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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, 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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The history of the Harbeth Company

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  • The history of the Harbeth Company

    Congratulations Alan. I admire your commitment to staying in touch with the Harbeth Users.

    Here is my question:

    As of now, Harbeth's best speakers are all traditional, box speakers designed for use on open stands. Many other companies have shifted away from traditional boxes to floorstanding speakers. It is not hard to see the attractions of a floorstander to a buyer. The buyer need not shop separately for stands or worry about whether he will get the same sound from his boxes on stands as a reviewer got from the same boxes on other stands. The floorstander might be [or look] a bit less "tippy" than a box on a stand. And some customers prefer the looks of a floorstander, perhaps because of the narrower face. And the depth of the floorstander helps get the drivers away from the wall behind the speakers. In any case, it would seem that you, Alan, could take the RADIAL driver and an Excel tweeter and put them in a floorstanding box of the same volume as a Super HL5, perform your magic on the crossover including correction for a different baffle step, and turn out a world-beating floorstander. Why not do that?

    Best
    Jeff

  • #2
    Floorstanders - some design issues

    Hello Jeff,

    You raise many interesting questions here, and I'll just touch on one or two answers for now.

    The first one is - if I'm completely honest - that my entire experience is with "BBC thin-wall cabinets" which, by definition means "bookshelf" (= needing a stand or bracket, not actually being on a book shelf). I know a fair bit about how these cabinets resonate, how their resonances can be beneficially steered etc. etc.. For me, anything that strays too far from that well trodden path draws on a skill set that I just don't have.

    Are there any really outstanding tower speakers? Does any professional sound engineer use a tower speaker at any stage of the recording/broadcast process? Do they have any technical or acoustic advantages over "bookshelf" speakers, other, perhaps, than stability on the floor as you mention?

    As far as I can determine, if you put sound quality first and you have the budget to invest in an up-market "bookshelf" then you probably are not going to be seduced by tower speakers unless you buy with your eyes, as many do.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    • #3
      Speaking only for myself, I've never cared for floorstanders. Give me a speaker on stand (preferably a 'Skylan' stand!) anytime. Better sound, better aesthetics (that's obviously a matter of opinion, but that's mine), and easier to live with (kids and pets will not scratch or knock over my M30's like they might a column speaker).

      I was mildly disappointed to hear that the newest design from Harbeth (prototype) was 5 or 6 inch radial....TOWER. And not the radial HLP3 update I've been watching for all these years!

      Comment


      • #4
        I agree, personally I don't see any aesthetic attraction with typical floorstanders......an exception is the beautiful Avalon speakers eg the Eidolon.
        Standmounted speakers have another advantage - they allow stand height to be selected to suit the users listening height.

        Comment


        • #5
          My experience with 2 other mfrs -

          one french and one UK - where the 2-way monitor is also sold as a 2-way floor stander with the same woofer and tweeter is that you lose some imaging and tightness, maybe some dynamics, in order to gain some bass and "mellowness". And some say you make your wife happier.

          I'm not sure if Alan is a lurker who is always listening to the competition's loudspeakers, but perhaps he can comment more generally and accurately about these tradeoffs and perhaps say something more specific about Harbeth's former and current forays into the floorstanding world.

          The NRG you show a picture of - it is an NRG isn't it - scares me. Where's the glockenspeel and berylium tweeter?

          Comment


          • #6
            I think most beginner in audio will choose floorstanding speaker if the money allowed. It's simpler and they think they provide better bass.

            I never own a floorstander because I don't like most floorstander aestethically and I don't have enough money to buy a good floorstander that I like.

            Comment


            • #7
              NRG tower

              I've removed a post concerning the NRG tower. I clearly stated at the start of this thread my position, and introducing the NRG just adds confusion to this discussion.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #8
                As I clearly stated, the NRG product is aimed at an entirely different sector of the market, and priced and styled accordingly. I use a pair at home in an AV system and they work really well. But towers are fundamentally different animals to "bookshelf" speakers in many ways.

                Right or wrong, I do not have the time (or interest) to snoop competitors offerings except on a very ad hoc basis. I have never heard *any* speaker, bookshelf, tower or panel that, to my ears, outperforms the Harbeth RADIAL cone in the middle frequencies, so I'm not likely to gain much pleasure from involving myself with other speaker systems.
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by alanshaw
                  I have never heard *any* speaker, bookshelf, tower or panel that, to my ears, outperforms the Harbeth RADIAL cone in the middle frequencies, so I'm not likely to gain much pleasure from involving myself with other speaker systems.
                  So true. And that, in a nutshell, in why we Harbeth owners are such a devoted lot.

                  -M

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                  • #10
                    This is to Alan
                    Can you elaborate more on the recently sighted tower harbeth at the CES?
                    Is this a new initiative by Harbeth?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by sevodude
                      This is to Alan
                      Can you elaborate more on the recently sighted tower harbeth at the CES?
                      Is this a new initiative by Harbeth?
                      http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatur...05/harbeth.jpg
                      This is a prototype tower system. It has a brand new 6.5" Harbeth-designed midrange unit, and a pair of Harbeth-designed high power 37mm voice coil bass units. It has been shown at CES twice now, as we test market the concept.
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Future product questions

                        At the end of last year there was a thread about single-wiring terminals. If I remember correctly, the drift was that very soon all Harbeth speakers would be supplied with such terminals.

                        I am interested in buying a pair of S-HL5s or Monitor 30s. My question is: Are these models now fitted with single-wiring terminals, and if not, are they likely to be in the near future? According to the Harbeth website, they still have bi-wiring terminals.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          It is true that we have been looking at simplifying the connection arrangement for some time.

                          The only advantage that I can really imagine for the current 4-post system is for identification of HF and LF issues at the point of manufacture and testing. The reason we continue with the 4-post arrangement is to provide maximum flexibility for a very few users who wish to experiement with alternative bi-wire links.

                          It is likely that we will offset ever rising overall costs with the saving on deleting two of the four terminals - the issue is just 'when?'.
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The Harbeth numbering scheme is historical. Yes, knowing what we do now, I guess one could renumber but of course, its far too late.

                            The Mk1,2,3,4 became the HL5, that begat the HL5ES, HL5ES2 and then the SuperHL5.

                            The HL Compact, introduced in 1988 was about 15% smaller than the then HL Mk4 and so was more 'compact' but with no sacrifice of sound quality. Of course, by today's standard of micro hifi systems it's hardly 'compact' but having sold tens of thousands over the years we're not going to rename our icon speaker. The HL Compact 7 was introduced in about 1995 and that led to the C7ES (with Harbeth made bass unit and bevelled from edge) and then the current C7ES2 with a rounded front edge.

                            The Monitor 20, 30 and 40 (actually introduced in reverse order and with a clear marketing intention to use those numbers) is a very clear lineage.
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              The HL Compact 7 was introduced in about 1995 and that led to the C7ES (with Harbeth made bass unit and bevelled from edge) and then the current C7ES2 with a rounded front edge.
                              My C7ES have the rounded edge!

                              Tony.

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