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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.

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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

    Comment


    • #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.
        System Details

        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

                  Comment


                  • #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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