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Something wrong with dealer's setup?

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  • Something wrong with dealer's setup?

    Or do I just need to deprogram myself?

    Had a quick demo of the C7ES3 the other day at my local dealer. Played through a rega source and a naim amp, they just sounded too loud and piercing to me. At any given level of loudness.

    Did they just set it up wrong, I wonder. I had them do this demo because I wanted a taste of the Harbeths, and they didn't have the P3ESRs in stock.

    Just wondering at this point if I should wait for the P3s to come in stock or move on and get something else.

    How different do the C7s sound from the P3s?

    {Moderator's comment: something seriously wrong somewhere in that demo. Piercing? Very strange. Harbeth are famed for soft, non-fatiguing sound. Can you privately advise the name/details of that dealer. First time we have ever experienced such poor demo results. What speakers are you used to?}

  • #2
    Too loud?

    That's the sort of demo I do every week - Rega CD player and Naim amps, through Harbeth speakers and I've never had anyone say they are " piercing ". Just doesn't happen.

    You also say "too loud " and maybe that was the problem. The dealer playing too loud for the amp, which was clipping.

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    • #3
      Demosnstration is for the customers benefit

      'Too loud' is ridiculous especially considering how much we say hear about not playing hifi equipment too loud to preserve your ears.

      Question: Did you ask the dealer to turn down the volume to a level you liked? If not, why not? The demonstration should be for the customers benefit, not the dealers - surely?

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      • #4
        Too loud - just say NO, and tweeter diaphragms

        This is a very odd report I must say. Personally, I have no difficulty politely asking for the volume to be turned down when listening to audio equipment and I can't understand why anyone would endure such a sonic barrage. And perhaps more to the point, for our customer listening to our sort of real music excessive volume just isn't welcome. So all in all, most strange. We here would really like to get to the bottom of this one and as hifi_dave (perhaps our most experienced dealer) says, unsatisfactory demonstrations 'just don't happen'. I have painfully sensitive hearing to anything that isn't really smooth and I can guarantee that not one Harbeth speaker has ever (or will ever) be anything other than smooth, detailed and warm.

        That aside, one thing I'm curious about is the physical condition of the tweeters. As you will have seen from wandering around mass-market audio stores, little fingers just can't resist pressing-in on tweeter diaphragms. Even I have to fight the curiosity of touching the smooth, shiny material. Yes, we do have a metal grille over the domes but is there any possibility that there are creases - no matter how small - on the tweeter diaphragm surfaces? Creases can (depending on where and how deep) seriously disturb the mechanical stability of the bell-like diaphragm and will introduce significant spikes in the upper frequency response which could indeed be described as ringing.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

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        • #5
          Defining "too loud"

          Originally posted by HUG-1 View Post
          ....Question: Did you ask the dealer to turn down the volume to a level you liked? If not, why not? The demonstration should be for the customers benefit, not the dealers - surely?
          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
          This is a very odd report I must say. Personally, I have no difficulty politely asking for the volume to be turned down when listening to audio equipment and I can't understand why anyone would endure such a sonic barrage. And perhaps more to the point, for our customer listening to our sort of real music excessive volume just isn't welcome. So all in all, most strange.
          ............
          Originally posted by [email protected] View Post
          Or do I just need to deprogram myself?

          Had a quick demo of the C7ES3 the other day at my local dealer. Played through a rega source and a naim amp, they just sounded too loud and piercing to me. At any given level of loudness .......
          ........}
          Didn't he say that it sounded too loud at any given level of loudness? That means it just sounded loud to him at any volume.

          I have experienced that with some setups.

          ST

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          • #6
            Private message

            How do I send a private message?

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            • #7
              Something was terribly wrong with that demo

              Yeah, I read his posting in the Naim forum describing Harbeth sound as LOUD. As I owned similar set-up Harbeth with Naim, I have replied in Naim public forum that my C7ES3 sounded very organic and lively at end of my Naim electronics. I certainly would not perceived the sound as LOUD nor ear piercing type. In the context of Naim, all their amps are generally rolled-off at HF and therefore certainly not the main culprit here. Something is terribly wrong with the set-up or system connections. Please counter check with your dealer so that this will not mislead others to find Harbeth sound as LOUD and noisy.


              Cheers.

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              • #8
                Planned revisit

                I'll go back in for another audition in a few weeks when they have the P3 in stock. This time, with my auditory palate cleansed to ensure it wasn't me. (Translated: this will be the first audition, not the second).
                Having said that, the dealer did have it playing awfully loud and I turned the volume down. Maybe the damage was done, and I couldn't get past the initial barrage. I'll also go in with more time.

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                • #9
                  A comfortable demo loudness

                  When doing a demo, I always check with the customer that the volume is OK and ask again during the demo. We don't need it too quiet and we certainly don't want it so loud as to cause discomfort, though I do know that some dealers do just that.

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                  • #10
                    Very puzzling experience

                    Frankly I have to say that I am amazed at this comment and it is a description of Harbeth speakers that I just do not recognise. I have the Compact Monitor II and on the end of my system (Theta Data Basic II Transport , Perpetual Technologies PA-1,PA-3, Concordant Exhilirant ,Krell KSA50) which is by no means a quiet system the Harbeths are capable of offering a very natural fatigue free sound that I can and do listen to fro many hours. I have to admit that I have yet to find a Naim Amp that I could listen to fro any period of time and I have always found them to be a little unrelenting in their musical approach but I would still doubt that they could produce anything like the sound described.

                    One point I would ask is what was the dealers comment regarding the sound ? If they are an authorised Harbeth dealer and they have experience of the quality of the speakers then they would surely recogise if something was not sounding right ?

                    All in all I find this a very puzzling statement .

                    {Moderator's comment: please confirm exactly which Harbeth you have. I don't recognise the model name.}

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Could it be speaker cables? Naim experience?

                      Only thing I can think of that went wrong: the dealer was using the wrong speaker cables. As Naim expenses with an output inductor, the amplifiers rely on the loudspeaker cables to have a moderate inductance but low capacitance (like Naim's own NAC A5 cables) to keep the amplifier stable. If a cable is used with a high capacitance or very low inductance (for example, a Goertz cable), the Naim amplifier can become unstable. This is well documented and it is even in the user manual.

                      This is really the only thing that could be wrong. This, or VERY bad acoustics.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Take your own recordings, inspect the room

                        From reading your experience from this demonstration I would have to think bad room acoustics being the main problem then playing at to loud a volume. Speaker placement in the room would be another main issue to get the best sonic results.

                        Next time you go back take along your own music that is well recorded and set the volume that is comfortable for you, also have a look around the room to see if the room acoustics could be the problem, hard surfaces glass etc adding to a bright treble energy.
                        Thanks Jason.

                        www.parmentersound.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          A balance of virtues

                          Thanks to HiFi Dave, I can confirm that modern issue Naim amps do indeed sound slightly "rolled off" in the extreme highs when compared to their peers and the harshness which could afflict many of the "CB and Olive" amps, especially with a good few hours under their belts, has been all but banished today... That dem must have been done by a very inexperienced sales-person (been there and done it myself - but not with Harbeths or their distant relatives ) and it's tragic if the OP has been left with a negative view of what is a very civilised and almost sweet-toned speaker - in my opinion obviously.. However, Naims as a breed can hurt if driven hard into clipping and only one or two models soft-clip when over-driven I find.

                          I think it's been said here many times, but all the current Harbeths have a "family sound," in that they all have a wonderful, communicative midrange, full but NOT BOOMY bass and a sweet treble which easily reproduces the different timbres and recording quality of cymbal-work for example. This balance of virtues doesn't mean they'll mask distortion in the programme material, or distortion in the electronics further back in the chain, but they certainly won't add to it to the point of listener dissatisfaction.

                          I sincerely hope the next dem will be a bit more civilised. I've found that a longish journey (car or train) to a dem usually means one's ears need half an hour or so to recover. If the dealer doesn't offer coffee/tea, then I'd personally suggest arriving nearby an hour or so beforehand and having a quiet walk or some food and drink to relax you first. I'd suggest this whatever the audio system was and, now my ears have aged and are very sensitive to harshness of any kind (aural fatigue when young and repeated ear infections more recently), it seems to work for me. Good luck anyway

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