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Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

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Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Sun May 10, 2009 11:13 am

I am curious to know the amps that Harbeth owners are using to drive the speakers. From the Harbeth user forums and Audiogon, two consistent recommendation of high-end integrated amps to match both the Compact 7ES-3 and SHL-5 are the LFD Zero MkIII and Lavardin IT. The LFD is a small British company that manufactures in small quantities whereas the Lavardin is a high-end French manufacturer. Both amps when matched with Harbeth speakers are claimed to be a match made in heaven. So good that Stereophile reviewer Sam Tellig bought the LFD Zero MkIII himself after he reviewed the amp that he used in driving the Harbeth Compact 7ES-3.

I am seriously considering to get either one of these amps in near future but there is no distributor for these two brands in Malaysia. Singapore has distributors for these amps. The only setback is these amps come at a substantial price tag. There is currently a listing of a used unit of Lavardin IT in Audiogon at $4,800(RM17.7k) and the seller is from Singapore. A brand new LFD Zero MkIII would be cheaper at about RM10k.

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Hi Ryder, I am driving the speakers with QUAD 34 Pre and 606 Power amp and they seem to match nicely.

Post by 123_rocketman on Sun May 10, 2009 8:41 pm

ryder wrote:I am curious to know the amps that Harbeth owners are using to drive the speakers. From the Harbeth user forums and Audiogon, two consistent recommendation of high-end integrated amps to match both the Compact 7ES-3 and SHL-5 are the LFD Zero MkIII and Lavardin IT. The LFD is a small British company that manufactures in small quantities whereas the Lavardin is a high-end French manufacturer. Both amps when matched with Harbeth speakers are claimed to be a match made in heaven. So good that Stereophile reviewer Sam Tellig bought the LFD Zero MkIII himself after he reviewed the amp that he used in driving the Harbeth Compact 7ES-3.

I am seriously considering to get either one of these amps in near future but there is no distributor for these two brands in Malaysia. Singapore has distributors for these amps. The only setback is these amps come at a substantial price tag. There is currently a listing of a used unit of Lavardin IT in Audiogon at $4,800(RM17.7k) and the seller is from Singapore. A brand new LFD Zero MkIII would be cheaper at about RM10k.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Sun May 10, 2009 8:47 pm

Thanks for the response Rocketman. I have no doubt the Quad separates have matched the Harbeth nicely as Sam of Tropical Audio himself is using exactly the same setup in his showroom.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by chieng90 on Mon May 11, 2009 8:40 am

Hi Ryder,
I have both Quad 405v2 or 606 to drive C7es3.I did match once Cayin A88T(KT88) with SHL5 ,also good combination.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Mon May 11, 2009 1:20 pm

Hi Chieng90,
Thanks for your input. Looks like there are many Harbeth users who drive the speakers with Quad amps. I'm just hoping to see if anyone is using LFD or Lavardin amps to match with their Harbeth speakers. I am using Plinius/ARC with the SHL-5 with excellent results but was informed either one of these exotic integrateds would outperform my separates. Just curious.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by chieng90 on Mon May 11, 2009 4:05 pm

Hi Ryder,
we also curious, why don't you be pioneer, first unit in M'sia. Very Happy

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Mon May 11, 2009 4:34 pm

Hi chieng90,
Actually I got to know that someone in Malaysia already bought the LFD amp from the distributor in Singapore, so I won't be the first one to own the unit. The picture below shows the LFD Zero MkIII. Unfortunately the unit doesn't come with a remote control and balanced connections.



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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Mon May 11, 2009 4:42 pm

Before I forget, with this kind of economy I won't be getting this unit too soon especially since I just got the SHL-5. Maybe in the next few years when conditions improve and I feel the Plinius amp is getting heavier to be moved around then only I may consider getting this LFD.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by JayJay on Tue May 12, 2009 12:27 am

It has been a norm that Harbeth speakers are matched with Quad amplifiers.
However, I paired my Harbeth-P3 and HL5 with Unison Research S6 tube amplifier.
It is a good match. The S6 produced a warm and full-bodied, neutral sound in front-hall perspective.
Nevertheless, the CD player is also equally important as well as the quality of the CD.

For your info, Unison Research is the sister company of Opera Loudspeakers, is headquartered in northern Italy as Advanced Research In Audio (ARIA).

Last but not least, one should also consider other combination such as Manley Stingray Integrated Amplifier.

Cheers.
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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by - br@d - on Tue May 12, 2009 3:23 am

Guys,

How much is the SHL-5 in Tropical Audio?

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by tycham on Tue May 12, 2009 9:34 am

JayJay wrote:It has been a norm that Harbeth speakers are matched with Quad amplifiers.
However, I paired my Harbeth-P3 and HL5 with Unison Research S6 tube amplifier.
It is a good match. The S6 produced a warm and full-bodied, neutral sound in front-hall perspective.
Nevertheless, the CD player is also equally important as well as the quality of the CD.

For your info, Unison Research is the sister company of Opera Loudspeakers, is headquartered in northern Italy as Advanced Research In Audio (ARIA).

Last but not least, one should also consider other combination such as Manley Stingray Integrated Amplifier.

Cheers.
Smile

The truth is, Quad equipment driving any speakers sounded just as sweet; and Harbeth driven by any amp sounded likewise.
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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Bite on Tue May 12, 2009 12:55 pm

Geez ....what a way to describe a speaker....sweet. No better than describing it as honest I suppose.

Well from my experience the harbeth is quite revealing and i have heard amps sounding quite poorly with it.. lol!

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by JayJay on Tue May 12, 2009 1:30 pm

There are also recommendations to pair Harbeth speakers with Krell amp (eg. KAV-400xi) and Krell KPS-30i CDP.
This may be a good combination and a “paradigm-shit” from the Quad custom to attain the ultimate sound from Harbeth speakers.

In conclusion, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder...
People have different acquiring taste and listening preferences.
Let our ears and $$$ be the judge.

Cheers.
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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Bite on Tue May 12, 2009 2:07 pm

Hi JayJay,

Are the Manleys available in KL? Like to take a listen. If they are, cud u kindly drop me a private message with indicative price. Ta.

rgs

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by JayJay on Tue May 12, 2009 4:33 pm

Here's a picture and links/reviews on Manley Stingray...





1. http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volume_6_4/manley-stingray-amplifier-12-99.html
2. http://www.hiwaylaser.com/manley
3. http://sites.thestar.com.my/audio/story.asp?file=/2008/11/10/afreviews/2460679&sec=afreviews


P/S: For the benefit of everyone, I merely disseminate information on hifi products available in the market at this forum. (Not associated nor interest in marketing this product.)

Cheers.
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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by limsg on Tue May 12, 2009 6:10 pm

Hi ryder, I use Bladelius pre & power for Harbeth C7ES3. Previously I use Quad 306 power and a passive preamp, I am still keeping the quad system and listen to it when I hv the mood :-)

The price difference between Quad & Bladelius is very big, but the performance difference is NOT VERY SIGNIFICANT!!! Yes, they have different presentation, yes a little bit of this and a little bit of that but I won't loose sleep over it.

However, I do find speaker PLACEMENT makes lots of different, may be you should maximise this aspect first before working on your amp. Anyway I think your amplication system is FANTASTIC. I think putting your money in your source or acoustic treatment may be a better route to take...

Enjoy your speaker.... hv a great day.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by RobA4 on Tue May 12, 2009 6:54 pm

I power my Compact 7s with the Mac tube integrated MA2275.

Good enough for me.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Tue May 12, 2009 10:12 pm

Thanks for all responses.

Hi Limsg, yes I know speaker placement and the room are very important. Fortunately my system is in a dedicated room so I can play around with room treatment. You are correct that speaker placement is very important. I have found out that Harbeth speakers especially the SHL-5 needs a further distance apart(at least 6.5' clear distance) in order to have a better soundstaging. My room is only 11'x17' with the speakers on the short wall so my speakers are placed very close to the side walls. The optimum distance between speakers for the SHL5 is about 7'.

Regarding difference in sonic presentation between different amps, Harbeth designer Alan Shaw's belief is reflected in your experience. In his opinion there won't be any huge sonic differences between first-grade amplifiers, and although there may be incredibly subtle differences they may not be repeatable under uncontrolled domestic comparison. In other words, he believes the performance of Harbeth speakers will not be significantly enhanced with exotic electronics. Maybe your Quad amp, although cheap is of good quality and can match the performance of the more costly Bladelius. I think I'll just stay put for the time being. My source is quite decent, a Krell KPS-30i.

RobA4, looks like your Compact 7ES got some good amplification. One of my friend is using the MC402 to drive his huge M40 and the sound is full and amazing. I can imagine how your speaker would performn with the MA2275.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Fri May 15, 2009 10:06 pm

After almost 3 weeks getting accustomed to the SHL-5 with the speakers almost completely run-in, I begin to appreciate the finer qualities of the Harbeth after prolonged listening sessions. This may have been repeated many times before, but in the simplest choice of words, the Harbeth SHL-5 presents music in a wholly natural way without any listening fatigue. The midrange has a nice warmish feel and the highs are sweet, smooth and extended. Although there lies a super-tweeter in the SHL-5 that in the mind of some folks would extend the high frequencies in having more clarity and detail, the speaker is not the last word in transparency. The treble does not sound as airy and extended as some speakers I’ve owned or listened to. However, this is neither a disparaging comment nor criticism towards the SHL-5 as the lack of transparency and detail can be seen as a favorable trait that may appeal to listeners with specific listening preferences. This particular inherent characteristic of Harbeth speakers, I believe, has been fundamental in creating a zero listening fatigue which in my opinion is vital in contributing towards the musical enjoyment with many hours of listening pleasure.

The coherency of SHL-5 again never ceases to amaze me. Of all the speakers that I have owned previously, the SHL-5 does everything right and very little wrong. If there is one minor flaw that I can pick on, it would be on the low frequency reproduction. The bass on the SHL-5 does not seem to go as low as some other speakers I have listened to but this is not a bad thing. I have used a PMC TLE1 subwoofer with the SHL-5 to great effect and it complements the speaker nicely. The last amount of tight deep bass from the sub albeit just a little produces a more solid bass foundation when used with the SHL-5. I reckon this would not be an issue with the larger M40.1.

I am extremely pleased with the sound I’m getting with the SHL-5. I recently manage to run the Plinius in Class A and the sound become even more sublime. This Harbeth speaker is the best I have owned so far and I don’t think I’ll ever find another pair that can surpass the sonic performance I’m currently getting. Different maybe but certainly not better.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by lavender on Sun May 24, 2009 5:23 pm

Not really, until you listen to Paradigm studio 60 which its price is even lower than the SHL-5 ! bounce

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Bite on Sun May 24, 2009 7:55 pm

Hi lavender,

I am truly glad you are enjoying your speakers. I assume you have a pair of the mentioned speakers. Would you like to share with us the characteristics of the paradigm and what makes it a better speaker over the harbeth SHL5?

look forward to your response.

rgs

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Sun May 24, 2009 8:04 pm

Hi Lavender,
It doesn't surprise me if someone comes in here and says the Sonus Faber Grand Piano, B&W N803 or Proac D28 sounds much better than the SHL-5. People not only have varied tastes and listening preferences but hear things differently as well. However, one can justify based on valued judgment how speaker A would evidently sound better than speaker B if a proper evaluation is carried out.

Since I have not listened to the Paradigm Studio 60 I cannot comment on the speaker. Have you listened to the SHL-5? It would be good if you can share your experience on both speakers, including the electronics that were matched to the speakers.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by lavender on Mon May 25, 2009 12:35 am

ryder wrote:.... I don’t think I’ll ever find another pair that can surpass the sonic performance I’m currently getting. Different maybe but certainly not better.
Hi ryder,
I'm just wondering that how confidence u r to make tis statement where it shows that no other speakers in the world will ever please you again. If u insists, then I congratulate u. I'll end with a full stop here, thx!

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Mon May 25, 2009 6:12 am

Hi Lavender,
That statement I made had shown how much the SHL-5 appeals to me, which is a compliment to the quality of the speaker. It is obvious you are taking it a bit too seriously.

I would appreciate if you can respond to my earlier question. Have you listened to the SHL-5? Thanks.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by lavender on Mon May 25, 2009 9:54 am

Yes, I did, I was one of the fans of Harbeth speakers.
Somehow, some speakers of other brands had change my passion towards Harbeth.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Bite on Mon May 25, 2009 12:37 pm

Hi lavender,

I am neutral on whether the harbeth or the paradigm is the better of the two speakers. I think we all agree "to each his own".

Let me say i do enjoy reading posts the likes of that from ryder or from any other and on any equipment. At least he takes the time and effort to share his experiences with others. I may not agree with him that the harbeth is remotely or significantly better than the paradigm or any other speaker but to him the harbeth is the best he has had todate. Those are his views. He may well find another speaker that improves on the harbeth in the future....only time will tell.

However your issues are less clear. Initially I thought your issue was with his views on the harbeth, the paradigm being better. Ok that i can understand but that does not appear to be the case.

It seems, you have taken exception to his claim to have found his lifetime speaker.

I am not sure why, after all if he has made a mistake, it is his to rectify?

Some with a stretch of imagination may conclude from your last post that your motive, driven by regret and bitterness, is to save him from the warm, seductive embrace of a sonic temptress called harbeth, having fallen prey yourself to her graces in the past. LOL.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Mon May 25, 2009 1:16 pm

Hi Bite,

I guess we've somehow misintepreted lavender's true intention in his first post, which he had subsequently made clear in his 2nd. Somehow he is not really making a point in the Paradigm being better sounding that the SHL-5 but more towards my statement that I won't be able to find another pair of speaker that can surpass the sonic performance of the Harbeth.

It is certainly a strong statement but I wouldn't consider it as a "mistake" or I would be obligated to correct that. After all this hobby is all about subjectivity and opinions. In fact, this is the first time I've been pointed out on this matter by lavender. It is a norm in this hobby if someone says "This is the best amp I've heard to date", or for anything else, which is perfectly fine. Although the person may not have listened to everything in the market which is virtually impossible since there are hundreds or thousands of speakers or components out there, his opinion can be seen as a strong indication of his/her passion for the said item.

Well, who can refute someone if he claims his Wharfedale speakers sound better Wilson speakers, or lavender's claim that his Paradigm is better sounding than the SHL-5? Nobody can since it's their ears and own judgment , although we can question their listening skills in the ability to discern good sound. But I would be damned if someone says his Bose speakers sound better than the SHL-5.

By the way, you sure have a good sense of humor in your last paragraph. :-)

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Mon May 25, 2009 1:27 pm

Hi Lavender,

Don't worry, you are entitled to your opinion in that the Paradigmn sounds better than the SHL-5. Unfortunately I have not listened to the speaker so I could not offer any comments on that. I have a friend who is also not into the Harbeth brand since he prefers a dynamic sound with good transients and strong bass. The SHL-5 would not be able to give him that compared to his Audio Physics Scorpio. He just recently acquired a huge PMC floorstander. So be rest assured it's not only you who thought Harbeth speakers are not the best sounding in the world. In fact, I didn't mention that if you hadn't realised. It is my opinion I wouldn't find a pair that can give me the sound I'm getting now with the SHL-5's, and that may well be true since the Harbeth sound is indeed unique and something special.

Cheers.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by JayJay on Mon May 25, 2009 3:12 pm

I believe forumers are merely giving their personal advices, opinion, reviews and experiences here.They are not meant to offend anyone and no one.

As a good listener and hifi reviewer, one has to have an open and broad mind in giving and accepting critics, be it constructive or destructive criticisms because there are many good speakers in the world.

For example, people say that Ferrari produces the fastest cars in the world. But now Bugati Veyron, which costs more than USD$1 Million can hit 62 Mph in 2.5 seconds. Which car is your favorite? Well, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder...

I will buy both cars. lol!

http://abcnews.go.com/gma/moms/story?id=1406161

So we should think out of the speaker's box; a "paradigm-shift" in the mind.
It is good that not everyone is having the same brand, type and model of speakers. Otherwise we will have the same sonic and tone in music and sound.
Human need "variety” and want to be “different” in life.

To foster friendship at this forum, we should invite others to audition and review our system in open arms. These "ears" that review and comment can improve the system because people have different acquired skills and experiences in music listening. So, let our ears, dollar$ and 6 sen be the judge.

Happy listening.
Cheers.
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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Bite on Mon May 25, 2009 4:50 pm

Hi ryder,

Yes a bold statement. I respect that. Sometimes we end up paying the price for our convictions but better that than having none. I look forward to catching up on more of your posts in the future.

Hi Jay Jay,

Sorry I hijacked you post to reply to ryder. I couldnt agree with you more that the whole idea of a blog/forum? (us ancient people need to catch up on terminology) is for ideas, views etc to be expressed ,shared etc.

The earlier posts were a healthy testament to that general concept. Wouldnt you agree.

However there must be some semblance of clarity in the message being made. We can only respond to what we understand or percieve to have been said.

In general terms, I do agree with you. We have to have the maturity ( i stress maturity) to accept criticisms simply because I am not convinced there is any such thing as constructive critisism. Critisisms are by nature destructive. We choose to call it constructive when we hope that the recipient will build on what we have just taken apart.

With a healthy dose of maturity, respect and decorum amongst others, am sure friendship can be maintained no matter how controversial the exchanges.

regards,

Bite

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by JayJay on Mon May 25, 2009 10:51 pm

It's great to notice some good and healthy discussions in this forum. This is the contributing factor that this forum's memberships and contributions grow daily.

Hi Bite,
Thank you for your advice, support and the highlight too.

It is true that generally, everyone dislikes criticism and so criticism becomes destructive in nature. Nevertheless, if a person accepts criticism in a matured, positive manner and open mind, it can be constructive one too. Likewise, failure can be transformed into willpower to a person if one has a positive thinking. That is the difference between success and failure. In summary, it is the mindset.

Have you got the matching pair of amplifier for your Harbeth 40.1 speakers? Any invitation to audition your system?

Kind regards.

Happy listening.
Cheers.
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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Bite on Mon May 25, 2009 11:35 pm

Hi JayJay,

Noted...... but all depends on the type of day you catch me :-)


Anyway lets move on to my amplifier. Still on the lookout for that elusive amp. There are just so many out there and making a call has been difficult. In the meantime playing around with my budget and vintage, amps and having fun in the process.

Shame though, the pre-owned market isnt as developed as i would like it. Allows for variety, lower costs and more room for error.

If you do know of any amps worth trying with the 40.1 do drop me a line.

regards,

Bite

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by chamts1 on Tue May 26, 2009 9:42 am

Hi Limsg,
Just curious if you have played your Quad 306 with a Quad Pre-amp (33, 34 or 44)rather than passive pre? I found the whole setup better sounding with a Quad pre-amp compared to just having passive pre.

Hello ryder,
Congrats you are the many happy listener owning the SHL5 (my colleague got a pair driven by Quad 34+306, source is Quad 66CD and is very happy with the setup). His hunt was in fact looking for the old HL-5 (2 drivers) but hard to come by and when a pair of SHL5 came up 2nd hand, he listened & grab the SHL5. Since then I was looking for HL-5 and finally got a nice gentleman loan me a pair for 1 week, of the 2 I prefer the HL-5. So if you have the chance, do give it a listen.
Kind regards
Cham TS

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by limsg on Tue May 26, 2009 9:55 am

Quad 306 with Quad pre-amp sound better than passive pre? I guess so :-) but Quad pre is difficult to come by in second hand market. I am using bladelius I will keep the quad till I have budget to build a second system ;-)

Lim

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Tue May 26, 2009 10:00 am

Hi Chamts1,
Thanks for the kind words. Yes I am enjoying the SHL-5 a lot these days, especially after I just took delivery of an NVA AP70 amp just yesterday. The sound totally changed to the better compared to my Plinius separates. Although Harbeth speakers were claimed to be able to match well with any amplifiers out there, I have found out that amp matching is still very important after this latest experience.

I have not heard the HL-5 but believe it is also very good as I read a few owners who prefer their old HL-5 over the SHL-5s. I don't know in what terms the older HL-5s are better but if possible try some really good amps with the SHL-5. From my own experience, I can attest the great match between NVA and the SHL-5. I have also read about the LFD Zero MkIII being the "ultimate amp" to the both Compact 7ES-3 and SHL-5 which was claimed to be a match made in heaven, and I have yet to hear this combination. Nevertheless, I am extremely pleased with the sound I'm getting from my SHL-5s now with this new amp.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by chamts1 on Tue May 26, 2009 10:13 am

Hi ryder,
I am in touch with a friend who owns HL-5. I think he would not mind receiving guest to listen to his set. He drives it with an old Audiolab 8000A (I am not very sure if I get the model correct, but it is an integrated). His source for now is Marantz CD60, price wise the whole set is very modest results is quite good I think, I like the HL-5 for the vocals it produces, whereas I think the SHL5 is better in other way (sorry dont know how to describe). If you will like to listen to the HL-5, let me know, the chap that I know is in Selayang.
Kind regards
Cham TS

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Tue May 26, 2009 10:33 am

Hi Cham,
Thanks for the invitation but frankly I have had enough visiting people to hear their systems. I have more or less settled down now and have shifted my priorities elsewhere. I have listened to the Audiolab integrated very briefly, and if my memory serves me right it is a clean and lean sounding amp. If the HL-5's are warmer than the SHL-5 then the match will be good. Not too sure about musicality, tonality and PRAT though. My previous Arcam amp that I owned lacks musicality, PRAT and dynamics compared to this one, and my impression on Audiolab is almost similar to the Arcam. Anyway as long as the listener enjoys the music that comes out from the speakers, that is what matters the most.

Cheers.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Lamkochai on Tue May 26, 2009 7:25 pm

hi ryder. may i know where u get your nva amp from? where can i audition the amp? approximately how much is the cost?

btw, anyone here try pass lab int150 amp with shl5 before? i am actually quite interested in buying the amp but it cost around 22k after discount. my home condition doesnt allow me to buy pre + power separate. pass lab int150 is one of the warmest yet powerful int amp i heard to date.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Tue May 26, 2009 9:32 pm

Hi Lamkochai,

It has been a long time since I last heard from you. Regarding the NVA amp, I got it from a friend of Mr. Oh who brought in these amps direct from the manufacturer in the UK. NVA is quite unique in the sense that it doesn't have any distributors worldwide. The manufacturer only distributes their products via ebay. You can find more information in the website below.

http://www.nene-valley-audio.com

The amp that I am trying now which is the NVP AP70 is the 2nd top model in the integrated range which retails for £700. It goes for about RM3.5k NOS. It has dual transformers. The top model is the AP80 which retails for £1,100, has 4 transformers and is considerably more expensive. The other lower-powered models all have one transformer.

Unfortunately you are in Penang so you won't be able to test the amp out and see if the sound suits your listening taste. May I know what amp are you using to drive the SHL-5's now? What you feel is lacking with your existing system?

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Lamkochai on Tue May 26, 2009 11:36 pm

hi ryder. i think i have just contacted you yesterday via sms regarding speaker cable for harbeth speakers. i prefer an amp with correct timbre (good "yam chaat" and "yam sek" in cantonese). sound staging and other come second.

i am using tube int amp unison research preludio. i am very satisfied with the vocal it produces. very seductive and sweet. it also has no problem reproducing small scale jazz (trio, vocal) and simple classical. violin and guitar also sound realistic.

however, the most noticeable shortcoming is lack of grunt and its bass (fat and slow). it becomes very congested when i listen to orchestra and some of my classical recordings. it also cant reporduce cello and double bass correctly and sometimes the boomy bass interrupts the music reproduction. i try to tackle the bass problem by buying some absorption panel from you and through repositioning of speakers but the bass is still annoying. in other words, sometimes i think my amp is kind of mismatch with harbeth shl5 in certain recordings.

rm3.5k is quite an attractive price. i do not plan to sell my tube amp because i will miss its vocal but i want to add a solid state amp to listen to classical and rock. can i arrange an audition with mr. ho when i come to kl?

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Wed May 27, 2009 8:14 am

Hi Lamkochai,

There is certainly an addiction with tube amps isn't it? I am not familiar with Unison Research amps, maybe others may be able to chime in. Judging from your description on the sound you are getting, it does sound quite similar to my initial impression on the Plinius/ARC separates. When you mentioned sound is congested, fat and slow(presumably in the midrange which may have caused the lack of grunt), boomy or undefined bass, all this can be attributed to the amp matching although the room can be another factor. The absorption panels are useful in addressing 1st reflection points but your issues are principally more specific. Since you have found out that speaker placement and absorption don't help in you case, I highly suspect it's the amp that is the culprit.

The NVA amp certainly excels in timbre and tonal accuracy. When powered up from cold, this amp has killed my ARC/Plinius amplification in terms of transparency, musicality and detail, and has given a breath of fresh air to the sound with its clean and delicate presentation. Voices sound like real voices, less digital and grain, almost tube-like. The thick sound I'm getting with the Plinius(which may be similar to what you experience with your Unison Research) gives a rich and warm midrange which may appeal to certain folks but the sound become less transparent and heavy. The transparency and tonal accuracy of the NVA have eradicated all these shortcomings, at it was then I realised the Plinius is colored. I have known the Plinius house sound all this while but never bothered to change amps. This recent experience with the NVA not only reconfirmed my thoughts on the warm sound signature of the Plinius but also the potential of the SHL-5's to shine through with a clean and transparent amp like this NVA. I am hesitant to write too many bad things about the Plinius since I know there are many owners who still love the sound of the amp, particularly in Audiogon whereby some folks are using these amps to drive the Harbeth M40.1 and Dynaudio Confidence C4, but in my experience the NVA has made the Plinius sound "fake" with its processed sound.

I believe the most important feature in any system is the ability of the system to portray music in the most truthful way without any coloration, as close to live sound without any digital artifacts with the correct timbre and tonal accuracy. I don't know about others but this is what I felt is the most important in the goal of any speaker or component designer. Once you experience this sort of sound you would know you have "arrived", stop searching around for bits and pieces to maximise the system and listen to more music. I believe I have finally accomplished this with the Harbeth, and the NVA. There will definitely be other amps that can match or better the NVA but as far as things are concerned, I feel I have already arrived, and there isn't any urge for me to hunt around any further. It is just virtually impossible to go and listen to everything out there.

Apart from the NVA the other highly regarded amp that was said to match extremely well to the Harbeth is the LFD Zero MkIII. You might want to consider this but it costs about RM10k brand new.

The only disadvantage of the NVA is there is no remote, no balanced connections and no additional outputs to hook up a subwoofer(my ARC pre has all that) so it is definitely not perfect. The NVA is a minimalist amp designed for purists so I can understand some of these important features are not included. It was now that I realised how some people can live without a remote control and the ability to hook up a subwoofer with some of these minimalist amps - ultimately the sound quality is the predominant factor.

I don't know if Mr Oh's friend still has stock for the AP70. From what I heard he has run out of the stock especially on the AP70 and AP80 but still has the AP50 and a few of the lower models. You can always come to my place to have a listen to the setup and judge for yourself whether the sound is a great improvement(or vice versa) to your setup. I am very impressed with this NVA that in my opinion does a lot of things better than my Plinius/ARC separates costing more than 5X the price. Sometimes cost doesn't directly relate to performance and good sound, matching does.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Wed May 27, 2009 8:32 am

HI Lamkochai,

I just checked with Oh. His friend doesn't bring in new stocks on the NVA anymore and only have another AP50 and an older AP20. This is just for your information. If you decide to come to my place do call me in advance. If the amps are all sold out, you can always buy direct from the manufacturer. Unfortunately the manufacturer is unique in the sense they don't have any distributors worldwide and only distribute their products via ebay. Anyway the most important is you listen to the sound first before making any decisions.

Cheers.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Wed May 27, 2009 8:48 am

Lamkochai,
Just a thought. How big is your listening room and how far in distance do you listen from your speakers? Last time you told me your system is in the living/dining room. If you listen in far-field, your tube amp may be struggling to control the SHL-5's woofer if it is a low-powered one especially if the speakers need to fill a large space. In this case a moderately higher powered SS amp may be more appropriate.

BTW the NVA has tube-like qualities in vocals which made voices sound real and believable.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by kkthen on Wed May 27, 2009 12:08 pm

Ryder:
Wah, how lucky you are! Very Happy I must go to your home to listen your new combination NVA + harbeth SHL5. Sound like NVA very similar to LFD but in very good price. Very Happy

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Wed May 27, 2009 12:27 pm

Hi kkthen,
You are always welcome as I am quite interested to listen to your excellent LFD amp as well. It would be interesting to pitch the NVA against your much highly-touted LFD Zero MkIII which has not only been endorsed by many happy Harbeth owners in Singapore but also by Stereophile's reviewer Sam Tellig whereby he ended up buying the LFD to drive his Harbeth Compact 7ES-3! Every component is unique on its own and the LFD is certainly a very special unit. I am looking forward to meeting you soon.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by Lamkochai on Thu May 28, 2009 6:20 am

thanks for your invitation ryder. may be one day we can meet up and i shall bring my amp and cable to make side by side comparison to see which equipment suit our harbeth more. i am quite interested to test the LFD amp also.

my speakers are roughly 8 feet apart and my listening postion is 6 feet away from the speaker. i know it is not an ideal listening position but i cant put my sofa further away because its my dining room and i need to accomodate other furniture.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by 123_rocketman on Thu May 28, 2009 10:28 am

ryder wrote:Hi kkthen,
You are always welcome as I am quite interested to listen to your excellent LFD amp as well. It would be interesting to pitch the NVA against your much highly-touted LFD Zero MkIII which has not only been endorsed by many happy Harbeth owners in Singapore but also by Stereophile's reviewer Sam Tellig whereby he ended up buying the LFD to drive his Harbeth Compact 7ES-3! Every component is unique on its own and the LFD is certainly a very special unit. I am looking forward to meeting you soon.

Hi Ryder,

I believe you have heard the Quad separates when you auditioned the SHL-5 at Sam's place. What do you think of the sonic difference between the Quads and your NVA? Which do you think matches the Harbeth better?

Regards,

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by ryder on Thu May 28, 2009 11:16 am

Hi 123_rocketman,

Since you own the Quad pre/power which is similar to what Sam is using, the sound must similar to what I have experienced when I first stepped into the showroom. Please bear in mind the speakers in the showroom are virtually in free space in a huge listening room with considerable distance from side walls, and the listening chair is placed directly against the rear wall. This setup is completely different from mine where the system is in a dedicated room, placed very close to side walls with the listening chair about 3/4 distance from the rear wall. The setup and room will play a huge part in affecting the sound although electronics are equally important.

Taking the room out of the context, the Harbeth speakers in the showroom(with Quad amps) sound more live and organic, less detail, less separation and focus between instruments but nonetheless still enjoyable. The midrange is more expansive and sound bigger, can be due to the huge space in the listening room. Listening fatigue is non-existent.

With the NVA sound is cleaner, more focused, more delicate and refined, better separation and detail, improved microdynamics, tonality and timbre. The tone of voices and instruments sounds more real, closer to the source. The mids are lighter which gives an impression of reduced bass response. Bass doesn't go too deep but is still taut. Depending on the type of music, some may feel the bass is lacking. I believe most transparent and clean amps like this NVA(or the LFD) won't produce deep strong bass or brute kind of presentation(like Krell amps) but rather a more delicate and refined sound that is more accurate. Pick your poison.

Just recently I got news that Sam had shifted all his speakers into the dedicated listening room behind and informed the sound had improved. Don't know how the sound has improved. I guess he just realised a dedicated room will make a difference, or maybe he is waiting for his new stock of M40.1's to arrive before he shifts all his best-selling speakers back to the original space.

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by 123_rocketman on Thu May 28, 2009 2:56 pm

ryder wrote:Hi 123_rocketman,

Since you own the Quad pre/power which is similar to what Sam is using, the sound must similar to what I have experienced when I first stepped into the showroom. Please bear in mind the speakers in the showroom are virtually in free space in a huge listening room with considerable distance from side walls, and the listening chair is placed directly against the rear wall. This setup is completely different from mine where the system is in a dedicated room, placed very close to side walls with the listening chair about 3/4 distance from the rear wall. The setup and room will play a huge part in affecting the sound although electronics are equally important.

Taking the room out of the context, the Harbeth speakers in the showroom(with Quad amps) sound more live and organic, less detail, less separation and focus between instruments but nonetheless still enjoyable. The midrange is more expansive and sound bigger, can be due to the huge space in the listening room. Listening fatigue is non-existent.

With the NVA sound is cleaner, more focused, more delicate and refined, better separation and detail, improved microdynamics, tonality and timbre. The tone of voices and instruments sounds more real, closer to the source. The mids are lighter which gives an impression of reduced bass response. Bass doesn't go too deep but is still taut. Depending on the type of music, some may feel the bass is lacking. I believe most transparent and clean amps like this NVA(or the LFD) won't produce deep strong bass or brute kind of presentation(like Krell amps) but rather a more delicate and refined sound that is more accurate. Pick your poison.

Just recently I got news that Sam had shifted all his speakers into the dedicated listening room behind and informed the sound had improved. Don't know how the sound has improved. I guess he just realised a dedicated room will make a difference, or maybe he is waiting for his new stock of M40.1's to arrive before he shifts all his best-selling speakers back to the original space.


Dear Ryder,

Thanks for your analysis on the difference in both systems. Is it possible for me to listen to your set up?

Also heard about Sam moving his speakers into the inner part of the show room. Like you mentioned, he said it sounds better than the outer portion of the room. Will visit his show room one of these days.


Regards,

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Re: Calling Owners Of Harbeth Speakers

Post by sivaguru on Thu May 28, 2009 3:26 pm

Dear All,
How would Harbeth speakers fare with Exposure amps?
Regards,
Sivaguru

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