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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"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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Group-think: What would a Harbeth amplifier look and feel like?

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  • #61
    Reliable and high power

    Just like Harbeths use of Radial, the BBC engineering traditions and a speaker designed and engineered to provide a lifetime of reliable use, I think the Harbeth amplifier needs to embody similar unique qualities that makes it standout from the crowded market place and be recognized as a true "Harbeth". For example, Alan does not use electrolytic capacitors in the Harbeth crossovers for increased reliability and longevity - is there a different and longer life approach that can replace the large electrolytic capacitors found in traditional amplifier power supplies?

    There seems to be many integrated amps on the market ranging from 50w to 150w into 8 Ohms, but integrated amps with 250W into 8 Ohms or more are less common.They do exist, and those are usually very expensive as if power is an absolute luxury. As was shown by the M40.1 demo in Holland, the need for large power reserves when called for by the type of music played and the loudness is crucial. I think a Harbeth integrated amplifier that has enough power comparable to big, powerful power amplifiers would be a standout.

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    • #62
      Justification for Harbeth electronics?

      I sit here cured of audiophilia thanks to you Alan with my c7es3's basic tascam CD player and Yamaha rn 500 receiver, this is after reading your many posts about using modest equipment for great results, this post confuses me.

      I truly hope Harbeth aren't really planning to make some expensive boutique amp it kinda goes against everything you have got me believing, if this new amp eventuates how will it fair in a blind A/B test with my modest receiver.

      This seems so contradictory even 1000 pound is far too much for an amplifier be it Harbeth or any other, please explain

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      • #63
        A flexible preamp

        Originally posted by tmokbel View Post
        Just like Harbeths use of Radial, the BBC engineering traditions and a speaker designed and engineered to provide a lifetime of reliable use, I think the Harbeth amplifier needs to embody similar unique qualities that makes it standout from the crowded market place and be recognized as a true "Harbeth". For example, Alan does not use electrolytic capacitors in the Harbeth crossovers for increased reliability and longevity - is there a different and longer life approach that can replace the large electrolytic capacitors found in traditional amplifier power supplies?

        There seems to be many integrated amps on the market ranging from 50w to 150w into 8 Ohms, but integrated amps with 250W into 8 Ohms or more are less common.They do exist, and those are usually very expensive as if power is an absolute luxury. As was shown by the M40.1 demo in Holland, the need for large power reserves when called for by the type of music played and the loudness is crucial. I think a Harbeth integrated amplifier that has enough power comparable to big, powerful power amplifiers would be a standout.
        Another option to take power out of the equation is to make a preamp only, then the punter can decide just how much power they want to use depending on their music/room/volume, be that a $10,000 fashionable 5W tube or a $300 pro with 500W, that might necessitate XLR outputs also (which seem pretty common these days).

        I personally would jump on a reliable domestic pre amp with gain/tone that would simply ensure that my system was not overloaded at any point and ensure best use of the volumes rotation to find a precise level for listening.

        Currently I cannot think of a single instance of a domestic preamp that actually has gain control (though a friend had a tom willis amp that I think had a custom one fitted) the nearest we might get to that is running a DAC with an analogue volume control into the preamp, I imagine the S/N ratio here may not be optimal but would that even be noticeable??
        Getting to know my C7ES3

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        • #64
          Bill of materials

          Originally posted by acroyear View Post
          Currently I cannot think of a single instance of a domestic preamp that actually has gain control (though a friend had a tom willis amp that I think had a custom one fitted) the nearest we might get to that is running a DAC with an analogue volume control into the preamp, I imagine the S/N ratio here may not be optimal but would that even be noticeable??
          I was discussing volume controls with Tom yesterday. I have a custom TW pre-amp. When he put in the volume control he put in an Alps potentiometer unit that costs about 8 at trade cost, 12 retail. He used this as you can fit a remote control to it. You could of course buy an external stepped attenuator for in excess of 1,000. We had a look at the options on hificollective.co.uk and he said a stepped attenuator at 26 retail would be a much better option, and there was no need to pay the typical price of around 150-250. You can pay up to 1,250 for a whizz-bang unit.

          http://www.hificollective.co.uk/atte...-resistor.html
          http://www.hificollective.co.uk/step...ft-seiden.html

          The problem with these units is that you cannot put a standard remote control on them because they are stepped, not continuous.

          This gave me an idea of how dramatically component choice can effect the Materials Bill of Costs, and requires experience to make a unit that gives the best value for money.

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          • #65
            Already mentioned by some but the issue of amplifier noise is something to be considered, some amps seem silent, others can buzz and be heard from a distance of a few meters, that has to be unacceptable. Perusing another audio forum I see that the discussions on amps include quite a lot on amps variously buzzing/speaker hissing depending on equipment/cables. An amp I bought last year but since moved on from had odd uneven noise from the loudspeakers that comprised hiss and a buzzing that varied with its balance control position, admittedly you would not listen to one channel only ever, but when you turned the control one way and the channel buzzed quite audibly, but in turning the other way it did not happen that really made me wonder what was going on.
            Getting to know my C7ES3

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            • #66
              Do not confuse brand identity

              From a "marketing perspective", Harbeth should not get into making or selling amplifiers.

              At least by not using the "Harbeth" brand. That brand should reman exclusively for speakers only.

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              • #67
                Elephant in the room

                Originally posted by Robmoores1 View Post
                Surely, though, it would also go against the Harbeth philosophy that any amplifier will suffice so long as it is well designed?
                And finally (thanks Rob) someone points out the 'elephant in the room'. Harbeth have done a brilliant job in saving all of us on HUG huge sums of money by insisting that any competently designed amplifier, properly level matched, will sound no different to another competently designed amplifier. No more chasing rainbows, reviews, or worrying if you have the 'right' brand etc.

                So if existing Harbeth customers already have such a product with all the facilities required by them at purchase point, why would they need a Harbeth amp? Is it going to sound better than other manufacturers amps?

                Aside from this, I am completely with Hi-fi Dave on this one.

                Mike.

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                • #68
                  What about sound quality?

                  Originally posted by MikeM View Post
                  And finally (thanks Rob) someone points out the 'elephant in the room'. Harbeth have done a brilliant job in saving all of us on HUG huge sums of money by insisting that any competently designed amplifier, properly level matched, will sound no different to another competently designed amplifier. No more chasing rainbows, reviews, or worrying if you have the 'right' brand etc.

                  So if existing Harbeth customers already have such a product with all the facilities required by them at purchase point, why would they need a Harbeth amp? Is it going to sound better than other manufacturers amps?

                  Aside from this, I am completely with Hi-fi Dave on this one.

                  Mike.
                  I think the main objective with the Harbeth amp is to have a unit that actually has useful features, ones that translate into a system that does not clip very early in the volume rotation, one that has some type of EQ to make the most of poor recordings and one that can sufficiently drive the loudspeakers, I'm not sure anybody who made suggestions even commented on the sound quality other than perhaps that the response should be flat.
                  Getting to know my C7ES3

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                  • #69
                    Gain control per channel

                    Just FYI on gain staging. I just purchased a Parasound zamp for 2 channel HT. Reasonable and had gain adjustments on the amp.

                    All of the stereo amps had this option on the rear panel.

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                    • #70
                      Unique features required

                      I think a Harbeth amplifier only makes sense if it has some unique and useful facilities that improve on precisely the speakers' performance, like dsp room equalization.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        Modular solution?

                        Most grateful to IMF+TDL for his post no. 210 here:

                        http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...4946#post34946

                        I suggested a modular amplifier and someone else (I cannot recall, apologies) referred to Vinnie Rossi - and here it is doing a sparkling job with SHL5+.

                        Not only is it reasonably priced, in audiophile terms, it claims to have a power supply, patent pending, that does away with the need for expensive power cables and mains treatment.

                        So you think of something and it's already been done, well by the look of it, so what are the chances of coming up with something that has not been done already?

                        Now, what am I going to do with my aftermarket power cables and PS Audio P3 ..... ?

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Just kidding

                          Originally posted by acroyear View Post
                          I think the main objective with the Harbeth amp is to have a unit that actually has useful features, ones that translate into a system that does not clip very early in the volume rotation, one that has some type of EQ to make the most of poor recordings and one that can sufficiently drive the loudspeakers, I'm not sure anybody who made suggestions even commented on the sound quality other than perhaps that the response should be flat.
                          All points noted, and of course perfectly sensible. I should add that I was not in any way suggesting that anyone had commented on sound quality - that was just meant as a bit of light-hearted, tongue firmly in cheek, humour.

                          Mike.

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                          • #73
                            'Only the discerning need apply' !

                            Last weekend we visited the former home of British Prime Minister, Sir Edward Heath, in Salisbury, here. It was a lovingly preserved home, bright and airy and not too big to heat and maintain - absolutely charming.

                            In his study, we were shown his Sony CD player, an early machine gifted by Sony to him, his Nakamichi cassette deck, Thorens turntable (Nagaoka cartridge) and amplifier + tuner. The speakers, cunningly concealed amongst his books were LS3/5a sized.

                            The Harbeth amplifier discussion went through my mind as I smiled to myself as to what brand of amplifier/tuner he had. I can imagine the conversation between Sir Edward and the factory. "I understand that your amplifiers are designed for civilised people .... would you be so kind as to send me one and pop the bill in the post to my private secretary? [pause]. Listen to it? My dear chap, if it's good enough for you it's certainly good enough for a mere amateur tinkler like me...."

                            What was the brand? If I'd been asked to bet $10,000 in advance, I would have bet on just that brand.
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

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                            • #74
                              Perhaps ....

                              Possibly Quad ?

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                Gain adjusting?

                                Originally posted by Dan35 View Post
                                Just FYI on gain staging. I just purchased a Parasound zamp for 2 channel HT. Reasonable and had gain adjustments on the amp.

                                All of the stereo amps had this option on the rear panel.
                                Interesting, I wasn't aware of those smaller amps with gain. So you have the zamp V3? At $350 seems a nice purchase. So in practice are you keeping the gain all the way open or a little lower?

                                I think gain on a power amp adjusts sensitivity, I'm not sure quite how it works but fully open might correspond with its quoted sensitivity and as you reduce the gain the sensitivity is reduced, I normally set gain so that 85dB or so is front volume control about half open (12 oclock) which typically has a normal amp way into clipping for CD for eg.
                                Getting to know my C7ES3

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