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Harbeth hl5 40th anniversary - question on Twitters.

Boazrush

New member
Hello,
I currently use 7es3 which I love.
I was thinking about upgrading to the new 5 SHL anniversary, but I'm afraid to give up on a good thing (also they are pricey).
More then that, I have heard the the twitter on the 5+ has a tendency for brightness- I’m very sensitive to that...

would like Ike to know if the SHL 5 anniversary version is different in that specific matter.

I am not able to Addition the speakers before buying, unfortunately.
Thank you!
B.
 

ahofer

Member
No issues with brightness IMO. Nor does the measured frequency response suggest it. I would characterize myself as someone sensitive to that, and concerned about 'fatigue'. I passed on several speakers for that very reason. However, their measured response tended to match my impressions.
 

Milosz

Active member
No Harbeth model I have heard can be described as “bright”. SHL5+ has more open, spacious sound compared to the “old” SHL5 or C7, but not at all bright. Having said that, if you like and are accustomed to the sound of C7ES3, wouldn’t accept more open sound with a little more top end, and don’t have an amplifier equipped with tone controls then I’d rather listen to the SHL5+ before purchase. You will probably love SHL5+ but it’s all matter of personal preference so nobody can decide for you. I’m a happy owner of SHL5+ but I’d probably live happily with any Harbeths.
 

MikeM

Active member
ahofer said:
No issues with brightness IMO. Nor does the measured frequency response suggest it. I would characterize myself as someone sensitive to that, and concerned about 'fatigue'. I passed on several speakers for that very reason. However, their measured response tended to match my impressions.
Very much agree with the above comment.

Some years ago I developed a rather annoying case of 24 hours a day Tinnitus which affected my listening enjoyment to the point of not bothering anymore. Then I was introduced to the Harbeth brand and that, together with doing away with my cult UK made amplification that was at extreme loudness from hardly moving the volume pot and I'd suspected was probably developing a nasty case of clipping by then, changed the way I was able to enjoy my music again. No fatigue, no nastiness at any point whatsoever throughout the frequency range, in fact a truly thoroughly engineered product. I personally think Harbeth speakers are the best audio investment I've ever made.

Regards, Mike
 

Ned Mast

Member
I've not experienced any issues with brightness with either SHL5s or M40s. That's assuming wonderful recordings, which is not always the case. With less than wonderful recordings, issues of brightness (such as in the high strings) are resolved with DSP.
 

ProAudio68

New member
Owning SHL5plus for many years I would say they present brightness the way it is required. It might sound a bit complicated, but it helped me a lot over the course of 35 years in HIFI to have an idea or expectation as to how my most favorite or reference pieces of music should / must / ought to sound. That being said, by no means I believe that there is objective truth as to how a specific piece of music should sound but you can create your own expectation for sure. If you have listened to your favorite music over the course of 30 yrs on i.e. 5 different speakers and as many amps or sources, then you pretty much know what sounds good to your ears and what not. So, to your point, if your music would sound too bright on my Harbeth, then that's your truth / your judgement and that would be fine.

Which leads me to DSP, room correction methods and such which I have been testing for some years now as I own Lyngdorf gear. I always revert back to the tonal setting "normal" and this is also the one that sounds the brightest because the sound curve remains unaltered. With a room correction AMP or software you could make any loudspeaker and also Harbeth sound the way you would like them to sound. You could, but not my advise. Room correction yes, Sound correction no, as you change the original music.
 

willem

Well-known member
If you are in a position to listen to live music, and calssical music in particular, you are in a good position to judge the canned sound, preferably recorded in the same venue that you visit for live concerts. As for dsp equalization, I agree it is probably undesirable above the Schroeder frequency. But below that it makes great sense.
 

cookster

New member
I have the SHL5+ and am very happy indeed, and I had the SHL5 35th Anniv' prior to these and loved those too, and only swapped as the wife preferred rosewood over the cherry on the 35th anniversary I had. I am just about to buy a pair of P3esr for the bedroom too, but have always had a sweet spot for the C7 and believe that these are some of the best speakers ever produced. They just 'do it' beautifully, and I only went SHL5 in preference to the C7 because my listening room is rather large.

I would have the C7's in a heartbeat, they are sublime, but do choose your speakers in relation to your listening room. If my room was smaller I would go for the C7's for sure. I have listened to the 30.1s too but found them a little bit too 'clinical' for my liking, and given that I often listen for long periods of time, I think my ears would fatigue after an hour or two, whereas with the C7s and SHL5s I could listen all day as they are just so natural in musical reproduction.

....Now to answer your question....

The differences between the SHL5 and the SHL5+ are all down to the listeners ears, and to my ears, very similar, but if I had to describe a difference I would describe the SHL5 as 'refined' with the 'Plus' version almost identical but maybe a little more 'precise'. I would have either model without any problems at all, and like I said above, only changed for the aesthetics of veneer change from cherry to rosewood. I would say that I have not found the SHL5 to be 'bright' at all.

If you are set on SHL5 and if budget and best value for money is important to you, I would just go for the SHL5 in the veneer finish of your choice (and then sell me your C7s) BUT seriously if you really love your C7s, I would just keep enjoying them, and save the expense associated with SHL5 (and new stands). The C7s are the sweethearts if the range IMHO.

I've probably used a heap of hifi inappropriate adjectives here, but I hope it provides you with my experiences fairly.
 

hifi_dave

Well-known member
None of the Harbeth speakers could be termed "bright" in any way. Revealing and natural - yes but bright they are not.

There is a lot of BS and misinformation on the www, often from people who have never even heard the product, have an agenda or just plain wrong. Your ears will tell you what is right.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
This designer states that reproducing the human voice naturally is his core design objective (on the basis that we all know how natural voice sounds as we talk with each other daily) and if voice is natural, it is pretty well assured that music will sound natural (not guaranteed, but a fighting chance). The ear/brain has a narrow range of expectations of the frequency-energy of a human voice, and so a loudspeaker that is excessively toppy (or bass rich for that matter) is instantaneously identified on spech as a transducer, not a real person talking.

That said, in my view now, the earliest Harbeths from 30+ years ago had the tweeter level set intentionally slightly below the market average.
 

allthumbs

Member
May I ask about the process?. If I remember rightly it was your niece's voice that you tried to replicate or used as a reference for the speaker build?

Did you have a recording of your niece's voice, or did you do real life comparisons, playing a recording through the speaker and having your niece recite the same words, or sing the same song?

Or did you rely on your memory and interactions with your niece and surprise yourself when you heard you niece's voice emanate from the speaker?

If sound is frequency and modulation and amplitude and phase etc, physics ostensibly and scientifically reducible to mathematics, and if you can get the human voice correct then as you say the rest will follow, why is that process not reversible beginning with say the sound of a cello and producing the same result?



The cello's perfect partner: the human voice
 

tIANcI

Member
It’s funny to hear that Harbeth speakers are labeled as bright. 😂🤣

I would love a bit more highs from them but then that smacks against the reproduction of natural human voice.

One thing is for sure, Harbeth speakers allow you to do marathon sessions without fatigue.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
May I ask about the process?. If I remember rightly it was your niece's voice that you tried to replicate or used as a reference for the speaker build? Did you have a recording of your niece's voice, or did you do real life comparisons, playing a recording through the speaker and having your niece recite the same words, or sing the same song?

Or did you rely on your memory and interactions with your niece and surprise yourself when you heard you niece's voice emanate from the speaker?

If sound is frequency and modulation and amplitude and phase etc, physics ostensibly and scientifically reducible to mathematics, and if you can get the human voice correct then as you say the rest will follow, why is that process not reversible beginning with say the sound of a cello and producing the same result?
Some very interesting points there.

It was my daughter's voice as 5 year old (or thereabouts). The shock or replaying that voice on the LS3/5a was the motivation for designing the (original) P3 way back in 1990; the P3 has now been in continuous production far longer than the LS3/5a. Basically, her reproduced voice was too forward, had too much presence and was too bright.

Once you know what to listen for, the mangling effect of the loudspeaker is separatable from the real voice in your mind. Thinks listening to a known voice over a loudspeaker: 'yes, that lispyness is probably because of the xyz charater of the tweeter as I recall from its frequency response; that disjointedness between the fundamental and harmonics of the voice is almost certainly a crossover issue; that slight over-vividness in the sound is surely due to too much energy in the 800-1500Hz region' and so on.

As for using any musical instrument as a test source, the challenge is of familiarity. We hear voices all day long around us. We have, as I said, a limited range of expectations of how humans 'should' sound. But as for a musical instrument - how much exposure do we have in a month? Aside from that, the instrument fills the room in a very different way to a loudspeaker even placed at exactly the same spot in the room. The voice does too, but we can cope with that.
 

Hobgoblins

New member
“We hear voices all day long around us...but as for a musical instrument - how much exposure do we have in a month?”

This sums it up perfectly. No wonder I’m so happy with my Harbeth speakers.
 

MikeT.

New member
I would have the C7's in a heartbeat, they are sublime, but do choose your speakers in relation to your listening room. If my room was smaller I would go for the C7's for sure.
If my listening room was larger I would have gone for the SHL5+ in a heartbeat. I love my C7ES3s. Since getting my Harbeths and joining this forum I have learned much about why Harbeths sound so good and why. Loudness and human speech, never in another 20 years would I have guessed these two factors are so key in determining such a great listening experience.

I ditched my tubes and got a bit more power and love the results.

The SHL5+ audition a few years ago started my serious consideration of Harbeth. I’m enjoying the listening and education and the new and improved HUG.
 
S

Smoooth

Guest
If my listening room was larger I would have gone for the SHL5+ in a heartbeat. I love my C7ES3s. Since getting my Harbeths and joining this forum I have learned much about why Harbeths sound so good and why. Loudness and human speech, never in another 20 years would I have guessed these two factors are so key in determining such a great listening experience.

I ditched my tubes and got a bit more power and love the results.

The SHL5+ audition a few years ago started my serious consideration of Harbeth. I’m enjoying the listening and education and the new and improved HUG.
How big is your room? I have a 14sqm room and the 5's sound awesome in here. I'm sure I'm not getting full potential but by no means they sound bad. FWIW it's the best sounding speaker I've had in this room. Don't be afraid of a too small room is my suggestion.
 

MikeT.

New member
How big is your room? I have a 14sqm room and the 5's sound awesome in here. I'm sure I'm not getting full potential but by no means they sound bad. FWIW it's the best sounding speaker I've had in this room. Don't be afraid of a too small room is my suggestion.
My room, an extra bedroom, is approximately 12.5 square meters. Both the SHL5+ and the C7ES3 cabinets are surprisingly large, the C7’s fit nicely. The SHL5+, when I first auditioned them were placed well away from the sound room walls and were playing into quite a large room, I am guessing close to 20sqm, possibly a little more. They filled up the room nicely with no effort using a 40wpc tube integrated.
 
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