"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.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create an audible sonic personality in what you hear. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

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. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but on the face of it, any deviation from a flat response - and the frequency balance of tube amplifiers are usually influenced by their speaker load - is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

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 and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to discuss the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised sound. 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 offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by 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, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

If faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians in your home and over Harbeth speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that intention is what this forum has been helping to do since 2006. Welcome!"

Feb. 2018
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Denon AVC3800 or Audiolab 8000C/P for my SHL5P

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  • Denon AVC3800 or Audiolab 8000C/P for my SHL5P

    Hi, hope all is good! I need some advice if you have the experience on this...

    Should I use Denon AVC3800 or Audiolab 8000C/P to drive my SHL5P?

    I want a simple setup where I watch movie/TV and listen to stereo music on the same system. I listen more to music and place more emphasis on this (over movie). On movie, I only use 2 channels S

    My current setup is such:
    - Pioneer DVD/SACD universal player with internal DAC and Andriod TV connected to Denon AVC3800. All movie tracks down-sample to 2 CH PCM at DVD player, likewise for TV - all these digital inputs to Denon (for DAC and Pre and Amp), and out to SHL5P.
    - For SACD only, I am using the Pioneer's internal DAC, and then do audio out to Denon, and out to speakers.
    (hope this is not confusing you)

    If I change to Audiolab (all analog pre/amp),
    I will need an external DAC. i.e. either use the Pioneer or buy a better blu ray universal player with DAC ($$$), and then have the audio out to Audiolab, and out to SHL5P.

    Which is a better (i.e better music ) setup? pros/cons of each? or it doesn't matter and I shouldn't bother with change.

    Thoughts? Advice? Thanks!

  • #2
    The only real reason to change anything would be to have more power, which you may like if the room is a bit larger than average. An all analogue pre power amp does not seem a smart idea in this day and age. If you wanted to upgrade, I would prefer a dac with variable output like the Pioneer U-05 plus a pro audio power amp of a few hundred watts (and xlr inputs). Alternatively, you could use an Oppo UDP 205 4k video disc player as a pre amplifier (it has some additional digital inputs and a variable stereo output) plus, again, a beefy pro audio power amplifier. With modern digital sources you do not need a pre amplifier anymore.

    I agree with you that a quality stereo system is great for home theatre (I do exactly the same). In addition, if the HT part is very important you could add two subwoofers (use at least two - in mono - for smoother in room response, and with room eq like the Antimode 8033). This only makes sense if your room is big enough. In a small room the room modes (low frequency peaks at the resonant frequencies of your room's dimensions) will become too hard to control.


    • #3
      Thank you, willem. I am considering the Cambridge CXU. It is a universal player that plays anything from blu ray to SACD, and with in built decoders and DAC, and dedicated stereo out. That way I only need 1 player, no external DAC. i.e. 1 deck.

      If I get this, should I connect the CXU direct to Audiolab 8000P amp, bypassing the 8000C pre? I am compelled to include the Pre, since it's there. Better to use than to let it rust. ....ha ha!

      Does this make sense?


      • #4
        Nearly 2 years ago I had similar considerations when I was able to overhaul my system. My digital sources, at the time, were mulitplying and I needed to neaten up the whole set-up. Like you, I use a universal player which means that I need a good analogue section and input for playing my (few) SACDs. I wanted a digital input for this player's 24/192 capable co-ax output, and I wanted an optical input to receive the optical output from my satellite pvr and telly, sorry, plasma display screen. My satellite receiver is HDMI'd to the telly, which, in turn, sends the digital audio back to the TV's optical out. Oh, and I wanted to remote control the whole thing. Still with me?

        So, I could go: Good DAC > remote controled pre-amp or integrated.... or good DAC /pre-amp combined in one unit. In my case, I found a remote controled pre-amp/DAC/headphone amp with more inputs than I could shake a stick at that was just the job. For me, then, the universal disc player + satellite box > DAC/pre-amp seemed the tidiest solution as well as giving me some future-proofing. I also took the opportunity to change my universal disc player for an Oppo BDP-103D which meant that my whole music library could live on an attached USB drive rendering my Squeezebox touch redundant. The system is now getting as straightforward to operate as possible. At that time I was 63 and I wanted something that would 'see me out' with no more fretting to be done. I'm standing now at the side of the 'upgrade conveyor' watching the others judder by.
        Last edited by hifidez; 12-10-2017, 04:53 PM. Reason: some typos (maybe not all)