"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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Harbeth at Swedish Show - an oasis

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  • Harbeth at Swedish Show - an oasis

    I have just come from Sweden's main Hi-Fi show here in Stockholm. I already own a pair of P3ESR's and have ordered some HL5's which will arrive either in March or September (Rather a big difference!) according to the dealer here. Well, it was my first ever show and maybe my last. To be honest I got bored very quickly of the mainly awful music and ugly gear, but then i came to the Harbeth room. What a relief when i was met by such natural , beautiful sound quality and 'Normal' looking superbly made speakers. I use my P3ESR's in my recording studio and have never listened to them in any way other than a very near field setting. They were fantastic with space around them, a huge rounded sound. The Hl5's had a similar sound print, just bigger. I began to think that if Harbeths were not in production i would be at a loss to know what to get, both professionaly and in a domestic setting.
    Good job Harbeth, you made an Englishman abroad proud and grateful (Now how about a discount?).

  • #2
    The British sound

    Haha that's a good one.....but honestly speaking, British loudspeakers (esp those in the BBC guise) are generally more musical & tonally accurate than speakers from elsewhere regardless of price or size. It was an acknowledged fact in the 70s & 80s & still is today IMHO.

    And Harbeth is British sound at its best! Unbeatable midband & musicality. Oh and the classic BBC thin wall cabinet is still the most beautiful IMHO.

    {Moderator's comment: the real secret of the Harbeth sound is the exclusive Harbeth RADIAL™ cone material.}


    • #3
      The Harbeth magic = cone technology

      Originally posted by Gan CK View Post

      {Moderator's comment: the real secret of the Harbeth sound is the exclusive Harbeth RADIAL™ cone material.}
      I have to agree. Since acquiring my Harbeths, I've listened to other speakers, many of which sound "good", but none of which sound quite "right". There's a certain something about a Harbeth that is conspicuous by its absence in other speakers, once you get used to it.


      • #4
        Yes i do believe that Harbeth's RADIAL driver is currently the finest cone driver available. No other speakers deliver a more naturally transparent, tonally correct & pure midband IMHO. Not even electrostatics or full ribbon speakers.


        • #5
          The exclusive Harbeth RADIAL™ project

          Well, it is no accident that the RADIAL™ cone technology is what defines the sound of a Harbeth. And as that technology is our own invention and not available to any other speaker company, it's obvious that if you want that clean sound, you have to own Harbeth!

          At the start of 2010 I committed to scanning to PDF and shredding all the technical documents we generated during the development of the RADIAL cone. One document alone is over 500 PDF A4 pages long, and the whole RADIAL project probably over 1500 (I'm still scanning, page by page). I wish I could share it with you but it lays out in minute detail every incremental technical step and would give a competitor the precise formulae.

          One thing you should always remember is that the path to Harbeth's RADIAL™ material was part Government funded. The govt. does not dole out money without strings. In our case the deal was that we were bonded to a department in the university, under the direct and personal supervision of the Professor and Dr. running the department, and with three allocated ex-graduates who worked exclusively for Harbeth. In effect, a govt. funded knowledge transfer arrangement from academia to industry. And our every step was technically peer reviewed in formal meetings chaired by me or the Professor (alternately) with at least one representative from the govt. fund holder seeking 'best value' for the taxpayer's involvement. So the result was a real technical solution, not marketing BS.

          As for whether the taxpayer should have been funding such a commercial scheme, we have paid much more in corporation tax (let alone payroll tax and export income) over the years than the government invested in the scheme so it is a truly excellent return on public investment. There is no possibility that even the most gifted engineer could stumble across the material secrets of the RADIAL cone - it requires man-years of incremental knowledge building.

          One of my ambitions for this year is to be able to expose more of the RADIAL project, without of course compromising commercial secrecy. This has never been done by us before. I'll start by selecting page 5 of from the 331 page PDF covering our correspondence and interface with government. At each Management Meeting we had to give technical, financial and commercial presentations to the group. At one, my then graduate colleague laid out four possible outcomes for the project to the Meeting comprising Harbeth (me), the graduates, Professor and government representative - see attached scanned fax. The entire RADIAL research project was approached and written-up in similar direct to-the-point objective language. There is not one subjective word in the entire report. Nor would you expect there to be - it was a scientific study regardless of the subjective appraisal that the product would be put to in the listener's home. Turning RADIAL into a workable marketable product was my sole responsibility after the government funding had ceased.

          This cone project remains the most detailed, far reaching and carefully documented loudspeaker material investigation ever undertaken anywhere and is, as you know from listening, as valid now as when we first invented it.

          Attached Files
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK


          • #6
            Thanks for this bit of insight, Alan. I appreciate this approach to product development. Having managed a number of commercial software development projects, I know that a strictly objective approach isn't always possible.