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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.

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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.

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{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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STEREOPHILE review of P3ESR

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  • #16
    Confusion and reviewing double-talk in 'follow-up' review?

    There is an interesting follow-up in the July 2011 Stereophile. Brian Damkroger reviews the P3ESR and likes them but decides for him full range is a must have and therefore he would be better served by a full range speaker even if he has to give up on the mid-range accuracy this speaker does so well. He is sure others will prefer the mid range accuracy. He then compares it with some other similar priced speakers that he prefers even though he knows others will want the Harbeth for the midrange. The US distributor writes a rather defensive article in "Manufacturer's comments" about how this speaker has won awards, is small and a drop in replacement for the LS3/5A and as such we can not expect full range from this shoebox sized speaker etc.

    The irony of all this is that the reviewer is looking at the Harbeth's because in another article in same magazine he compares them to the slightly larger speaker costing twice as much as the Harbeth's but can't seem to make up his mind what he prefers....

    {Moderator's comment: As you mention the Manufacturer's Comment was not provided by Harbeth UK. H UK were as confused as you are. It's unreasonable to expect full orchestral sound power from any 5" drive unit such are the laws of physics and this is not a relevant point. Very odd indeed.}

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    • #17
      A case of quantity not quality ...

      This is a case of preference for quantity rather than quality. Very common in the hifi community. Most people just can't discern & appreciate true quality.

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      • #18
        Trying a Mini when you need a truck?

        Typical 'idiot' magazine article. What is the point of considering a small speaker if you want large speaker capabilities ? It's a bit like me trying a mini when I need a truck !!!

        Moderator's comment: Apparently the mag was 'doing us a favour' with this follow-up review by a newer writer ....}

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        • #19
          A pointless ‘review‘?

          I haven't read it, but it sounds as though it points out the limitations of an excessively subjective approach to reviewing. I mean, if the reviewer would personally trade off midrange accuracy for increased bass and loudness, that says something about his preferences but very little - it seems to me - about the speaker under review. Does it inform readers about the product, and help them make up their own minds? Probably not.

          Doing anything other than comparing like with like is unreasonable.

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          • #20
            Reviwers challenge :-)

            Challenge them to review the M40.1 (again).

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            • #21
              Missing the point - discerning reviewers?

              Originally posted by Labarum View Post
              Challenge them to review the M40.1 (again).
              That's missing the point. Because there will be other speakers sounding bigger, have more 'wow' factor & more bass or loudness capability than the M40.1. If the reviewer can't hear or rather discern the unbeatable & inherent strengths of Harbeth, its pointless to do any review irregardless of the model in the range.

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              • #22
                The media - necessary?

                Bottom Line: Does Harbeth advertise at all in Stereophile? Probably not, and why bother anyway when the order book is filled to capacity. I think it's great that Harbeth can thumb its nose at rags like Stereophile. I'm certain advertising dollars was a factor in the tipping of the scales in that review.

                To Hell with those corrupted bastards!

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                • #23
                  Keep away from the hifi mags.

                  To my mind there is little point in Harbeth getting reviews in any mag. Harbeth have full order books and a favourable review will just increase the wait, whilst a poor review will do no one any good.

                  Keep away from the mags is my advice. There are plenty of sensible customers out there who appreciate Harbeth quality, without input from a reviewer.

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                  • #24
                    What‘s the reviewers agenda?

                    I read this latest look at the P3 from a Stereophile writer and wondered why? They have already reviewed it...so what's the agenda behind this review? I felt like it was the first time I have ever read negative comments on the P3 and his only caveats were completely unreasonable considering the speaker he was reviewing. Gotta wonder...

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                    • #25
                      Thank you Stereophile for the P3ESR awareness!

                      I'm actually grateful to Stereophile for alerting me to the existence of the P3ESR, which I think is one of the finest bookshelf speakers available for the money.

                      (I certainly don't think I'm gullible by any means - been a hifi and music enthusiast for almost 30 years now).

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                      • #26
                        Good old reviews...

                        I"m glad Stereophile has (favorably) reviewed the little Harbeths over the years - it helped to keep them in my radar before purchasing a pair. But, that follow up review was unnecessary - I didn't get where the reviewer was coming from at all. He mentioned in his review of the Clairaudients (which he compared to the P3's) that on his first impression he thought there was something wrong with the review sample. Then, towards the end of his time with them, he thought they were doing something "so right". Huh?

                        I think a lot of these reviewers don't go out and actually listen to live music. If these (unusually designed) speakers were doing something SO right that "regular" speakers don't do - then he wouldn't have been confused by them in the first place. Did the sound coming out sound like music or not?! Weird...

                        {Moderators comment: we were confused ourselves. The editor of that magazine held onto the original review pair and without our consent passed them to another reviwer. We think that this confusing review marks a turning point in our confidence in reviews. A review thay confuses is of no help to the public at all. We will be asking many more questions before submitting anything for review from now on.}

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                        • #27
                          Stereophile - serving the many out-of-town buyers very effectively

                          I have been a Stereophile reader for 17 years. Those of us who live many miles from dealers MUST have a means to short-list speakers ("listen at home" is an impossibility for me; I would literally have to purchase all the speakers and then take back the ones I didn't want)

                          To put it briefly: if not for JA's review of the P3 I would not own Compact 7s today (nor would my buddy own 5s - he accompanied me on my trip to the dealer). I went to hear the 3s, fell in love with the 7s; my buddy fell in love with the 5s.

                          I think all of Stereophile's coverage does a good job of explaining Harbeths. I hadn't read Sam Tellig's reviews until after I bought my 7s, and he sounds like one of us.

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                          • #28
                            The history of (American) Stereophile magazine

                            Stereophile in their early days hardly covered british products. I guess british products were deemed (by Stereophile) as lower end than those huge & exorbitantly priced US or any non UK high end products, musicality notwithstanding. That's why i seldom read Stereophile or any American hifi mag. Not practical at all. The 1st American mag that caught my attention was The Absolute Sound because there were more british products covered in there. Anybody here recalls Chris Frankland & his mag called The Flat Response? I love reading his candid reviews & how he would literally put down so called high priced high end products.

                            Anyway, reviews merely serve as a guide. In fact, Harbeth only started appearing in reviews in recent years. Back in the early to late 90s, not many people knew or heard Harbeths before. I remember waxing lyrical about the Harbeth HL-MK4 & original HL-5 back in late 80s to early 90s but not many knew what i was talking about.

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                            • #29
                              Trust your ears

                              God gave each one of us a pair of ears. Why do we trust the ears of someone else in making purchasing decisions? I have had my SHL5s for almost 5 years and will continue to enjoy them for many years to come!

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                              • #30
                                Glowing reviews from many = buyers confidence

                                Originally posted by denjo View Post
                                God gave each one of us a pair of ears. Why do we trust the ears of someone else in making purchasing decisions? I have had my SHL5s for almost 5 years and will continue to enjoy them for many years to come!
                                In my case, it's that I'm sure my ears are not nearly as well trained as an experienced reviewer's. Alan's ears are surely trained WAY better than mine. Same for the sense of taste, in the evaluation of fine wines for example, or the sense of sight, in the evaluation of paintings. Also, in the case of speakers, especially Harbeths in the US, there may be no dealer anywhere near you, which makes it very hard to audition them. I bought the Compact 7ES-3, without having listened to them myself, because every single review was GLOWING. Reviewers differ in their tastes in speakers, so when a speaker receives glowing reviews from everyone, that really says something.

                                Bruce

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