HARBETH: Owner underwhelmed by their performance

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Dear Howard. I recently bought a pair of SHL5's and have been …ahem…under whelmed by their performance, coming from Rogers LS4a's and Quad 57's. In particular they seem a very poor match for tube amplification, at least my Jadis Orchestra Reference and KT 88's.  I wonder if they are worth hanging onto and whether changing amplifier will help. My inclination is to sell them and move on.

You may, or may not, recall I owned a LFD Zero III with some C7es3's . I always thought that the LFD lacked bass control and head room with the C7's, although in other respects was a good combination. I suspect the same may be true of the 5's. I should also say, in confidence, I am no fan of AW. It just so happens that a pair came up and I was curious.

All I can say re this is that the poor interface between these speakers and valve power amps is well known among retailers who care about these things rather than a quick sale. Had you been one of my customers I'd have directed you towards speakers which better suit the Jadis. Incidentally I don't stock Jadis but deeply respect the 'house sound' of their designs.

Err, not quite. Before I resigned the Harbeth agency and having extensively demonstrated the entire range I personally found the 5s to be Harbeth's masterpiece. The 40.1 speakers just didn't 'do it' for me. Terrific. well controlled bass from the 5s with any LFD.

If you want to hear the Harbeth 5s in all their glory then the LFD NCSE might be all you'll ever need. If on the other hand you want to keep the Jadis then (and although I can't supply them) I'd carefully audition various Sonus Faber models. To my ears they come to life with valves.

Howard

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  • OBtel

    Certainly Harbeths won’t have been designed using tube amps as the designer is known to use solid-state – that said, I’ve heard them sing beautifully with some tubes – maybe with slightly more ‘beef’ than your amp?

    Mixing tubes and Harbeth is rather a stone-age/nuclear age combination.