"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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Read this first! Sound waves - what are they?

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  • Read this first! Sound waves - what are they?

    Sound waves fall onto the microphone, and are pumped out by the speaker. What are they exactly?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    "Sound waves are nothing more or less than a localised variation in the prevailing atmospheric pressure in the vicinity of the sound generating source."

    Let's break that down:
    • localised variation = sound waves are not a fixed quantity, they can go up and down (in loudness, pitch), and they are relatively local to the source (loudspeaker etc.)

    Observation: Your hifi speaker's sound cannot be heard 100km from your home, but it could be heard in the adjacent apartment.
    • prevailing atmospheric pressure

    Explanation: If atmospheric pressure can be measured right here beside me now in this room with a domestic barometer (rain prediction instrument), then if sound waves radiate in the ordinary room's atmosphere, there must be a localised change in the atmospheric pressure right around me in this room, and that change must be moving the local barometric pressure up and down very fast (according to the loudness/pitch of the sound), but too fast for my sluggish mechanical barometer to detect ...
    • in the vicinity of the sound generating source

    A bomb might be heard 100km away, but as my speaker cannot be, so the perceived sound energy (loudness) has a correlation between the amount of sound power generated by the source (speaker or bomb) and the distance away the observer is.

    The purpose of an audio system, and especially a quality audio system, is to capture the local variations in ambient barometric pressure around the microphone and pass it precisely along the audio chain as an electrical signal, ultimately to the loudspeakers. The speakers then take that electrical instruction and pump up and down the ambient pressure in the listener's room. If the loudspeakers are perfect, the listener's ears experiences a pressure variation experience very similar to that experienced standing at the microphone in the recording studio.

    So, sound waves around the microphone > cause localised ambient pressure variation > detected by movement of the microphone's sensitive diaphragm > turned into electricity > passed along the audio chain > into the loudspeaker > sound wave out of the speakers cause localised ambient pressure variation > human ear/brain detects localised pressure change and interprets that as "sound".

    Can we collaborate to improve or simplify this core concept? We need to get this just right. The audio business is built on this concept.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK