"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. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best 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 will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system 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. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

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. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"

Feb. 2018
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Music to play at Harbeth public exhibitions

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  • Music to play at Harbeth public exhibitions

    What would you like to hear at exhibit

    I suggest:

    Michael Jackson, Bad: The Way You Make Me Feel
    Deep Purple with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Third Movement: Vivace - Presto
    Buddy Guy, Sweet Tea: Baby Please Don't Leave Me
    Karrin Allyson, Collage: And So It Goes
    Diana Jones, My Remembrance Of You: Cold Grey Ground
    Charlie Haden, Liberation Music Orchestra: We Shall Overcome
    Charlie Haden Family & Friends, Rambling Boy: Single Girl, Married Girl
    Steeleye Span, All Around My Hat: All Around My Hat
    Fairport Convention, What We Did On Our Holidays; Mr. Lacey
    Last edited by chirhonix; 07-01-2015, 11:06 PM. Reason: URL added

  • #2
    Music to play at Harbeth public exhibitions

    In a parallel thread we have touched on the subject of what electronics should we be associated with in a Harbeth-UK managed/funded show.

    What about the choice of music? There are, just as with electronics, some issues.
    1. The public are free to come and go at will. This means that they are dipping into and out of performances, and may arrive at a quiet moment which does not excite and may not linger long enough for the music to perk up
    2. The wholly untreated hotel bedroom room acoustics are not conducive to bass-heavy music
    3. The subjective sonic damping in the room is primarily provided by the human bodies present. This makes consistency of sound impossible to maintain
    4. Public musical tastes are wide and unpredictable through the show and it is unwise to make too many assumptions
    5. Most listeners will, to a reasonable degree, tolerate/endure music that is not of their taste if it is only for a few minutes
    6. Some listeners bring their own CDs. We have always been accommodating of own-CDs as an opportunity to showcase of our speakers but sadly, the recording quality of these pet pieces is often extremely poor. They may well have a strong emotional attraction, but they usually clear the room in a minute or two and do nothing for our product reputation. For example, thrash and techno are interesting sounds but not relevant to our typical buyer, and many pre-digital recordings, even mastered to CD, are often so lacking in detail, HF and air that they are, after long exposure to pristine digital recordings, painful or even embarrassing to play because they are so dull: all bass and no sparkle
    7. As discovered at the KJ and Guildford Audio demonstrations in the summer of 2014, explaining what to listen for, playing the clip and then discussing it afterwards, seemed to work very well, but that was with a group of ten or so, under invitation-only conditions
    8. We cannot be all things to all men or play all music to all men! We have to take a view on what is most likely to be listened to by our customers at home and that tends to mean music that they can immerse themselves in for relaxation and contemplation. That tends to bias our choice away from rock/pop

    There are four factors that have equal prominence in our consideration of music selection:

    A) The recording must be first class - dynamic, open, fresh, airy and natural. For me that's vital. I'm not too fussed what musical genre - I just like sound - but the recording quality has to be A1.
    B) The clip must not be for more than, say, 10 minutes maximum
    C) It must be convenient to arrange a continuous flow of music (pre-planned) because it is not possible to engage in meaningful discussion with visitors if one is dancing around swapping discs
    D) The music must be relevant (or expected to be relevant) for the demography of our typical buyers
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK


    • #3

      Mozart pianoconcertos ( second part/andante) Uchida/Tate, beautiful recording and performance. You can focus on the music but also pleasent and relaxed in the background.

      Bach celloconcertos last recording Wispelwey, the sound of the cello is impressive and intense.

      Keith Jarrett trio/The Cure; nice mix of the piano,bass and drums or Jamie Saft/astaroth/ bael-peor.... mmm..this thread won't help you.


      • #4
        Mahler - haunting

        My choice, which hopefully fits Alan's criteria, is 2nd movement of Mahler's 7th Symphony. I have many recordings of this work, but I always go back to Claudio Abbado with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on DG label, 1984, recording engineer was Karl-August Naegler (a golden ear if ever there was one).

        This movement is longer than 10 minutes, but on this version the movement is split into 4 tracks, (so to play more than one of them you need gapless playback).

        What does this piece have going for it?

        It is well recorded, can make the speakers completely vanish, dynamic, has lots of brass (a good test of a speaker system as discussed in another HUG thread), most of the audience will be familiar with it, (it was used for many years in a TV advertising campaign for Castrol GTX motor oil). When I heard this in the TV advertising campaign of Castrol I found it haunting and I just wanted to hear the full piece. It then became a favourite of mine.


        • #5
          Buena Vista....

          I like the Mahler suggestion.

          I am going to recommend something a bit unusual maybe. Buena Vista Social Club. The music is great but the sound they get is also really amazing, fantastic recording. Great soundstage should really show off Harbeth speakers.


          • #6
            Cater for everyone!

            You need to play a variety of music - Jazz, Rock, Classical, Blues and folk, as not all prospective purchasers are Classical lovers.

            And long pieces are not a good idea because people get bored, especially if it's music they don't like. You need something for everyone.


            • #7
              Music at previous shows?

              What music has been used at past shows?

              I have never been to one of these events, but am now planning to attend Bristol out of curiosity. It'll be interesting to hear what choices of music different manufacturers make. I doubt whether I will be able to afford any new equipment but it might well be an inspiration in terms of finding quality recordings.

              {Moderator's comment: Imagine Bedlam. Wrong music, too loud, too competitive, too much of it.}


              • #8

                No brass instruments mentioned?

                I'm wondering if there is a way we can preview any of these musical suggestions.
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK


                • #9

                  I can upload the first chunk of the Mahler (3 min 53 sec) to my dropbox. I will PM the link later so you can download it for preview. It is a flac file 16 bit 44.1 kHz.


                  • #10
                    Classical previews

                    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                    No brass instruments mentioned?

                    I'm wondering if there is a way we can preview any of these musical suggestions.
                    ??? that's what I meant with .... mmm..this thread won't help you, but

                    I mostly listen previews on this dutch site, but there must be many others.

                    Brass instruments, I really like Benny Goodman here: Stravinsky, ebony concert for clarinet solo and big band II, andante ( chamber music and hist.rec.vol.1, cd 9 of the box).

                    Old recording but when you hear it you won't believe it, sound is spectacular!


                    • #11
                      More suggestions

                      I agree that the Wispelwey recording of the Bach Cello Suites would be a good idea. The Janos Starker Mercury recording is also impressive, especially with regard to sound. Here are some other suggestions, each chosen for sound quality, performance and general accessibility:

                      1. Berwald, Piano Quartet no 1 in C minor (1st movement), The Gaudier Ensemble (Hyperion CDA66835)
                      2. Poulenc, Concerto for Two Pianos, Martha Argerich and Alexander Gurning (Larghetto), Martha Argerich: Lugano Concertos (DG 4779884 CD 1)
                      3. Canteloube, Chants D'Auvergne, Kiri Te Kanawa, English Chamber Orchestra, Jeffrey Tate (Decca 410004-1)
                      4. Debussy, Suite Bergamasque, Noriko Ogawa, Debussy, The Solo Piano Works (BIS 1955/56 CD 1)
                      5. Part, Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, Staatsorchester Stuttgart, Davies (ECM New Series 1275) [This is also on an ECM sampler, ECM 1405, which has a number of superb pieces, both in terms of sound and performance)
                      6. Faure, Requiem, Nigel Short, London Symphony Chamber Ensemble (LSO Live LSO 0728)
                      7. Jacques Lousier Plays Bach, (Telarc Jazz CD-83411)
                      8. Tord Gustavsen, Changing Places (ECM 1834)
                      9. Marc Johnson, Shades of Jade (ECM LC 02516)
                      10. Giovani Gabrielli, Guiseppe Guami, Conzoi Da Sonore, Hyperion XX (EMI CDM 7631412) (plenty of brass here!)

                      I hope these help. I could make sample thumbdisk if you like, Alan.


                      {Moderator's comment: Would much appreciate clips}


                      • #12

                        "Dynamic, open, fresh, airy and natural"...

                        There are many classical recordings with those characteristics - especially Decca classical and Columbia jazz recordings - but I am struggling to think of pop CDs with that kind of sound apart from the clichéd Steely Dan 'Aja' and Pink Floyd 'Dark Side of the Moon' (Donald Fagen's 'The Nightfly' is also right out!).

                        The last quality, 'natural', is really a problem because even the most outstanding pop albums relied on electromechanical plates or digital reverb to create space.

                        I would recommend 'And Dream of Sheep' from the Kate Bush album 'Hounds of Love' as it is brief, sounds good and might even stir some long dormant emotions in the hi-fi 'massive'.


                        • #13
                          Short previews on Amazon

                          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                          No brass instruments mentioned?

                          I'm wondering if there is a way we can preview any of these musical suggestions.
                          I think Bach's Cello Suites arranged for Baritone Sax are fabulous. It is closely miked so you can hear the breathy sounds and the keys clattering, in reminds me of when I used to play in a band and stand next to our sax player. It always amused me when after a solo he would turn the horn upside down to drain out the saliva. (He was very meticulous).

                          You can preview this wonderful music here


                          EDIT - It just dawned on me that the Saxophone is part of the woodwind family.


                          • #14
                            Brass - 1

                            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                            No brass instruments mentioned?

                            I'm wondering if there is a way we can preview any of these musical suggestions.
                            I suggest "Renaissance Men" by The Canadian Brass.

                            On Amazon:
                            On Spotify:


                            • #15
                              Some AC/DC maybe?

                              This suggestion is a little bit tongue in cheek; nonetheless, it could be interesting to hear at a hi-fi show.

                              Try playing AC/DC's song "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)", just for fun as well as to showcase the capabilities of Harbeth loudspeakers. It has some interesting bagpipes in the recording, which might grab people's attention, from the novelty if not the sound of the bagpipes themselves mixed in with a blues rock song.

                              Note that the three brothers Malcolm, Angus, and George Young were born in Glasgow, Scotland, before moving to Sydney, so the bagpipes were indicative of their Scottish heritage.