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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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Integrated Amp for SHL5 (and amp comparisons)

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  • #16
    What does the designer know? Nothing.

    Originally posted by aakrn View Post
    Thanks everyone for pitching in. Appreciate it.

    Based on the discussions above (excluding the made in China discussion), for an integrated amp, it seems a toss up between Lavardin IS, Lavardin IS Ref, Lavardin IT, LFD LE Mk4, LFD NCSE, Sugden A21SE. Has anyone had the privilege of making a comparison of these amps with the SHL5s?

    I listen to a wide range of music from vocals, to pop, R&B, soft rock and jazz.
    With all due respect, why would you completely ignore the advice given by the one person who is most intimately connected with the design of the HL5?

    Groupthink is the psychological term.

    Use a process of rational elimination. Be honest with yourself: what is important to you in an preamp/amplifier that does not pertain to "sound quality" in a transcendental sense.

    Regarding Alan's challenge. Sounds like a very cheap way to acquire a brand new pair of M40s. Even if you have to do a little leg work and pay for a $1,000 round trip ticket to England, it would still be cheaper than a pair of P3ESRs. Good luck to anybody who tries--you will desperately need it!

    Comment


    • #17
      Disturbing belief...

      Originally posted by aakrn View Post
      {Moderator's comment: so you changed the speakers and didn't like the dryer sound. How can you blame the amps .... surely that's to do with the speakers ....}
      Oh no, people actually believe that the amplifier is the most critical component in the sound of their stereo system. Either that or they lack critical thinking faculties. Sorry if this sounds harsh. I'm not trying to be confrontational but it's become all too clear to me and quite frankly, it's disturbing.

      Comment


      • #18
        Hifi should't sound impressive

        Hi aakrn, you are too used to your previous speaker sound. Now you suddenly into natural sound of harbeth you feel less engaging. It is like audiophile comment the sound of a live unamplified music in a decent concert hall no high and dull and his home hifi sound is much transparent and airy.

        You can contact Roland for the LFD (Sg dealer). He is using SHL5 and enjoying it very much.
        "Bath with Music"

        Comment


        • #19
          Ponder winning M40.1

          @aakm:
          You have the possibility to show these different sound characteristics (of brands).
          I just made some "research" on amazon. There is a Sony amp (even a receiver) called STR-DH 100 with 2 x 90 watts for 132,- € (here in Germany).
          The engineers say (and know) that it sounds the same as any of your mentioned Lavardins or whatever.

          If you can hear the differences in a blind-test you can get a M40.1!!

          If someone who knows more about audio than (presumably) any of us that should at least make you pondering.

          Comment


          • #20
            Originally posted by aakrn View Post
            Alan,

            I was using a Primare pre power combo (120 watts rms/CH) and a matching Primare cd player to drive a pair of JM Labs floor standing speakers. It was a perfect match.

            When I "inherited" the SHL5s, i used my Primare electronics to drive them instead. Immediately there was less sparkle to the music (but for a better top end). Overall, things became dull. I have since sold off my entire Primare electronics and the JM Labs are used for Home Theatre.

            So it is quite difficult to accept that amps (or cd players for that matter) make little or no difference to the quality of music reproduction. At the very least, different brands have varying characteristics (i.e. Type of sound).

            {Moderator's comment: so you changed the speakers and didn't like the dryer sound. How can you blame the amps .... surely that's to do with the speakers ....}
            Dear Moderator,

            Indeed it was the speakers that was the cause of the duller sound. But I loved the musicality and good top end of the SHL5s. They were a very easy listen

            I felt that the Primare equipment was either not a good match or insufficient to drive these speakers adequately. For example, with the SHL5s, I had to crank up the volume higher to hear what I used to be able to hear at a lower volume with the JM Labs.

            Hence my decision to sell my entire swedish electronics and to start afresh. So this is exciting times (at least for me).

            {Moderator's comment: strange. Sound like you are describing the difference between the bright 'Eurobox' speaker sound and the natural sound of music. Fear you have needlessly disposed of your electronics}

            Comment


            • #21
              You're pulling my leg aren't you?

              Originally posted by Zemlya View Post
              Oh no, people actually believe that the amplifier is the most critical component in the sound of their stereo system. Either that or they lack critical thinking faculties. Sorry if this sounds harsh. I'm not trying to be confrontational but it's become all too clear to me and quite frankly, it's disturbing.
              Get away with you! You're pulling my leg! How? Why? What logic supports that?

              The really challenging parts of the audio system are not the electronics, but anything that involves mechanical components, that is, moving parts: microphones, pickups, turntables/arms and loudspeakers. That's because all mechanical system have billions of variables, none of which can be perfectly optimised - the end result is just a compromise. Amplifiers have variables too, but the designer's 'room for manoeuvre' is exceedingly limited. The mechanical designer starts with a completely blank canvass: the amplifier designer doesn't because he has dangerous voltages and reliability to consider which means that the circuitry has to take a certain shape or the amp will fail, catch fire or (worse?) destroy the speakers. The actual difference between mechanical systems can be very significant indeed (as we know with loudspeakers, musical instruments and cars but the actual difference, at a circuit functionality level between amps of the same Class technology (A, AB, B etc.) is insignificant. All amp designers have to follow design rules and electrical safety* considerations. Mechanical designers have no rules to obey because there are no dangerous voltages and few if any safety issues. Amplifier designers are constrained by a straight jacket called physics, safety and durability. The mechanical designer can do whatever he fancies.

              If anyone really believes that the home amplifier is the golden heart of the hi-fi chain then it's as barmy a saying that the engine management system (black box computer) that controls the car engine timing is more important for a smooth ride than the suspension, gearbox, wheels, engine and seats. It just doesn't make any sense at all. When and where did this ludicrous notion slip into the open minds of the hifi consumer?

              An analogy between amplifier designer and nuclear engineer: there are so many safety and durability issues of paramount importance that both are obliged to use standard, proven, reliable parts - even though each may in his dreams, conceive exotic solutions he just cannot use them. Hence, despite the fancy case work, underneath the skin, they are functionally identical.

              We on the inside know this to be the truth. You on the outside may chose to substitute fantasies for the facts. I could be saying the same thing in twenty years, you still wouldn't believe me.

              * as we found when exporting active speakers to the USA, UK insurers heavily load the annual public liability premium when they're made aware of exports of powered equipment. This means that the amplifier designer is highly constrained by the materials, clearances, insulation, grounding and even selection of components which is why, functionally, lift the lid and you'll see the same circuitry replicated over and over again across amp models and brands. If the insurers mandate 'UL', Underwiter's Labs approval (look for the UR backwards printed symbol on the equipment) - it means that they have scrutinised every single resistor, transistor, capacitor, IC, circuit board, tie wrap, connector, plug, socket, cable, transformer and wiring right down to the smallest part, and demanded that they are individually UL approved. That's creates a shallow pool of approved parts that the amp designer can draw on because it costs money for suppliers to get those piece parts through the UL approval process. Again, the amp designer is working in a highly constricted environment. The amp has to be designed to rarely break down and fail. That means the input > output concept is rigidly defined. He just doesn't have the freedom to create a 'sonic personality' because there are no components that can be added-in to do that.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #22
                Used to a speaker sound ....

                Originally posted by keithwwk View Post
                Hi aakrn, you are too used to your previous speaker sound. Now you suddenly into natural sound of harbeth you feel less engaging. It is like audiophile comment the sound of a live unamplified music in a decent concert hall no high and dull and his home hifi sound is much transparent and airy.

                You can contact Roland for the LFD (Sg dealer). He is using SHL5 and enjoying it very much.
                Thanks Keith! You may have actually hit the nail on the spot. That's helpful.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Primare in Japan with Harbeth

                  Originally posted by aakrn View Post
                  {Moderator's comment: Fear you have needlessly disposed of your electronics}
                  I agree, and Primare is a well respected name in audio, with very well specified and built to last gear. Cool and timeless Scandinavian aesthetics too.

                  {Moderator's comments: curiously, the original Primare electronics were imported for many years into Japan by our shared importer there and sold as the perfect match with Harbeth. Bo Christiansen is a fine designer.}

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Last try ......

                    Last try:

                    Maybe the others have really hit the nail, only you do not want to believe it.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Need assistance

                      I am new to the Harbeth family. And I was sharing my own listening experience over a period of time with the SHL5s. Merely needed some assistance with new equipment matching and generally the feedback has been helpful. However, the sarcasm is not welcomed.

                      {Moderator's comment: I do not think any comments are to be taken personally. You have touched a nerve with this subject. As you read, there is wide range of opinions. We are frustrated with the whole non-subject of amplifiers to Harbeth match. Please be very careful how you spend your money.}

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Will proceede with caution

                        Originally posted by aakrn View Post
                        I am new to the Harbeth family. And I was sharing my own listening experience over a period of time with the SHL5s. Merely needed some assistance with new equipment matching and generally the feedback has been helpful. However, the sarcasm is not welcomed.

                        {Moderator's comment: I do not think any comments are to be taken personally. You have touched a nerve with this subject. As you read, there is wide range of opinions. We are frustrated with the whole non-subject of amplifiers to Harbeth match. Please be very careful how you spend your money.}
                        Dear Moderator,

                        Thanks for the advice. Appreciate it. It is because I am careful with money that I was asking for recommendations. I will be selective pursuant to what I've read.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Thanks!

                          Originally posted by aakrn View Post
                          Thanks everyone for pitching in. Appreciate it.

                          Based on the discussions above (excluding the made in China discussion), for an integrated amp, it seems a toss up between Lavardin IS, Lavardin IS Ref, Lavardin IT, LFD LE Mk4, LFD NCSE, Sugden A21SE. Has anyone had the privilege of making a comparison of these amps with the SHL5s?

                          I listen to a wide range of music from vocals, to pop, R&B, soft rock and jazz.
                          Well for those on this forum who have experienced the above amps with the SHL5s, I will really appreciate your views on the comparison. Thanks!

                          {Moderator's comment: Buy British!}

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            I'm bemused ....

                            Hi,

                            Must admit I'm a bit bemused by this forum.

                            It seems that nothing makes a difference to the sound quality of ones system. I previously posted about a suitable CDP to go with my set up and promptly blinded with scientific facts as to why I'd be mad to spend much more than £1,000 on a player and now it seems you can hook up some cheapo amp from Comet and still get the same results soundswise from your Harbeth speakers.

                            All I know, is that I've had various amps over the years from a Sony tuner amp in the 80's which was dreadful right up to my current amp, a Sugden Masterclass IA-4, which, would be ridiculous to in the extreme to try and compare with said Sony.

                            The only thing I don't like about the Sugden and the reason I may consider changing to a Lavardin, is the heat it radiates.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Lfd

                              If you can afford I would recommend the LFD NCSE Integrated amplifier for the Harbeth SHL5, this is a wonderful combination.
                              Thanks Jason.

                              www.parmentersound.com

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                its simple....nothing to be bemused about....

                                Originally posted by Maccar View Post
                                Hi,

                                Must admit I'm a bit bemused by this forum..
                                Hi maccar

                                There’ll be sound differences, im sure, between electronics but the quantum is the one most can’t agree on, or even perceive, to make an objective cost benefit assessment. I think the issue is made more complex by some electronics giving off a flavour, however subtle, of its own. It reminds me of pimply school boys arguing vital statistics of the page 3 model. Its at best pretty academic!

                                Would you actually use a comet or target cd player if you could afford say a 20 kg behemoth such as a Teac? The Sony PS3 makes a great CD player but it is rough as a camels back when its spinning ie. its noisy and vibrates.

                                So, imo, it all really comes back to what we can afford and whether we like the look and how it sits in your setup. Do you like the philosophy of the company selling you its cd player/ amp? It all sounds rather shallow but if I had a mint ill buy an Esoteric CD player. Why care who thinks what? Ill then get a Bryston monoblock even if the SHL5 doesn’t need 1/10th of the current. If that is not responsible spending, where do we draw the line then. Only we can make that decision.

                                What im trying to say at the end of the day is it doesn’t pay to ask for a cd and amp opinion.  cause they really do sound the “same”.  same same as they say in Thailand.

                                Comment

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