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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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Modifying your Harbeths - real benefits or not?

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  • #31
    Personally, i don't think its a good idea to open up your Harbeths unless absolutely necessary, much less to put something inside to tweak the sound. I believe every pair of Harbeths have been optimised by Alan to give you the most balanced & natural sound.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Gan CK View Post
      I believe every pair of Harbeths have been optimised
      yes, im afraid those tweaks would have changed things...for the worst. only kidding. :-) if it makes you happy, thats all that matters.

      did you take any photos of your adventure, by any chance, you would want to share?

      Comment


      • #33
        Do not tamper with your Harbeths

        No. Do not ask this question. You and the original poster are encouraging users to invalidate their Warranty. If we can identify the serial numbers of the pair that have been opened we will make a note against them in the Registration data base and the Warranty will be voided. The local importer will also be advised.

        The real world: If we the makers could achieve more performance from washers on the magnet we would have designed that 1 cent mod into the original product and added $100 to the selling price.

        DO NOT MODIFY THE INTERNALS OF YOUR HARBETHS. YOU CAN ONLY DEGRADE THE SOUND BY WEAKENING THE CONSTRUCTION. IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO ACHIEVE ANY IMPROVEMENT IN SOUND OR WE WOULD HAVE DESIGNED-IN THAT HIGHLY PROFITABLE MODIFICATION OURSELVES.

        Any photos that encourage this sort of nonsense will be deleted to protect others from temptation.

        Comment


        • #34
          Modifications and Warranty - a world from the designer

          HUG-1 is correct. We cannot encourage DIY speaker-redesign here on the official, manufacturers-run Harbeth User Group. Nor would BMW on their forum.

          It seems there is an urge to open what left the factory in guaranteed working order. There are two consequences of this which you should be aware of:
          1. We need to review the whole Warranty situation. Any (extremely rare) Warranty claims will need to be validated by an authorised Harbeth dealer to verify the user has not opened the speakers (there are always tell-tale marks) and/or attempted any modifications. This is the same as returning your car to an authorised dealer for inspection if want to make a claim. It's only fair and reasonable.
          2. You should be vigilant when buying used (second-hand). You never know what modifications the user has been tempted into. We only offer Warranty to the first owner subject to various T's and C's for this reason.

          Thank you for your understanding. I do my very, very best when designing Harbeth speakers to squeeze every gramme of performance and to save you wasting time and money chasing modifications.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #35
            I was only asking in jest. In all seriousness, if there is any change in the sound it would be away from what it was originally intended to be, ie. It has most possibly becomes "bad"...

            There is nothing much direct tweaks can do. Its sub optimising within a small dimension of the vast landscape of good sound. Like what HUG has suggested, worn down screw holes in the wooden cabinets, not to mention irreparable damage from overtightening are bigger risks than rewards. Flying screws drawn by powerful magnets do damage as well. Applying the wrong torque might have had a bigger impact to the sound than the washers themselves. Im sure by applying washers it would have shifted the distance of something against another. So please don’t modify anything. The results can only be what it wasn’t intended to be, the worst of all damage. That can only mean many sleepless nights and bottles of whiskey, money which could have been spent on good quality recordings and some reasonable sound treatment which will yield much more tangible and rewarding endeavours.

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            • #36
              Thin wall - a very special cabinet

              Originally posted by kittykat View Post
              ... Like what HUG has suggested, worn down screw holes in the wooden cabinets, not to mention irreparable damage from overtightening are bigger risks than rewards. Flying screws drawn by powerful magnets do damage as well. Applying the wrong torque might have had a bigger impact to the sound than the washers themselves...
              Absolutely correct. The Harbeth cabinets is of the BBC 'thin wall' concept. That relies on a wood-on-wood interface; for example, the back panel or baffle tightened onto the soft-wood bearers that run around those panels in the inside of the cabinet. Those wood-on-wood joints are intentionally pliable, neither too flexible nor to rigid. Contrast that with conventional cabinets where (usually) all of the panels are rigidly bonded together into one, seamless carcass. In such a system, access to the inside is usually effected by removing the woofer and reaching into the cabinet.

              As kittykat hints, repeated removal of the front or back will 'drill out' the pilot holes that are carefully dimensioned to give just the right tension to the front or back. And once they are so enlarged, they offer no grip - and the cabinet is useless. And we don't supply replacement cabinets. So a little curiosity and/or modification can in the most unfortunate case, result in a very expensive mistake. If you buy used, from an unknown or internet source, this is just one of the considerations you need to keep in mind. I'd suggest that if there is any hint that the speakers have been opened, cables/crossovers/foam modified that you run a mile.

              Furthermore, how can the user be sure whether we assemble the cabinet from the front of the back? This may seem an irrelevant question, but in fact, it is highly relevant to the above issues.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #37
                I will recant the above post in the same spirit that Galileo recanted his support of the heliocentric model to the Spanish Inquisition. I would not wish a revocation of Warranty on the fellow users; much less my worst enemy. That was certainly not my intent. If you intend to void my Warranty, I would like to have that in writing on Harbeth letterhead along with tangible proof that the modification was, in fact, performed on the pair for which you have serial numbers.

                @ HUG-1
                "The real world: If we the makers could achieve more performance from washers on the magnet we would have designed that 1 cent mod into the original product and added $100 to the selling price"
                Is this really how you wish to portray Harbeth's approach to research and design; a $100 markup on a $.01 part? Can we, therefore, conclude that a $5000 pair of your speakers cost $2 to make?

                If you're going to criticize my post, you should at least understand what I'm saying. I never said anything about putting a washer on the magnet. While I realize it to be to my detriment to further endorse this modification, it should be stated that I devised it with a specific intended result; an added measure of decoupling between the baffle and cabinnt. You have effectively silenced me in trying to argue on whether or not this is needed and whether or not it is effective, however, you can't entirely dismiss it unless and until you've evaluated it.

                Although it may stand counter to the dogmatic views expressed by Harbeth management, significant improvements can be made to manufactured products. A Sony 5400ES SACD player that receives the Modwright Ultimate Truth modifications sounds much better than the bare stock Sony. Its obvious and its replicable. Although BMW might not openly endorse modifications on it's Official Website, there are significant gains to be made in performance. In this case, they are measurable. Cold air intakes, turbo chargers, intercoolers, aftermarket exhaust, HP hoses, computer chips, ect. will result in increased horsepower and quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Opening the speakers

                  To me, the single most important issue here is the screwholes. Harbeth cabinets are made, as I understand it, of veneered MDF (with an added layer of damping). There's no question that if you remove and reinsert the screws you remove a tiny amount of MDF each time. You may get away with it once or twice, but once you've enlarged the hole enough that the screw doesn't bite anymore you're done - you can't go back. I know this happens because I've done it myself (but not to a Harbeth, thank goodness).

                  For that reason alone I'd leave well enough alone - it's just not worth it.

                  However, in the interest of keeping an open mind, I'd like to suggest that any member who believes they have a valid idea for a cost-effective and meaningful improvement to Harbeth's basic design send Harbeth a private message with the details. I'm sure that Harbeth, as a conscientious manufacturer always looking to make a better product, would happily incorporate any suggestion that improves their speaker at minimal cost. That way we all benefit, and owners who are currently happy with their speakers won't be tempted to fool around on the inside of their enclosures, with potentially negative consequences.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Harwoods seminal paper on thin-wall cabinet design - and why you shouldn't fiddle with it

                    As I clearly said, the thin wall cabinet system is a finely balanced interconnected system of many parts. As you can read from the BBC research work on cabinet damping (attached) the smallest ill considered or unintentional change to any part of the structure is likely to make a change to the sonics of the system - but not necessarily for the better. I draw your attention to our founder, Dudley Harwood's comments on pages 15 and 19 about the consequences of incorrectly manufactured thin-wall speaker cabinets and associated graphs. And Fig. 8/9 and 13/14 show the exceedingly narrow margin between audible coloration and not - a line you could unwittingly transgress with a DIY modification.

                    BMW (presumably) do not endorse those after market tweaks because they are building cars that put long-term durability as the primary goal. They know the strengths, and more importantly weaknesses of their designs better than anyone outside their secure laboratories. I suspect that most of those tweaks have an impact on the longevity or reliability of the car which may not be obvious until it fails at some point in the future. And then, would the tweaker hastily revert to the factory spec and try and claim on the Warranty? Some do.

                    I repeat again, this is the manufacturer's forum. We here are Harbeth UK, the manufacturing company. We pay for this site and maintain it. It is not our remit here to encourage the redesign of our standard, reliable, respected factory original products built to last. There may be other places on the internet that hold that sort of discussion, but not here.

                    And yes - we live in the commercial world. If we could add $100 of value for a 1c part, of course I'd go for it. I'd be mad not to. But the truth is, it would be 1c added to cost for zero benefit. And we're not in the BS business.

                    Dogmatic? Perhaps. Considering the decades I've invested in the design of the speakers and the technical obstacles overcome, I think as the designer I've earned the right to be.
                    Attached Files
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by Diminish View Post
                      Cold air intakes, turbo chargers, intercoolers, aftermarket exhaust, HP hoses, computer chips, ect. will result in increased horsepower and quicker 0-60 and quarter mile times.
                      adding go faster components on a car (without improving brakes, drive-train etc) highlights sub-optimisation which may result in a worst type of disaster (not to mention shortened motors lifespans)

                      “Squeezing the last ounce” in the domestic world is definitely intriguing, and worthy of academic study. The “last ounce” whether in horsepower, or “better” sound cannot be applied or appreciated in most instances eg. Lack of appropriate roads or in this situation, a room. In this wider context, improvements if any, are very interesting but also very superfluous.

                      If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by kittykat View Post
                        If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you.
                        I like this very much. Appreciate.
                        "Bath with Music"

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Me too... thanks for reminding... as time goes by we tend to forget.. especially... when we are seaching for the "ultimate" in HI-Fi. If you watch youtube, Greek Audiophile you will know what i mean

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            "If someone has bought something well made and beautiful (like Harbeths) for what it was (or even married someone), sit back, admire, feel grateful, lucky and proud. Your speakers (or partner) will automatically sound better (and be more beautiful). I guarantee you."

                            The speakers will sound better than what? It seems that you're suggesting that pride of ownership results in improved sonics. This is the placebo effect; the very same argument that those of you who don't hear differences in cables or electronics use to discredit those of us who do.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              He merely said that if you are happy with what you have, it will please you better, you will enjoy it more and it will sound better since you are happy. But if you wish to redesign something that is already well designed to seek perfection... I don't think you will ever find it. try to enjoy life, a better outlook will make you happier... that is guranteed (but please don't ask me for a written document with a letterhead) :D

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                To Diminish:

                                I agree with what others have said. Since you mention the "placebo effect", don't forget that it can work the other way as well. How much of the "improvement" you are hearing from your tweak is as a result of a meaningful change to the physical property of your loudspeakers, and how much is due to a sense that you personally have done something to affect their sound? Can you really separate the two?

                                I think the urge to tinker is understandable - it gives one the pleasant feeling of agency, of having done something oneself, of not being just a consumer, but also a participant and co-creator of the experience. It's a nice psychological feeling to have.

                                But I think that it's also an illusion, at least when it comes to something as complex as a well-designed and well-engineered loudspeaker. I know very little about loudspeaker design, but I know something about expertise. And real expertise - in any field - is something one works long and hard to acquire, and it needs to be recognized and respected where it exists. Sometimes it's hard to know what we don't know, but it can be crucial to recognize that we don't actually know. That doesn't mean one can't ask questions, but likewise one needs to have the humility to recognize that one's own knowledge isn't on the same level as that of an expert.

                                When it comes to a Harbeth product, I am content to derive my sense of "participation" from the knowledge that I have made a very good choice.

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