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Harbeth SHL5 to SHL5 Plus

Discussion in 'audio' started by ryder, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. ampman

    ampman pfm Member

    I've owned C7, C7es2, C7es3 and SHL5+ and to my ears each was an improvement on the other. The SHL5 plus are easily the best of the lot for me.

    I use with a Luxman l505u amp and d-05u player. While the Harbeths work ok with a low powered amp - I had a Leben cs300x, more watts is beneficial particularly with rock, electronica etc.

    While the pluses work ok in most poistions I also found they were much better quite far apart - 2 plus metres from driver centre and toed in to point at the ear or even nose. The main tweeter needs to be at ear level too.

    I can't compare SHL5 to plus though.
     
  2. highcut28

    highcut28 pfm Member

    a few months ago i had a listen to the SHL5 vs the SHL5 Plus
    Must say I am not a fan of either
    But the local distributor in KL who has been devoted to the brand for decades is so upset with Harbeth for messing with the originals.
    It was quite a funny session , him ranting on and on about the denigration of the originals.
    Claimed he bought up all the available stock of the originals.
    When I asked him about the Kef LS50 he was so disdained at the question he simply ignored me :)
     
  3. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    It would be interesting to hear from people who have posted their Harbeth preferences about their room sizes and system. I think as a very vague rule of thumb, I'd be tempted to say that the Harbeth that looks best in your room is also likely to sound best. I know that sounds naive, but with lossy box speakers it seems to largely hold true.

    The SHL5Plus look perfect in my large room, which is about 23 x 15 (I think). I've had them in my smaller room for the last few days, and this is only 14'8" x 12, so they do look more imposing. However I have finally got them to work without any boom issues. When I tried them previously they were very good but I still had this occasional nagging issue in between 40-50Hz. It's an issue that I seem to get with virtually all largeish speakers, and it is the reason why I've recently gone for some speakers with adjustable built in subs. But this time, I've ironed out the issue with the 5s. They are working very nicely and I'm not eager to switch back my other speakers any time soon.

    It probably works so well now because my system has changed; my current power amps are a modest 70W, but they are very tight KT88 designs in which I'm using a quad of KT120s. Perhaps more crucial is that I've recenly got a very good pre-amp (ARC LS26). I've found it surprising in the past how much a preamp can do for keeping things tight (for instance the more regulation you have in the Croft range, the tighter the bass). On top of these system changes, I've gone back to a room formation that gives the speakers plenty of space behind (about 3 feet, as much as I had with my ESL63s). It's the same formation I used for the Compact 7s too, which brings me back to my original point. The Compact 7s probably looked the most perfect size for my room; the proportions of that box are ideal for a small to medium living room. So that speaker did have a good blend of dynamics and space and body. But the 5Plus are quite a big step up in a lot of areas, and if I were keeping the Harbeths in this room I would stick with the 5s. Once you get the bass tight (and it's obviously going to be a slightly bigger challenge with a big box in a small room), everything opens up and you realise what a superb balance they have.
     
  4. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    I think your rule of thumb is pretty good.

    I tried the SHL5s in a medium-sized room (3.75m x 5m) and found them overpowering. OTOH when I heard them on demo in the larger room at KJWest1 (at least 6m x 6m) they sounded great, whereas the M30.1s got a bit lost.
     
  5. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    That room is about the size of mine; just slightly larger in fact. I find the 5s overpowering with very powerful amplifiers with a lot of gain, but not with my current amps. It's about getting the balance where the amp (as much as the speakers) is the right size for your room. But go too low powered and you lose both dynamics and grip on the bass.
     
  6. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    I'm looking for speakers for our 5 x 5.5m living room. My wife has put her foot down: the speakers must look 'normal' and be no more than 1m high (so they won't block the view of pictures on the wall behind). That excludes my Martin Logans, which will be going up to my study. It also excludes the pair of s/h Vivid V1.5s (in a nice metallic pale blue) that I bought last year before this new ordinance was promulgated.

    I like the look of trad standmounts with a relatively wide baffle, so the SHL5s are on my list. Judging by my experience so far and by what others have said, the SHL5s *ought* to sound good in the room.
     
  7. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    This is how the SHL5Plus look in my small room (4.5 x 3.6m):

    [​IMG]

    Hardly discrete, but nor are they overwhelming.

    The height with stands is about 108cm. So from Matt's point of view, they transgress the 1m height limit, and might be the cause of protracted domestic negotiations regarding picture hanging. A war between art and music might ensue.

    If I had a room of 5.5m x 5 I'd also want to audition the Proac D30Rs. I loved them but sadly the bass was too much for this room. They are only 4cm above 1m.
     
  8. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

    You could have just EQ'd a little of the bass at the offending frequencies, you could also move your speakers back so they take unless space, measure and EQ if necessary.
    Keith
     
  9. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    Some very nice kit there.

    Re. the 1m height limit, I could cunningly use a slightly shorter stand.

    This afternoon I moved the Martin Logans into my redecorated study: they sound marvellous, with nice tight bass (even before EQing). They look pretty fab too (against a pale grey wall). Too untidy to photograph just yet though.
     
  10. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Try reading the thread before you do the sales pitch Keith. I don't need EQ, as I've said, and I don't need to move the speakers back.

    Matt, interested to know how the MLs compare with your Vivids, and with future Harbeth demos. When I was listening to a lot of speakers after deciding to part with my ESL63s, I thought the Vivids were in some ways closest to the tonal balance of the Quads.
     
  11. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!


    The small Vivids do what they do very well indeed. Their tone is, as you say, very true, and the mid-range has a bit of that ESL airiness. I bought them after listening to them side-by-side with the PMC Fact 8s. What struck me about the Vivids was that the top end was quite a bit cleaner than the PMCs. Also they didn’t sacrifice anything in terms of weight and presence, despite being physically smaller.

    Comparison with the Martin Logans is an altogether different matter. The MLs provide an immersive wall of sound. Like other line-source speakers, they can make an orchestra sound three-dimensionally real in a way that smaller speakers, like the Vivids, can’t, in my experience at least. This is also the main difference between MLs and Quads (well, that and the MLs’ superior LF extension and wider listening window).
     
  12. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Brief update, as I've still got the SHLPlus in the main system. I continue to be impressed at how well they are working in this small room and grow to love these speakers ever more. When I first got them I had them in all the wrong positions, but now, exactly where my C7s and the ESL63s were, they are thriving.

    Over the last couple of days I've been running them with my Unico Pre/DM. It's amazing what a huge solid state power reserve plus a touch of valves does with Harbeths. It gives such a great structure to the sound; it's almost an architectural sense; balance, authority, poise and weight. But of course this is no use without texture, naturalism, and flow, and the valve input stage helps with these qualities. I've been using some very good KT88 monoblocks recently, and these have speical qualities, but I still have a feeling that mosfet/valve hybrids are possibly the best choice with Harbeths.

    Anyway, back to my Doo Wop sesion.
     
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    What's the rest of the kit Andrew? I can spot something a bit Nottingham Analogue-ish, an Audio Research pre and something that looks like an Audio Synthesis DAC aside from it is silver and I thought they were all black!

    PS Your right picture is about a cm lower than your left one. Just pointing it out to help.
     
  14. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Ha! That is true OCD. Thanks; I'll make an adjustment. To answer your questions...

    SYSTEM. The digital source is Audio Synthesis DAX Discrete with AS Transport (this has been there for a few years now). The deck is a Fletcher Omega Point 5 with 12" Ace Anna and Grado Statement Ref. Going into a Trilogy 907 phono stage, then into ARC LS26, into VAC Auricle mono blocks, which are KT88 based but currently running with KT120s.

    COLOUR. I think the AS stuff looks better in silver personally. The system is now a nice mix of silver and black. There is arguably not enough black in the system with the Unico Pre/DM which I've just gone back to (ostensibly to prepare for a sale, but might keep now!).
     
  15. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    Ears-Looks good and would think sound very fine! I am wondering how a Croft Micro 25 pre and Series 7 amp would do with the Harbeths? Not in a position to change speakers at the moment but....
     
  16. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Tim, I've used exactly that with the 5Plus and it sounds very good. Of course the Harbeth/Croft is a classic pairing. I've used the 25/7 with the Harbeths upstairs in my larger room (where I also used a Sonneteer Alabaster to good effect). I haven't tried it in my smaller room, but mean to give it a go at some point. I tend to think more regulation might be needed in a smaller room to keep things tight, but I don't know. Keeping the speakers away from corners is the most imporant thing.
     
  17. hifi_dave

    hifi_dave Hi-Fi Retailer

    It's a combination I sell a lot of.
     
  18. TimF

    TimF pfm Member

    Thanks for that, have heard that the combo seems to be regarded rather well, but have not heard it myself. Actually have only had the Crofts for a little over a week, so getting used to them in my own setup. At some point might have to hear the combination, Harbeths or even Stirlings have piqued my interest over the last couple years.
     
  19. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    Nice room, and nice space for the SHL5+. Interesting that the speaker stands are not spiked to the floor.
     
  20. hifi_dave

    hifi_dave Hi-Fi Retailer

    Would you put spikes through a parquet floor ?
     

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