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HR-1 Review (Read 1472 times)
Blueone302
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Posts: 71
HR-1 Review
11/01/16 at 21:05:02
 
Some of you may have read my post in the general discussion section on How Not to Put Together a System.  In the first few hours of auditioning the HR-1’s I knew I would want to put together a review. The above referenced post details how I got to this point.  As of this writing, I have roughly two hundred hours on them.  I’ll likely do a follow up at around the five hundred hour point.  Oh, this won't be the normal review.  I don't have the fancy audiophile vocabulary.

As one might surmise from the original post referenced above, I’m picky. IMHO, I have good ears.  For some unknown/ungodly reason, in another life I was asked to sing in a barber shop quartet. I still don’t know why I said yes.  But I did.  I learned that in order to sing those close harmonies, one needs good ears and a keen awareness of pitch.  I suspect this is a piece of why I look for so much detail in both instrumentation and vocals.

So I’ll begin by saying the HR.-1’s are great at detail… micro detail.   I love all kinds of music.  After bringing them home, I went through my version of “the list” of songs necessary to verify the audio quality of a pair of speakers or system.  Then, because I love 70’s rock and especially the Eagles, I put on Hotel California.  

If you’re familiar with the song, the band went to great lengths to get it right.  In fact, they recorded it in three different venues before they were satisfied.  Anyway…  as I was listening, I heard something “different”.  So, I replayed it again and then again. The slightly elevated drums and hi hat cymbals to the right have always stood out. Now, they were so striking that I caught myself looking to the right and slightly up. Glen Frey and Joe Walsh’s guitar interplay have always stood out.  If you listen closely, you'll discern their different styles and know who's playing when.  With the HR's I found myself nodding in appreciation.  But there was more.  Now I was hearing the piano chords syncing with the rhythm guitar; something I had never caught or thought about in thirty-five years of listening.  But it was there.  Not striking, kind of subtle, but there.

Another favorite for me is Shelby Lynne’s Just a Little Lovin; from an album that pretty much covers the biggest hits of Dusty Springfield. (It's titled Inspired by Dusty Springfield and recorded on the Lost Highway label.)  Don’t say “huh?”; just find it.  From the get go, the rim shots come from the right and cause you to believe the kit is in the room.  The bass line is just funky enough to stand out.  The vocal performance is lifelike and dreamy.  (I never use the word dreamy.) Listen close for the feedback at 1:25. You won’t hear it on a lot of speakers.  If you hunt it up, be sure and listen to Breakfast in Bed and I don’t Want to Hear it Anymore.   Incidentally, on every other pair of speakers I’ve used to listen to Breakfast in Bed, the bass line was bloated.  Not so on the HR’s.  And did you catch the air in those vocals? I’m guessing this song might be why so many guys have invested in bedroom systems, and why wives and girlfriends let them.  (Just saying) For me, this is a reference recording.  The Hybrid/SACD is even better.

From there I went to Crooked Still’s Little Sadie and Van Morrison’s Moondance.  On Little Sadie, the vocal runs can be hard to decipher on many speakers.  Before the HR’s I had to get out the headphones and listen through the Oppo direct.  Still not sure, I had to Google the lyrics.  Not so on the HR’s.  Likewise, one of the guys I had over during the speaker auditions sat up during Morrison’s Moondance and said “I never liked that song before.”   I said “why not?”  He sheepishly grinned and said, “I never understood the words before.”  This is the micro detail I’m talking about.  You hear things on the HR’s you never heard before; and you hear it distinctly.

I mentioned the search for bass during the “speaker shootout”.  Now I have bass I never had with either the Klipsch Cornwall’s or the Spatial’s. In fact, with only 200 or so hours, I sometimes find myself wondering where it’s coming from.  Several people thought I must have my home theater sub in the mix.  I don't!  If there’s not enough bottom end with these speakers, you can be sure it’s the recording.   As an example, after a few weeks, I put on…. an organ piece (classical) from an album called Golden Classics, The Best Organ.  I was listening to Tocatta, by Dmitry Rusanov.  It has been my experience that it is hard to find an organ piece that will showcase your speakers.  Or, conversely, it is hard to find speakers capable of reproducing the sound of a pipe organ in one’s home.  I like this song because it will simply tell you if your speakers are capable of reproducing sound anywhere close to what you might hear live. The piece is well recorded; and the HR’s are able to produce the music in such a way that when I hear it, I find myself enveloped in a holographic bubble of sound.  It sounds like I’m there.  After the initial keyboard runs, the fun starts at 00:42 as the bass line begins to work up and down the scale. At 01:30 I begin to feel it.  Then the runs take over again before the lower register kicks in with authority.  The HR’s reproduce it accurately and with lifelike clarity. At 02:38 it gets serious.  Without a subwoofer, the HR’s can be felt on Tocatta; but not in an obnoxious way.  If you’ve never heard a pipe organ live, the HR’s will allow you to experience something darn close.  I've heard the Klipschorns play organ music (albeit in the wrong kind of showroom) and the HR's do it better.  Yes I said that.

I can honestly say that I am yet to play a good recording on the HR-1’s that didn’t stand out. If you like bass, it’s there.  (I’m told by fellow owners it will get even better.  That is hard to believe.  But I do believe.) Right now, I’m listening to Alison Krauss’s Let Me Touch You for a While.  The Dobro is sliding; the bass is being strummed.  If that string bass was any louder, it would be wrong.  I’ve heard it sound bloated and wrong. Loud and wrong.  Anemic and wrong.  This is right; just right.

If you like strings or anything acoustic, these speakers will bring it to life.  For instance, if you like jazz, try Bill Evans, Some Other Time: The Lost Session from The Black Forest.  This contains my favorite rendition of You’re Gonna Hear from Me.  Best of several worlds. The bass line is fun, taunt, punchy and the rat-a-tat-tat of it is hard to keep up with.  I used to wonder why some musicians bobbed their heads in time to music.  This song reveals why.  The piano is crisp, clear.... lifelike.  

I guess I could go on and on.  Just suffice it to say that with my HR’s perhaps halfway home in terms of run in, they sound fantastic.  The bass I was looking for which is a must for me is present.*  I’m hearing none of the glare or brightness from the high end some mention in terms of adding a resistor.  The sound stage is deep….. and can be wide; very wide.  This is the beauty and versatility of these speakers.  I wrote this in two sittings.  Right now I’m listening to Bill Evan’s jazz trio again and I feel like I’m in a club setting.  I recently went on a cruise and went into a jazz bar to listen to a trio for a bit.  The seats were plush, the ensemble perhaps 12-15 feet away.  That’s what I’m hearing and feeling now.   The drum kit to my left and a little behind the upright bass, the piano about 10 feet to the right.  The sound is tight and focused.  But if you want, you can spread it out a bit further by moving the speakers slightly out on each side.  Want to get more bass?  Move them back toward the front wall.  (See Zygi’s notes on placement) Want a little more of the 3-D imaging?, aim them just outside your head on either side.  At this stage, the possibilities seem endless.  This is one of the reasons I love these speakers.  I’ve experienced speakers that can play louder, some that can shake the floor with bloated bass, some that can make you happy for a few hours or a few sessions.  But these speakers make me smile every time I sit and listen.  Granted, the Decware amp and my Don Sach’s Pre-Amp doesn’t hurt the sound.  The synergy is awe inspiring.  Did I mention that I love these speakers?  

I haven’t owned any thirty-plus thousand dollar speakers.  Never will. But, I have heard some in what one would imagine is a closed and controlled environment. A couple of weeks back I had to go to Levine’s Children’s Hospital in Charlotte.  I circled around and made a visit into one of the newer high-end stores.  I took along my trusty Dick Hyman CD.  (If I name names and state brands, I’m going to make enemies; so I won't.) To date, no salesman I've encountered has been familiar with the Dick Hyman CD.  I like to catch their impressions and the look on their faces when they hear it.  Most love the sound.  (Give it a whirl and you'll see why.)

There’s a song called What is there to Say? with this great laid-back sax solo.  Again, on my system and through the HR’s it’s like you’re front row center.  You can close your eyes and imagine the smokey haze, the sax players fingers playing over the keys, the quick breath taken in between the improvised solo runs.  But that day it sounded like it had been sterilized and lost it’s personality.  The salesman listened a few minutes and said “Bet you never heard it like this before.”   I retrieved my cd and said “nope, sure haven’t.  Yes, it sounded good.  But it wasn't the same.  Maybe I'm just jaded or ailly stupid.  I just believe the HR-1's breathe life into my music.

I’ll close with this.  I had to take a day off last week for the Heating and Air folks to come and service and inspect our gas furnace.  It was one of those window appointments I hate.  You know…. “We’ll be there between 9 and 12.”  So, I went to work in my office at home.  I got tired of that and took my laptop to my listening chair and fired up the system.  The guy finally came about 11AM.  I showed him to the basement, chatted a moment and went back to my work where I had left the system playing.

I was listening to that same Dick Hyman CD From the Age of Swing playing in the background.  The guy was back and forth... back and forth.  

Finally, he came down the hall and stepped into the living room and asked me what was playing.  It was a song called Topsy.  He walked over, looked at the rig and then just sat down. He listened for a minute and then asked me where I found an old rig like that (Amp and Preamp) and what kind of speakers.  I explained a bit about Decware where the speakers came from and the modern retro look.   He listened a bit more.  In fact, he listened for three whole songs.  (Just over fourteen minutes.)  I finally paused the music.  He looked up and said, I didn’t know music could sound that good.  With a silly smile on my face, I simply said “It sure can”.

All I'll say is this.  If you're on the fence for a pair of speakers, and if you're willing to take a great high percentage chance (in your favor), give the HR-1's a try.  

* Note about my bass sound with the HR's.  When I say I have bass now.  I'm talking bass that is appropriate or bass that fits the occasion. Only once have they sounded bloated and I've since chalked that up to the song.  They simply play what is called for.  I feel sure with my cookie cutter room, the omni hybrid design certainly doesn't hurt the sound. But seriously, if you're looking for clean articulate bass that can be subtle one moment, full of punch and grip the next, these have it.  If you're looking for speakers that can reproduce every genre of music accurately with great detail, the HR's can.

Happy Listening to All!  
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« Last Edit: 11/02/16 at 00:45:30 by Blueone302 »  

Decware: Torii MK IV, Don Sachs: Line Stage Model 2, Decware: HR-1, Oppo BDP 105D, Ice Age Audio: Cryo Copper Series Power Cords, Better Cables: Silver Serpent Interconnect Cables, Home Brewe Speaker Cables.
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Lon
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
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Posts: 13017
Re: HR-1 Review
Reply #1 - 11/01/16 at 21:19:05
 
Awesome review! I'm glad you are enjoying the speakers so much. I love mine. . . and they just keep getting better as they season and as we learn how to place them and feed them. Smiley
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,ZROCK2,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,SamsonV2+V3;CambrAudi CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Blueone302
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Posts: 71
Re: HR-1 Review
Reply #2 - 11/01/16 at 21:38:55
 
Lon,
You keep saying they'll get better; and like I said, I believe. (But it's hard to believe)  I'm gonna have to do something though.  My wife gave me an early Christmas present; a subscription to Tidal.  Lately, all I want to do is listen.  I haven't worked out anything other than my thumb in three weeks.  It's a contest of sorts.  Trying to stump Tidal and also to find something the HR-'s can't handle.  Hasn't happened yet.  

Thanks for posing your thoughts along the way.  It sure helped me along.
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Decware: Torii MK IV, Don Sachs: Line Stage Model 2, Decware: HR-1, Oppo BDP 105D, Ice Age Audio: Cryo Copper Series Power Cords, Better Cables: Silver Serpent Interconnect Cables, Home Brewe Speaker Cables.
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Lon
Seasoned Member
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 13017
Re: HR-1 Review
Reply #3 - 11/01/16 at 22:12:32
 
You're welcome. Enjoy Tidal. I don't stream but then I have racks and racks of discs to play. The HR-1s truly allow me to enjoy almost everything, everything except the truly awful recordings that just cannot be enjoyed.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,ZROCK2,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,SamsonV2+V3;CambrAudi CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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Blueone302
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Posts: 71
Re: HR-1 Review
Reply #4 - 11/02/16 at 01:34:25
 
Lon, hate to admit it; but the real reason for Tidal is to audition and find music I want to buy.   Can i borrow some coin?  Spent all mine on a pair of speakers.
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Decware: Torii MK IV, Don Sachs: Line Stage Model 2, Decware: HR-1, Oppo BDP 105D, Ice Age Audio: Cryo Copper Series Power Cords, Better Cables: Silver Serpent Interconnect Cables, Home Brewe Speaker Cables.
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Lon
Seasoned Member
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"Love without
guts is
worthless!"
Philip K. D*ck

Posts: 13017
Re: HR-1 Review
Reply #5 - 11/02/16 at 03:12:49
 
Well, I spent all mine on the new PS Audio Transport! I have no problem finding music, I have very broad interests and I gave up drinking and smoking a long time ago so I can feed my music habits! THAT is my vice.
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HR-1,ZP3,ZTPRE,Torii MkIII,ZBIT,ZROCK2,Taboo MkIV;PS Audio:Soloist SE,DMP+DSD,P10,PowerBases,AC-12 pcs,Mapleshade:Dbl Helix+,SamsonV2+V3;CambrAudi CXU;Rega RP3,TTPSU,Groovetracer upgrades,Exact2;VooDoo Cremona +Amati,Iso-Pods;MD90-T SE tuner,Oppo PM-1,Audeze LCD-2
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