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jdinco
09-08-2010, 11:11 PM
I have C7es3's and was wondering what tube amps others have found to work well with the Harbeths? Or should I stay hybrid or SS ? Thanks for any relpies.

John

KT88
10-08-2010, 03:33 PM
Hey, John

I have a pair of C7 ES-2's and a pair of Monitor 30's. I've driven both pairs with the following:

NAD 3020 (Solid State)
Conrad Johnson MV 75 A-1 (Tube)
Quicksilver V-4 mono amps (T)
Dynaco Stereo 70 (Tube, modified, 28 WPC triode)
Pass Labs Aleph J clone (Solid State, 15 WPC Class A)

I find these speakers are not sensitive to the type of amp or output power, and they (may?) actually sound better with lower powered amps! The Quicksilvers are 120 WPC and it's overkill! The best sounds are from the Stereo 70 and the Pass Labs clone; the less efficient Monitor 30's sound spectacular with the little Class A amp.

I wouldn't spend a fortune on power for your 7's, and I've heard a lot of good things about the 7's being driven with the Naim 5i integrated (around 50 WPC solid state). Save your money for records and CD's and some really good cables. I've had great results with Nordost cables, and these speakers reveal how good the Nordosts are immediately.

Good Hunting, enjoy your 7's!

Bob LaBarca
State College, PA

Drdennis
10-08-2010, 07:44 PM
I am currently using a restored and modified (Mapleshade) HH Scott 222c with my C7 ES3's. I like the sound very much. There is a very favorable review of an Audio Research tubed integrated ($4,000) in the Sept issue of Stereophile. Also, in the same issue Sam Tellig reviews the Manley Stingray tubed integrated ($3,000 US) which he used with his C7 ES3's. You might also look at Prima Luna and Mystere.

KT88
10-08-2010, 10:01 PM
Dear Moderator

Why would you edit my post with the word "may"? regarding my claim that my Harbeths (may) sound better with lower powered amps? In my experience, they DO sound better with lower powered amps. jdincc wanted an opionion and I gave him one-by placing "may" in there, you're making my opinion ambivalent.


Bob LaBarca
State College, PA
USA

{Moderator's comment: we have the right to edit posts in the interests of clarity and ambiguity. Our readers frequently literally interpret comments here, and an innocent comment that a certain speaker works well with/doesn't work with a certain accessory or amplifier will be taken by some readers as a god given fact. But it's not a fact; it's one person's opinion. And not ours or the designers. These "facts" then become embellished and become a rigid part of the folklore, impossible to correct. What you cannot imagine is the emails and phone calls to the Uk office that one seemingly innocent comment may make. Audiophilia demands we consider the full impact of contributions on the present/future readers.

The forum is moderated in the interests of all. Please also remember, English is not the first language of many members here who pass these words through a language translator sharpening-up the black/white go/no-go impact of any sentences. In future we will try and highlight editorial changes we have made, but amplifiers/speaker matching is a subject we would happily close forever as you will know.}

krnicoll
10-08-2010, 10:20 PM
Hi John,
I am currently driving my SHL5s with a PrimaLuna Prologue 2. Though it shipped with KT88 tubes, I found I liked the Mullard EL34 tubes a little bit better (bigger soundstage, but sloppy bass). I also tried driving them with a Jolida JD1501RC (Hybrid 100 watts). Though not bad, the Jolida was just not in the same class as the PrimaLuna. I barely have to crack the volume for it to play loud with the tube integrated.

Kevin

jdinco
11-08-2010, 04:39 AM
Thank you for the replies guys, I should add that I currently am using Ayre seperates V5xe and K5 pre. It does sound VERY good! But I was wondering what you have confirmed. Do I really need 150W RMS, and can I get that good of sound with something cheaper. I need to see about bringing home some amps to try. It's just very hard any more with no dealers around.

And I DO love the C7's it's hard for me to imagine why anyone would look at any other loudspeaker besides Harbeth LOL.....I know, I know.

Sebastien
11-08-2010, 05:05 AM
I'll be glad to try my SHL5 with tube since I've sold my Antique Sound Lab AQ-1001 DT tube amp just before my passage to Harbeth. On the tube side, I had good experiences with VTL IT-85 and Leben. Actually, I'm driving the 5 with a Luxman L-505u (transistor). I love the mariage with Harbeth. Very neutral on all the spectrum. For sure, a Luxman tube amp with Harbeth should be magic. I guess there are some Eastern HUG members who have that kind of set-up.

Sebastien

hifi_dave
11-08-2010, 11:28 AM
I would say, don't get hung up on the type of amp. There are good and bad solid state, tube, hybrid, class-A etc. What is important is that it sounds good and that doesn't necessarily mean it should cost a lot of money.

You already have a very good amplifier, so why would you consider replacing it ? If you sell it you will lose a lot of money and for what - maybe a slight change in the sound. I think you should relax and enjoy the great sounds you now have.

denjo
11-08-2010, 02:20 PM
You already have a very good amplifier, so why would you consider replacing it ? If you sell it you will lose a lot of money and for what - maybe a slight change in the sound. I think you should relax and enjoy the great sounds you now have.

Well said! There are probably smaller differences between amplifiers in a particular class range (A, A/B, B, D, tubes) than there are between speaker brands! Harbeths are very musical speakers and relatively easy to drive! Just enjoy your setup and invest on LPs or CDs.

A.S.
11-08-2010, 02:30 PM
Dear Moderator - ... In my experience, they DO sound better with lower powered amps.

{Moderator's comment: ... Our readers frequently literally interpret comments here, and an innocent comment ... will be taken by some readers as a god given fact. But it's not a fact; it's one person's opinion. And not ours or the designers. These "facts" then become embellished and become a rigid part of the folklore, impossible to correct. What you cannot imagine is the emails and phone calls to the Uk office that one seemingly innocent comment may make ... In future we will try and highlight editorial changes we have made, but amplifiers/speaker matching is a subject we would happily close forever as you will know.}I'd just like to add my postscript to this. I'd like to be blunt; this is how I perceive the situation to be. We here at HUG are the 'source' Harbeth forum, run by us here at the UK factory and that includes me, the designer. The are many other Harbeth forums around the world in various languages but what makes this Harbeth User Group a little different is that it's the 'official voice of Harbeth' because it's the only one I contribute to. So what is written here permeates out as the official Harbeth position. And regarding amplifiers, a visitor could easily draw the wrong conclusions from the churn here about this or that amplifier.

Now, as a speaker design and manufacturing company, and we know all too well that all electro-mechanical transducers (microphones, pick-up cartridges and loudspeakers) are bedevilled with countless measurable problems. It's not far off the truth to say that it is a small miracle that what comes out bears any resemblance to what goes in. That's how bad transducers are. But amplifiers - in most engineer's minds - reached a point of virtual perfection a generation ago, unlike speakers which reached the point of barely-acceptable and became stuck at that point decades ago. People buy Harbeth speakers because they are subjectively better for what they are designed to do (reproduce natural music, naturally at a reasonable loudness) because we've squeezed every molecule of performance from what is, after about a hundred years, a mature technology.

Amplifiers seem to attract a neurosis all of their own, which I find deeply disturbing. It just doesn't seem to matter what I or others caution about the dangers (or even impossibility) of making casual A-B comparisons between amplifiers without calibrated measuring equipment, time and a strategy. Despite all rational logic, a significant number of hifi consumers* persists in attributing characteristics to certain amplifiers and then communicating those opinions to others. Hence an amplifier passes into folklore. And following that, an aspiration gap opens where another group of consumers work themselves up into a terrible state fearing that their amplifier, hitherto working very nicely, is now inadequate. It made beautiful music yesterday but today it's fit for the scrap heap. Madness? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Morally reprehensible? Yes - a waste of precious natural resources and wrong to create anxiety in others. Especially when it is not truly objective.

You won't believe me - few take any notice of what I say here - but in the great scheme of things, in a world of great instability and anxiety, you just don't need to fret about this amp or that amp. You cannot - I repeat this - you, the layman, cannot begin to draw any objective, repeatable, valid opinions that are worth passing into folklore (and therefore moulding another person's behaviour) unless you devise a proper controlled comparison using an instantaneous A-B switchover. That is a fact. It cannot be refuted. If you were blindfolded and I walked into your listening room and very slightly adjusted the volume control I could reverse your opinions about amplifier X or Y. You must control the listening level between amps under test - or the comparison is in all honesty, meaningless. And that implies that you need specialist audio measuring equipment.

As I've said ad nauseam, I work damned hard at the design stage to guarantee - yes guarantee - that my speakers will work well with any hifi amplifier that is operating within and to the original specification. I am not saying that amplifiers 'all sound the same' - quite the opposite. I'm saying that you can expect amplifiers to sound different under loose, uncontrolled 'comparisons' because they all have different gains. And different gains mean different loudness. And different loudness means different subjective characteristics. And they do have. But that is not necessarily to do with the amplifier (although it could be) - it is hugely the consequence of the way humans evaluate by listening and how loudness skews opinion.

May I urge you to be mindful of how comments posted here, on the official Harbeth forum, have an unintended influence on others who are at this moment enjoying great music and who do not have the money or interest to chase the end of a rainbow. Many users have saved for years to buy a pair of Harbeth speakers. I've met them. They're not middle class professional people with money to burn - they're ordinary working people who chose to invest their hard-won savings in Harbeth speakers. And they're very contented music lovers. But I do find it objectionable that having climbed that financial mountain, another one is placed in front of them on the never-ending audio nervosa path. For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And I design the speakers!

Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with Harbeth. Anything British, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story.

The Basics of Owning Harbeth are, as always, just a click away - here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?373).

* Do real music lovers care? I very much doubt it.

EricW
11-08-2010, 09:46 PM
... For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And I design the speakers!

Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with Harbeth. Anything British, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story....May I add my two cents on this, as a (somewhat) recovered audiophile?

I (almost) completely agree. When I started becoming interested in audio, it was a commonplace that the speakers were the most important parts of the system. Then the whole "source first" philosophy got started, and I think that the increasing emphasis on amplifiers came about in part as a result of that idea, as amplifiers were "upstream" from the speakers, and therefore more important. (Don't laugh, I remember more than one audio salesperson saying that to me, and reading it in magazines as well.)

Another part of the equation is that I think that with speakers that are very difficult to drive, the quality of the amplifier may make more of an audible difference (which doesn't negate at all Alan's comments on subjective analysis). But Harbeths are, as we know, very easy to drive.

I've listened to Harbeths with amplifiers (not all mine, of course) costing from $300 to $30,000, made in Australia (Redgum), South Korea (April Music), Canada (Blue Circle), Serbia (Dayens) and the U.K. (Linn, Musical Fidelity). Harbeths sounded great with all of them. Are they each a little different? Subjectively, yes, perhaps, though I wouldn't bet money on being able to reliably distinguish among them. Do they each sound wonderful, and musical, playing through Harbeths? Absolutely.

So the only quibble I have is that I don't think the amplifier has to be from Britain. Good amplifiers are made all over. Apart from that, even if you do believe in audible sonic differences between amplifiers, in my opinion those are fairly subtle differences, not remotely comparable to the clear, obvious and unmistakable difference between a great loudspeaker (e.g. Harbeth) and a not-very-good one.

If I were doing it all over again I would have bought a pair of Super HL5s right away, and spent far less on everything else. In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a comparison between, say, a good $500 amp playing through the SHL5s, as compared to a $5,000 amp playing through a less good speaker. I have no doubt at all what the result would be.

Will
11-08-2010, 11:43 PM
<snip> In fact, I wouldn't mind seeing a comparison between, say, a good $500 amp playing through the SHL5s, as compared to a $5,000 amp playing through a less good speaker. I have do doubt at all what the result would be.

Not exactly at your price points, but I used to run $8300 worth of preamp/amp into $1500 non-Harbeth speakers. Then I switched to a $2000 integrated into C7-ES2 and it was MUCH better than the previous setup. I felt like dropping my head in shame at the money I wasted on electronics. At least I was able to recoup some of the money from the sale of the expensive electronics... it's now collecting interest for me in my M40.1 fund! :) One day...

jdinco
12-08-2010, 05:03 AM
Wow...Did I just get my hand slapped for asking about tubed amps and Harbeths? LOL That's OK, I don't take it too personal. I am a music lover, so the implication above that I am not is wrong. I own Harbeths for gosh sakes! What other proof do you need?

Please let me explain a bit better why I was asking about amps. I used to own a tubed amp that I loved, but didn't have very good speakers at the time. So, I upgraded the speakers and was sorry to discover the tubes were not up to the task of driving them. So I bought my current amp. The sound was hard to fault, but I did not enjoy listening to it. Now, I have been lucky to find the C7's, they are going to be here for a very long time. I'm thinking that I don't need all of the amp I currently have, if I sold it, I should have extra $$ to use for music, gas, savings or what have you.

I admit, that thinking may be flawed and I probably should just enjoy the wonderful sound i have and STAY off the audiophile merry go round of changing equipment. I have been doing really well to that end. Rarely do plans like that turn out the way you want though, so i have second thoughts. I appreciate all the advice from everyone and do take it seriously.

I've been enjoying the audio hobby for many years, I take no ones word as the gospel, but I enjoy reading others opinions immensely. I figure if they like their Harbeths as much as I do mine....we got quite a lot in common already.

I probably will try a "lower" powered tube amp sometime soon and report my impressions if I am allowed, but for now, I'm headed to the system to enjoy some music.

Thanks everyone, my intentions were not to spark any kind of heated conversation.

[Moderator's comment: don't worry, you just reminded us here that we exist to talk about speakers, not amplifiers!}

hifi_dave
12-08-2010, 10:04 AM
Note to Mod.

Realistically, you can't just talk about 'speakers'. You need an amplifier to hear the speakers and sometimes, people want advice on amps. If amps are taboo, what next ? no questions about CD players, turntables, cables, tuners or anything other than speakers ?

The HUG will degenerate into 'I am thinking about buying Harbeth' and 'I have Harbeth'. Not very interesting I would suggest.

{Moderator's comment: this is the manufacturer's forum. There are so many other forums not linked to Harbeth where you can chat all day and night about equipment that Harbeth does not make ..... let's concentrate here on what we do make and have knowledge about .... Harbeth speakers not amps etc. we've never heard of, never seen, never met their designers or executives, have no way of evaluating if they are charlatans or not .... should we give such products exposure here on the manufacturer's web site? We don't think so. Interesting observation: how few posts are about the core subject (about which we know something). That concerns us.}

hifi_dave
12-08-2010, 10:42 AM
Exactly and if you restrict allowable posts to Harbeth speakers and nothing else, the HUG will grind to a halt and be a very boring place.

Harbeth users and/or prospective buyers will often have questions about the Hi-Fi system and this is a good place to answer those questions. You can't take speakers in isolation, they need an amp, source, cables and music for them to produce sounds.

After all, it is a 'system' we listen to and not just a pair of speakers, you can't separate them.

{Moderator's comments: Noted. But if the designer himslef of all Harbeth speakers just grabs an amp from the store room doesn't that imply that the contribution of an amp to the whole system is small? And perhaps not worth the air time it gets here?}

A.S.
12-08-2010, 11:46 AM
...this is the manufacturer's forum... let's concentrate here on what we do make and have knowledge about .... Harbeth speakers not amps etc. we've never heard of, never seen, never met their designers or executives...Folks, this really is the core issue. We just do not feel it's our place, under the Harbeth manufactuers banner (literally - on name appears across the top of the page!) to endorse (by implication) or give publicity to products (amps etc.) we've never heard of and never used. And never will use because I'm quite contented with what I have (from the 1980s).

If I, the designer, say that it desn't matter what amp you use, surely that is good enough as Harbeths official position about amplifiers?

denjo
12-08-2010, 12:28 PM
{Moderator's comment:..... let's concentrate here on what we do make and have knowledge about .... Harbeth speakers not amps etc... how few posts are about the core subject (about which we know something). That concerns us.}Dear Moderator
I earnestly hope that I could present a convincing case by logical reasoning and appeal to HUG to reconsider its rather inflexible stand against allowing discussion of amplifiers, and ancillaries which form part of any audio system.

First, do you realise that a reader can be obsessive about the various iterations of Harbeth speakers, spending his time, money and energy in the pursuit of the ideal speakers! There are enough choices in the Harbeth range to feed one's obsession to cause "speaker nervosa"! Would you want to censure, control or ban discussion of the various Harbeth models in HUG just because some customers cannot control or curb their obsession? Or would you allow discussion because it relates to speakers?

Secondly, and as hifi_dave has argued, you cannot speak about speakers without the electronics and ancillaries that amplify and convert the signal from the source to the pre and into the amplifier, through cables and, ultimately, to the speakers. Like it or not, the process of how signal is converted to sound is an integral whole and cannot be divorced from each other.

Thirdly, I think you should give the reader (especially potential Harbeth owners) more credit than to be swayed by posts that seem to suggest that Harbeth are fussy speakers and can only sound right with X, Y, Z! As reasonable men (the phrase embraces women as well), I think it is fair to say that most (if not all) would conduct their own due diligence and weigh in the balance the various views in this forum and come to their own conclusion. If they followed 'wrongly' the advice or suggestion of someone who strongly recommends this or that, I believe that somehow things will correct itself with time and a few hard knocks! They would learn to conduct more rigorous due diligence, learn to trust their own ears and decide to spend more wisely! After all, how many of us 'stumbled' upon Harbeth after a few (many) knocks! Not all of us came to know of and committed ourselves to Harbeth from the very start of our audio journey! But, somehow, we came to the Harbeth destination and rested! Some came by a short path, others by a long and winding route! You can advise them as much as you want; some will listen and follow your advice, others will not. This is a human trait and applies to every area of our life - relationships, career, finance, etc! It is an inevitable process that all of us have to go through!

Fifthly, if it is a fact that Harbeth speakers are a benign load (and indeed it is), no amount of graphs and charts and data will convince a potential customer more than his ears can experience! Let the potential customer learn for himself with the plethora of amplifiers available in the market! HUG is not the only forum that he will lurk, his information will come from various other sources, whether the sources be true, false or misguided! If you moderate here (as you have the right to), there is no stopping anyone (HUGGERS or not) from posting elsewhere, where you do not have the right to moderate! Let's face it, we live in a world where information travels faster than the speed of sound! There is no way you that you can stop how a person feels about a product. Even politicians realise the power of the internet and of how it can either be constructive or destructive of their political campaigns!

I would hope for a more 'laissez-faire' attidtude to posts in this forum, and faith that the truth will somehow prevail in the end!

The Forum will be a more interesting place for an exchange of ideas, with respect for all views and even those we might not agree with! The membership and participation in this forum will flourish and enhance the already good reputation of the Harbeth name from many loyal and proud owners!

Best Regards
Dennis

{Mpderator's comment: posted EXACTLY as submitted but no 'fourth' in your submission - should we re-number firth as fourth?}

A.S.
12-08-2010, 02:05 PM
... and appeal to HUG to reconsider its rather inflexible stand against allowing discussion of amplifiers, and ancillaries which form part of any audio system. ...No that's a misreading of the situation. Rational discussion is welcome - always has been - but what I don't want to read again is something like 'I heard XYZ amplifier/stand/CD player at a friends house for five minutes ten years ago .... it sounded fantastic .... I recommend it .... much better than the ABC amp I one owned .... go and buy it'.

The Harbeth company sprang from the creative engineering brains at the BBC Research Dept.. Solid, trained, objective, rational, thinking people who designed capital equipment to solve an engineering problem (great sound in small boxes) with zero consideration of cosmetics or the preceding signal chain. There is plenty of room here for objective discussion, but I'm sorry, this is not the best place to 'advertise by recommendation' products that we, the people who pay to run this forum, have absolutely no ability to evaluate in the cold, cruel light of day. The best place for that exploration is at a dealer premises. In person, with your own music and speakers. That's why dealers exist. That's their job. Not ours here.

The amp/electronics/stands etc. that you may legitimately have a strong preference for may not suit me or other users. So a general recommendation, on a loudspeaker manufacturer's own forum, including the one I mention above is inappropriate to a wide audience and creates not musical solutions but confusion. And demystifying Harbeth loudspeakers is the sole reason I started this group.

If you don't mind, we'll concentrate on the areas that we have some little knowledge of (design and use of Harbeth speaker) and avoid those fields far outside of our remit - including amplifier recommendations. Because if we can't demystify amplifiers (for example) their discussion runs counter to the very reason this group was founded.

The Harbeth User Group was, for some years, a very special place where rationalism ruled and I felt my contribution to fulfilling the original objective of demystification was appreciated. The real pity is that the silent majority have demonstrably remained silent, so about 5% of registered members steer this ship. We are experimenting with isolating the harder objective/engineering issues which for years represented the bulk of this forum from the more subjective matters so that visitors can more easily navigate.

In one sentence: I do believe that our target-consumer wants to read about Harbeth speakers, what goes into them, their BBC pedigree, their use, which is best for them. I do not believe that many are interested in changing their amplifiers as they understand that by far the biggest upgrade to their listening satisfaction (in their entire life?) is to step up to owning Harbeths. And that drives our marketing strategy.

markus sauer
12-08-2010, 02:27 PM
I'm sorry, but that's an absurd position to take. The name of the forum you've chosen is Harbeth User Group. Either you allow Harbeth Users to talk among themselves, with secondary - but most certainly highly valued - input from your good self, or you need to change the base premise of this forum and remodel it into a manufacturer's blog or something. The stance that


this is not the correct place to advertise by recommendation products that we have absolutely no ability to evaluate in the cold, cruel light of day

is mistaken. It's not you who recommends a product, it's a Harbeth user. There is no implicit recommendation from the Harbeth company by allowing some private individual to praise a product, just as there is no implicit condemnation from the Harbeth company if someone says he does not like a product. The distinction should be obvious to the most casual observer.

Your frustration with the kind of woolly thinking that you berate when you say that you


don't want to read again <snip> something like 'I heard XYZ amplifier/stand/CD player at a friends house for five minutes ten years ago .... it sounded fantastic .... I recommend it .... much better than the ABC amp I one owned .... go and buy it'.

is shared by many. We as a group (if I may include myself in this as a very occasional poster) should certainly strive to raise general standards of thinking about audio. But in my opinion, what is needed is education (which, as I'm sure you know as a parent, involves a lot of repetition), not censure.

A.S.
12-08-2010, 02:43 PM
It's not you who recommends a product, it's a Harbeth user. There is no implicit recommendation from the Harbeth company....No, I'm sorry but I can't agree. I take a personal responsibility for how my brand is associated with other brands or products. Harbeth is not some huge faceless corporation. We're a small, highly respected, cottage industry where what we think and who we associate with really matters.

You cannot imagine how many back-office calls there are about how we, Harbeth UK, feel about our loudspeakers being used with this or that accessory/amp/cable/electronics/room damping etc. etc.. Callers want guidance. They want reassurance. They want to know unambiguously, directly, no beating about the bush, black and white what we think and how they should spend their money. In effect, we are holding their purse. I know by the way they interact that they will follow whatever advice we give. Regardless of the cost or inconvenience. Do we take advantage of that. No, never. We all want the customer to get the most satisfaction for the least expenditure. You should hear their relief at the money/stress/anxiety we have saved them - real, genuine appreciation that we gave them an honest, pragmatic (and above all cheap) answer not salemen BS. That gives us here a real buzz. Often these callers are at their wits end having read too many forums and utterly confused themselves. It is really pitiful to talk with some callers. In fact, it's more of a social service we offer, just to reassure them that they can get off the merry-go-round. (And in once recent case, actually save his marriage).

So, my point: we don't want to be spending more time cancelling misunderstandings gleaned from the HUG that we have seemingly endorsed-by-proxy this or that non-Harbeth product. Do you subscribe to the belief that you can judge a man by the company that he keeps? We definitely do. We are very particular about who we associate with, personally and in business.

markus sauer
12-08-2010, 03:07 PM
I still disagree with your stance. In an ideal world, you should send those callers to their dealers and ask them to listen for themselves. It is not for you to tell them how to spend their money. Taking responsibility for one's actions is a core quality of adult humans in my book. They should not need anybody else to validate their decisions.

In a perverse way, you keep those callers in just the same position they were in before they called you - not trusting their own judgement and relying on someone else's instead.

In the non-ideal world, I suppose I should be grateful for anyone who gives non-snake-oil advice. But you do that frequently on the forum; you could even insert a "template post/standard disclaimer" outlining your position after each post of the kind you want to eradicate. Easy to do when posts are reviewed before publication anyway.

EricW
12-08-2010, 03:45 PM
You cannot imagine how many back-office calls there are about how we, Harbeth UK, feel about our loudspeakers being used with this or that accessory/amp/cable/electronics/room damping etc. etc.. Callers want guidance. They want reassurance. They want to know unambiguously, directly, no beating about the bush, black and white what we think and how they should spend their money. In effect, we are holding their purse. I know by the way they interact that they will follow whatever advice we give. Regardless of the cost or inconvenience. Do we take advantage of that. No, never. We all want the customer to get the most satisfaction for the least expenditure. You should hear their relief at the money/stress/anxiety we have saved them - real, genuine appreciation that we gave them an honest, pragmatic (and above all cheap) answer not salemen BS. That gives us here a real buzz. Often these callers are at their wits end ...

So, my point: we don't want to be spending more time cancelling misunderstandings gleaned from the HUG that we have seemingly endorsed-by-proxy this or that non-Harbeth product. ...

Could you not look at this in a different way? Instead of seeing the HUG as a generator of misunderstanding, would it not be more positive to see Harbeth as a generator of good buzz and discussion about your great product?

I mean, even if people occasionally veer into areas you find a bit questionable, doesn't that just give you the chance to step in and clearly and calmly lay out your position? For all you know, doing so is actually going to "cancel" far more misunderstanding, and do so more efficiently, than doing it person by person on the telephone.

If it's the repetition you find irksome - and I suspect it is - you have to remember you're not talking to one person: it's a dynamic and fluid group that changes over time, so yes, you will have to make the same point over and over. That's not bad, that's good - how many people get to do that?

Your position is understandable, but in my respectful view, unduly constraining. The best PR people can give you is unfettered enthusiasm for your product. The technical accuracy of what they say - especially when it's not even about your product - is secondary. And, again, the fact that people say it is what gives you the opportunity to "cancel misunderstandings" (which, if expressed, must already exist and not be generated by the forum).

Whereas if you constrain people too tightly they'll simply end up saying nothing, and while you'll lose the potential harm of the forum (to the extent there is any), you'll lose all the benefits as well. In my view - and I say it appreciating it's not my company, and I don't have the inside view - the latter outweigh the former.

A.S.
12-08-2010, 03:54 PM
...In an ideal world, you should send those callers to their dealers and ask them to listen for themselves. It is not for you to tell them how to spend their money. Taking responsibility for one's actions is a core quality of adult humans in my book. They should not need anybody else to validate their decisions...Oh dear oh dear oh dear. Yes, we always encourage callers to visit their local dealer and seek his advice. Some do - we see the orders come through later. Some have a 'history' with one or more dealers whereby they have ground them down over the months and years with incessant, daily phone calls. Sadly, there is a small core of hifi enthusiasts who have such a chronic need for black and white, unmbiguous advice that it completely ruins their lives. I had to be diplomatic with one caller last week who was calling us several times over the week desperate for advice. He'd been barred from his dealer. We have a responsibilty far more profund than you could ever imagine.

Take a look here at one highly successful publisher who doles out advice, month after month, in vast quantity. Haymarket Publications (http://www.haymarket.com/brands.aspx). Click on the A-Z list [See all] and I count about 135 titles that they print (many monthly), including WhatHiFi .... that's giving out advice on an industrial scale across a vast range of subjects. And very profitable it is too for one group of humans to tell another how to behave. And you say that in an ideal world adults should make up their own mind? Have you spent any time in sales?

Those adults you mention are crying out in the millions for someone to make decisons for them. I regret that I can't add much more to this: it's all very basic sales management stuff and I'm not in the business of teaching marketing.

markus sauer
12-08-2010, 04:09 PM
Have you spent any time in sales?


Very little. But as my profession involves advising people, I know only too well that they don't want advice, they want someone to make a decision for them and take the blame if it goes wrong.

But that's beside the point. I still think you have to decide if this is going to be a lecturing vehicle - you educating the masses - or a discussion forum - you as one poster among many, but certainly with more authority in your statements that anybody else.

A.S.
12-08-2010, 04:41 PM
... my profession involves advising people, I know only too well that they don't want advice, they want someone to make a decision for them and take the blame if it goes wrong. But that's beside the point..No, that's not beside the point; that is the point. Your clients and our members (hifi consumers) both want someone to make quick, precise decisons; decisions that will solve problems immediately and with certaintly. That is the modern world I'm sorry to say.

So, my point and your position coincide: we both know that there are no perfect, optimal decisions (about, say amplifiers) ... there is a range of choice and there are compromises (always). The best advice for one user may be the absolute worst for another. And that's my gripe with opinions published here under the umberella of the Harbeth banner - they just don't suit all users. But they give the illusion of being official, because they lie adjacent to posts from me "so they must be Harbeth's opinions too". But in an impatient world, who reads the small print (and there isn't any here on the HUG) which says 'Beware! What fits one many may not suit you!'. Here, HUG, we have a scenario of 'one-member-can-influence-many' thanks to publishing on the internet. The potential for misadvice is tremendous: but in a dealer's 1 to 1 situation the advice is tailored, specific. And much more likely to lead to satisfation. That's why I just wish I could control the one-to-many because it isn't going to be universally applicable, even though well intentioned in most cases.

Lecturing? Perhaps you do see it as that. I may not live forever - in which case who carrys the BBC torch? Every hour I spend discussing business strategy is another hour wasted when I could be - and should be - discussing and illustrating another aspect of (BBC) speaker design. I really truly do not want to spend any more time discussing these private business decisons. We do what we think is best to nurture our highly successful brand and protect our users.

P.S. We've created some space to allow general discussion at arms-length from my views and those of the Harbeth company. It's a pity in a way because as a responsible 'parent (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transactional_analysis)' by nature I've always taken my role seriously. But now I have to open the playground and just stand back. I have a lifetime of knowledge-base scanning and cross-indexing underway and I must not take time away from that.

Questions with real technical meat up on the top-level of the HUG that add to the core (engineering) knowledge in this HUG archive I remain committed to answer.

Will
12-08-2010, 09:03 PM
Folks, this really is the core issue. We just do not feel it's our place, under the Harbeth manufactuers banner (literally - on name appears across the top of the page!) to endorse (by implication) or give publicity to products (amps etc.) we've never heard of and never used. And never will use because I'm quite contented with what I have (from the 1980s).

If I, the designer, say that it desn't matter what amp you use, surely that is good enough as Harbeths official position about amplifiers?

I fully support Harbeth's stand.

There is a saying that goes something like ..."Sometimes one just has to spend a lot of money before realizing that you don't have to spend a lot of money!" Applies perfectly to electronics and cables... unless you take AS/Harbeth's advice!

Pluto
12-08-2010, 09:51 PM
I have to comment that, in my view, the current trend towards favouring obsolete tube designs is perverse, and has more in common with selling dubious slimming products to the overweight than offering devoted music lovers the maximum possible enjoyment. Audiophiles, so called, really do seem to be a paranoid bunch. Whole essays could be written attempting to explain this but let’s keep it simple for now. There is a well-known children’s story called “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, wonderfully brought to song by Danny Kaye in 1952. This tale summarizes the psychology that underpins “audiophilia nervosa” with exquisite elegance. Put simply, it is this:


I desire the best.
I do not know when a satisfactory approximation to the unattainable has been reached.
I therefore remain constantly irritated by my own uncertainty and, as such, am susceptible to the most absurd influences to lead me in my path to perfection. I spend lots of money in the attempt to achieve perfection but…back to step 2.

Of course, there are lots of small diversions along the way…expectation bias possibly being the most significant. Having spent significant money on that expensive amplifier (or cable, fancy spikes or whatever), you always hear an improvement. It’s human nature and has been discussed here many times. But we are still faced with the problem defined in step 2 in the above list , and so it goes round and round ad nauseam.

Such a loop obviously affords an ample opportunity for the snake-oil merchant to target the hapless and confused punter. By reinventing the technology of 50 years ago and even, in the shape of the single-ended triode, an 80 year old approach discarded by all the real masters of tube amplification as soon as something better had emerged, the snake-oil vendors have you right where they want you. By selling a wonderfully machined chassis with large blocks of highly visible brushed aluminium, they offer a product so visually seductive that it cannot possibly sound anything but superb. All at a price you can expect to pay for the best of everything. 10 cent resistors aren’t good enough, no we only use resistors that cost $5 apiece – the capacitors, 10 times that. Why? Because they sound better, naturally. And audiophiles, with the enthusiasm of the overweight looking for the feast that will nonetheless make them slim, lap it all up.

Pluto
12-08-2010, 09:59 PM
Let’s examine what tube amplifiers actually offer. First and foremost, massive amounts of distortion. There’s no getting around this: you can argue till the cows come home about nice distortion and nasty distortion, about the idea that ‘nice distortion’ somehow benefits the music. Perhaps – in a 100W Marshall stack (which is, in a sense, a musical instrument), but not in a device where the objective is to reproduce the sound as accurately as possible. Tube amps have a very high output impedance – several ohms is not all uncommon, far higher than the today’s loudspeaker designer expects or allows for in most cases. They are extremely unreliable by modern electronic standards; the high voltages involved frequently causing sparks to fly, quite literally. And let’s not even go into the environmental impact of powering valve equipment.

Tube amplifiers reached their ultimate development between 1950-1960 with the ready availability of beam tetrodes such as the ubiquitous KT88. Companies generally held to be ‘up there’ were, in the UK, Leak, Quad & Radford and in the US, McIntosh & Fisher to name but a few. It is significant that in the nineteen fifties, in spite of the lack of baggage and the unashamed desire to produce the best amplifiers they could, none of these masters thought of turning the clock back to the era when the single-ended triode was king, because they had something better. So why does today’s audiophile so lust after technology that, even in the heyday of the thermionic tube, was considered passé by the premier exponents of the art?

Most of us here have bought, or aspire to, Harbeth speakers. Renowned worldwide for their accuracy combined with fatigue-free presentation, they are designed with modern solid state amplification in mind. Low impedance, low distortion and the assumption that there will be a more than adequate reserve of power are all high on the designer’s list of considerations.

It’s quite simple really – if you want the very best of which your Harbeths are capable, forget about driving them with poor technology that is little more than an industry con to extract your cash.

honmanm
12-08-2010, 10:20 PM
One of the things I've appreciated in the past about this forum is that it has been a place to discuss the electronics from a rational perspective.

In fact it was the conjunction of my love of vintage electronics and clear, natural midrange that led to my curiosity about the Harbeth speakers... and an eventual purchase.

From what Alan has written recently, I can understand the reasoning behind the changes... and the subjective sub-forum is a good idea. I do think Alan's contributions would be best organised in blog form, which would give him time to discuss issues in depth and in his own time, and without that information getting buried in a clutter of other posts.

Personally I would love to be able to drill through subjective impressions to the underlying objective facts - but given the misconceptions in the hi-fi world there is a lot of manure to shovel and if you go back through my own posts there is a lot that I've got wrong... and a lot that I've learned.

With respect, one thing the Harbeth team may be missing is that a forum is generally understood by internet users as a place for open discussion - which results in posts that deviate from the "party line" - but also an understanding by readers that these are individual and not corporate voices.

Mark, currently in the kitchen enjoying a friend's 1970's american amp (cheap mini-system speakers - not willing to risk the P3ESRs on it yet).

kittykat
13-08-2010, 01:49 AM
Such a loop obviously affords an ample opportunity for the snake-oil merchant to target the hapless and confused...

I’m afraid what Alan and moderation is suggesting is prudent, that it is best to leave subjective and opinionated recommendations crystal clear as they really are. I’m myself guilty of not adhering to this and much of the time think it’s due to seeking positive affirmation of prior executed choices.

It is without doubt hard to draw the line on what are plausible and sensible recommendations, as this can extend to extreme statements and claims which belie and defy common sense. Unfortunately as Alan has pointed out, this is not a cheap exercise and pursuit. And the unfortunate thing is that the “chase” itself, much of the time, is irrationally based. Some if not most claims, given the technological brick wall in place, are even just plain outrageous.

There is an interesting documentary, the name of which I now forget, about the brains and minds of musicians. Sting was a featured guest who allowed himself to be cat-scanned while musical stimuli was applied. To cut a long story short, what hit me from the documentary was a statement that music only exists in our brains. “Everything” in between, ie between the source (in this case the speakers) and our ears is something incoherent. Can you imagine, If there were beings from another planet, hopefully more intelligent than we are, looking down at us, sitting in front of some rectangular box with noises and “hash” emanating, discussing whether this component would create a better nonsensical noise than the other. It will be a true comedy for them, and if you are willing to step back as well, for us.

jdinco
13-08-2010, 06:27 AM
So why does today’s audiophile so lust after technology that, even in the heyday of the thermionic tube, was considered passé by the premier exponents of the art? Probably the same reason some of us still listen to vinyl.

Renowned worldwide for their accuracy combined with fatigue-free presentation, they are designed with modern solid state amplification in mind. Low impedance, low distortion and the assumption that there will be a more than adequate reserve of power are all high on the designer’s list of considerations. Are you speaking for the designer?


See answers and questions above.

kittykat
13-08-2010, 07:46 AM
Imo feel we shouldn’t equate the popularity of archaic technology and how good it is. They may be totally separate issues. Archaic technology has so many roles eg. consoling us in these fast changing times etc. How many of us have record players because someone left vinyl? Japan is an extreme example where the pace of change is so quick that people want to hang on or build in remnants of the old, in design of things etc. Pluto has brought up indisputable technical points of why solid state amps are better. Its hard if not impossible to argue against that. There are other reasons imo why ppl want to go for Lp’s and Tubes and they have nothing to do with being objective. If we try and be “objective” while relying on something as unreliable as our ears, there really is little point in having a debate, as the discussion really has to cross over into areas which not many really understand eg. Our upbringing and predispositions for sounds, culture, musical instruments, harmonics, mother tongue and songs sung to us when we were young, exposure to music etc.

Pluto
13-08-2010, 07:53 AM
Are you speaking for the designer?
Tell me...are you implying that it would be good for a designer to assume that an amplifier with an output impedance of a few ohms was in use (instead of a few milliohms), and that the distortion figures thereof were in the order of several percent rather than hundredths of a percent?

A.S.
13-08-2010, 08:58 AM
...With respect, one thing the Harbeth team may be missing is that a forum is generally understood by internet users as a place for open discussion...For that reason we did chose the name Harbeth User Group, not Harbeth Forum.

Today I've slightly refined the page 'why does this group exist'. In my mind I started HUG over four years ago as a vehicle for me to get down in writing and out of my brain everything I know and believe about the 'BBC monitor concept' which underpins the Harbeth speakers. There was much to say, and I encouraged questions which would allow me to flesh-out new areas of the subject. I definitely did not conceive this group as anything other than an objective, rational knowledge sharing pool. There are dozens of forums which would welcome those sort of subjective postings, and it would be pointless to compete with them. And anyway, I'm not interested in waffle - life is too short and the BBC baby is too precious.

So when we here drift off into 'my amp is better that yours' such contributions fail the acid test of this group 'is the comment I want to make reasonably objective and likely to be reproducible by other readers'. Since nobody here has ever said that they've constructed a proper controlled A-B test between amplifiers (which necessitates test equipment to equalise the loudness) those contributions, in my opinion as the group founder, don't pass the first test of credibility. So now we have the worst of all situations - good, solid, objective contributions buried amongst waffle.

And that pains very much because it's not why I set this group and contributed so much time.
================================================== =======================

Quick calculation of my input: 2000 posts I've made @ 30mins each = 60,000 mins. = 1000 hours. Assuming 8 hours working time per day = 125 days typing, assuming 5 day weeks = 25 weeks. So, in the past four years I have sat here typing for six months! That's a superhuman contribution I think you'll agree and I think I've earned the right to be a little picky about what subjects I want to be presented here under the umbrella of the Harbeth factory.

Pluto
13-08-2010, 12:05 PM
Probably the same reason some of us still listen to vinyl
I'd be interested in knowing that reason.

I remember the day I first attended a demonstration of the newly introduced Compact Disc, to a group of audio professionals. It was at Advision Studios in Goswell Street, London, ISTR, and the material was a newly released Bernstein recording of some Gershwin on DGG. They played a master tape, its child CD and gramophone record. Now bear in mind that this was very early days for digital audio and many of the converters were frightful compared to those we now enjoy. The gramophone record sounded OK but suffered from the usual vinyl malaises - clicks, thwomps, eggs frying...etc. The CD was a little 'harsher' than the master but other than that the two were essentially the same.

After the DGG chap had given his corporate speech, he stated that he and his colleagues believed that this new technology would marginalise the gramophone record within a decade, a comment that entailed a round of applause from the assembled group…well, all except for three guys who ran a disc cutting business.

jferreir
13-08-2010, 01:22 PM
I'm of the opinion, along with others, that Harbeth is being overly restrictive in what it deems appropriate content.. While most are appreciative of Alan's contribution to the HUG, I don't think many appreciate the overtly paternal stance he has taken. It's fine to treat the HUG as your baby, but please don't treat its members as though they were children. Unfortunately, some may be left with that impression given some of the more defensive comments that have recently been written.

Now, that being said, I believe Harbeth has made a sufficient attempt at a reasonable compromise. The sub-thread for 'subjective topics' (or whatever it's called) sounds perfectly sensible and I encourage HUG members to take full advantage of it. So, just to be clear, although some (myself included) may not agree with the restrictive position Harbeth has taken, there is ample opportunity to discuss interesting topics elsewhere in the HUG.

If I may make a suggestion, perhaps Harbeth should stop adding fuel to the fire. When controversial posts are made challenging Harbeth's moderation policy or unwillingness to entertain subjective topics, instead of repeatedly stating your position - thereby claiming that we're wasting your time - perhaps you should simply reply with a link to your officially stated position, then direct the user to the appropriate 'subjective topics' sub-forum. That, or don't reply at all.

Can we please move forward?

STHLS5
13-08-2010, 02:27 PM
Sorry I have to post it under here because the original thread was closed by the time I finish typing this. Anyway, if this passes the moderation.....


You amaze and delight me that you have the time to commit to expressing your feelings.

My feelings amaze and delight you??? LOL..brought back long forgotten memories.


We are what we are...... Member are merely asked to swing along with our ethos, culture and beliefs or to find another place, elsewhere, of expressing their deeply held fellings about audio equipment outside of our umberella.

That is perfectly understood.

Customers also are customers who will press on to ask similar questions. I know with record three consecutive months record production and 11 times more local sales such questions would tire and irritate any busy manufacturers but that's what we are who we are.

So as a customer who wanted to know why his M40.1 sounds better with a 30W amplifier than a 150W amp, where should he be directing the question? A member did ask me this question to me and the only explanation I could come up with was a lower power amplifier attenuate the bass thus rendering the whole presentation with more clarity considering the 150W gives out too much bass for such a small room. Even though this appears to be a fairly reasonable question to Harbeth users but the member didn't post the question to the usergroup. Maybe, he thought it wouldn't pass the acid test.

I am not sure about the answer but only made a wild guess with the very little knowledge I had. So is there a avenue for Harbeth users like these to ask questions in the usergroup? Will Harbeth clear our confusion?

ST

p.s No more moderation? Thank you on behalf of most HUG members. Hope, we can see the usergroup thrive again but with the objective of meeting Harbeth policy and aspiration.

HUG-1
13-08-2010, 02:38 PM
....So as a customer who wanted to know why his M40.1 sounds better with a 30W amplifier than a 150W amp, where should he be directing the question? A member did ask me this question to me and the only explanation I could come up with was a lower power amplifier attenuate the bass thus rendering the whole presentation with more clarity considering the 150W gives out too much bass for such a small room. Even though this appears to be a fairly reasonable question to Harbeth users but the member didn't post the question to the usergroup. Maybe, he thought it wouldn't pass the acid test. I am not sure about the answer but only made a wild guess ...This is not a question for Harbeth, for here. Without a proper A-B controlled test (to eliminate variables) we can only guess. Your speculation is as good as any we could dream up!


p.s No more moderation? Thank you on behalf of most HUG members. Hope, we can see the usergroup thrive again but with the objective of meeting Harbeth policy and aspirationNo, HUg is still Moderated except in the sandbox "discussion area".

P.S. Alan's opinion - 'not enough information to even begin to comment. No logical correlation between 30W and good sound and 150W and not good sound. 30W for such a speaker leaves little or no power reserve.'

Pluto
13-08-2010, 04:27 PM
So as a customer who wanted to know why his M40.1 sounds better with a 30W amplifier than a 150W amp, where should he be directing the question?
I have already been beaten to the punch on this one but it bears repetition. Without a detailed inspection of the equipment in question including listening tests and bench analysis, it’s impossible to say. Perhaps a good start would be the amplifier manufacturers.

But this leads onto the very easy way that audiophiles have with words such as “better”. If I had heard an unexpected difference between two similar bits of kit, I would be wary of publicly describing one as “better” than the other until I had conducted extensive tests both in the workshop and listening room and had accumulated enough evidence to convince myself that the opinion was correct.

One man’s “clarity” is another man’s “harsh”.

One man’s “woolly” is another’s “warm”.

Once man’s “better” is another man’s “worse”.

STHLS5
14-08-2010, 03:48 AM
I have already been beaten to the punch on this one but it bears repetition. Without a detailed inspection of the equipment in question including listening tests and bench analysis, it’s impossible to say. Perhaps a good start would be the amplifier manufacturers.

This is the dilemma 99% of the consumers face. They do not understand the specification requirement, nor they can do a level matching bench analysis. As I was thinking, 150W amplifier could always be matched to a 30W amplifier but not otherwise. So it makes no sense to me. And 30Watter amp does not meet the minimum requirement of 50W for the M40.1. Unless, the whole business of amplifiers specifications was inaccurate or misleading.

Recently, I discovered that a so called 40W amplifier actually can only output significantly lower power than the 40W without distortion or clipping. At 40W the distortion sets in and above (or below?) certain frequencies and the said amplifier could reach as high as 60W or 80W before clipping. So is this, a 80W or 40W or a 10 or 20W amplifier? Should it even be called a 40W amplifier? At least the manufacturer was honest enough to give full details.

ST

<HAL>
14-08-2010, 10:19 AM
This is the dilemma 99% of the consumers face. They do not understand the specification requirement, nor they can do a level matching bench analysis...Then they should make a serious effort to understand how their ears can fool them. They should absolutely resist making purchase recommendations to other people in a public forum as that just compounds the misunderstanding and helps no-one except the maker of the eqpt.. He becomes richer.

kittykat
14-08-2010, 10:51 AM
There are sufficient standard approaches in presenting amplifier power specs, from reputable manufacturers anyway, to prevent ambiguity. There are slight variations between approaches but not so different to cause confusion. You only have to note if the max power is quoted at 1% or 10% THD. Some, (especially for their lower priced AV amps) don’t quote the full 20 Hz to 20 kHz power, but something like 20Hz to 15kHz. So if you do your homework you’ll be allright. I’d avoid the manufacturers who don’t do a sufficient disclosure in any case. The products are probably not sound.

STHLS5
14-08-2010, 12:46 PM
Then they should make a serious effort to understand how their ears can fool them. They should absolutely resist making purchase recommendations to other people in a public forum as that just compounds the misunderstanding and helps no-one except the maker of the eqpt.. He becomes richer.

That's the problem. They just can't resist talking about the intoxicating sound of Harbeth and the associated equipments. We all do that when we discover something so wonderful, don’t we?
Physiologically, having a great home stereo is much more a pride than owing a first class home theater. We have friends who would come over to listen to a particular number but never heard of anyone who would visit a place just to watch a movie again in his HT.

I have been alienated by so called "audiophile" community because I don't subscribe that only X, y or Z brand should be associated with Harbeth or certain cables would bring out the vocals. In fact, there a myth, at least over here, that Harbeth should be associated with a certain tube amplifier. When I told them that reading the designer's posts and listening to him, I doubt he would use a tube amplifier because the degrading nature of a tube over time, which contributes to inconsistency for measurement, but I was ridiculed.

The truth is a large number of HUG are on the other side of the fence. How do we bring them to our side without alienating them? ( Am I going to get admonished for suggesting this? Frankly, I don’t think I passed the HUG acid-test. Keeping my fingers crossed)

ST

Pluto
14-08-2010, 01:46 PM
...I have been alienated by so called "audiophile" community because I don't subscribe that only X, y or Z brand should be associated with Harbeth or certain cables would bring out the vocals. In fact, there a myth, at least over here, that Harbeth should be associated with a certain tube amplifier...
What's wrong with insisting that those who espouse such opinions set up a proper test/demonstration to prove their views? On most occasions there will be shouting, squirming, wriggling and indeed ANY excuse to avoid an attempt at proof. Ask yourself why this should be. Obsessive audiophilism has many of the characteristics of a religion or similar belief system. Once you appreciate that fact, many of the strange and unexpected reactions you encounter start to fall into place. It's rather like attempting to argue atheism in a convent.

In the meantime, I suggest you read this (http://www.theaudiocritic.com/downloads/article_1.pdf).

p.s. whenever you encounter an unexpected and illogical promotion of a particular piece of equipment, check very carefully for the possibility of stealth commercial interests at work. By the way, I recommend that you only eat Cadbury's chocolate. All other chocolate will adversely affect your enjoyment of music.

STHLS5
14-08-2010, 03:18 PM
What's wrong with insisting that those who espouse such opinions set up a proper test/demonstration to prove their views? On most occasions there will be shouting, squirming, wriggling and indeed ANY excuse to avoid an attempt at proof. Ask yourself why this should be. Obsessive audiophilism has many of the characteristics of a religion or similar belief system. Once you appreciate that fact, many of the strange and unexpected reactions you encounter start to fall into place. It's rather like attempting to argue atheism in a convent..

Agreed and that's how I get alienated. Last month I attended 2010 International AV show. One of the product displayed there was one stuff which by plugging into your mains the sound improves and another was a small piece of wooden block, which supposed to increase your sound stage height, etc., etc. Yeah..pure sorcery but it worked there. Immediately, after the show my two friends who spend a fortune buying the so called tweaks tried it at my place.

To their utter disappointment, none of them worked with my system. Later, in the middle of the night one of my friends called me to say it worked in two of other systems he tried. So what can we conclude here?

Is it my influence who doesn't believe in tweaks influence their perception? Is there some sort of hypnotism involved at the show which really worked there?

I have invited them over again to bring their expensive voodoo magic to try them at my place but somehow now they couldn't find the time. Isn't this is typical human behaviour? They paid for something and expect them to work and passionately believe it's working.

ST
p.s Working for Cadbury? :))

<HAL>
14-08-2010, 05:07 PM
There are sufficient standard approaches in presenting amplifier power specs, from reputable manufacturers anyway, to prevent ambiguity ...Ah, I see a problem here. A big one. There was discussion of amplifier gain. But the word gain was used assuming that non-engineers knew what that means.

Are you saying something like this: "If I look-up the manufacturers data sheet for two amplifiers and they are stated as being the same POWER output then these two amplifiers (must) have the same gain and so can be directly compared"? For example: are you saying that if amp B is given as "50W" and amp C is stated as "50W" that these two can be reliably compared side by side for sonic quality?

This is an extremely interesting point. Gain should have been explained here. It is very rare to see gain specified in a power amp manufacturer's data sheet. I think the old QUAD specs mentioned gain.

Jmohd
14-08-2010, 08:19 PM
But the I think the old QUAD specs mentioned gain.

Here's one http://www.passlabs.com/pdfs/product_lit/x_5-xa_5-amps.pdf

STHLS5
15-08-2010, 02:25 AM
.. For example: are you saying that if amp B is given as "50W" and amp C is stated as "50W" that these two can be reliably compared side by side for sonic quality?...

Nope. But at a certain volume/gain level both become indistinguishable. This maybe the reason when one perceives one amplifier is better than another.

ST

kittykat
15-08-2010, 02:43 AM
Are you saying something like this: ....

i was responding to STHLS5 second paragraph of post #40 which i should have quoted. Some manufacturers are quoting max power in slightly less than standard ways. This is happening and seems to be associated more with multichannel amps with op-amps and low powered digital amp components inside. Its a buyer aware, of intrinsic rather than volume setting function. cheers, kk

DSRANCE
15-08-2010, 12:15 PM
To return to the original question. yes, I use valves... I have a valve preamp which actually measures very well in all parameters, is hand built by one man and it's this latter aspect which mainly inspires me. For my attached headphone setup I use an updated Quad 33 solid state preamp, which was again hand made and sounds surprisingly good once fettled.

As for driving the speakers (Spendor BC2's), I mainly use a lowish output impedance vintage solid state amp, but in the winter, I bring my re-built Quad II's out for an airing. They help to keep the room warm and their higher output impedance seems to work well with the Spendor crossovers, putting more emphasis on the upper midrange which suits them and me well. I also recently bought a restored Quad 303 and this does exactly the same thing, bless it.

I only mention the above, as it's come to my notice that recent tests on amplifier output impedances have shown that the loudspeaker crossover frequencies and slopes may be modified quite audibly by a high output impedance amplifier and it's this that perhaps makes the audible differences, especially as the mid to tweeter crossover is at a very sensitive frequency range for us humans..

The thing with Harbeth speakers is also that they are a pretty easy load and the crossovers have been designed very carefully. The technical results have then been fine-tuned over many hours of listening to make the speaker as consistant as possible with the widest variety of equipment. The fact that so few Harbeths ever come up second-hand must say something..

So yes, if you wish to use valves, then fine, but please be aware that an inexpensive "Arcam" style integrated amp will work very well indeed too.. I think it's the inexpensive product that you have little expectation of but which continually delights, that's the winner here.

Pluto
15-08-2010, 02:52 PM
If I look-up the manufacturers data sheet for two amplifiers and they are stated as being the same POWER output then these two amplifiers (must) have the same gain and so can be directly compared?
Gain, simply put, is the amplification factor. Well explained here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decibel). The important issue about dB, the usual measurement of gain, is that it is not an absolute number but rather a ratio, so it needs to be referred to something to make any sense.

A gain of 6dB implies that whatever voltage is presented to the input of an amplifier, the output will be double that amount. One of the hardest concepts to grasp is that doubling a voltage is 6dB gain, but a doubling of power is only 3dB gain. This is because the power dissipated in a load is proportional to the square of the voltage. Don't worry if you don't get this. What is important is that 1dB represents a certain change of audio level and it doesn't matter whether you are talking about voltage (Volts) or power (Watts).

Roughly, 1dB is typically the smallest change of level that humans can perceive when switching directly between two conditions, called an A/B comparison. With good equipment in a quiet room, with practice and careful listening you might be able to detect ½dB on some material.

The effects of volume changes when listening to audio equipment can be remarkable. So when comparing two bits of equipment side by side it is vital to make sure that the listening volume is identical i.e. if you are comparing amplifiers, their gain must be equal. It is VERY easy to walk away from an amplifier comparison and mistake the louder unit as having more detail, depth. better imaging, etc. etc. The louder unit need only be 2 or 3dB louder for this to be so - barely noticeable, less so if there are a few seconds or a minute between the two listens. It is a trick beloved of audio salesmen, to ensure that the unit he wants to sell you is played just that tiny bit louder than the other. Now remember, 3dB of extra volume (a just noticeable difference) represents a doubling of power, one reason it is important to run an amplifier well within its rated capabilities.

Back to gain: amplifiers are typically specified to deliver 100 Watts into a 8Ω load, which means that the amplifier delivers about 28 Volts into the load. Do not worry if you don’t understand how I calculated this.

Another part of the specification should tell you that the amplifier has an input sensitivity of 700mV for full output. This means that 700mV at the input is amplified to become 28V at the output, a factor of 40. This factor, or gain, can be expressed as 32dB and once again, don’t be concerned if you don’t know how this was calculated.

So you now see that the gain of an amplifier bears no relationship to its ultimate maximum output. Amplifier makers tend to give their higher powered units more gain than the smaller ones so that the drive requirements remain much the same – the assumption being that you buy the higher powered unit because you require more power! Were the gain of the two identical, you would have to drive the larger unit harder to achieve the greater output of which it is capable.

To summarise – it is unsafe to make any assumptions about the gain of an amplifier unless you have a specific figure from the manufacturer, in dB. Sensitivity figures are notoriously ambiguous because they have to be related to the amplifier’s full output which is, in itself, a rather ambiguous value unless the manufacturer chooses to pin it down. When evaluating amplifiers (or indeed any audio equipment) it is vital that comparisons be conducted at near identical levels. A cheap hand-held sound level meter can be a great aid when it comes to ensuring that, at different places and times, you are listening at similar levels.

Pluto
15-08-2010, 07:02 PM
Roughly, 1dB is typically the smallest change of level that humans can perceive when switching directly between two conditions, called an A/B comparison. With good equipment in a quiet room, with practice and careful listening you might be able to detect ½dB on some material.
This isn't the whole story on the question of level matching. While 1dB is, for most people most of the time, the smallest significant audible change, there is some evidence to support subtle effects of rather smaller changes.

Consider the possibility of changes under ½dB when evaluating audio electronics; it is highly unlikely that such a difference would ever be overtly apparent. For all intents & purposes, the two units would sound as though they were at the same volume. Nonetheless, there is some evidence to support the view that, in the longer term, the louder unit will be perceived as providing greater low level detail and thereby thought of as clearly superior to its competitor.

For a proper, level matched, comparison to take place, the use of a single, standard volume control isn't good enough. The two chains under test must include a variable, pre-set, attenuator to ensure that the overall gain of each chain is identical.

The playing field must be level for the game to count.

fotr-hl5
16-08-2010, 12:10 AM
I was, I am in love with my Viva Solista.(whic I bought after 10 years off seeking the right one). 22W with 845 tubes. And I was seeking for speakers that could be adequate ( is this the right word?) to Viva and my place (3,4 x 5,4 x 1,9 m). Money wasnt at first place at my investigations.
I had had Avalon NP2, Altec 604, Podium sound 0.5; Avalon ascendant; Living Voice; and at the end I got from our dealer Pear audio for one week SHL 5.
It is a dream combination, and of course thay stays! For ever!
I belive in analog so I listen 90% LPs on Kuzma Stabi with Stogi referenze and Benz Rubby MK II (MC head) and Pear Audio blue with some unknown head ( but it is MM).
Now I can spend all the diference beetwen other speakers and SHL 5 for LPs. And enyoj in manj new records!
At my 60 I am exited as I was many years ago when I got my first car. That is wonderfull feeling!!

STHLS5
16-08-2010, 03:06 AM
..... When evaluating amplifiers (or indeed any audio equipment) it is vital that comparisons be conducted at near identical levels. A cheap hand-held sound level meter can be a great aid when it comes to ensuring that, at different places and times, you are listening at similar levels.......
...For a proper, level matched, comparison to take place, the use of a single, standard volume control isn't good enough. The two chains under test must include a variable, pre-set, attenuator to ensure that the overall gain of each chain is identical.

The playing field must be level for the game to count.

Thanks for the detailed explanation.

If I may add, my concern is, why some people find amplifiers can sound different? My humble opinion is no one really uses SPL reader or any equipment to evaluate amplifiers. They just turn it on and listen at their preferred volume level and come to conclusion that certain amplifiers are better than another.

I wouldn't say their observations are flawed. They are correct to perceive the differences. While engineers can prove after level matching and under DBT two amplifiers are indistinguishable but in reality that's not the way normal listeners judge their amplifiers.

Speaking form experience with my preamplifier with 6 stage of gain to the amplifier and 3 stage of gain at the input stage. What should be the correct setting was left to the user's preference as it depends on his equipment and sonic preference. The designer advised to use the highest gain in the input stage but he also says that technically the lowest setting (input) is correct but not necessarily musically the best setting.

After many months trying with different combinations I realised there is no such thing as one setting suits all. In fact, at my normal listening level around 75 dB I prefer the high gain but when listening really loud I preferred the low gain position.

So let's say the high gain position is Amp A and the low gain position is Amp B and their gain is not adjustable I would prefer Amp A and to those who listens really loud would prefer Amp B depending on how loud they play.

Just thinking out loud.

ST

honmanm
16-08-2010, 10:19 AM
This is going back a bit in the discussion, to the general question of "why can a lower powered amplifier sound better than a more powerful one".

Now what's interesting is that this can be true even within the same product range, same designer, and even the same amplifier topology. I would hazard a guess that this is because the need for a high power output is another contraint on the design. High power output means higher voltages and currents, and this limits the choice of components that go into the amplifier - it may also affect the way that the amplifier is configured (bias levels, etc.). Those design choices affect the sound quality even when the amplifier is not called on to supply a lot of power.

The other thing to consider is that most of the time domestic music reproduction requires very little power - I tried a friend's "Son of Ampzilla" with the P3ESRs and even on Mr. Beethoven's finest the old amp's VU meters were reading about 0.5W on average and 2.5W during the noisy bits. That's in a room 3.5 x 4.5m, about 2.5m high ceiling, speakers 83.5dB/1W/1m. The VU meters are damped (and it would have been handy to use an SPL meter to cross-check) - so some brief peaks will almost certainly have been higher.

So given the difference in sensitivity between P3ESR and M40.1 it is quite conceivable that the latter will work well with a genuine 30W of amplification in a domestic setting. In terms of dB, a 30W amplifier is capable of "just a little less" than the recommended 50W.

Subjectively, when it comes to valves vs. transistors one can't really generalise... well designed amplifiers tend to occupy a sonic middle ground regardless of technology or topology. But one can probably generalise to say that when an amplifier falls short of the ideal (and they all do in one way or another), the audible effect of this will depend on the type of device and the amplifier topology. And that is where taste comes in.

STHLS5
16-08-2010, 10:40 AM
Maybe, amplifiers frequency response changes at different level of output? I am just speculating.

ST

honmanm
16-08-2010, 12:20 PM
Maybe, amplifiers frequency response changes at different level of output? I am just speculating.

ST

There's no reason why a power amplifier should do that (unless it's being driven too hard and the heat is affecting some of the components)... however some characteristics (noise floor, crossover distortion) are important at low volume levels and others (linearity, power supply stiffness) more important when supplying a lot of power. A lot depends on where the designer has chosen to spend his budget...

honmanm
16-08-2010, 03:09 PM
One more thing... the frequency response of your *ears* changes with SPL (see the equal loudness contours that Mr. Shaw posted a while back... if they've survived the site transfer).

Pluto
16-08-2010, 07:51 PM
I would hazard a guess that this is because the need for a high power output is another contraint on the design. High power output means higher voltages and currents, and this limits the choice of components that go into the amplifier - it may also affect the way that the amplifier is configured (bias levels, etc.). Those design choices affect the sound quality even when the amplifier is not called on to supply a lot of power.
Guess again: if anything, the converse is true. In general, a well designed high power amplifier which is "coasting" will perform better than a lower power unit running closer to its design limits.

honmanm
16-08-2010, 09:38 PM
It all depends how close to the design limits... if borderline, obviously the lower-powered amp is going to run into trouble.

However if we are talking about an average power output requirement of, say, 1W, the difference between 20W and 50W is *almost* academic... on another thread there are several happy Harbeth customers (and a similarly happy dealer) talking about how well the Sugden A21 goes with P3ESRs.

One of the problems with low-powered amplifiers is the tendency of the manufacturer to skimp on the power supply, in which case yes, the sound quality falls apart when operating close to its limits. However if we take two amplifiers with the same power supply, is there any reason why the sound quality of the lower-powered one should degrade before the onset of clipping?

I suspect one of the reasons for the consistent performance of class A amplifiers is simply that they are operating at full power all the time, so (a) the power supply simply cannot be under-specified and (b) loud passages in the music do not place any additional demands on the supply.

A specific example was a comparison between Sumo's Polaris and Nine amplifiers coupled to very revealing 4 ohm speakers at a dealer's premises. Neither of the amplifiers could really cope with the speakers, while the Polaris could deliver 195W into this load it sounded rather harsh at all volume levels. The 80W-into-4-ohms Nine was sweet up to a point, beyond which it simply sounded dull.

GregD
18-04-2011, 08:28 PM
I use valve amplifers - a Leben preamp and poweramp - and I am very happy with them. But really, I know that buying Harbeth P3ESR was the real 'headline moment' in my system. I had got tired of reading about amplifiers and which ones are best etc. I kind of stopped caring about this kind of question and have just bought what I liked the idea of owning. (shock, horror!)

I like that the Lebens are hand-made with care (like my P3ESR) and are well-built and beautiful to behold. I like the idea of playing my favourite Sinatra LPs on an amplifier that seems to be from the same era as Frank himself.

I love my system, especially the Harbeths and Lebens, but would never jump up and down shouting that everyone should save up and by the Lebens, because realistically, comparable sound quality can be bought for much, much less.

My reasons for buying nice old valve amplifiers are not in opposition to the common-sense view expressed by AS - in fact I agree with him. My reasons for purchasing valves exist separately and are, to put it bluntly, not principally to do with sound quality as such. It is mainly aesthetics and nostalgia. OK, 'I' feel it could be about sound quality to a small extent, but I could never preach to people that valves are best, not when such cheap, readily available SS units are available which deliver such amazing value when compared with technical anachronisms like my valve amps.

As I said, I love my valve/Harbeth system - but I know the valves were not necessary for optimum musical enjoyment.

singslingr
19-04-2011, 02:15 PM
I use valve amplifers - a Leben preamp and poweramp - and I am very happy with them. But really, I know that buying Harbeth P3ESR was the real 'headline moment' in my system. I had got tired of reading about amplifiers and which ones are best etc. I kind of stopped caring about this kind of question and have just bought what I liked the idea of owning. (shock, horror!)

I like that the Lebens are hand-made with care (like my P3ESR) and are well-built and beautiful to behold. I like the idea of playing my favourite Sinatra LPs on an amplifier that seems to be from the same era as Frank himself.

I love my system, especially the Harbeths and Lebens, but would never jump up and down shouting that everyone should save up and by the Lebens, because realistically, comparable sound quality can be bought for much, much less.

My reasons for buying nice old valve amplifiers are not in opposition to the common-sense view expressed by AS - in fact I agree with him. My reasons for purchasing valves exist separately and are, to put it bluntly, not principally to do with sound quality as such. It is mainly aesthetics and nostalgia. OK, 'I' feel it could be about sound quality to a small extent, but I could never preach to people that valves are best, not when such cheap, readily available SS units are available which deliver such amazing value when compared with technical anachronisms like my valve amps.

As I said, I love my valve/Harbeth system - but I know the valves were not necessary for optimum musical enjoyment.

I totally understand Greg - I think Leben amps are among the best-looking hifi anyone could buy. And after reading your post, I'm now giving some thought to pairing my P3ESRs with Lebens as well...

GregD
19-04-2011, 08:31 PM
I totally understand Greg - I think Leben amps are among the best-looking hifi anyone could buy. And after reading your post, I'm now giving some thought to pairing my P3ESRs with Lebens as well...

If it doesn't put you out financially and they appeal to you, then why not? But let's not think any of us NEED to spend this kind of money to get a revelatory performance from our Harbeth P3ESR.

In fact I'm going to get hold of a decent budget integrated amplifier just to prove it to myself, I still can't resist experimenting! My longer term goal, in fact, is to move to a bigger listening room and a larger Harbeth model with my Lebens and keep the P3ESR for a second system with a less bling amplifer. However, I find my new P3 totally satisfying - so substantial and rich yet delicate and smooth. Also, the finish and build is far, far better than my previous LS3/5A speakers.

On the subject of the LS3/5A, I would now say that anyone still raving about that speaker needs to sit down with the P3ESR and experience the wake-up call of 30+ years of improvement and development achieved by Alan Shaw/Harbeth. There really is NO CONTEST, no ifs no buts. Just get out there and listen!

EricW
19-04-2011, 10:45 PM
... let's not think any of us NEED to spend this kind of money to get a revelatory performance from our Harbeth P3ESR.

In fact I'm going to get hold of a decent budget integrated amplifier just to prove it to myself!

I am currently driving my P3ESRs with a Dayens Ampino, a nice little 25wpc integrated from Serbia that I think cost 250 Euros or so. I had a much larger, more powerful, more expensive integrated, but I just like the sound of the Ampino - it and the P3ESRs make beautiful music together.

So no, you really don't need to spend a lot of cash.

Gan CK
20-04-2011, 06:05 AM
Thanks for being candid Greg. My sentiments exactly about the Lebens. Yes they are absolutely beautiful spotting that vintage look but as you mentioned, comparable sound can be had for less money & that's the reason why i bought the LFD LE III when i was actually comtemplating the Leben 600 integrated. I bet the LE III or the current LE IV will also sound superb with the P3ESR. Whatever it is, the P3ESR is a fantastic little musical marvel. Enjoy them to the max Greg.

C K Chan
20-04-2011, 10:16 AM
Hi all,
I have 3 Luxman integrated amps - two tube amps SQ-N100 and SQ-38u (10W and 25W respectively into 8ohm), plus a SS, the L-507u (110w). At first I experimented a lot with changing the amps for my SHL5 but after a while, although there may be perceived differences I just do not bother any more as they can all drive the SHL5 beautifully (or the SHL5 delivers the music from any of the amps capably).
ck chan

hifi_dave
20-04-2011, 10:35 AM
Rega have a new 'budget' integrated amp, the Brio-r. I heard it yesterday and it is seriously good. It is priced at £480 and has an internal MM phono stage, 50 wpc. It will be available in a few weeks.

It will stir things up a bit !!!

Concerti
20-04-2011, 12:15 PM
I was using a Jadis Orchestra Ref with KT 88 - rather nice. Went to a Lux 550A II for my 5's: I like it much more.

BAS-H
20-04-2011, 02:48 PM
Hi all,
I have 3 Luxman integrated amps - two tube amps SQ-N100 and SQ-38u (10W and 25W respectively into 8ohm)...

Hi C K Chan,

Forgive my asking - this has reminded me of a question I have been trying to find an answer to. I used to use a couple of valve amps, 10W and 35W respectively. Neither could reproduce the transient response required to reproduce a piano recording accurately. I have been trying to nail the cause but have very limited experience.

Can I ask whether your amps provide a convincing transient response? If they do, then at least it will rule out my amps being valve amps per se as the cause. Thanks.

singslingr
20-04-2011, 03:46 PM
If it doesn't put you out financially and they appeal to you, then why not? But let's not think any of us NEED to spend this kind of money to get a revelatory performance from our Harbeth P3ESR.

In fact I'm going to get hold of a decent budget integrated amplifier just to prove it to myself, I still can't resist experimenting! My longer term goal, in fact, is to move to a bigger listening room and a larger Harbeth model with my Lebens and keep the P3ESR for a second system with a less bling amplifer. However, I find my new P3 totally satisfying - so substantial and rich yet delicate and smooth. Also, the finish and build is far, far better than my previous LS3/5A speakers.

On the subject of the LS3/5A, I would now say that anyone still raving about that speaker needs to sit down with the P3ESR and experience the wake-up call of 30+ years of improvement and development achieved by Alan Shaw/Harbeth. There really is NO CONTEST, no ifs no buts. Just get out there and listen!

If you're looking for a less bling (and expensive) amp to partner the PSESRs, may I recommend the NAD C356BEE. Its 80W is more than enough for the Harbeths and I found the pairing to be quite impressive.

And I agree with you about preferring the PSESRs over the LS3/5As.

Cheers!

A.S.
20-04-2011, 04:12 PM
.... My reasons for purchasing valves exist separately and are, to put it bluntly, not principally to do with sound quality as such. It is mainly aesthetics and nostalgia. OK, 'I' feel it could be about sound quality to a small extent, but I could never preach to people that valves are best, not when such cheap, readily available SS units are available which deliver such amazing value when compared with technical anachronisms like my valve amps....Now, speaking as a marketing-aware person, that is the sort of self-awareness that I respect. There is, as I've said before, nothing whatsoever wrong with the thrill of the chase and the final conquest. That is after all an evolutionary given. What is refreshing is that the consumer candidly admitted that there was no underlying sonic reason for making the purchase of an old amp - he just liked the look of it.

I assume that the same logic applies when we see another human that we find attractive - there is no need to justify the feeling; no need to sell that reasoning to others, and no need to play down the imperfections. I applaud the candour - it's all we ask for here. Everyone should be free to pick-out whatever they fancy without others imposing their justification on it. That's why we Moderate posts making what we consider ludicrous justifications of cables and the like. If you fancy a flutter on a cable, please do so. Your dealer will welcome you! But don't try and sell your dream to the rest of us. Some prefer blondes. Some brunettes. Neither is better. They're just different.

BTW, this relates to my post about Influencing Others. Here:

http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?981-Doing-experiments-reporting-results-influencing-other-people

GregD
20-04-2011, 05:33 PM
BTW, this relates to my post about Influencing Others.

One of the problems with the Internet is that everyone's opinion appears on a level playing field. I was on another forum once and innocently expressed praise and a preference for a particular headphone. To my astonishment, I quickly gathered a small number of followers who would ask for my opinion and advice about all sorts of hi-fi issues, as if I were some kind of Guru. I had to disappoint them!

Even in this thread, I expressed my preference for Leben valves and someone has already thought about joining me as a Leben owner. Nothing wrong in that, but I certainly did not intend to influence anyone, just to be clear about my views on the matter of amplifiers and the reasons for choosing them. I feel a lot freer these days after admitting to myself what is really important to me as an individual consumer.

We really do need to be careful about what we post on the HUG and the internet in general, in this way I support the Moderation policy.

EricW
20-04-2011, 09:38 PM
....I quickly gathered a small number of followers who would ask for my opinion and advice about all sorts of hi-fi issues, as if I were some kind of Guru. I had to disappoint them!



Keeping with the evolutionary theme, I suspect there are at least two other things at play:

1. Human beings crave social acceptance, and seek consensus on all kinds of things including the "best" hi fi to get.

2. Human beings seek to defer to authority as it provides a sense of security and stability to think that someone else has The Answer.

I think it's not hard to see that these tendencies predate the Internet but, as with so many things, they have become more manifest because of the incredibly greater ease of communication now compared to previously.

kittykat
21-04-2011, 01:06 AM
The internet looks like it may have created mass “projections” of information, without creating a bridge to access and evaluate “it”. We’re seeing the low level confusion, some of which is tossed into the misinformation pot to appeal to our insecurities eg. “if it’s more expensive it can only be better” etc.

It must be risky and expensive to put an electronic product to market, and think most reputable manufacturers just can’t get it wrong. Personally think this logic does show. Even for something so complex as a digital tv, its hard to pick any major shortcomings (even with the different calibrations) from a tv to the extent that I couldn’t live with. The only nasty ones ive seen are the unknown brand cheap as chips examples.

So fear not, venture forth and buy that branded mainstream amp. It cannot be bad but only very good, and best with Harbeths!

A.S.
21-04-2011, 09:32 AM
Hi C K Chan,

.... Neither could reproduce the transient response required to reproduce a piano recording accurately. I have been trying to nail the cause but have very limited experience.

...
Almost all tube amps are built around their output transformers, one per channel usually the size of five or more cigarette packets, covered with a metal shroud. The entire performance of the amplifier is critically dependent upon the transformer's capabilities. Every note, every transient has to work its way through that lump of steel and copper, and as with all transformers, the signal passing through will be slightly (or greatly depending upon the design) corrupted by the magneto-electrical forces inside the transformer. So chasing some dream tubes to replace the ones already fitted to a tube amp is skirting around the issue: the real performance limitation is the output transformer which cannot be exchanged.

I congratulate anyone smart enough to understand and wrestle with the many technical factors in the design of tube amps. But at best, they can only reach a very sophisticated point of compromise - getting rid of the transformer is the answer.

BAS-H
21-04-2011, 11:17 AM
Many thanks Alan, appreciated. The explanation certainly fits the observations.

coredump
21-04-2011, 04:37 PM
Almost all tube amps are built around their output transformers, one per channel usually the size of five or more cigarette packets, covered with a metal shroud. The entire performance of the amplifier is critically dependent upon the transformer's capabilities. Every note, every transient has to work its way through that lump of steel and copper, and as with all transformers, the signal passing through will be slightly (or greatly depending upon the design) corrupted by the magneto-electrical forces inside the transformer. So chasing some dream tubes to replace the ones already fitted to a tube amp is skirting around the issue: the real performance limitation is the output transformer which cannot be exchanged. I congratulate anyone smart enough to understand and wrestle with the many technical factors in the design of tube amps. But at best, they can only reach a very sophisticated point of compromise - getting rid of the transformer is the answer.

It is in the Transformer... Thanks Alan Shaw. Another 'nail in the coffin' post.

Happy Good Friday!

Jason
21-04-2011, 09:51 PM
Almost all tube amps are built around their output transformers, one per channel usually the size of five or more cigarette packets, covered with a metal shroud. The entire performance of the amplifier is critically dependent upon the transformer's capabilities. Every note, every transient has to work its way through that lump of steel and copper, and as with all transformers, the signal passing through will be slightly (or greatly depending upon the design) corrupted by the magneto-electrical forces inside the transformer. So chasing some dream tubes to replace the ones already fitted to a tube amp is skirting around the issue: the real performance limitation is the output transformer which cannot be exchanged.

I congratulate anyone smart enough to understand and wrestle with the many technical factors in the design of tube amps. But at best, they can only reach a very sophisticated point of compromise - getting rid of the transformer is the answer.

Hi Alan
I have tried many amplifiers over the years valve & the best solid state, I have built 4 Valve Single Ended Triode mono block amplifiers & 2 valve transformer output preamplifiers to learn about the different directly heated triodes (45,2A3,300B & GM-70).
As you say the transformers are the governing factor to the quality of the sound produced by valve amplifiers.
How ever I would have to say when you have a valve amplifier that uses excellent built & designed transformers for the output or even interstage driver transformers then this is a different matter for the sonic results entirely.
I am not saying that you need to use valve amplifiers to get excellent sound quality with Harbeth loudspeakers because you do not, I have had excellent sound with the LFD, Pass Labs & Lamm solid state amplifiers, I like both amplification devices when well designed.
Thanks Jason.

Sebastien
01-05-2011, 01:29 AM
Like I expressed in the past on the HUG, I experimented many amplifiers with my SHL5. Both of solid state or tubes amplifiers have their strenght and weakness.

To state about Alan's earlier post, for me it's clear the solid state are the "brunette" one and tubes are the "blonde" one.

Enjoy your sound!

Sebastien

Rapid 17
07-08-2011, 06:59 PM
A few months ago I bought a Prima Luna Prologue 2 valve amplifier to use with my SHL5's, it's my first valve amp in 45 years of listening to hi fi and I love it. I recently changed the stock KT88 valves for Svetlana winged C EL34 valves and in my humble opinion the sound quality is now ever better.

Geoff.

Sebastien
26-07-2012, 06:23 PM
Hi Alan
I have tried many amplifiers over the years valve & the best solid state, I have built 4 Valve Single Ended Triode mono block amplifiers & 2 valve transformer output preamplifiers to learn about the different directly heated triodes (45,2A3,300B & GM-70)...

Hi Jason,

Could you provide me some listening feed-back with the use of SET (Single Ended Triode) amplifier and Harbeth speakers? The 2A3, 300B, 211 and 845 are among the best designed I heard in an amplifier, transistor or tube mingled. I guess that the will fit better with an high efficiency speaker but I'd like to learn about their synergy with Harbeth.

Thanks,

Sébastien

BAS-H
02-08-2012, 06:57 PM
Hello Sébastien

I had a 10W/channel SET running my P3ES2s once. It was a cheap one that I bought to find out what SET amps sound like. To my tastes, the resulting tone was beautiful and superior to my current ordinary class AB transistor amp but it did run out of steam during the loud parts of big stuff (Mahler, Russian symphonies etc.). I read a write-up about it once that summed it up rather well... paraphrasing... "much like a 1930s Austin 7... disarmingly charming and perfectly gutless!"

Whether the losing steam effect was down to the fact it was cheap, a SET or of only 10W a side, I'm afraid I couldn't tell you with certainty.

I still miss that little amp (http://www.separo.com.cn/en/products/proshow.asp?ID=204&MaxID=22) and wish I'd never sold it.

Ben

Bas R
16-08-2012, 10:40 PM
A few years back, in my pre-Harbeth days, I owned a pair of speakers that had the tendency to sound harsh in my room. Tried lost of amps, most solidstate, but the audible diferences were minor. Then bought a Unison tube amp, immediately loved the sound! I guess it was a bit rolled off in the highs, but in my system it presented just enough details in a very smooth way. It made me happy for a while but then sold all my gear when I sold the house. A year later, in a new home, I started again with a more modest system. A pair of Compact 7-ES3's hooked up to a Rega Mira3 amp and a Rega source. The Harbeths made me listen to more music than ever before, so natural, relaxing and engaging at the same time. Even with this simple solidstate Rega. Alan is right, amps don't matter that much. I could live forever with this combo.

But still, I kept asking myself if it would be possible that the tube-revelation in my former systeem could repeat itself with the Harbeths. Last week I suddenly got offered a pair of 70 watt Primaluna tubed mono's, in mint condition for a great bargain. Just couldn't resist the experiment. Once installed in my system it seemed silly to connect them to the pre-out of the solid state Rega but after first listen I easily forgot about the akward match. I never expected such a gain in musicality, everthing has more air and music flows more naturally. Big difference, it sounds so 'easy' and musicians have (a lot) more presence. Listening to Brandford Marsalis 'Renaissance' is simply breathtaking. It always was, now just even more so.

I was very happy with the Mira3 on my Harbeths but this tube experiment is here to stay and the next step is to find a good pre-amp to go along with it. Then, perhaps, peace at last. And definitly more music from the Marsalis family!

{Moderator's comment: 'more musical' but have you considered that the same effect can eb achieved quite easily with a rising HF output? Did you check the frequency response before concluding some marvellous technical breakthrough which is extremely unlikely. A-B test perhaps? We are very nervous about these night-and-day experiences.]

Zemlya
17-08-2012, 08:00 PM
I still disagree with your stance. In an ideal world, you should send those callers to their dealers and ask them to listen for themselves. It is not for you to tell them how to spend their money. Taking responsibility for one's actions is a core quality of adult humans in my book. They should not need anybody else to validate their decisions.

In a perverse way, you keep those callers in just the same position they were in before they called you - not trusting their own judgement and relying on someone else's instead.

In the non-ideal world, I suppose I should be grateful for anyone who gives non-snake-oil advice. But you do that frequently on the forum; you could even insert a "template post/standard disclaimer" outlining your position after each post of the kind you want to eradicate. Easy to do when posts are reviewed before publication anyway.

I have to disagree with a lot of the backwards logic going on this thread. If anything, Harbeth's official stance and advice on amplifiers is empowering their [potential?] customer base.

It's more disturbing to see so many people 'resist' the cold hard facts. The psychology of it all is quite scary...

anonymous
25-08-2012, 02:57 AM
I'd have to agree that Harbeth's official stance on amplifiers is empowering. Having owned a pair of P3ESR's since April, I've used them with two amplifiers, a Rogue Cronus Magnum and a Rega Brio R. The P3ESRs sound fantastic with both amplifiers, to the extent that I don't feel any need to be too concerned with amplifier choice and Harbeth speakers. For now, the Rega will be used with other speakers in my living room, and the Rogue will drive the P3ESRs in my small listening room. But, when the time comes to buy a larger pair of Harbeths for my living room, it's comforting to know I can just swap amplifiers between rooms and not be further concerned with it.

I really appreciate this forum as a peaceful respite from an online world of audiophile nervosa.