Harbeth Speakers- Doing Something Right....

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by avanti1960, Jul 25, 2019.

  1. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I think there's a bit more to that. I can listen in nearfield with very ordinary bookshelf speakers that play down to 50-Hz. at their -3 dB. point and still experience full balanced bass.

    The problem with those "micro speakers" are that they mostly only play down to 70-Hz. at their -3 dB. point. There is only so much sound that you are going to realize out of small cabinets and small drivers.

    Those British style monitor speakers were never intended to reproduce much in the way of bass. They were designed to be linear and consistent across the different manufacturer's.

    For the most part, I find that those who push for the "loud" aspect, generally are the ones who have lived with gear that they can't get "loud".

    Kind of like the kid who never had the good toys growing up and now he finally has assess to them.

    I think those who are accustomed to loud live performances are going to be generally disappointed in most speakers, let alone mini-monitors.

    This is another aspect of "loud". Those who covet live concerts are also coveting "dynamics". At live concert venues, people are listening to high sensitivity horn speakers, which are quite dynamic.

    With most home direct radiator designs, you don't reproduce those dynamics at lower volumes the way you can with horn loaded designs like Klipsch. People turn up the volume not only to get louder but to bring out the dynamics of the music. This is what "audiophiles" have been doing from early on.
     
  2. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    I'm impressed, the Jadis JA200 Mk2's are a newer design and I thought very few were even in the country! There are a number of the older design Jadis amps around, BUT they are NOT Mk2's. (they are NOT the same sounding amps). Which speakers did you hear the new Jadis JA200Mk2's with? ( Vivid's??)
    BTW, I agree with you when it comes to bass drive and bottom end punch, to compare a brute of a ss amp to tube mono blocks is going to show how the ss amp grips the bottom end...because no tube amp ( with the possible exception of large CAT mono blocks) can compare in this one area. Problem is that what the tube amp does everywhere else is what you sacrifice, IMO.
     
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  3. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I have never heard Wilson speakers but I wouldn't begin to imagine pairing them with any tube amp. I would only use large SS high current amps with them.

    I agree with you because I wouldn't drive most speakers with tube amps. I have 150-Watt Rogue monoblocks and I never use them on my regular sensitivity speakers.

    High sensitivity horn speakers and tube amps are a match made in heaven!
     
    avanti1960 likes this.
  4. DaveyF

    DaveyF Forum Resident

    Location:
    La Jolla, Calif
    I would not say 'most' speakers, as there are a large number of speakers that can be driven well by tube amps. The transformer of the amp has a lot to do with drive capability, so even a ss amp with a weak transformer is going to sound poor on 'most' speakers. Synergy between gear is always the most important factor ( or one of them). If you get that wrong, like our inept reviewer above, then yes the results will speak for themselves. I do believe that an understanding of what is typically going to be synergistic in gear is important...and even more so if one is in the reviewing business.
     
  5. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I am going to stick with "most". Tube amp production wound down toward the later 60's. Even the venerable McIntosh discontinued their tube amps for many years.

    Most speakers that have been manufactured over the past half century are voiced to sound their best with SS amps, because that is what 99% of the people are using them to power them.

    We, here on the forum are but a tiny minority who still use tubes. Even then, many members ard vehemently opposed to them..

    In general, tube amps are better paired with high sensitivity speakers, typically horns, but not always, as in the case of Zu's and others. In addition, this type of pairing allows for using lower power tube amps, commonly in the 30+ Watt range. Even more so, it allows using single ended flea Watt tube amps that you are hardly going to use with most modern direct radiator speakers.

    Even though you can do something, sometimes it doesn't make a great deal of sense anyway. I have many moden speakers, besides the Zu's, I never use tube amps with them. I could have used Rogue KT88 monoblocks, a Rogue KT88 Stereo 90 or the Cronos Magnum with KT120's.

    Tube amps require more maintenance, burn through expensive tubes and SS amps do the job just as well if not better and for far less operating costs.

    Be it a tube amp, a SS amp or most anything in the audio world. Everything starts off and is dependent on the power supply. So anyway you look at it, the power supply is all important. If it doesn't have a solid power supply, I don't own it!

    I agree! But this is something that pretty much every professional reviewer ignores completely. They all seem to have their "reference" that they use and they about never attempt to achieve any synergy. Many also have very less than ideal listening environments, which doesn't seem to be much of a concern to them.
     
  6. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Nearfield listening is just that, and is most often defined as a listening position that is no more than 4'/1.25m from the front baffles of a pair of speakers. The physical dimensions of the room in which such a nearfield listening setup is located is irrelevant for the defiinition of nearfield.

    It doesn't matter whether the combination of speakers and listening position are located in a small, medium or large room. The distance of the listening field is defined only by the proximity of the listeners to their speakers.

    In general, the larger the driver/cabinet gets the greater the listening distance required to hear and appreciate the soundfield and imaging.

    In general also, the smaller the driver/cabinet combination the harder it is for the speakers to move enough air to fully reproduce bass and lower-midrange frequencies when a listener is positioned in a midfield (5-9') or farfield 9'+) location. The reason is that, where SPL (the perception of loudness) is concerned the inverse-square law applies. If you're not familiar with that important part of physics, the basics are straightforward and very useful for all audiophiles to know. Yamaha has an excellent and practical explanation here:

    Inverse Square Law: What is it? | Yamaha UC Blog | Yamaha UC

    Choices of listening positions are also mitigated by overall room size. For example, in a very small listening room (e.g., a 6x8 utility room converted into a home office/den/music listening room) a midfield listening position will inevitably place the person right against a wall (with the inevitable effects of coma, nearfield reflections that destroy imaging, and several other unwanted effects). Not good. A nearfield listening position or even high quality headphones will make better use of such a space.

    The permutations and combinations of space/physical room volume, distance from speakers to listening position, distance from listening position to room walls and tall furniture, distance from speakers to side and back walls, etc., etc., all demand attention to find the best position for a given set of speakers and the best listening position in a given room. Sometimes the best result is odd or unworkable, and that means either the speakers are wrong for the room, the listening position interferes with other potential uses for the room, and so on.
     
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  7. Roland Bart

    Roland Bart French doctor

    Location:
    France
    This is totally right.
    The sad truth, experienced in my multiple BBC speakers setups and only in my personal views, is that a nearfield listening configuration is always better in a bigger room than in a smaller room.
    You need air and space behind your listening position and around your speakers. It's my point of view.
     
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  8. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    Of course, all know that before we open our wallets. And what do we do? We open our wallets. Speaking for myself, I'm happy with that.
     
    Art K likes this.
  9. Art K

    Art K Retired but not tired!

    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon
    Me too.
     
  10. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hong Kong
    I have not heard the particular JADIS amps but in general, I tend to agree with you as I have not really enjoyed any of the PP high power tube amps or monoblocks. Then again I am not a huge fan of PP tube amps that seem to overemphasize the mid-band or sound a little flabby to me - And many of these tube amps have a LOT of tubes to replace at a relatively high cost - basically, it's a lot of time and effort and I would probably just go with a Solid State amp and if one wants a somewhat warmer presentation than the likes of a Bryston there are SS amps like the Sugden Masterclass (or Accuphase or YBA) that will probably provide most of that and probably cost a lot less money.

    If you want tubes get a speaker that was designed for tubes - Wilson ain't that. The reason, I suspect, that people try tubes is that their speaker really isn't for them so they try to "FIX" the speaker with a tube thinking that tube amps are some sort of panacea to what ails them. Tube amps IME have a far wider range of sound from brand to brand than SS. There is a reason that in Blind level matched tests people can't distinguish from cheap to expensive SS amps because while there are differences those differences are not nearly as readily apparent as the difference from an ARC to a Jadis to Cary to an Audio Note to Line Magnetic to a VAC. The difference "within" those brands based on tube types can be startling (listen to an OTO and SORO back to back and you'll be shocked how different they sound even though the internal parts and case work etc is very similar). Just slapping any old tube amp into the system because "it's a tube amp" isn't a good idea.

    With SS it's usually so much simpler. The head of Bryston has noted that all amps 3B and above (with the same letters like 3B sst and 4B sst etc) sound exactly the same. The difference should be only power-related - if you hear a difference it's because the speaker needed more power. But Tube amp makers don't really work that way - they design a completely different kind of amplifier to generate more power.

    I was at the Cayin dealer in Hong Kong recently and the dealer greatly preferred the integrated amplifier for around $5500 USD to the same brand's more expensive preamp/monoblock combination - the latter had maybe double or triple the power but he said it sounded rather dull and kind of a shoehorn for people with less sensitive speakers.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2022
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  11. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    Nearfield the way I have read, understood and practiced means a 1:1:1 triangle with the speakers having appropriate distance from their back and side walls, e.g. room dimension ratios. It is the ratio of the triangle that is important, not the distance, and will be determined by your room size and shape most likely (including allowance for distance to walls).
    In its essence it says don't just plop your speakers against the front wall and push your chair all the way across the room to the back wall- no, you have to pay attention to the triangle and distance to walls.
    In most rooms the resulting triangle dictates that your listening spot be away from the wall too, which is also sonically beneficial. Nearfield means that the triangular "pattern" takes precedence over fitting everything at the extremes of the room.
     
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  12. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Which is perfectly fine. My comments were addressing the post below about the loss of bass output when listening to them nearfield in a large room.

    I was only commenting that, having their -3 dB. point at 70-H., there wasn't much bass to loose in the first place.

     
  13. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    Oh, I understand, S&G. I wasn't taking issue with what you said at all. Having just ordered a pair of Falcon LS3/5a Gold Badges, perhaps I was reinforcing my decision! :)
     
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  14. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I think we’re using the same word - nearfield - but defining it in very different ways. In the sort practice and application with which I’m familiar, acousticians, audio engineers, and setup technicians use the word “nearfield” strictly to describe the listening distance between a seated listener’s ears and the front baffles of a pair of speakers irrespective of what sort of triangular positions they occupy. For example, monitor speakers used in a studio control room are typically located in nearfield positions but can also be placed in a variety of distances apart.

    I think you’ve come up with a setup theory or methodology - of maybe a superset of existing practices - that is well worth discussing. But I’ve never worked with any setup person or acoustician or engineer who defined “nearfield” in any way similar to the way you’ve done it. Could be I’ve simply missed something over the years.
     
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  15. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I don't think you were "missing something". I think the same term has apparently different meanings as applied in a studio setting vs. being applied to a home listening environment?
     
  16. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand Teckel fool

    Location:
    Germany
    Nearfield listing is defined by the studio application related to monitor size and listening distance (roughly 0,5m - 1,8m). I don't want to be pedantic but every other definition (for example 1:1:1) has nothing to do with nearfield listening.
     
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  17. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Location:
    Malaysia
    Just curious. My room is a mere 14’w X 13’d … how close would anyone who does nearfield listening set up the SHL5+? Assuming speakers are 6’ apart.
     
  18. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    Interesting, but who defines it or where is it defined in this way? I was always under the impression that it was a largely undefined—or loosely defined–concept.
     
  19. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand Teckel fool

    Location:
    Germany
    You have nearfield-, midfield- and main-monitors. They grow by size and in many cases the more drivers and the bigger they are the more space they need to get a cohesive sound.
     
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  20. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    You first have to presume that a pair of relatively giant monitors - the Harbeth SHL5 Plus - are suitable for nearfield listening. They’re not, IMO, and are never used that way. Then again, in some very small apartments and condos (e.g., under 400 sq ft) I’ve seen some bizarre speaker choices that are capable of so thoroughly overpowering a room and that are used so sparingly (to avoid lease-breaking volumes) and that listeners are positioned very close to (dictated by the tiny size of the area allotted as “the listening space.” In such extreme situation, large speakers in tiny spaces do not confer any benefits that can’t be obtained by smaller speakers that typically do significantly better.

    If, as @avanti1960 suggested, there is some sort of distance ratio to be respected, then it is likely only dictated by the idea that a 1:1:1 ratio is a place to start when setting up a listening position less than 5’ from the front of the speaker cabinets. However, despite the nattering about such things that Cardas has done over the years, there is no such rule. In fact, the closer the listening position is shifted toward the front baffles of the speakers, the more listeners are able to hear the exact point at which the stereo sound field breaks down and the speakers essentially begin sounding like individual headphone cups. To restore the sound field, the speakers have to be moved closer together. Depending on the speaker design, that often means any previously satisfactory 1:1:1 positioning ratio that seemed to work well in the midfield then breaks down with the speakers closer together (to restore the sound field) than the listening distance.
     
  21. timind

    timind phorum rezident


    more drivers and the bigger they are the more space they need to get a cohesive sound.
    This is the deciding factor as I've understood the concept. Sure, you can sit 3 feet from the baffles, but you're not hearing the speaker as it was designed to be heard. You're not hearing it at its best.
     
  22. Helom

    Helom Forum member

    Location:
    U.S.
    The speakers being positioned that close together will reinforce their bass output in addition to the unavoidable room gain, likely resulting in overbearing bass. IME, this is especially true concerning thin wall BBC-style cabinets. You might get better results with a wider distance between the speakers at the cost of closer wall proximity. Toeing them in should alleviate much of the first reflection issues in such a scenario. I woukd also try the diagonal placement technique if the room allows.
     
  23. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Not necessarily. In my main listening room I've got a pair of SHL5+ speakers set up less than 6' apart. Because the listening position is approximately 7' from the front baffles and because the speakers are 4' from the wall behind them and a bit over 20" from the sidewalls, and because the room is well-appointed in terms of absorbent and diffusive and reflectant textures (area rug, part of an art collection, bookshelves, a combination of both open frame and upholstered furniture, etc, etc.) bass nodes are minimal (measurable but not audible), standing waves at any frequency are minimal (measurable but not audible), the sound field is relatively flat across the spectrum, the room sounds lively (i.e., not over-damped), and the music listening experience is dictated primarily by the quality of the recorded session.

    Can my main room be improved still more? Yes. But the fact that the SHL5+ speakers are positioned as they are is essentially optimal at this point. In fact, separating them by any greater distance will actually erode sound quality. Of course I have tried it. An average of three different pairs of speakers every month come through that particular room. It is the limitations and the good things (acoustically) about any room that dictate optimal speaker positioning, not any sort of hard minimal speaker separation distance. Speaker makers often provide guidance in the form of the minimum recommended separation of the speaker pair, and that's a smart guideline to be respected. But it is primarily the room itself that directs/dictates optimal speaker positioning.

    The next greatest benefit that might be derived in my particular main room has to come from an acoustic analysis and subsequent treatments. That's not happening because the room and the two different systems in it already sound wonderful, and because I am not about replace part of an art collection with acoustic panels of various sorts in order to eke out the last micro-bit of sound quality.
     
  24. tIANcI

    tIANcI Wondering when the hifi madness will end

    Location:
    Malaysia
    I hear you. Thanks!

    I’ll give that a try! TQ
     
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  25. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    FYI
    Room Setup: Near Field
     
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