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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"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 http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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Greetings from Barnsley

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  • Greetings from Barnsley

    Today I took the plunge and ordered some Compact 7ES3s. This is after a month of less than satisfactory demonstrations and home trials of other manufacturer's offerings. I'm not sure how long they will take to arrive, but that doesn't matter too much because the nice people at Audiovation are letting me keep the dem set until mine show up. If I never have another speaker dem again that will be fine by me!

    For now they are perched on old G Plan coffee tables which happen to be fairly close to the right height.

  • #2
    My better half has asked where the tables are that she uses every day. Oddvar stools ordered. May need to snip the legs a little to suit the low seat height of my sofa. Starting to explore some of the darker corners of my record collection and yet to find anything that doesn't play well. I'm still struggling to describe what it is that I'm liking so much about these speakers, perhaps because they aren't imposing a particular "personality" on the music. I'm particularly pleased with the ability to play the radio at modest levels and still be able to portray music with a sense of wholeness. However tonight I'm off to experience the real thing - Adam Holmes - so the radio will be playing to itself.

    Comment


    • #3
      JT101, welcome to the HUG.

      It was around 3 years ago that I finally listened to Harbeth after 30 years of changing my speakers - and most of them more expensive than any Harbeth (M40.1 being the exception). Every Harbeth speaker in the line up has breathtaking naturalness, a mid range to die for, and absolutely no horrible nasties that have your ears running for cover! They are a final destination point for most owners.

      I now have the amazingly brilliant little P3ESR's and more modestly priced (in comparison) electronics to the ludicrously priced stuff I used to have. A lot of lessons learned the hard way these last three years, and in no small way due to a most fantastic dealer plus Alan and this group.

      I hope you have many, many years of listening pleasure with your Compact 7ES3's.

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the welcome Mike.

        I've already found in the HUG answers to most questions I have about setting up my speakers. I also appreciate the rather pragmatic approach taken over amplifiers, cables and stands since I have no intention to change my amp and the speakers are going to run with whichever sounds best of the two sets of cables I already own. I also think I'll be making my own stands if the aesthetic qualities of the oddvars bothers me.

        My hifi journey also started about 30 years ago and I had not heard a Harbeth speaker until a few days ago. I've not had that much equipment "churn" during that time; these are my fourth set of speakers and I'm on only my second turntable and amplifier. It only took an evening of listening at home to make the decision, but I'm still in the process of fully understanding what the 7ES3's are capable of.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JT101 View Post
          Thanks for the welcome Mike.

          I've already found in the HUG answers to most questions I have about setting up my speakers. I also appreciate the rather pragmatic approach taken over amplifiers, cables and stands since I have no intention to change my amp and the speakers are going to run with whichever sounds best of the two sets of cables I already own. I also think I'll be making my own stands if the aesthetic qualities of the oddvars bothers me.

          My hifi journey also started about 30 years ago and I had not heard a Harbeth speaker until a few days ago. I've not had that much equipment "churn" during that time; these are my fourth set of speakers and I'm on only my second turntable and amplifier. It only took an evening of listening at home to make the decision, but I'm still in the process of fully understanding what the 7ES3's are capable of.
          I was in a similar situation equipment 'churn' wise and had sat on the same equipment for decades. 4 years ago my cheap little TDL bookshelf speakers I was using for TV duty gave up (one woofer was rubbing, not sure what happened there) they were 22 years old so I really wasn't going to be able to do much with them. My hifi speakers (450 UK pounds in 1998) took their place leaving the gap in the music system.

          I had been aware for almost 2 decades that the sound on CD discs played was unbearable on average. Harbeth reputation of low fatigue sound made me curious and luckily had a dealer an hour away. I was pretty much forced into which model would be auditioned (only the C7 was in my price comfort zone, the P3 too small for my needs) I listened to the 7 at home for a week and as Alan said in a prior post you do need to adjust your expectation. That dark and smoother sound compared to my much cheaper 'punch and sizzle' boxes was quite, quite different.

          That was 3 years ago and ironically they now double as movie/music speakers. They do not shake the room (thankfully. Some even much smaller speakers will have your room vibrating essentially spoiling the music and limiting volume) but I find my self with a constant stream of CD's playing. The punch and sizzle speakers were moved on and in their place are now P3's, I went for those as a pair of 'fit anywhere' speakers particularly ready for any future downsizing.

          Anyway to summarise the 7's just play in an engaging and 'comforting' way, they do a job, I play discs and never think to sit there analyzing the sound, the torturous adventures of the hard audiophile are something I simply do not want to engage in.
          Getting to know my C7ES3

          Comment


          • #6
            So my new speakers arrived a little over a week ago - many thanks to the nice folk at Audiovation who delivered them and collected the demo pair. I have to say that the packaging is of excellent quality and the cotton bags are a nice touch. Most noticeable on opening was the strong, but not unpleasant, smell of new wood and adhesives. This disappeared in a day or so. The next impression was that the cherry veneer is very much lighter than the demo set. They will, I'm sure, darken over time.

            Now to the important part - how do they sound? They were placed in exactly the same position as the demo set and left running at low volume on the radio for a few hours to let them warm up. Since then I've been wandering through my record collection for a couple of hours each night. As per the guidance given on "running in" I have not noticed any change in the sound over that time, but most decidedly my new pair do sound slightly different to the demo pair. In particular there is a little more high frequency information present and on a couple of deeper male voices (e.g. Gregory Porter) there was a slight sense of strain that had not previously been present.

            The original speaker position was with the front baffles directly facing the listening position which I found to be best for the demo speakers. After a few days with my new pair I removed the toe-in and now have the speakers facing directly across the room. This seems to have eliminated the characteristics noted above and I would say the sound and presentation is now marginally better to my ears than the demo pair (I think I prefer the soundstage this way). I may experiment with adding back a tiny amount of toe-in, but I will probably just enjoy the music for now.

            So here is a question: Assuming that my new speakers are not going to change due to any "running in" phenomenon, then where do these small but noticeable differences stem from? Have the demo pair deteriorated in some way (they are about ten years old based on the 30th anniversary badge on the back) given they have probably had a tough life as demo speakers, or is this simply about the manufacturing tolerances on the many components in the speakers? I'm a professional Engineer by trade and realise that even the most precisely specified components are still subject to tolerances, as is the equipment used to measure them. Both my speakers and the demo pair have been used on the same stands and with the grills in place.

            How do my experiences compare with others in the HUG?

            Comment


            • #7
              I think you are describing the audio qualities of a new speaker running in. Think of those crossover components, internal wiring and capacitors needing to burn in. I would give it 100 hours of play before any critical evaluation. Of course reducing toe in acts as a tone control and will reduce high frequency presentation. Adjustment to toe in will also make changes to the sound stage as well. There are CDs that can accelerate the burn in process.

              Comment


              • #8
                The only element in the entire speaker system that could - theoretically - show a change of technical characteristic is the suspension 'spider' of the bass unit, hidden under the cone (corrugated yellow fabric impregnated with resin). After perhaps a couple of hours of use, or less when played loud and with a strong bass line (i.e. a burn-in track on a CD), the flexing of the fabric will have achieved maximum elasticity, and for the remainder of the life of the speaker there really are no other changes.

                As far as "'burning-in" is concerned, it is sadly (certainly here at Harbeth) yet another audiophile myth. What "burning-in" really means (certainly here) is listener acclimatisation. Nothing more or less.

                It could be, I suppose, conceivable that there are other speaker systems that are so poorly designed that they are mechanically unstable and will age with time, but that strikes me as irresponsible engineering since the ultimate nature of the speaker cannot be determined with certainty, and where environmental temperature, humidity and altitude could greatly effect longevity.

                Let's face facts: most so-called hifi speakers are so hideous in their sonic nature, so grossly fatiguing to listen to and devoid of naturalness that no wonder it takes months or years - if ever - to acclimatise to them. The reason Harbeth owners keep their Harbeths and end their relentless upgradeitus is because they don't have to work hard to enjoy what they hear - it's just natural, unforced sound.

                Obviously, depending upon your long-term self-preconditioning and efforts to acclimatise to other speakers, natural sound may or may not be your cup of tea. Live and let live!
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  The only element in the entire speaker system that could - theoretically - show a change of technical characteristic is the suspension 'spider' of the bass unit, hidden under the cone (corrugated yellow fabric impregnated with resin). After perhaps a couple of hours of use, or less when played loud and with a strong bass line (i.e. a burn-in track on a CD), the flexing of the fabric will have achieved maximum elasticity, and for the remainder of the life of the speaker there really are no other changes.

                  As far as "'burning-in" is concerned, it is sadly (certainly here at Harbeth) yet another audiophile myth. What "burning-in" really means (certainly here) is listener acclimatisation. Nothing more or less.

                  It could be, I suppose, conceivable that there are other speaker systems that are so poorly designed that they are mechanically unstable and will age with time, but that strikes me as irresponsible engineering since the ultimate nature of the speaker cannot be determined with certainty, and where environmental temperature, humidity and altitude could greatly effect longevity.

                  Let's face facts: most so-called hifi speakers are so hideous in their sonic nature, so grossly fatiguing to listen to and devoid of naturalness that no wonder it takes months or years - if ever - to acclimatise to them. The reason Harbeth owners keep their Harbeths and end their relentless upgradeitus is because they don't have to work hard to enjoy what they hear - it's just natural, unforced sound.

                  Obviously, depending upon your long-term self-preconditioning and efforts to acclimatise to other speakers, natural sound may or may not be your cup of tea. Live and let live!
                  The concept of burn seems strongly accepted as real and seems ingrained in audiophile mythos, there are a good chunk of post by users with new equipment who will claim 'this sounds great, it will sound even more amazing when burned in' or conversely 'it's not sounding quite how I remember it, I think it needs burning in' and recently a post relating to some expensive interconnects the user wasn't sure they sounded different from his older cheaper ones, the forum pounced on him with words to the effect of 'give them a few weeks to burn in, then you will hear the magic'.

                  magic indeed.

                  As for speakers sounding slightly different from each other, I'm sure there is a case to be made that 2 speakers from the same production line could indeed sound slightly different to each other, I'd be surprised If they did not, probably not audible but I bet testable??

                  Getting to know my C7ES3

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for your reply A.S., I would not contest your position on "burning-in". These are the first genuinely new speakers I've ever purchased and I hear no change in the two weeks I've had them. Previous speakers (3 in total over about 30 years) were secondhand or ex-dem, hence fully run in when I got them (if such a thing existed). Each of those previous speakers had strengths and weaknesses (driven by a very limited budget that kept Harbeth off the menu) that were the same on the day I got them and the day I replaced them - I certainly learned to live with each of them, but never lost perspective on their limitations.

                    Before having the compact sevens on loan from Audiovation I had home trials of several speakers from very respectable brands and found them all to be unbearably tiring to listen to for any period of time - not something I could ever acclimatise to, and this unpleasant experience is what ultimately brought me to Harbeth.

                    The question I had posed was what might cause the ten year old demonstration speakers to sound different to the new pair? The differences are small enough, but are still clearly evident, and easily adjusted for by removing the toe-in.

                    It's nothing more than an interesting question (at least to someone like me who is, in a very different industry, often required to get to the bottom of such questions).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      To establish my understanding - you have now received brand new M30.2 Anniversary speakers?
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No. Compact 7.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I am anxious to hear the Harbeths. Any Harbeth. I am headed to the LA Audio show in early June and hope to find a retailer there who stocks. Phoenix, a city of six million,
                          has nothing I can find. My understanding is that the Harbeths are best suited to a very well presented SS power in the 120 RMS/Channel and up range for optimum listening.
                          One consideration I have is the PS Audio Stellar M700 Mono. Does anyone have experience with Harbeth products and these amps? Thank you very much.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            They should sound fine with any competently designed amplifer, so perhaps most power for your buck is a good strategy. There is no magic ingredient in amplifiers. There are three things to watch out for:
                            1 response under a real speaker load, Harbeths are an easy drive, but even so many tube amps will not produce a flat response with a real speaker that has a varying impedance across the frequency range.
                            2 you want to avoid clipping on input, so the input sensitivity should match the output of the source.
                            3 you want to have enough power. How much you need depends on the type of music, your normal listening level, and the size of the room. Since the realtion io snot linear, you rapidly need a lot of power as soon as you start playing dynamic music in a larger room.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by jeffkalina View Post
                              I am anxious to hear the Harbeths. Any Harbeth. I am headed to the LA Audio show in early June and hope to find a retailer there who stocks. Phoenix, a city of six million, has nothing I can find.
                              The following list of US Harbeth dealers includes several retailers in the vicinity of LA.
                              http://www.fidelisav.com/harbeth-retailers/

                              Originally posted by jeffkalina View Post
                              My understanding is that the Harbeths are best suited to a very well presented SS power in the 120 RMS/Channel and up range for optimum listening.
                              That would depend, in part, upon which Harbeth model you will be using.

                              Originally posted by jeffkalina View Post
                              One consideration I have is the PS Audio Stellar M700 Mono.
                              Which amplifier, if any, do you presently own?
                              What is it that attracts you to that particular PS Audio amp?

                              Comment

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