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Amplifier for classical music & HL5+

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  • Amplifier for classical music & HL5+

    First of all, sorry for my poor English. I am a very happy new owner of the Harbeth Super HL Plus. To complete my listening chain I wanted to ask you some questions about possible amplifiers that can be coupled with these superb speakers. I'm a fan of classical music and my listening ranges from the Renaissance polyphony to the great Mahlerian symphonies. The source of my music is largely in high definition format. I have a fairly large room (4.5mL x 7mD x 3.5H) with distant speakers about 6.5m. I can listen to music at appropriate volumes, basically as in a concert hall. Starting from these parameters what integrated amplifier could you suggest to me? At the moment I have a Cambridge Audio 840a. With a Supernait2 or a Sugden A21SE or an Electrocompaniet ECI5, just to make some examples, could I improve my music scene? Thanks for your input.

  • #2
    Originally posted by antoarma View Post
    I am a very happy new owner of the Harbeth Super HL Plus. To complete my listening chain I wanted to ask you some questions about possible amplifiers that can be coupled with these superb speakers. I have a fairly large room (4.5mL x 7mD x 3.5H) with distant speakers about 6.5m. I can listen to music at appropriate volumes, basically as in a concert hall. Starting from these parameters what integrated amplifier could you suggest to me? At the moment I have a Cambridge Audio 840a. With a Supernait2 or a Sugden A21SE or an Electrocompaniet ECI5, just to make some examples, could I improve my music scene?
    The Cambridge Azur 840A is a good amplifier, with a maximum continuous power output of about 200W into a 6Ω Harbeth load.
    The output on brief peaks can reach about 250W.
    http://www.fransvaneeckhout.be/cambr...840Ahi-res.pdf

    If you were to change it, you would want an amplifier with an even higher power output capability.
    Neither the Supernait2, nor the Sugden A21SE, nor the Electrocompaniet ECI5 has a higher power output capability, so they should be eliminated from further consideration.

    Your Cambridge Azur 840A has a clipping detector that shows a "CLIPPING" warning message on the front panel display whenever clipping is detected.
    If you never see the "CLIPPING" warning message displayed when you are listening at your preferred "concert hall" volume level, then you do not need a more powerful amplifier.

    If you do sometimes see the "CLIPPING" warning message, then you could benefit from a more powerful amplifier, and you would likely need to consider a separate pre-amplifier and power amplifier.

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    • #3
      Very clear. Thank you very much

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      • #4
        Originally posted by IMF+TDL View Post
        The Cambridge Azur 840A is a good amplifier, with a maximum continuous power output of about 200W into a 6Ω Harbeth load.
        The output on brief peaks can reach about 250W.
        http://www.fransvaneeckhout.be/cambr...840Ahi-res.pdf

        If you were to change it, you would want an amplifier with an even higher power output capability.
        Neither the Supernait2, nor the Sugden A21SE, nor the Electrocompaniet ECI5 has a higher power output capability, so they should be eliminated from further consideration.

        Your Cambridge Azur 840A has a clipping detector that shows a "CLIPPING" warning message on the front panel display whenever clipping is detected.
        If you never see the "CLIPPING" warning message displayed when you are listening at your preferred "concert hall" volume level, then you do not need a more powerful amplifier.

        If you do sometimes see the "CLIPPING" warning message, then you could benefit from a more powerful amplifier, and you would likely need to consider a separate pre-amplifier and power amplifier.
        I also notice that the input sensitivity is 0.5V, that at least on paper is much more sensible than most and should mean that the amp does not come to full power until a reasonable rotation of the volume control.
        Getting to know my C7ES3

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        • #5
          Originally posted by acroyear View Post
          I also notice that the input sensitivity is 0.5V, that at least on paper is much more sensible than most and should mean that the amp does not come to full power until a reasonable rotation of the volume control.
          In addition, the 840A also has a programmable "gain trim" feature which allows the user to reduce the sensitivity of any input by up to 12dB so that the sound levels of all the inputs are approximately equal at the same setting of the volume control.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by IMF+TDL View Post
            In addition, the 840A also has a programmable "gain trim" feature which allows the user to reduce the sensitivity of any input by up to 12dB so that the sound levels of all the inputs are approximately equal at the same setting of the volume control.
            once again a useful feature, I think Cambridge still has this on their largest integrated amplifier. the manual suggests lowering the gain of the loudest input (typically cd), how sensible! Though cd is typically loud, some older ones are less so, I have an old cure cd and a more recent remaster, the remaster must be at least 5 if not 10 dB louder than the original, hopefully it is not also compressed.
            Getting to know my C7ES3

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            • #7
              The drawback I hear on Cambridge is their build quality and reliability. Does anyone know if this is really a problem or if they have improved in these regards?

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              • #8
                Recommending amplifiers based on equipment reviews and measurements gives you no idea about build quality, reliability and backup if things go wrong. That is where experience comes in.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                  Recommending amplifiers based on equipment reviews and measurements gives you no idea about build quality, reliability and backup if things go wrong. That is where experience comes in.
                  The OP already owns the older model Cambridge amp, which apparently is functioning satisfactorily. According to the test report, the 840A appears to be capable of a substantial amount of output power.

                  Whether or not the brand is recommendable for a new purchase is a separate question, which was not asked.

                  What was asked was whether replacing the existing Cambridge amp with either a Supernait2 or a Sugden A21SE or an Electrocompaniet ECI5 would yield any improvement.

                  The OP also mentioned that he seeks to achieve playback levels comparable to that experienced in a concert hall. One might therefore conclude that changing to a less (or equally) powerful amplifier would yield no benefit.

                  The US prices for the Supernait2 or the Electrocompaniet ECI both approach $6K. Supposing that the OP does want to replace his amplifier. Given that budget limit, what, based upon your experience, might you recommend?

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                  • #10

                    Actually, there are a couple of interesting issues here.

                    First, 'concert hall loudness'. It would be a fool's errand to think that it is objectively (i.e. measurably) possible to reproduce concert hall loudness in an ordinary domestic room. To do that, by means of example, it would be necessary to reproduce the loudness of a jet engine on take-off at a distance of, say, 100mtrs. That would be a destructive power that could damage the fabric of the building and probably have you under arrest. It could seriously damage human hearing. So, one has to question if that is a realistic goal.

                    If it is deemed realistic and reasonable in a literal, measureable sense, then what sort of speakers could take that punishment, for how long, how much amp power would be needed to create those sound waves. Common sense says that you would need amplifier power in the thousands of watts range, which of course, domestic hifi speakers could not endure.

                    Now, at the open evening at HiFi Corner in Edinburgh last month (which I hear has subsequently led to multiple Harbeth sales - thank you) I gave a talk which included audio examples of wide dynamic music recording interspersed with sections where the dynamic range had been crushed to virtually nothing. See attached image.

                    I played the music track. I think it fair to say that only with guidance from me as to the transitions from wide to crushed could we hear the difference. The difference was very subtle indeed and would have needed perhaps an hour or two of training for us to be comfortable in detecting highly compressed audio versus audio with naturally impulsive power peaks above the average level. What I did was to remove those peaks reducing the audio to the average power only, which of course, requires an amplifier of much lower power - perhaps only a tenth of the power output. So, for example, to reproduce the average you might need only, say, 50W, but to measurably reproduce the peaks, 500W.

                    Conclusion? The human ear is rather insensitve to dynamic range.

                    BTW: last evening, I called in to a local pub where a rock band was rehearsing in the public area. It was extremely difficult to even order a drink over the exceedingly high PA sound level. I chose to sit outside to preserve my hearing. Pity the staff who have to endure that racket let alone the band, who must have hearing issues themselves. I wondered as I listened to what was well played music, what would have been lost if the loundess was halved.

                    {Is the image visible?}
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

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                    • #11
                      I can see the image both as thumbnail and when I click on it to enlarge. win7
                      Getting to know my C7ES3

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                      • #12
                        Yes, I can see the image (Firefox on Ubuntu)

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                        • #13
                          Yes I can see the image and enlarge it by clicking; Google Chrome on Win7.

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                          • #14
                            Thumbnail and full image visible on iPad.

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                            • #15
                              Yes, logged in and out. Firefox

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