Harbeth 40.2 Anniversary vs Focal Sopra N2 with PS Audio gears


I just realized that I made a mistake in the post you refer to.
I meant to say that I settled for the 30.1’s, not 40.1’s…(-:
The 43W/channel or so of the Primaluna with the KT88’s are more than enough with my setup/room.
The video you linked was very insightful, though.


davidl or bad beef
what interconnects are you using between your Dac and the preamp or amp? And also speaker cables to Harbeths? I also have a PS Audio DirectStream DAC and also recently purchased the Harbeth Super HL5+ speakers and am curious about the cables others are using with these speakers. I am also using an Ayre preamp and power amp. Really appreciate any information you could share.


Transparent for both. I got a used pair of older model Reference XLRs for DAC to amp, and a lower level model of the speaker cable. I also have some of their unterminated, no network box, inwall speaker cable, which is very good.


Badbeef, thanks for your reply. Your response peaks my interest in the Transparent cables. I have never really heard Transparent cables and I live out in the middle of nowhere along way from any dealer. I have tried Acoustic Zen, Audience, both too lean, and more recently Cardas Golden Presence interconnects. The Cardas interconnects are closer to the sound I enjoy. Would you mind telling me more as to how you decided to use the Transparent cables with the Harbeths? Did you try other cables, and if you did how did the Transparent cables compare?


Bear in mind the M40.2 internal wiring is Van Damme Blue and miles of copper in the crossover, Alan Shaw tells customers not to get over-excited by speaker cables. I ran badbeef’s speakers (before I sold them to him) with this stuff:

I gave that cable to someone and I then got some Audience 25 cables from someone in a part exchange for a phono amplifier. Use them on my SHL5+ 40th Anniversary. Lean? You’re kidding.


For interconnects I use Cawsey type B balanced [Cawsey is a small Australian hifi firm that has been in business for years - I compared several moderately-priced balanced cables 10 years ago and these were the best.]
For speaker cables I use Yter cables [Italian]. I’ve found these neutral tonally and transparent. Again moderately priced but reviewers have compared them favourably with cables twice the price. I previously used silver cables but the Yter are better.
Today I traded in my SHL5+ speakers for the Anniversary model, having previously auditioned these. Definitely an improvement sonically but not such a large jump as that from the basic SHL5 to the + model.


Regarding the description of the Audience interconnects as “lean”, probably a poor word choice for describing the Audience interconnects, which are very neutral. Since I am one of those senior citizens, call me old fashion, I am just trying to find an interconnect from DS DAC to AYRE preamp that is “just a bit” more full sounding that will also work well with the Harbeth SHL5+ speakers.

I am the original owner of a 1980’s McIntosh MA6200 Integrated Amp with an equalizer that could be used for minor adjustments depending on the system’s cables and room acoustics. The MA6200 still runs great, but I love the AYRE sound so much better. Just wish they had a built in equalizer so didn’t have to spend time trying to find the right interconnect cable fit.


Thanks davidl for your information about the Cawsey and Yter cables. Will research them in my quest to find an interconnect cable for my system.


It’s more that they are the best cables I have, I’ve used them for years, and USUALLY I like them better than others I have. But you can’t take the rest of the gear out of the equation.

I wouldn’t necessarily say that my using them has anything to do with the Harbeths in particular. Without sitting there hearing your system and learning the sound of your gear and taste, I wouldn’t presume they are “it” in your system. Or anybody’s, for that matter.

I would just try the best ones you can afford from an online dealer that lets you try before you buy. May not be the best thing in your system or to your taste - only one way to find out for sure.


My apologies, I thought you were speaking about Audience 25 speaker cables.
I don’t use interconnects anymore, but when I did they were all Mogami 2534 XLR from the pro store - the cables probably used when the music was recorded. The DSD and Ayre both have balanced connections. The most important thing is probably that the plugs are properly fitted and tested.


Mogami 2534 is a superb choice.


The alleged brightness of Focal’s tweeters is perhaps a function of their hyper-clarity and what they reveal of your cabling. Rather than replacing the speakers, try different cables… I found that the latest Audience AU 24 SX series completely removed glare and fatigue without losing detail, compared to much more expensive AQ cables.


Can you elucidate the differences between “bright” and “hyper-clarity” and “revealing”? Lots of people seem to like that, otherwise Focal and others wouldn’t sell so many speakers, which is fine. To each his own.

For me, if a product is any of those three things, it is usually ultimately fatiguing, hovever initially beguiling it may seem at first to “hear further into the music” - and ends up requiring EQ in the form of a cable, as you suggest, or a different sort of amp. If it is revealing equally across the entire bandwidth - maybe. There have been DS DAC updates that are like that (and Snowmass may be yet again). But these terms all usually imply “tilted” toward the high end in some fashion.


I have Focal Sopra No. 1s and to my ears they are neither bright nor fatiguing. I demo’d Devore speakers prior to buying the Focals, and they fit the above description. I was drawn to their hyper-clarity and then after a week could not listen to them without an ear ache. I find the Focal to have a pleasing balance and many other desirable traits. I listened to Harbeths st a local store, not sure which model, though definitely not their flagship. I loved the mids, but felt there was a lot of bass missing to my perception.


I think I heard the No.1’s at Axpona recently. They need less bass help than the average two-way. I’ve been a two-ways-plus-two-subs guy for a while now, though the Harbys I have now are technically 3-way (2+ supertweeter).

Not saying I never met a Focal I liked, just that the “house sound”, as with B&W, tends toward more high end than I need/want - with exceptions. If I were to randomly generalize, I would say I tend to be turned off by beryllium and diamond tweeters.


I just added a REL S5 and as advertised it really adds a lot. Very sweet. The Sopras are not my ultimate speaker, but were a huge step up for me. Someday, I hope to find something I like even better without breaking the bank. Eager to hear the PSA speakers when they come out.

I know what you mean about metal tweeters. A neighbor has speakers with aluminum tweeters and they sound shrill to me. He loves them, which is all that matters. I wish it were easier to test drive speakers.


My first real “hifi” speakers were Dahlquist DQ28 3-ways, and they had those aluminum domes with the black plastic three-legged thing over it to interfere/cut it somewhat (I assume) but I eventually swapped it out for a similarly spec’d ScanSpeak soft dome. Wasn’t exactly voiced for it, but it was better anyway.


After my Bar Mitzvah, I was flush wish cash, at least for me, for the first time in my life. A family friend, who was an audiophile, arranged to have me go listen to stereo equipment at a store that required appointments. That was big stuff for me. He and the store owner steered me toward a pair of Spendor Preludes and a Harman Kardon integrated and an NAD turntable. All really great stuff for a kid my age. Very refined. Too refined for my taste in bass-heavy reggae. I eventually blew out that paper cone after about 5 years of heavy use. They were sweet. I suppose that was my first taste of the BBC sound. I loved it and still do. I just couldn’t get any low end. It was several decades before I bested those Spendors :slight_smile: