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Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

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  • Amplifier differences - one cheap, one expensive.

    Originally posted by Robmoores1 View Post
    ...I am in the camp that cannot agree with your statement that the vast majority of amplifiers sound the same and reproduce 99.99% of what it is being fed to them....I think that it is fair to say that Harbeth's sound good no matter what amplifier you use them with (within reason) but to say that they all sound the same is, in my humble opinion just plain wrong....
    With equal respect, I don't believe I have said that amps 'all sound the same' as I do not necessarily believe this. Nor is it my own experience of casually* listening to amplifiers. I have even cautioned here quite recently of my poor sonic experience with a digital switching amplifier. So I have been misquoted.

    What I have said, and this applies to my observations about what we receive through all of our senses including eyes and ears, is that to one extent or another we are deceived by our senses all the time. It is so much part of the human condition that we are barely aware that all electrical input arriving from our senses at our brain is interpreted, reinterpreted, processed and then has layer upon layer of emotion laid upon it. My point is that (maybe) under properly controlled conditions those strongly held opinions of differences between item A & B are just not repeatable. In the case of amplifiers, my point was - and I stand by this a piece of science - that unless the loudness at the ears are matched (or taken into account in the evaluation process somehow) when evaluating A v B any conclusions that are drawn are not the product of science - they are the product of emotion. This is so obvious it is hardly worth stating.

    Don't think for one moment that I am free from this emotional connection between ear and belief! I'm acutely aware of my own susceptibility to self-delusion. Recently, I was working on a speaker prototype. It was getting late and I was rushing. I'd inadvertently bypassed most of the crossover circuit on one channel - the tweeter was being driven directly by the amp. It's amazing that it survived. Do you think I heard the fault as I listened for a further hour to favourite music? No. I so much wanted that project to be finished that night that I vividly recall saying to myself "Eureka! Job done! Design finished!" The following morning my rested ears immediately identified the ghastly truth. See how you hear what you want to hear? I do it all the time. And I'm paid to be objective!

    You can not reliably evaluate two or more pieces of audio electronics only by listening if either/or -

    a) you do not match the replay level at the ears and/or
    b) you can see them and/or
    c) you take even as long as one second to switch from A to B and/or
    d) either one is out of specification i.e. faulty in some way and/or
    e) the design is so poor that the basic measurable frequency response is not comparable within a fraction of a dB and/or
    f) the input, output or any other circuit part is being over-driven as is often the situation when a CD player is connected to a high sensitivity input. CD players output 2v or more under peak conditions .... can the amplifier's input stage, before the volume control, handle this huge signal cleanly? Some can't. A basic technical check will expose this (common) issue and/or
    g) there may be some problem with your hearing such as tinnitus or you have a head-cold, flu or similar

    In short, you have to be dead sure you're comparing like with like. That is the only truly fair comparison. I do not doubt that certain listeners would swear in the High Court on oath that A is better than B because they truly, absolutely and unflinchingly trust their ears. My point is that they have a misplaced belief in their hearing which is prone to age, disease, illness, damage, exposure and fatigue. When evaluating electronics you should not totally trust you ears except under carefully controlled conditions. I wouldn't so why would you? If under controlled conditions we can hear a difference between A & B then we can say that truly and honestly there really is a difference and we'll be able to reproduce it next week, next month, next year in Court or at home. I would be proud to wholly accept such results as valid and I would then be happy to recommend our Users here according to those results.

    I don't think that I can add anything much to this as I don't want to sound like a cracked record. I've laid down my opinions which cry out for the application of the Scientific Method as our friend to guide us to better, more reasoned and long-term valid opinions at the lowest long-term cost to the consumer and I stand by that.

    *key word. I mean, without first having taken the trouble to measure them to be sure that A is as loud as B and that their basic technical measurements are very similar.

    AS/Kowloon, Hong Kong
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

    Comment


    • Re: You can use almost ANY amp with your Harbeths...

      Last night, on a whim, I replaced my Leben CS-600 with my dusty Cary 300SEI Integrated amplifier and boy was I in for a surprise! The familiar midrange magic of the 300B SET gushed through my Super HL-5s unrestrained - trumpets blared with real brass sound, I could feel the bow stretch across the violin strings and vocals came alive with uncanny realism! It was only when the music was over and the lights were on that I came back to the reality of a 300B SET with only *15 watts of power (* according to product specification)! Cary's founder, Dennis Had, wrote an article entitled "Power Corrupts" to explain why you only need 5 to 10 watts of power with the right speakers! (http://www.caryaudio.com/support/faq.html). Hearing is believing what Alan and others have often said that the Harbeths generally provide a benign impedance load, making the question of the right or ideal amplifier a non-issue! The Cary 300SEI sounded more immediate and dynamic than the Leben's 32 watts!

      I then switched to my YBA Integre DT (50 watts, double toroidal) but the YBA seemed "softer" and less immediate.

      So what's in a watt? Its in the quality of the watts and not the quantity of watts.

      Best Regards
      Dennis

      Comment


      • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

        I just wanted to post here to descibe a change in amplification of my Compact 7ES-3's. I was running them satisfactorily with a McIntosh MC275 tube amp. Out of mainly curiosity, I decided to try a pair of Wyred 4 Sound (W4S) SX-500 Class D "monoblock" solid state amps. The change is incredible! I know some folks here and elsewhere don't like Class D "ICE" amps as a whole, but the Wyred 4 Sound units are astounding in my system. They are rated at 250wpc into 8 ohms, so adequate power is not an issue. The issue there is maintaning control of the preamp volume know so as not to overpower the speakers. The new amps deliver much more detail and punch than my previous tube amp, yet sacrifice none of the "musicality" as far as I am concerned. They sound transparent, spacious, and tonally smooth to my ears. They are absolutely silent with no signal present. The W4S amps use a proprietary FET input buffer which raises the amp input impedance to 62kohms, so they are more compatible with most tube preamps than other Class D designs. This design feature is way different from other ICE-powered amps and probably is responsible for a large portion of the W4S's sound characteristics. Overall, I am thoroughly satisfied with the new amps, and given that they cost less than half of what my MC275 did is just icing on the cake! I can use the extra funds for more music...

        Comment


        • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

          I may well have posted this before as this thread is so long so sorry if this is a repeat. I have a pair of C7ES2 speakers and under normal circumstances I use them with an original Krell KSA50 amp.
          This provides enough power to make any sane person run from the room asking is there any need for it to be that loud. However being a pure class A design the sound just gets louder very little signs of distortion till way past the level I would find comfortable to sit and listen to.
          Recently the Krell had to have a repair to both channels as some capcitors were leaking on the circuit boards but given the unit is about 30 years old and is a very hot and hostile enviroment so it is expected.

          While the unit was away I used a Mark 1 Quad 405 but with the complete board upgrade from Net Audio and I have to say they worked very well together . The changes to the Quad make a huge improvement in the area of bass control and seperation and it is oh so noticable using harbeths as while they may not delve to the very deepest depths if you get an amplifier that controls them then you will hear every little bass note.

          So I do not know how well an original Quad would sound as the one I had came to me in a damaged state but I think it is probably a good budget option if you just need something to get the Harbeths singing while you decide on your ultimate killer amp. You never know you may just get carried away with the music and stop right there.

          Comment


          • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

            Zenith
            While Harbeths are geberally unfussy with amplification so that they can be used with a variety of different brands, different types (Tubes, class A/B, MOSFETS and I beleive even class D), there are some particular brands that seem to have greater synergy - Quads, LFDs, Lavardins. I was quite surprised to read from your post that the Quad won the Krell in the bass region. I always thought Krels excelled with deep and tight bass.

            Best Regards
            Dennis

            Comment


            • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

              Well, I think the issue of good low frequencies is not just a matter of going deep and taut.

              I would rather a system, doing low frequencies with much details and balance , than hearing it go real low and lots of slam but without good tune and details

              Comment


              • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                Originally posted by Shutterbox View Post
                Well, I think the issue of good low frequencies is not just a matter of going deep and taut.

                I would rather a system, doing low frequencies with much details and balance , than hearing it go real low and lots of slam but without good tune and details
                Shutterbox
                i think it is understood that bass must have definition as well - tonal texture, timbre, resonance, pitch, etc. I was referring to the seismic register of bass in my earlier post. Sure, I can't live with an amplifier that does only "one note" bass!

                Comment


                • Bass - and "Q"

                  Technically this whole business of bass quality/quantity/extension is all wrapped up in one phrase - "filter Q". A loudspeaker cannot reproduce down to one or two Hz., so it is by definition it must be a 'high-pass filter' with all the characteristics of an electrical filter set to, say, 50Hz. It will let through higher frequencies but it cannot pass the really low ones as sound.

                  As with all electrical (and all other mechanical filters) the peakiness of the filter at and around the knee of the filter (in our example, 50Hz) defines its time response. The one-note-bass phenomena of which you mention implies a loudspeaker whose filter-action at one frequency is peaky. A peaky frequency response implies a ringy time response. That is, after the note has ceased the speaker continues to ring-on.

                  The nearest analogy is the shock absorbers on your car: a highly damped suspension (of the type found on a luxury car) gives a ride with a 'low-Q'; conversely a cheap car with a defective shock absorber has a 'high-Q' (ride) response and at a critical frequency the car can be set into uncontrollable resonance.

                  The designer can play around with the bass filter-action of his speaker system by changing the weight of the cone, the magnetic strength or if ported, the tuning of the ports and the damping (stuffing) in the box etc. etc.. Each designer would aim for a different combination of characteristics. There is no 'right answer'
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                    The Bryston B-100 synergises well with the Harbeth SHL5 and is able to bring out decent bass from the speakers. The B-100's 100 watts @ 8 ohms is ablet o give the speakers just that bit more headroom. The Bryston runs about 10 watts or so in pure class A and has a beautiful midrange with crystal clear, grainless highs. Highly recommended combo!

                    Other amplifiers used with SHL5:
                    Cary 300 SEI
                    Leben CS-600
                    YBA Integre DT

                    Comment


                    • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                      i have been using YBA Intergre DT for the past many years and after I switch my speaker to Super HL5 30 th anniversary, i found "something" lacking.

                      after which, i was introduced LFD Zero Mark 111 by a friend of mine ( a fellow Harbeth owner ) even without listening to the amp, I hastily bought it. WOW! to my surprised............i REALLY have been missing a lot of things in music.

                      now with the LFD hooked up, i enjoy more music than ever and i can assure Shl5 is a good match with LFD. If any of you have a chance to listen to this combo, i am sure you will be mesmerised.

                      without doubt, Shl5 has been my idol speaker all this while, for, matching up with LFD is like a marriage made in heaven.

                      Comment


                      • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                        Originally posted by poison View Post
                        i have been using YBA Intergre DT for the past many years and after I switch my speaker to Super HL5 30 th anniversary, i found "something" lacking.

                        after which, i was introduced LFD Zero Mark 111 by a friend of mine ( a fellow Harbeth owner ) even without listening to the amp, I hastily bought it. WOW! to my surprised............i REALLY have been missing a lot of things in music.

                        now with the LFD hooked up, i enjoy more music than ever and i can assure Shl5 is a good match with LFD. If any of you have a chance to listen to this combo, i am sure you will be mesmerised.

                        without doubt, Shl5 has been my idol speaker all this while, for, matching up with LFD is like a marriage made in heaven.
                        Congrats bro, glad you made the decision to switch to the LFD LE III. Though it may not have unneccesary gadgets (at the expense of sound quality) that some pple can't do without but in terms of musicality, tonal accuracy & involvement, this amp is a class act & very hard to beat!

                        Comment


                        • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                          anyone here have experience of heard harbeths SHL5s driven with Lamm amps like the M1.2 hybrid 110watts amp ?
                          Just wondering whether the Harbeths would be good synergy with the Lamms.
                          I always find the Lamms pair with Von schweikerts, Wilsons, Kharma and other super hi end speakers. Have yet to see them pair with harbeths.

                          tks guys.

                          Comment


                          • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                            Hi there,

                            I just want to collect some information from you fellow Harbeth users before making a purchase here.
                            Is there anyone of you had any experience in using all-Rega or all-Roksan system with your Harbeths?
                            I own a pair of Harbeth Compact 7 (Mk I) and wish to match them with a CDand integrated from a same British audio company. Any comments or suggestions are certainly welcomed.

                            Cheers,

                            Joe Loe

                            Comment


                            • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                              Originally posted by matthewz View Post
                              Hi there,

                              I just want to collect some information from you fellow Harbeth users before making a purchase here.
                              Is there anyone of you had any experience in using all-Rega or all-Roksan system with your Harbeths?
                              I own a pair of Harbeth Compact 7 (Mk I) and wish to match them with a CDand integrated from a same British audio company. Any comments or suggestions are certainly welcomed.

                              Cheers,

                              Joe Loe
                              Hi Joe, the C7 goes well with practically any british CD/Amp combo of decent quality. The only reservation i have is Roksan amplifiers, esp the Caspian model. The Caspian cd player is pretty decent though. I reckon that if you are on tight budget, try the Rega combo eg brio/apollo with your C7 or if you can get hold of the old Cyrus 1 (push button on/off switch with plastic casing), you'll be in for a treat. The old Cyrus also has an excellent built in phono stage if you are into vinyl. Also try Creek 5250 or 5350SE with creek CD53 cd player. Immensely musical & involving yet sophisticated as well.

                              Comment


                              • Re: Amplifier selection for your Harbeths (general, not specific Harbeth models)

                                I'm a dealer in the USA and just sold an Apollo/Brio combination to a customer who also purchased a Compact 7-ES2. I would say he is thoroughly enjoying the combination and was able to come in well under his budget. Here is a comment he made to me via email just today:

                                "I am working my way through old favorite CDs and having a terrific experience- the sound is remarkable and the electronics are elegantly clean and simple." Comments like this are what makes being a dealer rewarding.

                                Good luck with your search.

                                John Geisen
                                Wellington Audio

                                Comment

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