HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

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. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

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, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. 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 electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon 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, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
See more
See less

Harbeth SHL5 specific

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • #16
    30th Anniversary

    How about offering speakers in an unusual veneer that isn't normally available. This would be something special for that year only.


    • #17
      Super HL-5 Silver Signature

      Dear Alan & Friends

      Noted there was discussion about the SHL-5 Sliver Signature in my
      "wrong" topic "SHL-5 ES2". Think I 'd better start a new one to ask
      questions about this beautiful speakers.

      Noted message in old smartgroup talking about the sonic difference (other
      than the beautiful veneer). If there is any different crossover / speakers
      units / wire used in this limited edition and how many pair of them produced

      Thanks & regards


      • #18
        SHL5 Ebony

        I can't recall how many were made; I do recall that we selected the very flattest drive units. One thing I would like to mention is that we under-costed that SS Ebony project from the start, and compared to the standard cherry SHL5, we actually lost money on every single pair - I think it calculates as about ?50/pair.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK


        • #19
          Upgrading to SHL5 from other speakers ...

          I've had my Super HL5's for a couple of months now. It is unparralleled in my experience how they "get out of the way" and let the musical performances speak for themselves without intrusion. I am also continually amazed by their soundstaging and imaging performance, not to mention the realism of the orchestral instuments themselves on good classical recordings. The HL5's actually better my previous speakers (upgraded/modified KEF 101's) in the imaging and soundstaging department, and I had consistently found the KEFs to out-image all of the other speakers I had compared them to previously. I would not have thought this possible given the much larger size of the HL5 cabinet.

          Another major improvement over the KEFs is the image size and midrange purity. The KEFs, being a mini-monitor, tended to miniaturize the images, and it is thrilling now to hear bass strings as they sound with great seats at a live performance. Also, the string sound is the finest I've ever heard, as subtle variations in tone and phrasing are now laid bare. Obviously, the low-end performance of the Harbeths is another world entirely compared to the KEFs. Overall I couldn't be happier with the Harbeths, and consider them to be my best-ever audio purchase.
          Last edited by A.S.; 24-03-2007, 06:06 PM.


          • #20
            SuperHL5 serial numbers?

            Hello gents could you tell me the age of SHL5's with serial numbers 8170 L&R.
            Last edited by A.S.; 24-03-2007, 06:07 PM.


            • #21
              Re: Harbeth SuperHL5 specific

              Leo: for security reasons this is not a question that should be directed at the User Group. Please contact the factory and give then time to scrutinise the records - they are busy.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK


              • #22
                High Powered Amps with Super HL5

                In a magazine review for the Super HL5 the reviewer mentioned using 400w monoblock amplifiers. Knowing that the HL5's need something like 10% of this power to sound grand, at what point do very high-powered amplifiers cause damage to the speakers? Would a 500w @ 8ohms amp cause damage to the HL5's, for example?


                • #23
                  Re: High Powered Amps with ..... anything

                  Originally posted by ACF
                  Would a 500w @ 8ohms amp cause damage to the HL5's, for example?
                  I'm glad this old chestnut has resurfaced to have the opportunity to cover it again (it was on the old Smartgroups).

                  First, how can we put this into proportion - it's difficult to imagine a Watt isn't it. Well ..... not really. A Watt is a unit of energy. That's all we need to know. So how much is 50W or 500W? Well, if you hold a 50W light bulb in your hand you're experiencing the heating effect of 50W since the amount of that energy that is radiated as light is miniscule (which is why regular bulbs are such an environmental curse).

                  How about 500W? OK, that's ten 50W bulbs all working together. Now, could you comfortably hold a working 50W bulb? Maybe - maybe - for about 20 seconds. How about 500W? You'd be mad to try.

                  When the energy reaches the speaker where does it go? About 99% is wasted as heat: it does nothing useful in getting sound to your ears. Where does the heat go: mainly in the voice coil. And the voice coil is bonded to the cone, which is made of plastic. And what do you think 495W (500W x 99%) of energy does to the cone? It melts it. Simple as that. And very quickly too.

                  Example: (click on picture at the bottom of the page to see the frightening effects of too much power: the hot, sharp edged voice coil former has softened then cut its way through the cone just as a hot-wire polystyrene cutter through a ceiling tile)

                  Hope that clears up the mystery!
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK


                  • #24
                    Re: High Powered Amps with ..... anything

                    The specification of M40 states that it can handles 200W programme material, does it means it can max convert 200W input energy into sound pressure? Anything beyond that will be dissipated as heat?

                    Also the product brochure states M40 has sensitivity 84dB @ 1W. Given every double up power can increase 3dB in loudness,
                    87dB @ 2W
                    90dB @ 4W
                    93dB @ 8W
                    96dB @ 16W
                    99dB @ 32W
                    102dB @ 64W
                    105dB @ 128W
                    108dB @ 256W

                    Does it mean that the maximum loudness M40 can produce is somewhat around 105-108dB?


                    • #25
                      Re: High Powered Amps with ..... anything

                      Before we drift down this road - because needless to say I've only touched on the subject in my previous comments and I have a feeling I gave further information here not that long ago - what other extremely limiting factors do you think could govern the maximum power input to (and sound pressure from) a speaker system?
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK


                      • #26
                        Re: High Powered Amps with ..... anything

                        I guess the max power handling depends on the following factors:

                        Magnet strength
                        Cooling efficiency of motor structure
                        Moving mass of voice coil

                        My guess is just based on some marketing claims from other manufacturers saying those are the factors for their high power handling. Interest to learn more on the voice coil and magnet detail of Harbeth unit other than the RADIAL material.



                        • #27
                          Re: High Powered Amps with ..... anything

                          Well almost. We are exploring the whole issue of a speakers efficiency. We mean by 'efficiency' how effectively it converts electrical energy into sound. I stated earlier that about 99% of the electrical power arriving at the speakers terminals never becomes sound, it is wasted as heat. So, the electro-acoustic efficiency of a typical speaker system is about 1% - extremely poor.

                          Then we moved to look at power handling - which is not the same issue at all. Low efficiency does not necessarily imply low power handling, but it often is.

                          You said that max power handling depended upon:

                          1) Magnet strength ---- no, relates to the conversion of electical input into sound not power handling

                          2) Cooling efficiency of the motor structure --- agreed, relates to the burn-out limit of the voice coil

                          3) Moving mass of the voice coil --- no, almost irrelevant in (Harbeth-like) bass unit, no significant effect on power handling or efficiency.

                          So, only 2) relates to the maximum power handling.

                          So where does that leave us then? There are seriously significant element in the efficiency/loudness equation. What do you think they could be? Clue: think about elastic bands and also about pendulums.

                          Please also look at:
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK


                          • #28
                            Re: High Powered Amps with ..... anything

                            I have thought of cone thinness, elasticity of rubber surround and crossover complexity. But I am not sure they are relevant to max loudness or/and sensitivity?


                            • #29
                              Re: Roll up! Sensation! "Puny little Driver fights The Atmosphere".

                              Originally posted by kevint
                              I have thought of cone thinness, elasticity of rubber surround and crossover complexity. But I am not sure they are relevant to max loudness or/and sensitivity?
                              Well, let's review what sound waves really are. A sound wave is nothing more sophisticated than a localised variation in the atmospheric pressure in the vicinity of the source (i.e. the drive unit).

                              If this pressure modulation were not (very) local then somone playing a speaker in London would be audible in Beijing.

                              About the atmosphere: it has a pressure on the entire surface of the earth that's fairly constant. It varies (predicatably) with height so up a mountain the pressure is lower. (Thought: that implies that a speaker played up a mountain would be even less efficient than on the ground: it it were a battery operated ghetto blaster, those batteries would run down far quicker up there as the volume control would have to be turned up further to produce the same loudness).

                              Now, let's think about the woofer. It has an 8" cone - or a 10" - or a 15" (it doesn't matter for this argument) ..... what we are hopeful of is that this puny little featherwirght driver can somehow 'take on' the entire pressure of the heavyweight atmosphere as it surrounds the speaker and pump it up and own (i.e. modulate it). No wonder this miracle is resitricted to the local environment around the speaker, in the room, in the house and not down the street otherwise you'd hear all your neighbours speakers: the noise would be unbearable.

                              If you want to make a really worthwhile variation in sound pressure you need dynamite: you need to put a lot of energy into the source, so much so that if you put a regular borometer near the source you'd actually see it register the exposion. But - key point (at last: sorry) - to produce a big sound from our tiny little drive units (relative to atmospheric pressure) we're going to have to flog poor Driver to death dancing about on his toes whilst The Atmosphere just soaked up all the punches. To make any impact, Driver would have to have punches not of a few millimeters but by metres and metres like some giant steam piston. It's not going to happen is it!

                              So, the limit of our loudness capability is cone excursion and that is reached long before the burn-out power handling ceiling. Were it not, it would be best to wear welder's goggles when listening to your speakers (and ear protection) in case the cones slapped you about the face. (Umm. Could be an interesting new concept ...)
                              Alan A. Shaw
                              Designer, owner
                              Harbeth Audio UK


                              • #30
                                What is the material of jumpers and terminals?

                                Originally posted by A.S.
                                This thread specifically relates to the SuperHL5
                                Dear Alan,

                                I played SHL5 SSE since Nov 05. I use Marantz 7c+8b to drive it. The speakers provides me a lot of experience in matching with the amplifiers. They seems to be matched with old interconnectors and speaker cables, which are simple, thin, and natural without colouration.

                                Two items along the electrical path which I am not so satisfied with, they are the jumpers and terminals of the speakers. They seems to be made from aluminium, not copper and is feeble and would be originated from China. I believe if they are made from copper, the bass would be more solid and deep.

                                Before I use SHL5, I own HL compact 7. The jumpers and terminals are robust and is made from copper and originated from UK.

                                If it is really what I guess, I will replace them with genuine UK made ones. So, Alan, please advise.