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"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, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create an audible sonic personality in what you hear. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be 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 potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but on the face of it, any deviation from a flat response - and the frequency balance of tube amplifiers are usually influenced by their speaker load - is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

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 and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to discuss the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised 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.

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.

If faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians in your home and over Harbeth speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that intention is what this forum has been helping to do since 2006. Welcome!"


Feb. 2018
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What can I do with the unpleasant smell from my P3ESR?

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  • What can I do with the unpleasant smell from my P3ESR?

    I use Harbeth's P3ESR as nearfield monitors to my desktop computer and feel a unpleasant smell. I'm pretty sure it coming from the woofers, the wood is not smelling unpleasant. The smell is more clear when playing music than not but the smell is clear enough that I have to move the speakers away when not playing with them.

    The sound is lovely, it has the best (I have ever heard) stereo imaging sound that can match my reference but I can't use them anymore as nearfield monitors if I can't find a solution. I have tried several times to carefully expose the woofers to the sun and monitored the temperature with hope that the smell would decrease but it will not. Please return if anyone have other ideas!

    Can someone confirm if there is another Harbeth speaker that not have this smell? One solution is to replace my P3ESR.

  • #2
    I use my P3ESRs as near field monitors as well and I do not smell anything. I am somewhat asthmatic and allergic to perfumes, so there are no perfumes from detergents etc in our house that could mask any smell if there is one. In short, I am baffled.

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    • #3
      Have p3 esr .No smell from mine,even after a fews hours of music through them.What is the smell like ?

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      • #4
        Have you engaged with your supplying dealer over this? I note that you do not define the smell. Have you owned these from new? Are there youngsters in your household? Has this smell only recently appeared?

        What make and model of amp have you, and how old is it?
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

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        • #5
          Good to hear that your Harbeth's don't smell. Have I caused the smell myself in some way? I have not engaged this with the dealer, can't honestly see the point of what the dealer can do to help.

          The smell is like chemical plastic/rubber, the grill (off) also have the same unpleasant rubbery smell in the middle. To clarify! The wood smells more than the rubbery smell but the rubbery smell feels more unpleasant (in my nose).

          The speakers are new since late 2015 and I discovered the rubbery smell some weeks later. Can the smell be harmful?

          No youngsters and we almost never use perfumes at home of any kind, even in laundry detergents. I appreciate good ventilation and maybe I'm a bit sensitive, particularly to new home electronics, but these smells usually decline over time.

          My amps? I mainly use a Denon PMA-2010AE from 2012 to the P3ESR.

          Thanks for all replies!

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          • #6
            I strongly suggest that you take this up with your dealer for a second sniff.

            I do not honestly believe that we can progress this here. I cannot understand any mechanism in the speaker itself that could conceivably cause this issue. Let us know the outcome please.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

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            • #7

              I have similar issue with my M30.1. I bought it new from Guildford Audio. It worked perfectly and I loved the natural sound so much. One day I change the amplifier to Heed Obelisk which was also brand new. I listened music as before like max 90dB, but few days later I noticed some unpleasant smell which unfortunately never disappeared completely. I have lack of technical knowledge, but I connected this side effect to the new Heed Obelisk amplifier. The previous 4 years the M30.1 worked perfectly with different amplifiers. I bought brand new SHL5+ which driven by QUAD QMP + QUAD Artera Play and works and sound flawlessly. Harbeth is simply the best speaker. I'm glad I'm lucky enough to own pair of SHL5+. I never buy any other speakers to listen music. After 6years I still fall in love the Harbeth natural sound. This was my best audio investment. I'm sure your dealer or Alan will find solution and your P3ESR will work perfectly.

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