"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"

Feb. 2018
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Revised HUG mission statement for 2017 onward ... (updated 25 May 2017)

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  • Revised HUG mission statement for 2017 onward ... (updated 25 May 2017)

    The Harbeth User Group is a manufacturer's owned and run forum. It is not independent, and ultimately exists as an extension of the brand's communication strategy. In the current form, the group has run for over ten years now.

    Many visitors and contributors have comment over the years that the Harbeth User Group is rather special, possibly unique amongst audio forums with its bias towards science and knowledge and away from BS. It's been our pleasure to illuminate the real issues in getting the best from home audio with sonic examples where possible of the sort of technical issues that must be appreciated to make rational equipment procurement decisions. The visitor statistics are impressive but the workload here that has been required is massive.

    There are, inevitably in a democracy, some posts which take the opposite view to the ones we consider represent the truth about how we hear and how we can be lead or misled by our hearing. From November 2016, we have restyled HUG, and made a better distinction between the objective (primarily factual) and subjective areas of this forum.

    We continue to make available a platform to rational contributions, but we can no longer actively strive to mould HUG in the shape of an objective and above all trusted information source when the overwhelming number of active contributors are not actually interested in that angle.

    Regrettably, it has proved impossible during these past 10 years, with the time and resources available, to conclude open minded discussion of complex objective audio issues to the depth we would like here on HUG. In part, there is not an adequate common language for those who have little or no technical understanding of audio (or audiology) to interact meaningfully with those who have that basic knowledge. Also, analysis of reader statistics shows that subjects like 'which amplifier should I use' are of much greater interest than 'how does the ear work' or 'how should I compare like with like when listening to audio equipment'. In short, subjectivism has finally conquered objectivism on the public version of HUG - as we see in many walks of life - and HUG will, with regret, abandon it's early remit to "educate and inform". Let subjectivism rule as it does through consumer land.

    A consideration is being given to an entirely new forum at arms length from HUG on an invitation only basis, where objectivism is treasured and there is a basic common lexicon of technical awareness among contributors. That is the only way to preserve not only tacit knowledge accrued at Harbeth these past 40 years, but of earlier generations of researchers whose efforts risk being lost without subjectivism inevitably derailing that process.

    The Harbeth speakers that you enjoy are entirely the product of a rational, objective, logical, incremental, documented and 'scientific' approach. There is little subjectivity during the entire process up until the very last steps when it is essential to listen to the design, and adapt accordingly. It has never been easy for the designer, steeped in this objective design process, to be able to accept many subjective-only opinions when were he to rely on subjectivism, not one of the Harbeth speakers you know and enjoy could have come to market with the potential that they have. They would have achieved perhaps only 25% of their performance potantial. Objectivity and design discipline are that important to the end result, the speakers that you enjoy.

    Thank you for all your support, and maybe we will meet up again.

    {Updated 25 May 2017}
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    HUG's Mission Statement (above) has been re-written.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK