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"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create an audible sonic personality in what you hear. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but on the face of it, any deviation from a flat response - and the frequency balance of tube amplifiers are usually influenced by their speaker load - is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to discuss the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

If faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians in your home and over Harbeth speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that intention is what this forum has been helping to do since 2006. Welcome!"


Feb. 2018
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The Athens Audio & Video Show 2014 - The Harbeth Revolution & the Harbeth room...

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  • The Athens Audio & Video Show 2014 - The Harbeth Revolution & the Harbeth room...

    We paid our long lasting visit yesterday to this relatively large exhibition in the Athens Ledra Hotel. We had to endure -once more- the mega systems of megabucks, from the mega companies with their marketing impressionism.

    An average estimating of an exhibited audio system would set your eyes rolling and your high blood pressure above 20. Usually tens of thousands euros, even hundreds of thousands... Except Harbeth, which embarrassed the people. A bare room, no coffee and brownies -or wine- nor very attractive young ladies with super mini skirts smiling around. Only the new SHL5s plus, together with the 30.1s, driven by a humble Croft integrated and a cdp source (a very common one - all the other exhibitors used pretty expensive streamers).

    The Revolution started as the incoming audience realized -with true embarrassment- that this is a very low budget system in direct comparison with what they had seen so far. Then they observed the speaker cables and the plastic power distributor, all these could be easily bought from the electrician's mini store across the street... The embarrassment grew larger.

    Some fingers started softly screwing chins, small coughs were heard. This was among the best three sounding systems I heard, natural, absolutely involving, talking right to your ears, not your eyes... The other two were from the beloved Quad (all the way), with electrostats of course, and from the Italian Zingali. BUT, the Zingali-Galactron-Cayin system with cables, etc., costed about 20.000 euros, that is about four times the Harbeth system cost. And the Quads costed about six times up. And both, do they need SPACE to be settled! And we don't live in castles here.

    I also felt like a very stupid individual when I remembered the current situation of the Greek population with an average salary of less than 1.000 euros. And 1,5 million unemployed souls... Stupid due to the fact of visiting a place NOT for the common man. Except Harbeth of course.

    Leaving the hotel, I embraced Pantelis, our local Harbeth dealer and he was laughing because he knew, and I knew too... It was a real joy! I hope everybody -especially Alan- will enjoy this mini report!

    Today, as every day I wake up, I went through the parlor before getting out for walking, saying the usual "Good Morning babies!" to my SHL5s. Aren't they?

    Cheers from Athens!
    Thanos

  • #2
    Best value

    What an apt report. I don't know Zingali, but Quad electrostats and Harbeth certainly are it for me as well: not any more expensive than they need to be, based on sound engineering, eminently musical, and domestically acceptable (most Harbeth's more so, of course). And yes, the contrast with the poverty all around must be obscene.

    Comment


    • #3
      Ordered SHL5+

      Glad I ordered the SHL5 Plus. Hoping to receive them next week. Plan to use an old Sansui Integrated Amplifier with tone controls (and a loudness switch) AU-217 until I get the same amps as in the report above.

      Comment


      • #4
        Modern upgrades to classic Japanes amps?

        Congratulations. Japanese amplifiers of that age were very well made. There are two issues, however.

        The first is that capacitors age, and having them replaced is quite doable, but may not be economical. The second is that these amplifiers are often not as powerful as you may need for inefficient speakers.

        Fortunately, modern amplifiers are not that expensive any more, and can have modern digital inputs and networking facilities like airplay or an internet connection. Examples could be the new receivers by Yamaha and Harman Kardon, offering all this with about 2x80-120 watt amplification for some 350-450 pounds. Unless you have a very large listening room, this should be enough.

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        • #5
          Sansui

          Thanks. I am planning to use the Sansui temporarily before I get something a little more modern and powerful. Is there something I should be worried about with the Sansui?

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          • #6
            Hearing the speakers vs. the amplifier

            Originally posted by Thanos View Post
            We paid our long lasting visit yesterday to this relatively large exhibition in the Athens Ledra Hotel. We had to endure -once more- the mega systems of megabucks, from the mega companies with their marketing impressionism.

            Except Harbeth...Only the new SHL5s plus, together with the 30.1s, driven by a humble Croft integrated...
            Given the apparent lengths to which the designer of Harbeth speakers goes to ensure flat frequency response and natural sound quality, the choice of a Croft amplifier for demonstration seems most curious.

            According to this review [ http://www.stereophile.com/content/c...r-measurements ], the Croft exhibited a relatively high output impedance (~2Ω) which can interact with the speakerís impedance and result in significant deviations from flat response.

            Also, the measured levels of distortion were remarkably high. THD at a power level in the 1-10 watt range was on the order of 0.5-2%. At a 10 watt output, the 2nd and 3rd harmonics were barely 40dB (around 1%) below the level of the fundamental and likewise for some of the intermodulation distortion byproducts.

            Finally, the maximum power output of about 40 watts seems a bit marginal in light of Harbethís recommendation for 25-150 watts. Was there any means of measurement provided to determine if the amplifier was ever being driven into clipping?

            Not unlike the situation A.S. encountered with a phono cartridge at another recent show, one must wonder if the sound quality on offer was entirely due to the intrinsic character of the speakers or if it could have been materially affected by the peculiar performance of the driving amplifier?

            The Croft product might make an interesting candidate for one side of an A-B comparison test against, for example, one of the Yamaha amplifiers or receivers that some have recommended.

            Comment


            • #7
              Measurements taken with a large pinch ....

              Originally posted by IMF+TDL View Post
              Given the apparent lengths to which the designer of Harbeth speakers goes to ensure flat frequency response and natural sound quality, the choice of a Croft amplifier for demonstration seems most curious.

              According to this review [ http://www.stereophile.com/content/c...r-measurements ], the Croft exhibited a relatively high output impedance (~2Ω) which can interact with the speaker’s impedance and result in significant deviations from flat response.

              Also, the measured levels of distortion were remarkably high. THD at a power level in the 1-10 watt range was on the order of 0.5-2%. At a 10 watt output, the 2nd and 3rd harmonics were barely 40dB (around 1%) below the level of the fundamental and likewise for some of the intermodulation distortion byproducts.

              Finally, the maximum power output of about 40 watts seems a bit marginal in light of Harbeth’s recommendation for 25-150 watts. Was there any means of measurement provided to determine if the amplifier was ever being driven into clipping?

              Not unlike the situation A.S. encountered with a phono cartridge at another recent show, one must wonder if the sound quality on offer was entirely due to the intrinsic character of the speakers or if it could have been materially affected by the peculiar performance of the driving amplifier?

              The Croft product might make an interesting candidate for one side of an A-B comparison test against, for example, one of the Yamaha amplifiers or receivers that some have recommended.
              I and my customers make similar comparisons every week - Croft v whatever. I sell a LOT of Croft with Harbeth.

              I know this is anathema here but if you read the subjective reviews of the Croft in Stereophile, you will see findings which contradict the measurements. I can't go into details on this forum but the measurements need to be taken with a large spoonful of salt.

              {Moderator's comment: can we be lent one of these amps?}

              Comment


              • #8
                This invites a proper test (proposal)

                This really is an invitation for some serious comparison of the kind that should have been done ages ago in the press (as it was done in the distant past). I would like to see a group comparison of the following categories:

                1 a dirt cheap amplifier like the Pulse that Alan discovered
                2 a typical Japanese 2x80 watts or so amplifier of, say, 500 pounds
                3 a typical pretty beefy mainstream Japanese amplifier of, say, 1000 pounds
                4 a really big north American amplifier in the 5000 pound or so category, from a major company like Bryston or MacIntosh

                I would like to see the measurements, and I would like to see a level matched controlled double blind listening test, with first, a set of small Harbeths in a smallish room, and second a set of large Harbeths in a large room. That should give a rough idea of what is needed at what level.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Ugly/beautiful boxes?

                  Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                  I and my customers make similar comparisons every week - Croft v whatever. I sell a LOT of Croft with Harbeth.

                  I know this is anathema here but if you read the subjective reviews of the Croft in Stereophile, you will see findings which contradict the measurements. I can't go into details on this forum but the measurements need to be taken with a large spoonful of salt.

                  {Moderator's comment: can we be lent one of these amps?}
                  - As Dave says, "TRUST YOUR EARS". I love this approach. That's exactly what happened in the show.

                  - The main meaning of my post is "how inexpensive equipment can ruin down expensive -or very expensive- equipment which has been very much pushed through marketing and not through wide Human acceptance.

                  - Finally, Glenn Croft's capabilities -as many other honored British makers' excellent products- should primarily be judged on the battlefield, not on papers... Which has made for so many years, so many British "ugly looking boxes" to be magically functioning in the real world conditions...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    What is High Fidelity?

                    Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                    I know this is anathema here but if you read the subjective reviews of the Croft in Stereophile, you will see findings which contradict the measurements. I can't go into details on this forum but the measurements need to be taken with a large spoonful of salt.
                    Taking this quote along with post #6, it seems that readers can draw the inference that there are measureable "defects" with this Croft amplifier but that users like the sound anyway. There is nothing wrong with that, but I thought the goal we were trying to achieve is high fidelity reproduction. It reads to me like this Croft amplifier imparts a signature on the sound which is something that good high fidelity amplifiers just should not do.

                    It would be an ideal candidate to include in Alan's amplifier comparison.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A little more salt, please

                      Originally posted by Jeff_C View Post
                      Taking this quote along with post #6, it seems that readers can draw the inference that there are measurable "defects" with this Croft amplifier but that users like the sound anyway. There is nothing wrong with that, but I thought the goal we were trying to achieve is high fidelity reproduction. It reads to me like this Croft amplifier imparts a signature on the sound which is something that good high fidelity amplifiers just should not do.

                      It would be an ideal candidate to include in Alan's amplifier comparison.
                      That seems a sensible position to me. Can we have our cake and also eat it? Can we proclaim that our common goal is 'high fidelity sound' yet find attractive a salted or spiced version of the truth? Or is our ear so poor that actually, as was suggested a generation ago, we can tolerate astonishingly high levels of distortion and coloration which we might even prefer to the bland reality?
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Bland reality on a budget, please

                        My interest is a simple one: from electronics I want bland but perfect reality for as little money as it takes. The more budget there is left, the more I can spend on better speakers (or something altogether different).

                        So my practical idea was that we need some basic scientific test to give us some idea of the kind of electronics we need for a frugal optimum. A range of typical gear such as I suggested should probably be enough, and I think it is shameful that the modern hifi press refuses to guide us here in a responsible manner.

                        And to be sure, if the tests reveal that the choice is more complex, so be it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Trusting measurements?

                          Originally posted by Jeff_C View Post
                          Taking this quote along with post #6, it seems that readers can draw the inference that there are measureable "defects" with this Croft amplifier but that users like the sound anyway. There is nothing wrong with that, but I thought the goal we were trying to achieve is high fidelity reproduction. It reads to me like this Croft amplifier imparts a signature on the sound which is something that good high fidelity amplifiers just should not do.
                          That wasn't my 'inference'. I am trying to be politcally correct and not stir up trouble but measurements might not always be accurate. Sometimes, they might have a bias or slant to suit or damn a product, for whatever reason.

                          Take, for instance, a certain review of the M40.1. Now, if you judged the speakers by the measurements, you would be forgiven for concluding that the speaker 'booms' in normal rooms. However, this is not the case at all. I suppose that was a case of poor measurements ?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The case of "poor" measurements - were they really poor?

                            Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                            That wasn't my 'inference'. I am trying to be politcally correct and not stir up trouble but measurements might not always be accurate. Sometimes, they might have a bias or slant to suit or damn a product, for whatever reason.

                            Take, for instance, a certain review of the M40.1. Now, if you judged the speakers by the measurements, you would be forgiven for concluding that the speaker 'booms' in normal rooms. However, this is not the case at all. I suppose that was a case of poor measurements ?
                            I think that rather a case of specific aural characteristics of reviewer's room, maybe also his manner of listening (ear positioning against tweeter while sitting in the armchair may be very important). Even the best big monitors (e.g. Harbeth 40.1) are, in my opinion, by nature more demanding as for the proper placement of a listener, arrangement of loudspeakers and the room's acoustical adaptation. Additional measurements made by highly qualified engineer after the review you mentioned showed how imperfect acoustically are THE REAL rooms of most music lovers (and reviewers :) ). Treat my opinion as very personal, although I had this rare priviledge to hear big monitors' sound in midfield in perfectly adopted recording studios (locally and once abroad).

                            ATB

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                            • #15
                              Factual measurement?

                              My point is that the technical, factual, measurement based review was not an accurate representation of the M40.1 sound and performance. I regularly use the M40.1 in my medium sized demo room and have also used them in various other rooms and they are always clean and natural. No trace of any boom or uncontrolled bass. So, even measurements need to be taken with a pinch of salt.

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