HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. 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 electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon 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, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
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CD Player for Super HL5 - suggestions?

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  • CD Player for Super HL5 - suggestions?

    Hi all,

    Had my Supers for a few months now and absolutely delighted with them.

    My next mission is to find the best disc spinner to compliment these wonderful speakers.
    I've tried Krell Evo 505 and Esoteric DV60, but not for me. I've also tried a Wadia 381 which was very impressive, but a little out of my budget at the moment.

    I've now been offered an Audio Research CD5 at a very good price... If any of you have experience with these players, or just have an opinion which player would work best, all comments would be most welcome.

    For reference my current set up is Sugden Masterclass IA-4 amp, Naim CDX2 CDP, Siltech Paris i.c and of course the SHL5.

  • #2
    Top loading cd players

    The best cd players I ever heard are Burmester and Metronome (all versions with with top loading). Try one if you can. Forget about wadia but ARC cd 5 could be good also, specialy if you find one with a good price.

    If you are looking for a cheapest one (second hand)... You can try a Lindemann CD1 SE with good results but you will need 2 good power cords (Siltech if you like Siltech) because it has a separate power supply. Anyway the top loading, xlr outputs and a 24/192 dac is a must.


    • #3
      Adusio Research?

      The Audio Research would be lovely! If you can stretch it: CD7 or CD8...


      • #4
        KEEP IT SIMPLE .... inbalance between Harbeth ethos and exotic CD players

        Have to admit I love the looks of the Audio Research. But after all I do not believe in notable differences between cd-players. Sorry, but I had to write that.

        In a way I find it a little over the top to just put up list of glittering ultra-expensive cd-players if only someone asks for a simple cd-player.

        I could easily ad some more fancy gear:
        Why not a Krell, Mark Levinson, does Jadis make CD-Players as well (?), Accuphase, T+A, MBL

        There are no synergies between player and speaker! A player is either good or bad. The only thing you can do is to listen by yourself...

        ...and maybe be a little more aware of psychology, leading us to the belief that fancy, expensive audio gear with a religion-like story behind it will allways sound better than simple engineering.

        Harbeth itself stands for that engineering-approach, why still follow the usual voodoo-style audio path and buy gold laquered gear?


        • #5
          Audio Perfect

          PS Audio Perfect Wave Transport is very good, and it can play higher resolution music than CD by burning WAV files to a DVD-R.


          • #6
            Andio exipment titillation? Not here please....

            Originally posted by thurston View Post
            ...In a way I find it a little over the top to just put up list of glittering ultra-expensive cd-players if only someone asks for a simple cd-player.

            I could easily ad some more fancy gear .... There are no synergies between player and speaker! ....

            Harbeth itself stands for that engineering-approach, why still follow the usual voodoo-style audio path and buy gold lacquered gear?
            I completely agree. What I do not understand is why we collectively couldn't give a down-to-earth, pragmatic answer to a simple question. If someone has money to burn I very much doubt that they'd be interested in Harbeth products which as stated above are no-frills, solid engineering presented in a functional way. So why would such a consumer be attracted to exotic CD players, possibly spending more - far more - on a CD player than the speakers? They obviously wouldn't would they.

            So can I appeal for some sanity please so that the question can be answered in a meaningful way. From time to time I use a CD/MiniDisc rack-size player (branded Grundig) that cost about $100 in the high-street electrical supermarket. In fact, I used it extensively during the C7ES3 development. It is *good enough* for occasional listening. OK, the track selection is a little slow, the remote buttons a little wobbly, the drawer a little shaky but who gives a damn? There are far more pressing things to worry about in life than burning money needlessly on fancy electronics, which if they fail - and they probably will - will bankrupt you with repair costs and may never perform properly from day 1.

            So, no more exotic (erotic?) fantasy suggestions allowed here. Just answer the question setting a real-world budget of, say, $1000 please.

            Oh and as I've said before, forget about nit-picking over sound quality. Assume there isn't any reliable difference. Can we hear please about the brand's after-care when the player fails/skips/jumps/jams - how they handled the problem, was it solved, what were they like to deal with and the cost? In other words the real story. And if that's not a happy tale, then you may as well by a Sony player for $300, anticipate a five year life and if it fails cheerfully buy another one.

            It's all said so well in an article in the excellent (and only GBP 0.20) i newspaper, yesterday - attached.


            P.S. It may not be obvious to you but the size of the company and it's financial standing will have a huge influence upon product reliability and its ability (let alone attitude) to providing first-class after care. Digital electronics are complex, and electro-mechanical digital electronics (a CD player) more so. I give you a recent analogy. At Harbeth we use battery-powered electric hand-screwdrivers to screw together the cabinets. You can imagine that in a day there are thousands of screws to be driven into wood. Over they years we have tried various brands of electric screwdriver, some German, some USA brands, Japanese and DIY store own brands which you often see on special offer for around $30 'with free drills and spare battery'.

            We have concluded (reluctantly) that there is a relationship between long-term durability and corporate size, and for the last couple of years we have standardised on Panasonic (Japanese made) which are upper-mid price. What we are buying (almost for free) are the technical resources of the world's largest consumer manufacturing company. They have enough income to reinvest in laboratories where doubtless they have hundreds or thousands of engineers with world-class design, test and reliability resources to test, test and test again their designs before they are released to market. And the result is an extremely reliable, long-lasting product at a very fair price indeed. But if you are smaller brand/company is it likely that you will have these technical resources to really thrash-out design weaknesses before launch?

            My point is that you should assume that fancy electronics will certainly cause problems sooner or later. You should protect yourself in advance of purchase by fully assessing what your total cost of ownership will be. One of the reasons we respect the QUAD brand here in the UK is because their after-care operation is affordable (even cheap) and they can fix anything made in the last 50 years or so because they used standard catalogue parts not exotic long-deleted specials. How many unique single-sourced parts are there in some of these boutique electronics I wonder?

            Buy with your brain, not your heart.
            Attached Files
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK


            • #7
              Total cost of ownership

              To put things in perspective it should be noted that SHL5s cost more than $5000 in the USA so the above discussion including players of ~$3000 cost is in fact reasonably balanced. Remember what you get out is only as good as what you put in.

              My purchase of the PS Audio PWT was based on obtaining improved sound quality after having used Marantz, Musical Fidelity and Orelle/XTC players in the previous 25 years. Ironically only the Marantz is no longer supported by the manufacturer (although it is poplar on eBay).

              I agree completely about "Total Cost of Ownership" The buyer must ask himself "Is this a short-term (<5 years) or long-term (~20 years) purchase?" "Will the company still be there then?"


              • #8
                My real-world list

                Here is my "real-world"-list.
                Each (partly far) below 1000,- €, but all with decent looks.
                NAD 512BEE

                Pioneer PD9 (fancy looks, just no fancy brand-name)

                Yamaha s-2000 (to me this is a real beauty, still no fancy brand name for audiophiles)

                I myself use a Technics plastic player for less than 200,- € for allready ca 8 years without any faults.

                But I have to admit: if it fails I will look for a better looking player instead.


                • #9
                  Use your ears, keep your eyes SHUT

                  OK, off the wall opinion. Don't spend huge amounts on a CD player because most of the price goes on fancy metalwork, packaging and marketing.

                  Over the years I have stocked and sold most of the expensive machines listed but they weren't the ones we, as dealers, picked off the shelf to listen to.

                  If you want a serious bit of metal, which happens to be the best CD player I have heard by some margin, hear the Rega Isis, valve version. Wonderful but expensive.

                  Also, Rega have a new Saturn in the pipeline for Summer delivery. Absolutely blows away the majority of expensive players I have heard but might not appeal because it's only going to be around £1200.

                  Use your ears and keep your eyes shut, is my advice.


                  • #10
                    Just over $1000

                    ...that is what happens if you post too fast..

                    Just saw that the Yamaha is too expensive for the 1000,- € border of Mr Shaw.

                    {Moderator's comment: No problem. $1000 was just a number plucked from the air. $1200 .... $1500 whatever providing that it is giving REAL VALUE FOR MONEY.}


                    • #11
                      Ripped all my CD ....

                      Since the time I went digital all the way, with all my CDs in lossless rips on a hard disc drive, I question the need for a CD player these days.

                      But if one must have it, my vote goes to any player from the Marantz line up. Very well built, and robust CD trays and transport mechanisms. Even in the lowest priced ones, which would be a lot less than the 1000 dollars, and for that amount of spend, I think there are some mid level machines from that line.


                      • #12
                        SONY Play Station 1

                        For a wonderful sounding inexpensive cd player, pick up a SONY PS1. They generally can be found for US $25-$50.

                        You can read about it on 6Moons, where they combined it with a Leben amp and Harbeth speakers for their "music lovers system". There is also a review in Stereophile. If you want to go all out, there are modders who will do upgrades to these players for under $100.


                        • #13
                          There are 'better electronics'

                          I don't like analogy but let make one: If you are travelling by car and you enjoy a magic view, you can drop in admirations for a while and forget about the engine.
                          So if you like what you see (read also the music you hear) you can use any car for this journey (read any hi-fi). But this doesn't mean that is no difference between the cars.

                          I'm a little bored about the statement "I don't feel the difference". I understand, especially in this crisis time, that everyone tries to spent less and get more. But imagine an ideal world when all electronics bad or good has the same price or for better, are for free . But you can buy, or receive one or another, only if you "can hear the difference". Guess what it will happen then with all "no hear difference guys"?

                          The whole hi-fi (end) industry is based on the ideal of the perfect sound. Of course the big problem is there is no perfect sound yet or maybe no life after death neither also...

                          I'm not so happy to realized that are too many hi-fi brands (just look at second hand hi-fi sites and you will find tons of garbage) but too few are close to that "ideal".
                          Harbeth has a special position, in this - go for ideal perfect hi-fi sound - they stated "a natural sound"... but let's be honest the natural sound is only in nature. But who cares about the nature ... man himself want to create a "natural nature" for him and he want to have it just by pressing the button.

                          Correct me if I'm wrong, but Alan said that he made theoretically even better speakers during the test but his final goal was to make a real-world speaker for any amplifier and not an ideal or near perfect one. This is the best approach from a designer who understand that the Loudspeaker made the most part of the sound but not play alone.

                          So I can understand, I mean ... can decipher Alan's messages to understand Harbeth from the full half glass perspective. But believe it or not, are still better electronics out there.
                          The paranoiacs mouths said that, this hi-fi-end approach, with a lot of spare boxes is an evil thing and a few " important bad people" thinks that is a good method to keep peoples mind occupied from other issues. Could be right... and I think that only the hi-fi designers can solve this problems or not.
                          Do you hear the differences from my poor english?


                          • #14
                            Blown away

                            Players that "blow away" others, just because SHL5´s cost 5000,- you need to spend ca. 3000,- for a player that sound the same as one for, say 200,- (I did NOT forget a zero!)....

                            ....the meander continues.

                            If you really think about players costing maybe 10000,- €/$ :

                            Spend 5000,- for equally fancy gear and donate the other 5000,- ! You´ll hear a big improvement in sound just because you will feel better.


                            • #15
                              Gutter journalism?

                              Originally posted by thurston View Post
                              Players that "blown away" others...
                              Do people actually write expressions like 'blow away' (meaning, the quality is so fantastic that all other silimar products are rendered instantly obsolete) in connection with quality audio equipment? I don't believe you.

                              And if they do, anyone who is influenced to purchase by such writing is barking mad. They are the submissive slave to the marketeer's chains and whip and certainly could benefit from urgent clinical treatment. Terms like 'blown away' are surely gutter journalism, the last desperate dregs of a bankrupt writer's imagination. These flights of fancy are what's known as 'writers puff' ... words to pad out the story and hit the word count (many writers are paid by the word) and create eye-catching, quotable headlines. Comments like 'blown away' are not meant to be taken seriously or literally.

                              How can a product, built from the same components (or virtually the same), performing the same task, in about the same size, drawing about the same amount of power 'blow away' another? It cannot. It is impossible. It's marketing speak.

                              Tell me I'm dreaming .... reassure me that not one of you here would do anything other than curl a withering sneer at expressions like 'blown away' and toss the magazine in the nearest bin. Even (or especially) if it's a Harbeth review.
                              Alan A. Shaw
                              Designer, owner
                              Harbeth Audio UK