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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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Harbeth SHL5 specific

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  • #46
    Small Problem With Harbeth Metal Logos On Grills

    Hi Alan,

    Maybe its the terrible 41 degrees Celsius we' re having right now in Athens that caused this, but -unfortunately- just yesterday that I was cleaning my listening area I saw the small metal badge (logo) of my left HSL5 down on the floor. Had just fallen from its place on the upper left corner of the grill, don't know how or why. I picked it up, noticed that has some kind of semi-dry glue on its back, the material on the back something like hard vinyl/plastic or rubber? So, by measuring the position symmetrically with the right speaker's badge, I simply pressed it on the grill again, insisting for some seconds. And it remained there. Any suggestion how to solve the problem if it comes again? Any kind of glue that wouldn't attack the grill cloth? Thanks for helping, and to anyone who might have faced the same problem to advise accordingly.

    Regards,
    Thanos

    Comment


    • #47
      Re: Harbeth SuperHL5 specific

      Hi J.A. Boonstra,

      Measuring the frequency response of my SHL5s in my room showed me that any tricks going on were not due to equalization, but rather to room reflections. The best speakers and electronics may not add up to a balanced system once room reflections enter the equation. So, room treatment - and possibly some analogue or digital processing - may be of help in achieving that balance. I think you would find that the decent electronic processing components today are quite transparent (unlike in earlier times).

      Ned

      Comment


      • #48
        Re: Harbeth SuperHL5 specific

        I have yet to hear the SHL5 but I'm really keen on them. My dealer says he can't keep them in stock. I bought Spendor 2/3 because they were in my price range 6 years ago when I bought my Naim system from him. They've served me well with a full sound, plenty of bass and good sound, but now I"ve upgraded everything else and think its about time to get more transparent speakers. I did the measurements and found these are only a little bigger than what I have now. About 3" taller than the 2/3. I'll have to go up to his place next time he has them in and listen for a bit. That's always dangerous so I'll leave the checkbook at home. I"m thinking of Christmas 2006 as my upgrade time.

        glenn

        Comment


        • #49
          Super HL5 - stand recommendations

          I have a pair of SHL5's that, on the temporary stands I use, provide more bass emphasis than I prefer. The stands on which I currently place the SHL5's are 17.5 inches high. They are bent baltic birch wood stools purchased from a Target store for $15 each. While the price is right and the speakers are secure where they sit, they can wobble a bit. These "stands" are the antithesis of the Target stands, which are heavy and stable to the point of being more monument than portable.

          When selecting stands for the SHL5's, which stands and at what heights have other users found to bring the bass into "proper" perspective for their tastes? I understand that everyone has their own individual sense of what they like or even find "correct." The standard Sound Anchor stand is 16" tall, but would a taller stand diminish the bass emphasis? Is a more stable stand one that will damp down the bass and bring more focus to the mids and highs?

          Any insight that anyone might provide on stands for SHL5's and the impact of those stand choices on the sound as described above would be very appreciated.

          Comment


          • #50
            Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific - stands recommendations

            I am using Skylan stand which are 16.5" including spikes. When filled with sand they are very stable and I highly recommend them.

            I expect your issue with bass frequencies are more a product of speaker placement. What are your room dimensions, where are your speakers placed and where is your listening position?

            Comment


            • #51
              Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific - stands recommendations

              Please don't get too fixated on the construction or exact height of a stand for a Harbeth speaker. The relative stand height you can adjust for by moving your own listening height to compensate, and as for construction, as I've said before, I don't believe that there are substantial sonic differences - but you know more about that than me.

              So what does that leave to be concerned about? Two things: the room's acoustic signature at low frequencies (discussed many times here, and by me, most recently here: http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...&goto=lastpost ) and the actual position of the speakers in the room where a foot or two here or there can make a substantial difference in bass character especially if you are obliged to place the speakers close to adjacent surfaces such as in a corner.

              Real speakers in real rooms agitate the low frequencies like an outboard motor stirs the quite water of a lake - and the solution is some extra damping in the room to absorb that energy and experimentation with the speaker's precise position. I show a little picture from the User Guide of what actually happens at low frequenices - the sound waves are trapped in the corner of the room which gives a change in bass quality and an increase in bass quantity.

              You can download the full Harbeth User Guide here: http://www.harbeth.co.uk/library/userguidance/index.php
              Attached Files
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #52
                Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific - stands recommendations

                Hello Alan,

                First, thanks so much for your thoughtful response to my posting. Second, thanks for your careful work on the entire line of Harbeth speakers and on my particular pair of SHL5's. They are terrific.

                In trying to rig the speakers on stands, I have wanted to meet the criteria that you have articulated, beginning with making sure that the speakers don't topple. The height of the stools I am using seems right but I recall having affected the "woofy" bass and focus of some Spendor BC-1's I owned years ago by placing them on Sound Anchor stands of approximately 16" in height. The interface between stand and speaker bottom was three Sorbothane pads of minimal thickness (less than 1/8") but about 2" in diameter. My recollection is that this seemed to diminish the loose quality of the bass when compared to some Chicago stands that were 12" x 12" rectangular steel tube open boxes without the pads or spikes.

                I will follow your advice and work more on room placement than stands but if there are other stand tips that fellow SHL5 fans want to share, I am interested!

                Thanks so much again for your help!

                Comment


                • #53
                  Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific - stands recommendations

                  It's a pleasure to help. I really care very much that our customers extract the maximim possible from the already high ceiling that a Harbeth offers. I don't have a lot of free time but if I can induce a bit of rationality - I'm up for it (time permitting) especially if it can be done for petty cash. I really do dislike trowing money aimlessly at a problem when there is a simple, affordable solution following a good old think-through and a couple of G&T's!

                  Your Sorbothane pads may or may not have had an effect - I can not comment upon that at all simply through lack of personal experience (I'm an impiricist at heart). What I can say is this: you really can't fool sound waves! They are far smarter than you or I! At low frequencies they sneer at rubber, spikes, cups, cones and the like! The only thing they respect at low frequencies is mass = Weight, Solidity, Lots of heavy atoms. And of course, the absence of mass is why you can hear the irritating bass from your neighbours speakers through modern flimsy walls as if you were in their room but the mid and high frequencies are muffled (mercifully). The walls of modern apartments have traded real genuine mass (= granite) for studboard and fibreglass which are almost utterly useless at absorbing low frequenices because they just don't have enough atoms in them no matter how you fiddle about with fibreglass lagging etc.. Mass is mass. There is no substitute for mass.

                  All you can do is to fiddle around with positioning and absorption near adjacent surfaces to try and soak up some of that LF energy which is bouncing around or possibly, reducing the port's output by stuffing it with old (clean) socks. I'll get some pix of my new listening room. Maybe that will help.

                  Please note carefully: I qualified my comments by saying at low frequencies. The situation in the middle and upper frequencies (where you do not have a problem) is quite different - almost opposite in fact.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific

                    Hello Alan,

                    Thanks again for your willingness to provide guidance on this forum. I certainly appreciate it and am sure that other Harbethites appreciate it, too.

                    I understand that closer proximity of the speakers to corners and side walls augments bass. Something about which I am less certain is the effect that the speakers have upon one another's bass character as they move closer and farther apart from one another. I have observed some de-emphasis of bass when speakers are positioned far from one another and some augmentation when placed nearer to one another. Of course, taken to extremes by moving the speakers far apart and very near the side walls, increases bass in spite of the fact that the speakers are far from one another. Does this agree with your observations?

                    Also, do you design the speakers to use as a beginning point the "rule of thirds" placement in a room? That placement suggests the least interaction with room boundaries while preserving a reasonable listening distance between the speakers and the audiophile.

                    Finally, I have experimented enough with speaker placement and many other audio system variables (tubes, interconnects, speaker cables, equipment stands, tonearm VTA, and on and on...) to know that several factors make the results that one person achieves difficult to recommend to everyone. First, each of us may have somewhat different preferences. So, even if a result may be measurably more accurate, it may not suit an individual's preferences. Second, most changes in a stereo system - even if they confer a significant benefit in accuracy - also carry costs to the sound quality achieved. There almost always seem to be trade offs.

                    The better Harbeth owners know what you intend with your designs and what you experience when designing them, the better I think that we are in finding those trade offs that extract the musical performance we seek. So, thanks again for helping us leverage your experience and understand your design goals.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific - distances and corners

                      Originally posted by Casaross
                      ... I understand that closer proximity of the speakers to corners and side walls augments bass. Something about which I am less certain is the effect that the speakers have upon one another's bass character as they move closer and farther apart from one another ... also, do you design the speakers to use as a beginning point the "rule of thirds" placement in a room?
                      You raise some interesting points.

                      First, I can honestly say that I don't design any of our speakers with anything as fancy as "rules of thirds". I am slighly resistant to theory, because with such a mysterious and complex matter as sound, unless one can really tie down all the variables of a real room (absorption, masses, way that walls ceilings and floors are actually hung etc. etc.) not just 75% of them, you will face a situation where the grand theory and the actual perception drift apart - perhaps alarmingly so.

                      What solely matters in audio for those who really care about sound is how it sounds, theory or no theory. I design in and for absolutely normal rooms - perhaps on the smaller side of what many of us would dream of for a dedicated listening space, with modest equipment for ordinary folk to close their eyes and get more of a lifelike experience than with conventional speakers. I guess I never really grew out of the 'hifi on a really tight budget' that excited me when I was a teenager - some 30+ years ago!

                      You mention that the distance between the speakers effects perceived bass quality. Yes, you are right that the closer proximity to adjacent walls will play a part as you move them further apart but don't overlook perhaps the most important part of the equation: stereo is an illusion. It is entirely in and of the human mind. So it is no wonder that adjusting the position of the speakers relative to the room boundries, each other and the listener will and does effect the strength of that illusion. Your ear is performing hugely complicated processes trying to make two speakers in a room sound like a 3D free-field soundstage; the maths is mind boggling and that we can so readily hear through the room's deficiencies to enjoy the immersive experience of stereo is truly a miracle, theory or no theory.
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Biwire ...

                        Dear Alan,

                        Re:biwiring connections and ampifiers used for testing

                        Harbeth's user guide asks users to use single wiring connection which is the preferred/standard wiring method. However, Harbeth permits bi-wiring connection and does not recommend bi-amp connection.

                        When designing the speaker, do you design the performance in bi-wiring condition? If yes, what performance does speaker has in bi-wiring as compared to single-wiring? Is it better or worse?

                        When testing/designing speakers, what kind of amp you are using, solid state amp or tube amp? What is the output impedance (damping factor) of the testing amplifier?

                        Best regards.
                        Jasper

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific

                          I do not use bi-wiring during the design and listening process. The entire design is finalised, then the PCB tracking is split to permit bi or single wiring.

                          I use solid state amplifiers. Nothing new, nothing fancy, class AB and made in the UK. I would guess the damping factor is in the hundreds.
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific

                            Dear Alan,

                            Thanks for your immediate rely.

                            I always honour what the designer is working with and follows to get optimal performance of the speakers.

                            You save me money to get one more pair of cables.

                            Another point is that you do not hand pick any particular amplifier for listening/testing means the speakers you design are universal and the speakers can be driven by most amplifiers. This will widen my choice of amplifiers.

                            Further question : what is the output power of your testing amplifiers for SHL5 speakers?

                            Thanks again.
                            Jasper

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Re: Harbeth Super HL5 specific

                              I just happened to be on line at the time! I made the decision about 20 years ago that I would settle on what is called "affordable high-end" electronics and concentrate my efforts on making the speakers sound great with that modest gear. That means you who have the time/money and enthusiasm to invest in exotic electronics etc. can tap the latent potential in a Harbeth - that's how it should be.
                              Alan A. Shaw
                              Designer, owner
                              Harbeth Audio UK

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Super HL5 specific - low volume considerations

                                I often want to listen to music at somewhat lower volume levels. At the same time, I want to enjoy a quality of presentation that sacrifices only the impact of the volume.

                                My SHL5's seem to perform reasonably well at relatively low volume settings. By perform well, I mean that the SHL5's remain articulate in the midrange (I can hear detail in the mids and understand sung lyrics) and maintain a full sound that does not lose bass tonal balance or dynamics.

                                Based upon others' experience, are there ways that I can positively influence the SHL5's performance at lower volume levels either by placement, stands or associated equipment?

                                Comment

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