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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.

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{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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Harbeth SHL5 specific

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  • SHL5 port tuning

    I've had my SHL5 for a few months and like them very much - one of the best speakers I've heard including those several times more costly. The transparency rival that of electrostatics & the musical involvement is enthralling .

    But while listening to some CD's which come out a bit lean (I prefer warmer sound) I decided to fiddle around with the port by stuffing it with newspapers, for a start, and that certainly warmed up the sound. The tradeoff is a slight loss of transparency but not details. Wonder if others have gone down the same path and care to share their experience.

    Comment


    • Bass for free - or not?

      Originally posted by ianm0 View Post
      ... But while listening to some CD's which come out a bit lean (I prefer warmer sound) I decided to fiddle around with the port by stuffing it with newspapers, for a start, and that certainly warmed up the sound...
      Ummm. Now that's very odd indeed. The function of the port is (obviously) to extend and add to the bass output of the entire speaker beyond that which a sealed box could offer (a sort of bass-for-free argument). This can be proved very easily by measuring the system with the port open and closed.

      So I wonder what you are really hearing?
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • Unstuffed ports

        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
        ..The function of the port is (obviously) to extend and add to the bass output of the entire speaker beyond that which a sealed box could offer (a sort of bass-for-free argument).
        Hi Alan

        Thanks for the reply. You are right on the money with the above remark. My measurements show that between 31.5 - 200 Hz, the empty (open) port delivers 1-3 db more in bass response.

        I didn't mention that I was listening with grills removed. On reinstalling the grilles, the leanness is largely ameliorated & I am a lot happier with the balance that I'm hearing. In fact, measurements confirm a flatter frequency response with grilles on. I got the wrong impression (before the speakers were run in) that they sounded better with no grills. That simply is not true. Your insistence that the grills should be left in place is indeed a wise one.

        However the measurements do baffle me a bit. The response at 20 kHz rolls off by 21 db vs that at 10k. The roll off begins at 12.5k - very much like my elderly ears. I am using a Radio Shack digital SPL meter, weighting C set up at my listening position. Is there something wrong the way I did the measurements?

        Comment


        • Calibrated sound level meters - or not?

          Originally posted by ianm0 View Post
          ...The response at 20 kHz rolls off by 21 db vs that at 10k. The roll off begins at 12.5k - very much like my elderly ears. I am using a Radio Shack digital SPL meter, weighting C set up at my listening position. Is there something wrong the way I did the measurements?
          I think you've unwittingly answered your own question!

          First, I'd guess that the Radio Shack spl meter cost a tiny fraction of a serious reference sound level meter (say a B&K one which could cost $5,000+) and you'd have to take any readings with a pinch of salt - otherwise every acoustician would be saving heaps of money and using Radio Shack meters - right? Second, can you see from what you've told us at just one of many potential reasons for the roll-off?

          Clue here.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • Validating measurements

            Hi Alan

            I think there is another more important reason - my ignorance of properly interpreting the measured data.

            My measurements were made at the listening position, implying off-axis for both speakers. Most measured curves shown are for one speaker only and presumably with meter at 1 m in front of the speaker. Directionality increases with high frequencies. After I had posted my query, I saw curves with similar or worse roll offs at 20 kHz and I began to see why.

            Actually I am never uncomfortable with what I have heard from the wonderful SHL5 but just my measurements have been stoking my scientific curiosity.

            Thanks again.
            Last edited by ianm0; 07-10-2011, 12:02 AM. Reason: spelling

            Comment


            • Care with measurements in-room

              Originally posted by ianm0 View Post
              ... My measurements were made at the listening position, implying off-axis for both speakers. Most measured curves shown are for one speaker only and presumably with meter at 1 m in front of the speaker...
              No problem. Ah, I see. You were sending a test signal (pink noise for example) to both speakers simultaneously then sitting at your normal listening position and taking a measurement? That's a no-no - you'll certainly make acoustic measurements but they'll be meaningless. To make a 'believable' frequency response measurement of loudspeakers in a room (or even in the anechoic chamber) you can only drive one at a time and take a measurement of that one, then switch over to driving the other one, gather a new measurement.

              Then go an put the kettle on, make a nice cup of Lapsang souchong (zhèngshān xiǎozhǒng - surely the finest of all teas) or in an emergency a G&T, and study the two measurements sets. They will be far from identical because your listening room is not perfectly symmetrical (even if the loudspeakers themselves are closely matched under optimal lab conditions) so expect many large lumps and bumps in the responses due to the way listening rooms mess-up even the flattest speakers.

              One reason the extreme HF will inevitable roll-off if you drive both speakers simultaneously is due to the very short wavelengths at the top end. At about 300Hz (lower midrange) the wavelength is 1m. At 3kHz (around crossover frequency) it's around 0.1m (10cms.) At 30kHz it's around 0.01m (1cm). So at 15kHz (in the middle of the 10-20kHz range you commented on) the wavelength will be about 2cms. If you drive both speakers simultaneously, and you make an error of just 1cm in the path length from one speaker to your sound level meter's mic compared with the other speaker, that will represent one half cycle at 15kHz - or to put it another way, a 180 degree phase error - and you will get significant destructive interference up to total cancellation (in a perfect world). Hence the top-end will be under-reported on the SLM.

              So, when curious about speaker frequency response in a real room, you have to make individual measurements (Where to put the mic? At the sweet spot or not?) and then arrive at your own conclusions. Another reason why speaker design is at least as much about interpretation of data as hard science. Just as well, because if it were purely science based I wouldn't be smart enough to be in the industry.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • Trust your ears!

                Hi Alan

                Thanks for the educational exposition. Consolation prize for me: my ears are more reliable - I kept saying I'm quite happy with what I've heard from the Harbeth.

                Comment


                • SHL5 in small room?

                  Hi,

                  Would it be ridiculous to put a SHL5 in a room that measures 4.0 metres by 2.5 metres? Low volume near field listening is what I will be doing - all styles.

                  Also, where do I get this speaker in Australia? How much does this retail for in Australia?

                  Regards

                  kilmainham

                  Comment


                  • Use in very small room

                    It is a very small room, so you might be best to consider one of the smaller models - the P3ESR or the M30. Also, you should try to hear them in your room to make certain they perform to your expectations.

                    Comment


                    • Alan, I own 2 pairs of Harbeth speakers, a 7 year old SHL5 and more recently the P3ESR. The new addition has made me realize of some shortcomings in the SHL5 especially in its clarity and tonality. Are there any plans to give the SHL5 a makeover (new RADIAL drivers & crossover design, removal of biwiring post & super tweeter etc)? I'm sure the SHL5 is still selling well but my ears tell me that it is sonically inferior to its smaller sibling.

                      Comment


                      • (Little) P3ESR v. (big) SHL5?

                        Hi Ash,

                        If I may ask, in what way is the PS3esr superior to the SHL5? Like you, I have both but almost always gravitate towards the SHL5 for involved listening.

                        Best regards.

                        Comment


                        • P3ESR, great all-rounder

                          Likewise. However, I am not familiar with older SHL5's, only the latest, which I consider to be amongst the very best speakers on the market.

                          The P3ESR is a wonderful speaker but I like my music loud and the SHL5 does it for me. It also does quiet and refined if you wish. A great all-rounder.

                          Comment


                          • My great SHL5s

                            The SHL5 are great speakers no doubt. I've owned them for years and really have had no complaints. I purchased the P3ESR only to replace my aging HL-P3, as the HL-P3's drivers were falling apart and no spares were available. I partner the SHL5 with the best components I can afford, and the P3ESR less so as they are used as a second system to play some background music in the hall while having dinner etc. Simply put, the SHL5 are my main pair for serious listening too.

                            But if I compare the two, I can hear differences in the MIDRANGE clarity between them, with the smaller speakers sounding more lively and detailed overall. Maybe they are a newer design with recent and better components, or the difference in the size of the cabinets, or my room dimensions; I have no idea.

                            Thus the reason for asking Alan if a makeover for the SHL5 is due. As great as the SHL5 are, imagine how fantastic they would be if Alan applied what knowledge he's gained from the design of the P3ESR and M40.1 to the SHL5.

                            Comment


                            • SHL5 - three years on, even more impressive

                              Living with Super HL5s

                              I commented here:
                              http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...=4493#post4493 after having had my SHL5s 15 months. Now, 3 years later, I find them even more impressive. This is not just a question of long-term listening experience but a more fundamental consequence of their superb transparency and tonal accuracy.

                              As noted elsewhere these excellent qualities of the HL5 mean that they can give a very enjoyable listening experience when used in relatively modest hi-fi systems. Unfortunately this fact has led (quite illogically in my view) to the 'politically-correct' position for this forum being that the effect of other components in the system is of minor importance and basically only a matter of opinion or taste.

                              For the same reason that Harbeth speakers are widely used as studio monitors, the excellent qualities of the HL5 (superb transparency and tonal accuracy) mean that they are ideal transducers to identify the merits & faults, and one's personal likes & dislikes of upstream components.

                              The reason that I now find the HL5s "even more impressive" is that they have allowed me to select replacements for components in my original system that give me an even greater enjoyment and appreciation of music. To abide by the forum rules I've posted my findings elsewhere -
                              Source:
                              http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...7210#post17210
                              Amp:
                              http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...e-of-amplifier
                              Speaker cables:
                              http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...r-cables/page3

                              My choices are certainly 'opinions' in that they relate to my system in my room, my ears, and my preferences, but I've always tried to adopt a scientific approach. For example I'll listen to the effect of a 'new' component for several days, make listening notes and then replace the original component, before reaching any conclusions.
                              My purpose in raising this issue is to help music lovers obtain even greater return on their investment in HL5s, not to encourage them to endlessly replace components. We each need to decide when we have reached a point where any further change is not worthwhile.

                              David

                              Comment


                              • Still amazed by the SHL5

                                One of my close friend is actually on his way with high efficiency horn-loaded speakers. He had a pair of Klipsch Heresy and now he bought a pair of Klipsch Cornwall MkII. At the first listening, the Heresy disapointed me much with their totally unbalanced design. Then, I was excited to hear the Cornwall II, higher in the range and a famous speaker, but they sounded still unbalanced to my ears. This is what it is after nearly 2 years with the SHL5 at home.

                                I even brought my SHL5 to my friend's house in the Christmas Holiday for a listening session. We agree that it was the best speaker he had in his room.

                                After all this time, I'm still amazed by the SHL5

                                Sébastien

                                Comment

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