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Thread: Will new SHL5s eliminate harsh/bright recordings?

  1. #1
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    Default Will new SHL5s eliminate harsh/bright recordings?

    Hi,
    I'm new to the forum and looking for a bit of guidance please.
    I currently have ATC SCM 40 speakers, a Sugden Masterclass IA-4 amp and Naim CDX2 CDP. On the whole, I'm really pleased with the SQ, but some recordings do come across a bit bright and harsh when the volume goes over 9 O'clock.

    I mentioned this to a local dealer and he suggested I demo the Super HL5... he's bringing a pair round in January. In the meantime, perhaps you experienced SHL5 owners could advise me whether or not this will cure the problem, or should I be looking to change the source ?Do you think this will solve my problem, or does it lie with the CDP? If so, which one would work well with my amp and SHL5?

    Many thanks and a happy new year.

  2. #2
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    Default Strongly suggest a demo of SHL5

    Hi Maccar,

    Its difficult to say simply because different people have different tolerance for brightness or harshness. I would strongly suggest that you try to listen to the SHL-5 with your equipment. I have been a long time Harbeth user & have tried & heard various Amp/CDP/Turntable combinations & have never for once find the sound to be bright or harsh. Even on very bright recordings, the overall presentation is still tolerable, unlike many other spks that i've had or heard.

    That is not to say that Harbeths are not revealing or are masking things up, they are certainly not. Play a bright recording & you will immediately know it. Its just that their inherent rightness & superior tonal characteristics will make the most out of many recordings, be they good or bad. Try the SHL-5. I am sure you won't be disappointed. They may even bring onto another level of musical nirvana you never knew existed.

  3. #3
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    Default SHL5 maybe sonic tonic?

    Hi Maccar,

    As far as I know the Naim CDX2 is not typically 'bright' but it is certainly lively in the upper regions, the Sugden amp has a very open and airy character but is not typically 'warm'. The ATC I cannot comment on, only having experience with the smaller ATC models but I can say that they were of the rather dynamic, powerful and upfront sort, with indeed lots of -clean- HF energy.

    The SHL5 is one of the most natural, relaxed, tonally balanced transducers one could hope to hear so it should mate very well with your Sugden and might very well prove to be the sonic tonic you're after.

  4. #4
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    Default CDX 2 is not helping: changed to C7ES3

    Dear Maccar

    The bright and harsh signature was also identified on my last setup that was a Supernait/HiCap + cdx2 and a pair of proac D15.

    Of course the d15 was not helping as also a bit on the bright side but the cdx2 is also known to be a bit too much in term of high (external cdx2 is pushing the cdx2 into another beast but cost a lot too)

    So for my side, i finally decided to radically change my setup (traded my cdx2 for a cd5x (sweetest) and sell my d15 to a pair of d28...... And 6 month ago bought a pair of C7se3)

    So Harbeth speaker is a very good idea and would perhaps be a good match to tame a bit the cdx2 without loosing its definition.

    Would be interested by you feedback when test done ;-)

    Phil

  5. #5
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    Default Try the SHL5

    Quote Originally Posted by Maccar View Post
    or should I be looking to change the source ?Do you think this will solve my problem, or does it lie with the CDP? If so, which one would work.
    You could try an XPS with the CD2X. That might help. The problem could also relate to your room acoustics. But certainly you have nothing to lose by demoing the Harbeths. They are as others have described, very good.

    Br,
    Teme

  6. #6
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    Default Harshness and amppower?

    Hi Maccar

    One thing to consider if the 'harshness' only happens when you turn it up, is whether you are running into mild clipping of the Power amp.
    The ATC is rated at 85dB/w & the amp at 33watts, so this is a possibility, depending on how loud you like your music & what size room you have etc.
    Remember the the volume control position is no indication of the actual power being delivered to the speakers.

  7. #7
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    Default Clipping amp?

    I think the amp is indeed possibly clipping on the very hard to drive ATC speakers. Still, a Harbeth SHL5 is a different beast than the ATC SCM40 and will most definitely sound very good with 'only' 30 W from the Masterclass.

    That said, the CDX2 is, like others have mentioned, a lively sounding player that can get rough when the going gets tough...

  8. #8
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    Default Sugden anyone?

    Hi,
    Thanks to you all for your comments.

    I have also seen a used Sugden PDT-4 CDP and have asked for a home demo (still awaiting for response) does anyone know if this would work well with the SHL5?
    Being a big fan of acoustic music, I don't generally like my music that loud, just now and again when listening to something like Coldplay, like to stretch it to 10 o'clock on the dial.

  9. #9
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    Default Speaker for specific applications

    Yes ATCs are notorious for being hard to drive but i've heard those ATCs (SCM40) & some others (SCM10, 20, 50 & 100) driven by humongous monoblocks & IMHO a simple & no frills British integrated with any Harbeth is easily more musical & tonally correct. Even more so on acoustic music.

    {Moderator's comment: you must consider the target market that a speaker (or actually, any) company aims at. ATC are very successful in extremely high SPL monitoring in film and pop production; an environment that would destroy Harbeths in minutes. So their sonic compromises are completely different to Harbeths: equally valid, but completely different. Is this self-evident?}

  10. #10
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    Default With SHL5s, a speaker for the music student to learn with

    Quote Originally Posted by Maccar View Post
    ... could advise me whether or not this will cure the problem,
    Happy and peaceful new year to everybody.

    Imo, the SHL5 doesn’t subtract or add anything. If it did, it would be very difficult for me to appreciate the control, restrain, economical yet beautiful execution of Cecilia Bartoli or the passion and exuberance of Maria Callas or roughness but huge amplitude of Susan Boyle’s voice. Nor would i be able to detect the whimsically well trained voice of Kate Bush or the wholesome rich one of Katherine Jenkins.

    Thin poorly recorded discs will still be there, but you can be assured that when you set them aside, it would not have been purely for technical aspects but the subjective musical aspects and talent too. It’s a speaker for the student.

  11. #11
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    Default Overdriving any amp will sound nasty

    I think the moderator here has summed it up precisely and from personal experience with both manufacturers, I'd very respectfully suggest that the ATC 40's really do need something a bit more powerful - it's not just the sensitivity, but could also be something to do with the loading as a whole.

    SHL5's WILL reproduce a clipping amp in just the same way - getting harsh if that's what the amp does - but you may just find the sound at lower levels to be rather more gracious perhaps. Hope you enjoy your home dem and are able to get the 5's away from walls. Good luck

  12. #12
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    Default Away from walls?

    Quote Originally Posted by DSRANCE View Post
    I think the moderator here has summed it up precisely and from personal experience with both manufacturers, I'd very respectfully suggest that the ATC 40's really do need something a bit more powerful - it's not just the sensitivity, but could also be something to do with the loading as a whole.

    SHL5's WILL reproduce a clipping amp in just the same way - getting harsh if that's what the amp does - but you may just find the sound at lower levels to be rather more gracious perhaps. Hope you enjoy your home dem and are able to get the 5's away from walls. Good luck
    No the Sugden certainly isn't a harsh amp. Is it the case with all Harbeth models, necessary to keep well away from walls?

  13. #13
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    Default LIsten and adjust distance from rear wall to suit you

    "Well away" is possibly a subjective term, and will vary from room to room I suggest. How far from the walls are your 40's? I remember ATC balancing their speakers to give a flat response (within limits) positioned away from walls (measured up on a very high platform as I remember, but it was a long time ago when I last visited their factory), so although the presentation may be slightly different, as will the efficiency almost certainly, I'm not sure the SHL5's will mind too much if they're say, a hands breadth from the rear wall, even if 30 to 40cm minimum is suggested?

    You're just going to have to try it for yourself I think, but give yourself a few favourite tracks to adjust to any balance changes is my recommendation before going back to the ATC's in comparison.

  14. #14
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    Question Looking forward to demo

    Quote Originally Posted by DSRANCE View Post
    "Well away" is possibly a subjective term, and will vary from room to room I suggest. How far from the walls are your 40's? I remember ATC balancing their speakers to give a flat response (within limits) positioned away from walls (measured up on a very high platform as I remember, but it was a long time ago when I last visited their factory), so although the presentation may be slightly different, as will the efficiency almost certainly, I'm not sure the SHL5's will mind too much if they're say, a hands breadth from the rear wall, even if 30 to 40cm minimum is suggested?

    You're just going to have to try it for yourself I think, but give yourself a few favourite tracks to adjust to any balance changes is my recommendation before going back to the ATC's in comparison.
    Thanks for the tips.
    The 40's are about 6" from back and side walls. It's a prittey narrow room so can't have them any further out really. Took me ages to get them balanced just right... get it wrong and one speaker dominated the other.

    Really looking forward to the Harbeth dem, just hope they work for me.

  15. #15
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    Default Nothing as well balanced as Harbeth

    Hi,
    Well I demoed the SHL5's yesterday and still have them... enough said!

    I've owned both ProAc and ATC, both of which I've enjoyed for different reasons, but always felt there was something lacking in both makes and often thought if I could find a speaker somewhere between the two, they would be right for me.

    The Harbeth definitely falls into that category. They retain the detail without harshness, with beautiful mids and with plenty of base without ever getting boomy.

    You can probably buy other speakers that do better in some areas, but none so balanced as Harbeth.

  16. #16
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    Default Corners

    Thank goodness for that [huge grin]..... Most of my SHL5 listening has actually been with the speaker closer to walls and corners than absolutely ideal, and my positive vibes about them still remain

    {Moderator's comment: please remember that there are NO hard and fast rules about speaker placement because every room is different. Do not be to worried about this.}

  17. #17
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    Default Minimum stand height?

    Hi,

    Just one question to you good SHL5 owners... With my pair the dealer brought round a set of stands. They look pretty solid, but they are only about 10" high and they aren't adjustable. Is there a recommended height the speaker should be?
    Cheers.

  18. #18
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    Default Ideally listen on main tweeter axis

    Quote Originally Posted by Maccar View Post
    Hi,
    Well I demoed the SHL5's yesterday and still have them... enough said!

    I've owned both ProAc and ATC, both of which I've enjoyed for different reasons, but always felt there was something lacking in both makes and often thought if I could find a speaker somewhere between the two, they would be right for me.

    The Harbeth definitely falls into that category. They retain the detail without harshness, with beautiful mids and with plenty of base without ever getting boomy.

    You can probably buy other speakers that do better in some areas, but none so balanced as Harbeth.
    Hi Maccar,

    Glad that the SHL-5 demo turned out to so positive for you. With regards to stands, as long as the main tweeter is raised up to approximately the listener's ear level, then that should suffice.

  19. #19
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    Default Move up and down and judge best height

    That is a bit low unless your seat is very low to the ground. Ideally, you want the main tweeter at ear level. If you move up and down in the seat, you can judge the effect yourself.

    Also, IMO, the best stands are light, open frames. Not fat and heavy.

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