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Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

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  • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

    Well, this is a mystery to me too. It's beyond my comprehension that the M40.1 doesn't excel in the areas you mention, assuming that I understand what "pace, rhythm and timing" actually means*. I've heard this media-led expression, but feel that there must be a simpler, less ambiguous description of whatever it is you are seeking. Do I understand from your equipment list that you use only LP (analogue) not digital sources? Did you try the M40.1 in your own room before buying them? Do you still have the SHL5s? Has anything at all changed in your system?

    As for the midrange driver, yes this is indeed in a sealed box but surely that "pace, rhythm and timing" you mention must be a quality of the bass register, not the mid frequencies? I'm at a disadvantage by not being able to translate your comments to a frequency band. Burn-in, bedding-down and all that stuff is not likely. Acclimatisation to the sound is.

    I note that you are sitting very close to the speakers (just on the edge of their near-field) about 6 feet away and that they are about 6 feet apart. Because their frontal area is much larger than the SHL5s, they will drive the room somewhat differently and present themselves differently even if they were to have an identical frequency response. Personally I would sit further away than the speaker are apart, and certainly more than 6 feet. For big boxes like the M40.1 six feet away is almost like headphone listening - they need some air to breath.

    Please confirm the size of your listening room and how it is furnished to get an idea of how acoustically damped it is.

    *Horrendous English-English dictionary definition; applied to audio surely as a cruel joke.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

    Comment


    • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

      I have listened to my friend's 40.1 just recently and found that apart from the bigger scale and deeper bass of the 40.1 the sonics between the SHL5 and 40.1 are more or less similar. In fact, I felt the combination of the SHL5 and subwoofer in my system was slightly more dynamic and upbeat than the 40.1. However, he was using a Leben CS600 which wasn't the most dynamic amp around although the midrange and highs were truly captivating and beguiling. I reckon most solid-state amps would not be able to achieve the same feat as the Leben in this area. I swapped my Rega Elicit into the system and the bass improved a little, more punch in comparison but the magic in the midrange and highs were lost and didn't quite match the Leben. Overall the Elicit was still a good match. My impressions were based on a short evaluation of less than 2 hours with familiar music.

      I would not give up so soon. I believe the 40.1 can be amazing if set up properly. Although Alan does not believe in running-in, I do. Give the speakers more hours to run-in, it may improve to a certain extent. The large 12" bass driver may need to loosen up a bit. It can be possibly due to amplification. Not familiar with your Naim monoblocks. You may want to try some Mcintosh MC402 or other solid-state amps from Jeff Rowland, Pass Labs etc. if some of your friends can loan them to you. One of my friends is using the MC402 to drive his M40 and the dynamics and bass is amazing. However, this was in a very small room of 9' width with the speakers extremely close to wall boundaries, so not an accurate comparison with the 40.1 in a considerably larger room with the speakers in free space. If you want dynamics, drive and attack, a powerful solid-state amp would be more suitable for fast and dynamic types of music. For a smooth, refined and beguiling sound, some tube magic from the Leben would be appropriate but punch and drive will be lacking.. Can't have everything in a package.

      One thing I concur with ALan is to sit further apart from the speakers. For big boxes it would be more feasible to sit further away from the speakers.

      Comment


      • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

        Hi,
        In response to Alan's post, I am mainly listening to vinyl replay at the moment. Nothing has been changed in my system from the SHL5 period till now. Will not consider changing to another brand of amplification because Naim does the PRAT very well. To illustrate my point, try playing Eagles-Hotel California/Hell Freezes Over Lp, it sounded a little lifeless on the 40.1s, even the Laser Disc or DVD version sounds livelier. Secondly, try Led Zeppelin-Moby Dick/Led Zeppelin II Lp (Mobile Fidelity version prefered) the cow bells on this track was so much more lifelike, more forward on my previous speakers. I suspect it's a combination of these few possibities, namely the enclosed portion of the midrange is harder to drive (compare sealed speakers like the old ARs or Yamaha NS 1000 with ported designs and you will know what I mean), the size of the bass unit or woofer generate bass frequencies with some bloom and decay therefore interfering with the tweeter and midrange drivers in terms of speed & timing, the design of the tweeter to sound less bright or shrill to give a smoother response which in turn may affect the immediacy or attack on certain instruments like cymbal crashes or cow bells.Lastly, crossover design which greatly affects the output. Sitting further away may not be the answer as it will not change the speed & timing. These speakers sound great with vocals, jazz even pop music but not rock. What I am striving for is to try and get as close to live music as possible. If any of you have listened to any live bands, then you will know what attack & immediacy means, it gets people excited, foot tapping to the music and want to cheer the band on. One of the reasons why so many Hi Fi reviewers all over the world keep a Linn LP12 in their homes, because of it's PRAT abilities, It's loud & blousy. Incidentally I have listened to the speakers before purchase but the dealer was not using Naim amps or even turntables. My listening area is in my living room which measures 13 ft by 26 ft. A huge shelf which houses my records reaches almost to the ceiling is placed next to the wall facing the speakers, there is a 2 seater sofa in front of the speakers. Due to the amount of things in the living room, I would say that it adequately damped. Sorry, no measuring instruments was used only the simple hand clap test. Sorry Alan, I hope this does not offend you in any way. Just some of my humble after thoughts. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Thanks for taking your time to read & reply my message.
        Last edited by rockadelic; 18-11-2009, 07:48 PM. Reason: Add in more notes

        Comment


        • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

          I listen almost exclusively to 'rock' and 'blues rock' music and I like it loud. I use M40.1's in a smallish room approx 14 x 21 ft and I have used Naim from the Nait 5i upwards, LFD, Rega Elicit and Osiris, EAR/Yoshino 899, Puresound A30 and the new and wonderful Croft Series Seven hybrid. With all these amps, the M40.1 performs superbly with the sort of bass that makes you wonder where it is until it hits you in the stomach. They have a stunning, natural and very present mid band and the PRAT factor is first rate. These are not fat boom boxes by any stretch of the imagination.

          I would suggest you persevere with running in and also experiment with position. The comment you make about a settee near the speakers worries me as that can't be a good thing. They also need to be on the correct stands. I have found that they must have a light, open frame, not something fat and mass loaded which slows them down and adds 'bloat'.

          The M40.1 is one of the very best speakers I have used and whilst it is nowhere near the most expensive, it is giving me more of the fun factor than I can ever remember.

          Comment


          • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

            Dear AS,

            May I suggest that the reason you are confused by the Pace, Rhythm and Timing term is that your speakers all perform extremely well in this department and therefore, it is something which you do not have to suffer with. IMO

            Many speakers sound sloooooow, as if the music source is running a little slow. This phenomena is apparent whether you listen to a turntable, tape, tuner or CD and I have no idea why. It also occurs with the souces and amplifiers which is also a mystery but once you have latched onto it, it's extremely disconcerting.

            Naim equipment, traditionally, has excelled in the PRAT area and although it might not be as good as some when it comes to sound-staging and imagery, the speed and pace more than make up for it. Your speakers on the end of a Naim system has all the pace, attack and speed of a live performance and that is something we are all searching for.

            Of course, there is a lot of equipment which does the PRAT factor well and it needn't be expensive but there is a lot more which doesn't and this we need to avoid.

            Comment


            • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

              Noted. Every time I hear that ghastly expression my skin crawls: I recall being in the company of the first journalist (?) to coin the phrase in the late 80s and I had the definite impression it was a huge joke at the expense of over-zealous hi-fi consumers. Surely there has to be a better way of describing whatever audio quality we seek than a derogatory slang word?

              http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=prat
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                Noted. Every time I hear that ghastly expression my skin crawls: I recall being in the company of the first journalist (?) to coin the phrase in the late 80s and I had the definite impression it was a huge joke at the expense of over-zealous hi-fi consumers. Surely there has to be a better way of describing whatever audio quality we seek than a derogatory slang word?

                There is. The word is rhythm. A moment's reflection makes it clear; adding 'pace' and 'timing' is redundant; all that is contained in the meaning of rhythm. To quote from the Oxford English Dictionary online:

                ...rhythm...5 'a. That feature of musical composition which depends on the systematic grouping of notes according to their duration. b. Kind of structure as determined by the arrangement of such groups.'


                -paul-

                Comment


                • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                  Originally posted by rockadelic View Post
                  Secondly, try Led Zeppelin-Moby Dick/Led Zeppelin II Lp (Mobile Fidelity version prefered) the cow bells on this track was so much more lifelike, more forward on my previous speakers.
                  Was the previous speakers the SHL5?

                  Yes, the Naim is well-known for its PRAT and dynamics, and I still cannot fathom the results you have got with the 40.1 after swapping from the SHL5 with all electronics and room conditions being similar.

                  Comment


                  • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                    Originally posted by pranderos View Post
                    There is. The word is rhythm. A moment's reflection makes it clear; adding 'pace' and 'timing' is redundant; all that is contained in the meaning of rhythm. To quote from the Oxford English Dictionary online:

                    ...rhythm...5 'a. That feature of musical composition which depends on the systematic grouping of notes according to their duration. b. Kind of structure as determined by the arrangement of such groups.'


                    -paul-
                    With respect, I don't think that "rhythm" quite captures it - the definition provided may be accurate, but rhythm as commonly used is I think seen as more a property of music per se than as a descriptor of the sound of a particular type of equipment. The virtue of a term like PRaT (sorry) is that there's no application for it in music, so there's no ambiguity about what it refers to.

                    I don't have a great alternative, though. Maybe change the order and call it "TRaP" instead? Or "TaRP"? Or just call it "pace"? just forget the whole thing entirely?

                    Comment


                    • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                      Originally posted by rockadelic View Post
                      ...If any of you have listened to any live bands, then you will know what attack & immediacy means, it gets people excited, foot tapping to the music and want to cheer the band on.....
                      I hope the live bands you refered to is not the amplified live bands..imo...to my ear...most of the amplified live bands I heard in Sg, the speakers sound is always too loud with too much mid high boost and sound very incisive or ear poking..

                      Cheers..
                      "Bath with Music"

                      Comment


                      • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                        My speakers are set up close to seven feet apart and I am listening close to eight feet away. You can see my set up in my Photo Album.

                        I am very surprised that you feel the 40.1 does not do rock well. LP exclusively also and the 40.1's are very impressive here for rock.

                        Not to dismiss what you consider the preferred version for Led Zeppelin but I can assure you it is not the Mobile Fidelity. The version to own is the UK with Lemon Song or Livin' Lovin' Wreck on the Label. You will pay for the copies I have mentioned but I was involved in a shoot out with all copies using the Harbeth 40. Mobile Fidelity did not make it.

                        As suggested give it some more time and try to sit a wee bit further back.


                        David


                        Originally posted by rockadelic View Post
                        Secondly, try Led Zeppelin-Moby Dick/Led Zeppelin II Lp (Mobile Fidelity version prefered) the cow bells on this track was so much more lifelike, more forward on my previous speakers.

                        Comment


                        • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                          DJLEC,

                          I saw the pictures of your system in your photo album. I spotted a subwoofer on the far right of the room. May I ask if you are using the sub with the 40.1? The 40.1's in my friend's system were placed further away from wall boundaries, both front and side walls. I was wondering whether the bass presence and punch would improve with a sub(or ideally a pair). May I know which model of Audio Research amps are you using to drive the 40.1? The Leben is a nice amp that sounds sublime with selective types of music but lacks the punch and drive to cater for a wider variety of material.

                          Thanks in advance.

                          Comment


                          • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                            Originally posted by rockadelic View Post
                            Hi,
                            In response to Alan's post, I am mainly listening to vinyl replay at the moment. Nothing has been changed in my system from the SHL5 period till now. Will not consider changing to another brand of amplification because Naim does the PRAT very well. To illustrate my point, try playing Eagles-Hotel California/Hell Freezes Over Lp, it sounded a little lifeless on the 40.1s, even the Laser Disc or DVD version sounds livelier. Secondly, try Led Zeppelin-Moby Dick/Led Zeppelin II Lp (Mobile Fidelity version prefered) the cow bells on this track was so much more lifelike, more forward on my previous speakers. I suspect it's a combination of these few possibities, namely the enclosed portion of the midrange is harder to drive (compare sealed speakers like the old ARs or Yamaha NS 1000 with ported designs and you will know what I mean), the size of the bass unit or woofer generate bass frequencies with some bloom and decay therefore interfering with the tweeter and midrange drivers in terms of speed & timing, the design of the tweeter to sound less bright or shrill to give a smoother response which in turn may affect the immediacy or attack on certain instruments like cymbal crashes or cow bells.Lastly, crossover design which greatly affects the output. Sitting further away may not be the answer as it will not change the speed & timing. These speakers sound great with vocals, jazz even pop music but not rock. What I am striving for is to try and get as close to live music as possible. If any of you have listened to any live bands, then you will know what attack & immediacy means, it gets people excited, foot tapping to the music and want to cheer the band on. One of the reasons why so many Hi Fi reviewers all over the world keep a Linn LP12 in their homes, because of it's PRAT abilities, It's loud & blousy. Incidentally I have listened to the speakers before purchase but the dealer was not using Naim amps or even turntables. My listening area is in my living room which measures 13 ft by 26 ft. A huge shelf which houses my records reaches almost to the ceiling is placed next to the wall facing the speakers, there is a 2 seater sofa in front of the speakers. Due to the amount of things in the living room, I would say that it adequately damped. Sorry, no measuring instruments was used only the simple hand clap test. Sorry Alan, I hope this does not offend you in any way. Just some of my humble after thoughts. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. Thanks for taking your time to read & reply my message.
                            Hi Rockedelic, having been a Harbeth user on & off for 18 to 20 years, my own findings is that Harbeth spks are definitely not the best speakers for music like Eagles, Led Zeppelin & the like, irregardless of what amp is being used to drive them. To fully enjoy Harbeth, you've got to be more interested on acoustic music, vocals, folk, opera & especially classical music where tonality, accurate timbre & delicacy of Harbeths will fully captivate the listener. I can never comprehend when people say that they enjoy hard hitting Rock, Pop or Punk music on their Harbeths. Too far fetched IMHO. Harbeths are just too sophisticated for even fast paced fusion jazz like Casiopea, Hiroshima or even fourplay, let alone Led Zeppelin or eagles. If you must have a Harbeth, & for your kind of music, then i suppose SHL-5 will still serve you best, even though its still not the most ideal. Get some real exposure to speakers that will totally blow you away on Led Zeppelin & Eagles, even driven by tube amplification. Hope i don't sound offensive to some folks here but i am just being realistic.

                            Comment


                            • Re: Harbeth Monitor 40.1 specific

                              I think this is getting slightly off-course. Anyway GanCK has his point. Harbeth speakers are not too suitable for hard rock and metal.

                              To relate a recent experience, a guy came to my place last Saturday to audition the Plinius amp I was selling. He brought his Proac Response 2.5 along with him in his car. We set up the speakers and put on some music. To my amazement his music was mostly metal, very noisy and in a mess. And this guy listens at deafening levels and doesn't seem to care whether the woofers of the Proac would blow up in flames of fire. The excursion of the drivers was tremendous. The Proac takes it all in its stride. We tried it with the Harbeth, doesn't sound too good.

                              For hard rock and metal other speakers can do better. As for reproducing live music and to hear all the twang of guitars, hitting of drums and harmonics of real instruments as real and lifelike as possible just like the real thing, I reckon this is very difficult to achieve even with a very good system. Probably some very high-end systems may be able to get you closer to that though.

                              Cheers.

                              Comment


                              • It's all about listening loudness

                                I have said here many, many times that the speaker designer has to have in mind a clear, unambiguous design goal when he is designing. I'm obviously just not communicating this vital point well - please tell me where I'm failing to get the point across. I covered this just a week ago.

                                By definition, "rock optimised" speakers are played loud because rock music is all about the thrill of the loud sound. The essential point - stated recently - is that the design brief for a 'rock friendly' speaker is a replay loudness many decibels higher than a Harbeth listener would normally listen at. This has dramatic consequences for the sonic balance of the speaker, its duty-cycle, power handling, life expectancy, size, drive unit size(s) and so on. It is not possible to design a universal speaker that can be played extremely loud or extremely quiet and sound full and natural at both extremes, because the ear is very non-linear regarding level sensitivity. Are you fully aware of how the ear's perception of equal loudness varies dramatically with frequency and the prevailing loudness of sound?

                                So what am I supposed to do? Throw away the well-honed rule book that drives us to produce speakers for connoisseurs of sound who want quality (and for whom RADIAL? is essential) and chase the user who thrives on a diet of heavy metal at ear splitting levels and for whom any cone material would suffice? No. Leave that to those who fulfil that market.

                                The key to this is listening level. Any music, including head-banging rock music can be reproduced well on a Harbeth at a moderate listening level. In my personal experience that's totally true of The Eagles, Michael Jackson, Steely Dan .... all of which and similar are used through the design process. The music selection is not the issue. The issue is that the user, seeking the thrill that rock music represents and enjoying the open clarity of the Harbeth sound, then turns up the volume far beyond that which I had in mind when I designed the speakers. I can't be held responsible for that can I?

                                The situation I as a speaker designer face is exactly that which a car designer faces. How to balance the quality of the ride in a straight line with tautness and control when cornering. The designer cannot optimise both simultaneously and he must, under guidance from his marketing dept., prioritise one parameter over the other. A Rolls Royce gives a beautifully smooth, effortless ride but cannot be thrown around the race track at 150mph. An Aston Martin has a hard ride around town, but excels at high speed cornering. Take your pick.

                                As we say in English "horses for courses" - there is no universal horse that suits all types of running conditions. The attached "Equal Loudness Contours" (ISO 226) is the most important graph you'll ever see concerning the way we judge sound. Questions?

                                >
                                Attached Files
                                Alan A. Shaw
                                Designer, owner
                                Harbeth Audio UK

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