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Help setting up SHL5's

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  • Help setting up SHL5's

    "Although the balance here is just a tad too restrained and laid back for true neutrality,..." From HiFi Choice

    I am finding the opposite with my newly acquired SHL5's, where they are forward, maybe a tad bright and a bit thin. My results do not seem the norm from all I read and any suggestions would be appreciated.

    I am using a Luxman L-590A II integrated. The rest can be seen here, if so desired.

  • #2
    Speaker Position?

    This is a guess, and purely gut feeling. Aren't your speakers too close together and too close to the rear wall?

    BTW, your living room is beautiful!
    Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.


    • #3
      To me, it looks like the room is too sparsely furnished and that big TV screen doesn't help.

      If it was my room, I would have thick, interlined curtains behind the speakers and would cover that TV with a blanket or similar.

      I appreciate that you most probably wouldn't want to live like that but it would be instructive to try temporary absorbent material and see how it goes.


      • #4
        Originally posted by Brianm View Post
        I am finding the opposite with my newly acquired SHL5's, where they are forward, maybe a tad bright and a bit thin.
        I am using a Luxman L-590A II integrated. The rest can be seen here, if so desired...
        Just scanned very quickly through your system and comments; wow from MacIntosh(laidback?) and Wilson's....

        Maybe the rest of your system is still very much the optimization of your former system?

        I would put the SHL5's on wooden stands or tables or benches (Ikea Oddvar?) of ~ 18" height.
        Single wire them on the lowest speakerconnectors(bass) with a relatively good quality copper cable (4mm2?)
        Connect a few different sources like tuner, CDP, TT to the Lux and find out how it sounds to you!

        If that works out right, go from there to a maybe simpler/less expensive setup with the SHL5's?
        Just an idea to start somewhere, but the SHL5's themselves should normally not give your present result ;-)


        • #5
          Thank you all for your comments. For reference, the speakers are approximately 7 and 1/2 feet apart, tweeter to tweeter and approx. 3 and 1/2 feet from the back wall to tweeter and I am sitting between 10 to 12 feet back. I have thick blinds that I can drop to cover the windows. That said, while lowering them may have improved sonics a bit in past systems, it was never a necessity to enjoy music, and with the Harbeth's being labeled as a bit "laid-back", I wouldn't have guessed the issues I am having, where listener fatigue sets in fast.

          I sit rather tall, my ears are about 49" off the floor. I was given the stands but they are only 15" so I temporarily added the wood blocks, giving another 5.5", for a total of 20.5" I figure if I get the speakers to where I know I like them, I will purchase Skylan stands.

          Cyreg, it is true that a past system was Mac and Wilson, but I have had the Luxman for over 1.5 years and was using it with Ridge Street Sason speakers prior to the Harbeth. I currently have a single run of wire, Virtual Dynamics Master Series, to the bottom connections, with jumpers to the top.

          Without question the the TV, etc. may not be optimal, but this is our living room, so a system must work in this space given or something else will be found; I have used this location for 18 years with many different systems. While I wish I had a dedicated room, it is what it is, and it could be worse.


          • #6
            And your speakers are new, unmodified, I take it? This is puzzling.
            Last edited by BAS-H; 19-08-2011, 03:02 PM. Reason: Sp.
            Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.


            • #7
              Hi Ben, they are used but unmodified as far as I know and knowing the previous owner, I would assume that to be the case.


              • #8
                Maybe double check speaker-to-amp connections >
                - both in the same phase,
                - both sides + on + and - on -,
                - jumpers are the Harbeth supplied pieces of brass(goldplated)

                Are the left and right speakers sounding much alike or maybe very different?

                Are the different sources sounding the same "not right" way or with big differences?

                Sure you have not changed things in your setup?
                Different powerstuff like > wallsockets, powercables, extender, filtering?


                • #9
                  Good questions Cyreg and you may be on to something. First, all is wired correctly, checked this many times, and both speakers sound the same.

                  The jumpers are an area of question. Unfortunately the original jumper plates were not included and I originally tried my JPS jumpers and these and my speaker cables have thick spades, so not a great fit; when I first had this hooked up it was dull and lifeless, I suspected the jumpers. The guy I purchased the speakers from sent me the Speltz Anti-cable jumpers he was using and this was a big improvement, opening the speakers up. But, this has also left me wondering about those.

                  Nothing else in the system has changed.


                  • #10
                    jumpers should not have any major impact on performance in my opinion, very strange. Maybe the SHL5 reveals the true sound of your system? Got any cheap speaker cables and interconnects to change, not that they might sound better just to see what happens.


                    • #11
                      I wouldn't expect jumpers to make a big difference either; the issue with my JPS jumpers I believe is an exception rather than a norm, that said I am left scratching my head and reaching. As for the "true sound of my system", I would think not. The Luxman is a well known match with the SHL5's and I have used this exact setup with other nice speakers and not had this issue.

                      I will try listening with the blinds down later out of curiosity.


                      • #12
                        I had a similar problem and for some reason it was the power amp(valve) that sounded VERY forward with the SHL5. Changing to another amp made it all better. I do not know why but an open mind
                        to every possible source and combo is not a bad start. Room position is another key factor, change the sound much more than any exotic cable. I made a lot of changes never did I suspect the power amp
                        that made me spend money on interconnects, valves, all in vain.


                        • #13
                          I am definitely trying to keep an open mind, as you say, sometimes we can overlook something thinking it not possible. As for my amp, not only have I read comments of a good match, the dealer I purchased it from also sells Harbeth and pairs them together, which I have heard his pairings, nice indeed.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Brianm View Post
                            As for my amp, not only have I read comments of a good match, the dealer I purchased it from also sells Harbeth and pairs them together, which I have heard his pairings, nice indeed.
                            Harbeth speaker impedance is so stable that it works well with so many amplifier; that many salesman would use this to sell their amplifier once they know u own a Harbeth..


                            • #15
                              I have an all wooden house with thick floor tiles, covered with a few rugs. If I move the speakers 21-23" out from the wall I too get a more forward sound with less bass. 17" from the back wall gives a better balance. So speaker placement can do a big differnce. At 10" the sound starts to get thicker and bottom heavy.