris i.c and of course the SHL5.
Cheers
Mac

micron
15-02-2012, 01:03 PM
The best cd players I ever heard are Burmester and Metronome (all versions with with top loading). Try one if you can. Forget about wadia but ARC cd 5 could be good also, specialy if you find one with a good price.

If you are looking for a cheapest one (second hand)... You can try a Lindemann CD1 SE with good results but you will need 2 good power cords (Siltech if you like Siltech) because it has a separate power supply. Anyway the top loading, xlr outputs and a 24/192 dac is a must.
Cheers

garmtz
15-02-2012, 02:13 PM
The Audio Research would be lovely! If you can stretch it: CD7 or CD8...

thurston
16-02-2012, 07:56 AM
Have to admit I love the looks of the Audio Research. But after all I do not believe in notable differences between cd-players. Sorry, but I had to write that.

In a way I find it a little over the top to just put up list of glittering ultra-expensive cd-players if only someone asks for a simple cd-player.

I could easily ad some more fancy gear:
Why not a Krell, Mark Levinson, does Jadis make CD-Players as well (?), Accuphase, T+A, MBL

There are no synergies between player and speaker! A player is either good or bad. The only thing you can do is to listen by yourself...

...and maybe be a little more aware of psychology, leading us to the belief that fancy, expensive audio gear with a religion-like story behind it will allways sound better than simple engineering.

Harbeth itself stands for that engineering-approach, why still follow the usual voodoo-style audio path and buy gold laquered gear?

davidlovel
16-02-2012, 09:10 AM
PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport is very good, and it can play higher resolution music than CD by burning WAV files to a DVD-R.

A.S.
16-02-2012, 09:56 AM
...In a way I find it a little over the top to just put up list of glittering ultra-expensive cd-players if only someone asks for a simple cd-player.

I could easily ad some more fancy gear .... There are no synergies between player and speaker! ....

Harbeth itself stands for that engineering-approach, why still follow the usual voodoo-style audio path and buy gold lacquered gear?I completely agree. What I do not understand is why we collectively couldn't give a down-to-earth, pragmatic answer to a simple question. If someone has money to burn I very much doubt that they'd be interested in Harbeth products which as stated above are no-frills, solid engineering presented in a functional way. So why would such a consumer be attracted to exotic CD players, possibly spending more - far more - on a CD player than the speakers? They obviously wouldn't would they.

So can I appeal for some sanity please so that the question can be answered in a meaningful way. From time to time I use a CD/MiniDisc rack-size player (branded Grundig) that cost about $100 in the high-street electrical supermarket. In fact, I used it extensively during the C7ES3 development. It is *good enough* for occasional listening. OK, the track selection is a little slow, the remote buttons a little wobbly, the drawer a little shaky but who gives a damn? There are far more pressing things to worry about in life than burning money needlessly on fancy electronics, which if they fail - and they probably will - will bankrupt you with repair costs and may never perform properly from day 1.

So, no more exotic (erotic?) fantasy suggestions allowed here. Just answer the question setting a real-world budget of, say, $1000 please.

Oh and as I've said before, forget about nit-picking over sound quality. Assume there isn't any reliable difference. Can we hear please about the brand's after-care when the player fails/skips/jumps/jams - how they handled the problem, was it solved, what were they like to deal with and the cost? In other words the real story. And if that's not a happy tale, then you may as well by a Sony player for $300, anticipate a five year life and if it fails cheerfully buy another one.

It's all said so well in an article in the excellent (and only GBP 0.20) i newspaper, yesterday - attached.

>

P.S. It may not be obvious to you but the size of the company and it's financial standing will have a huge influence upon product reliability and its ability (let alone attitude) to providing first-class after care. Digital electronics are complex, and electro-mechanical digital electronics (a CD player) more so. I give you a recent analogy. At Harbeth we use battery-powered electric hand-screwdrivers to screw together the cabinets. You can imagine that in a day there are thousands of screws to be driven into wood. Over they years we have tried various brands of electric screwdriver, some German, some USA brands, Japanese and DIY store own brands which you often see on special offer for around $30 'with free drills and spare battery'.

We have concluded (reluctantly) that there is a relationship between long-term durability and corporate size, and for the last couple of years we have standardised on Panasonic (Japanese made) which are upper-mid price. What we are buying (almost for free) are the technical resources of the world's largest consumer manufacturing company. They have enough income to reinvest in laboratories where doubtless they have hundreds or thousands of engineers with world-class design, test and reliability resources to test, test and test again their designs before they are released to market. And the result is an extremely reliable, long-lasting product at a very fair price indeed. But if you are smaller brand/company is it likely that you will have these technical resources to really thrash-out design weaknesses before launch?

My point is that you should assume that fancy electronics will certainly cause problems sooner or later. You should protect yourself in advance of purchase by fully assessing what your total cost of ownership will be. One of the reasons we respect the QUAD brand here in the UK is because their after-care operation is affordable (even cheap) and they can fix anything made in the last 50 years or so because they used standard catalogue parts not exotic long-deleted specials. How many unique single-sourced parts are there in some of these boutique electronics I wonder?

Buy with your brain, not your heart.

davidlovel
16-02-2012, 10:30 AM
To put things in perspective it should be noted that SHL5s cost more than $5000 in the USA so the above discussion including players of ~$3000 cost is in fact reasonably balanced. Remember what you get out is only as good as what you put in.

My purchase of the PS Audio PWT was based on obtaining improved sound quality after having used Marantz, Musical Fidelity and Orelle/XTC players in the previous 25 years. Ironically only the Marantz is no longer supported by the manufacturer (although it is poplar on eBay).

I agree completely about "Total Cost of Ownership" The buyer must ask himself "Is this a short-term (<5 years) or long-term (~20 years) purchase?" "Will the company still be there then?"

thurston
16-02-2012, 10:37 AM
Here is my "real-world"-list.
Each (partly far) below 1000,- €, but all with decent looks.
NAD 512BEE

Pioneer PD9 (fancy looks, just no fancy brand-name)
http://www.slashgear.com/gallery/data_files/7/4/Pioneer_PD_D9_1.jpg

Yamaha s-2000 (to me this is a real beauty, still no fancy brand name for audiophiles)
http://www.stereo.de/typo3temp/pics/46589e1b5d.jpg

I myself use a Technics plastic player for less than 200,- € for allready ca 8 years without any faults.

But I have to admit: if it fails I will look for a better looking player instead.

hifi_dave
16-02-2012, 10:37 AM
OK, off the wall opinion. Don't spend huge amounts on a CD player because most of the price goes on fancy metalwork, packaging and marketing.

Over the years I have stocked and sold most of the expensive machines listed but they weren't the ones we, as dealers, picked off the shelf to listen to.

If you want a serious bit of metal, which happens to be the best CD player I have heard by some margin, hear the Rega Isis, valve version. Wonderful but expensive.

Also, Rega have a new Saturn in the pipeline for Summer delivery. Absolutely blows away the majority of expensive players I have heard but might not appeal because it's only going to be around £1200.

Use your ears and keep your eyes shut, is my advice.

thurston
16-02-2012, 10:48 AM
...that is what happens if you post too fast..

Just saw that the Yamaha is too expensive for the 1000,- € border of Mr Shaw.
Sorry.

{Moderator's comment: No problem. $1000 was just a number plucked from the air. $1200 .... $1500 whatever providing that it is giving REAL VALUE FOR MONEY.}

Kumar Kane
16-02-2012, 12:21 PM
Since the time I went digital all the way, with all my CDs in lossless rips on a hard disc drive, I question the need for a CD player these days.

But if one must have it, my vote goes to any player from the Marantz line up. Very well built, and robust CD trays and transport mechanisms. Even in the lowest priced ones, which would be a lot less than the 1000 dollars, and for that amount of spend, I think there are some mid level machines from that line.

Drdennis
16-02-2012, 12:27 PM
For a wonderful sounding inexpensive cd player, pick up a SONY PS1. They generally can be found for US $25-$50.

You can read about it on 6Moons, where they combined it with a Leben amp and Harbeth speakers for their "music lovers system". There is also a review in Stereophile. If you want to go all out, there are modders who will do upgrades to these players for under $100.

micron
16-02-2012, 12:38 PM
I don't like analogy but let make one: If you are travelling by car and you enjoy a magic view, you can drop in admirations for a while and forget about the engine.
So if you like what you see (read also the music you hear) you can use any car for this journey (read any hi-fi). But this doesn't mean that is no difference between the cars.

I'm a little bored about the statement "I don't feel the difference". I understand, especially in this crisis time, that everyone tries to spent less and get more. But imagine an ideal world when all electronics bad or good has the same price or for better, are for free :). But you can buy, or receive one or another, only if you "can hear the difference". Guess what it will happen then with all "no hear difference guys"?

The whole hi-fi (end) industry is based on the ideal of the perfect sound. Of course the big problem is there is no perfect sound yet or maybe no life after death neither also...

I'm not so happy to realized that are too many hi-fi brands (just look at second hand hi-fi sites and you will find tons of garbage) but too few are close to that "ideal".
Harbeth has a special position, in this - go for ideal perfect hi-fi sound - they stated "a natural sound"... but let's be honest the natural sound is only in nature. But who cares about the nature ... man himself want to create a "natural nature" for him and he want to have it just by pressing the button.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Alan said that he made theoretically even better speakers during the test but his final goal was to make a real-world speaker for any amplifier and not an ideal or near perfect one. This is the best approach from a designer who understand that the Loudspeaker made the most part of the sound but not play alone.

So I can understand, I mean ... can decipher Alan's messages to understand Harbeth from the full half glass perspective. But believe it or not, are still better electronics out there.
The paranoiacs mouths said that, this hi-fi-end approach, with a lot of spare boxes is an evil thing and a few " important bad people" thinks that is a good method to keep peoples mind occupied from other issues. Could be right... and I think that only the hi-fi designers can solve this problems or not.
Do you hear the differences from my poor english?

thurston
16-02-2012, 01:44 PM
Players that "blow away" others, just because SHL5´s cost 5000,- you need to spend ca. 3000,- for a player that sound the same as one for, say 200,- (I did NOT forget a zero!)....

....the meander continues.

If you really think about players costing maybe 10000,- €/$ :

Spend 5000,- for equally fancy gear and donate the other 5000,- ! You´ll hear a big improvement in sound just because you will feel better.

A.S.
16-02-2012, 02:00 PM
Players that "blown away" others...Do people actually write expressions like 'blow away' (meaning, the quality is so fantastic that all other silimar products are rendered instantly obsolete) in connection with quality audio equipment? I don't believe you.

And if they do, anyone who is influenced to purchase by such writing is barking mad. They are the submissive slave to the marketeer's chains and whip and certainly could benefit from urgent clinical treatment. Terms like 'blown away' are surely gutter journalism, the last desperate dregs of a bankrupt writer's imagination. These flights of fancy are what's known as 'writers puff' ... words to pad out the story and hit the word count (many writers are paid by the word) and create eye-catching, quotable headlines. Comments like 'blown away' are not meant to be taken seriously or literally.

How can a product, built from the same components (or virtually the same), performing the same task, in about the same size, drawing about the same amount of power 'blow away' another? It cannot. It is impossible. It's marketing speak.

Tell me I'm dreaming .... reassure me that not one of you here would do anything other than curl a withering sneer at expressions like 'blown away' and toss the magazine in the nearest bin. Even (or especially) if it's a Harbeth review.

GregD
16-02-2012, 03:43 PM
Hi all,

Had my Supers for a few months now and absolutely delighted with them.

My next mission is to find the best disc spinner to compliment these wonderful speakers. ...

OK I've read Alan's post about the real story of owning expensive electronics and have this advice for Mac.

dCS Ltd. based in Cambridgshire UK certainly make very expensive CD players/DACs. Certainly way more expensive than the SHL5. So maybe me mentioning them is still inapropriate. But let me tell you my experience of owning dCS gear.

I travelled to their factory last year for a tour and bought - factory direct - their lowest price SACD player/DAC. It had been completely refurbished like new. They had recently changed the transport to a different manufacturers model (TEAC) because the original one had been discontinued by Philips. This was to ensure that they could provide customers with spare parts in the future. TEAC have stated that they want to be the "last man standing" in the disc transport manufacturing world. So this is a good thing for dCS' customers.

I also notice that you're in England (as am I), this would make it easier for any future repairs to be carried out. It's certainly something I found reassuring when I bought my dCS player. No more posting expensive audio equipment back to Switzerland for me!

dCS' customer relations and all their dealings with me have been first class. I can phone/email the company and speak to their Export Sales Manger whenever I need to, their trade-in upgrade scheme is excellent too.

Their products can also be upgraded by simple software upgrades on a CD. They are about as future-proof as you can get.

If you must buy a high-priced player dCS offer much more for the customer than many others.

BTW I don't have anything to do with dCS other than being a happy owner who's been very pleased with their products and customer service.

{Moderator's comment: In our view, that quality of service gives lasting memories far more vivid than mere audio quality perceptions ....}

micron
16-02-2012, 04:02 PM
This is kind of funny :)

I have another example taken from here: "made in heaven".

The "blow away" seems to be unorthodox expression for more orthodox, catholic ...etc expression "made in heaven"?

Cheers

Andy
16-02-2012, 05:02 PM
dCS Ltd. based in Cambridgshire UK certainly make very expensive CD players/DACs. Certainly way more expensive than the SHL5. So maybe me mentioning them is still inapropriate.

Sounds like they do offer a fantastic service, and obviously the fact it's future proof is a very good thing. Just one question though... Is this Puccini model, with a retail of about $18,000?

thurston
16-02-2012, 05:22 PM
It would have been a downright scandal if a manufacturer of such a luxurious area would act any different.

GregD
16-02-2012, 06:42 PM
Sounds like they do offer a fantastic service, and obviously the fact it's future proof is a very good thing. Just one question though... Is this Puccini model, with a retail of about $18,000?

No. It's the original one-box player, the dCS P8i which retailed at £6500 in the UK. The one I bought is called a P8i MkII because they've changed the transport and upgraded the software as much as possible to bring it in line with their current range. Overall it's a 70% rebuild and is a very different machine internally from the original player. dCS occasionally has these MkII models available as they are converted traded-in P8i MkI players. They are effectively a brand new dCS SACD player/DAC with warranty for around £3500. I think it's a superb player.

GregD
16-02-2012, 06:51 PM
It would have been a downright scandal if a manufacturer of such a luxurious area would act any different.

...And yet many do. There's no point going around getting all irate about the way things should be, you need to be realistic and find the best options in the real world. The world of high-end audio is full of expensive gear that has terrible reliability and poor after-sales service. I champion dCS (and Harbeth for that matter) because they offer a proper way to treat the customer and don't leave you dangling with a lemon after the warranty has run out. And they're Made in England which appeals to me too.

EricW
16-02-2012, 08:34 PM
Comments like 'blown away' are not meant to be taken seriously or literally.



Sure, it's a form of hyperbole. Imagine if a review accurately reflected a reviewer's perceptions: "We found that New Player A, while not essentially different in sound from every other player we have reviewed in the past several years, was perhaps just slightly smoother in its reproduction of high frequencies than other players of a similar price point we have reviewed recently. And it looks nice too."

Wouldn't make you rush out and buy, would it? Also, perhaps more importantly from the magazine's perspective, it might make you wonder if reading reviews was really all that important an activity.

The problem is that some people see the hyperbole for what it is, while others do actually take it seriously. For myself, I think there probably are differences between CD players, but above a certain base level of quality, I just don't think the differences are hugely significant in a musical sense. Others may feel differently, and can vote with their wallets accordingly.

Maccar
16-02-2012, 09:58 PM
OK I've read Alan's post about the real story of owning expensive electronics and have this advice for Mac.

dCS Ltd. based in Cambridgshire UK certainly make very expensive CD players/DACs. Certainly way more expensive than the SHL5. So maybe me mentioning them is still inappropriate. But let me tell you my experience of owning dCS gear.

I travelled to their factory last year for a tour and bought - factory direct - their lowest price SACD player/DAC. It had been completely refurbished like new. They had recently changed the transport to a different manufacturers model (TEAC) because the original one had been discontinued by Philips. This was to ensure that they could provide customers with spare parts in the future. TEAC have stated that they want to be the "last man standing" in the disc transport manufacturing world. So this is a good thing for dCS' customers......

{Moderator's comment: In our view, that quality of service gives lasting memories far more vivid than mere audio quality perceptions ....}

Just two questions please Greg, which machine did you buy and how does it sound? I have had and heard various CDP's from Denon being the cheapest, Marantz, Arcam, Naim, Sugden, Krell and Wadia... and the Denon was truly awful. Krell and Wadia the most expensive, both machines built like tanks and definitely superior SQ than Sugden, but were they better than Naim, Marantz or Arcam, hand on heart, I really couldn't say.

Of course we all want something reliable, but this doesn't have to be at the cost of putting up with an inferior sounding player. Being visually impaired, for me looks do not matter particularly, but I do want something with great build quality as well as great Sound Quality and if it's affordable, I don't mind paying for it.

A.S.
16-02-2012, 10:11 PM
Sorry to interrupt and bring our feet firmly back to planet earth .... I've said this before and I'll keep on saying it because it is the uncomfortable truth ....

If you do not take precautions to equalise the loudness of two pieces of audio equipment (which will require some simple measuring equipment) any opinions you reach about the sound quality of A v B, C, D or E are neither worth the paper they are written on nor the oxygen of publicity. They are completely worthless as scientific observations. They are emotional expressions that nobody should pay any attention to masquerading as solid facts. But they are completely useless as facts because they fall at the first hurdle of all rational observation: they did not remove the observer from the observation. They are in the same class of opinion that allows the heart-strings to be tugged by a pretty girl (or boy): delicious personal sentimentality but not a rational observation that other human should take seriously.

I just know that I'll be saying this in five, ten, twenty years. It's a sad observation of the ludicrous self-belief in the human senses that must make the job of judge and jury getting to the truth near impossible.

You may have to turn down the volume of B, C and G equipment to match the loudness of A; conversely you may have to turn-up D, E and F, but H is already a close match. But you cannot comment in a meaningful way about equipment A - H unless you equalise level. There are no standards. Manufacturers manipulate the output level range to give their equipment a certain sound, but re-set the loudness and guess what? The sonic differences diminish to almost nothing or actually nothing. It's a mugs game and if you don't take the steps I've mentioned you are a marketeers plaything.

I have to conclude that audiophiles, as a group, are either staggeringly naive about how the business of high-end audio actually ticks or they are quite happy to swim along with the marketing game in which they are submerged. Do we have to start a thread 'How do marketing people control us in audio?'? Obviously I am a marketing person: I know exactly how this game works.

It is so easy to prove that managing loudness is by far the most important - yet completely ignored - aspect of comparative listening that it depresses me to mention it again.

MarkNC
16-02-2012, 10:27 PM
It's expensive, but my Rega Saturn is fantastic- the most listenable player I've had. VERY organic and "analog" sounding, but also with high resolution (sort of like Harbeths...)

EricW
17-02-2012, 01:01 AM
Do we have to start a thread 'How do marketing people control us in audio?'? .



Well, yes, that would be extremely interesting, and certainly gets my vote.

"Know the truth, and the truth shall set you free."

I think some audiophiles forget that audio is, amongst other things, a business.

Spindrift
17-02-2012, 07:49 AM
In reply to A.S.'s request, here's my list of quality CD-players offering both excellent performance and good reliability. These players are made by experienced, honest companies with a good to great after-purchase support;

Two affordable players:
-NAD C565BEE (my personal favorite in this priceclass with an excellent DAC-section; very musical).
-Marantz CD6004 (same good Sanyo drive as the C565BEE, good component quality for the price, smooth sound)

Three higher priced but still relatively affordable players:
-Rega ApolloR
-Simaudio Moon 230D
-Exposure 1010 player
All three offer a solid performance, the Rega giving a lovely midrange & rhythmic propulsion, the Canadian Simaudio generally sounding surprisingly energetic & spacious and the Exposure being bold but addictive with rock.

Rega equipment is generally a good match for Harbeth speakers as both companies offer British built no-nonsense, musical stuff.

These five should offer a good number of years of reliable and enjoyable service.

thurston
17-02-2012, 08:10 AM
It is a little funny, if not tiring to see that posts that do not fit the usual highend-talk are being ignored, mostly.

There has just been some serious evidences (or more of a proof?) that the differences are minor if not non-existant, and the the next post is simply mentioning a player that sounds "analog" whatever that really is.

{Moderator's talk: Tiring? No it is exhausting to watch men walk towards the marketing machine guns day after day after day after day with the same predictable results .....}

<HAL>
17-02-2012, 08:52 AM
Done. Link here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/forumdisplay.php?69-How-business-works-marketing-and-the-audiophile)

hifi_dave
17-02-2012, 01:57 PM
It is a little funny, if not tiring to see that posts that do not fit the usual highend-talk are being ignored, mostly.


{Moderator's talk: Tiring? No it is exhausting to watch men walk towards the marketing machine guns day after day after day after day with the same predictable results .....}

You just can't help some people. If it isn't expensive, it can't be any good is the frame of mind of many hi-fi enthusiasts.

In the past I have stocked and sold many of the 'high-end' brands such as Levinson, Wadia, Krell, ARC, Proceed, Luxman and many others but these weren't the ones we, as stockists, would plug in when we wanted to enjoy our music.

Plenty of customers did want to pay the big money but for us, the Rega Saturn at £898 or a mid-price Naim gave us more music and satisfaction.

You need to use your ears not your eyes when choosing hi-fi equipment and that also applies to speakers. Apart from the wonderful M40.1, you couldn't accuse Harbeth of making high priced speakers. They are all very good value and capable of showing up many of the highly touted, very expensive high-end designs.

At the end of the day, it's the sound which counts not how much you've paid for it.

STHLS5
18-02-2012, 02:12 PM
Is there another way, where it is possible to " prove" that there is no difference between CD players? I have read many DBT showing that listeners couldn't tell any difference but while we blame audiophiles' ignorance and lack of inquiring mind to get behind the truth, what have we done to prove that no such difference ever exist?

How many members here would open their doors to prove that there's is no difference between a $600 and a $3000 CDP? What we have here is two camps. For both camps their objective is music. Not ordinary music but as close as live music. Instead, of probing into their mental deficiency by putting labels such as audiophilia, why not we establish a robust Double Blind Test that for anyone who cares can use that as a reference.

Our concern is about some people who are spending more money than they can afford in their pursuit of their hobby. Those who can afford them, please continue buying the super expensive products that is befitting your social status. That would be like lecturing a man who owns several marques that a Camry is as good as his BMW 5 series. Well .....not quite but almost there.

I have said it many times that I couldn't tell any difference between the few players that I have done DBT. At the same time, what have I done to prove that I couldn't hear the difference. Does it matter to those who asserts that there exist difference in various CDP? They are also doing the same thing, i.e. just like me, they are stating their observation which seemed to be valid and supported by many. Their behaviour maybe called psychosis and they maybe calling us people with denial symptoms or those with wooden ears.

I propose to do an experiment in the hope it will be a good reference. I have a $600 Sony DVD/SACD player upgraded with XOclock and some mod to the output section that will be pitting against a Marantz SA11s2 . The list price was $3000 when I bought it. So how do you think I should proceed from here. Should I record the sound from both players and let you guys decide them.? I have a SPL meter for level matching, small condenser mic and a very quiet room.

Can we move on with some solid evidence?

ST

A.S.
18-02-2012, 06:02 PM
Is there another way, where it is possible to " prove" that there is no difference between CD players?....Now whilst this is laudable as a scientific experiment, let's just stop and think for a moment. Who do we actually want to prove a point to? And what would the potential consequences be?

First, we here are part of the industry and as loudspeakers are at the very end of the reproduction chain, we are highly dependent upon our colleagues right back to the microphones in the recording studio for the music we reproduce. You know as well as I do that the hard-bitten audiophile has his own reasons for believing what he does. We are not here to evangelise a round earth theory to flat earthers. CD, amplifier, cable, turntable manufactures have an equal right to exist as we do, and providing their unpaid audiophile missionaries can be kept on a tight leash and away from the sensible music-appreciating Harbeth users/owners, we wish them well.

Second, in my thread here I have touched on how this industry - indeed any consumer goods industry - thinks and operates. In a modern post-industrial society 'marketing' is absolutely crucial to identify and deliver products which none of us actually need but many of us have the disposable income to aspire to. Technical fact is far less important in this era that presentational beliefs. I have no problem with that, until those beliefs start feeding back (here) as facts, which they manifestly are not. So, if someone wants to believe that product A is audibly superior to product B - great! Let them. In fact, we should perhaps encourage them to have that belief because if A is more expensive than B (and surely, it must be if it sounds better?) more money is flowing from his bank into the supplier's bank. And that has to be a good thing in a static economy. So do we want to be seen as an impediment to the economic cycle, even the survival of audio dealers? Absolutely not. We stand for one principal alone: that of consumer purchase decisions based on informed facts.

To answer your question as to how one would construct such a test. I did this very thing myself twenty nine years ago when CD arrived.

There are thirteen initial steps to prepare for the critical subjective listening test. Shouldn't take more than about 30 mins.- faster when you are familiar with the process.

1. Burn two identical audio CDs with fixed stereo sinewave tones from, say, 40Hz to 18kHz (or better) at a nominal -10dB or so, pausing on each tone for ten or fifteen seconds or so, long enough for your audio range DVM* to stabilise. I suggest that you generate as a first calibration tone for about 30 seconds of 1kHz at the nominal -10dB level. We'll use this to normalise our measurement process.

2. Connect the DVM to the left channel phono output on your CD player. Connect the right channel to your amp and TURN DOWN THE VOLUME BEFORE YOU PRESS PLAY TO JUST ABOVE A WHISPER. This will allow you to hear the tones as they progress.

3. If the DVM has a dB, ac volt scale select that and perhaps the 2v or 4v range. Many CD players output about 2v rms (some much more) for a fully modulated 0dB disc.

4. Hopefully your DVM has a 'normalise' or 'ref' button. Get ready to press it.

5. With the volume turned down, press play on the CD player and the set-up 1kHz tone should be audible on the right speaker.

6. Observe DVM. It will jump to some millivolt reading - e.g. -12dB or any number

7. Press 'normalise' or 'ref' on the DVM. If the meter is a dB meter, it will now read (hopefully) 0.00dB.


Now we have calibrated our set-up we're ready to start collecting measurements of the CD player's frequency response aka how loud it is at each of our spot frequencies.


8. Move to the first tone, 40Hz or whatever you generated. Without disturbing the meter, write down the displayed number - let's say, -2.3dB

9. Move to the second tone; write the level down .... perhaps -2.0dB

10. You'll know that the calibration hasn't drifted when you reach the 1kHz tone and that should read 0.00dB.

11. Continue right up to the highest frequency. Stop the player.

12. Switch off the amplifier and only then swap-over the CD player's leads. The meter is then connected across the right channel and you are listening to the left speaker.

13. Repeat the entire process, recalibrating the meter with the initial 1kHz tone.

Think about the results.

* A cheap, supermarket DVM is not designed for accurate measurement of audio tones. It is designed for 50/60Hz single tone mains supply frequency only. You will need to spend perhaps $50 to buy a suitable quality AC meter for wide band audio and more for a first class dB meter.

STHLS5
19-02-2012, 09:11 AM
Thank you for the 13 steps guide. I must have been doing the test wrong all these years. I thought level matching means setting the volume of 1 kHz test tone fixed on different equipments under test. For some reasons, I have always been reluctant to buy speakers, amplifiers or CDP based on measurements under test tones. Even if a speaker measures exactly as a Harbeth under the test tones I doubt it will be identical sounding.

ST

{Moderator's comment: Hold on! The 13 steps are just the preparation! You have to check the frequency response across the audio band *before* you adjust level to anticipate frequency response differences in the listening test! Agree?}

A.S.
19-02-2012, 11:00 PM
Moving to the next step requires me to prepare some paperwork by way of example. It's an investment for me because the level-dependency issue (which we've talked about many times here) clearly is not obvious to the normal audio enthusiast. Hopefully, once and for all we can nail this.

Whether we are comparing loudspeakers, amplifiers, CD players, DACS, cables, microphones, pianos or any sound generating or recording equipment, if we do not account for differences in level (another way of saying perceived loudness) between these sources we will not be making a valid comparison of their inherent sonic qualities. We will most likely merely be making a comparison in our ear/brain of nothing more or less exciting than a difference in loudness, not latent quality. This is an extremely fundamental issue.

The ear's perception of sound is extremely closely linked to its loudness.

Please wait a few days for me to prepare this. Thanks.

GregD
20-02-2012, 01:38 AM
Whether we are comparing loudspeakers, amplifiers, CD players, DACS, cables, microphones, pianos or any sound generating or recording equipment, if we do not account for differences in level (another way of saying perceived loudness) between these sources we will not be making a valid comparison of their inherent sonic qualities. We will most likely merely be making a comparison in our ear/brain of nothing more or less exciting than a difference in loudness, not latent quality. This is an extremely fundamental issue.

The ear's perception of sound is extremely closely linked to its loudness.

That makes sense - as a survival mechanism it's better to know that a predator is nearer (louder) rather than to precisely define which predator it is!

STHLS5
20-02-2012, 07:02 AM
I am following you but my SANWA DVM got no frequency measurement. Will get onewith Hz reading. This is more complicated than I thought and it explain why many dread to even attempt these things.

ST

{Moderator's comment: No you do not need a frequency display. As Alan said, you only need to generate known frequencies in a logical stepped sequence. With one channel driving the speakers as a monitor of which tone you are outputting, you just count the tones. Maybe we should author the test cd as as .iso image that you can burn, announcing each tone.}

A.S.
20-02-2012, 08:50 AM
Now if I thought you need a frequency meter built into your DVM I would have said so wouldn't I!!!!

There is one potential and quite problematic issue in trying to combine frequency measurements (which are NOT necessary if you make the test CD in a logical way) and then try and take a voltage (dB) measurement on the same instrument. Depending on the instrument's design, it may not be able to alternate between frequency and volts without a (hidden) internal reset. And if you read my thirteen step guide to setting-up, the essence of my process was to first establish a reference (1kHz tone) and use that to normalise the dB (voltage) readings, so that all subsequent readings are relative to that. Switching from volts to frequency may/will cancel the Reference, making it very difficult to make quick, easy, reliable dB measurements.

I can see now that it will be far simpler and less ambiguous, and ultimately need less ongoing input from me, if I spend some time (invest some time, actually) in showing you exactly what to do; then you can copy me. But that needs a few days prep. here so please be patient. I'll move the whole thing into a TechTalk item.

In the meantime, about the selection of the cheapest, simplest Digital Volt Meter that will do the job. Let me see what the catalogue offers .... inexpensive, mid-price and ideal meters

>

P.S. Now I've done some desk research finding these three examples, I cannot expect you to invest much in a fancy meter of the type we use. So I need to re-think the approach. I think I'll buy a cheap meter and actually test it's usability.

STHLS5
22-02-2012, 10:25 AM
While waiting for the guide, I continued with AB comparison. After two days listening between the two players, I switched over to a less than $100 DVD player and I immediately sensed the sound is not as good as the other two players. I cannot describe but there is some difference. The bass or the timing of the bass and in the separation between the instruments are among the things I can sense the difference. I have Interchanged the loudness level between both players so that one is louder than the other but the preference wasn't influenced by the loudness.

Since I am able to hear the difference between these players and knew where the difference is apparent. I look for the same difference between the previously same sounding players, i.e. the $600 vs $3000. Now, I do sense some difference. Not obvious but subtle.

Meanwhile, the Marantz comes with 3 different digital filters that engages different pre and post echo and cutting the higher frequencies at different point. I do not really know what they do since the filter starts above the frequencies of my hearing range but you can hear a very subtle difference between these settings. Could the digital filter be the cause for difference in sound between difference player? As far as I know all three players' FR is ruler flat so theoretically they shouldn't be any difference.

I am just stating what I observed.

ST

A.S.
22-02-2012, 11:48 AM
Did you check the frequency response of the players to a test CD?

You suggest that you are aware of the loudness difference between the CD players playing the same CD, one outputs a higher voltage than the other, hence sound louder. How did you turn down the louder one's volume so that it played at exactly the same loudness as the quieter one?

STHLS5
22-02-2012, 01:03 PM
Did you check the frequency response of the players to a test CD?

You suggest that you are aware of the loudness difference between the CD players playing the same CD, one outputs a higher voltage than the other, hence sound louder. How did you turn down the louder one's volume so that it played at exactly the same loudness as the quieter one?

One player's output is 2Vrms and another one is 2.3Vrms. I tested the loudness by playing 1 kHz test tone (Denon Test CD) and set the level to 75dB at listening position. But what I did was I actually played the one I preferred less louder to see if it influence my preference. For now, I am not going to be a judge of which one sounds better between those two players.

STHLS5
22-02-2012, 02:38 PM
I just observed a very faint crosstalk between different inputs. Previously, what I do was to connect the CD Players to input 1 and 2. Playing two identical CD simultaneously, I would change input 1 and 2 by turning the selector to compare the sound.

But since the sound is leaking to other inputs I tried with my other preamp and did notice it too leaks the sound to other inputs. I checked with my friend and he says his preamp too leaks to other inputs. It is a very very faint leakage which may or may not influence the AB test. It is a factor that need to be addressed.

ST

A.S.
22-02-2012, 03:01 PM
One player output is 2Vrms and another one is 2.3Vrms....A simple calculation then.

What we are saying is that the louder CD player is a number of decibels (dBs) louder than the quieter one. How significant is 2.3v output compared with 2.0v? Audiology and psychoacoustics works in decibels not volts so we need to convert from volts to dBs.

We can calculate that decibel difference. First, dBs are simply a shorthand way of comparing A with B. Or C with D. Or X with K. dBs are a compariative measurement. Unlike kgs and seconds and amperes dBs do not exist as single entities: there must be a pair of things to make a comparison. dBs is nothing more than a nice neat way of expressing a ratio, one number divided by another number.

So, using the inbuilt Windows calculator set to (view) scientific mode, we enter the following ....

a) 2.3 divided by 2.0

b) The answer is 1.15

c) Then we press the Log button; the display says 0.060697.... (don't need to know why)

d) Then we press (*) times then type 20 then = (don't need to know why)

e) The result is that 2.3v relative to 2.0v is a gain of 1.21dB

Agree?

We know from audiology text books and/or personal experience that a loudness difference of about 1.0dB is just enough for the careful listener to detect a very small difference in loudness, which the human brain will interpret as a difference in sound quality (specifically, sound spectrum). In the same way we can say that, if a tweeter unit is about 1dB louder than another nominally identical unit off the same production line, it might just sound a shade brighter to the trained, careful listener.

So yes, I don't doubt that as a careful dedicated listener you will experience a sonic difference between these players simply due to a difference in their output voltage. Let me guess: the louder one is the more expensive one? If I was designing a CD player that the marketing dept. wanted to sound 'full bodied and involving' under uncalibrated listening tests as you have described, I would make it play significantly lounder than a competitor unit .... not 2.3v rms but perhaps 3v, 3.5dB louder than the 2v player. That would give an obvious difference (in perceived sonic character) to even the most casual, dissinterested cloth-eared listener.

STHLS5
22-02-2012, 03:24 PM
So yes, I don't doubt that as a careful dedicated listener you will experience a difference between these player simply due to a difference in their output voltage. Let me guess: the louder one is the more expensive one?

In terms of loudness, I say it was almost impossible to tell which louder if I listen with two players connected and playing simultaneously. Yes, the expensive one was with much higher output. But I have seen players that is priced 20 thousand dollars to have only about 200mVrms.

Anyway, I intentionally increased the level of the other player to be atleast 2 or 3 dB but still found the difference. Maybe, my judgment is clouded due to the bad third player.

ST

{Moderator's time: Frankly, you are chasing your own tail. Unless you equalise loudness precisely any concusions you draw are (sorry to say) scientifically meaningless. Can you find two 10k ohm presets or volume controls in your kit of parts?}

STHLS5
23-02-2012, 06:26 AM
{Moderator's time: Frankly, you are chasing your own tail. Unless you equalise loudness precisely any concusions you draw are (sorry to say) scientifically meaningless. Can you find two 10k ohm presets or volume controls in your kit of parts?}

I do not have them. Before that, in lieu of an instantaneous change over-box to do comparison between two players, will the use of preamp selectors be accepted as a valid test. The crosstalk, i.e. sound bleeding to the adjacent input, may give the average sound of two players at any one time and therefore it may not be a valid comparison.

100s over posts on various CD Players but in this thread no one else contributing. Sad.

ST

A.S.
23-02-2012, 08:58 AM
How can you be sure that the two amplifier inputs that you are using to switch between player A and B have the same sensitivity? Unless this is checked (by measurement) it is another unquantified variable.

As per my Rule 12 of Marketing here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?1546-A-global-industry-operating-as-any-industry-does&p=17773#post17773) you have observed that very point: there isn't the intellectual curiosity about eliminating variables (such as loudness variation) before making valid comparisons between audio equipment. It doesn't matter how curious you, I or certain journalists are about the science behind audio, the public is disinterested in objectivity. And as long as that condition continues (which will be forever) the marketing of feelings will subordinate scientific facts. Just as well! Our modern economy depends upon selling and consuming expensive hair and skin conditioning products providing significant employment. Keep the cash register bell tinkling!

If you have the laudable aspiration of education on the matter of CD player performance, forget it. The inertia you are trying to overcome is immense. But internally, we are considering if/how we should allow contributions here which promote brands of amplifiers, cables, DACs and the all the rest based on nothing other than emotions. Are we here a shop window for products that we do not make, would never buy, know nothing about factually ourselves and obviously cannot endorse from a position of personal experience? We think we have a responsibility to our customers to provide total satisfaction with their audio system.

What we really want you to do is visit your hi-fi dealer. He (or she) is in business to provide long term customer satisfaction. They want you to make the right purchases using your own ears and then to tell your friends. They are significantly imperveous to marketing BS because they've seen it all and heard it all before. As an example, our member here, hifi_dave, knows more about audio equipment (and peoples needs) than I'll learn in five lifetimes. That's where you should head for knowledge.

EricW
24-02-2012, 01:28 AM
... internally, we are considering if/how we should allow contributions here which promote brands of amplifiers, cables, DACs and the all the rest based on nothing other than emotions. Are we here a shop window for products that we do not make, would never buy, know nothing about factually ourselves and obviously cannot endorse from a position of personal experience?

I'm sure this creates an interesting set of dilemmas. On the one hand, there's clearly some logic to keeping the public discussion focused on matters you (1) know something about, (2) can speak about authoritatively, and (3) think are important (in the sense of making a real difference to the quality of reproduced music in the home).

On the other hand, if I'm at all representative, then I would say by allowing discussion regarding things you believe are either of minor importance, no importance, or outright superstition and voodoo, and then pointing this out and explaining why, you serve a tremendous educational role. I am not a scientist but I like to believe I have a certain amount of scientific literacy; all the same, thanks to years of exposure to audiophile culture, I think I came to HUG with a mix of about 50% knowledge and 50% superstition. I don't know what I'd put the ratio at now, but I feel it's moved in a positive direction.

Now, Harbeth may or may not be interested in making inroads against the vast oceans of ignorance and/or indifference that exist. It's not for me to say. You are a commercial enterprise and perfectly entitled to decide what best serves your commercial interests and where best to devote your time and energy. But I just feel that if you've reached me, you can reach others, and if you restrict the discussion, you'll inevitably end up reaching fewer people, because the end result is that you'll be talking to a group whose beliefs are more likely to be aligned with your own.

Maybe what the world needs is something like a clear, easy to understand "Harbeth manifesto" that explains in plain language why speakers really are the most important components in a home audio system, and the most important thing to get right?

HUG-1
24-02-2012, 08:56 AM
... then I would say by allowing discussion regarding things you believe are either of minor importance, no importance, or outright superstition and voodoo, and then pointing this out and explaining why, you serve a tremendous educational role....It would be far better if this important but time consuming educational role was shared amongst the membership and not mainly from Harbeth UKs side of the desk. Solving most audio issues need nothing more than a willingness to think out of the box.

STHLS5
24-02-2012, 10:19 AM
I too share EricW's view but after three days of trying to come up with more ideas on how to move forward with a proper AB comparisons of the Cd players, I have to admit that I have taken Alan for granted for the sacrifice in terms of time that he invest in this forum. The time he took the get a correct Video Presentation to drive his point or to pen his thoughts. Drawing charts and making videos to put across his ideas must have taken so much of his time that the least we could do is to contribute a little feedback.

OTOH, I doubt the audiophiles will ever take part in any discussion that would subject them being proven wrong nor would they admit their prized possession is not what it seems. For many their hobby is the second wife and no sensible man would ever want to put her to public scrutiny.

ST

Kumar Kane
24-02-2012, 01:02 PM
Maybe what the world needs is something like a clear, easy to understand "Harbeth manifesto" that explains in plain language why speakers really are the most important components in a home audio system, and the most important thing to get right?
Don't forget speaker placement in the room, and room acoustics. It isn't easy to get these to ideal at home where most of us don't have dedicated listening rooms, but time/effort/money spent to get this as close to ideal as practical, gives the most returns. A glass or two of wine also does wonders.

EricW
24-02-2012, 03:24 PM
It would be far better if this important but time consuming educational role was shared amongst the membership and not mainly from Harbeth UKs side of the desk.

I realize this would ease the burden but I think it's unlikely.

One of the requirements to get people to listen to what you're saying is to speak with authority. Harbeth speaks with tremendous authority, because the basic validity of the ideas that Alan delivers here is demonstrated daily by his ability to create the excellent loudspeakers he creates, presumably on principles consistent with the views expressed in this forum. So when he speaks, he is taken seriously.

On the other hand, who are the rest of us? Names on a board, that's all. There's no particular reason to listen to anyone in particular. Some may speak with expertise, some may not, and how is the reader to know? And few if any will speak with the expertise and authority of those at Harbeth.

STHLS5
24-02-2012, 04:25 PM
On the other hand, who are the rest of us? Names on a board, that's all. There's no particular reason to listen to anyone in particular. .

If you really believe in what you are saying then you wouldn't have 475 posts to your name!!

ST

EricW
24-02-2012, 04:53 PM
If you really believe in what you are saying then you wouldn't have 475 posts to your name!!

ST

Incorrect. I speak, but I don't profess any special authority when it comes to audio matters.

A.S.
24-02-2012, 08:08 PM
Don't forget speaker placement in the room, and room acoustics...For me, the most disappointing aspect of all of this by far is the intellectual laziness of accepting the words and images spouted by an unknown, invisible third party as a rallying cry to go out and spend hard earned cash on a product that when examined technically in the cold, white light of a laboratory, simply isn't value for money: as we say, 'it's mutton dressed as lamb'.

We all know that loudspeakers are wretched devices incapable of delivering an accurate output and as you would expect, there are not only obvious measurable differences between all loudspeakers but there are (surprise, surprise) obvious sonic differences too. In fact, it is a reflection of how poor - repeat poor - an instrument the human ear is that we can gain any 'being there' satisfaction at all. Strictly speaking, considering how a normal room completely trashes the laboratory measurements of a speaker system - evidence here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?338-Photos-of-your-beloved-Harbeth-Speakers-amp-Setup&p=17771#post17771) - we should not be able to recognise musical instruments from the mess at all - let alone rave about the wonderful experience.

So, relative to the +/- 10 or 20dB corruption of the perhaps +/-0.1dB response perfection of even the cheapest supermarket CD player, I just cannot understand how the human ear can be more sensitive than test equipment when assessing cables (which test equipment struggles to differentiate significantly) and yet less sensitive than the cheapest microphone to variation of frequency response in-room. These two situations simply cannot logically happen. Either we are capable of hearing through chronic corruption of frequency response to the point that a plastic transistor radio can sound perfectly OK even on classical music or we are deluding ourselves about hearing +/-0.00001dB differences elsewhere in the reproduction chain. We cannot have our cake and eat it can we.

What I would really like to see is a universal acceptance that the ear is exceedingly easily deceived. Spectacularly so. Following from that a greater awareness and scepticism of how we must guard against being misled by others well-intentioned advice. Does anybody here actually have difficulty with my statement above ....


What I would really like to see is a universal acceptance that the ear is exceedingly easily deceived ...?

Every day I see my work as a speaker designer in hindsight, viewed from 50 years in the future when I and the industry are long forgotten relics. I wish I had access to tomorrow's technology this minute. I cannot rave about today's because I know all too well, that seen from the future, my grandchildren will find it as quaint and redundant as the steam engine. I continue to do my very, very best working extremely long hours to push the boundaries of the technology I have but I cannot bring myself to make outlandish marketing claims about it because I just know that it will be superseded by events. Evidence: just flick back through my collection of HiFi News magazines from the 50's and 60s: marketeers told us then that the ultimate sound had been achieved. All BS.

Why can't the consumer smell marketing BS? If it smells like BS and it looks like BS, and common sense says it talks like BS - guess what? - it probably is BS.

darkmatter
25-02-2012, 10:21 AM
Hi all,

Had my Supers for a few months now and absolutely delighted with them.

My next mission is to find the best disc spinner to compliment these wonderful speakers.
I've tried Krell Evo 505 and Esoteric DV60, but not for me. I've also tried a Wadia 381 which was very impressive, but a little out of my budget at the moment.

I've now been offered an Audio Research CD5 at a very good price... If any of you have experience with these players, or just have an opinion which player would work best, all comments would be most welcome.

For reference my current set up is Sugden Masterclass IA-4 amp, Naim CDX2 CDP, Siltech Paris i.c and of course the SHL5.
Cheers
Mac

How did you get on?

My answer to posts like this elswehere would be to find a Harbeth dealer who can set up a system that matches yours sans the CD player and listen to machines within the specified budget; or find a dealer prepared to lend out a player on demonstration.

As I always advise the one that you like the best go for, yes you can read reviews etc but as I said if you like one model best for you it is the one You like best.

There are some very good players at that price point.

Simon

STHLS5
25-02-2012, 11:33 AM
Incorrect. I speak, but I don't profess any special authority when it comes to audio matters.

Yes, that's what I am asking others to do. Let's speak. Let's give some feedback. I am not an expert in speakers but that shouldn't refrain me from expressing my opinion about Harbeth. The same applies to CDP or Amps or Cables. If we have made a recommendation for a particular brand then we need to justify them. No one likes to talk to the wall. If at all there is a survey or some topics, especially by the forum owner then the least we could do is to participate and restate our opinion which we have no qualm in doing in other threads.

Anyway, since I have made an about-turn about the audible difference of the CD players, my search for actual measurements yielded some results. These are measurements made by professionals who provide test equipments to broadcasters and other establishments which are available on the net .

Attached herewith the images of the measurements of CDPs. From the charts you can see the frequency response is almost ruler flat except for the extreme end of the audible frequency range. I admit that it is impossible for me to claim I could hear any difference of 0.5dB.

However, the other charts of phase difference show significant difference between players. The high end models generally showed a lesser swing. Having said that, I am aware the SHL5 phase curve is within 36 degrees (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/uk/uploadfolder/shl5z.png) whether the phase difference account for difference in CDP audibility is not known.

After many months, I have the whole night for myself to continue with my AB tests. Hopefully, I can eliminate the reason for the difference tonight. Hopefully, the sensitivity of the different inputs are the same. At least, that's what the preAmp designer said.

1870
1871
1872


ST

HUG-1
25-02-2012, 06:49 PM
...The high end models generally showed a lesser swing. Having said that, I am aware the SHL5 phase curve is within 36 degrees (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/uk/uploadfolder/shl5z.png) whether the phase difference account for difference in CDP audibility is not known....Excellent detective work. Well done.

One mistake though: the SHL5 phase curve is as annotated ELECTRICAL phase. Not acoustic phase. It represents what the amplifier sees as an electrical load. This has no correlation at all with acoustic phase. Much research work over many decades shows that the ear is almost completely insensitive to phase.

STHLS5
26-02-2012, 11:35 AM
One mistake though: the SHL5 phase curve is as annotated ELECTRICAL phase. Not acoustic phase. It represents what the amplifier sees as an electrical load. This has no correlation at all with acoustic phase. ....

I am not sure why they call it phase difference. According to the manual it is the difference in timing between left and right channel. There seems to be some delay between the left and right channel at higher frequencies.

ST

{Moderator's comment: inter-channel-phase difference perhaps? That is probably related to the way I think CD works. First one channel then another are laid down sequentially on the disk. The actual *acoustic* phase shift from lowest to highest frequencies for a good speaker could easily be 360 degrees. That means the HF is perhaps one cycle behind the LF. The ear can't detect that at all.}

alandrum
26-02-2012, 09:06 PM
I'm a newcomer to this forum - so please forgive me if I haven't quite got the hang of it - but have owned a pair of M30's for over 3 years now and continue to be very satisfied with them.

I decided to go the computer audio route about 5 or 6 years ago and have spent a fair bit of time trying out various options, to get the best sound I can, with limited funds. I currently use a new model Mac mini with 8 gigs of ram and run Amarra 3; as opposed to just using itunes as the player. I must add though that it is far from being a quick fix as I have spent a lot of time researching this area and, of course, there are as many pitfalls as any other playback method.

However, the main benefits I have found are that, through trial and error, I have managed to get a very musically satisfying performance out of my system for a fraction of the cost of an equivalent sounding Hi-end CD player. I have just upgraded my Bel Canto Dac3 to Virtual Battery status and have also upgraded the board so that it is now the equivalent of the new VB3.5 model, in sound if not the most up to date facilities. This upgrade has made a significant difference to the quality of the sound I get from the M30s, which is no surprise as they are so revealing of any changes made to the system; both good and bad.

The other main benefit of going the computer audio route is the ability to be able to download and play Hi Resolution audio files and although there are some so- called Hi-Res music files that aren't - as Hi-Fi News have done such a good job highlighting recently - some are undoubtedly excellent and take the reproduction of recorded music to another level of enjoyment.

Notice I don't say realism because I believe that all music reproduced in a domestic environment is a scaled down representation, but it is the differences in the quality of the reproduction of a particular musical performance that I'm interested in, which is why I enjoy the Harbeth's so much as they make listening to recorded music such an emotionally satisfying and pleasurable activity.

davidlovel
26-02-2012, 10:28 PM
Welcome to the forum alandrum!

I'm heading in the same direction with similar equipment (SHL5s driven by a Bel Canto DAC3 with VBS upgraded to VB3.5 level) but have not committed (yet) to a Mac Mini. My son has been using one as a music server for years, but I'm not keen on having a 'headless' computer with a potentially noisy hard drive in the prime listening room.

I'm assured that it is easy to run a remote desktop elsewhere to do any housekeeping necessary on the Mac Mini, but I'd prefer a simple self-contained server-in-a-box system. Unfortunately most of the latter currently do not support hi-res music, or, if they do, appear overpriced compared to the Mac Mini option.

I'm sure this will be the prime way that recorded music will be accessed in the longterm so I'd encourage you to make more contributions to the forum so that we are aware of the pros and cons.
Happy listening.

STHLS5
28-02-2012, 01:00 PM
After 43 tracks over the last 4 days which were played randomly over the two players by a third person and I have to do an about- turn again and say I failed miserably with only 11 correct guesses. I generally picked what sounded to be correct to me to be from the expensive player.*

Mmmmm....since I was wrong the other 32 times that means the $600 player outperformed the $3000 player???!


ST

Kumar Kane
28-02-2012, 03:08 PM
I have spent years and money chasing down improvements in the CD player set up. From isolation platforms to tube buffers to running a digital line out from the CD player to an expensive and heavy separate DAC that was larger than the CD player.

I now have all my CDs transferred using lossless rips via iTunes to a commodity HDD, and from there I use a Sonos wireless solution to transfer the bit perfect music signals to my amplifier.

I still have a SACD player in my set up, but my C7s produce great music which sounds the same to me regardless of whether I play a CD in the player, or via Sonos. The sheer operating convenience of Sonos has resulted in all my CDs going into boxes, and the SACD player sitting idle.

I now believe that beyond a point pretty close to that obtained from even budget CD players of today, there is nothing to be gained by spending more on this part of the audio system.

thurston
28-02-2012, 03:43 PM
Your observations are an indication that differences may be very small or even inaudible.

It is no proof but should make one think about the results.

hifi_dave
28-02-2012, 05:04 PM
Often the way.

I believe it was on this thread - way back - that I said that I like the Rega Saturn and their new Apollo. I've heard and compared them both to some very expensive machines and preferred the Rega's.

There are some bargains out there and amongst them I count the Harbeth speakers.

MarkNC
29-02-2012, 12:28 AM
LOVE my Rega Saturn - wish I could afford a second one as a spare!

Maccar
01-03-2012, 05:57 PM
How did you get on?

My answer to posts like this elswehere would be to find a Harbeth dealer who can set up a system that matches yours sans the CD player and listen to machines within the specified budget; or find a dealer prepared to lend out a player on demonstration.

As I always advise the one that you like the best go for, yes you can read reviews etc but as I said if you like one model best for you it is the one You like best.

There are some very good players at that price point.

Simon

Hi Simon,
Still haven't made the change and probably won't until a little later in the year.
Thanks for all the comments... certainly stirred up a bit of a hornets nest!
All I can say is that I trust my ears and sure won't be buying something purely because it looks good... let's face it, if that were the case, I wouldn't have bought Harbeth, nice enough looking though they are, but there are better at that price point.
Cheers
Mac


{Moderator's comment: No, different, cheaper to make probably but definitely not 'better'. Classic elegance is timeless.}

thurston
02-03-2012, 08:52 AM
And a question of personal taste:

I have become sort of a design-freak (with furniture by Eames, USM-Haller, Arne Jacobsen and so on) and have to say that a classic, well made speaker as a Harbeth looks better to me than anything else.

In fact: as I have a dedicated listening room (which untill now was only "useful") the Harbeths somehow forced me to trying to make the rest of the room as beautiful and cosy (looking) as they are.

keithwwk
02-03-2012, 01:33 PM
Nothing much I can contribute on the cdp side if I really need a cdp again any budget marantz is more than enough but when talk about the look of the speakers I love my Harbeth timeless classic look. Very "human" to me. It happened to match nicely in my hall. I not intended to do that but it just happened. Also the one and only M40.1 very nice looking too.

Audentity
05-03-2012, 09:14 PM
All I can say is that I trust my ears and sure won't be buying something purely because it looks good... let's face it, if that were the case, I wouldn't have bought Harbeth, nice enough looking though they are, but there are better at that price point.OK Maccar, I'm going to call you out on this one. Please provide some examples of "better looking speakers at that price point." Understanding of course that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

I think my eucalyptus C7s are some of the best looking speakers around regardless of price! And because of their classic looks they have a high WAF.

BAS-H
07-03-2012, 12:34 PM
I have spent years and money chasing down improvements in the CD player set up. From isolation platforms to tube buffers to running a digital line out from the CD player to an expensive and heavy separate DAC that was larger than the CD player.

I now have all my CDs transferred using lossless rips via iTunes to a commodity HDD, and from there I use a Sonos wireless solution to transfer the bit perfect music signals to my amplifier.

I still have a SACD player in my set up, but my C7s produce great music which sounds the same to me regardless of whether I play a CD in the player, or via Sonos. The sheer operating convenience of Sonos has resulted in all my CDs going into boxes, and the SACD player sitting idle.

I now believe that beyond a point pretty close to that obtained from even budget CD players of today, there is nothing to be gained by spending more on this part of the audio system.

+1. Kumar is right.

I sold my expensive player to buy a ticket to New Zealand. Came back broke and in need of a player. For really acceptable sound on an extreme budget, you can't go wrong with one of Sony's better CD Walkman's dating from the late nineties - one with a line-out jack. You get a lot of quality for your buck because there's no power supply involved (the obvious snag being you have to keep your rechargeables topped up).

errhoo
07-03-2012, 04:41 PM
I have spent years and money chasing down improvements in the CD player set up. From isolation platforms to tube buffers to running a digital line out from the CD player to an expensive and heavy separate DAC that was larger than the CD player.

I now have all my CDs transferred using lossless rips via iTunes to a commodity HDD, and from there I use a Sonos wireless solution to transfer the bit perfect music signals to my amplifier.

I still have a SACD player in my set up, but my C7s produce great music which sounds the same to me regardless of whether I play a CD in the player, or via Sonos. The sheer operating convenience of Sonos has resulted in all my CDs going into boxes, and the SACD player sitting idle.

I now believe that beyond a point pretty close to that obtained from even budget CD players of today, there is nothing to be gained by spending more on this part of the audio system.

Which SACD player do you use Kumar?

Kumar Kane
08-03-2012, 01:49 AM
Which SACD player do you use Kumar?

You mean, I don't use?!:-)

Its a Marantz KI Pearl Lite. Brilliant player, with the usual good Marantz build quality, but redundant now to a large extent. Since it takes digital inputs to its DAC, and my Sonos unit has digital outs that allow for the use of an external DAC, I have kept it in use for just its DAC, and so that I don't feel the hurt of it lying around idle. Even when I bypass it, and feed the Sonos analog output directly to the amplifier, the sound is pretty much the same via the C7s.

BAS-H
12-03-2012, 02:21 PM
I sold my expensive player to buy a ticket to New Zealand. Came back broke and in need of a player. For really acceptable sound on an extreme budget, you can't go wrong with one of Sony's better CD Walkman's dating from the late nineties - one with a line-out jack. You get a lot of quality for your buck because there's no power supply involved (the obvious snag being you have to keep your rechargeables topped up).


Please ignore my last post (#69)! I made a mistake. I connected up my DVD player (which also handles CDs). Both this player and my walkman cost ~ £30. The walkman's sound is thin, without body. The DVD player's sound is superior and obviously so. It seems digital output sources are different after all. Hope I didn't mislead anyone.

Maccar
02-05-2012, 02:43 PM
Well, I believe my search is nearly at an end.
Having tried heavyweights such as Wadia, Krell and Audio Research I'm currently demoing an Electrocompaniet EMC1UP and without doubt it's the best I've heard... goes superbly with the Sugden and Harbeth combo.
I will be trying the Masterclass CDP next week, but I will be amazed if it's any better than the EMC1UP.
Cheers
Mac

davidlovel
03-05-2012, 09:38 AM
In this price range I suggest that you also try to audition the PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport before making a final decision. Note that it can also play hi-res digital music as WAV files on a DVD.
I mentioned this in an earlier thread:
http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?722-what-CDP-are-you-using&p=7960#post7960
David

denjo
03-05-2012, 10:05 AM
As with Kumar Kane's post above, I feel that the future is with digital streaming. While CDPs will still be sold, the trend is towards digital media which, when properly executed, can sound as good as a CDP. You don't have the mechanical parts to worry about! You just need a good DAC (USB) or streamer.

darkmatter
03-05-2012, 11:44 PM
The PS Audio device certainly has a lot going for it, very versatile as well with the ability to play several kinds of files from WAV, FLAC and AIFF. I think it was reviewed in HFN/RR in August 09?

Dougal
28-05-2012, 10:45 PM
Well, I believe my search is nearly at an end. Having tried heavyweights such as Wadia, Krell and Audio Research I'm currently demoing an Electrocompaniet EMC1UP and without doubt it's the best I've heard... goes superbly with the Sugden and Harbeth combo.

I will be trying the Masterclass CDP next week, but I will be amazed if it's any better than the EMC1UP.
Cheers
Mac

Hi Maccar, how did you find the Sugden Masterclass? Did you hear the PDT-4 or the new PDT4 Fusion?

hifi_dave
29-05-2012, 10:28 AM
I'm not sure they still do the 'Masterclass' player as it's not on their price list.

I've done the Fusion against Rega Saturn dem and would suggest you get down to your nearest Rega dealer.

Maccar
03-06-2012, 08:33 PM
I'm not sure they still do the 'Masterclass' player as it's not on their price list. I've done the Fusion against Rega Saturn dem and would suggest you get down to your nearest Rega dealer.
Dave,
The Fusion is an interim player Sugden brought in before releasing the latest Masterclass model, the PDT-4F. I have heard both these players and the Fusion was poor and yes, the Saturn would knock spots off it.

The PDt4-F is an excellent player, but as I thought not quite a match for the EMC1UP. It just lacked the depth and richness, but sweet in detail and ordinarily a great match for the IA-4 amp and SHL5's.

garmtz
04-06-2012, 11:33 AM
The Electrompaniet EMC-1UP is most definitely one of the finest CD-players you can buy, very composed, sweet and 3D.

sriracha
20-07-2012, 02:56 AM
Maccar,

I do agree with you about how great the EMC1UP is. I have tried it and love it very much. It was my number one until I met the Symphonic Line "Vibrato" (which is less expensive compare to the EMC1UP). It is hard to explain how better it is. Just want to tell you it is worth to try it. The equivalent model with EMC1UP in term of price is the "Der CD" which is even more fabulous.

Maccar
23-07-2012, 10:14 PM
Maccar,

I do agree with you about how great the EMC1UP is. I have tried it and love it very much. It was my number one until I met the Symphonic Line "Vibrato" (which is less expensive compare to the EMC1UP). It is hard to explain how better it is. Just want to tell you it is worth to try it. The equivalent model with EMC1UP in term of price is the "Der CD" which is even more fabulous.

Hi,
I'm not familiar with that brand... do you know of any UK dealers. It's doubtful if I will change the EMC1UP until such time it breaks down, but would be interested to read more on a player that may best the Electrocompaniet.
Cheers
Mac

Vlado
25-07-2012, 12:02 AM
The Electrompaniet EMC-1UP is most definitely one of the finest CD-players you can buy, very composed, sweet and 3D.

True! I owned for the EMC-1up for 7 year, I replaced it with EMP-1/S.

sriracha
27-07-2012, 05:05 AM
Maccar,

I live in Thailand so I don't know exactly where the dealer in UK is. But as I look in Google you can try "www.acousticperfection.co.uk". For sure, the main dealer who you can talk to is in Germany, High-End Studios, "www.e-shop.highendstudios.de". Fortunately, the High-End Studios is also the Electrocompaniet's dealer so you can ask specific questions concerning this two brands. The shop's owner is Mr. Rolf Gemein. Hope this can help you.

Tarzan
27-07-2012, 09:15 AM
l use a TEAC PD-H600 and for the money sounds really, really good.

Roostheman
27-07-2012, 12:30 PM
I use a Parasound cd-player, CDP 1000 and a Parasound DAC 2000 Ultra, both excellent! I have used them since the 90's, and they still sound great, especially with my C 7's!

fotr-hl5
21-10-2012, 09:21 PM
Hi all,

Had my Supers for a few months now and absolutely delighted with them.

My next mission is to find the best disc spinner to compliment these wonderful speakers.
I've tried Krell Evo 505 and Esoteric DV60, but not for me. I've also tried a Wadia 381 which was very impressive, but a little out of my budget at the moment.

I've now been offered an Audio Research CD5 at a very good price... If any of you have experience with these players, or just have an opinion which player would work best, all comments would be most welcome.

For reference my current set up is Sugden Masterclass IA-4 amp, Naim CDX2 CDP, Siltech Paris i.c and of course the SHL5.
Cheers
Mac
To my opinion the best CD for SHL 5 is TURNTABLE!!
On the other hand, if you do not have LPs, than the best and the cheapest solution is PC+Synology disk server+Behringer ultramacht 2496 DAC. As "player" I use Foobar2000 and format flac or waw.

Pc you probably already have, Behringer is around 140€, Synology about 300€ (depends of model). The other , for some people the best solution is, Squeezbox touch and music on SD and power supply with bateries!! Try, youll be surprised!!

Yet, for me Kuzmas Turntable Stabi II with Stogi reference arm and Micro Benz open air is winning combination ( OK, Benz LP would be even better:))

dgolh
22-10-2012, 08:40 PM
I have been using an Audionet Art G2 for 2 years and since sooner this evening its additional PSU (EPS). They are keepers, just the way my SHL5 are too.

A.S.
25-10-2012, 12:52 AM
This is the place if you want 100 opinions. The fact is that the differences are far smaller than moving your speakers around by a few cms.. There just are not the levers and switches in electrronic design to make cast differences in sound. With mechanical systems (like speakers, cartridges) there are an infinite array of competing design variables. With electrionics, just a handful and reliability always forces the desgner into a technical corner. Imagine what the iPhone5 could be if it were not manadatory to make the thing superbly reliable in the hands of the average consumer ....

Go and listen at your dealers.

Simon
25-10-2012, 08:37 AM
This is the place if you want 100 opinions. The fact is that the differences are far smaller than moving your speakers around by a few cms.. [snip]

Goodness, this is so true. I'm auditioning a pair of P3ESRs at the moment. They arrived late a couple of evenings ago and I quickly set them up and put on a favourite piece of piano music and...disappointment! Boxy restricted sound lacking much in foundation. I tried a few other pieces that were better, but I retired to bed feeling rather deflated.

Yesterday evening, I recalled that the dealer had suggested taking care over symmetrical placement in the room. So I fiddled about a bit, put the CD on and this time heard music rather than loudspeakers. Fascinating!

{Moderator's comment: you must have serious room issue there: we've sold thousands upon thousands and never heard such a comment. Glad you solved it anyway.}

Simon
25-10-2012, 03:54 PM
{Moderator's comment: you must have serious room issue there: we've sold thousands upon thousands and never heard such a comment. Glad you solved it anyway.}

The room is a rectangular box (roughly 6x3x2.5 metres) stuffed with far too many books and CDs (and a bit of furniture). I also spent a fun few minutes with my young son looking for excited room modes with the organ toccata from Bach's BWV540 as pumping material.

The other issue may be that I'm used to Quad ESL-63s which are about as un-boxy as you can get. I'll be doing some more experiments with the P3s and then trying out the 30.1s.

A.S.
26-10-2012, 01:01 AM
The room is a rectangular box (roughly 6x3x2.5 metres) stuffed with far too many books and CDs (and a bit of furniture). I also spent a fun few minutes with my young son looking for excited room modes with the organ toccata from Bach's BWV540 as pumping material.

The other issue may be that I'm used to Quad ESL-63s which are about as un-boxy as you can get. I'll be doing some more experiments with the P3s and then trying out the 30.1s.I was going to ask you what speakers you were familair with as the root of this issue seemed to me, upon consideration, to be related entirely to that.

First, let's be logical about this. Regardless of the inherent coloration ability of your QUADs v. the P3s, if you literally take a few steps back from the speakers, what do you observe? The surface are of the QUADs must be perhaps 15-20 times greater than the shoebox sized P3s, the entry level Harbeths with its 4 ltrs.* of air in the cabinet. It must be so that these two totally different approaches to filling the room with sound (especialy in the bass) are going to have strengths and weaknesses and very different sonic signatures simply due to size/area and the fact that the QUADs are panel speakers radiating both in front of and behind the speakers, with zero output side-on, unlike the omnidirectional P3s (and indeed all box speakers).

I have listened to the panels and alternatively the P3ESRs pertched on top and agree that these are completely different presentations especially in the bass. I find the P3s bass to be far more extended, weighty and credible (within its power envelope) but would be the first to agree that if you adapt to a pure-panel speaker's curious bass, what the rest of the industry would present as a more truthful (box) bass could sound very different - until you reprogram yourself. Remember: there is no example in nature of dipole bass and therefore if dipole bass is your frame of reference you must expect a contrast with omnidirectional bass. All natural sound sources in nature generate omnidirectional low frequencies: I cannot think of an example of a dipole.

Did you audition before you bought and if you didn't, why did you pick what is by far the smallest Harbeth when your frame of reference is so very much physically bigger - one of the largest speakers in production. The logical choice on size grounds would (to my mind) have been the largest Harbeth, the M40.1.

* To put this into perspective, the LS3/5a and P3 both have internal volumes equivalent to about three standard size bottles of wine against which the driver presses to create bass, and unsurprisingly, very similar 'textbook' bass performance/extension. The M40.1 has more than ten times the internal volume.

Simon
26-10-2012, 10:13 AM
Dear Alan, thank-you for taking the time to respond.

I should say straight away that I haven’t yet bought the P3s; my dealer (Audio Republic of Leeds) has been kind enough to lend me a pair for home audition. One of the reasons for me replacing the ESL-63s is space; they are simply too large for my current house! So, my strategy is to listen to the Harbeth range from the smallest upwards until I am fully happy with the sound. The M30.1s are next on my list for a listen.

Secondly, I only felt disappointed with these speakers on the first evening, before I had repositioned them – and then only with one particular recording (track 1 of Angela Hewitt’s Well Tempered Clavier II). With the more careful positioning of the speakers, I found that the “boxiness” was no longer apparent; the sound was different from my ESL-63s, but certainly no longer unpleasant in any way.

By yesterday evening (my third listening session) I was sure that I was in the presence of loudspeaker genius! I was really struck by the sheer musicality of the speakers and by the persistence of the stereo image off axis. As others have said before, you can turn these speakers down low, sit anywhere in a room and still be absorbed in the music. So, yes, it very much seems as though a certain degree of habituation is in order for anyone in my position, coming from a very different loudspeaker type.