Rega Elicit R with Harbeth HL5 Plus loudness/drive issue.


Hello out there,

My second - living room system consists of Rega Elicit-R, Rega Saturn, Audioquest Castle Rock Speaker cable, Audioquest Angel interconnect and Harbeth SHL5 Plus speakers on HIFI Rack stands. My room is rather large, very well damped, and unusual in shape - typical condo living room - close to 20 X 30.

Mr. Alan Shaw claims that his speakers are very easy to drive, with minimal phase shifts and any amplifier above 25W should drive them with no issues. Rega amp that I own has 105W at 8, and 127W at 6 Ohms.

My problem is that I have to set the volume control on the amp at noon - 1 o’clock to get sound’s pressure that I would not even consider loud - perhaps 80dB......when I turn the amp up past 1 o’clock, low end is gone and sound becomes hard and mechanical which indicates clipping. I can never get dynamics and drive from that combo and sound is rather veiled and rolled-off.
Nobody from HUG can help as moderators deleting my post before it reaches common forum board claiming that I should talk to the local dealer and they do not want anything negative there.

It looks like 127W is not enough to drive those speakers even thou Alan claims is more than enough. Does anybody here have similar experience? is that happening because my room is quite severely damped? When I do the hand clap test - there is almost no echo - would that affect sound pressure that drastically?

Also, is that normal for Rega Elicit R to operate in the noon - 1 o’clock attenuator position?

Thanks for all suggestions!
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I think you gave it away.  “My room is rather large, very well damped”.  Why so well damped.  Pull some of that stuff off of the wall.  You may well be killing the dynamics.  The system should perform well together.  The hand clap test sounds like an anachoic chamber.  Let the room breathe a little.  Best of luck.
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Are you sure that the straps that bridge the woofer to the midrange are making a connection?
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Did you buy them new or used?
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Are you sure that the straps are connected from the top to the bottom posts? Are you sure they are not connected out of phase?

https://www.harbeth.co.uk/speakers/userguide.php
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Not with Rega. I have used many Harbeths with 50 watt tube amps and never had a problem! Did you try reversing the speaker leads on one speaker to make sure they are not out of phase! What do you mean dark foam in the ports? I have never seen a Harbeth with port plugs.
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Try the Harbeths in your other system and see if you have the same problem. 100 watts is plenty of power for Harbeth!
I am driving my SHL5+ with a 60 watt Ayre AX-7e right now. I had a similar issue to yours with my previous DAC (Modwright Logitech Transporter) going into the Ayre. I changed DAC's to an Ayre Codex and now my amp drives the Harbeth's louder than I ever play my music. My room is an open space that's 35 x 13 with an open loft above. 

I have heard nothing but good things about your amp and I have owned a Saturn in the past so I am surprised to hear of your issue. On paper it should work fine. One thought might be to try a different speaker cable. I also use Castle Rock in my system and have no problems with it but my dealer tells me that he has had issues with Castle Rock with some British Electronics and usually uses Proac Speaker cables with his Rega gear. From own personal experience I tried a Rega Osiris with the Harbeth's and I did not like the match. However, that is just my opinion and YMMV. 

donvito had a good suggestion about trying your Harbeth's in your other system.

Good Luck solving your issue!
Alan Shaw from Harbeth doesn't actually say that any amplifier above 25w will drive the HL5s with no problems.  In fact, he often recommends at least 100wpc as a starting point for his speakers.  The specs may say 25wpc as a minimum, but that's only if listening at lower volumes to undemanding music.  There are many discussions about amplifier power on the Harbeth forums, and they are quite informative.  
@smrex13 +1

Harbeths need power. Alan drones on and on about it on his forum. I agree with him 100%.