"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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Spares, warranty parts and RMA authorisation

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  • Spares, warranty parts and RMA authorisation

    Harbeth UK is an ISO9001 registered manufacturer. We are obliged to follow certain well-defined procedures throughout our business from sales orders incoming right through to after-care. We have been making speaker systems since 1977 - that's over thirty years - and with careful use, every one of those speakers should be in working condition. We make Harbeth speakers to a high quality and extremely few spare parts are needed by our customers which proves our basic quality. Many companies (audio, computer, car etc.) operate their spare-parts operation as a profit centre, often generating far more profit from spares than the original product. The customer requiring spares may be paying for poor design, unstable QC and corner-cutting suppliers.

    At Harbeth we've never believed that spare-parts should be a profit-centre; we don't even itemise spares in our accounting system because we consider spares to be a cost centre for us not a profit centre. However, even though spares are only rarely needed the selection, matching, pairing, packing, invoicing and despatching does take time, and takes time away from production and that cost has to be covered. Now the key point is this: our ISO inspection mandates that we identify the real reason for parts needing replacement. The questions the ISO inspectors ask all ISO9001 registered companies include the following:

    1. Is the fault certainly 100% due to customer damage such as overload, amplifier failure etc. (i.e. beyond Harbeth's influence and control)?

    2. Is the fault most likely to be a design problem?

    3. Is the fault age-related so that even though the design is solid and the customer is careful is there a latent issue which at some point in the future could cause the item to fail?

    4. Is the fault indeterminate so that neither the customer nor the manufacturer can be identified as the source of the fault?

    As I've said before the number of spare parts that we issue in a year from here is insignificant as a proportion of the total number of speakers that we make and this proves Harbeth's are reliable. But we really need to understand precisely which of the above for categories accurately classifies a defective part. If the problem is (1), customer related, we cannot control that, but if it's (2) or (3) then we have a duty to investigate immediately. But we can't investigate (2) or (3) or even (4) unless we receive those parts back for inspection! Now we have been stressing the need to have these few parts returned to us for some years but customers are seemingly unwilling to send them. But we really do need these here. So, with immediate effect we have a new system, the same one that most other companies use: pre-registration of the need for a spare part called an "RMA" (Returns to Manufacturer Authorisation). This kicks-off the entire spares process and is mandatory.

    It works like this:

    STEP 1: If you need a part please contact your retailer or if necessary your importer/distributor. Explain the issue and give them the serial numbers of your speaker, confirm that they are Registered on the Harbeth website (this extends your warranty).

    STEP 2: This information will then passed to us here, we will allocate an RMA number and discuss how to supply a replacement.

    Note: if the user admits that the fault is definitely class (1), then we do not need the unit returned and we will supply a replacement at the lowest possible price. This would, for example, include those drivers destroyed by amplifier overload.

    STEP 3: A spare part of matching characteristics will be found and provided.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK