"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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That memorable audio moment - what was yours?

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  • That memorable audio moment - what was yours?

    Over 20 years ago, my friend played Dave Brubeck's Take Five on a proper hifi system. I hadn't heard a proper hifi up to that point and I was astonished. I remember thinking it was a trick. The sound wasn't coming from the speakers but from the space between. But how was it so real? So life-like? My journey started there with that one unforgettable instant of wonder, giddy excitement and pure pleasure.

    20 years later, my friend's busy job and kids had derailed his audio journey. He heard me gushing about my new system so he came to visit and we had some food and he sat down to listen. I played Dave Brubeck for him and he was astonished. He said it was at a level way above anything he'd ever heard. I was really pleased at the confirmatory opinion - I think my set-up produces a sound that is awe-inspiring but I would! My friend is an accomplished musician and avid listener. He asked for a particular track by Sting and we played it. I was behind him as he was in "the chair"! When I walked around he had tears in his eyes. He'd listened to that track hundreds of times but said he had never had the understanding and full visibility on it before. He was overcome.

    The symmetry of this recent reunion and the shared enthusiasm and sheer joy in music is what it's all about for me. I'd love to hear your stories too. We probably all have a moment of realisation for music that echoes through our own lives and inspired us.

  • #2
    Philips demonstration to the BBC

    Originally posted by Finbarr View Post
    We probably all have a moment of realisation for music that echoes through our own lives and inspired us.
    In the late eighties, Philips laid on a private demonstration (for my department) of their new digital home delivery system for music – something that would change the world, they claimed in the invitation. 'Digital audio' was not unknown to us at that point as there were many real-time gadgets that operated digitally, but did so internally and privately. How on earth had they cracked the need for over 600MB to store an hour of audio? To get this in perspective, if your then computer's hard disk had 100MB of storage, you were classified as a real power-user. Such disks probably cost around £1k.

    Well, we all know what happened next and suffice it to say that it did change the world. Nobody who attended the demonstration that morning had any doubt that we had seen the future. There was no moaning that “it doesn't sound as musical as gramophone records”. In fact, the main topic of conversation that day was not about the sound quality – although being a demonstration to professionals, Philips played one of their master tapes alongside its soon-to-be released CD child and it was obvious, even then, that the difference in quality between the two was minimal.

    No, the main consideration was, “how do we transfer forty year's worth of sound recording to this new medium?” because it was so obvious to everybody present that the long-sought goal of a transparent mass-market delivery format had finally been achieved.


    • #3
      The drums

      I had several of these moment. Mainly when I was still quite young, maybe around 10:

      Two of my friends had fathers who had a so called proper stereo (my parents were completely satisfied with a small radio with inbuilt cassette player). One had a complete Philips Matchline setup with the then whole new CD-player included. I remember playing "Money For Nothing" (the intro mainly) really loud when no one else was at home.

      The other father had a Braun Atelier stereo with big german speakers (won´t mention the manufacturer, still around). There we watched a TV show called "Super Drumming" and that made quite a big impression on me. Billy Cobham, Pete York, Simon Phillips and the likes.

      I guess that even planted my interest in the drums as well which will completely manifest this summer when (finally) I have a room to play drums myself.


      • #4
        Live group experience

        In the mid seventies, Colin Saunders, who went on to start Solid State Logic had a small recording studio in the heart of the Oxfordshire Countryside. It was called Acorn Records.

        Now, back then we were all into small groups. My twin brother on drums. Me on a Framus bass. My brother also drummed part-time for a Folk Group, consisting of two couples at RAF Brize Norton. The Group was named ' Patchy Fogg'.

        Somehow they managed to get Colin to record them, so as my brother was going over to perform minor drumming duties I went too.

        My overwhelming ' Audio Memory ' was sitting in front of the Group as they sang and closing my eyes to listen. Then to hear the playback, through a pair of Spendor BC3s in the Control Room.

        Amazing. I closed my eyes and could 'see ' the Group members standing in front of me.

        I had NEVER heard anything like it, then or later.

        To conclude. I still have a mint copy of the record they subsequently made. I wonder what happened to the Master tape...


        • #5
          Domestic hifi v. studio hifi

          In 1983 I had the honor of being recorded for the Norwegian Radio with a few friends from our high school, including a very talented singer/songwriter. The recording was done in their prime studio at the time, to 24 track analog tape. Listening to the playback of the master tape blew me totally away! I had a stereo, but was not really into audio at the time, so I do not now the equipment/monitors used. I noted they used mainly U87s to record us.

          I have never heard a hifi system being able to produce the level of realism I experienced at NRK. I suspect most people with experience from a high end recording or mastering studio feel the same way.



          • #6
            Stereophonic shack sounds

            Having not heard a note of decent music for over a week (one of the problems with holidays), I was out for a walk this morning on the backpacker trail (oh, to be young again) in a dirt poor bit or arable jungle somewhere in Asia and heard some really rather good Reggae sounds. Investigating, they emanated from a spectacular pair of speakers that were shiny new, outside a brick-no-doors-no-windows shack, with added boom box. OK, they were not Harbeth and the positioning leaves a bit to be desired, but I thought the image would be worth sharing. Audio-holics might appreciate it.

            I did not investigate whether the amplification was valve of solid state and I did not hang around long enough to hear if it was clipping. It did sound good, though.
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