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Thread: Harbeth SHL5 specific

  1. #181
    polaris Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    thank you guys for your inputs..very helpful...

    i will experiment with the very low cut off to the sub as denjo suggests and see if i can detect a bluring of the midbass and mid..

    i have had experience integrating a good sub with another brand of mains but im not sure if the harbeths will adapt well...

  2. #182
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Hi Alan

    I have several questions relating to cabling of Harbeth SHL5s.

    First, if I don't bi-wire (and indeed simply use the bridging bracket provided by Harbeth), does it make a difference whether the speaker cables are attached to the top pair or lower pair binding post?

    Second, if I bi-wire, does it matter that I use two different brands of cables, one for HF and the other for LF? What if the cables are not exactly the same length, one is slightly longer by 3 feet?

    There is also the question of spades v bananas; from what I have heard from one cable manufacturer who conducted several blind tests, the worst spades are better than the best banana connection. What is your view about this?

    When I briefly bi-wired, I found that the sound was more detailed, suggesting that bi-wiring is an adavantge. During the short time listening time, I would say the difference was quite discernible.

    I would appreciate your views.

    Best Regards
    Dennis

  3. #183
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    I'm sure that a search here will give you my opinion on bi-wiring. But what matters is not what I think but what you believe. You say "During the short time listening time, I would say the difference was quite discernible". That's your answer then!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  4. #184
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Hi Alan

    Thanks for the advice.

    Single runs are indeed much simpler, more practical and safer! I have an aversion to messy cables and bi-wiring will only add to the clutter! So, I will stick with single runs!! )

    I managed to read the Harbeth speaker Guide, for the first time! What a revelation! I discovered that I had my single run speaker cables connected to the upper speaker binding post (HF) rather than, as advised, connected to the lower post. I duly switched connectors and discovered that the bass had more body and everything sounded much better, more organic and whole! Moral: carefully read all instructions and abide with manufacturer's suggestions!

    Best Regards
    Dennis

  5. #185
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Finally got my 30th Anniversary SHL-5 today.



    1st track of music I played, my jaws almost drop.

  6. #186
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Congratz Dom..finally..not easy...I can very sure it is worth..

  7. #187
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Quote Originally Posted by keithwwk View Post
    Congratz Dom..finally..not easy...I can very sure it is worth..
    Yes. After travelling for few hundred miles, I came back set it up, play & WAHLA!!!
    This is what I call MUSIC AT ITS BEST!!!

  8. #188
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    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    After having the SHL5 for a week, no matter what music I played, be it vocals, instruments it sounded so good and so musical.

    I switched from tubes to solid state and still sound RIGHT!!

    I wonder what magic Mr Alan Shaw used on this SHL5. Some magic lotion sprinkled on the drivers.

  9. #189
    CNNnews Guest

    Default Re: Name plate being peeled off fromHarbeth SHL5

    Hi Alan,
    My naughty son peeled off the plastic name plate? Harbeth? on grille of my SHL5, so sad.
    What adhesive glue would you suggest to me to stick it back? Thx you for your adv.
    Cheers,
    Kent

  10. #190
    CNNnews Guest

    Default Re: Name plate being peeled off from Harbeth SHL5

    Hi Alan,
    My naughty son peeled off the plastic name plate? Harbeth? on grille of my SHL5, so sad.
    What adhesive glue would you suggest to me to stick it back? Thx you for your adv.
    Cheers,
    Kent

  11. #191
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    Default Re: Name plate being peeled off from Harbeth SHL5

    Hi Kent,

    The best luck I've had is with double sided carpet tape.

    Don

  12. #192
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    Default Re: Name plate being peeled off from Harbeth SHL5

    I agree with the double-sided tape recommendation. 3M makes some excellent x2 tapes!

    Best Regards
    Dennis

  13. #193
    CNNnews Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Hi Don & Denjo,
    Thx you so much for your adv.
    Cheers,
    Kent

  14. #194
    rgshar Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    This thread specifically relates to the SuperHL5
    I now have a pair of SHL5s for which I posted some impressions on audiogon and I am
    copying here. (This is not a polished review, just some raw notes.)

    I am driving them with an Edge NL12.1 amp, EMM CDSD-SE + EMM DCC2-SE digital (using the DCC2's preamp), Stealth Indra IC, Cardas Golden Ref speaker cable, Hydra 8 power conditioner, and a mix of Shunyata Anaconda alpha, Kimber PK10 Palladian, TG SLVR AC cables. One thing I noted is that I had much better results connecting the speaker cable to the upper speaker posts on the SHL5s (denser, more solid, less "shimmery" images.
    The SHL5s replaced Kharma 3.2FEs which were too unforgiving in the highs on popular CDs.
    Here are my comments:

    These are debriefing notes I made to myself.
    I thought they would be valuable as a kind of rough-draft review that I will add comments to and entertain questions as time goes on, since this is a popular speaker.
    Thanks for reading.

    Just as a point of reference, I also do a lot of headphone listening with my pair of Sony MDR R10s and a Ray Samuels B52 tubed headphone amp.

    Quick comments on SHL5s (2007 30th anniversary edition with upgrade OFC internal wiring) on the floor (still awaiting Skylan Stands):

    Outstanding overall speaker. No offending characteristics.
    No longer have to segregate my CDs based on how listenable they are--all are musical. Very nice vocals. Not state-of-the-art imaging in any direction but still has images in a nice 3D space with natural size sounds. A nice balance between fullness and deliniation of image-boundaries. Reminds me very much of Sennheiser 650s (with a great headphone amp) but with better definition and detail. Silky and not abrasive at all. No screeching, grain, or hash or buzziness. Bass is solid and full but not boomy, a bit muddy on the floor, but really excellent on temporary tables I tried for a while. Overall, not nearly as tonally or spatially detailed as former Kharma 3.2s or Wilson WP6s,
    but none of the pain from overexposure either that led me away from these. More transparent and better soundstaging than former Aerial 10Ts I had, with out the occasional overrought bass or rare piercing lower treble. But, like Aerials, I can sit for long periods with zero fatigue.
    Very balanced sound from top to bottom. Deep bass or sparkling highs only hinted at, but enough to be satisfying.

    Sounds better with my single-wire Cardas Golden Ref speaker cable on the upper posts, despite Harbeth's recommendations. Sounds better using EMM DCC2-SE's preamp
    rather than separate preamps I have (Mac C46 or Jeff Rowland Capri). I use Stealth Indra ICs for all. (Actually, only one pair used for DCC2 to Edge NL12.1 amp.) I also use a Hydra 8 to plug in sources, and plug the amp right into the wall. The amp really grips the bass on the Harbeths well and makes it tight and formidable, but never abusive.

    Again, I can listen to any disk with no fear, and that is so extremely valuable to me. What a sense of power that my system isn't dictating my musical tastes or moods. But, nonetheless,
    SACDs sound extrordinary, with real focus and drive, but still relaxing, so I know the Harbeths do reflect the benefits of good upsteam equipment.

    So, yes, I do miss the live, totally natural, liquid, you-are there sense you get with more sophisticated speakers with great recordings, but I need to live in the real world, too. If I only listened to classical, I would have stayed with the Kharmas with their extreme differentiation of tonality and layered micro-spatial cues that were really a joy, but I need to hear the Beatles and Boston and Blood Sweat and Tears and Chicago and Carole King and all that great British Invasion music without any abuse or abrasion to trigger those important synapses in my brain.

    Associated gear
    Edge NL12.1 amp.
    EMM CDSD-SE and DCC2-SE digital+preamp.
    Stealth Indra IC.
    Shunyata Hydra 8 on all but amp.
    AC cable: Shunyata Anaconda Alpha,
    Kimber PK10 Palladian, TG SLVR.

    Similar products
    Kharma 3.2 CRM-FE,
    Aerial 10T,
    Wilson Watt Puppy 6,
    Apogee Stage.

    Just to put things succinctly after some more burn-in and listening, my impression is that the SHL5s just create this big, friendly, safe, warm and inviting blob of sound in most of the space between the speakers where all is well.

    I did some listening to an SACD of Tapestry (Carole King), and the gentle distortion of her voice is now just right,
    smooth but still detailed, but not harsh. That about sums up the affect these speakers have on everything. It is probably a sound where some of the nasty thorns and sharp edges have been excised, at the expense of some openness
    or spaciousness, but the character of the sound, the individual personality of the vocal or instrument still comes across, just not as loud and clear as in more revealing speakers. But it is direct, not at all forward, pushy, or heavy. Just plain nice.

    And yes, I think this may be a coloration of some sorts,
    as there is a bit of sameness to all recordings, but it is painted in such a pleasant way, you just go with it, in don't-worry-be-happy mode.

    But again, it is not boring, or rolled off like a tone control would do. It is toned down in a non-electronic way,
    as if that is the way it sounded in real life, a believable type of softness (or at lease lack of harshness) that rings true.

    I think this is a a rare speaker I can recommend to people to buy without even hearing it first...

    These are keepers. It's amazing how many big name speakers have some fatal flaw or need lots of tubes to work well. (Maybe I'll look at 40.1s some time but I have my speakers on the long wall and was afraid they would overdo the bass.) I'm really wary now when speakers are called revealing, which now I'm starting to think is a euphemism for painful. I don't think there's any holy grail in speakers out there.

    I also like the image sizing on the Harb's. Sometimes you hear a speaker with a big wall of sound and this tiny little telephone-speaker-sized image coming from it.

    The SHL5s kind of remind me of my old Apogees, which combined live realism with a kind of friendly, relaxed natural sound (a very neat trick). The Harbs can't compete with the truth of the Apogees, but have a deeper, 3D soundfield that you can just lean into.

    I think, if I thought they were reliable, I would scout out Apogees (or the new Graz versions, I think). My Apogees broke (one of the woofers buzzed) and could not be repaired, and I don't want to hassle with that again. That's why I avoid Quads, too.

    Thanks for reading this rambling piece, as it was just really a stream of consiousness.
    Last edited by rgshar; 21-11-2008 at 10:10 PM. Reason: Typos and awkward wording corrected.

  15. #195
    tricka Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Thanks for your comments - I felt the same way coming from CD coaxial horns to Compact 7's. The speakers get out of the way of the music - reminds me of a quote from a fellow I know:
    " when you stop listening to the system and start listening to the music - that is the system you want". Amen.
    Cheers
    Andrew

  16. #196
    rgshar Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Quote Originally Posted by tricka View Post
    Thanks for your comments - I felt the same way coming from CD coaxial horns to Compact 7's. The speakers get out of the way of the music - reminds me of a quote from a fellow I know:
    " when you stop listening to the system and start listening to the music - that is the system you want". Amen.
    Cheers
    Andrew
    Yes, thanks for that. Yep, as with the Apogee Stages, there is just a feeling of rightness at first hearing (in a different way, of course, from the Apogee ribbons) that makes me say I'm suddenly a fan of this speaker company. I just stop analyzing and just listen. When I was younger, my first speaker that made me this content was my $70 Dynaco A25. I remember listening to the various ARs, KLHs, and Advents of the day and feeling something wasn't quite right, that they were either jazzed up or muted. But the Dynacos just flowed.

    The Harbeths just present a kind of Goldilocks sound, with images that are definitive but just soft enough around the edges that you can always let your guard down. I think there is something subliminal going on here, that it just kind of reaches some deep part of your brain that triggers contentment. It is kind of different from live sound, which itself can be jarring. I think maybe the pursuit of the absolute sound in one's room may be a worthy goal, but not the only path worth pursuing.

    As I mentioned, they hint at the live tonality and spatial cues, but don't try to present a virtual reality that can seem out of sorts and disorienting in your home. I remeber repeatedly hearing the MBL and Wilson exhibits at the NY home entertainment shows and feeling like the music , while compelling, didn't exactly belong there (and Wilson has it's own issues with vocals and string or brass instruments to my ears, but that's another story).

    The similarity to the Apogee experience is that the Apogees have a very realistic tone, and you are unaware of drivers or speakers, but there they are at the same time not very revealing but still very present. The apogees indeed have an unmatched presence and have extremely natural vocals, like a wall between you and the speakers is gone.

    The Harbeths, on the other hand, present rounded images with just a slight but perfect dose of fog to prevent the searing coldness or point-source hardness I hear with other speakers. Martin Logans come to mind, where images are completely detached from the surroundings,
    and there is almost too much transparency, and you can almost draw a sharp line around each image. With the Harbeths, images are blended just the right amount into the air around them, and while this may not be realistic, it is addictive.

  17. #197
    tricka Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Plus - unlike the ML's - you don't have to sit in one fixed spot not deviating your head an inch either way ha ha ha!

  18. #198
    Tjoeb Guest

    Default Re: Harbeth SHL5 specific

    Dear Harbeth-lovers,
    I'm planning to buy a pair of Super HL5's. I heard them once at a dealer, and did a lot of reading about these speakers. I have one concern : I do about 90% of my listening at "moderate levels", which is apparently what Harbeth's are designed for. But from time to time I just love to "kick some ass", for not too long, but still... I would feel frustrated if the speakers were unable to cope decently with anything like 95dB for some time.
    What exactly does it mean that Harbeths are designed for moderate levels? Do they sound harsh at high levels? Is there congestion? Does the bass become uncontrolled? Do they explode?
    (just kiddin', this last one)
    I 'd just like to know if they can also be played at higher volumes, and still sound decent?

    Thank you for any useful input!
    Alan

  19. #199
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    Default Important notes about listening level ....

    *** You may wish to open two copies of this reply in your browser so that you can keep the graph open as you read my notes ***

    I too occasionally like to 'turn up the wick' when the recording/music is exceptionally seductive and/or exciting. But I really value my hearing, and it's a well known fact that if you persistently listen at a high level, you numb your hearing. So don't do it!

    You ask if the SHL5's (or indeed any) Harbeths sound 'harsh at high levels'. It's a very good question because it touches on a number of a highly significant matters close to my heart. Subjects to be considered ...

    a) How we perceive loudness
    b) How we perceive bass at higher loudness
    c) What actually happens inside the speaker electro-mechanically at higher power levels
    d) What target listening level the designer imagined his users were listening at
    e) Spectral content of the music being listened to
    etc. etc.

    Now, in fact, one of the defining characteristics of a Harbeth is that it does not sound harsh as the level increases. That's no accident - it's because I'm really aware of how the ear (or more honestly, how my sensitive ears) seems to behave and I've the exact antidote to that in the design of the drive units and crossover. The Harbeth way seems to be well proven for listening at normal levels which is of course, how 100% of our customers listen.

    As I see it, the ear is highly non-linear with regard to how it perceives loudness. But although non-linear, that non-linearity is completely predictable from human to human, regardless of race creed or colour. Hence, there are audibility charts which show how the average human judges sound. I attach an audibility chart that I've lifted from my friends at Lindos and I've marked it up. Let's just have a quick look at what this ISO standard tells us: it reveals fundamental truths that are not ever discussed in speaker design textbooks.

    First, the layout of the graph. Along the bottom are frequencies marked-off in thin lines running up the page. The lowest frequencies (the bass notes) below 100Hz are to the left to the highest frequencies on the right side. You can think of the x axis along the bottom as a piano keyboard from low to high tones. Running up the left side of the chart are horizontal lines representing loudness in decibels from no sound at all (0dB) up to an extremely loud 100dB and beyond to 130dB where it was too dangerous to test anyone's hearing. The wiggly red lines tell us how sensitive the ear is to individual frequencies at different listening levels.
    The crux of the designing natural-sounding speakers is now revealed - look in the middle of the graph where I've drawn a little green circle over the red line called '60dB'. You'll notice that for all the curves marked 'threshold' up to '100dB' they all pass through 1kHz (1000 cycles per second) at the marked level (20, 60, 80dB etc.) so we say these curves are individually normalised to 1kHz.

    Now the really interesting bit. Imaging that you are listening at 60dB. That means, you are listening such that tones of 1kHz (upper middle frequencies) are received by your ear at a loudness of 60dB. Follow the red 60dB curve downwards in frequency to the left until it touches the 100Hz (bass note) vertical line at point A. Read off from the left scale the loudness level at A, say, 78dB. Now, compare that with the loudness at 1kHz (point B), which we know is 60dB. Now I'm going to make a really bold statement .... ready? ......

    "At a normalised listening level of 60dB at 1kHz, a 100Hz tone has to be approx. 18dB louder than the 1kHz tone to be perceived as equally loud". Note that I said perceived as equally loud. I didn't say measured as loud, because clearly the 100Hz note really, truly is measurably 18dB louder!

    Now, the last piece of this jigsaw .... how does the ear react if the signal is greatly increased (or diminished)? Let's consider what happens if we increase the listening level to a frightening 100dB at 1kHz. Look for the red line marked 100dB and follow the green line over to the left to point D and we read-off 100dB. Follow up from D to point C and we see that when the volume is really cranked-up, the red curve is flatter with less of a tilt-up at the lower end hence, the ear is much more sensitive to bass .... we now only need to elevate the bass signal by about 6dB relative to the 1kHz (at 100dB) for the 100Hz tone to be perceived as equally loud as the 1kHz tone. Conversely, if we reduce the listening level to a near whisper (follow the 20dB line) then and a massive amount of bass boost is required for the 100Hz tone to sound equally as loud as 1kHz at that whisper level. That's intuitive isn't it: turn down the volume on your hifi and the bass disappears far faster than the middle or top frequencies. But actually, the measured frequency response at the speakers is exactly the same regardless of level: what's changed is how you perceive bass. But the poor speaker designer must have a certain listening level in mind when he is designing the speaker because he needs to know along which red curve, or range of curves, the listener is likely to listen. As I've said before, the first question you should ask of a supplier is "what target listening level have you designed these speakers for?". If you don't get a factual, credible answer such as "75-90dB at the listening chair" then most likely you will find those speakers sound too thin and bass light becuase they were designed to be played at very high levels where the red line is flatter in the bass.

    Why is all of this of any interest? It is the concise explanation of why the perception of bass level is so critically linked to 1kHz (reference) level. It explains why a speaker that is balanced to sound full and normal at a moderate listening level can sound a little bass heavy when played far above that level. It also explains why speakers designed to be played loud sound so bass-shy when played at a moderate level. Harbeth speakers were originally designed as broadcast monitors to be played at moderate levels and happily for you and us, that is exactly the same level that our customers use at home.

    So, in conclusion, you can be absolutely assured that (uniquely) there will be no harness creeping in as you increase the volume dramatically. All that you will perceive at a much elevated above normal listening level is a little more bass. And as the graph confirms, that's due to the way your ears work, not a change in the mechanics of the speakers.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  20. #200
    Tjoeb Guest

    Default Important notes about listening level ....

    Alan, thank you for your in-depth answer, appreciate this! What do you at Harbeth consider to be the "target listening level" (in dB)?

    How do the SHL5-users experience this at home?

    kind regards
    Alan

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