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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.

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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.

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{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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"Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

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  • #46
    Re: Crucial questions about...the logo badge!

    Hi Rabbit,
    I'm contemplating getting the C7es3 as well. I'm mildly concerned about you feeling that initial listening may sound a bit veiled. Would you be willing to share with us what speakers you were listening too prior to the C7's?

    Thank you much,
    Don Sawall

    Comment


    • #47
      Poor choice of words on my part.

      Hi Don,

      I was using Naim Arivas. Like Naim speakers generally, they're 'forward' a bit in the mids and treble*. My comment about 'veiled' was probably ill-considered; the C7's are anything but. One gets used to a certain sound in a room, and dropping the C7ES3's in after the Arivas, Epos, Regas (and others I've owned) was interesting. I got used to the more 'natural' (for that is indeed what it is) balance of the Compact 7 presentation within two days, and wouldn't part with them. I've had a few speakers that 'shout' at you; these emphatically do not. I appreciate the accuracy that is a function of their BBC heritage, or at least Alan Shaw's interpretation of same. That is not to say that the C7ES3 is anaytical or sterile - not at all. Compared to most other commonly-owned 'audiophile' monitors, the C7ES3 has an affable warmth; and yet, it is very informative about the performance and recording. Of course, this is all my own opinion.

      Cheers,
      Rabbit

      *The opposite of the BBC 'presence' dip?

      Comment


      • #48
        Coloration and tinted spectacles (glasses) ....

        Originally posted by Rabbit View Post
        ... I got used to the more 'natural' (for that is indeed what it is) balance of the Compact 7 presentation within two days, and wouldn't part with them. I've had a few speakers that 'shout' at you; these emphatically do not. ... most other commonly-owned 'audiophile' monitors, the C7ES3 has an affable warmth; and yet, it is very informative about the performance and recording. Of course, this is all my own opinion.
        Actually what you are reporting from your experience with other speakers is the unwelcome combination of measurable frequency response issues and, most important, coloration problems.

        I've been very carefully listening to some speakers recently (to refresh my audio memory) to validate my previous impression that they were colored. There are two types of coloration - benign and offensive. Most commercial speakers fall somewhere between these extremes and on the right sort of music the colorations are benign, and do not draw attention to themselves; they may even enhance the listening experience. For example, a trumpet replayed on a horn speaker has the extra vitality of a horn being played on a horn. Other colorations work against the music; for example a voice reproduced over a horn speaker would again take on a slightly megaphonic sound.

        I'm acutely aware when designing a Harbeth that we can't use coloration to spice-up the listening experience because it would limit the usability of what is, after all, a monitor grade speaker. So, the listener whose frame of reference had been programmed by listening to coloured speakers would first have to de-programme himself to isolate the coloration from the real sound. How long this phase lasts depends upon how deeply the listener was hooked on the coloration. It is impossible to explain in mere words on the screen what coloration looks like, sound like, feels like. As Dudley Harwood said in response to my question20+ years ago "what exactly is the meaning of the word coloration ...." ........ "You'll know it when you hear it". Perhaps more accurately, you'll be able to identify its signature when you cease to hear it. Imagine that you grew up with red tinted spectacles and one day you took them off. The shock! You would see the world was a different colour - but which is correct? It's only after carefully considering what you see and then trying the glasses on/off again and again that you'd appreciate how coloured your vision was and how coloration-free it is now. Same with sound: unless you are lucky enough to be surrounded be real, live musicians (or recorded voices that you know) your frame of reference will be skewed by whatever you are used to listening to and its particular colorations.

        If only more speaker designers put neutral speech reproduction* as a primary design validation most speakers would not come to market. That being so, you could say that elevating speech in the design process to pole position would lead to commercial ruin for many vendors - that will not be allowed to happen.

        * Incidentally, the listening fatigue that bedevils most speakers is a direct consequence of not testing them (or designing them) around speech. The human voice is not innately fatiguing - if it were then broadcasting, theatre, dining out with friends, lectures, presentations and even dating would all be experiences to avoid. The human voice is the most fascinating, attractive and compelling sound that humans experience - few can live in silence.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #49
          Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

          Alan had made a great point in a pervious point that excess bass from using a subwoofer is a good example of coloration (hopefully I am not misquoting)

          My best friend has a home theater and he inflates the bass to such a degree that when I listen to it all I can hear is a low frequency hum. When he listens to my hifi he feels it sounds very very thin...

          Comment


          • #50
            Re: Coloration and tinted spectacles (glasses) ....

            Alan, do you also notice the tendency of many popular speakers marketed to audiophiles to exaggerate the lower-treble response, probably in the name of 'detail'? This also has the unwelcome side-effect of emphasising the way many rock and pop CDs are compressed, 'loud' and (yes) e.q.-ed upwards in the treble!! Rabbit's ears just cannot take it anymore

            Comment


            • #51
              Re: Coloration and boosted tweeters ...

              Originally posted by Rabbit View Post
              ... do you also notice the tendency of many popular speakers marketed to audiophiles to exaggerate the lower-treble response, probably in the name of 'detail'?
              Now that, Rabbit, is an extremely astute observation and one I first observed about 20 years ago. In fact, the entire Harbeth RADIAL cone project directly spun off that observation.

              What I suspect you are commenting on is this ... Bass/midrange cone materials have a sonic signature which is somewhat frequency dependent. At two extremes we have, say, a cone made of aluminium = a bright ringy sound with fake clarity i.e. zero damping (of the reproduced sound wave) and at the other extreme say, polypropylene with very high damping.

              Counting pieces made and sold, most speaker cones in hifi speakers around the world are made from polypropylene sheet. PP was first patented as a speaker cone material by our founder when at the BBC for reasons of higher damping and avoidance of doping compared to first generation plastic, bextrene.

              In the early 1990s, thanks to a Govt. grant we undertook the characterisation of all conceivable cone materials in a jig which shock and bent them across the audio band, still to our knowledge the only time this has been attempted. It slowly became clear that each material did indeed have a characteristic curve and we used to play 'guess the material' for beer money just from examining the material's characteristic graph plots with 100% accuracy.

              Polypropylene has an unmistakeable damping curve shape - rather low at low frequencies and at a critical frequency (around 1kHz as I recall) pp 'takes-off' and by 3 or 4kHz, right at the crossover region to the tweeter, it becomes very highly damped. The acoustic consequence of this to my ears was/is that the air or space around the performers - the micro detail - is lost (as heat) inside the pp cone, never to be radiated as sound*. The canny designer hears this subconsciously but doesn't associate this with a fundamental characteristic of the cone, (and go about searching for a better material) but he does appreciate that something is over-damped or missing in the presentation. His solution - a sort of uncomfortable work-around as you've heard - is to drive the bottom end of the tweeter harder in the 3-8kHz region to spice up the lower harmonics that are missing from the bass unit's 1 - 4kHz acoustic output. The tragedy in my opinion is that this game has been played out in hundred or thousands of new speaker that have come to market in the 15 years since we invented RADIAL (a totally new material compound) and nobody, other than my team, not even the multinationals, have bothered to tackle the basic issue: the cone material itself. And extremely few listeners seem to be able to accurately pin-down this coloration issue and intellectualise the component parts down to frequency bands.

              I must add that looked at from a point of an investment made by the taxpayer into British manufacturing, the grant we received (and the graduate engineers we could then fund) must rank as one of the best investments by government ever. They've had their money back in corporation tax, VAT, payroll tax and British export value a hundred times over.

              * Sound into heat is a one way street. Once acoustic micro detail is dissipated as (converted to) heat in the cone that's the end of that waveform. Heat can not be turned into sound.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #52
                Re: Coloration and boosted tweeters ...

                So, do I understand correctly that, using RADIAL in the mid/woofer, you can get the tweeter to work (via the crossover) in more linear fashion, and get the upper-end of the mid/woofer to deliver more of this detail, thus resulting in a more smooth yet informative presentation?

                Comment


                • #53
                  Re: Coloration and boosted tweeters ...

                  Almost. Aggggh! I wish I could find the words to precisely convey this coloration issue. Twenty years on and I'm still struggling. But if you were here with me in the listening room I could use certain musical highlights to illustrate this point and you'd be be sure to grasp it in a few minutes. People become acclimatised to the lack of detail just as they become acclimatised to a layer of dirt on their car windscreen - and need to hear more detail before they know what less detail sounds like. It's a compariative process in the brain just as pitch is or indeed every one of our sensory inputs. We are not absolutely sure about anything in the universe but we are good at making mental comparisons with previous experiences. The child puts its hand in hot water despite the warning because it has no previous comparative experience of what hot water feels like, and this is precisely how our ears work, especially with regard to coloration.

                  If I asked you to whistle 1000Hz (1kHz) you may not be able to do that accurately but if I let you hear 900Hz and 1100Hz and then say 'whistle 1000Hz, being half way between 900Hz and 1100Hz' you could probably do that surprisingly accurately. Proper evaluation of hifi equipment is all about carefully constructed comparative tests and then creating an internal mental model of how speakers sound and behave - the very same process we follow when speed-dating. That's how humans figure out the world around them.

                  It's not really right to introduce yet another issue (linearity), but it is right to say that the upper end of the Harbeth RADIAL-coned bass unit yields more sonic detail. There are three (or more) very good reasons why the tweeter should not be used as a quasi-substitute for that frequency band:

                  1. The bottom end of the tweeter' s frequency range has poor power handling because the tiny cone would have to move very far in/out at low frequencies

                  2. When a tweeter is operated too low it 'barks' - a very nasty coloration

                  3. Tweeter distortion is higher at the bottom end of its range

                  So picking the optimum crossover point takes time, and with a RADIAL cone I have the luxury of placing the crossover anywhere between, say, 2.5kHz and 4kHz.

                  Perhaps the best way of thinking about this coloration fog is to imagine that a thin fleece blanket is thrown over the microphone at certain frequencies and whilst the overall sound seems reasonable, there is a definite lack of 'air' in the upper middle where the blanket is s
                  oaking up the detail (as heat). That is cone coloration of the type I'm concerned about.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Re: Coloration and boosted tweeters ...

                    Alan, thanks for the further explanation - the situation is more or less how I thought of it.

                    When at the shop last week auditioning sspeakers, I was listening to another U.K. speaker (a direct descendent from a BBC design, as it happens) where I kept wishing I could turn a treble knob up a notch; although the frequency response was benign, some of the necessary info was obscured.

                    That same afternoon, I heard the C7.

                    Cheers,
                    Rabbit

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

                      I recently compared a Compact 7 es3 with an M30, and while both are truly outstanding, I was shocked at how different they sounded. The M30 seemed like an adopted sibling in the Harbeth family, whereas the compact 7 seemed to want to sound just like its M40 big brother when it grows up. I guess the DNA of the R2 Radial Woofer trumps the DNA of the scanspeak tweeter. I get the impression that the M30 is really a professional tool, like those expensive wine glasses that are very precise but that also reveal all the flaws of the wine, while the Compact 7es3 are like the Riedel glasses that make your usual swill taste like Chambertin. I'm leaning toward the Compact 7's because I can't afford the M40 s (or Le Chambertin).

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

                        I haven't had any hands-on experience with the M30 but my understanding of it is that it is a 'professional tool' whereas the 7ES-3 is a very popular and universal 'home friendly' speaker.

                        I can confirm that the 7ES-3 shares a family sound with it's smaller and larger siblings. It is a seriously excellent speaker at a very good price.

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

                          Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                          I haven't had any hands-on experience with the M30 but my understanding of it is that it is a 'professional tool' whereas the 7ES-3 is a very popular and universal 'home friendly' speaker...I can confirm that the 7ES-3 shares a family sound with it's smaller and larger siblings. It is a seriously excellent speaker at a very good price.
                          Thanks for the reply. Not to quibble in the least with your bottom line that these are very fine speakers, my reservation with the 7ES-3 is a certain lack of punch and detail (rather like my venerable and soon to be retired KEF 103.2 ), whereas the M30 has true punch and remarkable clarity and detail. But why is life never so simple as just spending the extra $1500 to get what you want? My concern with the M30 is that I detected rather prominent sibilance on the voices, eg., Joni Mitchell "Both Sides Now" from album of the same name. The obviously forward presentation of the M30 brings this sibilance out in a way that may not be totally correct. M30 also brings out the metallic harmonics of the opening guitar chords on Uncle John's Band, except that based on what I hear on the 7ES3 and my KEFs I think that's a nylon string guitar! (Any DeadHeads out there? Please enlighten me). So I am in a bit of a quandary. Still, my kudos to Harbeth and to A/S for making products worth auditioning to such a degree!! Great products to the max. Any observations on these points would be most appreciated, including but not limited to comments by those who have done the same M30 -- 7ES3 comparitive audition.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

                            Originally posted by bgiliberti View Post
                            Thanks for the reply. Not to quibble in the least with your bottom line that these are very fine speakers, my reservation with the 7ES-3 is a certain lack of punch and detail (rather like my venerable and soon to be retired KEF 103.2 ), whereas the M30 has true punch and remarkable clarity and detail. But why is life never so simple as just spending the extra $1500 to get what you want? My concern with the M30 is that I detected rather prominent sibilance on the voices, eg., Joni Mitchell "Both Sides Now" from album of the same name. The obviously forward presentation of the M30 brings this sibilance out in a way that may not be totally correct. M30 also brings out the metallic harmonics of the opening guitar chords on Uncle John's Band, except that based on what I hear on the 7ES3 and my KEFs I think that's a nylon string guitar! (Any DeadHeads out there? Please enlighten me). So I am in a bit of a quandary. Still, my kudos to Harbeth and to A/S for making products worth auditioning to such a degree!! Great products to the max. Any observations on these points would be most appreciated by those who have done the same M30 -- 7ES3 comparitive audition.
                            Unfortunately I've not heard the M30 but heard Compact 7's at home. They do have decent punch and ability to rock if you use punchy front end and set the speakers firing straight to the spot you are listening to them. I've got Exposure front end and the C7's did rock with my gear and I decided to order a pair soon after home demo. I'm sure they will work well with Naim too. I listen to a lot of mediocre recordings and I think C7 is perfect choice for me. You still get huge amount of information out of the records but without fatique. IMO with C7 you get enough bass in at least small or medium sized rooms.

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Buying old speakers?

                              Hi there - am very new to this group and looking to purchase myself my first pair of Harbeths - already own the P3s which my father-in-law bought for me and am using it in a small room set-up with the 306. I am now looking for a bigger room set-up and am looking at the C7es but am finding it difficult to part with the tidy sum needed. I have already auditioned this and simply love the sound.

                              Now I have some one who is offering his HL5 for a decent price (something attainable which I am willing to part cash with) but would like to seek views from long-time owners on the following:

                              1. HL5 or HL5es ?
                              2. I have heard the HL5es with the 606 and it sounds beautifully natural and enveloping - how different is the older HL5 ?
                              3. Alan - you mentioned in one of the post that HL5 were manufactured with the Audax and the Radial woofer - when did the HL5 start using the Radial and how do we identify this ?

                              Cheers
                              Adrian

                              Modeator's comment: I'm sorry but we cannot comment on speaker out of production for so long and for which there are no spare parts.}

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Toss-Up Between SHL-5 and Monitor 30.1

                                Hi!

                                I have been a very happy owner of thw Compact 7es3 and I am now contemplating on upgrading to either SHL-5 or M30.1. I have the following associated equipment:

                                Accuphase E-305V Integrated Amplifier
                                Marantz SACD Player
                                Wyred4Sound DAC 2
                                Sutherland PH3D Phono Amplifier
                                Lenco L75 Turntable w/ Jelco 750 Tonearm and Benz Glider MC

                                I am into all kinds of music, 70% analog, 30% digital. But I enjoy jazz music most of the time as well as audiophile recordings.

                                I know both M30.1 and SHL-5 have different characters. I will be using it in a 20sqm dedicated listening room. Which of the 2 speakers would be a wiser choice assuming cost is not an issue?

                                Thanks all!

                                Comment

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