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Thread: Modifying your Harbeths - real benefits or not?

  1. #21
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    Default Re: IKEA Lack stands. IMPORTANT UPDATE Jan 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ...of Ikea "Lack" side table - I have bought two for experimental use under Monitor 40.1
    In the light pink finish I trust ;-)

    http://www.ikea.com/gb/en/catalog/products/40104270

  2. #22
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    Default Re: IKEA Lack stands. IMPORTANT UPDATE Jan 2008

    That's the very one! Only available in a beach effect.

    Now, this stand is quite a bit bigger than the original one used under Compact 7ES3 and bigger than the M40 - M40.1 itself. I have noticed that the top board sounds rather hollow to the knock and as a precaution, I'm going to staple some roofing felt (the dry type) onto the underside to mass-damp it, just as you would a thin-wall cabinet. Tempting though it may be, do not apply (liquid) bitumen rubber because you will not be able to eradicate the smell.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  3. #23
    Kevin M Guest

    Default Re: Accessories for your Harbeths

    Not sure this is the appropriate section but it is the closest I've found.

    I was wondering if anyone else shared my belief that brown rather than black might be more pleasing to the eye when it comes to speaker grilles? There are references on the Harbeth site, and I dare say in the literature, to speakers 'disappearing' in domestic environments (If I recall corerctly, the smaller dimensions of the Monitor 30 are said to help in this regard), but I think that black makes speakers more imposing (i.e., noticeable) than they need be. Given the care taken to finish the speakers in attarctive veneers, might something other than black round the aesthetic off? A couple of other manufacturers do this (Tannoy and Quad spring to mind) and I was wondering if it's been considered at Harbeth? Not that it's a clincher - I ordered my C7s the other day and am looking forward tremendously to them arriving. I'd have fewer worries on the domestic front if they had brownish rather than black fronts on them though.....

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Accessories for your Harbeths

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin M View Post
    Not sure this is the appropriate section but it is the closest I've found.

    I was wondering if anyone else shared my belief that brown rather than black might be more pleasing to the eye when it comes to speaker grilles? There are references on the Harbeth site, and I dare say in the literature, to speakers 'disappearing' in domestic environments (If I recall corerctly, the smaller dimensions of the Monitor 30 are said to help in this regard), but I think that black makes speakers more imposing (i.e., noticeable) than they need be. Given the care taken to finish the speakers in attarctive veneers, might something other than black round the aesthetic off? A couple of other manufacturers do this (Tannoy and Quad spring to mind) and I was wondering if it's been considered at Harbeth? Not that it's a clincher - I ordered my C7s the other day and am looking forward tremendously to them arriving. I'd have fewer worries on the domestic front if they had brownish rather than black fronts on them though.....
    Personally my preference for grilles is still black though i would prefer the foam grille (like old HL-5) or the tygan one like those used on the old Rogers studio 1 & LS-3/5A. In fact black matches easily into most home decos as compared to brown though i understand that brown grilles like those used on Tannoy prestige range gives a more classic look.

  5. #25
    bbtan Guest

    Default Re: Accessories for your Harbeths

    Can a Compact 7 stand made from solid granite / marble???What probable sound will it be...

  6. #26
    Frihed89 Guest

    Default Re: IKEA Lack stands. IMPORTANT UPDATE Jan 2008

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Today I visited the IKEA store in south London to investigate the comment made here recently that IKEA have changed the dimensions of the stand. It seem to be true. Originally, they sold this Lack product as a plant-pot stand, but they now seem to have redesigned it as a mini-table with a much increased top-plate. I have bought two for experimental use under Monitor 40.1.

    The IKEA part number is now: 401.042.70. The top plate measures 55cm x 55cm and when assembled, the bottom of the speaker will sit 45cms above the floor (about 18 inches) - rather tall for M40.1. This larger top plate is now really too big for all but the M40/M40.1 and even so, is bigger than the speaker's footprint: it doesn't look great but will get you going.

    I strongly suggest that you invest in proper, approved stands like the Skylan or Brooke's stand as shown at our CES room, Jan. 2008.
    Update.

    The beloved lak mini-stand (high enough to accommodate 12" minis) survived a few extra years in Denmark and I was shipping them out as fast as i could get them, even after the catalog dropped them. I kept pushing up the price to cut the volume, and when that didn't work i just stopped. I'm old.

    Well, they ARE really gone, now, according to my original inside source.

    Too bad for mini-owners, as this stand was really quite good for all the LS3/5As and close relatives. It's funny, you'd think for a single spec-type speaker, like the "original" LS3/5As, that one stand would be optimal for all of them. But that wasn't true at all. Some liked low mass stands, some sounded better on high mass stands, but of course that was also a function of the ears and preferences of the individual. I have now owned and sold all but 1 of 3 different LS3/5A-types (and i am not saying which ones) and I have "interviewed" the Harbeth and Spendor relatives. The old Lak stand was not the absolute best for any of them to my ears, but it sounded very good on all of them.

    I have never owned the bigger Harbeth or Spendor boxes for which a shorter Lak stand still survives. I don't have the room for them, but if the shorty is anything like the taller one that has been discontinued and if you are not fond of shedding several (or more) ?100 notes every 2-3 years for the latest metal rage, try it.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Accessories for your Harbeths

    Quote Originally Posted by bbtan View Post
    Can a Compact 7 stand made from solid granite / marble???What probable sound will it be...
    Sure why not, but that might render the sound dead & lacking in air. Those metal stands that Tropical Audio supplies with their Harbeth speakers are good enough.

  8. #28
    bbtan Guest

    Default Re: Accessories for your Harbeths

    Quote Originally Posted by Gan CK View Post
    Sure why not, but that might render the sound dead & lacking in air. Those metal stands that Tropical Audio supplies with their Harbeth speakers are good enough.
    The metal stand supplied by T/Audio seem to be very flimsy.....tq

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Accessories for your Harbeths

    Quote Originally Posted by bbtan View Post
    Can a Compact 7 stand made from solid granite / marble???What probable sound will it be...
    I used 26" granite stands under my Harbeth HP3s. They sounded absolutely fine. The stands were too tall and narrow for my Compact 7s, though. As I wrote some months ago, I used coffee tables with large dictionaries for the C7s until I could get some metal stands made. The metal stands firmed up the bass a bit, but I can endorse Alan's claim that the kind of stand does not seem to matter much with Harbeth 'speakers. As he put it (if I remember correctly), you could use a pile of telephone directories. From my experience, I agree.

    David

  10. #30
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    Default

    Since this thread is dedicated to "Accessories" in general, I have one that I would like to share and suggest to Harbeth users: I bought (8) 3/16"ID by 1/2"OD Herbie's Grungebuster washers and placed them on the back side of the Radial drivers in my M-30's with a metal washer over top of them. Teflon washers are also available through Herbie's. This process involves removing the front panel of the speakers and takes about 15-20 minutes, so I wasn't able to do a quick side by side comparision, however, I'm convinced that it made a slight improvement. Lower frequencies are less "muddy"; tighter and more impactful. During fortes or crescendos, I am better able to distinguish groups of instruments. The sound seems to have an improved focus. I don't exactly recall the price of these washers, but its safe to say that you could do it for under $10 (US). It will also give you an opportunity to have a look inside your Harbeths (if you haven't already).

  11. #31
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    Default

    Personally, i don't think its a good idea to open up your Harbeths unless absolutely necessary, much less to put something inside to tweak the sound. I believe every pair of Harbeths have been optimised by Alan to give you the most balanced & natural sound.

  12. #32
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Gan CK View Post
    I believe every pair of Harbeths have been optimised
    yes, im afraid those tweaks would have changed things...for the worst. only kidding. :-) if it makes you happy, thats all that matters.

    did you take any photos of your adventure, by any chance, you would want to share?

  13. #33
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    Exclamation Do not tamper with your Harbeths

    No. Do not ask this question. You and the original poster are encouraging users to invalidate their Warranty. If we can identify the serial numbers of the pair that have been opened we will make a note against them in the Registration data base and the Warranty will be voided. The local importer will also be advised.

    The real world: If we the makers could achieve more performance from washers on the magnet we would have designed that 1 cent mod into the original product and added $100 to the selling price.

    DO NOT MODIFY THE INTERNALS OF YOUR HARBETHS. YOU CAN ONLY DEGRADE THE SOUND BY WEAKENING THE CONSTRUCTION. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE ANY IMPROVEMENT IN SOUND OR WE WOULD HAVE DESIGNED-IN THAT HIGHLY PROFITABLE MODIFICATION OURSELVES.

    Any photos that encourage this sort of nonsense will be deleted to protect others from temptation.

  14. #34
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    Default Modifications and Warranty - a world from the designer

    HUG-1 is correct. We cannot encourage DIY speaker-redesign here on the official, manufacturers-run Harbeth User Group. Nor would BMW on their forum.

    It seems there is an urge to open what left the factory in guaranteed working order. There are two consequences of this which you should be aware of:

    1. We need to review the whole Warranty situation. Any (extremely rare) Warranty claims will need to be validated by an authorised Harbeth dealer to verify the user has not opened the speakers (there are always tell-tale marks) and/or attempted any modifications. This is the same as returning your car to an authorised dealer for inspection if want to make a claim. It's only fair and reasonable.
    2. You should be vigilant when buying used (second-hand). You never know what modifications the user has been tempted into. We only offer Warranty to the first owner subject to various T's and C's for this reason.

    Thank you for your understanding. I do my very, very best when designing Harbeth speakers to squeeze every gramme of performance and to save you wasting time and money chasing modifications.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  15. #35
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    Default

    I was only asking in jest. In all seriousness, if there is any change in the sound it would be away from what it was originally intended to be, ie. It has most possibly becomes "bad"...

    There is nothing much direct tweaks can do. Its sub optimising within a small dimension of the vast landscape of good sound. Like what HUG has suggested, worn down screw holes in the wooden cabinets, not to mention irreparable damage from overtightening are bigger risks than rewards. Flying screws drawn by powerful magnets do damage as well. Applying the wrong torque might have had a bigger impact to the sound than the washers themselves. Im sure by applying washers it would have shifted the distance of something against another. So please don’t modify anything. The results can only be what it wasn’t intended to be, the worst of all damage. That can only mean many sleepless nights and bottles of whiskey, money which could have been spent on good quality recordings and some reasonable sound treatment which will yield much more tangible and rewarding endeavours.

  16. #36
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    Default Thin wall - a very special cabinet

    Quote Originally Posted by kittykat View Post
    ... Like what HUG has suggested, worn down screw holes in the wooden cabinets, not to mention irreparable damage from overtightening are bigger risks than rewards. Flying screws drawn by powerful magnets do damage as well. Applying the wrong torque might have had a bigger impact to the sound than the washers themselves...
    Absolutely correct. The Harbeth cabinets is of the BBC 'thin wall' concept. That relies on a wood-on-wood interface; for example, the back panel or baffle tightened onto the soft-wood bearers that run around those panels in the inside of the cabinet. Those wood-on-wood joints are intentionally pliable, neither too flexible nor to rigid. Contrast that with conventional cabinets where (usually) all of the panels are rigidly bonded together into one, seamless carcass. In such a system, access to the inside is usually effected by removing the woofer and reaching into the cabinet.

    As kittykat hints, repeated removal of the front or back will 'drill out' the pilot holes that are carefully dimensioned to give just the right tension to the front or back. And once they are so enlarged, they offer no grip - and the cabinet is useless. And we don't supply replacement cabinets. So a little curiosity and/or modification can in the most unfortunate case, result in a very expensive mistake. If you buy used, from an unknown or internet source, this is just one of the considerations you need to keep in mind. I'd suggest that if there is any hint that the speakers have been opened, cables/crossovers/foam modified that you run a mile.

    Furthermore, how can the user be sure whether we assemble the cabinet from the front of the back? This may seem an irrelevant question, but in fact, it is highly relevant to the above issues.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  17. #37
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    Default

    I will recant the above post in the same spirit that Galileo recanted his support of the heliocentric model to the Spanish Inquisition. I would not wish a revocation of Warranty on the fellow users; much less my worst enemy. That was certainly not my intent. If you intend to void my Warranty, I would like to have that in writing on Harbeth letterhead along with tangible proof that the modification was, in fact, performed on the pair for which you have serial numbers.

    @ HUG-1
    "The real world: If we the makers could achieve more performance from washers on the magnet we would have designed that 1 cent mod into the original product and added $100 to the selling price"
    Is this really how you wish to portray Harbeth's approach to research and design; a $100 markup on a $.01 part? Can we, therefore, conclude that a $5000 pair of your speakers cost $2 to make?

    If you're going to criticize my post, you should at least understand what I'm saying. I never said anything about putting a washer on the magnet. While I realize it to be to my detriment to further endorse this modification, it should be stated that I devised it with a specific intended result; an added measure of decoupling between the baffle and cabinnt. You have effectively silenced me in trying to argue on whether or not this is needed and whether or not it is effective, however, you can't entirely dismiss it unless and until you've evaluated it.

    Although it may stand counter to the dogmatic views expressed by Harbeth management, significant improvements can be made to manufactured products. A Sony 5400ES SACD player that receives the Modwright Ultimate Truth modifications sounds much better than the bare stock Sony. Its obvious and its replicable. Although BMW might not openly endorse modifications on it's Official Website, there are significant gains to be made in performance. In this case, they are measurable. Cold air intakes, turbo chargers, intercoolers, aftermarket exhaust, HP hoses, computer chips, ect. will result in increased horsepower and quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times.

  18. #38
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    Default Opening the speakers

    To me, the single most important issue here is the screwholes. Harbeth cabinets are made, as I understand it, of veneered MDF (with an added layer of damping). There's no question that if you remove and reinsert the screws you remove a tiny amount of MDF each time. You may get away with it once or twice, but once you've enlarged the hole enough that the screw doesn't bite anymore you're done - you can't go back. I know this happens because I've done it myself (but not to a Harbeth, thank goodness).

    For that reason alone I'd leave well enough alone - it's just not worth it.

    However, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I'd like to suggest that any member who believes they have a valid idea for a cost-effective and meaningful improvement to Harbeth's basic design send Harbeth a private message with the details. I'm sure that Harbeth, as a conscientious manufacturer always looking to make a better product, would happily incorporate any suggestion that improves their speaker at minimal cost. That way we all benefit, and owners who are currently happy with their speakers won't be tempted to fool around on the inside of their enclosures, with potentially negative consequences.

  19. #39
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    Default Harwoods seminal paper on thin-wall cabinet design - and why you shouldn't fiddle with it

    As I clearly said, the thin wall cabinet system is a finely balanced interconnected system of many parts. As you can read from the BBC research work on cabinet damping (attached) the smallest ill considered or unintentional change to any part of the structure is likely to make a change to the sonics of the system - but not necessarily for the better. I draw your attention to our founder, Dudley Harwood's comments on pages 15 and 19 about the consequences of incorrectly manufactured thin-wall speaker cabinets and associated graphs. And Fig. 8/9 and 13/14 show the exceedingly narrow margin between audible coloration and not - a line you could unwittingly transgress with a DIY modification.

    BMW (presumably) do not endorse those after market tweaks because they are building cars that put long-term durability as the primary goal. They know the strengths, and more importantly weaknesses of their designs better than anyone outside their secure laboratories. I suspect that most of those tweaks have an impact on the longevity or reliability of the car which may not be obvious until it fails at some point in the future. And then, would the tweaker hastily revert to the factory spec and try and claim on the Warranty? Some do.

    I repeat again, this is the manufacturer's forum. We here are Harbeth UK, the manufacturing company. We pay for this site and maintain it. It is not our remit here to encourage the redesign of our standard, reliable, respected factory original products built to last. There may be other places on the internet that hold that sort of discussion, but not here.

    And yes - we live in the commercial world. If we could add $100 of value for a 1c part, of course I'd go for it. I'd be mad not to. But the truth is, it would be 1c added to cost for zero benefit. And we're not in the BS business.

    Dogmatic? Perhaps. Considering the decades I've invested in the design of the speakers and the technical obstacles overcome, I think as the designer I've earned the right to be.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  20. #40
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Diminish View Post
    Cold air intakes, turbo chargers, intercoolers, aftermarket exhaust, HP hoses, computer chips, ect. will result in increased horsepower and quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times.
    adding go faster components on a car (without improving brakes, drive-train etc) highlights sub-optimisation which may result in a worst type of disaster (not to mention shortened motors lifespans)

    “Squeezing the last ounce” in the domestic world is definitely intriguing, and worthy of academic study. The “last ounce” whether in horsepower, or “better” sound cannot be applied or appreciated in most instances eg. Lack of appropriate roads or in this situation, a room. In this wider context, improvements if any, are very interesting but also very superfluous.

    If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you.

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