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Thread: Integrated Amp for SHL5 (and amp comparisons)

  1. #21
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    Smile You're pulling my leg aren't you?

    Quote Originally Posted by Zemlya View Post
    Oh no, people actually believe that the amplifier is the most critical component in the sound of their stereo system. Either that or they lack critical thinking faculties. Sorry if this sounds harsh. I'm not trying to be confrontational but it's become all too clear to me and quite frankly, it's disturbing.
    Get away with you! You're pulling my leg! How? Why? What logic supports that?

    The really challenging parts of the audio system are not the electronics, but anything that involves mechanical components, that is, moving parts: microphones, pickups, turntables/arms and loudspeakers. That's because all mechanical system have billions of variables, none of which can be perfectly optimised - the end result is just a compromise. Amplifiers have variables too, but the designer's 'room for manoeuvre' is exceedingly limited. The mechanical designer starts with a completely blank canvass: the amplifier designer doesn't because he has dangerous voltages and reliability to consider which means that the circuitry has to take a certain shape or the amp will fail, catch fire or (worse?) destroy the speakers. The actual difference between mechanical systems can be very significant indeed (as we know with loudspeakers, musical instruments and cars but the actual difference, at a circuit functionality level between amps of the same Class technology (A, AB, B etc.) is insignificant. All amp designers have to follow design rules and electrical safety* considerations. Mechanical designers have no rules to obey because there are no dangerous voltages and few if any safety issues. Amplifier designers are constrained by a straight jacket called physics, safety and durability. The mechanical designer can do whatever he fancies.

    If anyone really believes that the home amplifier is the golden heart of the hi-fi chain then it's as barmy a saying that the engine management system (black box computer) that controls the car engine timing is more important for a smooth ride than the suspension, gearbox, wheels, engine and seats. It just doesn't make any sense at all. When and where did this ludicrous notion slip into the open minds of the hifi consumer?

    An analogy between amplifier designer and nuclear engineer: there are so many safety and durability issues of paramount importance that both are obliged to use standard, proven, reliable parts - even though each may in his dreams, conceive exotic solutions he just cannot use them. Hence, despite the fancy case work, underneath the skin, they are functionally identical.

    We on the inside know this to be the truth. You on the outside may chose to substitute fantasies for the facts. I could be saying the same thing in twenty years, you still wouldn't believe me.

    * as we found when exporting active speakers to the USA, UK insurers heavily load the annual public liability premium when they're made aware of exports of powered equipment. This means that the amplifier designer is highly constrained by the materials, clearances, insulation, grounding and even selection of components which is why, functionally, lift the lid and you'll see the same circuitry replicated over and over again across amp models and brands. If the insurers mandate 'UL', Underwiter's Labs approval (look for the UR backwards printed symbol on the equipment) - it means that they have scrutinised every single resistor, transistor, capacitor, IC, circuit board, tie wrap, connector, plug, socket, cable, transformer and wiring right down to the smallest part, and demanded that they are individually UL approved. That's creates a shallow pool of approved parts that the amp designer can draw on because it costs money for suppliers to get those piece parts through the UL approval process. Again, the amp designer is working in a highly constricted environment. The amp has to be designed to rarely break down and fail. That means the input > output concept is rigidly defined. He just doesn't have the freedom to create a 'sonic personality' because there are no components that can be added-in to do that.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  2. #22
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    Default Used to a speaker sound ....

    Quote Originally Posted by keithwwk View Post
    Hi aakrn, you are too used to your previous speaker sound. Now you suddenly into natural sound of harbeth you feel less engaging. It is like audiophile comment the sound of a live unamplified music in a decent concert hall no high and dull and his home hifi sound is much transparent and airy.

    You can contact Roland for the LFD (Sg dealer). He is using SHL5 and enjoying it very much.
    Thanks Keith! You may have actually hit the nail on the spot. That's helpful.

  3. #23
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    Default Primare in Japan with Harbeth

    Quote Originally Posted by aakrn View Post
    {Moderator's comment: Fear you have needlessly disposed of your electronics}
    I agree, and Primare is a well respected name in audio, with very well specified and built to last gear. Cool and timeless Scandinavian aesthetics too.

    {Moderator's comments: curiously, the original Primare electronics were imported for many years into Japan by our shared importer there and sold as the perfect match with Harbeth. Bo Christiansen is a fine designer.}

  4. #24
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    Default Last try ......

    Last try:

    Maybe the others have really hit the nail, only you do not want to believe it.

  5. #25
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    Default Need assistance

    I am new to the Harbeth family. And I was sharing my own listening experience over a period of time with the SHL5s. Merely needed some assistance with new equipment matching and generally the feedback has been helpful. However, the sarcasm is not welcomed.

    {Moderator's comment: I do not think any comments are to be taken personally. You have touched a nerve with this subject. As you read, there is wide range of opinions. We are frustrated with the whole non-subject of amplifiers to Harbeth match. Please be very careful how you spend your money.}

  6. #26
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    Default Will proceede with caution

    Quote Originally Posted by aakrn View Post
    I am new to the Harbeth family. And I was sharing my own listening experience over a period of time with the SHL5s. Merely needed some assistance with new equipment matching and generally the feedback has been helpful. However, the sarcasm is not welcomed.

    {Moderator's comment: I do not think any comments are to be taken personally. You have touched a nerve with this subject. As you read, there is wide range of opinions. We are frustrated with the whole non-subject of amplifiers to Harbeth match. Please be very careful how you spend your money.}
    Dear Moderator,

    Thanks for the advice. Appreciate it. It is because I am careful with money that I was asking for recommendations. I will be selective pursuant to what I've read.

  7. #27
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    Default Thanks!

    Quote Originally Posted by aakrn View Post
    Thanks everyone for pitching in. Appreciate it.

    Based on the discussions above (excluding the made in China discussion), for an integrated amp, it seems a toss up between Lavardin IS, Lavardin IS Ref, Lavardin IT, LFD LE Mk4, LFD NCSE, Sugden A21SE. Has anyone had the privilege of making a comparison of these amps with the SHL5s?

    I listen to a wide range of music from vocals, to pop, R&B, soft rock and jazz.
    Well for those on this forum who have experienced the above amps with the SHL5s, I will really appreciate your views on the comparison. Thanks!

    {Moderator's comment: Buy British!}

  8. #28
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    Default I'm bemused ....

    Hi,

    Must admit I'm a bit bemused by this forum.

    It seems that nothing makes a difference to the sound quality of ones system. I previously posted about a suitable CDP to go with my set up and promptly blinded with scientific facts as to why I'd be mad to spend much more than £1,000 on a player and now it seems you can hook up some cheapo amp from Comet and still get the same results soundswise from your Harbeth speakers.

    All I know, is that I've had various amps over the years from a Sony tuner amp in the 80's which was dreadful right up to my current amp, a Sugden Masterclass IA-4, which, would be ridiculous to in the extreme to try and compare with said Sony.

    The only thing I don't like about the Sugden and the reason I may consider changing to a Lavardin, is the heat it radiates.

  9. #29
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    Default Lfd

    If you can afford I would recommend the LFD NCSE Integrated amplifier for the Harbeth SHL5, this is a wonderful combination.

  10. #30
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    Default its simple....nothing to be bemused about....

    Quote Originally Posted by Maccar View Post
    Hi,

    Must admit I'm a bit bemused by this forum..
    Hi maccar

    There’ll be sound differences, im sure, between electronics but the quantum is the one most can’t agree on, or even perceive, to make an objective cost benefit assessment. I think the issue is made more complex by some electronics giving off a flavour, however subtle, of its own. It reminds me of pimply school boys arguing vital statistics of the page 3 model. Its at best pretty academic!

    Would you actually use a comet or target cd player if you could afford say a 20 kg behemoth such as a Teac? The Sony PS3 makes a great CD player but it is rough as a camels back when its spinning ie. its noisy and vibrates.

    So, imo, it all really comes back to what we can afford and whether we like the look and how it sits in your setup. Do you like the philosophy of the company selling you its cd player/ amp? It all sounds rather shallow but if I had a mint ill buy an Esoteric CD player. Why care who thinks what? Ill then get a Bryston monoblock even if the SHL5 doesn’t need 1/10th of the current. If that is not responsible spending, where do we draw the line then. Only we can make that decision.

    What im trying to say at the end of the day is it doesn’t pay to ask for a cd and amp opinion.  cause they really do sound the “same”.  same same as they say in Thailand.

  11. #31
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    Default Alterntative truths?

    Quote Originally Posted by Maccar View Post
    I previously posted about a suitable CDP to go with my set up and promptly blinded with scientific facts...
    What would you prefer to facts?

  12. #32
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    Default Differences are relatively (very) small between electronics: Buy Wisely!

    I think we should tread a sensible approach. The differences between amps, CD players, stands, cables etc are relatively small, sometimes miniscule when compared to the gross differences between speakers. Sometimes, you sit and struggle to discern the differences between cables but swop speakers and it can be wham, bang - huge changes. I believe that is what the Forum is trying to explain.

    Earlier this week, I spent a few hours with a customer, auditioning speakers using his recently purchased, megabuck integrated amp and matching CD player. He settled on Harbeth speakers, even though he'd never previously heard of them and then I did a 'naughty' - I swopped in my Croft Integrated amp and Rega Saturn CD player. You should have seen his face because these two cost less than his fancy mains leads and incons but were clearly, audibly superior to his expensive electronics.

    Moral of the story is buy wisely and you don't need a small fortune to assemble a system when the speakers are easy to drive, Harbeth.

    {Moderator's comment: but did you investigate *why* the other amp sounded different? It cannot be a circuit design/component issue. It must be a loudness difference which of course is a variable that you couldn't control without measuring equipment. A change in loudness utterly changes human perception of 'quality'. An M40.1 FOC winner is found?}

  13. #33
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    Default Designed in Sweden ... made in????

    Isn't Primare designed in sweden and made in china? Luxman is chinese owned? Does it matter where things are made or who owns what? Does is make Range Rover being Indian owned a lesser vehicle? Unless we're on a mission to prop up certain economies or have a definite dislike for communism this surely couldn't be a serious dealmaker?

    All the clothes on my body now are made in china, listening to proudly made British speakers, Canadian owned and made amplifier, Japanese CD player made somewhere near Shanghai.

    Happy easter!

  14. #34
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    Default You are welcome here ....

    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post

    {Moderator's comment: but did you investigate *why* the other amp sounded different? It cannot be a circuit design/component issue. It must be a loudness difference which of course is a variable that you couldn't control without measuring equipment. A change in loudness utterly changes human perception of 'quality'. An M40.1 FOC winner is found?}
    Teaching Granny to suck eggs methinks. I've been listening to Hi-Fi systems for 50 years and selling high quality Hi-Fi for 39 years, so I'm well versed in the art of keeping volume levels the same and to keep everything constant whilst you make a change, one unit at a time.

    In this instance, the amp and CD player were large, very expensive, very powerful and very OTT in the design department and it was these versus simple designs from people who care and listen to everything they make. Differences were clearly audible and if you don't believe, you are all welcome here to do similar comparisons.

  15. #35
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    Default Science, Not Art

    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    I'm well versed in the art of keeping volume levels the same and to keep everything constant whilst you make a change, one unit at a time. [snip]

    Differences were clearly audible and if you don't believe, you are all welcome here to do similar comparisons.
    But wouldn't Alan and Hug-1 tell us that volume matching must be science, not art: it cannot be done by ear, or else you're using your ear to test your ear, so it must be done electronically. And when the levels are matched in this way, what were {significant} audible differences are no longer audible.

    Bruce

  16. #36
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    Default You decide - is Alan a liar?

    Quote Originally Posted by Euler View Post
    But wouldn't Alan and Hug-1 tell us that volume matching must be science, not art: it cannot be done by ear, or else you're using your ear to test your ear, so it must be done electronically. And when the levels are matched in this way, what were {significant} audible differences are no longer audible.

    Bruce
    Correct. To quote from this post earlier

    3) As there are no standards for the gain (loudness) of amplifiers at the loudspeakers relating to the marking of the volume control knob on the front panel, you cannot be sure how many volts any amp is producing for any volume control position on the front panel. For example, amp A at volume setting 8 produces 18w output; amplifier B produces 41w at volume setting 8 and amp C, which doesn't have a volume control, produces 110w from a fully driven input stage. It is impossible to compare the sound of these without reducing (in this example) amp B to volume setting 3 (to match A's 18w output) and measuring the output of amp C. Who would think to do that?

    Can amplifiers be level matched by ear? Absolutely not! That's why this debate will not die. The failure of the ear as a precision instrument is the source of the problem! You can't use your ear to validate your ear!
    Either Alan has the weight of one hundred years of acoustic research on his side or he is a liar or mad. Simple as that.

    There is not one scrap of evidence in 100 years of acoustic study that the ear can detect and eliminate loudness differences to the necessary precision to allow accurate comparison of randomly selected amplifiers (or CD players or speakers). Can you find contrary evidence in any scientific journals?

  17. #37
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    Default Let's set up a demo

    Quote Originally Posted by HUG-1 View Post
    Correct. To quote from this post earlier

    Either Alan has the weight of one hundred years of acoustic research on his side or he is a liar or mad. Simple as that.

    There is not one scrap of evidence in 100 years of acoustic study that the ear can detect and eliminate loudness differences to the necessary precision to allow accurate comparison of randomly selected amplifiers (or CD players or speakers). Can you find contrary evidence in any scientific journals?
    I repeat - you are welcome here to make comparisons yourself as I have done countless thosands of times in my chosen career of selling quality Hi-Fi for the past 39 years. I assure you that differences are audible. You might think the differences are small and/or not worth paying for but differences there assuredly are.

  18. #38
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    Default A deal is struck?

    The deal is already on the table. You come to us with your amps and your CDs. We measure the amps with precision test equipment and set them to exactly the same gain (loudness) within 0.1dB. We will also check the technical specifications including frequency response. Then we connect the A-B instantaneous switchover box. Then you play music and you switch-over 100 times as you wish. The switch-over is operated by a foot switch. Law of average says 50 times you select A and 50 times B as best sound*. If you can do better than that on just 100 switch over (perhaps 60 right guesses) you win yourself a pair of Monitor 40.1s.

    If we are wrong about this, the least we can do is put our money where our mouth is and you would have done the whole HUG a great service. Do beware though: in every test like this over the years reported in the hifi press the result is that nobody can hear a difference under these conditions.

    Deal?

    * Depending upon the amps you may hear a tiny click when they switch or you may not. If you do not hear this click, you will not know that you have switched-over except the switch-box LED confiming relay change-over. No sonic difference upon switching over. But there is a big sonic difference is the levels are not matched exactly.

  19. #39
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    Default Check the odds ....

    Quote Originally Posted by HUG-1 View Post
    Law of average says 50 times you select A and 50 times B as best sound*. If you can do better than that on just 100 switch over (perhaps 60 right guesses) you win yourself a pair of Monitor 40.1s.
    Ooooh, be careful. I'm no statistician, but I know that even if the results are pure chance, tending to 50/50 over time and given a large enough number, it's entirely possible that within any given sequence there will be less than a perfect 50/50 distribution of results. The larger the number the more likely it is to have an even distribution, but I'd be concerned that 60 out of a 100 may still be within the realm of statistic possibility as an outcome attainable by pure chance alone.

    I'd suggest you check with your local mathematician before offering odds.

  20. #40
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    Default Links

    Quote Originally Posted by HUG-1 View Post
    ...in every test like this over the years reported in the hifi press the result is that nobody can hear a difference under these conditions.
    Would you please give the link we can read those previous reports?

    {Moderator's comment: they are already here somewhere. Can anyone help please?}

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