LFD AUDIO: Their best power amps for bi-wire Harbeth speakers

Hi Howard. What experience have you had using LFD power amps with Harbeth speakers that have a bi-wire facility? What was / is the best? What do you or did you use?

Hmm. I have a feeling this is going to be a thread, or at least a theme than runs on. I’ve no problem with that. At one point I had every Harbeth speaker on demonstration – before I resigned the agency for commercial rather than sonic reasons. I still of course as LFD’s global #1 retailer use every one of their integrated and power amps. So far, so good.

As for ‘best’ – this facet of audiophile ‘joy’ or audiophile ‘misery’ has been debated endlessly. Suffice to say that your perception of ‘best’ could and probably should differ from mine. Thus my reading on this is for information only.

Rather than produce a rather long text re all this I have below summarised the most frequently asked questions re bi-wiring Harbeths.

Do Harbeth’s benefit from bi-wiring in my experience?

Yes indeed. In fact (bearing in mind that in my era not all Harbeths were made to bi-wire) I never directly and personally felt that reverting back to conventional connection offered any benefits. Thus I always preferred bi-wiring. It might not be the same for you. I can though with a strong degree of confidence suggest that the possibility of bi-wiring sound worse is negligible.

What were the benefits?

Of course this depended on the Harbeth models. My personal favourite and I believe remains an all-time cast iron true classic is the SHL5 model. It also depends on the Speaker Cables (very important from LFD into Harbeth), the Interconnects, preferred listening volume, room acoustics and so on.

For me, in my room and on all forms of music (I never ever tolerate hip-hop, rap, dance or stuff like that – anywhere!) I experienced a greater sense of ease. My perception was that there was more discernable detail at low sound pressure levels than via traditional wiring. Like driving a car with a V12 engine than a turbo-charged car of similar BHP.

At high levels, a sense of less strain and greater ease. Possibly merely a perception – but welcome none the less. The midrange seemed (again, possibly merely a perception) more natural or as Dr. Richard Bews says – ‘Grainless’.

Any disadvantages?

Excluding the associated costs in terms of preferring the best LFD biwire cables with a budget, none.

Why don’t Harbeth offer bi-wiring throughout the range?

I’m not sure they don’t. I’ve been out of touch since I resigned. You could ask them directly of course via http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?1001-LFD-released-the-LFD-LE-IV-Signature-Amplifier-A-review

May I suggest that if you do then you couch your question carefully? I found Mr. Shaw, despite his undoubted technical brilliance a rather unpalatable man capable of effortless condescension and formed the impression that unless proved otherwise, all enthusiasts are to varying degrees all stupid in his eyes. I guess he tolerates end-users (and dealers) only for the profit they bring. But hey – perhaps that’s just me. Under different circumstances it’s possible he’s a nice bloke. I neither know nor care. Anyway …

My guess, and it is only a guess that from a careful consideration of the acoustic characteristics of the varying models, only a selected few benefit from bi-wire.

For every £100 spent on LFD amps or Speaker Cables will I get more listening pleasure from the power amp of the LFD bi-wire cables?

Sorry – but without specifics there are, as currently posed, just too many variables that prevent an intelligent response.

What did you use?

Harbeth SHL5 bi-wired using either the LFD PA2M (SE) or twin LFD NLE stereo power amps with varying LFD bi-wire cables and LFD Interconnects of course – mainly with an LFD LS3 Linestage or Meridian 101B preamp despite it being 36 years old. Sometimes a Manley Shrimp preamp. Truly wonderful.

Is there a non LFD power amp at any price that could drive Harbeth speakers better?

If money is no object then in my direct personal experience, yes. The Mark Levinson ML-2 mono power amps – about 40 years old. Ideally with a pair of ML 6a mono preamps. Either that or a Boothroyd Stuart Meridian 107 – of which only 9 were ever built.

Hope this helps


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