HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

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. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

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, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. 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 electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon 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, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
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Harbeth - a monitor perfectly at home ...

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  • Harbeth - a monitor perfectly at home ...

    When auditioning loudspeakers, be aware of these crucial issues:

    1. When this speaker was being designed, what replay loudness did the designer have in mind?

    Did he intend the speaker to sound natural, warm, detailed and full bodied when played at a normal level? Or did he intend that the speaker should be played LOUD to sound correctly balanced - especially in the lower frequencies? Implicit in playing LOUD is that the listener sits far from the speaker. Implicit in playing at a normal level is that the listener sits relatively near to the speakers say, 1-3m away.

    From a designer's viewpoint, the closer the listener sits to the speaker the greater the 'amplification' of the speaker's defects and the more challenging the design task. To accept a design brief that the speaker must sound natural and sweet even when close enough to touch makes the design task much more difficult but underpins the design of Harbeth/BBC monitors.

    2. How will this speaker sound at home, playing late at night when you are concerned about intruding upon the neighbours?

    In Harbeth's case, the answer is that every one of our speakers is a professional tool trusted to monitor speech and music in a broadcast studio which shares many characteristics with the typical domestic listening room:

    - Similar size
    - Similar reverberation time
    - Similar listening level
    - Similar distance from the listener to the speakers
    - Same need to sound full bodied but not to annoy the neighbours/other studios

    That's why a Harbeth sounds so 'right' even when played relatively quietly. And they doesn't need a huge power amp. Attached is a range of very typical BBC-style studio's from 1930's to date which show how close the user sits to the speakers - broadly similar to how we use our Harbeth's at home.

    Evaluating louspeakers: a word of advice ....

    A Harbeth speaker sounds natural when you are next to it or when it is 4m away. This is very unusual. Most speakers sound good only when they are far away and as you sit closer they sound hard, fatiguing and unnatural. When you are evaluating speakers be sure to also listen to them closer than you normally would. This will emphasise any problems in the speakers such as colouration and irritating fatigue. If you listen to a speaker in the far-field and it seems to reach out and demand your attention be sure to double-check that speaker's performance in the near-field. Great speakers don't shout at you. They gently pull you into their smooth wide sound stage and astonishing clarity.

    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK