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Thread: Harbeth SHL5 specific

  1. #401
    Join Date
    May 2011
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    Australia
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    7

    Default Cabinet materials

    Hi Alan & EricW

    Thanks for the replies.

    Need clarification on one point about the cabinet material (not the veneer). I refer to the tech spec from {an obsolete Harbeth SHL5 brochure from 20002}. Under Finish, it says: "Cherry Maple real wood (standard)..." Then from the spec sheet on the web site, it says: "Finish: Cherry, eucalyptus, rosewood."

    I believe the latter is the most accurate description of the current situation. But I am confused about the cabinet material between Alan's statement: "...rigid MDF base substrate.." & that in the first spec sheet: "Cherry Maple real wood (standard)..."

    Am I correct to conclude the cabinet material is MDF and not Maple timber (including ply)? Why is it Maple ever got mentioned - never seen anybody else talking about Maple? Or was there a Maple veneer in the past?

    Ian

  2. #402
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    Default Veneers, warping and sourcing

    I've not heard that there has never been any confusion over the base material for any of our cabinets. Speaker boxed cannot be made of solid wood because the cost would be unaffordable, there would be needless rampant destruction of precious trees and, most significantly to the consumer, the cabinet would be warped before it even reached the buyer. Not one consumer would accept a cabinet that is bowed and bent. So the cabinets have always been constructed from a laminate of veneer onto a rigid substrate, normally MDF. The veneer is typically about 0.5mm - 1.0mm (sanded) and the base material about 10mm or so in a thin-wall BBC style cabinet. The pulling-power of he veneer has to be stabilised by attachment to a rigid unyielding base material.

    The current brochure is here.

    Yes, we do vary our veneer offerings from time to time. As it becomes ever more difficult by the year to source quality cabinets that meet our specifications we are obliged to concentrate our purchasing power on fewer veneers to meet the commercial terms imposed upon us. Offering too many choices complicates cabinet production, and increases costs for all cabinets (and hence all customers). Choice definitely is the enemy of simplification.

    Part of my management remit is to seriously consider external threats to our business. The biggest single supply-side worry is the sourcing of cabinets of the right quality, veneer choices and price. The big boys are so concerned about this that they buy-up cabinet makers and they become primary suppliers to their new owners. That deletes that supplier from the general pool and further compounds the already tight supply options. Even the most amateur cabinet maker can, with some luck and plenty of time available, make a pair of fine cabinets at a price. But asked to make the hundreds every month we need, they are completely out of their depth. Don't be fooled by seeming simplicity: the thin-wall speaker cabinet of the type we use has been quoted to me by numerous potential-suppliers as a 'cabinet maker's nightmare' because unlike a chunky thick MDF shell, its removable front and back mean it has to be assembled with precision - it won't self-centre around a tongue and grooved baffle and back. It won't pull itself straight in assembly. It has to be machined exactly.

    Of all the concerns we have (and I'm sure this is true of all speaker companies) cabinet sourcing has been and will continue to be the No.1 logistical problem. We are, frankly, very lucky that we have the sources we do have considering the difficulties involved. I should add that I have personally rolled up my sleeves and nursed hundreds or thousands of cabinets through production to ensure that you have the quality we believe you deserve.

    P.S. Part of our overview is to constantly check the credit worthiness of our suppliers as an advance warning of their viability. It is a fact that cabinet makers are having a very hard time with dramatically rising costs of MDF and veneers, labour and overheads. We must be prepared (as we are) for the sudden disappearance of a supplier from the supply pool.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  3. #403
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Harrow, UK
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    464

    Default But wait! What about grey finish?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ...just can't decide which veneer to go for as I like several types of music mentioned.
    Where do our utility finish grey M40s fit into this sonic panoply?

  4. #404
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    Feb 2010
    Location
    Quebec, Canada
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    288

    Default Black ash?

    If I remember correctly, my dealer told me that there is also the "Black ash" veneer. Is that right?

    Sébastien

    {Moderator's comment: sometimes there is. But it's not guaranteed.}

  5. #405
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    Sep 2007
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    England
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    237

    Default

    Where do our utility finish grey M40s fit into this sonic panoply?
    BBC M40s .... um. Tough question. Maybe best with original source material? Perhaps?

  6. #406
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    Jun 2009
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    Canada
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    847

    Default Alternative finishes to wood veneer?

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    It is a fact that cabinet makers are having a very hard time with dramatically rising costs of MDF and veneers, labour and overheads.
    Is Harbeth moving ahead with exploring options to the traditional veneered wood finishes? I recall a picture of some prototype P3ESRs a few months back in a silver finish that looked pretty good.

    While the traditional wood finishes are beautiful, some prefer the more "modern" aesthetic, and I imagine (perhaps wrongly) that material and production costs might be lowered as well.

  7. #407
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    Default Other finishes - update

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    Is Harbeth moving ahead with exploring options to the traditional veneered wood finishes? I recall a picture of some prototype P3ESRs a few months back in a silver finish that looked pretty good. While the traditional wood finishes are beautiful, some prefer the more "modern" aesthetic, and I imagine (perhaps wrongly) that material and production costs might be lowered as well.
    We certainly have and visitors to the Munich hifi show next week will see another step along the line towards a high-gloss Titanium-like finish.

    But I must add a word of caution. After making a few pairs of high-gloss in various colours, the necessary standard of construction, painting, rubbing-down, re-painting and final rubbing-down has to be very high indeed. Packing (and transit to Harbeth) and the final assembly itself has to be undertaken with gloved hands, as the slightest mark or blemish is visible. Overall, not only is there much more labour involved in the preparation of the cabinet but the assembly in Harbeth is much more cautious and slower, and the result is not reduced costs but far lower efficiency and hence increased costs.

    We have now experienced first hand that whilst these 'modern' and exciting finishes can look very attractive, the route map to offering them at what we believe is an acceptable standard is tortuous. However, we will try our best.

    P.S. There are other somewhat harder "piano black" type finishes. These are not suitable for our thin-wall cabinets and even if they were, the 20+ coats needed to build-up the lacquer would take the cabinets costs through the roof.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  8. #408
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    England and Cyprus
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    367

    Default Piano black and bakelite

    Piano Black and white can look stunning, but the black shows every sticky fingerprint! I have a Samsung laptop with a very shiny finish - a deep lustrous red-brown - it shows every speck of dust and displays my finger smudges wonderfully well. The grain of a wood finish hides many sins.

    Some years ago my son did GCSE electronics as an extra. His teacher, a typical 1950s style boffin, helped him refurbish an old valve radio (wireless). It was stripped down and rebuilt and ended up an absolute picture. I found advice on-line on how to polish up old Bakelite. I had forgotten how beautiful a rich brown Bakelite can look. It has a grain or patina all of its own, quite different to a wood finish.

    I know the painted finishes are aimed at those with different tastes, but, given the Harbeth heritage could a faux Bakelite finish appeal? What's the finish of that B&W spherical sub? That is impressive.

    I did like the silver-titanium finish when it was pictured a few months ago, it demonstrates that Harbeth is not just for backward looking fuddy-duddies.

    {Moderator's comment: it doesn't matter a jot what others may perceive. What actually matters is the balance sheet, one of the strongest in the entire industry. That's good news for long-term after care.}

  9. #409
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    Canada
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    847

    Default Painted finish

    If I were in the market for a 2nd pair of Harbeths, I would certainly look at a painted finish as a possible alternative to wood veneer, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be a glossy finish. Indeed, something that doesn't show marks and dust so easily might well be preferable.

  10. #410
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    South of England, UK
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    Default Mid-grey painted suits any background ...

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    ...I would certainly look at a painted finish as a possible alternative to wood veneer, but it wouldn't necessarily have to be a glossy finish...
    Well then, that is what the professionals buy when they buy our mid-grey painted finish. Also very popular in Japan. Just slots into any background thanks to the neutral colour.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  11. #411
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    Mar 2006
    Location
    USA
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    149

    Default M30 grey

    I've always been rather partial to this picture of the M30s in the grey finish.
    http://www.dinew-high-fidelity.de/pr...beth_M_30.html

  12. #412
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    May 2011
    Location
    Norway
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    16

    Default I am in audio heaven! Thanks!

    I'm saved!

    I've gotten hold of a pair of SHL5's and I'm in Audio Heaven! THANK YOU ALAN, for these magnificent creations!

    More reports to come........

  13. #413
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    UK
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    72

    Default Couldn't be happier with my SHL5s (two years on...)

    An update, two and a half years with my SHL5's, If interested check back on page 13 of this thread for the story of the initial demonstration.

    So, 2.5 years later and I still have them and they are still perfect, but the main reason for this post is to see if anyone else with SHL5's agrees with my views, which are based on listening to Classical music recorded over a period of about 80/90 years.

    It has slowly become apparent to me that I cannot identify any character to these speakers, they simply sound like the CD I happen to be playing. I don't use a hugely expensive amplifier and the source is a £200 Squeezebox.

    In short, couldn't be happier.

    Thanks to all at Harbeth and wish you continued success.

  14. #414
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    Feb 2006
    Location
    Malaysia/Singapore
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    430

    Default I still love my Harbeths since 2004 ....

    I can't agree more. I with my 7 since 2004 and shl5 since 2007. Until today i still love them and can not stop enjoying them. cheers
    "Bath in Music"

  15. #415
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    May 2007
    Location
    Singapore
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    459

    Default I've owned three pairs of SHL5!

    Hi Stephen,

    I couldn't agree more with what u said. I first came across the SHL-5 back in 2002. And since then until now, i have owned 3 pairs of SHL-5. Just keep coming back to them after having tried numerous other spks during the past 9 years. And since my foray into classical music, i love them even more than before.

    For me, Harbeth, irregardless of model, are the best spks in the world for classical, vocal & all sorts of acoustic music, period! Even the tiny P3ESR can play classical music far better & more correctly than those huge & hyper expensive spks.

  16. #416
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Germany
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    182

    Default Upgrade from ESL57 > SHL5, better in every way

    My SHL5´s are just about two weeks in my listening room but it´s already clear that I have reached a final goal.

    I am a former Quad ESL57 user and I find the SHL5 to be better even in the electrostatic´s strongest areas (detail, clarity, midrange).
    But, and that was very important to me, two things have been added:

    -the ability to go louder (some orchestras or rock-music or very dynamic music with very quiet an very loud passages need that)

    -addition of real deep bass

    I couldn't be happier. The only thing to do now is to do something with the room acoustics. I plan to try a Lyngdorf-Pre (with room-correction) or add some mechanical acoustic treatment to the room.

    The CD-Player or Amp (or with even greater sureness) the cables don´t do any important difference to me anymore. (And this conclusion was a long journey!)


    ....still a little tired, have been listening to music till 2 o´clock in the night....


    PS
    Most important: even though the speakers are new to me I am listening to music, not the speakers. What else should I say?

  17. #417
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    6

    Default SHL5 with Mcintosh C220 & MC452...

    SHL5 with Mcintosh C220 & MC452.....
    Hi to all HUG members. This is my first post here, I'm interested on these SHL5 for my 2nd set of speakers. I'm using a 450watts power amp for my MG1.7's, and as of now, i have no plans of buying another amp.

    would there be a problem if i use a 450watts amp on SHL5? my concern is it might damage the speakers .... your thoughts are highly appreciated.

    thanks!

    jim
    (canada)

  18. #418
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    May 2011
    Location
    US
    Posts
    32

    Default 400W amp with SHL5

    FWIW, I run my Super 5s with a Classe CA-400. It's a solid state amp that's 400W into 8 ohms and 800W into 4 ohms. So, based on my experience ... "no" it won't harm your speakers. What probably WILL do harm is an UNDERPOWERED amp that you feel you need to crank to get the sound / punch you want (i.e., clipping).

    {Moderator's comment: we've covered this before. Anyone able to remember where Alan talked about the speakers *drawing* power from the amp according to the volume setting not the amp forcing power uncommanded into the speakers?}

  19. #419
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    USA
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    149

    Default Amp Power - you decide how fast to drive

    I'll make an attempt to paraphrase Alan. I believe he compared a high powered amp to a high powered car. Both have reserves of power, and can be used safely in the hands of a competent operator.

  20. #420
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    6

    Default Alan's speaker drawing power article

    Can you please send me the link regarding Alan's topic on speakers drawing power from the amp... thanks!

    {Moderator's comment: he can't recall where it is but I think he made a comprison with a powerful car - a Bentley perhaps? Search 'Bentley'??}

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