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Re: REG's Harbeth M40.1 Review

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  • Robert Greene
    PS To my mind, the word open is highly suspect, and I used it in quotes in the article, and referred to it as an audiophile cliche. This is the kind of thing
    Message 1 of 42 , Jan 1, 2009
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      PS To my mind, the word "open" is highly suspect,
      and I used it in quotes in the article, and referred to
      it as an audiophile cliche. This is the kind of thing
      that people get compulsive about if audiophilia has taken them over
      like a systemic infection.

      The M40 is plenty out of the box. I have been watching mono
      movies with my M40s the last day or so, no sound from
      the TV only from the speakers. The speakers are 100 % inaudible
      as sources if one sits in the center. One really would not know that
      the sound comes from the two speakers at all.
      This is "as good as it gets" in this direction.
      (Openess is usually a cliche word for some kind of excessive high
      frequencies, which neither of the two speakers has. It ought never
      to be used except in quotes with a disclaimer).

      The M40.1s do this vanishing act ,too, at least as well and perhaps
      slightly more so on stereo because of the balance shift.(Less
      forwardness tends to make the images retreat a bit and can seem
      slightly more as if the sound source were in the box in depth
      terms). But do not get in a snit about this. The M40s did this so
      well already that the change in this regard is not to my mind very
      substantive. It is not even clear to me which is more nearly right in
      this regard.

      The real thing to think about is the balance difference in my
      opinion. This is the dominant determiner of how well a speaker will
      wear for you in the long run--how you perceive the tonal naturalness.
      And for that you need to listen carefully for yourself. You may, like
      TM, like the 40.1 balance enough better to want to change. But I
      cannot decide this for you, only point out what I perceive the
      differences as being.

      People really ought to read my TAS review itself rather than rely on
      summaries!!!! Buy the magazine if you are interested!! (Actually, you
      ought to be subscribing in my opinion. This forum is not supposed to
      be a way for you to find out what is in TAS without paying for it! If
      it were not for TAS I would never have sample to review. They should
      be supported(and their other writers are interesting ,too).
      Summaries never do justice especially since the review was already on
      a short leash in terms of word count. I am sure TM did not mean to do
      so in any unfortunate way, but to my mind he lets his own feeling
      show rather clearly. Please read what I actually wrote.
      And listen to the speakers.

      The M40.1 is a great speaker, but so were the M40s. Listening time
      for you!

      REG


      --- In regsaudioforum@yahoogroups.com, "Robert Greene"
      <regonaudio@...> wrote:
      >
      > I did not emphasize comparisons in my TAS review, since comparisons
      > seemed, for the vast majority of the readers, irrelevant. Most of
      > them do not have M40s and they cannot buy them now. What they need
      to
      > know is whether to consider the M40.1s seriously unto themselves,
      > without regard to precedent. And of course they indeed ought to
      > consider very seriously buying M40.1's relative to the nonHarbeth
      > competition, or at least that was and is my opinion.
      >
      > But if you already have M40s, then I think you need to listen for
      > yourself. The choice is not one of better or worse to my mind, but
      of
      > a subtle albeit definitely observable shift in the character of the
      > sound relative to mid range forwardness or not, with the M40.1
      > sounding slightly more forward and bass behavior, with the M40.1 s
      > lacking the bass bulge of the M40s. I think Harbeth believe that
      > their new balance is more nearly correct. (Bass depends so much on
      > room that that part depends on your environment). I am not so sure.
      > At this level of subtlety and quality , it is not clear even after
      > long exposure. (For one reason, see next paragraph).
      >
      > But whatever is true technically, that is not necessarily to say
      that
      > you will like it better. This is really a choice you have to make
      > for yourself, without , I would suggest, reference to audiophile
      > categories in your mind but just to which feels right to you. This
      is
      > especially so since the relevant tonal changes are in the range
      where
      > stereo itself makes alterations of tonal character(on account of
      head
      > effects), as noted.
      >
      > Again, it probably depends on the kind of music and the room. In my
      > room and with the kind of music I like to listen to(which needs
      > perceived distance to sound right), I actually opted in the end to
      > stick with the originals(in a context where I could afford either
      > possibility easily enough). But your experience might most
      definitely
      > be different. I gather that TM prefers the new ones, for example.
      > Incidentally, my M40s might be a little different from yours—I got
      > inside a while ago and adjusted the crossover to my personal
      > preferences(with some advice on how to do that from Harbeth).
      >
      > If you decide to switch, you probably will not have any trouble
      > selling your originals. Harbeth seems to be coming on well in the
      USA
      > now and there will lots of people who will welcome the chance to
      get
      > big Harbeth sound at lower than M40.1 prices. But I do not think it
      > is a foregone conclusion that you will want to switch, though I
      think
      > you will be happy if you are a new buyer. Listen hard, ignore audio
      > jargon and categories, whether your own or someone else's , and
      > decide for yourself which basic sound is more natural for you. Of
      > course that is the advice I would give to anyone buying speakers!
      >
      > I meant what I said in the article, that both of the speakers are
      > admirable and in the top echelon. But which is better? You should
      > listen for yourself(if you are debating changing).
      >
      > REG
      >
      > --- In regsaudioforum@yahoogroups.com, "rzangpo2" <RZangpo2@>
      > wrote:
      > >
      > > No! No, no, no, no, no! Not a BETTER M40, please! "The M40.1 has
      > better imaging and is
      > > more open ... " Oh God. I thought I had bought my last pair of
      > speakers when I bought
      > > the M40s. *with fingers in ears* "I can't heeeear you! I'm not
      > lissstennning!"
      > >
      > > Ron Stiskin
      > > New York
      > >
      > > --- In regsaudioforum@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Mallin" <tmallin@>
      > wrote:
      > > >
      > > > The allusion of the article title is to the line: "The King is
      > dead, long live the King." The
      > > M40 is the dead king, the M40.1 is the new king.
      > > >
      > > > To summarize: REG calls the speaker great and almost
      > incomparable/almost nothing
      > > like it in terms of the true sound of voices and instruments.
      Thus
      > it is a worthy successor
      > > to the M40. Compared to the M40, the M40.1 has greater
      > sensitivity, reduced bass lift for
      > > greater compatibility with home environments (and basement
      bunkers
      > like mine, I'd add),
      > > but greater bass extension into the bottom octave so as to be
      > almost full range once
      > > room gain is figured in. The M40.1 has better imaging and is
      more
      > open. The midrange
      > > has subtle shifts compared to the M40, with the 40.1 being a
      little
      > smoother below 1 kHz
      > > and the M40 is a tad smoother above 1 kHz.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > >>> yipmangmeng@ 12/31/2008 7:26 PM >>>
      > > >
      > > > Can we have a one paragraph summary? Just how it compares with
      > the M40.
      > > >
      > > > Yip
      > > >
      > > > Tom Mallin <tmallin@> wrote:
      > > > I seem to be on the leading edge of receiving my TAS issues the
      > last couple of months.
      > > I got the February issue today. Besides having JV's review of
      the
      > new Martin Logan CLX
      > > and RH's review of a system with all-Spectral electronics, it has
      a
      > one-page review of the
      > > M40.1 by REG titled "Long Live the King."
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > Get your preferred Email name!
      > > > Now you can @... and @....
      > > >
      > >
      >
    • Robert Greene
      I think these are just frequency response effects. To some extent , I agree, about the subjective listening effect--it is why I mentioned it in the review,
      Message 42 of 42 , Jan 4, 2009
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        I think these are just frequency response effects.
        To some extent , I agree, about the subjective listening effect--it
        is why I mentioned it in the review, albeit in a minimal sort of way.
        minimal because I do not think this is what I would call a really
        important thing.

        To my mind, it is far more important whether one gets the effect of
        the tone qualitities of instruments sounding right.

        As to "eerily realistic", this is not a phrase I would use about
        stereo in any form. Stereo is a kind of compromise illusion at best.
        But it is nice not to hear the speakers as separate sources, which
        both M40 and M40.1s do.

        The central illusion is produced by matching
        the sounds of the two speakers. The realism that AS is referring to
        presumably arises because of some compensation for the add -around-
        the- head frequency response errors in stereo(the perceived response
        of the sum of two speakers is not exactly the same as the perceived
        response of a centered source that is literally the same as the two
        speakers--you can find a graph on the Meridian site. )

        In order to do that, one has to alter the off- to- the- side sound
        (the sound of the individual speakers), which one may or may not want
        to do. If the center is exactly right, the left and right are not,
        and vice versa.(One of the intrinsic difficulties of stereo).

        It is a kind of tradeoff. But in any case, I think it is strictly
        a frequency response thing and as such you can dial it up in DSP.
        How to do it? Just use the correction on the Meridian site.
        There is no big mystery here, I think. You can just set it up for
        yourself with DSP EQ.


        REG



        --- In regsaudioforum@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Mallin" <tmallin@...>
        wrote:
        >
        > Okay, so we can't explain it. But we both hear some sort of
        more "out of the box" effect with the 40.1 than with the 40 on stereo
        replay. Anyone else who has heard both speakers have the same
        subjective reaction?
        >
        > Alan Shaw commented on this difference between the 40 and 40.1 on
        the Harbeth Users Group. On 11/21/07, he said:
        >
        > "- Having listened exclusively to the M40.1 as it's been under
        development, my metal construct of how a sound stage is painted by
        two speakers is based solely on how they behave - and that's my
        internal reference. What I have just realised right at the very end
        of this process now I'm making A/B comparisons is of the M40.1s
        astonishing stereo width and depth. It truly is a revelation.
        >
        > "- Believe it or not, the M40.1 is more open in the presence/lower
        treble which gives vocals exactly the right weight so that they are
        eerily realistic even panned centre stage. The vocals sound extra
        realistic because the chest component of the voice integrates very
        well with the lip component. Note: It is a mental illusion that
        allows sounds, such as vocals that are panned centre stage, to appear
        as central by some very complex processing in the brain. The more
        coherent cues that the loudspeaker can provided to the brain, the
        greater the holographic vividness of these images. I seem to have
        found and used those magic sonic cues in the M40.1's presentation."
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > >>> regonaudio@... 1/4/2009 12:48 PM >>>
        > This is why the word "open" should never be used without
        > quotation marks. It attempts to describe something of unknown
        > origin and unknown meaning and has no precision at all.
        > I am sorry I used it my review, even though I did my best
        > to disown the word as such when I did, putting it in quotes and
        > calling it an audiophile cliche.
        >
        > The M40s and the M40.1s are both inaudible as sound sources when
        one
        > is listening to mono material. That means something. Forget "open"
        >
        > REG
        >
        >
        > --- In regsaudioforum@yahoogroups.com, "Tom Mallin" <tmallin@>
        > wrote:
        > >
        > > In one of his 1/1/09 messages, REG suggested one way: "Less
        > > forwardness tends to make the images retreat a bit and can seem
        > > slightly more as if the sound source were in the box in depth
        > > terms." Thus, if the 40.1 is a bit more midrange forward, it
        could
        > sound a bit more open since the sound is more forward from and
        > therefore out of the boxes.
        > >
        > > >>> yipmangmeng@ 1/3/2009 6:39 PM >>>
        > >
        > > Then how does the M40.1 sound more open?
        > >
        > > Yip
        > >
        > >
        > > Tom Mallin <tmallin@> wrote:
        > > The M40 already had more highs and super highs than the M40.1,
        Yip.
        > >
        > > >>> yipmangmeng@ 1/3/2009 5:37 PM >>>
        > >
        > > And if you have given the M40 just a tad of more highs or super
        > highs via EQ, it might have sounded more "open".Just a thought.
        > > best,
        > > Yip
        > >
        > > Tom Mallin wrote:
        > > In my time with the M40.1 in my home, I did get to equalize
        > a "pair" of an M40.1 on the left and an M40 on the right. I just
        had
        > the TacT apply the same target curve to the different left and
        right
        > responses which I had measured (and posted in the graph I linked
        to).
        > Once the TacT EQ was applied, I found it impossible to tell the two
        > speakers apart on pink noise played through them both
        simultaneously,
        > or one at a time. They also made a fine pair of speakers on music
        for
        > the brief time I listened to that "pair."
        > >
        > > >>> yipmangmeng@ 1/3/2009 5:19 PM >>>
        > >
        > > I think if one can get the tame the bass problem of theM40 in
        one's
        > room by EQ, the bass can be tight and that can lead to an
        improvement
        > in imaging
        > >
        > > best, Yip.
        > >
        > > joe_yellowdog wrote:
        > > I changed from the m40 to 40.1 several months ago. I sold my m40s
        > for
        > > virtually what I paid for them three years before and so the swap
        > was
        > > not as painful financially as it could have been. Although I am
        > happy
        > > that I made the change, I think the differences are subtle and I
        > would
        > > be happy with either speaker-- I prefer both to any other speaker
        I
        > > have had, including my audition with the Gradient 1.5. As I noted
        > here
        > > in the past, the biggest changes that I noticed with the 40.1
        were
        > > improved imaging and tighter bass. I have a very well damped room
        > and
        > > so the 40's were not problematic bass-wise, but the 40.1 is
        tighter
        > and
        > > apparently more extended. The improved imaging is obvious in my
        > room.
        > > I do not use DSP and those who do may be in a different position,
        > but
        > > in my room there are no downsides to the 40.1, only the
        advantages
        > that
        > > I mentioned. Of course, since I now own to 40.1 and not the 40, I
        > am
        > > liable to be biased; but whatever the reason, I could not be more
        > > pleased than I am with the 40.1.
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
        > >
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