"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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General Advice for a Newby

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  • General Advice for a Newby

    Ladies and Gentlemen

    Apologies if I am covering already well trodden ground but I would appreciate some buying advice on Harbeth speakers.

    We have a reasonably small listening room 2.7m X 4.7m with the equipment on the shorter wall

    Current system is:
    Linn (circa 1983) with Ittok and a relatively new (and cheap) AT-F7 MC
    EAR 834P
    Quad 11 80 Monoblocks
    Monitor Audio 3 Floor-standers which are at least 20 years old – self evidently these are due to replacement.

    We listen almost solely to Vinyl and our tastes quite wide – female voice and detail being drivers. The Linn and us go back a long way – so that and the Quads are not going anywhere.

    Could you guide me between the 30.1’s & the HL5 Plus? – for a variety of reasons I won’t be able to get a home demo so the buy will be ‘blind’. Which speaker will best compliment the room the Amps and the deck?

    I am leaning towards HL5 but fear they would dominate the room........ All advice gratefully received

  • #2
    Interesting, I similarly still have a Linn LP12, though it sits unused because I have gone completely digital and into streaming in particular. And I also have Quad amplification, though in my case a 33/606-2 combination. Anyway, none of that particularly matters. In a room of that small size room modes can and will be a real problem, generating the peaks and dips in low frequency response that make for a boomy sound, however good the speaker. You have a number of options:
    1 room treatment, with bass traps, but these are bulky in what is already a small room.
    2 dsp room equalization.
    3 speakers with reduced low frequency output.
    Harbeth speakers are relatively good at avoiding boomy bass in small rooms, but even so an argument can be made that the M30.1 really is as large as you would want to go. Did you ever measure the room response of the current speakers? All it takes is a quite cheap UMIK-1 calibrated microphone and the free REW software. If the result is very bad below, say, 200 Hz (and it may well be), REW can generate a correction curve which you can then upload into a miniDSP unit that you can connect in between the preamplifier and the power amplifier. With DSP room equalization you can reproduce lower frequencies without peaks.than you can without the equalization. With the SHL5+ you may well need it.


    • #3
      That is quite a small room, so I think you will be best to consider the smaller M30.1 or M30.2 Anniversary.

      The SHL5+ might well work in that space but visually, they will take over.

      Why can't you have a home demo from your local stockist ?


      • #4
        Originally posted by willem View Post
        In a room of that small size room modes can and will be a real problem, generating the peaks and dips in low frequency response that make for a boomy sound, however good the speaker.
        Although you do mention peaks and dips making for a boomy sound, it can often occur that, if you sit in the middle of a null, then the bass will be significantly curtailed. That can be as bad as "boominess" from the peaks.


        • #5
          Originally posted by witwald View Post

          Although you do mention peaks and dips making for a boomy sound, it can often occur that, if you sit in the middle of a null, then the bass will be significantly curtailed. That can be as bad as "boominess" from the peaks.
          As I mentioned in the Bristol 2018 thread, I had the opportunity after hours to measure the acoustics of the hotel bedroom demo room using simple equipment. Obviously, like all untreated and empty rooms, there were lumps and bumps in the lower registers related to room dimensions and absence of effective absorption. Indeed, as we dismantled the display and removed the chairs as the show closed, the dreadful twang of the hard surfaces returned. In normal use with the double bed installed, this would be much reduced.

          I found that the frequencies where the room introduced peaks in the response did not seem to correlate exactly with frequencies where the room 'hung onto' the notes i.e. boomed, and at worst, before I experimented with moving around our absorber panels, some low frequencies around 100-150Hz could take a fifth of a second to diminish by only 20dB due to an unfortunate combination of frequency, room dimensions and lack of room surface absorption.

          The importance of considering and where necessary improving the acoustics of the listening room is usually, and understandably, ignored. It can make a huge difference to listening pleasure.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK


          • #6
            Guys - many thanks for the input - after a fair bit of thought and advice I have gone for the M30's...........I shall update as I go.


            • #7
              My lp12 dates from 1989 and is currently going (for me) whole hog - new krystal and kore,used ekos. The rest is naim and harbeth 30.1. I think you will be very happy with the 30.1. My "stands" are very unconventional,but work well, they are folding iron bookcases from the container store, silicone kitchen mat under the spkrs. and the cable connections are just above the rear rail,almost as if it was designed to hold these spkrs. *L*