"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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Open day at KJ West One, London (24 Oct. 2015)

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  • Open day at KJ West One, London (24 Oct. 2015)

    A one-day even upcoming at KJ's store in New Cavendish Street, London. This is Alan's opportunity to meet users, would-be users and the curious!

    He's just bought an Astell & Kern Junior portable audio player which if it performs technically as we hope, he'll fill with demo music and will be his primary playout source. The question is .... what would you like to hear? Anything that you are curious to hear on the M40.2s?

    Suggestions please ...... and a brief explanation as to why you want to hear whatever. What would you be trying to deduce from the 40.2 as you listen to your favourite music?

    . See the KJ website link above.

  • #2
    Music list - 1

    I've pre-registered and have already put a few items in a playlist! Don't have it here, but so far as I recall.....

    These are not favourite items, except for 13, but some things to consider.

    1. Massive Attack:Mezzanine - Angel
    Reason: Do they do bass? This is a fairly standard test track.

    2. Liszt: 10 Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S.173 - No. 7 Funérailles (Brendel from his Liszt Artist's Choice set)
    Reason: Do they do piano?

    3. 9Bach:Tincian - Pa Le?
    Reason: Excellent vocal with lots of subtle percussion

    4. J.S.Bach, Concerto for Keyboard and Orchestra No. 5 in F Minor, BWV 1056 II. Largo (must be on piano)
    Reason: Piano towards the upper end of the register, at crossover point, and subtle orchestration. Looking for control and transparency.

    5. Roland Kirk:The Inflated Tear - Title track
    Reason: Some dynamic jazz, goes low. Just looking for a believable sound.

    6. Hindemith: Sonata for Bass Tuba and Piano: First movement
    Reason: Control of the deepest of brass and made me sell my Class A valve amp.

    7. Supertramp:Crime of the Century - Bloody Well Right
    Reason: Transient speed (AS may prefer the title track from 2:00 onwards as previously advertised)

    8. Any of the big bits from Mahler 6, Shost 5 or 8, Bruckner 8, take your pick.

    9: Nitin Sawhney:One Zero - The Conference
    Reason: Two unaccompanied voices, fast.

    10. Anoushka Shankar:Traces Of You - Chasing Shadows
    Reason: Sitar and tabla. The sitar can be either fatiguing or ravishing.

    11. Copland:Billy the Kid - Gun Battle
    Reason: Lots of single whacks on kettle and snare drums, very dynamic. Go loud.

    12: Puccini - La boheme - "O Soave Fanciulla"
    Reason: A favourite duet and we need some operatic singing

    13: Monteverdi: Se i languidi miei sguardi (Lettera amorosa), madrigal for soprano (from Book 7), SV 141
    Si dolce è'l tormento, madrigal for solo voice, SV 332
    Reason: My favourite voice ever, the most incredible disc, some beautiful long drawn out vocals. Can sound uneven and screechy if poorly reproduced.

    Several of these are available in HD for AS's new toy, just reviewed in Gramophone, Oct. 2015 edition.

    {Moderator's comment: Best to buy the magazine we feel. AS was unaware, and set out to buy the Sony but a) couldn't find one b) discovered that it was nearly twice the price.}


    • #3

      Is it yet decided what sources will be used?

      My vested interest would be in the Quad Platinum DMP DAC/Pre-amp and Mono amps, but a Devialet 200 wouldn't surprise me.


      • #4
        Call for music - last chance

        Last chance!

        I'm finalising my play list for Saturday's open day.

        If you have any music that you think would be of especial interest to the audience, here is your chance to submit it to me as a 44.1k stereo .WAV file, using a file-share service. Please tell me what you think is special, and if it is novel and it fits with the overall flow, I'll try and fit it in.

        Closing deadline: Friday 21st Oct., 1200 UK time.

        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK


        • #5
          Video documentation?

          Will there after the show be some video snippets or more available just like the video from the Netherlands?

          {Moderator's comment: We had not considered this so nothing planned.}


          • #6
            Apparently, KJ do not have a pair of stands for the M40.2. They have always demonstrated M40.1/2 on SHL5plus stands. That must look a little strange.

            I'm tempted to bring my Ikea plant-stands with me. They're light enough to hand carry.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK


            • #7
              All that matters is that they are the right height. But that may be higher than in a domestic environment. Will people be sitting on upright chairs, or even be standing?


              • #8
                No stands ???

                I have stands custom made to suit every pair of Harbeth speakers I have on demonstration.

                The M40.2 would look very strange and precarious on SHL5+ stands, not to mention unprofessional. Take your own.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  Apparently, KJ do not have a pair of stands for the M40.2. They have always demonstrated M40.1/2 on SHL5plus stands. That must look a little strange.

                  I'm tempted to bring my Ikea plant-stands with me. They're light enough to hand carry.
                  I think you underestimate the 'looks', you can design a beautiful car but with the wrong wheels people won't like it.


                  • #10
                    I'm listening and selecting audio tracks for the demo. I've personally listened (briefly) to 3271 of 7796 tracks on the server. Hope to finish by midnight.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK


                    • #11
                      Furthr suggestions

                      A few more random ideas of music that everyone should enjoy:
                      Johnny Cash / Blood, sweat and tears.
                      Male vocal and hammering railroad nails

                      Leonard Cohen / old ideas
                      It just sounds great and makes me smile

                      Clapton / Slowhand
                      It seems to be well recorded, lots going on and should image well.

                      Rhapsody in Blue
                      It's a magnificent dynamic sound, whether piano or orchestral

                      {Moderator's comment: We need the files for 1, 2, 3 please, in the next three hours as mentioned.}


                      • #12
                        Links to audio


                        mahler symph.3 part 1 kraftig

                        impressive low bass lines of the orchestra, brass and dynamics and how big is the scale of the orchestra ?
                        i really would like to know how the 40.2 deals with this.

                        from another world


                        zuco 103/one up/cd2 for instance 'humána'

                        live registration which brings air and the feeling of being there, recording is big and fat but tight.


                        • #13
                          Acutally selecting music playlists by rapid-fire listening

                          I thought I'd show you an entirely random section of my server music library, and me listening to clips (on my plastic pc speakers) and if I think that the clips they demonstrate something sonically special, dragging them into the play lists.

                          Couple of points:

                          1) There are some sonic artefacts in this screen recording process which you may hear (the audio files are pure though)
                          2) This is very typical of the way I listen (critically) to music during speaker design - just a few seconds at a time. I would never listen to an entire piece, only for pleasure. Interestingly, watching the playback I could double-guess from listening that I'd have select a particular file, there being something about the sound, or the sound stage, or the general spaciousness (air) that I find attractive
                          3) Sometimes I can't make up my mind and have to dip into the recording later on
                          4) On pop/rock recordings, I sometimes want to observe the waveform to see how clipped it is. That may make the final decision whether to include it in the selection
                          5) Some files are corrupted. Yesterday I could right click on them and delete them, today I can't
                          6) Some pieces I've not included in the short list simply because they are similar to ones I've already included. Many piano concertos, for example, sound similar from a balance consideration
                          7) there are some clips that are old recordings but of such sonic merit that they deserve to be included

                          I don't claim that this is the best or only way to critique recordings. It's worked for me for a quarter century and may not suit others, nor or course is it a way to listen to music for pleasure. That said, it is a bit of a 'fix' due to its sonic intensity. (Don't want to debate this please).

                          Basically, I know what sort of sound I like, and I cn usually make that decision in a few seconds, if I've heard/used the track before.
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK


                          • #14
                            Well, KJ's choice is a Krell Duo 300 amplifier (£9,500) and a DCS Rossini digital player pre-amp thing (£18,000).

                            Well, I don't suppose they'll be using Maplin speaker cable.

                            Honestly, in my 18 months of reading the HUG I have not got the impression that there are many Harbeth users within 2,000 miles of London, if any at all, that would be using or even considering such toys.

                            I know nothing about Krell, never heard or read about it. I found this review:
                            It's 2x350w into 8 ohms (455w peak). For what reviews are worth, the final comments were "A touch more refinement wouldn't go amiss, but then: this is for rockers".
                            Not exactly pipe and slippers sensible hifi.

                            The Duo 300 also employs a rather odd-sounding form of electronics called iBias, that sounds like Foo to me.

                            I'm a potential M40.2 customer, to the extent that I have already purchased two solid state amplifiers using the following criteria:

                            (1) To see how brute force compares to 35w of valve Class A (albeit with 100w output transformers)
                            (2) Ex-demo or second hand units from main dealers at prices achievable on re-sale.
                            (3) Low power consumption compared to the 350w consumption of my valve amps
                            (4) Conventional audio products - this is not a Behringer exercise
                            (5) Sensible hifi prices even if purchased new.

                            One is a 200w Class A/B amplifier and with my SHL5+ gives excellent results. I chose it because it is more powerful than a 140w Quad that I use elsewhere, although with slightly higher input sensitivity, and is the same power rating as the Devialet 200, which seems to be a winner with Harbeth.

                            The other amps are Quad 909 Mono, 300w into 8 ohm, £1,200 from Michael at hifi-Bauernhof. They were not sold in the UK as, according to Rob at Quad Service, "Never sold 909 mono blocks in the UK as they did not meet temperature on the chassis EU requirements (slightly too hot but really 'red tape' rubbish)". I suspect these are the most powerful consumer amps Quad has ever produced. One of these is at Quad being serviced, but I am rather looking forward to putting them into use. They are probably overkill for SHL5+ and the recent 5-star American review of SHL5+ was with a 909 Stereo. They were really purchased with M40.2 in mind. (All I now need is a bigger house and more forgiving wife.)

                            The use of the DCS Rossini is obvious - it is a new product and they want to give it some exposure. I've not had much interest in such things, I have a £100 CD transport.

                            This is rather disappointing. I previously mentioned three Harbeth dealers strongly recommending Devialet, which KJ sell. I have no vested interest. From a purely Harbeth perspective, Devialet offered the possibility of using the 200 units in both the standard 200w stereo and 400w mono configurations - to show the benefits of the extra power to the M40.2 at extreme dynamics. To a customer this is what I think we need to know - is it necessary to spend a large amount of money for the extra power? This is as much a matter of musical tastes as speaker requirements.

                            My concern is whether a rather esoteric amplifier and a digital source that must be doing something special for £18,000 is just going to leave me confused. Well, at least I will finally have a chance to say Hello to Alan.

                            {Moderator's comment: ... he'll be delighted. But forgive us all our sins. We have no influence of the gear, nor should we really is as we say, we are agnostic to such things. There is a lot of Red money in London and the ultimate objective is to SELL! To be fair, Krell is an extremely long establised and reputable brand.}


                            • #15
                              The new blue

                              I bought a pair of Epos (boo, hiss ..) from KJ Leisuresound, as it then was, but I was young, it was about 1985, and had a lot to learn. I understand KJ were one of Harbeth's original dealers in 1977, so credit to them for remaining loyal all these years. I don't know whether the same applies to their Quad dealership, because for their location and likely premises costs they should aspire to being the most high-end store in the UK. Not having crossed their threshold in 30 years, on Saturday I might find that to be the case.

                              Whilst KJ is now Russian owned, it should be noted that Russia is now blue (look at their flag) and China is the new Red.