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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.

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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.

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Feb. 2018
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What is your fave good value integrated amp for SHL5 plus?

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  • What is your fave good value integrated amp for SHL5 plus?

    I just purchased a pair of SHL5pluses and put me in the camp of one more person who continues to be amazed by the openness and naturalness of the sound. I am migrating from Pro Ac Studios i have happily owned since 1990 and I wanted to make sure if I was going to upgrade I could be good for another 25 years. I'm currently listening to these speakers with a five year old Arcam Solo Neo with sounds beautiful, yet potentially a bit underpowered (60w/channel)/8ohms) with more dynamic rock or jazz. I know there have been unending conversations here on HUG about amplifiers sounding the same, except for the power/dynamic/loudness.

    I haven't yet found a thread on what are some of the fave good value integrated amps for these speakers? And say 150 watts a channel to make sure I'm covered in the dynamic/volume fronts? And even older tuners/amps of say Japanese vintage people have loved. Tone controls sound like they could be nice to adjust for room or source/music/recording anomalies. Thanks for any guidance.

    And thanks again to Alan and the team for creating an exceptional speaker. I was first introduced to my love of good quality stereo with Magnepans and Audio Research amps in 1975. The SHL5plus brings me the openness of the Magnepan's I loved with detail and dynamics, even at low volume, that feels so soul satisfying. Wilco and 'Sky Blue Sky' is playing right now and even with my moderate powered amp these speakers sing, and not just politely.

  • #2
    100w adequate, and attenuators

    In my 5m x 5m x 3.5m room, I've found 100 wpc adequate for all but huge orchestral music. Consider 150 - 200 wpc if you think you will miss the last nth of dynamic power. also allow some extra headroom if you need to adjust for input sensitivity and clipping from a too hot digital source output.

    My amp is a sensible 550mV per 1W output, but many amps sit at low 100mV to 150mV for *maximum* output and without attenuators, clipping is possible or even likely.

    A -10dB to -15dB attenuator will require more power from the power amp stage to generate volume.

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    • #3
      Accuphase

      I am using a quality amplifier from Accuphase model E560; the newer model is E600. They are running in class A mode. If you want 150W, can look at E460

      The Japanese made amplifier is of high quality and will last a lifetime. With that, it's comes with a Tone control features, optional DAC and Phono amp card.
      Last edited by A.S.; 30-12-2015, 09:14 PM. Reason: Mod comment removed as fixed

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      • #4
        LFD and Harbeth

        LFD NCSE MKII - So far it was the best integrated amp I ever heard on Harbeth.

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        • #5
          Recycling observations

          We've been here before (E460/NCSE):

          http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...A-review/page2

          From post 24

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          • #6
            Sensible buyers guidance

            Just to clarify a little. I know there has been probably too much time spent on debating amplifier sound quality merits. I like Alan's list of parameters to consider for an amp where he wrote:

            'Amplifiers should be selected not for "sound quality" (whatever that is) but for facilities, design integrity, durability, after care and likelyhood of being able to source service parts in 5 or 10 years. Also, if you're really serious, a quick peek at the financial standing of the brand might tell you if they are likely to have the financial resources to weather the economic downturn of the next few years which is effecting the whole consumer electronics sector. Some of the most likely surviving (UK) brands rarely advertise, rarely exhibit, have relatively old-fashioned designs, use standard parts, have been around for a generation and are rock solid businesses. They deserve to be respected and supported because they will be there to look after you in 10+ years.'

            My question here was to find out what you all have found in your own experience that may come close to Alan's suggestions? While something like the LFD may be lovely, I don't see why one should have to spend more than 1,000-2,000?

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            • #7
              Many choices

              How much for an ARCAM A39, Rotel, NAIM NAIT, CYRUS 8, MF M3i, Marantz PM 7005, Yamaha A-S501, etc over in the UK ? And, do they all sound the same ?

              If so, they're better buys than the LFD at 60wpc.

              I'd rather chuckle to see anyone rank these units in order of sound (blinded) and see if they can guess the price order!

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              • #8
                Yamaha?

                Perhaps one of the Yamaha range? I tried a Yamaha AS701 last year and thought it was a great all rounder. Trouble was, it was so big it didn't fit on my shelf at the time!

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                • #9
                  Arcam A18/19

                  I'm using an Arcam A18, the smallest model the brand makes (no longer, it is A19 now) and the 50 Wpc the maker states are plenty to get real nice volume at a "45" on a scale of 72. Not sure how linear the scale is, though. Anyway, for the programme I listen to, mostly acoustic jazz and some bluesrock to pepper life in between, the amp is totally enough. It is even a bit on the expensive side, so if money is tight, I guess any reasonably beefy Denon, Yamaha or Onkyo will do.

                  Of course, I would love to have an Accuphase with my setup, but, alas, I would need to break the bank for that.

                  That said, I really like the possibility to have tone-controls available, and balance, if needed, and also the option to bypass the tone-network. So, as a change in the amp would be also inevitable loss of money, I keep it. I'm sure it will serve me many years to come.

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                  • #10
                    Emotiva

                    Interestingly all affordable Japanese amplifiers seem to max out around 2x100 watt. I am not sure if the reason is technical or marketing. But I notice that you are in the USA, so you are in luck: get an Emotiva amplifier. Unlike stuff on the European market, Emotiva fills the slot in the market for affordable good quality powerful amplifiers for big American houses.

                    Their Stealth DC-1 dac/pre-amplifier is $399 and their 2x300 watt rms XPA-2 power amp is $719. If you need more than one analogue input there is the additional SP-1 unit for $239. There is a widely shared agreement that Emotiva gear is technically excellent. I think this is what Euopeans would also like to have. Emotiva do sell 230V units to Europe, but that adds import duty and VAT, of course, and you will need local technical support.

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                    • #11
                      Emotiva

                      You get Emotiva in Europe these days. It might be a small risk of trouble, but then a two-channel power-amp should not be very prone to technical problems.

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                      • #12
                        Buy as big an amp as you can for future-proofing

                        Recapping on major issues from recent threads, the first issue is the music you like to listen to. Shostakovich, as we found, is far more dynamic than, for example, Barbra Streisand. As I like Shostakovich and lots of deep piano, I have gone from 40w valve/tube mono blocks to Quad 300w solid state mono blocks, and it has paid dividends. The Quads were about a third the price of the 40w valve amps.

                        The SHL5+ received a stellar review from Stereophile with a Quad 909 Stereo at about 160 wpc.

                        AS has made the point repeatedly that what counts is peak power to deal with the extremes of the dynamics, even if much of the rest of the music may cruise along in an undemanding fashion. Loudness is not the issue, those dynamics are just as important at low volume - Harbeth's great strength.

                        AS gives his advice so that readers can get the best from their speakers and spend their money wisely. Many people may be perfectly happy with 60-70w, they may not know or care if 300w sounds better, or have the money or space to consider a big brute audio amplifier. Dave made the point that if would be a shame for people not to buy Harbeth if they thought they needed an expensive 150w+ amplifier, and it would also be commercially destructive for Harbeth to suggest 150w as a minimum.

                        Making minimum power recommendations is very difficult, because it is impossible to take account of the myriad amplifier designs people may use.

                        AS did make a point a month or two back in discussion with another manufacturer colleague to the effect that there is no money (profit) in digital sources. There are plenty of Streamer/DAC/pre-amp/spinner units (digital boxes) out there for less than $500. They are almost computer consumables.

                        The latter suggests to me that, if you want lots of power, the power amplifier is relatively expensive compared to the digital box. In my mind, this makes a conventional integrated amplifier a bad idea. Is it not better to get a big power amplifier as a long-term investment and a digital box that is upgradeable or that, at worst, can be replaced relatively cheaply as technology demands?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yamaha P2500S

                          The Pro-Series from Yamaha would be another option. No "hai-ent", but simple power. The P2500S delivers 2x275 Watts at 8 Ohms, and if that's not enough, you take the 3500. Under 400 Euros all over Europe.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Disposable digital audio

                            I agree with ssfas: in the age of digital sources traditional pre amplifiers are unnecessary.

                            At the source side of things, nearly all sources have about 2V output and can therefore drive a power amplifier. There is a multitude of different source options, and more and more have a volume control (which you can also buy separately for $40), and be aware indeed that things change rapidly, so streamers, ht pc's, UHD BD drives etc are essentially disposables.

                            They have little or no effect on the sound quality, but if you buy them from audiophile brands they will have an impact on your wallet. If you want things to look neat, get a power amp with a trigger, so it can be put away somewhere invisible and be turned on by a source.

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                            • #15
                              Class D pro-amp

                              Originally posted by willem View Post
                              I agree with ssfas: in the age of digital sources traditional pre amplifiers are unnecessary.

                              At the source side of things, nearly all sources have about 2V output and can therefore drive a power amplifier. There is a multitude of different source options, and more and more have a volume control (which you can also buy separately for $40), and be aware indeed that things change rapidly, so streamers, ht pc's, UHD BD drives etc are essentially disposables.

                              They have little or no effect on the sound quality, but if you buy them from audiophile brands they will have an impact on your wallet. If you want things to look neat, get a power amp with a trigger, so it can be put away somewhere invisible and be turned on by a source.
                              For my 2 channel AV system I am considering a DAC into a cold running class D (to hide in cabinet) pro power amp, ironically an emotiva DAC actually has an analogue input which means I can run rca out of a bluray (for HD audio, not available via coaxial or toslink), that will allow 4V XLR to the power amp, importantly I find movie sound mixes far more sympathetic to 2 hours listening, they seem far less harsh and compressed than music discs on average so tone controls perhaps not needed in this case.

                              Hopefully this can ensure no clipping anywhere at any point and a potential price point under $800. Assuming no particular issues with a class D pro amp all should work well.
                              Getting to know my C7ES3

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