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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Recordings for a Harbeth Demonstration

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  • #16
    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
    I'm not surprised that a critical listener is more attracted to piano on the Harbeths. It is the defining glory of the Harbeth sound - in my opinion.

    You know, the piano has a similar characteristic to the human voice. I think that is why it is such a universally loved instrument - it 'talks' to us with a voice and soul just like a human. Reproducing human voice - and hence the piano accurately is by far the most difficult task for a loudspeaker. That's becuse we all know how a real live human sounds, and many of us know how a live piano sounds too. No degree-level acoustics expertise needed to hear and judge a great piano in action.

    I have mentioned before and I state again: the fundamantal element in a loudspeaker system that governs (or limits) the ability of a speaker to 'sing' naturally is the material from which the bass/midrange driver cone is formed. Please real that last sentence again. Twice. It is so desperately important to grasp that idea. Harbeth's RADIAL™ cone material has, amongst other properties, extreme stiffness. That means it acts more like a piston, and that is exactly what you want for a speaker cone: as much of the cone moving together as one harmonius push/pull element as it tries to trace-out the micro detail of (for example) the piano tone especially as it decays into silence between the notes.

    Contrast the pistonic behaviour of RADIAL™ with that of a soft-dome drive unit. First, the soft-dome is, by definition, made from knicker elastic (or similar), which is a soft, floppy, woven cloth. Bad news. Second, to give it the illusion of stiffness (and damping) it is coated with some sort of sticky gunk which lies unevenly on top of the fabric. That means it is impossible to make two domes which behave the same because they will be physically different. Have a close-up look at the glossy, injection moulded Harbeth RADIAL™ cone and compare that with a similar close-up of the fabric and see for yourself.

    There is absolutely no justification to use coated underwear fabric as a diaphragm material. It's simply the wrong solution. Our stiff injection moulded cone made from an engineering plastic is by far the best way to ensure that the micro-tones are sent as sound out into the room, not flopping around in the woven doped mesh of a soft diaphragm eventually lost as heat.

    Anyone able to take close-up pictures of the Harbeth cone v. a fabric cone? No need to mention brand names; the issue is that fabric bass/mid drivers just do not meet the primary requirements for high fidelity transducers, namely: repeatable, rigid and optimally damped at a microstructural level. The fact that a midrange dome buckles under the slightest finger pressure proves the point.

    You wouldn't make car engine pistons from lightweight woven elastic (even if the could withstand the temperature) and nor should you make speaker cones. Structures that move (including engines, planes, bullets and midrange cone/domes) especially structures like domes/cones which are under great acceleration - should only be made from rigid, reliable, strong, homogenous materials.

    I've previously covered the sonic signature of cone materials here. I think I specifically mentioned polypropylene as a sub-optimal acoustic material, but cloth domes fall into a similar category.
    This is one of the most natural piano recordings ever made

    It dates 1972, location Japan, with a brillant glory of British pianists breed, in his full apex of career... highly recommended.


    • #17
      I've asked many if they like the David Gilmour album Metallic Spheres-as I really enjoy it. The general reply is they don't understand it. On the Harbeth P3SE the album makes total sense. Metallic Spheres sounds remarkable. Check it out.


      • #18
        one sweet recommendation from 2011

        Soundtracks are hard to recommend but i really like this one from 2011 by Rachel Portman - Soundtrack from Snowflower and the Secret Fan. Its a grandiose expansive oriental themed and track after track of catchy, although repetitive, tunes which make it impossible for me to go to bed. There are traditional instruments, flute and piano. Sweet sounds.

        umm - forgot to mention, the quality is pretty good. the difference between the quiet and loud bits is BIG.


        • #19
          I've been listening to The Cinematic Orchestra lately. The album Every Day was the first one that I heard, but I'm finding all of their albums a lot of fun to listen to on my Harbeths - pretty nice stuff.


          • #20
            In my opinion there should not be a special demonstration-music.
            One should put on the music that you, or the people that listen with you, like.
            Cause that is where it matters in the end.

            In my opinion even some of these special "highend-recordings" like Rebecca Pidgeon or such shall be avoided
            because they often sound rather good even on lesser speakers.
            And if you just listen to such records again & again at demonstrations everywhere the musical relevancy of it slightly decreases.
            In the end it is just "test-tones".
            What a terrible loss that would be.

            It is something different for a developer like Mr. Shaw, because he has to come closer to a speakers sound from a more scientific direction.
            But isnīt that completely wrong for us a music-lover???