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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"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 http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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Speakers behind the listener

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  • Speakers behind the listener

    This isn't a Harbeth question and I do not own any yet, but this forum is where I find most sense spoken and most expertise, so I'll ask here.

    My office setup is such that the most convenient set up for my hifi is with the speakers behind me - they are not near-field monitors, they are an old pair of Monitor Audio One bookshelf speakers (on a bookshelf!), sited 1.2m behind my head when sat at my desk, about 1.6m apart.

    I actually find the stereo separation very good and the effect very pleasing. I haven't swapped left & right speaker positions but perhaps I should. Is there a science to this? What effect do the sound waves have coming from behind the ear from the perspective of the listener? Is this a situation that ever arises in a sound studio or does the sound engineer always site the speakers in front?

    {Moderator's comment: Alan listens like this in his study at home. Let him comment}

  • #2
    Music as a background to life

    Originally posted by broadsword View Post
    This isn't a Harbeth question and I do not own any yet, but this forum is where I find most sense spoken and most expertise, so I'll ask here.

    My office setup is such that the most convenient set up for my hifi is with the speakers behind me - they are not near-field monitors, t Is there a science to this? What effect do the sound waves have coming from behind the ear from the perspective of the listener? Is this a situation that ever arises in a sound studio or does the sound engineer always site the speakers in front?
    This is indeed my normal set-up at home, in a small bedroom I use as a study and where much HUG typing occurs!

    There are two issues that I've found, and these are not really speaker type or brand related. In fact, due to the sheer pressure on space behind me, I have been experimenting with speakers much smaller than the P3s I normally use. I found these in a junk shop and for $5 thought I'd give them a whirl - they are so small! Anyway, regardless of whether the speakers are in front or behind, are of monitor grade or junk-shop grade, I find that if the music is above a certain replay loudness I just cannot concentrate. I get pulled into the music and my mind is split between reading, comprehending and typing and the music. I don't find any need to swap over the L-R speakers but I do find that the volume control has to be right down at the very end of the range. My volume control has click-stops and although the amp channel balance at the low setting is still perfect (it tends not to be on ordinary controls with a continuous sweep) I wish there was one click below the lowest setting, for when I am really trying to concentrate.

    There is another thing. Because the ear is so extremely level sensitive, especially in the bass region (did you know that?), turning the volume right down makes the sound very bass light. That's nothing to do with the amp or speakers - their frequency response is uneffected, it's just the way the ear works. Sometimes, the weak bass doesn't draw attention to itself; other times it sound ridiculously thin. The solution is, of course, to turn up the volume so that the bass returns or to turn down the volume and turn up the bass control, if you are lucky enough to have one. I do, and wouldn't be without it. I apply maximum boost (on these tiny speakers) and at that extremely low level (I'm guessing about 0.1W maximum) it sounds great.

    Hope that helps.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    • #3
      Speakers behind and the shape of the ear

      Thanks,

      Yes I listen at low levels while I'm working too - the only way I am distracted is pleasantly so when something attracts my attention. Mostly the music is for background and to create a relaxed working atmosphere (so choice of music is important too). The volume control is rarely beyond the 9 oclock position, and the bass is turned almost to max, the treble slightly below centre (I have an old Creek amp which drives the old speakers well enough - I wouldn't consider any new amp without tone controls).

      My interest was more about the position of the speakers being behind the ear given the ear's shape and slightly forward facing nature - curiously I don't find the sound quality is compromised at all, and sometimes I think I actually prefer it. Perhaps there is some degree of sound reflection off the wall and huge PC screen in front of me to the front of the ear which gives a sense of depth. If I cup my hands round my ears facing backwards it sounds much flatter.

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