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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

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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Mono-blocking SHL5's

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  • #16
    Dnm

    The DNM amplification is fantastic and does work extremely well with Harbeth - I picked up my kit from DNM directly and was fortunate to have them demonstrated in Denis Morecroft's own system which had a set of Monitor 30's on the end. They really do have a 'certain something' about them.

    Thanks for your suggestion of the LFD integrated - and sorry to the OP for a slight hijack of his thread!

    Comment


    • #17
      DNM + Harbeth

      Originally posted by Bodfish View Post
      The DNM amplification is fantastic and does work extremely well with Harbeth - I picked up my kit from DNM directly and was fortunate to have them demonstrated in Denis Morecroft's own system which had a set of Monitor 30's on the end. They really do have a 'certain something' about them.

      Thanks for your suggestion of the LFD integrated - and sorry to the OP for a slight hijack of his thread!
      Wow....too bad you reside in UK otherwise i'd love to pay you a visit & listen to your DNMs. So, Denis Morecroft uses Harbeth M30. Good to see more & more manufacturers using Harbeth to dem their products.

      Comment


      • #18
        Pass Labs XA100.5 + SHL5 = seductive musicality

        I have the Pass Labs XA100.5 mono blocks running my Harbeth SHL5 at the moment, this system is set up using fully balanced operation as my Parmenter valve preamplifier offers True balanced input and output as Pass Labs recommends this to be the best option if available for their power amplifiers.

        The EMM Labs CDSA CD/SACD player is being used for the source playback with Cardas Clear speaker cables and Jena Labs Balanced interconnects.

        The Sound quality from this system is excellent, very seductive and musical playing through the Harbeth SHL5.
        Attached Files
        Thanks Jason.

        www.parmentersound.com

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        • #19
          FWIW, I do not mono-block (nor do I bi-wire, bi-amp, tri-amp). I do use a Classe CA400 solid state amp to drive my Super HL5s. The amp is a true balanced design. I believe that true balanced equipment does provide better sound as a general matter. However, mono-blocking makes little sense to me. My amp has more power than I'll ever need, but I never worry about clipping, lack of headroom or the like. It's simply a classic tank built in Canada in the mid-1990s. Save your money, IMHO.

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          • #20
            My journey from SS integrated amp to tube integrated to tube pre-amp with tube mono-blocks was in a sense one of getting the sound that satisfied my ears. The interesting thing was that the Harbeths completed that sound. I enjoy listening to the music through the Harbeths, with a rather self-satisfied smugness (that I keep to myself and HUG). I have found, after many years of seeking (read: trying all sorts of equipment etc) the same musical reproduction that I would hear when I was young(er) when I went into high end audio stores and just "understood" the sound I was hearing - it was just right. The mono-blocks I own are only 25 watts each so they were not purchased to peel paint, or fill Wembly or the O2, but rather to produce "the sound" at very low listening volume, mine don't go to 11...cheap, no, one monoblock equals a pair of Harbeth 7s, but perhaps that is a correct ratio...for my budget?
            One of the reasons that I purchased this particular brand of mono blocks (North Audio) rather than some other make is that they are a boutique brand, custom designed, excellent quality and hand-built by the company owner in Canada. Are there better? don't know, don't care, I'm not going to buy much else except vinyl and digital downloads, (and maybe a pair of Harbeth 3s). Hey Kool Kats, its all about the music!

            George

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            • #21
              Mono-block does not necessarily equate to high power. There are many designs of mono-block where the power is relatively low. As an example, one of the nicest sounding amps I know of is the new Albarry M608, which is 60 watts/ 8 ohms.

              The purpose of the mono-block is to ensure the greatest separation/crosstalk between channels, not to increase power.

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              • #22
                Agreed, but isn't the same achieved by way of an amp that's a true balanced design?

                Comment


                • #23
                  No, it's a different thing entirely.

                  The mono block amp is two, physically separate amps, which needn't be balanced.

                  The 'true' balanced design has an amp section for the positive half of a waveform and another for the negative. These two sections can be used as a stereo amp or in mono form.

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                  • #24
                    Mono v. Balanced

                    Dave, understood. What I meant was do you believe there is a sonic difference between mono-blocks and a stereo amp that's a true balanced design? If so, please explain and describe how so.

                    Regards, Steve

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                    • #25
                      Just to add my "2cents", just google on the subject in the web. IMo, go and listen to compare between mono and stereo.
                      Link to the subject http://www.avguide.com/forums/stereo-vs-monoblock

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        It's impossible to make a comparison.

                        Mono blocks maximise separation and interference between channels and power supplies. True balanced as opposed to 'balanced' via transformers or op-amps on the output stages, can give other improvements if done properly. However, I don't know of any amps where you can compare 'true' balanced against single ended or stereo v mono-block. They are completely different designs.

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                        • #27
                          Dave and Steve

                          The Alner-Hamblin SA400s allow some of these changes to be assessed for sound quality as they are bridgeable stereo power amps. Furthermore while the amp is a 'truly' balanced design it can use either single-ended or balanced inputs. In my earlier posting on this thread:

                          To answer Marsanz's question here's my experience reported on HUG a couple of years ago:
                          http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...ier&highlight=

                          I did not address these aspects directly.
                          I did try both type of inputs: I decided to go with balanced as the sound was marginally better and I felt there should be less susceptibility to noise.
                          On the question of stereo vs monoblock I very strongly preferred the monoblock setup BUT of course because I bridged a pair of the stereo amps to get my monoblocks I had twice the voltage swing and current capability of a single channel of the stereo amp. OK the output impedance also increased but I'm sure the former effects accounted for the improved sound quality (to my ears). To answer your question properly you would need compare a stereo amp with monoblocks that were identical to a single channel of that stereo amp. For this to be a meaningful comparison you would also need the monoblock power supply to be half the size of that of the stereo amp. Very unlikely that you will find this (particularly the latter).

                          Happy listening!

                          David

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                          • #28
                            Unbalanced can be good too

                            I was a believer in balanced connection in the early stage of my " high end" journey. To preserve the signal integrity I used to have very short interconnects. However, after few years I found out unbalanced connections offered better sound in my system.

                            There are many technical papers on this ........

                            Below is what Lavry Techinical support said.

                            For relatively short signal connections, unbalanced connections may offer a slight advantage over balanced connections due to the nature of balanced signal connections. Because an ideal balanced input only amplified the difference between the signal on the two signal conductors, any difference between the signals (or the inputs of the balanced input itself) become part of the signal. For this reason, some audio "purists" actually prefer unbalanced connections.

                            That being said, in situations where a large amount of gain is applied to a signal, any noise or interference signal that is picked-up by the cable and input are also amplified. This is typically in the case of very low level signals such as microphones or phono cartridges or level-translation such as line level to speaker level.

                            "So unless you are running long cables, have a ground difference between the line level source and amplifier, or have a particularly "noisy" environment (in terms of RF and EMF), you would not necessarily benefit from having balanced inputs on your amplifier.

                            If part of the change would be more than 6 dB's of additional "headroom" in the amplifier's maximum input level, you could benefit from a small amount of additional adjustment range being available on the DA10's Volume control; but this would also relate to the difference in gain using the unbalanced and balanced inputs.

                            For example, if the balanced input had the same gain, the result would be the same with the DA10 set to unbalanced, and there would be no difference in the available settings on the DA10. On the other hand, if the input was 12 dB's less sensitive, you would gain 6dB's of adjustment on the bottom of the DA10's adjustment range. This is because when the DA10's output is balanced, the signal is already 6 dB's louder than when it is unbalanced (12dB minus 6 dB gives you the resulting 6 dB's of additional range).

                            Brad Johnson
                            Lavry Engineering Technical Support"


                            ST

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                            • #29
                              The myth of balanced

                              Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                              Mono blocks maximise separation and interference between channels and power supplies. True balanced as opposed to 'balanced' via transformers or op-amps on the output stages, can give other improvements if done properly. However, I don't know of any amps where you can compare 'true' balanced against single ended or stereo v mono-block. They are completely different designs.
                              I cannot see any advantage at all in a balanced amplifier unless it is on the end of perhaps 100m of audio cable in a noisy electrical environment such as in or near a metal welding factory with high energy sparks (and their generated EMF).

                              The input stage of the amplifier will have to unbalance the balanced input as it will internally be unbalanced and that required more circuitry than with just a phono unbalance input. Also, the balanced sending preamp (or whatever) will need more circuitry to generate the balanced output (sending) signal, because internally the preamp (or whatever at the sending end) will be working as unbalanced.

                              However you look at it, 'going balanced' involves more circuitry, in practice all unnecessary and cannot conceivably improve fidelity. Complexity and sexiness - yes, but not fidelity. It's another marketing trick to coerce the user into parting with his money and in the relatively noise free home environment with very short cable runs, an inappropriate, over complicated technical solution chasing a user without technical understanding. It may indeed sound different, but hard to believe that passing the precious audio signal through even more circuitry could make it sound better.
                              Alan A. Shaw
                              Designer, owner
                              Harbeth Audio UK

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                A suggestion: I've read (and posted) various concepts that many of us believe are audio myths / hype. They are peppered throughout the HUG. It would be valuable, IMO, to have a new thread devoted to the subject. I'd especially appreciated Mr. Shaw's "take" on these issues. Regards, Steve

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