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Greg
04-07-2007, 06:28 AM
I'm going to buy new speaker cable. I left Naim for tubes so I no longer need the dreaded stiff, unwieldy Naca5.

Since my HL-P3 are bi-wireable, for best sound quality should I bi-wire (external or internal) or simply single-wire with good quality aftermarket jumpers?

Ned Mast
04-07-2007, 04:12 PM
I'm going to buy new speaker cable. I left Naim for tubes so I no longer need the dreaded stiff, unwieldy Naca5.

Since my HL-P3 are bi-wireable, for best sound quality should I bi-wire (external or internal) or simply single-wire with good quality aftermarket jumpers?

If you find even one electrical engineer who can explain to you why bi-wiring is a better approcah than single wiring, go ahead and try it (I haven't). Otherwise, save your money and single wire using the jumpers that came with the HL-P3. My view.

Greg
05-07-2007, 11:23 PM
If you find even one electrical engineer who can explain to you why bi-wiring is a better approcah than single wiring, go ahead and try it (I haven't). Otherwise, save your money and single wire using the jumpers that came with the HL-P3. My view.

I agree. I don't believe in bi-wiring. I believe Mr. Shaw himself also once admitted that bi-wiring of Harbeths was a concession to industry trend, nothing more. I forget where I read that now but it stuck in my mind.

HOWEVER, the bi-wiring terminals must now be dealt with. I probably should have been more specific in my original post. The stock brass jumpers are NOT the best thing sonically. So you are left with either bi-wiring (preferable an internal one lest you double your cabling cost) or aftermarket jumpers. IMO you still have one too many connections in there with jumpers (stock or aftermarket). I went ahead and ordered up some sensible cable with an internal biwire. Done deal.

If you think the stock jumpers are fine then so be it. But I recommend you compare them to some bare stranded wire between the terminals at the very least. I think you'll be surprised at how bad those brass plates really are. It's a no-brainer.

Ned Mast
06-07-2007, 12:21 AM
Greg,

After jumping in with my two cents about bi-wiring it occured to me that this category might actually be meant to direct questions to Alan, not the users in general. My apologies to Alan - and all - if this is the case. And thanks for the suggestion to replace the brass jumpers with wire, Greg - I'll try that.

Best, Ned

JoeH
07-07-2007, 04:44 PM
I have Model 30's. I am using Fulton Brown wire through a wall. The dealer who sold me the speakers suggested that replacing the jumper would improve the speaker. I had a 10' pair of Audioquest Midnight which my dealer redressed for bi-wiring. The improvement was pretty amazing for a pair of speakers I admired but the cable's stiffness was unworkable. The problem for me is getting a pair of cables which will go through my wall and then make a sharp right turn and be of reasonable cost and work with my Futterman OTL amp. My current choice is Audioquest Rocket but that is a $1500 solution.

Ned Mast
07-07-2007, 09:20 PM
I would be curious to hear from those trying different speaker cables and different jumpers, what methodology you use for determining differences in sound. Also, would you characterize these differences as frequency related? This could be done through private messages if not of general interest.

Ned

Greg
08-07-2007, 04:44 AM
I would be curious to hear from those trying different speaker cables and different jumpers, what methodology you use for determining differences in sound. Also, would you characterize these differences as frequency related? This could be done through private messages if not of general interest.

Ned

Interesting question but I don't think it's that simple, i.e., effect on frequency response. Personally I think the audiophile wire business is white collar crime, but personal experience in relatively inexpensive cable has shown that there are sonic differences to my ears. Note that I am a metallurgical engineer and natural skeptic so I guess that means you can trust my assessment.

I say it's not as simple as frequency response because I think there are certain things you can't measure, only hear. Or, we haven't quite found the right way of measuring it yet. The same holds true when the discussion turns to amplification and the effects of high global feedback versus zero global feedback, tubes vs. solid state, and so forth.

Back to cables, though. With cables, the choice of conductor material, geometry and dialetric all seem to come into play (then there's the quality and manner of termination, too). You can take two cables of identical geometry and conductor and use different dialetric and get a different sound. The Kimber PR and TC lines are an example that I've heard myself to sound different for this reason. The static inductance, resistance and capacitance play a major role, true, but I think there's more to it than that. As far as conductors, they also play a role IMO. For example, I will say that I've never liked silver plated copper as a conductor. It always sounds bright or "hi fi" to me, with a sharp enhancement to the leading edge of notes, like making guitar strings sound way too pronounced. Because the signal travels on the outside of the cable (at least the HF), having it pass through a coating layer of silver is not a good idea in my opinion.

Before I get too far I guess I'll leave it at that.

Ned Mast
08-07-2007, 05:04 PM
Thanks for your thoughtful response, Greg. My reason for asking is that I am finding that I generally don't hear differences between electronics and wire that others do, and wonder if methodology is the issue or simply the way I hear/listen. I would truly like to see more double blind tests conducted, but they are difficult to conduct properly. Leaving that aside, with speaker wire or jumpers, what I do is use one wire or set of jumpers with one speaker and a second with the other. Then I can set my Lavry DAC to mono and set my pre-amp to left or right channel and thus compare A with B. Does this make sense? I then generally start with a single instrument (the cello, since I play it) and then other single instruments with different frequency ranges and timbres - violin, voice, piano, etc., before moving on to larger groups of instruments. If I think I hear a difference with A, I always return to B to verify. Music is very complex, and we tend to hear it differently each time we listen anyway. Using this method I've not yet been able to distinguish differences betweeen the jumpers that came with my M40s and 10 gauge copper wire, but am still in the process of listening.

What you say about listening for the attack of an instrument is interesting, and something I'll listen for more carefully - especially with guitar and perhaps piano. For me, the main difficulty with objectve comparative listening is the complexity of music and also the fact that it evokes an emotional response. And, of course, that it occurs in time. With, photographs, for example, we can compare almost simultaneously. Again, I think what we hear and our emotional response to it is going to naturally differ each time we listen to a piece of music. For this reason, I wonder too if we shouldn't try to use music to which we don't have a strong emotional response; perhaps something contemporary, even atonal. (Might one conclude that because he dislikes an atonal piece of music more with A than with B that A is actually "better" than B??!!).

Best, Ned

Greg
08-07-2007, 08:49 PM
Ned,

A lot of these minutae depend on the listener and how much he or she wants to "major on the minors". I have a tendency to do that. Perhaps I'm obsessive (or a typical audiophile, lol). Seriously, the emotional part is the key. But getting it depends on the listener -- I'm most involved when I'm hearing all that's on the recording. This resolution is what generally leads people to spend good money on speakers and so forth. However, with that resolution often comes thin or incorrect tonality and an "edgy" or "shiny" quality to the sound (the leading edge enhancement?). I think many "audiophile" speakers (especially American ones) have this quality. This also bothers me, which is why I am currently switching from Naim to tubes.

Greg
08-07-2007, 09:21 PM
Ned,

Here's an interesting report on cables you might be interested in:

http://www.soundstage.com/pf02.htm

Interestingly, if you surf some online audio review websites like Soundstage and Positive Feedback, you'll notice how the cable game has exploded in the last several years. Back 5 -10 years ago cables being reviewed were inexpensive and the reviews were honest. Now it seems like cables are only good if they cost big money -- and the reviewers make it sound like they'll solve all your problems.

An audiophile friend of mine just emailed me about some Walmart cable he found that sounds better than the $1000 cable he was using. Walmart is a chain store. This Walmart cable is like $1 per foot.

Ned Mast
09-07-2007, 12:11 AM
Greg,

"Edgy" or "shiny" qualities I also find intolerable in speakers and fortunately are not a characteristic of current Harbeth speakers. Recordings are another matter. Unfortunately, for example, too many of the recordings produced by John McClure for Columbia (many of the Bernstein recordings) evince this quality, though perhaps ameliorated somewhat in remastering for CD.

Ned

Greg
09-07-2007, 01:21 AM
I just saw that you're from USA. Sorry about that -- of couse you know about Walmart. I was assuming you were from England for some reason.

A lot of audiophiles like that edgy or shiny quality. I grew tired of it. Everyone hears different, though. I found Naim to have that quality but many don't. Those who do often migrate to tubes (as I've just done).

Often it's the recordings that dictate the electronics as I'm discovering. Then cables come into play as "tone controls". I listen to a lot of rock so Naim, for its virtues, grew tiresome given the poor quality of most rock recordings ...

Ned Mast
09-07-2007, 02:49 AM
Greg,

Nope, not from England though many of my favorite writers are; Anthony Trollop for one, and many of the writers of the mysteries I love to read. And, of course, now my favorite speakers.

We have an on-line cable supplier here that has all manner of wire at reasonable prices (Blue Jeans Cable). I paid 79 cents a foot for my 10 gauge coppper speaker cable. They sell it in any length you require.

For me, it's quite the other way around. My electronics/system determine what recordings I listen to. Transparency - lack of coloration - is what I seek in electronics. If a recording sounds bad through that, I look for a better recording. I don't, by the way, listen to rock and so don't know what the general quality of recording is in that genre; almost exclusively classical and some jazz. (I have a wonderful London blue-back recording of Ted Heath with band recorded at Kingsway Hall - and now I'm giving my age away).

I think we're straying from the topic of Harbeth speakers now, so l'll just close by saying what I've said here before: getting Harbeth's in my system has greatly expanded the repertoire of recorded music I really enjoy. The late Romantic composers (Mahler, Bruckner, R. Strauss, etc.) really depend on subtle tone colors in effectively presenting their music. I never could truly appreciate this music until I got my first pair of Harbeths.

Ned

Hu
10-07-2007, 04:39 AM
I tried bi-wire my M30 with Analysis Plus Oval 9, and tried Audio Note Lexus jumpers with both of M30 and P3, nothing gave better sound than the stock brass, for me both of them gave quite strange sound and unnatural sound.

shseto
10-08-2007, 12:21 PM
I tried bi-wire my M30 with Analysis Plus Oval 9, and tried Audio Note Lexus jumpers with both of M30 and P3, nothing gave better sound than the stock brass, for me both of them gave quite strange sound and unnatural sound.


First I have to admit that i could not afford Harbeth C7 so I have to live iwth a pair of spendor Sp3/1p, i agree, best sound is with the stock brass. with different amp, even different spendors, different source, anythign other than the stock just make it sounds 'funny' 'not right' 'werid' .

I guess it could be due to the fact that the brass jumper being part of the cross over which is deisgned for. (my wild guess) so i will only tick with stock.

but there is an other things to consider, do u plug in the LF or the HF?

I like it direct in LF more. how about u guys?

Bill C
17-09-2007, 04:21 PM
Hello Alan,
When voicing the M30, I assume you used the brass jumpers supplied with the speakers. However, which set of speaker terminals did you connect the speaker cable to? The top or bottom pair? I've noticed a significant difference in sound between the two and was wondering which way the speakers were designed be used. Thank you very much.
-Bill

A.S.
17-09-2007, 06:45 PM
... which set of speaker terminals did you connect the speaker cable to? The top or bottom pair? ...Bill - During the entire design process I did not use any form of bi-wire arrangement at all - right up to the point of production, when for the user's convenience, the crossover was electrically isolated between bass and tweeter and connected to independent terminals on the rear panel.

If you can repeatedly and definitely hear a difference then I am at a loss as to understand why and it needs serious investigation. It can not - repeat can not - be due to 27mm of brass bi-wire link. Of that I am absolutely 100% certain.

Do bear in mind that when making A/B comparisons there must be no break in the sound you hear at all. Not even 1/10th of a second. If there is your brain will interpret the sound/no sound/sound as a change in frequency response. That's how our ears work.

Bill C
17-09-2007, 11:24 PM
Thank you Alan. There is definitly a difference in sound between using the upper and lower terminals. When I connect the speaker cables to the bottom pair of terminals, the sound is somewhat warm and laid back or non-fatiguing with very little "air" or high frequency energy. When connected to the top pair of terminals the sound is much more detailed with a great deal of high frequency energy and is a bit too bright and intense in my room. I tried removing the jumpers and used a short length of the same wire I use for the speaker cable (Regular 10g Belden Wire) to connect the upper and lower terminals. In this case the sound did not change between the top and bottom terminals, but retained that bright/intense sound on both. I have not tried bi-wiring. I can only conclude from this that the brass jumpers are influencing the sound of the higher frequencies. My room is small (10'X14') which is why I chose the M30's, thinking that the smaller speaker would be more suitable for my room. Thank you.

A.S.
18-09-2007, 12:04 AM
I firmly believe that you are convinced that you hear a difference, so, for all practical purposes, there is a difference.

But I can say, quite categorically, that providing the standard brass bi-wire links are clean and firmly trapped by the binding posts that there is no possibility whatsoever that driving the upper as opposed to lower terminals will make any difference to the sound - or the measurement for that matter. In the great scheme of things, considering the vastness of the universe and the dispersion of electrons through that unimaginable space, the last inch or so of brass can not and does not make a difference to the sound. Promise.

I appreciate that this seems contradictory to what you have, and truly believe to have found. My point is that I don't disagree that you perceive a difference, but that difference is not from the bi-wire links or the selection of terminals but from some other, probably more mundane matter. It would pay you to really seek that out by diligent experimentation as you could so easily waste time and money chasing other bi-wire or connection links 'solutions' which may well degrade not enhance your listening.

During the design phase of a speaker I have total disregard for the niceties of wire arrangements - the crossover is breadboarded, all the listening tests and technical work finalised, then fitted to a nice neat PCB and wired to the back panel's terminals accordingly. That formulae is then duplicated precisely in production, and there is neither measurable nor acoustic difference between the lash-up prototype (see attached rat's nest photo) or the final neat production PCB.

That's how I find it; please double check and revalidate your results! There is an explanation for what you hear but it is not the one you think it is!

I should add, that in the year since we introduced the HL Compact 7ES3 (which has been very successful for us) there has been not one single customer comment that we have deleted the bi-wire connections. But it has demystified this aspect of the design and simplified the user's set-up.

>

Bill C
18-09-2007, 12:20 AM
Thank you for the quick reply Alan. I'm stumped. I also tried placing both speakers next to each other in front of my listening position, set the preamp to mono, wired one speaker to the top terminals and one to the bottom, and had someone switch back and forth from left to right speaker while I was blindfolded. I had no trouble picking which speaker was wired each way. The jumpers are clean (new) and seated properly as you suggested. I think my small room may exagerate the differences making them easier to discern. Anyway, I would be interested in hearing from others who have checked this with their speakers to see if it's just me. Thanks again,
Bill

A.S.
18-09-2007, 09:06 AM
I also tried placing both speakers next to each other in front of my listening position, wired one speaker to the top terminals and one to the bottom ...Ah, now this I understand. Although the two speakers are physically next to each other you would think wouldn't you that the sound from them should be identical. It's a real pity that you didn't have room measuring (RTA) equipment to hand because you would have seen for yourself on-screen that the frequency response as perceived at your fixed listening position will not be identical when you switch between speakers. In fact, the differences can be dramatic - many dBs - but somehow our marvellous ears can still construct a solid stereo image. For this reason, when I am working on a speaker design, I always have a Room Analyser system available, with a microphone near my listening point to see what the room is 'doing' to the pure sound from the speaker: it's always disappointing to see how normal rooms mangle the sound.

So, I would personally discount that method of evaluation because you have unwittingly introduced a variable (speaker positioning) which will swamp by a million times any differences you may associate with the bi-wire links/terminals.

The way I would investigate this is as follows: use one speaker, in mono, in a fixed position in the room. Fix yourself and do not move, not even an inch. You will need an assistant. At the speaker end of your existing hot/cold wires, make a Y splitter so that you can simultaneously plug into the top and also the bottom terminals. Use the same cable throughout or at the least use the same cable for both arms of the Y. Fit and tighten standard gold/brass bi-wire links. Connect to both the upper and lower terminals at the same time. Play music continuously. Ask your assistant to randomly remove one red plug (or black plug, or red and black plugs) from either the upper or lower terminals. If you are correct that there is a sonic difference between driving into the upper or lower terminals you will hear this difference as the signal is routed directly as opposed to via the bi-wire link.

I'm confident that you won't hear any difference at all if you conduct the test as I have described. Whatever you hear - and I don't doubt your sincerity - is not due to connection but some other factor which you should chase.

Bill C
18-09-2007, 03:03 PM
Thanks Alan. I did consider the slight difference in position with the speakers side-by-side as well, so I tried switching the speakers position with eachother. The results remained the same each time. I'm probably not going to pursue the issue much further though. I'd rather be spending more time listening to music. I want to emphasize that I don't mean to infer that the speakers are at all bad sounding, only that they may be a little too resolving in a small room for me. Maybe with some room treatments I'll feel differently. Thanks again,
Bill

Don Leman
18-09-2007, 03:29 PM
Hi Bill,

Given the choice I always connect the speaker wire to the lower (bass) terminals. My reason for doing this is not the result of any listening experiments as I don't think I've ever hooked things up to the top terminals or as some have suggested one to the top and the other the bottom.

My reasoning is the low frequency driver likely accelerates slower than the much lighter weight tweeter. Hooking up to the lower terminals means the signal has a shorter distance to travel than if you connected it the other way.

Having said all this, I know, given the speed electricity travels through wire, there is no rational reason to think my theory has any validity, but who says we have to be rational.

Regards
Don

Bill C
20-09-2007, 02:04 AM
Update: I still find a difference between upper and lower terminals, but I've been experimenting with a sub which balances the sound out nicely. The M30's seem to do very well in my room now. That sense of excessive resolution or intensity is no longer an issue. Now if I can only get the sub dialed in properly, I'll be all set.

A.S.
20-09-2007, 08:40 AM
I think the secret of blending-in a subwoofer is to set the sub for a very subtle contribution - and no more. Often, subwoofers are set by their users to make too much contribution, and then the overall sound becomes murky and over-rich. The problem with that is that it can be addictive.

The lower in frequency that you blend in the sub the better as it will (probably) be less obvious. Don't forget that you need to make lots of experiments concerning where in the room to place it as well as adjusting its controls for best overall effect.

Bill C
20-09-2007, 02:32 PM
Thank you Alan,
That's exactly what I'm finding. At first, I did have the sub turned up too much. It initially sounded warm and pleasant, but muddied things up a bit. Turning it down brought back the clarity and detail with deeper and cleaner bass.

Alan, do you feel that the 30's would benefit from high passing at 80Hz, or going with speaker level connections? Thanks,
Bill

erratum1
24-09-2007, 04:20 AM
"I should add, that in the year since we introduced the HL Compact 7ES3 (which has been very successful for us) there has been not one single customer comment that we have deleted the bi-wire connections. But it has demystified this aspect of the design and simplified the user's set-up."

Alan,

1. I'm a little puzzled by the above statement. For the first time buyer of a non bi-wired Compact 7ES3, what is there to compare and comment about?

2. Also, having bi-wire connections for the SHL-5 and others, would it not be logical to advocate following through with an external bi-wire connection rather than to say that the brass jumpers would be just as good?

3. If bi-wiring is not de facto the superior connection, I don't see how its provision can accede to the convenience (as you say) of users in general. Surely, to connect two pairs of cables cannot be more convenient than one, particularly where there is only a single output point for each channel at the amplifier end.

A.S.
24-09-2007, 09:24 AM
Never underestimate the resistance of the hifi consumer to change! Also, over the past 20 years or so since we adopted bi-wiring there has been a steady trickle of customers seeking detailed explanation and reassurance as to why their new speakers are fitted with not two but four terminals. That in turn leads to questions about the bi-wire links and so on. All of that distracts attention from the reason we are here: the high quality reproduction of music.

In the future, the provision of bi-wire links will be scrutinised model by model. This process started with the Compact 7ES3 as it was never my intention that the material, construction, length, colour or shape of the bi-wire links would ever be discussed, let alone become a focus of 'upgrade' attention. I made my position clear at the start: in exhibition situations where we wish our speakers to perform at their very best we have never used bi-wire connections, nor have any of our professional users such as the BBC. Nor have I at home. They were fitted solely to provide an option to customers who, in reality, ignore the option and use only one pair of terminals.

So my previous comment stands as reported.

A.S.
27-12-2007, 01:30 PM
The question has been asked about the binding posts on all Harbeth speakers (as at Dec. 2007). I have taken a picture of what you will find if you unscrew the terminal heads as attached.

Note: Not all Harbeth speakers have biwire terminals as shown here, but the type of terminal posts is common to all.

>

DSRANCE
29-12-2007, 11:09 PM
It may interest some of you to know how Bi-Wiring became so fashionable in the UK..

As I understand it, in around 1985, Epos Acoustics originally proposed a three core connection in their earliest ES14 speaker - two positives, for the bass/mid and tweeter respectfully and with a common return (negative). This meant that three core mains cable could be used to advantage, linking the two "positive" connections together at the amp connection. A "Flat Earth" magazine "persuaded" them not to do it, because it was deemed a rubbish idea...

A few years later, a certain Scottish manufacturer launched a speaker where the back emf (or similar in the crossover) was so great that if the tri (!) wire connections were linked at the back of the speakers, gently pushing the bass unit caused the mid driver to move slightly too, despite no mechanical connection between them. Because this manufacturer had enormous influence in the UK back then, bi or tri wiring became the fashion. Dealers liked it too, because they could sell more cable and make a bit more money on the "sale." I can't say the benefits were huge, as a heavier gauge SINGLE wire did similar things for most speakers IMO.

Sorry my posts always seem so long, but to conclude, as Harbeth obviously takes (and has always taken) incredible care to optimise the crossover networks, a decent set of SINGLE terminals would do no harm at all and remove a potential user difficulty at a stroke. The only exception may *possibly* be in the 40.1, where bi-amping with decent matched amps *may* be a useful thing to do in certain circumstances(I know you'll put me straight on this Alan please...).

A.S.
30-12-2007, 06:17 PM
That's very interesting. In my case (Harbeth's) our story is a little different, and could have been hugely costly .....

In about 1986 HiFi News' Martin Colloms wrote an article extolling the theoretical virtues of biwiring. I'm not hugely motivated by theoretical-only arguments since they rarely seem to correlate with what I hear and I'm a hands-on type not a boffin but it gave the option to the customer to try or not and the additional manufacturing cost was tolerable. It also had some advantages in being able to isolate and independently test the bass unit and tweeter without disassembling the cabinet. So, we added the extra terminals to the HL Mk4, and off we merrily went into production.

Harbeth's profile in Japan has always been astonishingly strong, as strong as the very biggest UK brands and Japanese consumers are very thoughtful and curious about new product developments. The arrival of the now biwired Mk4 created something of a stir. So far, so good. Unfortunately, what Martin Colloms didn't know (and I certainly didn't) was that Toshiba Corporation had a watertight Japanese Patent for the biwiring concept and they took notice of our marketing. So well drafted was it that it was immediately apparent to me without wasting any time on fancy lawyers that we were well and truly infringing their Patent. No question about it.

Luckily for Harbeth, I had spent many years working for NEC Corporation, another huge Japanese multinational, and one absorbs the corporate and national culture of ones employers which is a huge advantage in a tricky situation such as this. The result of amicable negotiations was that the sum of ?4000 (about USD 8000) was handed over to Toshiba's legal dept. who then allowed us to continue. I have no idea if, due to our high profile in Japan, Toshiba targeted Harbeth as an easy touch, or whether the chased after all importers but I thought that it was far better to settle and put the matter behind us. That was all about 20 years ago - perhaps the Patent has now expired?

So, biwiring has this other commercial history!

DSRANCE
31-12-2007, 10:48 PM
Thanks Alan.

I didn't know this story and, of course, have no idea if the speakers I had experience with, were ever available in Japan.

P.S. The Epos 14 did eventually gain bi-wire connections with absolutely NO benefit in this design....

(My old HL5's didn't benefit either, as I remember).

pranderos
03-01-2008, 04:33 PM
In the future, the provision of bi-wire links will be scrutinised model by model. This process started with the Compact 7ES3 as it was never my intention that the material, construction, length, colour or shape of the bi-wire links would ever be discussed, let alone become a focus of 'upgrade' attention. I made my position clear at the start: in exhibition situations where we wish our speakers to perform at their very best we have never used bi-wire connections, nor have any of our professional users such as the BBC. Nor have I at home. They were fitted solely to provide an option to customers who, in reality, ignore the option and use only one pair of terminals.

So my previous comment stands as reported.

Mr. Shaw, given all that, , are you contemplating production of the HL- P3ES with a single pair of terminals any time soon? Now that you've nicely recovered from your exertions with the creation of the Compact 7 ES-3...

regards,
-Paul-

A.S.
03-01-2008, 10:25 PM
As I have said before, we never comment on future products until they are virtually ready for production.

The Compact 7ES3 was launched summer 2006 - that's 18 months ago. Since then I have been busy with designing the Monitor 40.1 which launches in Las Vegas next week.

robinje
12-02-2008, 05:56 AM
Will standard banana plugs also work with Harbeth speakers? Are there any advantages/disadvantages to banana plugs compared to spades or bare wire for speaker cable termination?

DSRANCE
21-02-2008, 12:21 PM
I think that bare wire or spades are used in other markets far more than in the UK, where "we" used 4mm bananas almost exclusively (with soldered in or "cold welded" cables a la QED "Airlock" plugs).

Regarding the use of brass for bi-wire links, I have a totally mad story to tell (which I shall edit out if asked to because on the face of it it's ridiculous).

I recently bought some used Sennheiser HD480 mk2 headphones "Ex BBC" and they came in their 1700 Ohm version, with new steel wired leads and the "BBC" jack plug attached. As they go extremely loud if I'm not careful I assume these dont have the "Camford" limiters inside.

I know some Sennheisers can sound a little "restrained" and that's why I bought them, but this pair were so bland and lifeless I put it down to the headphone amp not being able to "drive" the load.

As the BBC plug isn't a perfect connection in a conventional "quater inch" headpone socket I took the plug apart to un-solder the wires and fit a standard cheap 6.3mm headphone plug. I was faced with a superb (and, no doubt expensive) solidly constructed "inner," using solid brass connections to the plug "tip/rings" and screwed in eylets which the wires were soldered to.

The point all this leads up to is that carefully de-soldering the wires and fitting them to the cheap replacement plug *seemed* to liven up the sound of the headphones and imrove the reproduction of reverb and ambience. My recently serviced Quad FM3 tuner sounded significanly less "cluttered" than it did before, especially on the awfully compressed "pop" stations. I don't wish to re-fit the BBC plug, so these findings will have to stand as they are.

I have no idea what caused this "apparent" improvement in sound quality. maybe the BBC plug had electrical characteristics that the headphone amp disliked, I don't know.

So my conclusion is to try a good quality wire link instead of the brass one on the bi-wired terminals and see if you "imagine" a difference.....

To be honest, if these carefully designed crossovers are happy to work from one set of cables rather than two, I'd suggest saving a few pennies in future and leave the second set off - it hasn't done another speaker manufacturer I know of any harm since they re-designed their crossovers a few years ago.

Pluto
21-02-2008, 07:47 PM
Are you aware that the wiring of BBC headphones is completely non-standard? Most BBC headphones are wired with the two capsules in series (to get the overall impedance as high as possible), and this arrangement of course is mono. A Post Office 316 style jack (the jack is the socket – you push your plug into a jack) is fully balanced hence you normally monitor across the tip and ring, the sleeve being ignored in classical BBC headphone wiring. It is important to understand that in normal BBC usage a single jack only carries one leg of a stereo circuit in balanced form, hence it is not possible to hear stereo on 316-wired headphones except via specially designated stereo headphone jacks.

Where BBC stereo headphones were fitted with a 316 plug, the wiring arrangement is more familiar - the capsules are wired across the ring (or tip) and the sleeve, except that the two are wired out of phase. This enables the headphones to be plugged into a standard jackfield to monitor a (balanced) circuit in mono or plugged into a specially designated stereo headphone jack which is wired so as to correct the phase error referred to above.

The system was designed so that the same headphones can be used in two entirely different contexts - listening across normal, balanced, jacks in mono and to the special stereo headphone jack fitted to some play-in machines for private editing and the like. Likewise, standard mono-wired headphones could be used successfully in stereo-wired jacks and hear correctly summed mono. Confused? You should be! The system was far too clever for its own good and fell into disuse once the large-scale customizing of equipment ceased. All in all, it's far simpler to use a pair of standard stereo headphones with commercial equipment.

What has all this to do with your headphone sound? Nothing more than to make you aware that, in all likelihood, the ex-BBC headphones fitted with a 316 plug were not wired as you (and whatever you plugged them into) were expecting. At the very least the headphones would have been out of phase (if they were wired for stereo use). If they were wired for mono use you would have been hearing the difference between the two stereo legs - typically quiet, bass-light and mono.

So you have not discovered any magical properties of brass or anything else, merely a confusing, but logical, oddity in BBC headphone wiring!

A.S.
22-02-2008, 10:36 AM
Thank you very much for that. Does it apply to the 'Humphreys' style BBC 'phones too? It just goes to prove what I have said so many times before - yes, one probably, genuinely does hear a difference after modifying some audio set-up - but is the difference really for the reason one then proposes or for some other, perhaps unconnected (and entirely logical) reason? That has been my life-long experience.

The ears are so very easily fooled by the eyes and the hands. Even mine; which is why one has to guard against jumping to the wrong conclusions.

Pluto
22-02-2008, 11:22 AM
Does it apply to the 'Humphreys' style BBC 'phones too?
What is a "Humphreys" phone? I doubt I would know one if it leapt out and bit me! You need a good book on BBC Engineering history ;-)

DSRANCE
22-02-2008, 09:09 PM
My headphone capsules were a special 1700 Ohm version (checked) made by Sennheiser so that (apparently) two pairs could be parallelled together (so the suppllier told me). The detachable cable was fairly new and consists of two colour coded (L+R) screened single steel (?) cores in a "fig 8" configuration which looks identical to domestic replacement Sennheiser leads I sold in my other life. The wiring inside the supplied plug looked perfectly "normal" to me - one core to tip, the other to the ring and the screens twisted together, neatly tinned and bent back on the cable before the whole thing was inserted (tightly) into the rear of the plugs brass housing. At the other end, the "fig 8" splits into two and plugs in to each capsule with non-reversible plugs.

My ears aren't what they were, but I listen to a fair amount of radio 3 and 4 these days and the presenters werre firmly locked in the middle of my head. CD's I play had definite L and R information (including a tangerine Dream favourite where the sequencer starts "double tracked in perfect time" in the centre, then going out of phase to extreme left and right - then back again - I do have an eclectic taste). The sound was definitely stereo and there was too much bass (or a restrained top end) if anything (a Sennheiser trait on many of their better models). I'm sorry if I haven't explained myself clearly enough.

I agree our ears are easily fooled, but I'm sure I'd have known an out of phase signal had it been there - it's hardly subtle :). I use headphones rather a lot these days at lowish levels for short periods at a time - such is domestic life.

Anyway, many thanks for the replies. Fascinating that the BBC had their own way of doing things with almost everything at one time :)

A.S.
23-02-2008, 09:51 AM
Really? John Humphreys? The black STC cans?

Pluto
27-02-2008, 04:19 PM
Really? John Humphreys? The black STC cans?
I am well familiar with the black STC cans. When plugged into a suitable amplifier they make a workable emergency mic.

But the concept of the "Humphreys Phone" is unfamiliar to me. Probably because I work in telly!

Sebastien
30-04-2010, 06:10 AM
Hello Alan... which set of speaker terminals did you connect the speaker cable to? The top or bottom pair?
-Bill

I'm wondering the same question and to add perplexity, I saw a retailer connecting them in diagonal.

I'd like more precision on all that story.

Thanks,

Sebastien

hifi_dave
30-04-2010, 11:11 AM
Depending on which cable you have, I would suggest you make it into an 'F' connection. Failing this, use a short length of the cable you now have to join HF to LF. I would then connect the bananas diagonally as this negates the sound of that piece of joining wire.

Sebastien
01-05-2010, 08:35 AM
Depending on which cable you have, I would suggest you make it into an 'F' connection. Failing this, use a short length of the cable you now have to join HF to LF. I would then connect the bananas diagonally as this negates the sound of that piece of joining wire.

Here I attain my limits of comprehension. I need a picture to see it all. Could you provide one please?

Plus, which terminal is the HF and the LF?

Sebastien

coredump
01-05-2010, 11:29 AM
i would stick to the original bi-wire link. i have tried many dummy runs ,it makes no diff.
bi-wire link (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?373-Basic-facts-about-Harbeths-at-home)
9. The bi-wire links as factory fitted on some models are British made, hand punched from brass and then gold plated by a jeweller. We do not believe that any sonic improvement can be achieved by substituting the factory-fitted bi-wire links for other types.

the HF and LF connection is covered in the:
Harbeth Owner Manual (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?591-Harbeth-Owner-Manual)

seems like the Harbeth User Guide is no longer avail
http://www.harbeth.co.uk/uk/uploadfolder/userguidancee.pdf

garmtz
01-05-2010, 03:27 PM
I have tried several links and the original links sounded best in my ears. I use single--wire cables and attach the + of the cable at the tweeter + and the - of the cable at the - bass. In my ears, this sounds best.

Read the following document if in doubt:

http://www.hifinesse.nl/pdf/nordost_jumper_instructions.pdf

hifi_dave
01-05-2010, 04:46 PM
Garntz,
If you can hear the difference by staggering the connections as you describe, surely you can hear the difference that a decent piece of wire makes instead of the brass links ? I've demonstrated this to many people over the years and I don't recall anyone wanting to go back to the brass strips !!!

Stephen PG
01-05-2010, 05:56 PM
Garntz,
If you can hear the difference by staggering the connections as you describe, surely you can hear the difference that a decent piece of wire makes instead of the brass links ? I've demonstrated this to many people over the years and I don't recall anyone wanting to go back to the brass strips !!!

Dave,

Could you explain why Harbeth choose to use the brass links in favour of 'a decent piece of wire'?

EricW
01-05-2010, 07:43 PM
Dave,

Could you explain why Harbeth choose to use the brass links in favour of 'a decent piece of wire'?

Er, well, no, I expect not. Not really a fair question, is it? I doubt he's directly privy to Harbeth's decision-making processes.

No doubt some people think they hear a difference. Maybe they do, maybe they just think they do. Until someone runs a proper test, it seems to me a fruitless argument to have.

honmanm
01-05-2010, 10:13 PM
With the early type HL-P3s that started my Harbeth experience, there was a definite difference - and using the top terminals resulted in a more open & transparent sound than plugging the speaker wires into the bottom terminals. For the life of me I can't work out why and obviously this doesn't necessarily apply to any other model.

I haven't tried the F or diagonal wiring ideas, but they seem like a good way of eliminating whatever variables are at play here. hifi_dave once wrote (not sure if here) about stripping back the speaker wire installation by about 5cm, tinning the end with solder, and then passing it through both binding posts. For wires that fit the holes in the posts that is an eminently sensible idea.

hifi_dave
01-05-2010, 11:43 PM
The very best way to get over the question of whether you can hear a piece of wire or not is to open up the speakers and connect the HF iand LF nternal wires onto the same terminals. The result is better sound and is something I have done for years with all my demo speakers having bi-wire connections. However, it isn't something I would do with a Harbeth because the construction of the back panel is so beautifully executed, that I wouldn't dare open them up.

You will note that more and more manufacturers are going back to single wiring on their speakers.

hifi_dave
01-05-2010, 11:51 PM
Dave,

Could you explain why Harbeth choose to use the brass links in favour of 'a decent piece of wire'?

Stephen,
No I can't but why not try a piece of wire yourself ? Not just any old wire but a piece of proper speaker cable, preferably a piece of the cable you use for the main run. It's not going to cost you anything and, I promise, you will get a better sound.

Thanos
02-05-2010, 07:53 AM
Stephen,
No I can't but why not try a piece of wire yourself ? Not just any old wire but a piece of proper speaker cable, preferably a piece of the cable you use for the main run. It's not going to cost you anything and, I promise, you will get a better sound.

Hi Dave and Stephen,
It's mostly impossible for Alan not to have carefully designed and constructed these links, being anything but cheap or improvised a solution. We had this topic on board some time ago, and he thoroughly commented about how much care and expenses were both given to have them prepared. That's why I keep using them, although I could try many other solutions...
Regards,
Thanos

EricW
02-05-2010, 09:48 AM
No schisms over bi-wire links, please! It's not worth it ...

STHLS5
02-05-2010, 12:42 PM
Dave,

Could you explain why Harbeth choose to use the brass links in favour of 'a decent piece of wire'?

Not only Harbeth but many other loudspeakers use brass (btw, I thought Harbeth uses gold plated link).

ST

hifi_dave
02-05-2010, 01:36 PM
Gold plate over brass I believe.

garmtz
03-05-2010, 02:44 PM
Garntz,
If you can hear the difference by staggering the connections as you describe, surely you can hear the difference that a decent piece of wire makes instead of the brass links ? I've demonstrated this to many people over the years and I don't recall anyone wanting to go back to the brass strips !!!

Sure I can hear a DIFFERENCE, but it is not an IMPROVEMENT in my ears. Will try again sometime with Audioquest links we now have received.

A.S.
03-05-2010, 05:44 PM
Please don't get too deeply involved in this biwire link thing. If it were possible to squeeze out of a Harbeth speaker even 1% improvement by as simple an expedient as changing the expensively-made biwire links, please credit me with the intellect and commercial acumen to have done it.

What you are hearing - and I don't doubt that your brains are telling you that there is some difference - is a product of the non-controlled experiment, not the link material or connection arrangement or any other real, physical characteristic of the biwire links. Of that I would stake my entire reputation. No listener, me included, can hold in his mind enough information about the sound of A then take some seconds or minutes to switch to B and draw a reliable conclusion. If such an individual does exist - and he doesn't - then he should step forward as the medical industry could benefit hugely from his enhanced abilities, and would doubtless be willing to pay handsomely for such talents.

They have been deleted from later Harbeths to bring this needless anxiety to an end.

Alan /Kuala Lumpur

P.C.
03-05-2010, 09:11 PM
Is there a chance that there was a 1% improvement with the links removed/ changed but that as you said you wouldn't know because the mind couldn't remember the difference between the A and B changes.

EricW
03-05-2010, 10:02 PM
I suppose that what one would have to do is find an as near as possible pair of identical Harbeths with biwire terminals (say the latest generation Super HL5s), listen to and measure the two of them with the standard gold/brass strips to confirm that they're effectively identical, then leave the standard strips on one pair and set the other up with aftermarket wire links, then set up a room where listeners could be asked to choose between the two blind.

If someone wants to take that all on I'd be fascinated (truly) to read the results.

kittykat
04-05-2010, 02:14 AM
choose between the two blind.


Imho think our ears might be too undependable and our perceptions too opinionated to give anything conclusive.

Prior to that, it might be simpler and more interesting to take out a multimeter and measure the resistance and capacitance of the link versus a bit of wire of the same length. Even if there were a difference, feel that the point above will kick in. ie. we won’t be able to perceive it.

I showed the link to the wife, who’s an avionics engineer. She thinks there is nothing wrong with it from an electrical point of view, except that its not insulated. Electrical people think electrons “float” above the surface of the metal and dielectric “keeps” the electrons within. Brass is not the best conductor but she wasn’t sure whether the gold or the brass would have a bigger effect on the conductive aspects.

A.S.
04-05-2010, 02:17 AM
Is there a chance that there was a 1% improvement with the links removed/ changed....Now with respect let's just stop and stand back and think a little about this.

A biwire link is gold plated brass about, say, 30mm long. The claim is that this particular 30mm long piece of highly conductive metal is somehow, magically, more important than any other 30mm piece of perhaps less highly conductive metal anywhere else in the chain between the loudspeaker drive units and the power station a hundred miles away which is supplying the current that causes the cone to move and a sound to be generated. Does that sound logical? Does that sound an intellectual argument that a professor of engineering at a university could or should set his students studying? Of course not. It's a daft fixation on what is, from a point of electrical conduction, probably the best "link" in the chain from the point that the mains supply enters the house.

The biwire link has this fascination for one reason and one reason alone - it's accessible by the user. So it lends itself to being fiddled with and to all the associated gratification of adjusting ones hifi.

This is a non-issue. Pick a genuinely 'weak' part of the signal chain and experiment, but this big, fat brass part with countless billions of surplus electrons isn't the hold grail. Of that I am totally and absolutely certain as I've stated. You'd be better off paying attention to, let's say, 30mm of copper track on the printed circuit board that the binding posts are pressing onto which is vastly less conductive because it is thousands or millions of times thinner than the biwire link. But of course, that would involve opening the speaker and voiding the warranty.

P.C.
04-05-2010, 03:23 AM
I agree, maybe this : http://www.acoustic-revive.com/english/bwa4/bwa4_01.html instead of a fancy bi-wire link would work better? what do you think... they provide some measurements here:
http://www.acoustic-revive.com/english/bwa4/bwa4_02.html

EricW
04-05-2010, 03:29 AM
Well, not that I don't agree (who am I to disagree?) but the power station "hundreds of miles away" is a bit of a red herring, isn't it? I mean, the power station is supplying, as I understand it, a simple 50 or 60hz sine wave of AC, not the much more complex signal that leaves the amplifier en route to the speakers.

Not that that explains why a bit of copper wire would be any better or any different from a solid strip of gold-plated brass in terms of conducting the complex musical waveform without distortion.

To kittykat: maybe you're right, maybe we couldn't tell the difference. But that's the beauty of a blind test, isn't it? If all you're really doing is guessing, the results will show that pretty clearly over a sufficiently large number of trials.

As for me, personally, I couldn't care less. My Harbeths, fortunately, are a single-wired model and I'm quite content that way.

A.S.
04-05-2010, 03:53 AM
A red herring? Really? Where do you think the power comes from to move the cone and produce sound?

Do the exponents of this biwire mania have any concept at all that a current is a circulating concept? Circulating from the power station, through your amp, cables, crossover, voice coil and back again to the power station? Anyone into biwire connectors grasping that concept please? That concept of how electricity actually works is why there is a live and neutral pin on your wall socket. There has to be a flow. And what impedes the flow is resistance. And resistance is associated with thin parts, like the voice coil (about 6 ohms). So the fact that the biwire link has a resistance of perhaps 0.000001 ohm compared to the voice coil's 6 ohms means that as a component in the circulating loop, what dominates the resistance by a huge factor is the voice coil.

If the concept of a circulating current is unclear or distrusted then the whole scientific world we live in collapses.

EricW
04-05-2010, 04:00 AM
A red herring? Really? Where do you think the power comes from to move the cone and produce sound?

...

If the concept of a circulating current is unclear or distrusted then the whole scientific world we live in collapses.

Hey, I'm on your side. Frankly, I wish you'd just convert the whole line to single terminals and be done with it. Till then, I'm afraid you're likely to have to deal with this stuff, irrational as you find it and as it no doubt is.

Thanos
04-05-2010, 05:43 AM
Hey, I'm on your side. Frankly, I wish you'd just convert the whole line to single terminals and be done with it. Till then, I'm afraid you're likely to have to deal with this stuff, irrational as you find it and as it no doubt is.

And I'm a good friend with everybody and agree with everyone, to a point, BUT:

Hey,
Pleaseeeee, stop getting bothered with such minor things, THEY DON'T CHANGE THE SOUND to a degree that could be heard, and we're not Supermen with our hearing systems able to catch a baby's cry at the other side of the town! What's wrong with those beautiful links? We're here to discuss very great issues of HiFi, and there are so many. We've been (from a positive standing) criticizing that "Hi-End neurosis" for so many years, and now are we becoming slaves to it? Give me a break!
And to resolve a little bit of some -imaginary IMHO- anxieties about links and the likes, has any friend from this forum opened the case of any decent, even well acclaimed, amplifier and see in person the WIRES used to connect the final amplification stage to the output (speakers) connectors? Have you realized how thin they are? And their usual quality? Anything special or exotic?
So, I won't ask, or criticize, or judge, or advise, or doubt Alan about anything... He knows better. That's why you can enjoy the SHL5s in my L/R... I don't remember -for as long as I have them- myself getting up from my chair while playing, going behind them, and examining these links, looking like a professor who collects butterflies in the Amazone!
Come on, lets get busy with much more important things!
Cheers,
Thanos

EricW
04-05-2010, 07:46 AM
Hey,
Pleaseeeee, stop getting bothered with such minor things ... We've been (from a positive standing) criticizing that "Hi-End neurosis" for so many years, and now are we becoming slaves to it? Give me a break!
...
So, I won't ask, or criticize, or judge, or advise, or doubt Alan about anything... He knows better.

Thanos, you're a smart and lovely man, but I'll respectfully (slightly) disagree with you. I'm not in the least bit bothered by this issue, especially as it affects me not in the slightest, not owning bi-wireable loudspeakers.

But it's a question, and it's apparently a real belief some people have that this makes a difference. The "why" of that is interesting, at least to me. It may be and likely is based on nothing more than, as Alan says, the effect of an uncontrolled test. But nonetheless, it's some people's belief that it makes a difference.

I'm not of that camp myself: back when I owned the bi-wireable HL-P3ES2s I tried them both ways, bi-wired and single wired, and I certainly couldn't hear a difference. So I decided not to worry about it, as there was clearly no point in doing so.

However, as long as Harbeth offers bi-wireable speakers for sale, the question is going to exist in some people's minds. After all, if you think about it, Harbeth's philosophy is at odds with the simple fact that they do have bi-wireable speakers in their product lineup. This may have been a marketing-driven decision years ago, or it may have been thought back then that it might have a performance impact, I don't know. And I expect redesigning a speaker is no trivial matter, so I understand why certain designs carry on. But until there are no bi-wireable speakers in Harbeth's lineup, there will be some clash between Alan's strong and clearly-expressed views on the subject and the simple fact that such speakers are being offered for sale by Harbeth. Until that situation changes, a certain amount of consumer confusion is inevitable.

And, as Alan says, anything that can be fiddled with by the end user is going to inspire in some people's minds the idea that a more "advanced" form of fiddling (e.g. wire links instead of gold/brass strips) is going to make a significant difference.

All just my humble opinion, of course.

kittykat
04-05-2010, 08:40 AM
Without offending anyone, taking all science out of the equation, imho at the end of the day, what might play a bigger part is for those who think there will be a difference, there will be, and for those who don’t, there will very likely wont be.

i remember many years ago (when monster became big), some friends used to experiment with different types of speaker cables and telephone wires in a haphazard environment. Were there learnings from it? Foremost in my mind were “groupthink” and “peer pressure”. my feeling is that there were too few of us wanting to look like we couldnt hear a difference and there those who kept quiet as well as those who felt there was a difference and didn’t keep their opinions to themselves. Second learning, I wouldn’t bother about seeking out the cables which were thought to be best.

The logic part of my brain says, there won't be a difference, the metal link is specified sufficiently and the distance between the posts is hardly anything to be worried about. i went to parts connexxion and ebay to look at some small bits of hardware eg supra etc. and was thinking of hooking up a couple of different patches to trial but gave up, knowing if there was any difference, it wouldn’t be something id wake up early just to listen to. third learning – most people are just too lazy to really bother about something which doesn’t have a big payoff.

Thanos
04-05-2010, 09:48 AM
Thanos, you're a smart and lovely man, but I'll respectfully (slightly) disagree with you. I'm not in the least bit bothered by this issue, especially as it affects me not in the slightest, not owning bi-wireable loudspeakers.

But it's a question, and it's apparently a real belief some people have that this makes a difference. The "why" of that is interesting, at least to me. It may be and likely is based on nothing more than, as Alan says, the effect of an uncontrolled test. But nonetheless, it's some people's belief that it makes a difference.

I'm not of that camp myself: back when I owned the bi-wireable HL-P3ES2s I tried them both ways, bi-wired and single wired, and I certainly couldn't hear a difference. So I decided not to worry about it, as there was clearly no point in doing so.

However, as long as Harbeth offers bi-wireable speakers for sale, the question is going to exist in some people's minds. After all, if you think about it, Harbeth's philosophy is at odds with the simple fact that they do have bi-wireable speakers in their product lineup. This may have been a marketing-driven decision years ago, or it may have been thought back then that it might have a performance impact, I don't know. And I expect redesigning a speaker is no trivial matter, so I understand why certain designs carry on. But until there are no bi-wireable speakers in Harbeth's lineup, there will be some clash between Alan's strong and clearly-expressed views on the subject and the simple fact that such speakers are being offered for sale by Harbeth. Until that situation changes, a certain amount of consumer confusion is inevitable.

And, as Alan says, anything that can be fiddled with by the end user is going to inspire in some people's minds the idea that a more "advanced" form of fiddling (e.g. wire links instead of gold/brass strips) is going to make a significant difference.

All just my humble opinion, of course.

Dear friend Eric,
We don't disagree at all. Together with Kittykat, we all had the same position as to rather keep a wholistic approach to sound itself and not to minor details, as the discussed issue. But, yes, you are quite right about the "wonder why" brought to consumers' minds when seeing both bi-wire and single wire terminals used. At this point, what really becomes essential IMHO of course, is the matter of avoiding some serious expenses of buying double wire lenghts, as you don't have this dilemma with single wire terminals. Just like you, I had the same speculation when I bought the SHL5s... And I did the tests, and was trying to listen critically, and brought friends to help finding any differences, and ...finally went back to the point where Alan was suggesting in the manual... The result was a loss of an amount spent to buy double lengths of speaker wire. Could have spent it in buying three dozens of cd titles for my precious classical collection...
Well, everyone has to personally try and come to an opinion, then we all exchange them for the general good.
Best Regards from a very very tortured Greece (Ahhh!! This crisis...)
Thanos

A.S.
04-05-2010, 11:36 AM
The last few posts I think summarise nicely this issue of biwire links. Perhaps we can once and for all draw a line under it with these observations: (in no particular order)


If you want to believe in biwire links, cables or any other accessories then you will hold views that no amount of persuasion, logic or any other external force will budge



My views - merely as the designer - are of little value or relevance against the avalanche of hearsay, folklore and marketing surrounding these and similar subjects

With that said, what remains is the mystery of why Harbeth, as a commercial company with the usual profit motive, would declare certain accessories - including biwire link - to be 'good enough' as supplied with our speakers, turning our back on the commercial (profit) possibility of wringing a few more dollars out of our users for after-market upgrades and tweaks. That can only mean one of two things:



Harbeth's management have gone barking mad and can't see a commercial opportunity when it stares them in the face or ....



Harbeth's management can afford to take a long term view of their business based on delivering real, solid value and that taking a maverick position regarding tweaks is actually very good for business as it clearly and unambiguously differentiates the Harbeth brand core values from others.


You decide!!

Looking forward to meeting our audio friends in KL tonight at this wonderful hotel.

Alan /Kuala Lumpur

Sebastien
04-05-2010, 08:45 PM
...If you want to believe in biwire links, cables or any other accessories then you will hold views that no amount of persuasion, logic or any other external force will budge...


First, recent studies in the medecine department reveal that the placebo effect works in 80% of cases in which it is use. Yes, we can believe that the same can happen in audio.

Second, has I will receive my SHL5 in the month, I will try them both way (single and biwire). Quite skeptical, but just curious.

Sebastien

EricW
04-05-2010, 11:29 PM
The weird thing about the placebo effect is, it's real. That is to say, your belief in something to some extent actually makes it so, i.e. creates measurable changes in the body.

I recently heard of another example of this on a radio program where a behavioral economist being interviewed referred to a study that measured people's brain wave patterns when they were drinking wine that they believed was cheap, versus wine they were told was expensive. In fact, it was the same wine. But here's the funny thing: when subjects drank the wine they believed cost more, they actually experienced more pleasure - measurably - than when drinking the "cheaper" (identical) wine.

The implications for fancy cable, biwire links, super expensive stands, etc. is obvious. If people believe they work, then they will - not in any measurable scientific way in the external world, perhaps, but in the sense of having an real (and measurable!) effect on the subjective experience of the perceiver, and perhaps affecting his/her level of pleasure (positive) but also possibly anxiety (not so positive). Conversely, for people don't believe that such things work, because there's no scientific or logical explanation for how they could work, then they simply won't.

We are strange and complex creatures, and perceive what we expect to perceive, as much as what's actually there. The thing is that a perception may actually have a scientific psychological and physiological reality whether or not there's anything happening externally that a measuring instrument would pick up. It's just that that particular "reality" is completely internal to the perceiver.

honmanm
04-05-2010, 11:34 PM
FWIW my expectation with the HL-P3s was that the sound would not depend on which posts the wires were connected to... if there was a difference I would have expected the bottom posts to be better (this is what is recommended in the Harbeth instructions). Hearing any difference at all came as a surprise to me.

So it is a Good Thing that the P3ESRs have a single pair of binding posts - whatever variable was at play, we don't need to worry about it any more.

hifi_dave
05-05-2010, 12:23 AM
Why would the Harbeth instructions recommend the bottom terminals if the brass links make no difference to the sound ?

kittykat
05-05-2010, 04:41 AM
Hi EricW

after reading your post i thought id try something more dramatic than metal bars. i pulled out a 7 year old b60r and compared it to a Cayin A88T which ive been using for a few weeks. Totally different topologies and approach in amp design. Was there a difference? its really very hard to tell. i thought i could hear differences but its not convincing at all. if someone told me amp x was running instead of amp y, id readily believe him/ her. there is either no difference or im going deaf.

EricW
05-05-2010, 05:48 AM
Hi kittykat:

Makes sense to me. I presume you didn't go in expecting the Cayin to sound vastly different from the Bryston, or vice versa. So I expect you heard what was there, i.e. an exceedingly minor difference or no difference at all. Might have be different if you were convinced that one was a wonder amp, and the other a piece of junk - who knows?

Of course, there is always the possibility, as you say, that you are actually going deaf (kidding).

Eric

kittykat
05-05-2010, 07:18 AM
that you are actually going deaf (kidding).

Eric
Seriously you are right, EricW. I was deaf this morning as im having hayfever. And music sounds better in the mornings when my blood pressure is lower. Personally think an elevated blood pressure causes ringing in the ears and more distorted sounds.

Actually, I was expecting the Brystons to have “better” bass but that wasn’t the case. Very surprising? What might be happening is the Cayin is probably distorting/ having more harmonics resulting in bass which sounds more “powerful”. The b60’s are very transparent and true. Its a bit of a “boring” amp but possibly shows the SHL5’s potential off better. tubes are emotional and transistors are true.

yeecn
05-05-2010, 09:01 AM
It is exceedingly easy to manipulate another into believing in all sorts of things - including killing. Check this out.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2003/dec/04/science.research1

As a general rule - do not believe in anything at all - especially in the audiophile world - unless it is being throughly investigated. A lot of what we already believe in, that are tacitly informing and governing our day to day behavior and decisions, need to be re-investigated for that matter.

The readers of HUG should count ourselves lucky that Alan Shaw is committed not spreading any lies and falsehood.

s.a.b.
27-05-2010, 08:32 PM
The very best way to get over the question of whether you can hear a piece of wire or not is to open up the speakers and connect the HF iand LF nternal wires onto the same terminals. The result is better sound and is something I have done for years with all my demo speakers having bi-wire connections. However, it isn't something I would do with a Harbeth because the construction of the back panel is so beautifully executed, that I wouldn't dare open them up.

You will note that more and more manufacturers are going back to single wiring on their speakers.


To do what is described above (open up the back of the speaker such as the C7 and connect the HF and LF internal wires, etc so as to avoid the need for the external jumpers)- is this somethihg which a qualified technician can do easily?

kittykat
28-05-2010, 01:43 AM
is this somethihg which a qualified technician can do easily?

Please don’t try this at home…you have been warned. In fact you should stop reading now, instead...

“For the most liquid, silvery, shimmering and fluid sound from your system use mercury as speaker wires. Your sound system will be "mercuric".

1. buy gas hose tubing.
2. buy approximately 5 kg of mercury (known as quiksilver in some countries)
3. buy gas hose end stops and clamps
4. buy file.
5. Cut rubber tubing to match distance between amp and speaker
6. Use your bath tub to fill rubber tubing with mercury using a kitchen pouring spout (please dont reuse this for cooking)
7. Take care not to get any mercury on your skin as it will make you really stupid (and need a major electroshock from a car battery charger….In fact. Playing “Placebo” into a bank of 12 stacked Brystons 28B’s at their peak output with the thickest gauge speaker cable connected with car battery jumpers to anyone’s brain will not reverse the damages already done).

This is not my original and was actually an April Fool’s joke (in guess?, yes their April edition) in a local electronics magazine more than 20 years ago.

EricW
28-05-2010, 02:23 AM
To do what is described above (open up the back of the speaker such as the C7 and connect the HF and LF internal wires, etc so as to avoid the need for the external jumpers)- is this somethihg which a qualified technician can do easily?

kittykat is right. Don't do it.

Anyway, you don't need to on the C7 (assuming you mean the new ES3): it's single wire.

I'm firmly convinced based on Alan Shaw's posts, and on hearing the entire Harbeth lineup in the same room, that it doesn't make a damn bit of difference whether you single- or bi-wire. That is to say, I heard them all single wired, but those with bi-wire terminals sounded just as wonderful as the single-wired models.

A.S.
28-05-2010, 10:29 AM
kittykat is right. Don't do it.it's a strange thing this desire to modify and 'chase the dream'.

Let's step back from this particular example of DIY modification a moment and apply a little common sense. Harbeth is a commercial company. If we can sell more then we will be stronger. If it is possible to improve the performance of our speakers even a small amount by fiddling about with the bi-wire links that would then conceivably increase the number of speakers we can sell. It would also be extremely easy (and satisfying) design work for me, completed in an hour. So, cost reduces and sales increase - the perfect situation! I haven't implemented such a change because a) it won't make any difference at all to the sound so won't increase sales b) it will reduce consumer choice in those models that (still) have bi-wiring terminals and links.

If you open your Harbeth speakers the warranty is obviously voided so please don't do it.

Thanos
28-05-2010, 11:25 PM
I had a nice proposal from a very "high end" supplier here, to get rid of my humble Kimber speaker wire and buy some really "top end" Dutch wire, actually for bi-wiring set up. This, according to the advisor, would bring my system to a new dimension, a new heaven, where no "man has ever reached before", I mean in my L/R... They are made from pure silver, maybe with elements of gold in it, very special coats, etc. etc. I had to sit down (when I heard the price -with an excellent discount for me.....), and the tears in my eyes were not because I found my destination in life... They were from considering that I had to sell some things first, in order to find the money (actually half the money). My Toyota, my two most expensive watches, my dad's decorations from the war, and some jewels of my mother's heirlooms...
As you understand, I promised him that "I'll do my best to find the money, because I don't want to lose this bargain of my life...".
But the international crisis, especially the Greek one, kept me poor. I didn't make it... And here am I, again, listening to my old set up, mono-wired through my humble old wire, losing this opportunity for nirvana.
I became a little sarcastic about this all, until a friend explained to me that -in case of austerity, even poverty- I still could rip off the new wire, cut it to pieces, go to a jeweller, make some dozens of fine rings, cufflinks, earings,etc., and go out and sell them myself, 'cause the prices of precious metals and jewels keep high and stable against the descending Euro...".
Thank you for reading my touching story,
Thanos
P.S. All this story, still going strong, about bi-wiring Vs single-wiring and the difference in sound, gets me nuts, so please excuse me... Yet, I still get crazy!

coredump
29-05-2010, 02:42 AM
serious? ...for the "top end" Dutch wire" that will bring your system to a new dimension, a new heaven, where no "man has ever reached before"....

how about 99% silver and 1%gold from Murdorf (http://www.zendocable.com/english/index.htm) or from Neo-Tech (http://www.liveacoustics.com.sg/upocc.htm) try this first before you take the plunge; i bet you don't have to sell your watch, your house, your car

Labarum
29-05-2010, 10:56 AM
I have been using the same few pieces of speaker wire for 25 years. When I bought my MB Quart speakers in Germany the HiFi shop supplied the cable in the deal and the lengths were quite long. I have moved from military quarter to military quarter many times and have chopped those wires so many times. It has been chopped in various ways to suit different houses, but on rooting around in my "spare wires box" I have always found two lengths that will serve. I trim the ends to get back to bright copper and attach the wires to the binding posts. I don't suppose the copper has de-natured over the years!

Go into any Do It Yourself shop in Germany (or even a large supermarket) and you will see speaker wire for sale by the metre. Two kinds: 2mm^2 and 4 mm^2. I have the fatter stuff, and it will continue to serve till the day I die - unless I have an infestation of rodents and they eat the insulation!

Bi- wiring? I don't own a speaker with more than two terminals.

hifi_dave
29-05-2010, 11:01 AM
Wowie, that is a sad story but you don't need to sell the Crown Jewels to buy a good cable.

I have never been a fan of Silver or Gold plated cables, preferring instead a cable formed from high purity copper. This, I find, has a more neutral sound than these 'exotic' cables which would be worth almost nothing as scrap value.

The make up of the cable is almost as important as the conductor inside. A few thick strands of high purity copper encased in Teflon or, better still, paper or cotton, is what you need for a strong, clean, dynamic cable and this needn't cost much at all. You could even make it yourself.

Thanos
29-05-2010, 02:32 PM
Wowie, that is a sad story but you don't need to sell the Crown Jewels to buy a good cable.

I have never been a fan of Silver or Gold plated cables, preferring instead a cable formed from high purity copper. This, I find, has a more neutral sound than these 'exotic' cables which would be worth almost nothing as scrap value.

The make up of the cable is almost as important as the conductor inside. A few thick strands of high purity copper encased in Teflon or, better still, paper or cotton, is what you need for a strong, clean, dynamic cable and this needn't cost much at all. You could even make it yourself.

Thanks Brian and Dave,
I was just kidding. I'm perfectly happy with my Kimbers, I have them 7 years now, I bought them with a 30% discount. I was initially drawn into this almost meaningless (at least for Harbeth owners) discussion about bi-wiring, jumpers and cables, then I found how much time I've lost... Harbeths -after many, even costly, experiments- do play almost identical either bi-wired or single-wired. I did although find some essential differences between cables, but (having a rather good memory) I do remember Dave's earlier comments, Alan's too, about the analogy between cable cost and system cost.
I shall totally vote for the above suggestion by Hi-Fi Dave, which absolutely represents my opinion too. Thanks Dave, and I would most certainly have you for my personal dealer and advisor if I lived there. I'm always carefully reading your comments since the beginning. Hi-Fi dealers should be like this, everywhere, to take care of their customers' economies.
Yes, at last, just like my friend Brian, I walk the same path, using my good old stuff with economy.
Cheers from ( a well above 30 degrees C) Athens,
Thanos

Labarum
29-05-2010, 02:46 PM
Cheers from ( a well above 30 degrees C) Athens,


Just 30 in Nicosia in our jamariea (conservatory/sun room/glass-house), but the sun is off it. I am sitting in our north facing lounge in a sarong with a fan blasting at me! A few more degrees before we wimp out and out and pu the aircon on!

My Samsung Q210 13" laptop can overheat and lock up - my wife's Dell laptop is bigger and keeps cooler - my trusty Quad 405 power amp doesn't get fussed at all!

I am surprised what Dave says about cable insulation. Can dielectric effects really make a difference at audio frequencies and such low impedances?

I once read that Quad turned up at a HiFi show and prominently coupled their electrostatic speakers to their amp with a Black and Decker extension lead.

(For those not in the know, Black and Decker sell cheap electric drills and power tools.)

A forever sceptical Brian.

honmanm
29-05-2010, 06:04 PM
Brian, if your laptop is a few years old & used in a domestic environment, it may have sucked up fluff that has clogged its heat exchanger. The sign of this is when the computer's fan is going like crazy but there is only a small movement of hot air from its exhaust. A few laptops have a removable panel on the bottom that gives access to the fan assembly - unfortunately most need to be dismantled before you can get to it. If you can, you will see an amazing layer of felt that has built up, and which can be gently peeled off.

405s (well any old Quads) are wonderfully rugged, I knew a chap who built knockoffs to sell to discos - the boards would blacken with the heat, but those amps would soldier on.

Some people use solid-core mains cables as speaker cable - it works surprisingly well. It would be worth looking into the effects (or not) of dielectrics at audio frequencies, that might shine a light on the cable foo.

Although the last time I paid actual money for speaker cable was 20 years ago, for the last two years I've been using cable belonging to a friend which is quite a bit like Dave's recipe - it is basically CC-OFC copper enamelled transformer wire. Doesn't seem to make any contribution to the sound of the system regardless of the equipment in use. Dave's recipe sounds even more promising as the only downside of this stuff is that it is stiff and springy.

Labarum
29-05-2010, 06:15 PM
Brian, if your laptop is a few years old & used in a domestic environment, it may have sucked up fluff that has clogged its heat exchanger.

Thanks for the tip. The laptop is only 18 months old and the airflow seems decent, but what you advise is worth bearing in mind.

There is no removable panel over the fan.

I have many times vacuumed out the desktop PC, so I well know the problem.

We are presently having a new kitchen fitted, and an electric rather than a gas cooker - now if there is any 45Amp cable left over I could try it on my 405 outputs!!! 1.5m either side would do it.

hifi_dave
29-05-2010, 09:25 PM
That transformer wire makes great speaker cable, incons and even digital incons. It is best in a large gauge and if you carefully wind four strands into a 'star quad' configuration using a slow running electric drill, it is stunning. You could pay hundres and get worse.