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Sources for your Harbeths

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  • #46
    Re: Sources for your Harbeths

    Originally posted by Jeff Day View Post
    Hi Eric, I too enjoy using my iMac, iTunes, and Havana DAC combo - it provides an exceptionally good musical experience, and it wouldn't surprise me if CD players become extinct when more people become aware of the high performance and flexibility of this approach.

    Just a thought: I have been using ALAC when ripping my CDs to my Mac until recently, when I switched over to AIFF. The down side of AIFF is much larger file sizes (more than double), but the up side is that it allows you to replace the stock iTunes audio engine with the higher performance Amarra Computer Music Player offered by Sonic Solutions (the studio people), which offers quite a bit higher performance than the stock iTunes engine, while still retaining the full functionality of iTunes. The Amarra is only available for Macs, but now having heard what it can do I suspect that the approach of replacing the stock iTunes sonic engine with a high performance version will catch on. Just when you thought it was safe in the land of computer based audio, out comes something like Amarra that shows there is more to be extracted from the format. Given that a lot of studios use Sonic Solutions, it's nice to have their software for playback as well, and get the same sort of performance they're getting in the studio. The down side? It's expensive ... but I suspect more companies will enter the fray and bring prices down to earth.
    Jeff,

    Thanks, that's great information - though according to the Sonic Solutions website, there's a new version 1.1 forthcoming that will play ALAC files. Would be fascinating if you could do a review.

    Eric

    Comment


    • #47
      Re: Sources for your Harbeths

      EricW,

      Thanks for the comment. Now that has fueled my desire to go with computer audio and possibly getting a MHDT DAC. I have been reading lots of great comments on both Paradisea and Havana DACs from existing owners and guess there might be some truth behind all the rave reviews. Will plan for that sometime in future, probably with another pair of Harbeth speakers with the additional source.

      Cheers.

      Comment


      • #48
        Re: Sources for your Harbeths

        Coming back to this topic after the passage of time ...

        The answer to "is iTunes bit-perfect" appears to be "Yes - if the OS settings are correct."

        See: http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/i..._-_Setup_Guide

        Comment


        • #49
          Re: Sources for your Harbeths

          Originally posted by EricW View Post
          Coming back to this topic after the passage of time ...

          The answer to "is iTunes bit-perfect" appears to be "Yes - if the OS settings are correct."

          See: http://www.benchmarkmedia.com/wiki/i..._-_Setup_Guide
          In the version they investigated, this is true... They however should repeat that for version 8.0/9.0.

          Comment


          • #50
            Re: Sources for your Harbeths

            Originally posted by garmtz View Post
            In the version they investigated, this is true... They however should repeat that for version 8.0/9.0.
            garmtz:

            True, but somehow I don't think Apple is the kind of company that would go backwards in an area like this. At least, I hope not. Anyway, I now have the new Snow Leopard OS and iTunes 9, and Benchmark's instructions seem to be applicable to those as well.

            Comment


            • #51
              Re: Sources for your Harbeths

              Because of their increased resolution relative to my previous speakers, as noted in several other postings, the acquisition of a pair Harbeths (Super HL5s) lead me to review the sources I had in my system. I've started a new branch of this thread because in my case this process covered 3 types of source. I'd be interested in views on relative preferences and possible ways ahead.

              When I got the HL5s my main source was CD (Musical Fidelity CD Pre as a transport connected to a Bel Canto DAC3). Because I could only accommodate 30% of CD collection in the listening room, I set up an inexpensive wireless system to allow me direct access to the other 70%, which I had stored in Apple Lossless format on a Mac computer fitted with a large RAID disc. Using the Airtunes feature of iTunes on the Mac, I streamed the music to an AppleTV, which is connected by optical SPDIF to the DAC. This has worked faultlessly, with very little intervention necessary from me. The third source is my turntable rig, but this is not currently in the main system, being accessed via the computer.

              Considering the low cost (~?200) compared with my CD source, and listening via the transparent HL5s, the sound from the streamed music was very good; on some occasions it was better than that from the CD source. Which way to go - improve the wireless system or the CD system? As it was not obvious to me how to upgrade the wireless source without greatly complicating it I've upgraded the disc playing system. To cut a long story short I replaced the CVD Pre by a PS Audio Perfectwave Transport which gave a massive improvement: CDs now sounded far, far better than the streamed music. In fact I've never heard CDs sound so good!

              I chose the PWT because it could also play data DVDs containing high-resolution music files (up to 24bit / 192 kHz). I had already experimented with digitising some of my LPs, creating DVD-Vs and DVD-Audios, and playing them on a DVD player, but I found that the disc navigation was very poor compared with CD. So I have now transferred several albums to data DVDs (at 24 bit / 96 kHz) and these sound very good.

              So I think I've sorted 2 of my sources, but I'd be grateful for any advice on how to upgrade the wireless source. Please note I do not want a computer in the listening room, and it is not really practical for me to hardwire the computer to the listening room by ethernet.

              Comment


              • #52
                Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                I've been using PC as a source with Havana for sometime now and can say that this combination is definitely more convenient and sounds even better than my old Marantz 15S1 combo I had earlier.

                You can read in detail about the merits and demerits of using computer as a source from some of the best in the business here.
                http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue41/ca_intro.htm

                Cheers.

                Comment


                • #53
                  Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                  Originally posted by unleash_me View Post
                  I've been using PC as a source with Havana for sometime now and can say that this combination is definitely more convenient and sounds even better than my old Marantz 15S1 combo I had earlier.

                  You can read in detail about the merits and demerits of using computer as a source from some of the best in the business here.
                  http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue41/ca_intro.htm

                  Cheers.
                  I bought the Havana mainly out of curiosity (a DA converter with a valve output circuit -- how cool is that :)) and have been listening to it intensively over the weekend. It is nicely built and has worked flawlessly so far. Without any measurable data to back up my claims, I find it sounds natural and plays music pretty well too(?)

                  Having just read the article linked to unleash_me's post, I started listening to Jorma Kaukonen via Spotify. River of Time is warmly recommended!

                  In my opinion, if you are into audiophile components, the Havana will give you a greater ROI than high-end cables for example. However, no doubt Harbeths have always and will continue to sound great with any reasonable CD player / computer sound card for the rest of us.

                  tto123 from Finland, the country of Jormas and Kaukonens, far away from Havana


                  Edit: No, no, no, here is the article I've read: http://www.positive-feedback.com/Iss...hdt_havana.htm

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                    tto123, I just read the review of the Havana earlier today before you posted the link here. Seems like many folks have commented on the excellent sonic performance of this tube DAC. Most reviews by Jeff Day have peaked my interest, not only this Havana DAC but the Leben amps as well. Incidentally he is using the Harbeth 40.1 so that is a plus point should folks consider the components he has reviewed.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                      Thanks for the link unleash me. I'd skimmed through this before but not the link it references which considers a lot of the nitty gritty involved:
                      http://www.positive-feedback.com/Iss...s_computer.htm
                      Some useful advice here for making cost-effective improvements.

                      I've made some progress in terms of increasing the sound quality from my streamed music source; I've changed the power lead to a Russ Andrews Powercord-8 and the mains distribution block to an Alner-Hamblin MF02. These brought a blacker background, more relaxed music, more ambience and a sweeter top. Still not up to the quality from the PS Audio PWT but closer.

                      From my limited research I guess I need to do something about the high level of jitter that I'm told the AppleTV generates e.g. look at a re-clocker. The above link records that iTunes is as good as any other means of ripping CDs, as it produces bit-perfect copies. I'd be quite happy to stick with iTunes, with Airtunes for wireless transmission, as it offers all the facilities I need, but for the fact that it cannot handle hi-res digital music.

                      David

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                        Glad I could help David.

                        Last year I moved from Marantz 15S1 combo and ProAc 140. It was a nice combo and served me well for many years. But my current setup is the best I have had so far and I'm pretty sure I will not be upgrading for a very long time! Tried to be a hifi purist for 2 decades but eventually embraced the PC based solution. Never been happier :-)

                        My system current system is like this:
                        FLAC/WAV from PC.Foober.WASAPI through MHDT Havana DAC to McIntosh MA2275 powering a pair of SHL5. Cables and ICs are from Chord Signature. For the DAC the USB and Powercable are from MHDT itself. For the rest of the system also, I'm using the stock cables - still a skeptic over them even after all these years.

                        Cheers.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                          Originally posted by davidlovel View Post
                          Because of their increased resolution relative to my previous speakers, as noted in several other postings, the acquisition of a pair Harbeths (Super HL5s) lead me to review the sources I had in my system. I've started a new branch of this thread because in my case this process covered 3 types of source. I'd be interested in views on relative preferences and possible ways ahead.

                          When I got the HL5s my main source was CD (Musical Fidelity CD Pre as a transport connected to a Bel Canto DAC3). Because I could only accommodate 30% of CD collection in the listening room, I set up an inexpensive wireless system to allow me direct access to the other 70%, which I had stored in Apple Lossless format on a Mac computer fitted with a large RAID disc. Using the Airtunes feature of iTunes on the Mac, I streamed the music to an AppleTV, which is connected by optical SPDIF to the DAC. This has worked faultlessly, with very little intervention necessary from me. The third source is my turntable rig, but this is not currently in the main system, being accessed via the computer.

                          Considering the low cost (~?200) compared with my CD source, and listening via the transparent HL5s, the sound from the streamed music was very good; on some occasions it was better than that from the CD source. Which way to go - improve the wireless system or the CD system? As it was not obvious to me how to upgrade the wireless source without greatly complicating it I've upgraded the disc playing system. To cut a long story short I replaced the CVD Pre by a PS Audio Perfectwave Transport which gave a massive improvement: CDs now sounded far, far better than the streamed music. In fact I've never heard CDs sound so good!

                          I chose the PWT because it could also play data DVDs containing high-resolution music files (up to 24bit / 192 kHz). I had already experimented with digitising some of my LPs, creating DVD-Vs and DVD-Audios, and playing them on a DVD player, but I found that the disc navigation was very poor compared with CD. So I have now transferred several albums to data DVDs (at 24 bit / 96 kHz) and these sound very good.

                          So I think I've sorted 2 of my sources, but I'd be grateful for any advice on how to upgrade the wireless source. Please note I do not want a computer in the listening room, and it is not really practical for me to hardwire the computer to the listening room by ethernet.
                          All u need is an iPhone or iPod touch > download free "remote" thru itune apps. Now u can have your Macbook/ / PC away in other room & yet got yourself full control of your itune collection on handheld device of iPhone/iPod touch stream thru Airport Express wi-fi. Full navigator on itune Playlist /Artist / Song & volume +- . Isn't it amazing :)

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Re: Sources for your Harbeths

                            Thanks for the response Johnfish.

                            In my post I forget to mention that I also use an iPod touch as a wireless remote to control playback from iTunes running on the Mac - as you say it is amazingly easy to use. I use an Airport Extreme connected to the Mac by ethernet to do the wireless streaming. I noticed that you mention volume +- so I guess that you are using the analogue output from your Airport Express? If so I'd suggest that you could improve the sound considerably by using the digital optical output instead and feed this to a separate DAC.

                            The point of my posting, and why I sought advice, is that the Airtunes approach (software + Airport Express / Apple TV) only supports music up to CD quality (16 bit / 44.1 kHz). How can I best stream higher resolution music? Since writing previously I have upgraded some power supply elements:

                            - I changed to a mains distribution block that greatly reduced the level of RFI (radio frequency interference) reaching the system; this gave a large improvement in sound. See:
                            http://www.alnerhamblin.com/

                            - I changed the mains lead supplied with the Apple TV to one made by Russ Andrews. This gave a further, but smaller, improvement. See:
                            http://www.russandrews.com/product.a...XBKXMRTGNUIFEV

                            - I changed the power supply in my Bel Canto DAC3 to a virtual battery supply (VBS1). This wrought an astonishing improvement - the system now sounds more 'analogue' than my turntable, but with all the detail and accuracy I associate with digital. See:
                            http://www.stereotimes.com/MW2009b.shtml

                            Happy listening

                            David

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              I stopped using my Quad 77 Player a few years ago. A standard Audigy soundcard on a PC did a better job, such is the pace of technology.

                              My CDs are ripped to FLAC files and are stored on the hard rive of my laptop (and another PC)

                              I have a Squeezebox under the TV which reads the FLAC music library by WiFi connection and drives a Beresford Caiman DAC (c200) Consider one before spending more.

                              The DAC in the Squeezebox is good but not great, but with and external DAC the sky is the limit.

                              The Squeezebox also doubles as a radio tuner pulling in high quality radio stations from around the word. It beats my Quad 77 tuner. Do remember that for years the BBC has sent broadcast material to the transmitters over a 14bit digital network - that's not quite as good as CD quality.

                              I can also link my laptop directly to the Caiman DAC by a USB cable and send a bitperfect stream to the DAC. I don't, because the Squeezbox does it for me wirelessly.

                              There are many tips on computer audio here

                              http://www.thewelltemperedcomputer.com/

                              I wont ever be using a CD player again.

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Currently I have a very fine Sugden CDMaster CD player and Kenwood KT-5020L tuner. While the tuner will stay here for a long time (FM is the wife domain, I rarely listen to the radio..), the Sugden is already being packed and will be replaced with the Naim CD5X next week.. I expect a small, but exciting improvement in the sound quality, esp. after adding the TeddyCap to the Naim. In the future I plan to add the Naim DAC to the CD, which will be also used for a file/stream player.

                                The only thing that I'm still think about is about going vinyl - I'd love to have a fine TT, but since right now I have zero vinyls, I doubt if there is a point in investing the money in the TT, arm, cartridge, phonostage, etc.

                                Comment

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