Announcement

Collapse

HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

The Harbeth User Group is the primary channel for public communication with Harbeth's HQ. If you have a 'scientific mind' and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - audio equipment decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual Science of Audio sub-forum area of HUG is your place. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and should be accessible to non-experts and able to be tried-out at home without deep technical knowledge. From a design perspective, today's award winning Harbeths could not have been designed any other way.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings area is you. If you are quite set in your subjectivity, then HUG is likely to be a bit too fact based for you, as many of the contributors have maximised their pleasure in home music reproduction by allowing their head to rule their heart. 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 only, although HUG is really not the best place to have these sort of purely subjective airings.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters and Harbeth does not necessarily agree with the contents of any member contributions, especially in the Subjective Soundings area, and has no control over external content.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Oct. 2017}
See more
See less

Guildford Audio's Harbeth Day - Sat 7 June 2014

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Guildford Audio's Harbeth Day - Sat 7 June 2014

    Excitement here as preparations underway for the Guildford Audio Harbeth Day tomorrow (Sat 7 June) at the Reading Best Western Moat House

    As organiser, Trevor Martin explains, "Announcing a one-day event focusing on the Harbeth brand of loudspeakers, Alan Shaw will be in attendance for the duration and will have the full range of speakers on display including the new updated SHL5plus recently announced at the Munich show. We will be mostly using Lavardin and Devialet amplification although others may be present. Entrance and parking is free so why not pop along and have a chat and listen."

    The address is:

    Best Western Moat House Reading
    Mill Lane
    Sindlesham
    Wokingham
    Nr Reading
    RG41 5DG

    Check your GPS before setting out as some still think the location is on the M4!! (Copy this link to your browser)

    https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/...d0bc690f8f943e

    More details are:

    http://www.guildfordaudio.co.uk/

    See you there.
    Attached Files
    Harbeth PR,
    Harbeth UK

  • #2
    A great day at the Guildford show

    Yesterday was a most enjoyable day out at the Guildford audio Harbeth day, where Alan and Guildford audio demonstrated the entire Harbeth range and the the wonderful new addition to the family, the SHL5 Plus.

    For me the aim of my visit was to audition the P3ESR C7's and M30.1 as a prospective buyer and I was not disappointed. The P3. M30.1, and C7's were rotated throughout the day in one of the listening rooms which attracted a steady but not overwhelming crowd.

    The P3's gave a superb performance in a large room which I believe was not the ideal dimensions for the speakers and I was hard pushed to hear anything that was missing from the performance of my floor standers (Triangle Antals) when listening to well known tracks. The C7 and 30.1 opened the lower bass up and (excuse me but I am not particularly good at describing what I hear) there was a subtle difference in sound between all three speaker models in the higher frequencies. For myself I have a hard decision to make as to which speaker I will purchase, but at the moment it's hard to ignore the unbelievable performance of the little P3's!

    SHL5 Plus.

    In the afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Alan in the SHL5 demo room, and I enjoyed his easy to understand explanation and demonstration of near field listening and his approach to designing speakers that project their sound in a wide "bubble" rather than the narrow limiting beam so often heard in other designs. I was an keen radio amateur for 25 years and likened it to the radiation pattern of antennas and the effect of different beam antenna design. Of course I couldn't resist the chance to listen to my "tester" CD, In particular my favourite track - Sara K "All your love turned into passion" from the Waterfalls Album. This track has both a very deep female bass voice and also high notes as she has a huge dynamic voice range, a 4 stringed guitar that is tuned to a very low tuning and other subtle backgrounds sounds, including a subtle "didgereredoo"effect. The acoustic guitar notes in particular had such amazing clarity and Sara K's voice was completely natural and closer to a live performance than I have ever heard. It is impossible to convey what was going on in the song in addition to the voice and guitar, but it was all there in many layers with (sorry to cliche here) an astounding amount of "air" separation, and depth. I'll stop now as I can't really convey the experience in any other words, other than to say the new member of the Harbeth family excelled itself in every way possible.

    If you want to hear your Harbeths at their best I can recommend both the Direct metal mastered 180Gm LP and the CD version of "Waterfalls" for your collection. For anyone using Spotify here is the link to the track http://open.spotify.com/track/54Js67zP0GtrfmdfS3DqvY

    Her main site with samples including the track above and Waterfalls is at http://www.sarak.com/music.html

    A little about how I got to this point. About 6 months ago my other half lit the spark by suggesting I look for a new set of stand mount speakers as we are moving the hi fi into another room. I had never heard of Harbeth as there was no dealer within 100 miles of where I used to live that carried the brand and I had not looked at hi fi products for several years. I'm an avid user of the internet and was drawn to the HUG where I have read virtually every single post, and it became clear to me that the brand has been designed by someone who not only knows how to create a great speaker but is meticulous in his approach to recording their development, is open and frank about his work and educational about audio in general. Of course one can read forever but nothing beats experiencing the sound at first hand.

    My last set of speakers have been with me for about 8 years and they were purchased after many home demos and careful listening. Unfortunately I cannot go for the SHL5 Plus due to room size however I have no doubt that whichever model I choose in the range I will have a speaker to provide me with many years of listening pleasure. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan for providing so much information via the HUG, much of which has been new to me, and to the other members of the group for the wealth of information and opinion that has helped me towards my new choice of speaker.

    I look forward to marrying up my elderly but classic Copland CSA 28 with a new set of Harbeths, now I need to choose which model

    Comment


    • #3
      Post show report

      Originally posted by Alabama978 View Post
      Yesterday was a most enjoyable day out at the Guildford audio Harbeth day, where Alan and Guildford audio demonstrated the entire Harbeth range and the the wonderful new addition to the family, the SHL5 Plus.

      For me the aim of my visit was to audition the P3ESR C7's and M30.1 as a prospective buyer and I was not disappointed. The P3. M30.1, and C7's were rotated throughout the day in one of the listening rooms which attracted a steady but not overwhelming crowd.

      The P3's gave a superb performance in a large room which I believe was not the ideal dimensions for the speakers and I was hard pushed to hear anything that was missing from the performance of my floor standers (Triangle Antals) when listening to well known tracks. The C7 and 30.1 opened the lower bass up and (excuse me but I am not particularly good at describing what I hear) there was a subtle difference in sound between all three speaker models in the higher frequencies. For myself I have a hard decision to make as to which speaker I will purchase, but at the moment it's hard to ignore the unbelievable performance of the little P3's!

      SHL5 Plus.

      In the afternoon I had the pleasure of meeting Alan in the SHL5 demo room, and I enjoyed his easy to understand explanation and demonstration of near field listening and his approach to designing speakers that project their sound in a wide "bubble" rather than the narrow limiting beam so often heard in other designs. I was an keen radio amateur for 25 years and likened it to the radiation pattern of antennas and the effect of different beam antenna design. Of course I couldn't resist the chance to listen to my "tester" CD, In particular my favourite track - Sara K "All your love turned into passion" from the Waterfalls Album. This track has both a very deep female bass voice and also high notes as she has a huge dynamic voice range, a 4 stringed guitar that is tuned to a very low tuning and other subtle backgrounds sounds, including a subtle "didgereredoo"effect. The acoustic guitar notes in particular had such amazing clarity and Sara K's voice was completely natural and closer to a live performance than I have ever heard. It is impossible to convey what was going on in the song in addition to the voice and guitar, but it was all there in many layers with (sorry to cliche here) an astounding amount of "air" separation, and depth. I'll stop now as I can't really convey the experience in any other words, other than to say the new member of the Harbeth family excelled itself in every way possible.

      If you want to hear your Harbeths at their best I can recommend both the Direct metal mastered 180Gm LP and the CD version of "Waterfalls" for your collection. For anyone using Spotify here is the link to the track http://open.spotify.com/track/54Js67zP0GtrfmdfS3DqvY

      Her main site with samples including the track above and Waterfalls is at http://www.sarak.com/music.html

      A little about how I got to this point. About 6 months ago my other half lit the spark by suggesting I look for a new set of stand mount speakers as we are moving the hi fi into another room. I had never heard of Harbeth as there was no dealer within 100 miles of where I used to live that carried the brand and I had not looked at hi fi products for several years. I'm an avid user of the internet and was drawn to the HUG where I have read virtually every single post, and it became clear to me that the brand has been designed by someone who not only knows how to create a great speaker but is meticulous in his approach to recording their development, is open and frank about his work and educational about audio in general. Of course one can read forever but nothing beats experiencing the sound at first hand.

      My last set of speakers have been with me for about 8 years and they were purchased after many home demos and careful listening. Unfortunately I cannot go for the SHL5 Plus due to room size however I have no doubt that whichever model I choose in the range I will have a speaker to provide me with many years of listening pleasure. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Alan for providing so much information via the HUG, much of which has been new to me, and to the other members of the group for the wealth of information and opinion that has helped me towards my new choice of speaker.

      I look forward to marrying up my elderly but classic Copland CSA 28 with a new set of Harbeths, now I need to choose which model
      Thank you for coming and it was a pleasure to meet you too! Actually, I'd spent some time fruitlessly this morning trying to locate that album on the internet, but as I'd misspelled her name nothing came up. So I'm really pleased you've given the full link: it seemed to be a textbook recording.

      With hindsight, and following one or to comments made by visitors to my son David, who lives nearby (and brought a work colleague), I was, as I always am, touched by the following that the Harbeth User Group has. David and I later discussed this over dinner with his girlfriend (he and she are both hons. marketing graduates) and have watched Harbeth from a distance so this was a rare opportunity for David to get an objective sense of what we are trying to achieve as a brand, and here on HUG, by overhearing conversations and watching how visitors moved between the two rooms. I spend my entire time in the SuperHL5plus room, as this allowed me to hear them in unfamiliar surroundings and allows me to confidently press the 'go' button on production, my sole responsibility.

      Neither Guildford Audio nor I knew quite what to expect of the day. The fact that anyone took the trouble to come to Reading at all was gratifying (!) and after the first hour or two, a certain pattern developed of itself: I single handedly looked after the SHL5plus demo room, and the Guildford staff, the other room. That wasn't planned, but that's what happened, even though I wasn't quite sure at first if I was muscling in to a well oiled routine. All we agreed in advance was that I just had to turn up with a pair of SHL5plus in the car and bring them in, with, as a little personal touch, the actual Ikea plant pot stands (they seem to be deleted from the Ikea catalogue now ... very sad) that I did all the SHL5plus development listening on. Yes, they were tall, but that put the tweeter on axis with the ear, give or take, in conference-room style chairs. I listen in a 4-castor roller (office) type chair on the lowest setting so it was about right for me.

      Some folk brought along their own CDs - always a very good idea. However, another learning lesson for me (I should get out a bit more!) is that as a designer, I evidently put recording sound quality first when critically listening (as opposed to headphone listening in the gym). For-pleasure general listeners accrue CDs/records that are emotionally important regardless of the technical recording quality, with an overall experience bound up with many parallel factors aside from technical quality: who they were with when they first heard the track; how much the sacrificed to afford the disc when they were impoverished students and so on. Those of us on the outside, deprived of those cues, are obliged to judge the sound on its technical recording merits alone. And often, those old recordings that really connote a deep emotion with the listener on playing, are comparatively poor recordings, or to be more politically correct 'have certain limitations of technical performance that they are a sub-optimal test signal for demonstrating the merits of a high quality replay system....'. Even so, the listener seems capable of extracting some additional insight into the performance from a technically superior replay system, and that is all that matters. But it does bring me to another point.

      On the evening before, rather too late actually, I sat down at my PC to create a CDR selection of what I though would be demo-grade audio tracks. I'd forgotten just how much space uncompressed WAV files occupy and quickly filled one CDR and then another, by which time it was 2330 and I had to be up early to get to the show. Two CDRs got me from artist A to artist D from my hard disc, so as you can see, many CDR would be required to compile a really useful demo show reel. I see the pre-prep of such material, covering all musical types from rock to jazz, classical to folk as the best way to explore the capabilities of the system, putting technical recording quality as the primary requirement. I will prepare those for the upcoming show in two weeks in central London, at KJ West one.

      The next point I want to make is a little concerning, and I'll just talk my means of a made-up example.

      An audio replay system is limited by the weakest element in the chain, as a car cannot perfrom better that the gearbox and drive chain no matter how exquisite the design of the engine. The problem those of us who come into casual acquaintance with an audio system have, as yesterday, is that none of us know the relative influence of all the elements in the chain that deliver the final sound. We can postulate that, as a general point, the room will play an important role, and that the speakers, being electro-mechanical devices bedeviled by their technical limitations, are likely to be the two major elements in what we hear. But we don't know that for sure. We can suggest, based on previous experience, that the amplifier is likely to play a relatively minor role along with other world-class electronics. I had to take it on trust that the speaker cables (with their curious in-line bulge containing I don't know what) were not modifying the speaker sound - I certainly couldn't explore that issue as a mere guest. What is worrying is that faced with our complete inability to award a factual merit score to any element of the chain, that there is a tendency for listeners to allow their preconceptions of how they think elements sound to substitute facts with comfortable beliefs.

      For example, someone who uses a brand ABC CD transport in his home system hears an unfamiliar system with unfamiliar speakers in an unfamiliar room playing unfamiliar music, likes the sound, and quickly convinces himself that the entire superlative performance is due, wholly, to the fact that this system uses the XYZ CD transport. And no amount of reasoning will shift that position. Does this really matter to anyone? Not really; if that individual is happy, then let him be: it sells another transport. My issue is that he can't keep this opinion to himself. He is so certain of the causal relationship between the sound he clearly likes and one element (technically, perhaps the one element least likely to have any bearing on the sound he heard) that he communicates his opinions to others, including those who are in a position to take advantage of his vulnerabilities. What frustrates me is that I just do not have an adequate lexicon to bring reason to bear in such a situation, and just have to let it be after giving it my best five minutes effort. It is impossible to reliably deconstruct the contribution of elements of the audio chain unless the chain is temporarily broken, the elements are technically measured and then carefully auditioned under controlled conditions, substitute elements introduced and very careful notes made. That would take at the least days of continuous effort as it would eb a very serious research undertaking. I hope this doesn't sound like criticism as it is not intended to be so; we have to be on guard when attempting to compare apples with apples.

      The other point that struck me (and David, especially) is that we all deconstruct recordings differently. The Sara K recording above was immediately recognised by the audience as a great recording. Somehow that led me on to playing then talking about the fabulous 1961 Noah's Fludd, recorded with simple microphones and with a cavernous sound stage, then explaining how the multi-track recorder, introduced in the 1960s, brought with it close-mic'd recordings and a harder, sharper less lush sound. That lead to an illustration of a Beatles recording where the vocals and instruments had been synthetically layered, such that the pool or reverberation around John and Paul's voices was not evident on Ringo's drums. All second nature to me, seemingly of interest to the younger visitors. There is so much that can be teased out by critically listening to recordings, if you have an insight to studio practice and techniques to double-guess what they have done in the studio.

      So, this was a great learning experience for me. I can and will be better prepared for KJ, and for the next time in Reading if Guildford Audio would like to invite me! Thank to everyone who attended and hope to continue our dialogue later.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #4
        Laptop solution?

        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
        ... someone who uses a brand ABC CD transport hears this completely unfamiliar system with unfamiliar speakers in an unfamiliar room playing unfamiliar music, likes the sound, and quickly convinces himself that the entire superlative performance is due, wholly, to the fact that this system uses the XYZ CD transport. And no amount of reasoning will shift that position. Does this really matter to anyone? Not really; if that individual is happy, then let him be. The issue is that he can't keep this opinion to himself. He is so certain of the causal relationship between the sound he clearly likes and one element (technically, perhaps the one element least likely to have any bearing on the sound he heard) that he communicates his opinions to others, including those who are in a position to take advantage of his vulnerabilities. What concerns and frustrates me is that I just do not have an adequate lexicon to bring reason to bear in such a situation ....
        So why not solve both you problems in one go by getting yourself a small laptop for show purposes (the small Macbook Air is nice but a Windows machine and JRiver will work fine too) and loading your music collection onto it. If you bring that and a few of your CD-Rs, not only will you have your complete collection with you - or at least a reasonable subset - you can also demonstrate that the specific digital source is probably not the major factor determining sound quality.

        Comment


        • #5
          Very short video clip

          Originally posted by EricW View Post
          So why not solve both you problems in one go by getting yourself a small laptop for show purposes (the small Macbook Air is nice but a Windows machine and JRiver will work fine too) and loading your music collection onto it. If you bring that and a few of your CD-Rs, not only will you have your complete collection with you - or at least a reasonable subset - you can also demonstrate that the specific digital source is probably not the major factor determining sound quality.
          That's a great idea. Can the public accept high quality audio played from a laptop Eric?

          BTW: I didn't realise that a very short video had been made with a small handheld compact camera. The quality isn't great but hope this will be acceptable.

          Loading the player ...


          SHL5plus on my very own Ikea plant pot stands.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            Portable audio

            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
            Can the public accept high quality audio played from a laptop Eric?
            I think so - from the coverage of various audio shows I've seen online, it seems to me that manufacturers using a laptop as a source has become a fairly common arrangement in the last couple of years (unless of course the manufacturer makes CD transports or players).

            Alternatively, if you really want to trip people up, you could use something like an Astell & Kern portable player, which have good "audiophile" cred as they are able to play hi-res PCM and DSD files (as well as CD-standard, of course). So not only could you have fun demonstrating that the megabuck transport isn't critical, your listeners won't know whether you're playing a "hi-res" digital file or plain old 16/44.1. Could be interesting and educational on a number of levels.

            http://www.astellnkern.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Permutation confusion?

              Having your own source is certainly a great idea, however the permutations of amps, interconnects, speaker cables etc that you could connect at any given show or demo make it unlikely that any sound reproduction could be "standardised" at all. The best I think you can hope for is a known source, maybe your own interconnects to the amp, and of course the known performance of a range of speakers.

              Throw in what I have learned here about consistent power levels when comparing system components, room variance and mood on the day and it becomes quite a conundrum. As an example I was not enthused about the Devialet amps when I heard them at the last Guildford show and yet on Saturday they sound really nice when with paired with the Harbeths.

              I think the main benefit of a show is to sample many different combinations of equipment and if in the market for a new purchase one can then further evaluate the selected models via a dealer.

              Comment


              • #8
                Visitor feedback - my five hour session

                >I think the main benefit of a show is to sample many different combinations of equipment and if in the market for a new purchase one can then further evaluate the selected models via a dealer.
                A very valid point. In my experience, room acoustics, and the speakers in the 'equipment-chain' make the most difference, and demos like Saturday's should be viewed as a good starting point when narrowing down your purchase choices. A home demo is obviously the next step, where you can bring a new piece of equipment into an environment whose acoustics you're more or less familiar with.

                >Some folk brought along their own CDs - always a very good idea. However, another learning lesson for me (I should get out a bit more!) is that as a designer, I evidently put recording sound quality first when critically listening (as opposed to headphone listening in the gym). For-pleasure general listeners accrue CDs/records that are emotionally important regardless of the technical recording quality, with an overall experience bound up with many parallel factors aside from technical quality: who they were with when they first heard the track; how much the sacrificed to afford the disc when they were impoverished students and so on. Those of us on the outside, deprived of those cues, are obliged to judge the sound on its technical recording merits alone. And often, those old recordings that really connote a deep emotion with the listener on playing, are comparatively poor recordings, or to be more politically correct 'have certain limitations of technical performance that they are a sub-optimal test signal for demonstrating the merits of a high quality replay system....'. Even so, the listener seems capable of extracting some additional insight into the performance from a technically superior replay system, and that is all that matters. ....
                An interesting perspective Alan. As we discussed on Saturday, I chose to bring a few tracks that simply have to sound good on any speaker I'm auditioning, but probably slightly more pieces that test my tolerance level for listening fatigue. Such tracks tend to fall into the categories you've highlighted above - I like them, they mean something to me, they hold some sort of nostalgic or emotional reference point in my life, BUT they are far from perfect. I've made the mistake before of taking nothing but wonderful recordings to shows/demos, tracks that would flatter even the poorest monitors. As a result, I've been impressed by speakers that simply aren't as good as they initially seemed. I have even purchased speakers that ended up irritating me when my (apparently low) threshold for listening fatigue was met with recordings I'd failed to try when auditioning these speakers in the first place. Inexperience and possibly naivety on my part, but I approach things differently now.

                I'm glad to say that in the five or six hours I spent listening to the Harbeth loudspeakers (mainly the new SHL5 Plus) I didn't once experience any fatigue. None whatsoever. This is a first for me. There is certainly a place for great recordings at HiFi demos. Of course those showing off their kit would be mad not to choose such music, even if consumers like myself also benefit from also bringing their much-loved, but more technically limited tracks too.

                I'm really grateful for the time afforded me on Saturday to play such music, thanks to you Alan, and the other great folks that I met there. It was also a fine opportunity to hear other people's CDs, many of which really were superb recordings, and at times quite breathtaking. As a result, last night I ordered the following CDs:

                Sara K - Waterfalls
                Bloch - Voice in the Wilderness (Natalie Clein)
                Benjamin Britten - Noye's Fludde

                Wonderful pieces of music that will sound sublime on the SHL5 Plus speakers I will be having on home demo as soon as I can arrange it. I suspect a purchase will follow soon after.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Fork to 'Up close and personal with your speakers'

                  I've created a fork in this thread to cover a visitor's curiosity about very close listening to his speakers.

                  Link is here
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Zero fatigue Harbeths

                    This is classic Harbeth "awakening" as I refer to it. Alan and his co-workers create the most non-fatiguing speakers in existence IMHO.

                    I would listen to my P3s for hours on end whereas my previous speakers would have me in headache mode within about two hours. My new M30.1s only expand on everything the P3ESR did so unfailingly well.

                    I'm in heaven day after day at the moment as my Dynavector DV20x2L breaks in.
                    Thank you again Alan, and thanks to everyone at HUG for making it such an audiophile laboratory.
                    R

                    Comment

                    Working...
                    X