British sound???


I see few threads talk about 'british sound'.
What exactly is it?

Les Paul through a Marshall Amp! Is one answer..JD
Harbeth, Spendor, B&W, heavy emphasis on Prat, pacing, rhythm, and timing.
Speakers that emphasize the midrange. Often monitors and lower wattage integrated amps. PRaT as mentioned above is a trait.
some say they emphasise soundstage/imaging less in addition to PRaT
British sound is a relatively neutral signature with good PRAT and musicality. They dont sound like typical European products which try to be very sophisticated, Brits try to be honest.
The BBC established specific design criteria for several monitoring situations. There's a whole series of them - 3/5, 3/6, 5/1, 5/8, 5/9, etc. I believe the numbers have something to do with the intended size of the studio where they will be used? It's a midrange neutral design as opposed to the midrange forward design favored in the USA by Western Electric/Altec/JBL.
Yes, and hearing too. Many years ago FI magazine ran an article about how ones hearing is influenced by the county you came from. So, Brits do hear differently and from that 'British' oriented speakers involved. One of the best illustrations of that is ProAC speakers.
I wouldn't say that they emphasize the midrange, they're main concern seems to be getting the midrange right. Doing this, may be at the cost of less treble or bass, since that seems to be their primary concern. With that said, the bass or treble is not wrong, just not equally emphasized as American, or some others countries speakers may be. The bass and treble might sound lacking a little when compared to a lot of non-British types. They can be very accurate since the most important part of the music is in the mid-range area IMO. In the past years, they've been doing a better job of getting more the whole range included, without sacrificing their accurate mid-range. Spendor and Harbeth seem to go more in this direction, and less so with B&W, or some other brands.
First heard about "British Sound" in the '70's, relative to Kef, Bowers and Wilkins, et al. I always thought that the phrase referred to their popular (in Britain) 2 way systems that were (usually) pretty tonally nuetral but lacked deep bass (relative to the 3 way systems - from JBL, Altec, et al - popular in the US at the time).

I'd note that the whole concept was emerging with the appearence of pricier hifi gear as an alternative to the mass produced Japanese equipment that flooded the market thru the '60s (a phenomenon later dubbed "high end audio"). The British brands focused first on their domestic market which featured less discretionary income than the US market - likely dictating simpler designs than the US market might support (although, once these products got here and were marked up for import, they slated nicely as US luxury goods). Also, British homes usually have smaller rooms than US homes - two good reasons that these 2 way designs probably came to dominate the British product offerings.


PS The Kef Corelli was my first "high end" purchase.
If I were to attempt to recreate the classic BBC british sound thru my EQ (just for fun), what settings?

03-15-11: Aberyclark
If I were to attempt to recreate the classic BBC british sound thru my EQ (just for fun), what settings?
Aberyclark (Threads | Answers | This Thread)

Maybe find a review of one somewhere that gives the frequency response like Sterephile does when they test a speaker. Duplicate their readout. Don't forget, any coloration's your own have would be added also, in this experiment.
Naim, Linn, Exposure are good examples for British electronics. plenty of PRAT, natural mid-range with little emphasis on the deep bass or sound stage.
Aberyclark, I forgot to say, it would still be hard to picture the mids they're famous for, trying the EQ experiment.
Read Robert E. Green's review of the Spendor 1/2 or Harbeth Compact 7 speakers. This should give you a pretty good idea of the British sound.

You can find the reviews here:

Spendor 1/2

Harbeth Compact 7
Just listening to my newly acquired Spendor 1/2s, and the British sound can be summed up with one word: Good.
The "British sound" is also characterized by a small dip in the presence region (2-4K hertz) which will have the effect of emphasizing the midrange and making things less "edgy".
The British sound is linked to the BBC and the need for speech monitoring. Think speech...the spoken word...British, or "received" enunciation. Loudspeakers are voiced to flatter the speaking voice.

To foreign ears, such speakers can sound "polite," but I think this results from the lack of sizzling treble and thumping bass associated with other (national) loudspeaker design schools.