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"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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Balanced / unbalanced

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  • Balanced / unbalanced

    After 35 years I have finally purchased a pre-amplifier. It has dual mono stepped attenuators and is entirely passive. It has power only for the electronic display. It will also allow me to implement balance control, as my left ear seems to be ageing faster than my right.

    I now have the option of balanced or unbalanced connections between my DAC, through the pre-amp and into the amplifier. All three have RCA and XLR connections, the pre-amp both in and out.

    I know the DAC outputs 1v via RCA, 2v via XLR, but it also have a good internal volume control so I can limit it. The amplifier has plenty of power.

    Cable runs are minimal. I appreciate consumer audio XLR cables are a fortune, however I would source 1m cables from StudioSpares, the top line being 15 each.

    Can I have the pluses and minuses of using balanced or unbalanced connections, or is it a non-issue?
    Is there a greater risk of overloading and clipping?

    Many thanks

  • #2
    Balanced / unbalanced.

    Originally posted by ssfas View Post
    After 35 years I have finally purchased a pre-amplifier. It has dual mono stepped attenuators and is entirely passive. It has power only for the electronic display. It will also allow me to implement balance control, as my left ear seems to be ageing faster than my right.

    I now have the option of balanced or unbalanced connections between my DAC, through the pre-amp and into the amplifier. All three have RCA and XLR connections, the pre-amp both in and out.

    1. I know the DAC outputs 1v via RCA, 2v via XLR, but it also have a good internal volume control so I can limit it. The amplifier has plenty of power.

    Cable runs are minimal. 2. I appreciate consumer audio XLR cables are a fortune, however I would source 1m cables from StudioSpares, the top line being 15 each.

    Can I have the pluses and minuses of using balanced or unbalanced connections, or is it a non-issue?
    Is there a greater risk of overloading and clipping?

    Many thanks
    ad 1) If there is attenuation provided there shoud be no problem.

    ad2) Not at all. There is a huge market of second-hand and very good XLR domestic interconnects for a fraction of their initially asked price. The point is the cable was no diy class but manufactured by reliable maker so that to avoid bad connection, which can be disastrous. In XLR connectors all this mumbo-jumbo ideology with Mendeleev table is worth nothing - it is enough if the cables are made of good ofc copper and the interconnect is properly shielded from outer electromagnetic influences. Don't buy cheap poorly manufactured supermarket cables. Too risky to use with so good and expensive hi-fi equipment! It is not the matter of of the wire material only!
    In case of passive pre-amp the best would be use of short interconnects - not more than 30 to 50cm (some minimal length of flexible cable between both plugs is essential for staunch coupling).

    ad3) If you have truly balanced source and pre-amp XLR option provides a stereo output signal from a balanced stereo input signal connected to both the left and right XLR inputs. All the advantages of balanced line transmission will be realised with good rejection of noise and some freedom from earth or ground loops (hum). In theory the stereophonic image should be a bit better (realistic).

    ATB

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    • #3
      Hearing imbalance

      Some years ago I once tried a RCA/unbalanced vs XLR/balanced but could not hear any difference. I still use XLR/balanced in both my systems though!

      Regarding your ears, the problem is, at least in my case, that only some of the frequencies are reduced in one ear (my right as it happens). These are higher ones, such as 7kHz say. The bass and most frequencies are the same for both ears.

      Comment


      • #4
        RCA v XLR

        Originally posted by ssfas View Post
        After 35 years I have finally purchased a pre-amplifier. It has dual mono stepped attenuators and is entirely passive. It has power only for the electronic display. It will also allow me to implement balance control, as my left ear seems to be ageing faster than my right.

        I now have the option of balanced or unbalanced connections between my DAC, through the pre-amp and into the amplifier. All three have RCA and XLR connections, the pre-amp both in and out.

        I know the DAC outputs 1v via RCA, 2v via XLR, but it also have a good internal volume control so I can limit it. The amplifier has plenty of power.

        Cable runs are minimal. I appreciate consumer audio XLR cables are a fortune, however I would source 1m cables from StudioSpares, the top line being 15 each.

        Can I have the pluses and minuses of using balanced or unbalanced connections, or is it a non-issue?
        Is there a greater risk of overloading and clipping?

        Many thanks
        I bought budget priced XLR's from the local PA store, they were about $30 for a 6 foot pair, sold as microphone cable. I know XLR typically is preferable for input to a pro power amp as they typically have input sensitivity around 1.5V. In a second system I am running RCA into a pro amp and with a 2V input via a passive volume controller find that ample signal to drive the speakers to sensible volumes, more if needed.

        My passive is running a 3ft rca seemingly without issue, I know some passives use power to ensure they can drive cable runs sufficiently.
        Getting to know my C7ES3

        Comment


        • #5
          Basic cables

          Hi..i am a new user here.

          As per my knowledge in XLR connectors all this mumbo-jumbo ideology with the 'Mendeleev table' is worth nothing - it is enough if the cables are made of good ofc copper and the interconnect is properly shielded from outer electromagnetic influences. Don't buy cheap poorly manufactured supermarket cables. Too risky to use with so good and expensive hi-fi equipment!

          It is not the matter of of the wire material only. In case of passive pre-amp the best would be use of short interconnects not more than 30 to 50cm

          Comment


          • #6
            Cables - zero interest in the studio

            Originally posted by LemPyle View Post
            Hi..i am a new user here.

            As per my knowledge in XLR connectors all this mumbo-jumbo ideology with the 'Mendeleev table' is worth nothing - it is enough if the cables are made of good ofc copper and the interconnect is properly shielded from outer electromagnetic influences. Don't buy cheap poorly manufactured supermarket cables. Too risky to use with so good and expensive hi-fi equipment!

            It is not the matter of of the wire material only. In case of passive pre-amp the best would be use of short interconnects not more than 30 to 50cm
            I have just had a look at the websites of two well-known UK cable suppliers, one consumer, on professional. Both offer a wide range of products. Curiously, the consumer supplier does not mention cable length, whereas the pro supplier has a huge range from 0.3 to 50 meters.

            As far as prices, and assuming the consumer cables are about 1.5m, at that length the pro supplier's price range for a pair is 25 to 30. The consumer supplier's price range is 145 to 2,700, and the average is over 1,000.

            As far as quality, most use Neutrik connectors. The pro supplier assembles on site using Sommer cable and given the many 10,000's they've sold, I reckon they know how to put them together.

            If there was demand in the pro world for a better, more expensive cable, someone would supply one. There isn't and they don't. That's good enough for me. But don't let me stop anyone spending 2,700 for a pair if it makes them feel good or thinks it is so expensive it must be better.

            Comment

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