HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. 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 electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon 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, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
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My '3D holographic presentation' from a 15W amplifier

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  • #31
    3D from mono?

    Originally posted by HUG-1 View Post
    A mono recording? Maybe we misunderstand you. We can not be talking about '3D' as we understand '3D' at Harbeth GB. There is zero width information with a mono record.
    Perhaps he was refering to the music snapping into focus as opposed to getting a 3D sound from a mono recording. However you make an interesting comment about the width of a mono recording and the inability to derive a 3D image from it. I was listening to a mono recording of David Oistrakh earlier this evening. While it did not cast a soundstage as wide as a stereo recording but it was about 3 feet wide at least by my estimation and isnt that sufficient for a 3D image of the violinist to emerge if all other conditions are right?


    • #32
      Image width check

      Originally posted by Kathylim View Post
      Perhaps he was refering to the music snapping into focus
      hi yes, this is what i meant, only to establish optimum distance...

      Originally posted by Kathylim View Post
      about 3 feet wide at least by my estimation...
      yes, if you can get this is as narrow as possible while moving your seat (or crouching your ears to tweeter height, while pacing slowly forwards and backwards) it might be better.

      good luck..


      • #33
        Enjoyable distortion?!

        This thread has been very informative for me, since lately I've become quite addicted to the sound of a small single ended 6L6 tube amp that I built, which produces only 9 watts per channel. We use it with a pair of [email protected]/1m speakers from Zu Audio and, at our usual moderate listening levels, I doubt it is clipping. But Alan's videos have me wondering whether my affinity for this system is simply some distortion that I find enjoyable.


        • #34
          Fate of the Sansui 15 watter.

          My trusty Sansui ended up in my office with the P3ESR. A Marantz 73 CDP at the front setting the pace. The room is 14" x 17" and played at low'ish volumes so as not to distract the employees and of course not to bring the amp into clipping.

          The music sounds ever so good, a system one could hang their hat on to deliver the music. Can't say the same for the experiments going on at home with the big system though. Much work needs to be done there. When the music sounds right, you just know it and when it doesn't, well you know it as well.... no matter what anyone says.


          • #35
            The hifi equipment is only one part of the chain ....

            OK, here's an alternative point to consider:

            Because its a P3ESR, one doesn't have such grand expectations and is rewarded by its "exceeding thy expectations" performance.

            And because it's a 40.1 and being the Harbeth flagship, one would naturally expect it to be infallible, the Omega, the be-all end-all authority and pinnacle of audio reproduction (OK, i exaggerate, but you get the point ;P ). But alas, nothing is is perfect in this world, and there are some parts just left wanting. Right?

            After all, the hifi equipment chain (amps, cables, speakers and room) is merely one part of the audio-reproduction equation. The other part being the listener himself/herself, and what we pre-conceive and perceive would form a big part in the human portion of hifi enjoyment ! :)


            • #36
              Monetary outlay and expectations ...

              You are absolutely correct and lets be honest....when you spend more money on a pair of speakers it would only be natural to expect more. I would'nt quite say however the 40.1 is infallible.

              However I was referring to the musicality of the system, when the music sounds correct, regardless of the cost of the system. I dont want to go into that aspect. If one doesnt know what I am referring to then no amount of verbiage is going to explain it.

              Over the long weekend I was invited to listen to another "toys for boys" system....much bigger, more elaborate than the earlier system which kicked off this thread. So much care had been taken in the placement, treatment of the entire system. It was clear to see that so much time (and money) had been invested in that system.

              It was impressive, played loud under control, did the entire dog and pony show very well but the musicality of the system was sadly missing. It didnt move me at an emotional level.

              Went home and listened to the 40.1 and while it didnt have the scale (etc) of that huge system my system did a better job in communicating the music. There are still aspects of my system which remains on my must improve list.

              Alan and many of the contributors on this site are correct insofar as the Harbeths can produce good music with some care. Speaker placement and some room treatment tops that list. I cant emphasise that enough.

              The above can be had without great monetary outlay but I believe that if one wants the most out of the music and system, then it may cost a bit more than a bag of crisps.

              I believe it is pointless to say to new entrants into 2 channel not to fuss over the sound and equipment. That may well apply to those whose interests are mainly to produce some music in the home with little care for all else. I suspect they may be a minority. Perhaps I am wrong.

              However, as you say when you spend more you expect more and anyone who steps out to buy a Harbeth immediately is spending more.

              Let me end with a story. A friend went out to buy his first hifi system. He hadnt discussed this with me and for the better. He went round to 2 shops and happily ended with a system both he and wife liked. I asked and he replied that he had spent the equivalent of GBP 5,000 but GBP 1000 more than his initial budget.

              I asked him why. His reply......"I decided to spend a bit more on cables and a CDP one up on the range as I felt, that would optimise on the system". Point is perhaps it is human nature to want the best or perhaps get the most on any situation.


              • #37
                Why, oh why, oh why?

                Originally posted by Kathylim View Post
                "I decided to spend a bit more on cables
                Why, oh why, oh why? When will these people learn.

                {Moderator's comment: I feel sure that this is a joke. It has to be.}


                • #38
                  Recording 3D and height info

                  Originally posted by HUG-1 View Post
                  A mono recording? Maybe we misunderstand you. We can not be talking about '3D' as we understand '3D' at Harbeth GB. There is zero width information with a mono record.
                  I think there are some fundamental misunderstandings happening here. Alan is correct in saying that the experience of 3D is an illusion, but it is an illusion that is fundamental to things recorded in reverberant space. Even in mono, a simple ensemble recorded in a reverberant space will give depth of field as well as the width of the instruments - the illusion of 3d. The recorded spatial cues are the "information" encoded in the recording. Stereo allows for a much wider sound stage. Anyone who records and mixes music professionally will know that certain frequencies can create apparent height in their mixes. This is related to the Head-Related Transfer Function and is what allows us create depth of field in our hearing in the natural world as well.


                  It is to be expected that we would hear 3 dimensions in well-recorded program material when the appropriate spatial cues are present. Some factors do rob these qualities from music in my experience, principally reflections from the floor or side walls or walls behind the listening position or poor speaker positioning relative to the listener. I would think that, all of these things being equal the 3D effect would be present even with a 15 watt amplifier, and would suggest starting with moving the toe-in of your speakers, and tipping them back as necessary to ensure that the tweeter/listener heights are the same. I would then suggest a rug below the speakers to absorb high frequency energy, and something on the sidewalls to absorb wall reflections.


                  • #39
                    My view on 3D imaging

                    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                    I just want to expand on the comment I made a couple of posts ago about how 'depth' cannot be more than a mental illusion. It's a beneficial, enjoyable illusion of course, but it is an illusion as I mentioned in post #18 and hence, the strength or this illusion will vary dramatically from person to person.

                    Perception is all in the mind and will vary significantly between observers.

                    I've been reading this forum over the past few weeks and have found many of the threads fascinating and informative. So I registered in order to contribute. This is my first post. I hope no one minds me reviving an older topic. I believe image can add so much to the enjoyment of listening to music.

                    My view is that if the 3D imaging is there in the playback system it should be there for any listener to hear. It may take a little while for listeners unused to 3D image to hear it at first because their brain may be telling them that all the sound they are hearing is coming from 2 boxes. So they focus on those two boxes when listenening. They may need a little bit of coaxing to forget about the speakers and focus only on the the sound they are hearing. Closing eyes may help, and dimming the lights.

                    All recordings do not capture the 3D information at the recording stage but there are plenty of recordings that do. Classical recordings are more likely to have captured the image of an orchestra playing than other genres. So if it is not on a recording to begin with you are not going to magically create what is not there (with *any* reproduction system) when it is played back. So to hear a 3D image, first source recordings known to have captured excellent 3D image information. I can give some recommendations if required.

                    Height is much more elusive to recreate, maybe because even orchestras play on a fairly level stage. I think that where a choir is elevated to a great degree behind the orchestra then there is a possibility that the microphones would capture that height information if they are sited at the front of the stage below the height of the choir. The other thing is that if a listener can discern height information at a live performance then a simple crossed pair of microphones may be able to capture that height information if they were placed where the listener sat. (I've just had another thought - an organ symphony may reveal some height information).

                    As has been said by many contributors in this thread the placement of the speakers, the listening position, and room acoustics are important to hearing good imaging. I find that the speakers need to be away from room boundaries. In my room if I go too loud the image can get poorer and I think this may be down to greater levels of reflected sounds. In my experience it is the speakers which do or do not recreate the image. I do not believe that the amplifier makes much, if any difference. Although I suppose the amp would need to drive the speakers cleanly and be of decent quality. I have used a 37 year old Trio amp (KA1500 25W rms) which does not detract from the image, and am currently using a 15 year old Yamaha AV amp (DSP A5 70W rms x5) with just 2 channels hooked up to stereo speakers (with no DSP effects from the amp). This is certainly not HiFi exotica, but it allows me to hear good imaging if it is there on the recording in the first place.


                    • #40
                      Positioning M40.1 in-room

                      Originally posted by kittykat View Post
                      Hi kathylim

                      Reg “3d” Ive been experimenting with speaker placement and seating position in last few days and some thoughts

                      1. “3d” is relative by recordings,

                      2. The 2 factors above (placement and seating position alone) appear to influence 3d perception with no changes to any other electronic variable

                      3. Seating distance from speaker seems to be the easiest tweak to achieve 3d perception* (for me at least),

                      4. The treble notes and reverb (or lack of) give clues of “depth”

                      * I tried moving the chair incrementally forwards and backwards in distance from speaker and there is a point where music and voices “snap into focus” on the soundstage. This is imo the optimum for 3d perception. If you have a mono recording please try playing it and this will help you in establishing this optimal distance. It’s a no cost experiment so nothing to lose.

                      I recently auditioned the 40.1 in a home where the speakers were placed in the living with rough dimensions of about 20'x15'. The speakers were placed about 6' in front of long, front wall (almost in the middle of the room). The listening chair was about 6'-7' from each speaker. The owner had treated the room with a few RealTraps panels: at each corner, at first reflection points on the ceiling, and behind the listening position.

                      I can truly say there was palpable depth in this system. The voices seem to come from a space well beyond the speaker plane, closer to the front wall (i.e. Behind the speakers). It was a truly amazing experience.

                      True, the 40.1s were a formidable presence so close to your face, but close your eyes and you get transported to a different world and the speakers seem further away.

                      Rhose who have 40.1s should, at least ONCE, try bringing them INTO the room AWAY from the walls and sitting closer to them at in an equilateral triangle with the speakers toed in. Try it! You just might like it better than the placement you have now. :)