View Full Version : How do you know your Harbeth placed correctly?

06-11-2009, 02:42 AM
Since having SHL5 I find that the sound presentation is slightly different from my previous speakers. The so called audiophiles CDs sound excellent with the placement of singer(s) and instruments and the voice is heavenly.

But why is it the voice or singers? position varies a lot with SHL5 compared to other loudspeakers ( different brand)? For an example ? Elton John?s Candle in the wind, Elton voice comes almost behind the wall. I do get good layering, i.e. different istruments placed front or back or side even some higher than others but it is the singer who moves a lot compared to my other speakers.

I have done test with other CDs like Norah Jones and in this case she is almost standing right infront of me. I have also done test with Chesky?s UDD2 and Roger Waters ? Amused to death and get the results as intended. But certain CDs (usually normal everyday type music ? non audiophile labels) the vocal placement is very different and even the voice sounds bit different.

Is there a problem with the placements or my equipment is faulty?


06-11-2009, 11:26 AM
Perhaps I can put your mind at rest by saying that the HL5 images exceptionally welll and vocals are amongst the very best I have heard. So there is nothing wrong in that department as far as I am concerned.

If the differences are very marked it might be a good idea to check your wiring through the system - just in case. What were the previous speakers ? It might be that their presentation is very different to the Harbeth's. A prominent mid-band might project the vocals forward, for instance and it may be that you are just used to your old speakers.

06-11-2009, 12:04 PM
This is nothing whatever to do with the SHL5 as you yourself say that the vocals are stronger or weaker on some tracks! The position of a vocalist in space depends upon only (a) the choice of the studio engineer/producer about how LOUD to make the vocalists compared to the musicians (louder makes the vocals seem nearer to you) in the recorded balance and (b) the inherent characteristics of the speakers in the middle frequencies.

We've covered this subject of projection and presentenion in detail and you can read about it here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/uk/index.php?section=products&page=designersnotebookdetail&id=6).

Recorded balance means how loud to make individual performers and where to position them in space, left-right and front-back. Much studio time and money is spent creating the balance that the record company think will sell their performers. But another producer/engineer will make a different balance form the same recorded tracks. All of this depends upon what they hear in the control room, and the speakers that they use during the mixing. If the speakers are pushy with excessive middle-energy then the engineer will reduce the loudness of middle sounds. Played at home on your flat speakers the middle sounds will then be weak. You can't do anything about this! Just accept this as inevitable and enjoy the great recordings!

06-11-2009, 12:06 PM
The most logical explanation would be that because the SHL5 is so honest, it presents recordings just like they are, whereas most speakers imprint their own colorations, some making ALL voices appear up-front, others making ALL voices sound laid-back. Harbeth does not incur such colorations, so what you are hearing is the recording exactly like it always has been, but you did not notice differences before, because they were obscured by the other speakers you have owned.

06-11-2009, 01:58 PM
Hi guys,

Thanks. I suspected so but find it bit strange the distance varies a lot compared with my previous speakers.

To HarbethPR (Trevor) I have read the article but the part I quote:-

"The 'X-plane' represents the left to right spread of musicians across the sound stage. The 'Y-plane' describes the apparent depth of the musicians from the front of the sound stage.

There is nothing that a speaker designer can (or indeed should) do to change the positions of performers across in the sound stage's x-plane; that is completely fixed and encoded into the recording. However, there are substantial differences in the way that loudspeakers resolve and present the depth perspective in the z-plane. Your apparent position in the Z-plane (depth) is equivalent to viewing the stage through binoculars: you may choose not to use them (the natural, 'Harbeth sound'), you may use them one way round to move your listening position forward (positive Z-plane movement ) or the other way round to recede from the orchestra (negative z-plane movement). In practice, this depth perspective is a function of crossover design and driver directionality. "Since it is mentioned that there is nothing a designer could do to change x-plane I was wondering why Simon and Garfunkel ( the 2 singers) appear farther apart (i.e more to left and right) in my Harbeth than from my previous speakers and also in my friend 2 system. It just that for years we are used to listen to certain track with certain presentation and suddenly find them more separated. In fact the Harbeth are placed more closer to each other than my previous speakers.

I guess maybe I need to move further back.


06-11-2009, 02:07 PM
But as Alan showed in his article, if your previous speaker speakers bulged the presentation towards you then I would expect the sound stage to be all bunched up in the middle.

06-11-2009, 02:27 PM
Yes that's right! The previous speaker was bulging more towards me. Now everything make sense. Thanks. Now will just sit and enjoy the music. Have a nice weekend.