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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. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best 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 will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system 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. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

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. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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Experimenting with the M40.2

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  • Experimenting with the M40.2

    Recently, I've the ultimate pleasure of listening to the M40.2 with an exceptionally good Naim system, which consisted of the NAP 300 and the NAC-N 272 . Utilizing the streamer in the 272 made for a clean and tidy system. The Naim had no difficulty in driving the Harbeth speakers and was at ease moving their 300mm bass driver.

    Known for their highly detailed sound, the Naim was able to highlight different aspects of of the music than my current reference system (Arcam SR250/Naim ND5 XS/Harbeth SHL5plus) at home highlights. It was great to hear how the M40.2 sounded with the Naim - it created this synergy that can only be described as wonderfully musical with expansive soundstage that was holographic, detailed, and rhythmically pleasing.

    Where M40.2 really shines as a speaker for me is in the midrange - all the characteristics I love about my SHL5plus are inherently part of the M40.2's sound. However, by the use of the 300mm drive unit to take care of the most demanding low frequencies, it seems to free up the 200mm Radial driver (of Harbeth's own design) allowing it to break open a door that reveals and articulates ever so much more than my SHL5plus. This, of course, is expected with the price difference, but yet I have to admit it caught me off guard as I listened to tracks I've heard thousands of times and, hearing pieces of the music they've been previously overlooked.

    The midrange on the M40.2 is incredibly transparent and revealing in a very organic way; I have a feeling that this is only the beginning of what this speaker is capable of. To fully understand the true limitations of this speaker are I think I'm going to have to invest many pleasurable hours listening - of which I really look forward to...

    I will keep you all posted as I experiment with Harbeth's flagship speaker.

  • #2
    40 over 30

    If anyone thinks the M40.2 is just an M30.1 with an extra bass driver is in for a surprise. The M40.2 is head and shoulders better with an effortless, transparent mid band and deep, clean kicking bass. It just does everything with ease and clarity which escapes the vast majority of speakers on the market.

    Comment


    • #3
      Wicked M40.2!

      Dave - I would tend to agree with you about the M40.2...wickedly good...

      In a short time I am going to have the M40.2 at home, setting aside my SHL5plus for awhile, and will over the next couple of months be trying quite a lot of different kit with them - I'm lucky as I am part of the best hi-fi shop in Scotland and we have a lot of cool toys to experiment with...I will keep on adding to this thread as I try different kit...it sounds like you have a set of the M40.2 in your system, enjoy my friend.

      All the best.
      Joe

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      • #4
        Controlled tests vs. random opinions

        Originally posted by Joe of HFC View Post
        In a short time I am going to have the M40.2 at home, setting aside my SHL5plus for awhile, and will over the next couple of months be trying quite a lot of different kit with them - I'm lucky as I am part of the best hi-fi shop in Scotland and we have a lot of cool toys to experiment with...I will keep on adding to this thread as I try different kit...
        As you "experiment" with "quite a lot of different kit", what methods will you employ to ensure that the various trials are adequately controlled and, thus, the results may be deemed valid?

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        • #5
          Keep me posted

          Joe,

          Thank you for chiming in with your experiences. I look forward to reading more of your upcoming adventures with the 40.2 as you set it through its paces.

          Thanks again!

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          • #6
            Just my interpretations

            IMT+TDL,

            I think it is fair to question my methods; but in all honesty, I will be doing this "experimenting" for fun and to see what works best with the M40.2 (at least to my ears) -

            I am more interested in the human element rather than the scientific element - I simply want to see how these speakers recreate music with a variety of kit. At the end of the day how good something is, at least in the hi-fi world, is completely subjective to the individual listener - though we can assess how something might sound by reading others thoughts/reviews on any given product, it always comes down to one thing - how well it performs for the end listener.

            And that is all I intend to do here; to give my interpretations on how the M40.2 sound (to me) with a variety of kit.

            All the best,
            Joe

            Joe

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            • #7
              Welcome!

              mpedris,

              Your welcome...I look forward to sharing them with you (and anyone else interested in reading about my experiences with the M40.2).

              All the best,
              Joe

              Comment


              • #8
                Just for fun, but be careful not to lead

                Originally posted by Joe of HFC View Post
                IMT+TDL,

                I think it is fair to question my methods; but in all honesty, I will be doing this "experimenting" for fun and to see what works best with the M40.2 (at least to my ears) -

                I am more interested in the human element rather than the scientific element - I simply want to see how these speakers recreate music with a variety of kit. At the end of the day how good something is, at least in the hi-fi world, is completely subjective to the individual listener - though we can assess how something might sound by reading others thoughts/reviews on any given product, it always comes down to one thing - how well it performs for the end listener.

                And that is all I intend to do here; to give my interpretations on how the M40.2 sound (to me) with a variety of kit.

                All the best,
                Joe

                Joe
                You are entitled to have your fun with lots of nice hifi gear, and you seem to be aware of some of the issues listening purely subjectively.

                However in my experience when your interpretations are posted here, (if they pass moderation), there will be a tendency to say things like '...to me the difference between amp A and amp B was like night and day'. It is likely that if amp A and amp B were correctly level matched, and auditioned blind (or better still double-blind), it is surprising how those 'night and day' differences can usually miraculously disappear.

                It is unbelievable how much we 'hear' using our eyes. As soon as we see the gear and know a little about what reviews it has had, and know the cost, and what it looks like, and we see the superb build quality, then inevitably bias creeps in and affects how we 'hear' it.

                So have your fun but I would be happier if you kept your thoughts and interpretations to yourself.

                {Moderator's comment: Everyone is entitled to express their satisfaction (with Harbeth speakers!) especially in these troubled times. But what we do not want or need is overt self-publicity. The brand is strong, and has a global following. Its products speak for themselves. That aside we do appreciate the pleasure they evidently bring to owners/experimenters, so thanks!}

                Comment


                • #9
                  Many good amps

                  I am glad you are enjoying the M40.2s - and so you should. I am not so sure controlled experimenting (i.e. double blind and precisely level matched) with different kit will bring much, provided you use a well designed and powerful enough amplifier.

                  Experience at HUG has shown that what matters is a proper level match between source output and input sensitivity, a load independent amplifier, and enough (i.e. a lot of) power. Good amplifiers do not have a sonic signature, fortunately. If they do, by definition they are not good amplifiers.

                  The good news is that there are many good amplifiers, and they need not be expensive.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    My M40s

                    When I decided to try the M40s, the dealer kindly let me take them home to try in my listening room and to compare with the SHL5s I had already purchased from him.

                    I was a bit surprised at the difference in presentation. More than a difference in just the lower frequencies. I love both speakers, but ended up keeping the M40s.

                    As an aside, I've listened with various amplifiers and pre-amplifiers. The M40s perform beautifully with all, the music (when it's good) sounding wonderful with them all.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Keep reporting!

                      Originally posted by Jeff_C View Post
                      So have your fun but I would be happier if you kept your thoughts and interpretations to yourself.
                      Jeff,

                      Please feel free to not visit this thread if its contents (subjective interpretations of a 40.2 user) brings you any degree of unhappiness. I, for one, would LOVE to read anything Joe has to say about his experiences.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Individual subjectivity

                        I don't mean to ruffle anyone's feathers, but as a matter of fact many times stated and verified on HUG, the main point with this kind of subjective reports about electronics is that the reported subjective experiences are too little dependent on the devices driving the speakers and too much on individual's subjective and time dependent factors like mood, health, expectations, memories, company, weather etc... to be practically useful for anyone else than the reporter, in that very moment!

                        Read as anecdotal prose they can be interesting, but as they say, I wouldn't put my money where the reporter's mouth is...

                        Provided that the different electronic devices used are all correctly designed, in good working conditions, electrically matched and not underpowered for the speakers, which are conditions easily fulfilled by the vast majority of reasonably priced solid state devices on the market. Some suspects could arise from the most exotic and boutiquesque ones... and of course a rather different matter would be if the reporter dropped digital in favor of vinyl.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          The Fisherman's Friend conundrum

                          I sometimes wonder how much of the internet would be left if all those demanding only scientific proof would have their way and subjective impressions would be forbidden.
                          In my opinion one cannot demand this from people seeking out hifi for their homeset and are willing to share their impressions, unless you are prepared to pay them good money for conclusive tests. Very expensive and time consuming if done right.

                          Also, these demands usually seem to come from people who cannot be bothered to do these tests themselves.

                          I would also like to add this:

                          1) you are in no way obliged to read these impressions. Trying to get rid of them seems like religious zealousness, it then effectively becomes forbidden to write anything these 'scientific' minds do not approve off.

                          2) if a lot of independent subjective impressions of a component exists, and they seem to point in the same way, I find this useful information.

                          3) having a MD in psychology myself I know people are in no way infallible. That doesn't mean subjective impressions are always wrong.

                          4) You can only proof that there are differences between things that are sensed, for example the sound signature of amplifiers. You cannot proof that there is not, because that could be a result of your test set-up. F.I. it is very easy to proof that all red wines taste the same; just let people on Monday morning 5 a.m. stand outside in a snowstorm and give them a little drop of the chilled red wines in dirty cups after you made them consume a fishermen's friend.
                          Listen to the P3ESRs with ears, not eyes

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                          • #14
                            Usually explainable

                            The thing is, under controlled conditions these supposed differences between well designed amplifiers all disappear. They are a delusion kept alive by greedy businessmen.

                            It is true that some exotic amplifiers (and DAC's) do sound different. The explanation is usually that they sound different because their frequency response is not flat (tweaked or load dependent), because they clip because their input sensitivity is too high, or because they clip because of a lack of power, compressing dynamic range and creating a pseudo sense of resolution.

                            Admittedly the current fashion for valve amplifiers creates precisely such problems. They are therefore an inferior outdated technology. If you want candlelight, please enjoy, but it is not like daylight.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              What irony!

                              Originally posted by Durawing View Post

                              1) you are in no way obliged to read these impressions. Trying to get rid of them seems like religious zealousness, it then effectively becomes forbidden to write anything these 'scientific' minds do not approve off.
                              I assume your post is at least partly in response to my earlier post#8. Let me say I was careful in what I said. I knew it would be discourteous to suggest that Joe refrains from posting his opinions here, so I merely stated that I would prefer not to see them. So you are right it is up to the individual whether they choose to read them or not. Of course blind or double-blind listening would still be subjective opinions but more controlled. I would find those opinions much more interesting.

                              The Harbeth 40.2 will be a constant for Joe's experimentations, and as such these along with the listening room will likely dictate the listening results, much more than substituting other links in the hifi chain.

                              By the way I could not miss the irony between your post and your signature "Listen to the P3ESRs with ears, not eyes" because that was the main point of my post.

                              Comment

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