DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions

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dspringham

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Hi guys,

Been looking with interest at some of Lou's creations and like what I see.

I'm currently enjoying a pair of Harbeth SHL5's and was wondering what kind of sonic upgrade (being presumptuous here as I assume they would be an upgrade) I would experience with a pair of DA-RMa's. Would greatly appreciate any feedback supported by real world experience (ie. having heard both speakers at one time or another).

P.S. Please assume that the DA-RMa's  are the standard crossover models and not the AP option.

Thanks in advance for all comments.

Regards,
Dave

celticsfan1

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #1 on: 4 Mar 2012, 05:34 am »
I heard the SHL5 in Hong Kong 2 years on a few different amps and sources.

It was what sparked my interest in going for the Daedalus brand, everything else I heard sounded too hi fi and fatiguing.

They both have a similar natural sound, however the DA-RMa in my view are in a completely different league. Much more neutral, much more resolving (without losing the natural sound), a much sweeter and more detailed treble, and the bass is much better controlled and deeper. In my view the best part of the SHL5 was the midrange (except for the fact it was too laid back in the mix), the tweeters are metallic and don't sound as sweet as the DA-RMa tweeter, and the bass was a bit floppy.  Despite that its still a great speaker and I was considering it before I came across Daedalus.

Although my DA-RMa is the AP option...but I'd think you'd get similar improvements on the standard option.





dodgealum

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #2 on: 4 Mar 2012, 01:21 pm »
I'll chime in though celticsfan1 has more experience relative to your specific question. I had the Harbeth Compact7ES's for several years and have heard the SHL5's at least twice. I now own the DA-1.1AP's but have not heard the DA-RMa's. So, take this for whatever it is worth.....

I really like the Harbeth sound--one of the best speakers out there IMHO, particularly for vocals, acoustic instruments and small scale music (chamber, choir, jazz vocals, etc.) In fact, I moved into a larger space and shopped dozens of speakers for almost two years and could not find anything that sounded as "right" to my ears as my C7's. Yes, the larger speakers went deeper, several were more dynamic and quicker, others had a bit more realistic high frequencies with more air and sparkle. But none got the critical midrange right and presented the music in a seamless way like my C7's and so my search continued....and then I found Daedalus. I think Lou's speakers get the tone right and then add to that all the dynamics, speed, clarity, spaciousness and ability to convey the power of live music that make things so engaging and so real. So, while I have not directly compared the SHL5's and the DA-RMa's I'm guessing that even without the AP crossover you would find some improvement over the Harbeth's, though I don't think we are talking "wipe the floor with them" kind of differences. The Harbeth's are excellent speakers. The Daedalus models are for people who really like the Harbeth "tone" but yearn for a more complete package and all around speaker, one that can play ANY type of music and make it sound live in your room. Hope this helps despite my caveats above.

david12

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #3 on: 5 Mar 2012, 01:10 pm »
 I have the DA-RMAs and have heard several of the Harbeth speakers on a number of occasions and I do think they are excellent, by the way. Clearly, on this site, you are likely to get a pro Daedalus view, but I do think that is justified.

 I did'nt find the Harbeths 100%, neutral and I was'nt keen on the base as much as the DA-RMas. They are fast neutral transparent, what I was lookinhg for in fact.

  Lou does have a group of semi house trained owners, who can Dem. You might ask him if there is someone near you.

  As an aside, if you do go for Daedalus, I would try to get the AP crossover. Mine have it and it is said to be well worth the extra

jimdgoulding

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #4 on: 5 Mar 2012, 02:09 pm »
Harbeth puzzles me.  The reviews are very positive but I don't get the thin walls.  They are unique in that regard, I think.  The Dad's are surely more inert.  Maybe even exceptionally so, dunno, for sure.  Off the cuff without having heard either, they would be my choice. 

Maybe someone could explain the theory of Harbeth's approach.  I imagine they would be more efficient.  Would that be correct?

Wayne1

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #5 on: 5 Mar 2012, 03:26 pm »
Quote
I imagine they would be more efficient.  Would that be correct?

Harbeth quotes sensitivity at 86dB 1W/1 meter. Suggested amplifier power is 25- 150 watts

The DA-RMa is 97 dB. Suggested amp power is 5-600 watts

The impedance curve and phase angle on the Harbeth do have some rather interesting swings.

While Lou does not publish the measurements, I have made my own on my Athenas. I can state the impedance is virtually flat. It measures a nominal 6 ohm and is flat from 100 hz up. Same with the phase angle.

The Athenas are in a 16x14 room 3 feet from the back wall. I sit about 9 feet from them. They have been driven with 5 watt SE tubes, 30 watt Class A SS, 100 watt integrated vintage SS and 40 watt Push Pull tubes. In each instance, they have had no problem delivering the best sound I have heard in my room.

They are my reference speaker that I use to voice my products. I believe at least two other AC vendors use Lou's speakers the same way.

Don't pass on the AP option. IMHO, it should not be an option but a standard part of the speaker. The cost will go up, but the improvement is well worth it.

jtwrace

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #6 on: 5 Mar 2012, 03:32 pm »
While Lou does not publish the measurements, I have made my own on my Athenas.

Why does he choose not to publish them?

Daedalus Audio

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #7 on: 5 Mar 2012, 09:05 pm »
Why does he choose not to publish them?
good question!
I don't publish curves because I find them misleading more often than not. I don't want to offend anyone, but some products published specs are, shall we say 'weighted' and others are done with less than scientific equipment and procedures. because of this and the confusing nature of some graphs I feel that specs can cause more confusion than clarification. there is also the caveat that the best test equipment is our ears.
how many times have we seen $100 monitors with 'flat' frequency curves etc that of course sound anything but? extreme case (though common) but if you look at all the specs and claims of high end they are not much more helpful.
I hope this helps clarify why I publish as few specs as possible and try to get people to hear the speakers to make their judgment that way.
thanks,
lou

Daedalus Audio

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #8 on: 5 Mar 2012, 09:09 pm »
They are my reference speaker that I use to voice my products. I believe at least two other AC vendors use Lou's speakers the same way.

Gill Audio, Modwright Inst., Purity Audio, and Galibier Turntables join Bolder in using my speakers as their reference system.

thanks,
lou

Daedalus Audio

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #9 on: 5 Mar 2012, 09:17 pm »
Harbeth quotes sensitivity at 86dB 1W/1 meter. Suggested amplifier power is 25- 150 watts

The DA-RMa is 97 dB. Suggested amp power is 5-600 watts

The impedance curve and phase angle on the Harbeth do have some rather interesting swings.

While Lou does not publish the measurements, I have made my own on my Athenas. I can state the impedance is virtually flat. It measures a nominal 6 ohm and is flat from 100 hz up. Same with the phase angle.

The Athenas are in a 16x14 room 3 feet from the back wall. I sit about 9 feet from them. They have been driven with 5 watt SE tubes, 30 watt Class A SS, 100 watt integrated vintage SS and 40 watt Push Pull tubes. In each instance, they have had no problem delivering the best sound I have heard in my room.

They are my reference speaker that I use to voice my products. I believe at least two other AC vendors use Lou's speakers the same way.

Don't pass on the AP option. IMHO, it should not be an option but a standard part of the speaker. The cost will go up, but the improvement is well worth it.

thanks Wayne,
the DA-RMa is about 96db SPL (with AP) and 95db with standard XO. 
this is still about 10 db more sensitive than the Harbeth.
this translates to using ONE TENTH the power! this alone gives much greater dynamic range and means that even at very high volumes the speaker is never working hard or pushed to it's limits. my experience is this allows for an effortless sound and an ease in reproducing the subtle harmonics, decay etc.
this is just my approach but it is good to remember that 10db = 10 times the power!

figcon

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #10 on: 6 Mar 2012, 02:37 am »
I agree with Lou regarding the measurements. For those that publish measurements of their speakers, say taken in an anechoic chamber, the flat results may look great on paper, but there is a very good chance that in the real world, those same speakers will sound brighter than real. For those that care, I have taken frequency response measurements of my Ulysses and they are just about textbook.

dodgealum

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #11 on: 8 Mar 2012, 08:11 pm »
Jim:

My understanding is that the Harbeth draws on the BBC legacy of thin walled cabinets which are supposed to push the frequency of cabinet resonances downward and out of the critical midrange area where they more perceptably alter the sound. The thinking is that you simply cannot stop the cabinet from vibrating so better to control the vibration and have it occur where it does the least damage sonically. While the Daedalus cabinets are quite inert it seems to me that making them out of solid hardwoods does lend a certain character to whatever sound the cabinet is contributing (warmth, body, etc.) though I'm just guessing here. Perhaps Lou can talk a little about why he uses solid hardwoods and what the sonic benefits are of this material versus MDF, aluminum, ETC. One thing I can say for sure is that the wood LOOKS damn nice!

Daedalus Audio

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #12 on: 13 Mar 2012, 07:18 pm »
Jim:

My understanding is that the Harbeth draws on the BBC legacy of thin walled cabinets which are supposed to push the frequency of cabinet resonances downward and out of the critical midrange area where they more perceptibly alter the sound. The thinking is that you simply cannot stop the cabinet from vibrating so better to control the vibration and have it occur where it does the least damage sonically. While the Daedalus cabinets are quite inert it seems to me that making them out of solid hardwoods does lend a certain character to whatever sound the cabinet is contributing (warmth, body, etc.) though I'm just guessing here. Perhaps Lou can talk a little about why he uses solid hardwoods and what the sonic benefits are of this material versus MDF, aluminum, ETC. One thing I can say for sure is that the wood LOOKS damn nice!
This one of those areas which reflect core differences in design philosophy. I follow the school of thought that a cabinet should be very stiff, and this is one of the primary reasons I use hardwood as it is much more rigid than MDF etc. While I believe than any cabinet material will impart some 'tonality' to the system we strive to make this 'contribution' as small as possible, also I feel that by using hardwoods we keep whatever minute coloration as musical as we can. I do NOT try to 'use' the resonance of the cabinet but work to tighten the cabinet so there is as little resonance as possible.

The concept that letting the cabinet vibrate at lower frequencies will not have an effect on the higher frequencies seems to me a flawed or a 'partial' solution. This is similar to using long throw woofers into the mid frequencies and ignoring the effect of the cone movement on the mids. This points to another design fundamental of mine which is to use short throw drivers in their proper range only.

For the record, almost any design philosophy has some systems that work in spite of what one may think, so my opinions on these matters are just my own guidelines for my work here.
oh and, I have to admit that I do love the look and feel of real hardwood, thanks Mark!

thanks,
Lou

dspringham

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #13 on: 14 Mar 2012, 11:21 pm »
Hello again everyone,

Thank you all for the responses to my question. After talking with Lou and reading the posts here I think I'm getting a feel for how the DA-Rma's stack up to the 'beths.

I notice that there is only the one "professional" (?) review of the DA-Rma's while there are a couple of reviews for it's bigger brother. I'm wondering if any of the commentary on the sonic characteristics of the Elysses can be "downward extrapolated" to the DA-Rma (ie similar sound signature but on a smaller scale). If so, would the comments in the two reviews of the Ulysses give some reasonable additional data points regarding the Daedalus "reference series" sound.

Once again, thanks to everyone and your comments.

Dave

Daedalus Audio

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #14 on: 15 Mar 2012, 03:29 am »
Hello again everyone,

Thank you all for the responses to my question. After talking with Lou and reading the posts here I think I'm getting a feel for how the DA-Rma's stack up to the 'beths.

I notice that there is only the one "professional" (?) review of the DA-Rma's while there are a couple of reviews for it's bigger brother. I'm wondering if any of the commentary on the sonic characteristics of the Elysses can be "downward extrapolated" to the DA-Rma (ie similar sound signature but on a smaller scale). If so, would the comments in the two reviews of the Ulysses give some reasonable additional data points regarding the Daedalus "reference series" sound.

Once again, thanks to everyone and your comments.

Dave
Dave,
all the speakers in the Daedalus lineup have a similar sound, the professional reviews of the Ulysses as of now also give a very good picture of the DA-RMa.
thanks,
lou

david12

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #15 on: 15 Mar 2012, 11:39 am »
 What Lou said....

  Having heard both at RMAF, when I decided to buy the DA-RMas, I honestly did'nt hear that much difference, even in the base, where the difference might be. The Ulysses seem to be happy in a small room, nevertheless, room size might be a consideration. The larger Ulysses might be better moving the air in a large room. Otherwise, I think you would be happy with either.

dspringham

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Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #16 on: 29 Mar 2012, 11:01 pm »
Just a followup to my original thread.

First off, thanks to everyone who offered their comments. It's obvious that Daedalus has a very loyal group of users. The information presented was greatly appreciated.

Well, I can now say that I have in my possession and am now the proud owner of a pair of DA-RMa's recently purchased on Audiogon. This pair has an incredible heavy burled walnut enclosure that simply captivated me when I first saw them in the Audiogon ad.

This particular pair was intended to be utilized in a recording studio environment but apparently did not work out for the original owner. Apparently they had only put about ten hours on them over the three years of ownership and they spent most of their time "shrouded" in the corner of the studio.

They have the standard crossover but right from the first note of music to come forth in my room I knew that I had a keeper. Having lived happily with the SHL5's for the last few years I will be sorry to see them go, but as someone had mentioned previously, the DA-RMa's do everything the Harbeths did but to a greater degree. I am busy attempting to get the requisite break-in hours accumulated while I'm away at the office during the day. Still have a ways to go but can already see (and hear) the potential.

Thanks to Lou for his time and patience spent with me on the phone during my "due diligence" period. It sounds like I may be one of the only Daedalus owners in Canada.

I would be happy to post some pics in this thread but not sure how to link them. It would be interesting to hear from others what to expect with regards to sonic improvements (and to what degree) during the breakin process.

Once again, thank you to everyone for their contribution and for helping me arrive at my decision to purchase.

Regards,
Dave

jonbee

Re: DA-RMa vs. Harbeth SHL5- Seeking comments & opinions
« Reply #17 on: 30 Mar 2012, 01:21 am »
It's good to hear your impressions. I don't own a pair (a friend has Athenas), but I'm a big fan of Lou's work. BTW, I thought seriously about buying the pair you bought. They are lovely instruments.