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Thread: CD Player for Super HL5 - suggestions?

  1. #41
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    Default AB test and Inputs crosstalk

    I just observed a very faint crosstalk between different inputs. Previously, what I do was to connect the CD Players to input 1 and 2. Playing two identical CD simultaneously, I would change input 1 and 2 by turning the selector to compare the sound.

    But since the sound is leaking to other inputs I tried with my other preamp and did notice it too leaks the sound to other inputs. I checked with my friend and he says his preamp too leaks to other inputs. It is a very very faint leakage which may or may not influence the AB test. It is a factor that need to be addressed.

    ST

  2. #42
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    Default Is 2.3v compared with 2.0v significant?

    Quote Originally Posted by STHLS5 View Post
    One player output is 2Vrms and another one is 2.3Vrms....
    A simple calculation then.

    What we are saying is that the louder CD player is a number of decibels (dBs) louder than the quieter one. How significant is 2.3v output compared with 2.0v? Audiology and psychoacoustics works in decibels not volts so we need to convert from volts to dBs.

    We can calculate that decibel difference. First, dBs are simply a shorthand way of comparing A with B. Or C with D. Or X with K. dBs are a compariative measurement. Unlike kgs and seconds and amperes dBs do not exist as single entities: there must be a pair of things to make a comparison. dBs is nothing more than a nice neat way of expressing a ratio, one number divided by another number.

    So, using the inbuilt Windows calculator set to (view) scientific mode, we enter the following ....

    a) 2.3 divided by 2.0

    b) The answer is 1.15

    c) Then we press the Log button; the display says 0.060697.... (don't need to know why)

    d) Then we press (*) times then type 20 then = (don't need to know why)

    e) The result is that 2.3v relative to 2.0v is a gain of 1.21dB

    Agree?

    We know from audiology text books and/or personal experience that a loudness difference of about 1.0dB is just enough for the careful listener to detect a very small difference in loudness, which the human brain will interpret as a difference in sound quality (specifically, sound spectrum). In the same way we can say that, if a tweeter unit is about 1dB louder than another nominally identical unit off the same production line, it might just sound a shade brighter to the trained, careful listener.

    So yes, I don't doubt that as a careful dedicated listener you will experience a sonic difference between these players simply due to a difference in their output voltage. Let me guess: the louder one is the more expensive one? If I was designing a CD player that the marketing dept. wanted to sound 'full bodied and involving' under uncalibrated listening tests as you have described, I would make it play significantly lounder than a competitor unit .... not 2.3v rms but perhaps 3v, 3.5dB louder than the 2v player. That would give an obvious difference (in perceived sonic character) to even the most casual, dissinterested cloth-eared listener.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  3. #43
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    Default Loudness and Cd players

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post

    So yes, I don't doubt that as a careful dedicated listener you will experience a difference between these player simply due to a difference in their output voltage. Let me guess: the louder one is the more expensive one?
    In terms of loudness, I say it was almost impossible to tell which louder if I listen with two players connected and playing simultaneously. Yes, the expensive one was with much higher output. But I have seen players that is priced 20 thousand dollars to have only about 200mVrms.

    Anyway, I intentionally increased the level of the other player to be atleast 2 or 3 dB but still found the difference. Maybe, my judgment is clouded due to the bad third player.

    ST

    {Moderator's time: Frankly, you are chasing your own tail. Unless you equalise loudness precisely any concusions you draw are (sorry to say) scientifically meaningless. Can you find two 10k ohm presets or volume controls in your kit of parts?}

  4. #44
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    Default Comparing CD

    Quote Originally Posted by STHLS5 View Post
    {Moderator's time: Frankly, you are chasing your own tail. Unless you equalise loudness precisely any concusions you draw are (sorry to say) scientifically meaningless. Can you find two 10k ohm presets or volume controls in your kit of parts?}
    I do not have them. Before that, in lieu of an instantaneous change over-box to do comparison between two players, will the use of preamp selectors be accepted as a valid test. The crosstalk, i.e. sound bleeding to the adjacent input, may give the average sound of two players at any one time and therefore it may not be a valid comparison.

    100s over posts on various CD Players but in this thread no one else contributing. Sad.

    ST

  5. #45
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    Default

    How can you be sure that the two amplifier inputs that you are using to switch between player A and B have the same sensitivity? Unless this is checked (by measurement) it is another unquantified variable.

    As per my Rule 12 of Marketing here you have observed that very point: there isn't the intellectual curiosity about eliminating variables (such as loudness variation) before making valid comparisons between audio equipment. It doesn't matter how curious you, I or certain journalists are about the science behind audio, the public is disinterested in objectivity. And as long as that condition continues (which will be forever) the marketing of feelings will subordinate scientific facts. Just as well! Our modern economy depends upon selling and consuming expensive hair and skin conditioning products providing significant employment. Keep the cash register bell tinkling!

    If you have the laudable aspiration of education on the matter of CD player performance, forget it. The inertia you are trying to overcome is immense. But internally, we are considering if/how we should allow contributions here which promote brands of amplifiers, cables, DACs and the all the rest based on nothing other than emotions. Are we here a shop window for products that we do not make, would never buy, know nothing about factually ourselves and obviously cannot endorse from a position of personal experience? We think we have a responsibility to our customers to provide total satisfaction with their audio system.

    What we really want you to do is visit your hi-fi dealer. He (or she) is in business to provide long term customer satisfaction. They want you to make the right purchases using your own ears and then to tell your friends. They are significantly imperveous to marketing BS because they've seen it all and heard it all before. As an example, our member here, hifi_dave, knows more about audio equipment (and peoples needs) than I'll learn in five lifetimes. That's where you should head for knowledge.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  6. #46
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    Default The Harbeth manifesto - and education v. superstition

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ... internally, we are considering if/how we should allow contributions here which promote brands of amplifiers, cables, DACs and the all the rest based on nothing other than emotions. Are we here a shop window for products that we do not make, would never buy, know nothing about factually ourselves and obviously cannot endorse from a position of personal experience?
    I'm sure this creates an interesting set of dilemmas. On the one hand, there's clearly some logic to keeping the public discussion focused on matters you (1) know something about, (2) can speak about authoritatively, and (3) think are important (in the sense of making a real difference to the quality of reproduced music in the home).

    On the other hand, if I'm at all representative, then I would say by allowing discussion regarding things you believe are either of minor importance, no importance, or outright superstition and voodoo, and then pointing this out and explaining why, you serve a tremendous educational role. I am not a scientist but I like to believe I have a certain amount of scientific literacy; all the same, thanks to years of exposure to audiophile culture, I think I came to HUG with a mix of about 50% knowledge and 50% superstition. I don't know what I'd put the ratio at now, but I feel it's moved in a positive direction.

    Now, Harbeth may or may not be interested in making inroads against the vast oceans of ignorance and/or indifference that exist. It's not for me to say. You are a commercial enterprise and perfectly entitled to decide what best serves your commercial interests and where best to devote your time and energy. But I just feel that if you've reached me, you can reach others, and if you restrict the discussion, you'll inevitably end up reaching fewer people, because the end result is that you'll be talking to a group whose beliefs are more likely to be aligned with your own.

    Maybe what the world needs is something like a clear, easy to understand "Harbeth manifesto" that explains in plain language why speakers really are the most important components in a home audio system, and the most important thing to get right?

  7. #47
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    ... then I would say by allowing discussion regarding things you believe are either of minor importance, no importance, or outright superstition and voodoo, and then pointing this out and explaining why, you serve a tremendous educational role....
    It would be far better if this important but time consuming educational role was shared amongst the membership and not mainly from Harbeth UKs side of the desk. Solving most audio issues need nothing more than a willingness to think out of the box.

  8. #48
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    Default The secret (keep hidden) second-wife of the audiophile

    I too share EricW's view but after three days of trying to come up with more ideas on how to move forward with a proper AB comparisons of the Cd players, I have to admit that I have taken Alan for granted for the sacrifice in terms of time that he invest in this forum. The time he took the get a correct Video Presentation to drive his point or to pen his thoughts. Drawing charts and making videos to put across his ideas must have taken so much of his time that the least we could do is to contribute a little feedback.

    OTOH, I doubt the audiophiles will ever take part in any discussion that would subject them being proven wrong nor would they admit their prized possession is not what it seems. For many their hobby is the second wife and no sensible man would ever want to put her to public scrutiny.

    ST

  9. #49
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    Default Room acoustic is a vital subject

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    Maybe what the world needs is something like a clear, easy to understand "Harbeth manifesto" that explains in plain language why speakers really are the most important components in a home audio system, and the most important thing to get right?
    Don't forget speaker placement in the room, and room acoustics. It isn't easy to get these to ideal at home where most of us don't have dedicated listening rooms, but time/effort/money spent to get this as close to ideal as practical, gives the most returns. A glass or two of wine also does wonders.

  10. #50
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    Default Speaking with authority

    Quote Originally Posted by HUG-1 View Post
    It would be far better if this important but time consuming educational role was shared amongst the membership and not mainly from Harbeth UKs side of the desk.
    I realize this would ease the burden but I think it's unlikely.

    One of the requirements to get people to listen to what you're saying is to speak with authority. Harbeth speaks with tremendous authority, because the basic validity of the ideas that Alan delivers here is demonstrated daily by his ability to create the excellent loudspeakers he creates, presumably on principles consistent with the views expressed in this forum. So when he speaks, he is taken seriously.

    On the other hand, who are the rest of us? Names on a board, that's all. There's no particular reason to listen to anyone in particular. Some may speak with expertise, some may not, and how is the reader to know? And few if any will speak with the expertise and authority of those at Harbeth.

  11. #51
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    Default A big poster

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post

    On the other hand, who are the rest of us? Names on a board, that's all. There's no particular reason to listen to anyone in particular. .
    If you really believe in what you are saying then you wouldn't have 475 posts to your name!!

    ST

  12. #52
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    Default Speaking humbly

    Quote Originally Posted by STHLS5 View Post
    If you really believe in what you are saying then you wouldn't have 475 posts to your name!!

    ST
    Incorrect. I speak, but I don't profess any special authority when it comes to audio matters.

  13. #53
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    Don't forget speaker placement in the room, and room acoustics...
    For me, the most disappointing aspect of all of this by far is the intellectual laziness of accepting the words and images spouted by an unknown, invisible third party as a rallying cry to go out and spend hard earned cash on a product that when examined technically in the cold, white light of a laboratory, simply isn't value for money: as we say, 'it's mutton dressed as lamb'.

    We all know that loudspeakers are wretched devices incapable of delivering an accurate output and as you would expect, there are not only obvious measurable differences between all loudspeakers but there are (surprise, surprise) obvious sonic differences too. In fact, it is a reflection of how poor - repeat poor - an instrument the human ear is that we can gain any 'being there' satisfaction at all. Strictly speaking, considering how a normal room completely trashes the laboratory measurements of a speaker system - evidence here - we should not be able to recognise musical instruments from the mess at all - let alone rave about the wonderful experience.

    So, relative to the +/- 10 or 20dB corruption of the perhaps +/-0.1dB response perfection of even the cheapest supermarket CD player, I just cannot understand how the human ear can be more sensitive than test equipment when assessing cables (which test equipment struggles to differentiate significantly) and yet less sensitive than the cheapest microphone to variation of frequency response in-room. These two situations simply cannot logically happen. Either we are capable of hearing through chronic corruption of frequency response to the point that a plastic transistor radio can sound perfectly OK even on classical music or we are deluding ourselves about hearing +/-0.00001dB differences elsewhere in the reproduction chain. We cannot have our cake and eat it can we.

    What I would really like to see is a universal acceptance that the ear is exceedingly easily deceived. Spectacularly so. Following from that a greater awareness and scepticism of how we must guard against being misled by others well-intentioned advice. Does anybody here actually have difficulty with my statement above ....

    What I would really like to see is a universal acceptance that the ear is exceedingly easily deceived ...
    ?

    Every day I see my work as a speaker designer in hindsight, viewed from 50 years in the future when I and the industry are long forgotten relics. I wish I had access to tomorrow's technology this minute. I cannot rave about today's because I know all too well, that seen from the future, my grandchildren will find it as quaint and redundant as the steam engine. I continue to do my very, very best working extremely long hours to push the boundaries of the technology I have but I cannot bring myself to make outlandish marketing claims about it because I just know that it will be superseded by events. Evidence: just flick back through my collection of HiFi News magazines from the 50's and 60s: marketeers told us then that the ultimate sound had been achieved. All BS.

    Why can't the consumer smell marketing BS? If it smells like BS and it looks like BS, and common sense says it talks like BS - guess what? - it probably is BS.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  14. #54
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    Default Find a Harbeth dealer ....

    Quote Originally Posted by Maccar View Post
    Hi all,

    Had my Supers for a few months now and absolutely delighted with them.

    My next mission is to find the best disc spinner to compliment these wonderful speakers.
    I've tried Krell Evo 505 and Esoteric DV60, but not for me. I've also tried a Wadia 381 which was very impressive, but a little out of my budget at the moment.

    I've now been offered an Audio Research CD5 at a very good price... If any of you have experience with these players, or just have an opinion which player would work best, all comments would be most welcome.

    For reference my current set up is Sugden Masterclass IA-4 amp, Naim CDX2 CDP, Siltech Paris i.c and of course the SHL5.
    Cheers
    Mac
    How did you get on?

    My answer to posts like this elswehere would be to find a Harbeth dealer who can set up a system that matches yours sans the CD player and listen to machines within the specified budget; or find a dealer prepared to lend out a player on demonstration.

    As I always advise the one that you like the best go for, yes you can read reviews etc but as I said if you like one model best for you it is the one You like best.

    There are some very good players at that price point.

    Simon

  15. #55
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    Default Sharing valid experiences - and testing CD players

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    Incorrect. I speak, but I don't profess any special authority when it comes to audio matters.
    Yes, that's what I am asking others to do. Let's speak. Let's give some feedback. I am not an expert in speakers but that shouldn't refrain me from expressing my opinion about Harbeth. The same applies to CDP or Amps or Cables. If we have made a recommendation for a particular brand then we need to justify them. No one likes to talk to the wall. If at all there is a survey or some topics, especially by the forum owner then the least we could do is to participate and restate our opinion which we have no qualm in doing in other threads.

    Anyway, since I have made an about-turn about the audible difference of the CD players, my search for actual measurements yielded some results. These are measurements made by professionals who provide test equipments to broadcasters and other establishments which are available on the net .

    Attached herewith the images of the measurements of CDPs. From the charts you can see the frequency response is almost ruler flat except for the extreme end of the audible frequency range. I admit that it is impossible for me to claim I could hear any difference of 0.5dB.

    However, the other charts of phase difference show significant difference between players. The high end models generally showed a lesser swing. Having said that, I am aware the SHL5 phase curve is within 36 degrees whether the phase difference account for difference in CDP audibility is not known.

    After many months, I have the whole night for myself to continue with my AB tests. Hopefully, I can eliminate the reason for the difference tonight. Hopefully, the sensitivity of the different inputs are the same. At least, that's what the preAmp designer said.

    Attachment 1870
    Attachment 1871
    Attachment 1872


    ST

  16. #56
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    Default Great detective work about measuring CD players

    Quote Originally Posted by STHLS5 View Post
    ...The high end models generally showed a lesser swing. Having said that, I am aware the SHL5 phase curve is within 36 degrees whether the phase difference account for difference in CDP audibility is not known....
    Excellent detective work. Well done.

    One mistake though: the SHL5 phase curve is as annotated ELECTRICAL phase. Not acoustic phase. It represents what the amplifier sees as an electrical load. This has no correlation at all with acoustic phase. Much research work over many decades shows that the ear is almost completely insensitive to phase.

  17. #57
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    Default Phase difference

    Quote Originally Posted by HUG-1 View Post
    One mistake though: the SHL5 phase curve is as annotated ELECTRICAL phase. Not acoustic phase. It represents what the amplifier sees as an electrical load. This has no correlation at all with acoustic phase. ....
    I am not sure why they call it phase difference. According to the manual it is the difference in timing between left and right channel. There seems to be some delay between the left and right channel at higher frequencies.

    ST

    {Moderator's comment: inter-channel-phase difference perhaps? That is probably related to the way I think CD works. First one channel then another are laid down sequentially on the disk. The actual *acoustic* phase shift from lowest to highest frequencies for a good speaker could easily be 360 degrees. That means the HF is perhaps one cycle behind the LF. The ear can't detect that at all.}

  18. #58
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    Default Mac Mini soundfile player ... (and M30s)

    I'm a newcomer to this forum - so please forgive me if I haven't quite got the hang of it - but have owned a pair of M30's for over 3 years now and continue to be very satisfied with them.

    I decided to go the computer audio route about 5 or 6 years ago and have spent a fair bit of time trying out various options, to get the best sound I can, with limited funds. I currently use a new model Mac mini with 8 gigs of ram and run Amarra 3; as opposed to just using itunes as the player. I must add though that it is far from being a quick fix as I have spent a lot of time researching this area and, of course, there are as many pitfalls as any other playback method.

    However, the main benefits I have found are that, through trial and error, I have managed to get a very musically satisfying performance out of my system for a fraction of the cost of an equivalent sounding Hi-end CD player. I have just upgraded my Bel Canto Dac3 to Virtual Battery status and have also upgraded the board so that it is now the equivalent of the new VB3.5 model, in sound if not the most up to date facilities. This upgrade has made a significant difference to the quality of the sound I get from the M30s, which is no surprise as they are so revealing of any changes made to the system; both good and bad.

    The other main benefit of going the computer audio route is the ability to be able to download and play Hi Resolution audio files and although there are some so- called Hi-Res music files that aren't - as Hi-Fi News have done such a good job highlighting recently - some are undoubtedly excellent and take the reproduction of recorded music to another level of enjoyment.

    Notice I don't say realism because I believe that all music reproduced in a domestic environment is a scaled down representation, but it is the differences in the quality of the reproduction of a particular musical performance that I'm interested in, which is why I enjoy the Harbeth's so much as they make listening to recorded music such an emotionally satisfying and pleasurable activity.

  19. #59
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    Default Headless computer music server

    Welcome to the forum alandrum!

    I'm heading in the same direction with similar equipment (SHL5s driven by a Bel Canto DAC3 with VBS upgraded to VB3.5 level) but have not committed (yet) to a Mac Mini. My son has been using one as a music server for years, but I'm not keen on having a 'headless' computer with a potentially noisy hard drive in the prime listening room.

    I'm assured that it is easy to run a remote desktop elsewhere to do any housekeeping necessary on the Mac Mini, but I'd prefer a simple self-contained server-in-a-box system. Unfortunately most of the latter currently do not support hi-res music, or, if they do, appear overpriced compared to the Mac Mini option.

    I'm sure this will be the prime way that recorded music will be accessed in the longterm so I'd encourage you to make more contributions to the forum so that we are aware of the pros and cons.
    Happy listening.

  20. #60
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    Default CD Players AB comparison - CONCLUSION

    After 43 tracks over the last 4 days which were played randomly over the two players by a third person and I have to do an about- turn again and say I failed miserably with only 11 correct guesses. I generally picked what sounded to be correct to me to be from the expensive player.*

    Mmmmm....since I was wrong the other 32 times that means the $600 player outperformed the $3000 player???!


    ST

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