"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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Analysis of damaged/defective parts (ISO9001)

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  • Analysis of damaged/defective parts (ISO9001)

    Thanks to our excellent QC control during design and manufacture, a Harbeth speaker system is capable of giving many years of service; many of our speakers sold in the early 1980s are still in daily use! Unfortunately, accidents do happen to speakers in the User's home and using our new video analysis facility we can not share with you some of the (few) problems we see. The most significant issue concerns the (rare) failure of the driving power amplifier - 'going DC'. If you do purchase an old amp please consider having it serviced. Amplifiers, just like all of us, do age!

    We have made some experiments to find the smallest video file size that offers the best picture quality, voice quality for the spoken commentary and compatibility. We've decided to use MP4 as this produces a very small streaming file size that should open on PC, MAC
    and Linux.

    On a PC, if you do not have a player that can handle MP4 video (or indeed any other video files) we highly recommend and use the free open-source GNU Public Licence VLC Video player which seemingly can play any and all video/audio file format.
    Harbeth PR,
    Harbeth UK

  • #2
    Rep140R: P3ES2 bass unit burned out

    Download the video dissection of this drive unit here. Commentary and dissection by Alan. May take a few seconds to commence playing on your PC.

    Conclusion: Voice coil shows no sign of excessive movement so it is unlikely that the speakers were being played too loud.

    Our verdict: Destruction of these drivers was caused by suspected amplifier fault whereby the amplifiers output stage short-circuited and the PSU was directly connected to the P3s woofers. Both bass units in this pair of speakers were equally effected.

    Timescale: from time of amp failing to irreversible destruction of drivers: perhaps 30 seconds.
    Harbeth PR,
    Harbeth UK


    • #3
      VIDEO Rep132: 8" Harbeth woofer burned out (dramatic)

      This drive unit was returned as "Warranty Claim". Download the video dissection of this drive unit here - an MP4 streaming file. Commentary and dissection by me. Will take a few seconds to commence playing on your computer. (On my PC it plays inside my free QuickTime player).

      Conclusion: Drive unit destroyed by excessive power applied by amplifier (probably about 200W). Not a Warranty issue.

      Our verdict: Destruction of this driver was most probably caused by an amplifier fault. which connected the amp's PSU directly to the woofer's voice coil. The failing amp produced a loud pulse or 'pop' which initially caused the voicecoil to gump outside the magnetic 'gap'; it then rapidly became so hot (200 deg. C or more) that it cut its way through the cone like a cheese wire through cheese.Once the voice coil was displaced from the gap, there was no cooling effect and thermal runaway occurred. The user could do nothing to save this drive unit - by the time he had heard the pop, it would have been too late.

      Timescale: from time of coil jumping from jap to irreversible destruction of driver: about 15 seconds.

      Suggestion: Don't use such a powerful amplifier as the more potential energy in the amp (i.e. the higher its watt rating) the more potential for damage to the speakers if/when the amp fails.

      Postscript: Amplifier faults are nothing new. In the 1970's when QUAD introduced the revolutionary 100W current-dumping 405 amp, they included a crowbar protection circuit which continuously monitors the output terminals. If excessive voltage is detected indicating a failure of the amp, the protection circuit leaps into action and short circuits the amp's outputs, which blows the amplifiers HT fuses. The speakers are saved.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK


      • #4
        Burned-out voice coil (amplifier failed and 'gone DC')

        We've had this (pair) of drive units returned because the customer's amplifier failed. This has destroyed the voice coil which has become so hot that the varnish on the enamelled copper wire has boiled and bubbled

        Beware of using an old unserviced amplifier bought second hand at a flea market - it can be a very expensive mistake. Amplifiers, just like cars and -shock, horror, people - do age. My advice is, if the urge to buy is irresistible do at least test the amplifier with some old speakers. But that will not insulate you from instantaneous failure which does happen.

        I urge you to ask yourself this essential question before buying second hand "who can I turn to who has the specialist knowledge and source of parts that can restore it to 'as new' and put it right when it fails at a reasonable price in a reasonable timescale?". If you can not satisfy yourself about this do not buy.
        Attached Files
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK