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View Full Version : Modifying your Harbeths - real benefits or not?



A.S.
07-02-2006, 07:12 PM
This thread concerns accessories for your Harbeths.

John Parkyn
07-02-2006, 11:41 PM
What else could one possibly need or use beside ears, a room, a chair, electricity, amp, source, cables, interconnects, stands (and speakers)?

What accessories? What worthwhile accessories?

Soundbyte
11-02-2006, 07:22 AM
How about the Totem Beaks? Maybe it might help...
http://www.totemacoustic.com/english/images/products/accessBeak_display.jpg

Frihed89
15-02-2006, 02:36 PM
I recently purchased a pair of the 65 cm stands to use with small 12" monitors like the HLP3.

The construction is pretty bad: large screws on the top end of each leg that need to be screwed into the speaker base. That's it. From experience, i can tell you that making these legs stay truely perpindicular (90 deg.) to the base will be hard without modification, and that once installed, the legs will probably wobble somewhat. At the very least, the four legs need to be joined together (i.e. braced) at one and, still better, two locations.

Has anyone confronted this situation since Alan made us aware of these price-savers?

When it warms up over zero (and after i cut and gather up all the old biomass from my wildflower stalks and stems) , i am going out in my workshop and modify these stands, so they will be true and steady.

They look quite nice.

A.S.
15-02-2006, 07:44 PM
I recently purchased a pair of the 65 cm stands to use with small 12" monitors like the HLP3. The construction is pretty bad: large screws on the top end of each leg that need to be screwed into the speaker base. That's it. ....
What you have there can not be a complete Ikea stand. You seem to have only the four legs of the stand. You are surely missing the thick veneered wooden top plate into which the four legs screw and onto which the speaker sits. The speakers are not in contact with the legs, nor would I suggest in my wildest moments of fantasy that you destroy a Harbeth cabinet by screwing into the cabinet underside directly!

I have several of these stands: the machining of the legs and the top is excellent and when the legs are twisted onto the top they are at exactly 90?. The whole construction is stable and very elegant. I have a pair of C7's at home on these at the moment in my study: nice and tall.

Frihed89
15-02-2006, 08:02 PM
I must be awful at expressing myself in writing.

I have the base (top?) on which the speakers would stand and the 4 legs that screw into the base. But the legs need to be braced I think, because they just screw into the base unit, as you say. But you say, not so. OK. I'll give it a go.

I certainly would not screw/hammer/saw/touch the speakers in an way. The bracing is just to kep the legs vertical and position.

Is that clearer.

A.S.
15-02-2006, 08:45 PM
I have the base (top?) on which the speakers would stand and the 4 legs that screw into the base. But the legs need to be braced I think, because they just screw into the base unit, as you say.
There is absolutely no need for cross bracing. The P3 weighs about 5kg. Just now I lifted off one of my C7s and climbed onto the Lack stand. I weigh 83kg. Then I jumped on the stand. It is absolutely stable.

The machining is very good: the legs are at exactly 90 degrees to the top plate.

Frihed89
15-02-2006, 09:57 PM
Well, that certainly puts the lie to my judgement. But it's nice to hear. Did you really jump on them? Wow.

A.S.
15-02-2006, 10:22 PM
Did you really jump on them? Wow.
Yes, I really, truly did. I distracted my wife by sending her on a mission to make a cup of tea a) so she didn't have to observe the circus show and conclude that I'd finally flipped and b) just in case it did collapse in which case I would have blamed you. Or her. Or Ikea. Or the HUG. Or everyone - but me.

Frihed89
15-02-2006, 10:47 PM
The 65 cm models? (It would have to be for the HLP3).

I haven't put them together, but it's hard to believe looking at the parts in the box (4 legs + speaker base). Therefore, I am overjoyed by the results from your professional testing methods.

A.S.
16-02-2006, 10:12 AM
The 65 cm models? (It would have to be for the HLP3)

Yes, I just measured them. 65cms from floor to the top of the top plate. Strong as an ox. They suit the C7 very well indeed as the top plate is just a cm. or two bigger.

amadeuswus
24-02-2006, 06:18 PM
Hi Alan,

I just joined this group, having recently bought a pair of M30s. I am enjoying their sound very much, even without proper stands. (They are sitting on open-back chairs!)

Would the Lack stands work well with M30s? Does it matter that the top plate would be somewhat larger than the speaker's footprint?

Thanks,
Edward


Yes, I just measured them. 65cms from floor to the top of the top plate. Strong as an ox. They suit the C7 very well indeed as the top plate is just a cm. or two bigger.

danrubin
24-02-2006, 07:24 PM
Hi Alan,

I just joined this group, having recently bought a pair of M30s. I am enjoying their sound very much, even without proper stands. (They are sitting on open-back chairs!)

Would the Lack stands work well with M30s? Does it matter that the top plate would be somewhat larger than the speaker's footprint?

Thanks,
Edward

Probably a little short for the M30s, but I think you will find them an improvement -- perhaps a vast improvement -- on the open-back chairs. When I moved my Harbeths from chairs to the Lack stands, I was shocked at the improvement. For the price, just do it. Regarding the top plate, postion the speakers so the front planes are flush with or even a little overhanging the top plates of the stands.

I have my HL5s on the Lack stands. By my calculations, the HL5s should be on stands of the same height as the Compact 7s (on the basis of tweeter location). I could maybe go 1-3 inches higher, but it's definitely in the right neighborhood.

A.S.
12-01-2008, 10:36 PM
Today I visited the IKEA store in south London to investigate the comment made here recently that IKEA have changed the dimensions of the stand. It seem to be true. Originally, they sold this Lack product as a plant-pot stand, but they now seem to have redesigned it as a mini-table with a much increased top-plate. I have bought two for experimental use under Monitor 40.1.

The IKEA part number is now: 401.042.70. The top plate measures 55cm x 55cm and when assembled, the bottom of the speaker will sit 45cms above the floor (about 18 inches) - rather tall for M40.1. This larger top plate is now really too big for all but the M40/M40.1 and even so, is bigger than the speaker's footprint: it doesn't look great but will get you going.

I strongly suggest that you invest in proper, approved stands like the Skylan or Brooke's stand as shown at our CES room, Jan. 2008.

dimosko
28-01-2008, 09:04 AM
Hi Alan, I'm Massimo and write from Italy. I have bought finally a pair of C7ES3 and i have the problem of the right stands. I actually have a a pair of Epos ST12 (50 cm. and 5/6 kg.). What do you think about? Are too light? And the Skylan 4P20?
Thanks, Massimo

Frihed89
28-01-2008, 11:05 AM
Hej Massimo,

Look at this picture from CES: http://blog.stereophile.com/rmaf2007/Harbeth-450.jpg. I think those are Syland stands on the right that were at RMAF 2008. But the subject of high mass vs. open stands is a topic of hot debate, esp. with respect to the minis. I am not sure where Alan Shaw stands on this topic, nor I.

skylan
30-01-2008, 08:52 PM
Hi Dimosko,

The Epos stands that you have are the correct height for the Compact - 7 and you may be able to add a bit of Mass by filling the legs with fine sand. If there are no holes there already you may be able to drill some and later covet them with black tape or sticker. You can also add to the performance by having an MDF board cut to the same size as the cabinet and the fitted to the top of the stand with Blue-Tac. Then place 4 Polyurethane Bumpons athe corners directly under the cabinets. This board will act to dampen Resonances that may migrate back from the steel. Supporting the cabinet out near the corners will also alow the bottom panel to very slightly flex as intended. Be sure to use pointed feet if on a carpet floor as this will add to stability and give overall best imaging.

Noel.

DSRANCE
31-01-2008, 05:57 PM
This is the second time today I've read recommendations for sand filling Epos style stands...

There definitely seems to be two views on Harbeth stands. The ones I like (for UK rooms anyway) is the rigid, light, carbon pad decoupled one specially made by "Something Solid," which I found to "open them up" - sorry Alan...:)

In more bass absorbent rooms, it seems that wooden or heavy metal stands seem the way to go - interesting.

P.S. I used 12.7mm dia, 3.5mm thick approx clear plastic feet to sit the speakers on, one at each corner, and these were great. Dealers in the UK can get these from RS Components and I found they extended the life of demonstrator speakers too, as well as letting the cabinets flex slightly as designed.

Jmohd
31-01-2008, 10:27 PM
This is the second time today I've read recommendations for sand filling Epos style stands...

There definitely seems to be two views on Harbeth stands. The ones I like (for UK rooms anyway) is the rigid, light, carbon pad decoupled one specially made by "Something Solid," which I found to "open them up" - sorry Alan...:)

In more bass absorbent rooms, it seems that wooden or heavy metal stands seem the way to go - interesting.

P.S. I used 3.6mm dia, 1.5mm thick approx clear plastic feet to sit the speakers on, one at each corner, and these were great. Dealers in the UK can get these from RS Components and I found they extended the life of demonstrator speakers too, as well as letting the cabinets flex slightly as designed.

Please provide the part number for the "clear plastic feet" and which section of the catalogue ..electrical, mechanical..


Thanks

DSRANCE
01-02-2008, 02:46 PM
The current stock number is 248 - 451

Home >Mechanical Components> Anti-Vibration Mounts and Feet> Anti Vibration Feet

I'm sorry, I got the original dimensions completely wrong.....

- Height 3.5mm, dia 12.7mm - clear or grey (I always used the clear ones as I often fitted them to small speakers that were sitting on a metal "display shelf" but it doesn't matter.

Hope this helps......

Pluto
03-02-2008, 12:55 PM
...of Ikea "Lack" side table - I have bought two for experimental use under Monitor 40.1 In the light pink finish I trust ;-)

http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/40104270

A.S.
03-02-2008, 10:43 PM
That's the very one! Only available in a beach effect.

Now, this stand is quite a bit bigger than the original one used under Compact 7ES3 and bigger than the M40 - M40.1 itself. I have noticed that the top board sounds rather hollow to the knock and as a precaution, I'm going to staple some roofing felt (the dry type) onto the underside to mass-damp it, just as you would a thin-wall cabinet. Tempting though it may be, do not apply (liquid) bitumen rubber because you will not be able to eradicate the smell.

Kevin M
08-02-2008, 10:53 AM
Not sure this is the appropriate section but it is the closest I've found.

I was wondering if anyone else shared my belief that brown rather than black might be more pleasing to the eye when it comes to speaker grilles? There are references on the Harbeth site, and I dare say in the literature, to speakers 'disappearing' in domestic environments (If I recall corerctly, the smaller dimensions of the Monitor 30 are said to help in this regard), but I think that black makes speakers more imposing (i.e., noticeable) than they need be. Given the care taken to finish the speakers in attarctive veneers, might something other than black round the aesthetic off? A couple of other manufacturers do this (Tannoy and Quad spring to mind) and I was wondering if it's been considered at Harbeth? Not that it's a clincher - I ordered my C7s the other day and am looking forward tremendously to them arriving. I'd have fewer worries on the domestic front if they had brownish rather than black fronts on them though.....

Gan CK
08-02-2008, 02:06 PM
Not sure this is the appropriate section but it is the closest I've found.

I was wondering if anyone else shared my belief that brown rather than black might be more pleasing to the eye when it comes to speaker grilles? There are references on the Harbeth site, and I dare say in the literature, to speakers 'disappearing' in domestic environments (If I recall corerctly, the smaller dimensions of the Monitor 30 are said to help in this regard), but I think that black makes speakers more imposing (i.e., noticeable) than they need be. Given the care taken to finish the speakers in attarctive veneers, might something other than black round the aesthetic off? A couple of other manufacturers do this (Tannoy and Quad spring to mind) and I was wondering if it's been considered at Harbeth? Not that it's a clincher - I ordered my C7s the other day and am looking forward tremendously to them arriving. I'd have fewer worries on the domestic front if they had brownish rather than black fronts on them though.....

Personally my preference for grilles is still black though i would prefer the foam grille (like old HL-5) or the tygan one like those used on the old Rogers studio 1 & LS-3/5A. In fact black matches easily into most home decos as compared to brown though i understand that brown grilles like those used on Tannoy prestige range gives a more classic look.

bbtan
30-07-2008, 10:09 AM
Can a Compact 7 stand made from solid granite / marble???What probable sound will it be...

Frihed89
30-07-2008, 01:43 PM
Today I visited the IKEA store in south London to investigate the comment made here recently that IKEA have changed the dimensions of the stand. It seem to be true. Originally, they sold this Lack product as a plant-pot stand, but they now seem to have redesigned it as a mini-table with a much increased top-plate. I have bought two for experimental use under Monitor 40.1.

The IKEA part number is now: 401.042.70. The top plate measures 55cm x 55cm and when assembled, the bottom of the speaker will sit 45cms above the floor (about 18 inches) - rather tall for M40.1. This larger top plate is now really too big for all but the M40/M40.1 and even so, is bigger than the speaker's footprint: it doesn't look great but will get you going.

I strongly suggest that you invest in proper, approved stands like the Skylan or Brooke's stand as shown at our CES room, Jan. 2008.

Update.

The beloved lak mini-stand (high enough to accommodate 12" minis) survived a few extra years in Denmark and I was shipping them out as fast as i could get them, even after the catalog dropped them. I kept pushing up the price to cut the volume, and when that didn't work i just stopped. I'm old.

Well, they ARE really gone, now, according to my original inside source.

Too bad for mini-owners, as this stand was really quite good for all the LS3/5As and close relatives. It's funny, you'd think for a single spec-type speaker, like the "original" LS3/5As, that one stand would be optimal for all of them. But that wasn't true at all. Some liked low mass stands, some sounded better on high mass stands, but of course that was also a function of the ears and preferences of the individual. I have now owned and sold all but 1 of 3 different LS3/5A-types (and i am not saying which ones) and I have "interviewed" the Harbeth and Spendor relatives. The old Lak stand was not the absolute best for any of them to my ears, but it sounded very good on all of them.

I have never owned the bigger Harbeth or Spendor boxes for which a shorter Lak stand still survives. I don't have the room for them, but if the shorty is anything like the taller one that has been discontinued and if you are not fond of shedding several (or more) ?100 notes every 2-3 years for the latest metal rage, try it.

Gan CK
31-07-2008, 02:36 AM
Can a Compact 7 stand made from solid granite / marble???What probable sound will it be...

Sure why not, but that might render the sound dead & lacking in air. Those metal stands that Tropical Audio supplies with their Harbeth speakers are good enough.

bbtan
31-07-2008, 08:40 AM
Sure why not, but that might render the sound dead & lacking in air. Those metal stands that Tropical Audio supplies with their Harbeth speakers are good enough.

The metal stand supplied by T/Audio seem to be very flimsy.....tq

David Schalkwyk
01-08-2008, 08:24 AM
Can a Compact 7 stand made from solid granite / marble???What probable sound will it be...

I used 26" granite stands under my Harbeth HP3s. They sounded absolutely fine. The stands were too tall and narrow for my Compact 7s, though. As I wrote some months ago, I used coffee tables with large dictionaries for the C7s until I could get some metal stands made. The metal stands firmed up the bass a bit, but I can endorse Alan's claim that the kind of stand does not seem to matter much with Harbeth 'speakers. As he put it (if I remember correctly), you could use a pile of telephone directories. From my experience, I agree.

David

Diminish
28-03-2011, 10:14 PM
Since this thread is dedicated to "Accessories" in general, I have one that I would like to share and suggest to Harbeth users: I bought (8) 3/16"ID by 1/2"OD Herbie's Grungebuster washers and placed them on the back side of the Radial drivers in my M-30's with a metal washer over top of them. Teflon washers are also available through Herbie's. This process involves removing the front panel of the speakers and takes about 15-20 minutes, so I wasn't able to do a quick side by side comparision, however, I'm convinced that it made a slight improvement. Lower frequencies are less "muddy"; tighter and more impactful. During fortes or crescendos, I am better able to distinguish groups of instruments. The sound seems to have an improved focus. I don't exactly recall the price of these washers, but its safe to say that you could do it for under $10 (US). It will also give you an opportunity to have a look inside your Harbeths (if you haven't already).

Gan CK
29-03-2011, 06:40 AM
Personally, i don't think its a good idea to open up your Harbeths unless absolutely necessary, much less to put something inside to tweak the sound. I believe every pair of Harbeths have been optimised by Alan to give you the most balanced & natural sound.

kittykat
29-03-2011, 08:41 AM
I believe every pair of Harbeths have been optimised

yes, im afraid those tweaks would have changed things...for the worst. only kidding. :-) if it makes you happy, thats all that matters.

did you take any photos of your adventure, by any chance, you would want to share?

HUG-1
29-03-2011, 10:02 AM
No. Do not ask this question. You and the original poster are encouraging users to invalidate their Warranty. If we can identify the serial numbers of the pair that have been opened we will make a note against them in the Registration data base and the Warranty will be voided. The local importer will also be advised.

The real world: If we the makers could achieve more performance from washers on the magnet we would have designed that 1 cent mod into the original product and added $100 to the selling price.

DO NOT MODIFY THE INTERNALS OF YOUR HARBETHS. YOU CAN ONLY DEGRADE THE SOUND BY WEAKENING THE CONSTRUCTION. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE ANY IMPROVEMENT IN SOUND OR WE WOULD HAVE DESIGNED-IN THAT HIGHLY PROFITABLE MODIFICATION OURSELVES.

Any photos that encourage this sort of nonsense will be deleted to protect others from temptation.

A.S.
29-03-2011, 11:28 AM
HUG-1 is correct. We cannot encourage DIY speaker-redesign here on the official, manufacturers-run Harbeth User Group. Nor would BMW on their forum.

It seems there is an urge to open what left the factory in guaranteed working order. There are two consequences of this which you should be aware of:


We need to review the whole Warranty situation. Any (extremely rare) Warranty claims will need to be validated by an authorised Harbeth dealer to verify the user has not opened the speakers (there are always tell-tale marks) and/or attempted any modifications. This is the same as returning your car to an authorised dealer for inspection if want to make a claim. It's only fair and reasonable.
You should be vigilant when buying used (second-hand). You never know what modifications the user has been tempted into. We only offer Warranty to the first owner subject to various T's and C's for this reason.

Thank you for your understanding. I do my very, very best when designing Harbeth speakers to squeeze every gramme of performance and to save you wasting time and money chasing modifications.

kittykat
29-03-2011, 11:38 AM
I was only asking in jest. In all seriousness, if there is any change in the sound it would be away from what it was originally intended to be, ie. It has most possibly becomes "bad"...

There is nothing much direct tweaks can do. Its sub optimising within a small dimension of the vast landscape of good sound. Like what HUG has suggested, worn down screw holes in the wooden cabinets, not to mention irreparable damage from overtightening are bigger risks than rewards. Flying screws drawn by powerful magnets do damage as well. Applying the wrong torque might have had a bigger impact to the sound than the washers themselves. Im sure by applying washers it would have shifted the distance of something against another. So please don’t modify anything. The results can only be what it wasn’t intended to be, the worst of all damage. That can only mean many sleepless nights and bottles of whiskey, money which could have been spent on good quality recordings and some reasonable sound treatment which will yield much more tangible and rewarding endeavours.

A.S.
29-03-2011, 12:51 PM
... Like what HUG has suggested, worn down screw holes in the wooden cabinets, not to mention irreparable damage from overtightening are bigger risks than rewards. Flying screws drawn by powerful magnets do damage as well. Applying the wrong torque might have had a bigger impact to the sound than the washers themselves...Absolutely correct. The Harbeth cabinets is of the BBC 'thin wall' concept. That relies on a wood-on-wood interface; for example, the back panel or baffle tightened onto the soft-wood bearers that run around those panels in the inside of the cabinet. Those wood-on-wood joints are intentionally pliable, neither too flexible nor to rigid. Contrast that with conventional cabinets where (usually) all of the panels are rigidly bonded together into one, seamless carcass. In such a system, access to the inside is usually effected by removing the woofer and reaching into the cabinet.

As kittykat hints, repeated removal of the front or back will 'drill out' the pilot holes that are carefully dimensioned to give just the right tension to the front or back. And once they are so enlarged, they offer no grip - and the cabinet is useless. And we don't supply replacement cabinets. So a little curiosity and/or modification can in the most unfortunate case, result in a very expensive mistake. If you buy used, from an unknown or internet source, this is just one of the considerations you need to keep in mind. I'd suggest that if there is any hint that the speakers have been opened, cables/crossovers/foam modified that you run a mile.

Furthermore, how can the user be sure whether we assemble the cabinet from the front of the back? This may seem an irrelevant question, but in fact, it is highly relevant to the above issues.

Diminish
29-03-2011, 09:26 PM
I will recant the above post in the same spirit that Galileo recanted his support of the heliocentric model to the Spanish Inquisition. I would not wish a revocation of Warranty on the fellow users; much less my worst enemy. That was certainly not my intent. If you intend to void my Warranty, I would like to have that in writing on Harbeth letterhead along with tangible proof that the modification was, in fact, performed on the pair for which you have serial numbers.


@ HUG-1
"The real world: If we the makers could achieve more performance from washers on the magnet we would have designed that 1 cent mod into the original product and added $100 to the selling price"

Is this really how you wish to portray Harbeth's approach to research and design; a $100 markup on a $.01 part? Can we, therefore, conclude that a $5000 pair of your speakers cost $2 to make?

If you're going to criticize my post, you should at least understand what I'm saying. I never said anything about putting a washer on the magnet. While I realize it to be to my detriment to further endorse this modification, it should be stated that I devised it with a specific intended result; an added measure of decoupling between the baffle and cabinnt. You have effectively silenced me in trying to argue on whether or not this is needed and whether or not it is effective, however, you can't entirely dismiss it unless and until you've evaluated it.

Although it may stand counter to the dogmatic views expressed by Harbeth management, significant improvements can be made to manufactured products. A Sony 5400ES SACD player that receives the Modwright Ultimate Truth modifications sounds much better than the bare stock Sony. Its obvious and its replicable. Although BMW might not openly endorse modifications on it's Official Website, there are significant gains to be made in performance. In this case, they are measurable. Cold air intakes, turbo chargers, intercoolers, aftermarket exhaust, HP hoses, computer chips, ect. will result in increased horsepower and quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times.

EricW
29-03-2011, 10:16 PM
To me, the single most important issue here is the screwholes. Harbeth cabinets are made, as I understand it, of veneered MDF (with an added layer of damping). There's no question that if you remove and reinsert the screws you remove a tiny amount of MDF each time. You may get away with it once or twice, but once you've enlarged the hole enough that the screw doesn't bite anymore you're done - you can't go back. I know this happens because I've done it myself (but not to a Harbeth, thank goodness).

For that reason alone I'd leave well enough alone - it's just not worth it.

However, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I'd like to suggest that any member who believes they have a valid idea for a cost-effective and meaningful improvement to Harbeth's basic design send Harbeth a private message with the details. I'm sure that Harbeth, as a conscientious manufacturer always looking to make a better product, would happily incorporate any suggestion that improves their speaker at minimal cost. That way we all benefit, and owners who are currently happy with their speakers won't be tempted to fool around on the inside of their enclosures, with potentially negative consequences.

A.S.
29-03-2011, 11:51 PM
As I clearly said, the thin wall cabinet system is a finely balanced interconnected system of many parts. As you can read from the BBC research work on cabinet damping (attached) the smallest ill considered or unintentional change to any part of the structure is likely to make a change to the sonics of the system - but not necessarily for the better. I draw your attention to our founder, Dudley Harwood's comments on pages 15 and 19 about the consequences of incorrectly manufactured thin-wall speaker cabinets and associated graphs. And Fig. 8/9 and 13/14 show the exceedingly narrow margin between audible coloration and not - a line you could unwittingly transgress with a DIY modification.

BMW (presumably) do not endorse those after market tweaks because they are building cars that put long-term durability as the primary goal. They know the strengths, and more importantly weaknesses of their designs better than anyone outside their secure laboratories. I suspect that most of those tweaks have an impact on the longevity or reliability of the car which may not be obvious until it fails at some point in the future. And then, would the tweaker hastily revert to the factory spec and try and claim on the Warranty? Some do.

I repeat again, this is the manufacturer's forum. We here are Harbeth UK, the manufacturing company. We pay for this site and maintain it. It is not our remit here to encourage the redesign of our standard, reliable, respected factory original products built to last. There may be other places on the internet that hold that sort of discussion, but not here.

And yes - we live in the commercial world. If we could add $100 of value for a 1c part, of course I'd go for it. I'd be mad not to. But the truth is, it would be 1c added to cost for zero benefit. And we're not in the BS business.

Dogmatic? Perhaps. Considering the decades I've invested in the design of the speakers and the technical obstacles overcome, I think as the designer I've earned the right to be.

kittykat
30-03-2011, 03:55 AM
Cold air intakes, turbo chargers, intercoolers, aftermarket exhaust, HP hoses, computer chips, ect. will result in increased horsepower and quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times.

adding go faster components on a car (without improving brakes, drive-train etc) highlights sub-optimisation which may result in a worst type of disaster (not to mention shortened motors lifespans)

“Squeezing the last ounce” in the domestic world is definitely intriguing, and worthy of academic study. The “last ounce” whether in horsepower, or “better” sound cannot be applied or appreciated in most instances eg. Lack of appropriate roads or in this situation, a room. In this wider context, improvements if any, are very interesting but also very superfluous.

If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you.

keithwwk
30-03-2011, 07:58 AM
If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you.

I like this very much. Appreciate.

Jmohd
30-03-2011, 04:39 PM
Me too... thanks for reminding... as time goes by we tend to forget.. especially... when we are seaching for the "ultimate" in HI-Fi. If you watch youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xs1aUws0Lrs), Greek Audiophile you will know what i mean

Diminish
30-03-2011, 08:51 PM
"If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you."

The speakers will sound better than what? It seems that you're suggesting that pride of ownership results in improved sonics. This is the placebo effect; the very same argument that those of you who don't hear differences in cables or electronics use to discredit those of us who do.

timber715
30-03-2011, 10:03 PM
He merely said that if you are happy with what you have, it will please you better, you will enjoy it more and it will sound better since you are happy. But if you wish to redesign something that is already well designed to seek perfection... I don't think you will ever find it. try to enjoy life, a better outlook will make you happier... that is guranteed (but please don't ask me for a written document with a letterhead) :D

EricW
30-03-2011, 10:24 PM
To Diminish:

I agree with what others have said. Since you mention the "placebo effect", don't forget that it can work the other way as well. How much of the "improvement" you are hearing from your tweak is as a result of a meaningful change to the physical property of your loudspeakers, and how much is due to a sense that you personally have done something to affect their sound? Can you really separate the two?

I think the urge to tinker is understandable - it gives one the pleasant feeling of agency, of having done something oneself, of not being just a consumer, but also a participant and co-creator of the experience. It's a nice psychological feeling to have.

But I think that it's also an illusion, at least when it comes to something as complex as a well-designed and well-engineered loudspeaker. I know very little about loudspeaker design, but I know something about expertise. And real expertise - in any field - is something one works long and hard to acquire, and it needs to be recognized and respected where it exists. Sometimes it's hard to know what we don't know, but it can be crucial to recognize that we don't actually know. That doesn't mean one can't ask questions, but likewise one needs to have the humility to recognize that one's own knowledge isn't on the same level as that of an expert.

When it comes to a Harbeth product, I am content to derive my sense of "participation" from the knowledge that I have made a very good choice.

John Geisen
31-03-2011, 04:07 AM
EricW,

This is an extremely good example of what I've experienced many times, with many products, and on many different levels. Thanks for taking the time and making this a wonderful forum.

John

STHLS5
31-03-2011, 06:56 AM
....A Sony 5400ES SACD player that receives the Modwright Ultimate Truth modifications sounds much better than the bare stock Sony..

Dimmish made a very pertinent point about the modified SACD player. Another example would be F1 cars where even after spending millions or billions Toyota wasn't able to produce a competitive car for winning the races but there were teams (non car manufacturers but specializes in some aspect of car engine modification) that used Toyota's engines and managed to make their cars to outperform Toyota. At least to my opinion, it is possible for one to make further improvements to an already perfect product but this takes another equally competent engineers backed with solid engineering knowledge which we as ordinary customers do not usually possess. Under such circumstances, it is possible for anyone who throws one or two research papers or some measurements to play on our ever presence psychosis behaviour and induce us into believing something that is non-existent.

Now coming back to the washers, could it really improve the sound? If so why BBC which had some of the best brains in audio engineering did not discover such simple devices to improve their products? Why did they waste extensive years of research to produce Radial drivers when a simple washer could do the job to improve the previous pp drivers?

For the past couple of weeks I was busy trying to establish to myself if speakers stands would improve the sound of my SHL5. Finally, I just came to one simple conclusion that I can’t be absolutely sure if damping, coupling, decoupling or sand bagging the stand ever made any difference to the sound. Next what I did was to introduce additional vibration to the cabinets by leaving a small battery operated motor running (found in toys about the 2cm x 1cm dimension) on the top of speaker cabinet surface so that it rattles the cabinet gently (like you are tapping your fingers on the cabinets).

I can safely say no one (four people) could ever tell if the additional motor sound actually deteriorated the sound. No one could and none of my hi-if friends interested to find out why so much vibration, which was more than the vibration of my speaker stand didn’t cloud or colours the sound?

To my mind, if so much additional vibration couldn’t affect the sound than there is no way small things like spikes or heavy stands or a washer could ever make any difference to the sound. In the case of a driver, the biggest area where the refracted energy that somehow capable of reaching the cones must cross the rubber surround which holds the cones suspended and that energy would be a tiny fraction of the immediate problem for the cones which comes to them through the very air that it moves to create the sound.

One important thing I learned in this forum is to not to rely on our audio memory to judge sound. If anyone has taken the absolute pitch test in the audiocheck link (http://www.audiocheck.net/blindtests_abspitch.php) posted here by our reader in another thread, I realized my audio memory is not even the standard 20 seconds but more like 5 to 10 seconds! So if you are unable to make simultaneous switching to do AB test to hear small differences in sound then it is not worth the time and effort.

ST

A.S.
31-03-2011, 04:44 PM
... Next what I did was to introduce additional vibration to the cabinets by leaving a small battery operated motor running (found in toys about the 2cm x 1cm dimension) on the top of speaker cabinet surface so that it rattles the cabinet gently (like you are tapping your fingers on the cabinets).

I can safely say no one (four people) could ever tell if the additional motor sound actually deteriorated the sound. No one could and none of my hi-if friends interested to find out why so much vibration, which was more than the vibration of my speaker stand didnít cloud or colours the sound? ...
One important thing I learned in this forum is to not to rely on our audio memory to judge sound.... I realized my audio memory is not even the standard 20 seconds but more like 5 to 10 seconds! So if you are unable to make simultaneous switching to do AB test to hear small differences in sound then it is not worth the time and effort. This experience is made all the more valuable because you conceived an appropriate experiment, you used simple gadgets that everyone can understand and you rolled up your sleeves and actually bothered to do it. I congratulate you for your intellectual aptitude. How could anyone disagree with your findings? Many thanks.

Diminish
31-03-2011, 07:09 PM
"How could anyone disagree with your findings?" Easily enough, actually: the dergree to which the homemade vibrator effects the sound of the speaker would be a function of the intensity of the sound played through the speaker, the vibrational energy transmitted directly into the cabinet, and the sound radiated into the acoustic environment by the motor. Depending on the frequency of this sound it will interfere with the [presumeably music] played through the loudspeaker. The intensity of the vibrational energy from the motor being assumed constant, the control variable would then be the playback volume of the music through the speakers. Was this held constant throughout the evaluation? Does this experiment closely approximate any real world vibrational interference that the speaker would be likely to encounter? What is the resonant frequency of the cabinet, it's elastic modulus? At what frequency does the motor vibrate, it's amplitude? What measures have been taken to control for electromagnetic damping from the motor itself? Are the results replicable?

So now we have that a placing a vibrator a-top the cabinet of a Harbeth speaker does not effect it's sound, cables and electronics do not effect the sound, in fact, in another post, it is stated that you could cut through the Radial driver and THAT would have little effect on the sound! How is it, then, that placing a decoupling washer on the bolt that holds the basket in place is such a fatal flaw?

HUG-1
31-03-2011, 10:38 PM
To answer your question:

Yes, if a customer opens our factory-made and ISO certified speaker then the factory Warranty cannot be assured. Remedial work in-warranty can only be undertaken by an Authorised Harbeth agent. This is a universal fact applying to the opening-up of all manufactured products, not just Harbeth.

As we have already told you this manufacturers-run Harbeth User Group does not exist to promote unauthorised DIY redesign of our products when we have a full order book for those same products (http://http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?111-Legal-patents-etc.&p=13645#post13645). Maybe there are other outlets on the internet for such contributions but not here. We will not permit discussion of modifications of any part of the internal construction of a Harbeth speaker system on this forum simply because of the potential impact on the Warranty we offer the first owner*. We stand by our Warranty providing that the user plays-fair and does not attempt DIY modifications.

* There are certain Terms and Conditions relating to our Warranty.

STHLS5
01-04-2011, 12:25 AM
"?..............Depending on the frequency of this sound it will interfere with the [presumeably music] played through the loudspeaker. The intensity of the vibrational energy from the motor being assumed constant, the control variable would then be the playback volume of the music through the speakers. Was this held constant throughout the evaluation? Does this experiment closely approximate any real world vibrational interference that the speaker would be likely to encounter? What is the resonant frequency of the cabinet, it's elastic modulus? At what frequency does the motor vibrate, it's amplitude? What measures have been taken to control for electromagnetic damping from the motor itself? Are the results replicable?.......flaw?

Well....you got a point about the constant vibration of the motor. Would you agree if I were to place another set of drivers or woofer on the top of the cabinet and the volume of the driver is controlled independently through a resistor so that it is not audible where I sit? Shouldn't then the vibrational effect be the same?

I can't wait to do the experiment and would appreciate your contribution to improve the experiment. Please PM me if you have any. Thanks

ST

p.s. I am aware that this forum does not encourage discussion of cables, interconnects, spikes or similar tweaks so I will just confine to the facts why it is humanly impossible to judge micro incremental improvements by tweaks.

In a thesis submitted by the department of Mechanical engineering to determine noise control found out that a mere shift of 2 mm of the microphones changes the reading of 600Hz values as much as 0.6 to 0.8dB and as much as 20dB when under a different configuration.

When we apply the same to our ears we should know that it is humanly impossible for someone to sit still at the exact location even for a few minutes. As time goes by. we tend to relax and then our body may lean deeper to the couch, our head may be slanting a few degrees and our focus too would have changed. Not to mention that our room temperature varies which affects the sound. The air conditioner would have brought the temperature down by 1 Celcius or it could have gone 1 Celcius up due to heat from the amplifier and our body.

Taking the example of putting an object (washers) in the cabinet, wouldn't that too change the volume of the cabinet air by about 640 cubic millimeters affects the sound? With so much variables to account for how could we ever able to hear micro details difference when it is almost impossible to tell the 1dB difference even with reference?

EricW
01-04-2011, 05:16 AM
The simple fact is this: if the tweak under discussion made a real difference to the sound of a pair of Harbeths, one of two things would follow:

(1) It's a design flaw/deficiency not to have incorporated such an inexpensive way of making an improvement to the sound {at the time of manufacture}; or

(2) It's an economic choice by Harbeth not to pay for the improvement.

Now, the question is, is either likely?

Given what we know about the cost of producing Harbeth speakers (expensive cabinetry, expensive drivers), it seems unlikely that the cost of a washer would impact Harbeth's decision-making process.

So if we rule out possibility (2), that leaves (1), i.e. the possibility that the design is flawed, in the sense that a simple and cost-effective improvement has simply been overlooked. Let's grant that it's a possibility and ask how likely it is. Is it likely that a company that cares enough about their design to actually invent and use a unique and proprietary cone material, at considerable cost, would overlook a minor improvement that paid real dividends in improving the sound? Possible. But very unlikely. (To say nothing of the deep research legacy represented by the BBC background.)

So if we eliminate (1) and (2), only one possibility remains: the design has been thought out and optimized to a point that minor DIY tweaks likely have no positive impact on sound quality, may well have a negative impact, and in any event risk voiding the warranty.

Now if a valid listening test could repeatedly and reliably demonstrate differences, that would be one thing. But until such test has been performed, I think scepticism is justified.

hifi_dave
01-04-2011, 11:26 AM
Over the years I have tried numerous gizmos which are placed on or stuck on speaker cabinets. They all claim to improve the sound and some have cost many hundreds of Pounds. To my knowledge, they all relied on something in their structure resonating with the vibrations of the speaker cabinet.

So far, out of those I have tried, some make a small 'difference' to the sound, the others had no audible effect. Of those that produced audible changes, the result was a very slight 'difference' and never an outright improvement. I believe I still have a few in a box somewhere but have never had the slightest inclination to use them again.

Keep it simple and save your money.

boland7214
26-02-2013, 05:33 PM
"What else could one possibly need...." etc? What about a sub woofer? The smaller Harbeth goes down to 75 Hz, correct? So, what about the bass? No bass? It just makes sense to add a sub woofer, right? Has anyone tried that yet? What were the results? Thanks, John

A.S.
26-02-2013, 06:23 PM
"What else could one possibly need...." etc? What about a sub woofer? The smaller Harbeth goes down to 75 Hz, correct? So, what about the bass? No bass? It just makes sense to add a sub woofer, right? Has anyone tried that yet? What were the results? Thanks, JohnA possible misreading of the specifications?

When a speaker quotes a specification something like "Frequency response: 75Hz to 20kHz" it does not mean or imply in any way that the bass range stops dead at 75Hz. It doesn't mean that a note of 74Hz, 60Hz or 44Hz is not reproduced. It does mean that there is a progressive fading-out in measured and perceived loudness with diminishing frequency and that, in a well defined specification, from some arbitrary middle range frequency where the loudspeaker is presumed to be flat, that the bass response is x dBs below that loudness at a certain low note.

So, a proper specification that has some meaning would be something like: "Frequency response: 75Hz to 20kHz minus 3dB". That would mean that, to use your example of 75Hz and mine of -3dB, that the response is three dB down at 75Hz, three and a little bit more down at 70Hz and perhaps five or six dB down at 60Hz. The exact relationship between falling frequency and the number of dBs that the loudness of the bass has diminished is described as the bass roll-off and the gradient of that roll off will vary from speaker model to speaker model based on factors such as diameter of driver/box volume/vented or not/bass tuning and so on.

The trick is to have enough controls on the sub electronics to blend-in the gradient of contribution of the sub with falling frequency to exactly match the gradient and loudness of the fade-out in the main speaker's energy. If you can closely match these two audio sources into a seamless whole you have achieved big-speaker bass from small speakers plus sub.

Tryfan
26-02-2013, 07:38 PM
A possible misreading of the specifications?

When a speaker quotes a specification something like "Frequency response: 75Hz to 20kHz" it does not mean or imply in any way that the bass range stops dead at 75Hz. It doesn't mean that a note of 74Hz, 60Hz or 44Hz is not reproduced. It does mean that there is a progressive fading-out in measured and perceived loudness with diminishing frequency and that, in a well defined specification, from some arbitrary middle range frequency where the loudspeaker is presumed to be flat, that the bass response is x dBs below that loudness at a certain low note.

So, a proper specification that has some meaning would be something like: "Frequency response: 75Hz to 20kHz minus 3dB". That would mean that, to use your example of 75Hz and mine of -3dB, that the response is three dB down at 75Hz, three and a little bit more down at 70Hz and perhaps five or six dB down at 60Hz. The exact relationship between falling frequency and the number of dBs that the loudness of the bass has diminished is described as the bass roll-off and the gradient of that roll off will vary from speaker model to speaker model based on factors such as diameter of driver/box volume/vented or not/bass tuning and so on.

The trick is to have enough controls on the sub electronics to blend-in the gradient of contribution of the sub with frequency to exactly match the gradient and loudness of the fade-out in the main speaker's energy. If you can closely match these two audio sources into a seamless whole you have achieved big-speaker bass from small speakers plus sub.

Thank you Alan, first time I read this information ........................ i even understand it!
So that is what you did with my 30.1's

Supersnake
26-02-2013, 08:55 PM
A possible misreading of the specifications?
....The trick is to have enough controls on the sub electronics to blend-in the gradient of contribution of the sub with frequency to exactly match the gradient and loudness of the fade-out in the main speaker's energy. If you can closely match these two audio sources into a seamless whole you have achieved big-speaker bass from small speakers plus sub.

Alan with typical clarity described that significant requirement.

Below is an extract from my REL subwoofer manual. After following the manufacturer's instructions for determining physical location, I then calibrated the crossover and level settings per instructions. Have underscored what Alan corroborated.
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Crossover and Level Settings:

To determine the crossover point, take the volume of the REL (using the HI/LO Level control) all the way down, and put the crossover to 25 Hz. At this point, bring the REL’s volume back up slowly to the point where you have achieved a subtle balance, i.e. the point at which you can hear the REL even with the main speakers playing. Now, bring the crossover point up until it is obviously too high; at this point bring it down to the appropriate lower setting. For all intents and purposes, this is the correct crossover point. Once this stage has been reached, subtle changes to volume and crossover can be accomplished to provide the last bit of complete and seamless integration. With that, set-up is complete.

Hint: There may be a tendency to set the crossover point too high and the volume of the Sub-Bass System too low when first learning how to integrate a REL with the system, the fear being one of overwhelming the main speakers with bass. But in doing so, the resulting set-up will be lacking in bass depth and dynamics. The proper crossover point and volume setting will increase overall dynamics, allow for extended bass frequencies, and improve soundstage properties. Note, volume must be adjusted in conjunction with crossover changes. In general, when selecting a lower crossover point, more volume may need to be applied.

Addendum
Have setup a REL T9 subwoofer with my Harbeth C-7.

A really good sub will integrate so seamlessly into your system that it will not draw attention to itself. You'll should have the added foundation of the bass, and should experience added ambience in your soundstage. One should not hear the subwoofer as a separate entity, and the bass should sound tuneful and integrated with the rest of the music. Seamless integration is one of the hardest things to design into a sub and is often overlooked by first-time subwoofer buyers.

TimVG
26-02-2013, 09:23 PM
Be sure to highpass the P3's when using a subwoofer, otherwise you lose the benefit of increased power handling (with respect to the specs given by Harbeth in terms of power handling of course). I've used my system like this in the past and it worked superbly, giving the impression of a much larger system.

On the other hand, the P3's are not at all shy on their own in the low register, in their current position in my own room, they are pretty much flat to 50hz. They're the mostwonderful versatile little speakers.

Sealed speakers have a gentle natural rolloff, proper placement in a room, can extend the bass much deeper than outside measurements will tell you.