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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"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 http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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"Why we like Harbeth speakers" - Users feedback

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest started a topic "Why we like Harbeth speakers" - Users feedback

    "Why we like Harbeth speakers" - Users feedback

    Hello everybody,

    I thought this might be a neat way to celebrate the new user group... An invitation to members to state why they like Harbeth speakers.

    I don't own a pair of Harbeths YET, but a few reasons occur to me:

    All reviews (critical and user) are positive. (Perhaps there are lukewarm reviews, but I haven't seen them.)

    The CEO (What is Alan's title?) is available to users and comes across as an honest, dedicated person who takes great pride in his work and truly believes in what he makes and sells.

    If Harbeths are good enough for the BBC, they're good enough for me.

    British craftsmanship at it best.

    I'm sure you can come up with others.

  • thurston
    replied
    "I'm cured" (of audiophilia)

    Harbeth healed me from audiophilia.


    Big relief.

    Leave a comment:


  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Enjoying new M 30.1

    Hello everybody,

    Last year I started to look for some new audio components. I do mostly listen to classical music, and I wanted to find something that sounds natural and puts the music into the foreground rather than impresses by a big sound. My dealer pointed me to some Naim components and Harbeth speakers. He said there are other speakers which may sound more impressive at the first moment, but after an hour you need a break. With Harbeth speakers, it shouldn't be a problem to listen for hours, and they have enough potential to be the perfect partner for the best audio components.

    One week ago, I got my new devices and a pair of M 30.1 speakers. I really love them. They have a warm, rich sound, and once I start listening, I can't stop for the whole day. It was very surprising for me that they sound beautiful even when the amplifier gain is turned low, so I can enjoy music in a neighbour-friendly way. And unlike the other equipment (I am just dealing with some buzzing and rattling from my amplifier's transformer, caused by an electrical substation nearby), they just stand there doing there job as if it was the most normal thing of the world.

    Last Sunday, I visited the High End in Munich. I was lucky to meet Alan Shaw and a BBC sound engineer at the Harbeth stand. I really enjoyed talking to them. Alan explained how he uses speech to judge speakers, because this is the best way to find a natural sound. I enjoyed to see his enthusiasm for all the technical details - just to find the most natural sound possible.

    He reminds me a lot of my piano technician who shows the same enthusiasm. He preselects the grand pianos he sells from the factory by playing just a single note at a time and judging how the sound develops and decays. He works in the same manner on every detail to get the best sound possible from the instrument.

    It is all about: musicality. - Now I know why I like my Harbeth speakers.

    Servatius

    Leave a comment:


  • keithwwk
    replied
    How wonderful today is..I started my music at 10am until now..disc after disc from haydn, mozart, beethoven, tchaikovsky and now already 7pm, the old master Fritz Reiner still conducting Chicago symphony orchextra playing beautiful Struss's waltz (now is the sweet On The Beautiful Blue Danube)..only harbeth able to give me this wonderful musics...wow

    Leave a comment:


  • EricW
    replied
    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
    I read that the iPad, retailing for $400 (??) leaves the China factory for $11.50. But if the customer is willing to pay and perceives it as good value, maybe even $400 is under-priced.
    I doubt this - perhaps $11.50 is the factory's profit, or assembly cost? But the component cost is far higher than that. This is from www.appleinsider.com:
    Earlier this month, an analysis of the parts included in the iPad found the current model's LCD screen with IPS technology to be the most expensive component, at an estimated $95. In all, the $499 iPad was said to cost $260 in components.

    If Apple did not make money at the back end through software sales and music and book sales, the cost would probably be substantially higher than it is. The profit at retail must be quite marginal on the unit itself.

    Leave a comment:


  • Double D
    replied
    While I will echo others concerns that I'd like to NOT see price subsizing take place to equalize the products in the global market. I will say that given my own historical experience with a large brand base of other speakers over the years, I feel that even at the price of $6,000 for the premium finish SHL5's it ultimately is a relative bargain ! IF you take solely on the basis of performance for dollar.. you are getting your money's worth (not to mention the eye candy that is the premium finish.... hey .. quality costs !)

    There are a truck load of other MUCH higher priced speakers that garner all kinds of praise and don't even get close to the genuine "realness" offered by a pair of Harbeths. Many of those are multiple [times the price] of what the Harbeths retail for. So, in terms of "real value" .. I think that despite the bump that we have on price over here, I am comfortable with where they sit price point wise. If a pair of M30's were $12k CDN.. I'd think twice for sure.. but at $5k for standard cherry finish.. I say SOLD !!

    While I do understand that some are really bothered by the disparity that exists between pricing in domestic and non-domestic markets.. the reverse holds true for products that are native to North America, and are sold in the UK and other non-domestic markets.. this is the way it has been for as long as I can remember, and unless someone wants to take up the mantle of re-jigging the worlds economic retail model.. we just have to suck it up and accept it.

    Leave a comment:


  • A.S.
    replied
    Total cost of ownership

    Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
    ...I hope there won't be any price increase to subsidize Harbeth prices in higher GDP countries...
    No, there is no possibility of that, rest assured. Each market - each importer/retail chain - has to balance the books and set a pricing strategy that is viable in their own market. We don't set a global retail price; that would be far to difficult to calculate and to be fair to all consumers. And impossible to police.

    We're luck here at the factory in the UK. Our costs are controllable because that's a high priority for us. For example, no fleet of fancy cars here. In fact, Harbeth Ltd. doesn't own a car - my seven year old car is my own personal property and so are its running costs. But we can spread our unavoidable but controllable overheads over thousands of pairs of speakers made every year.

    But let's for a minute put ourselves in the shoes of the importer, and then the retailer. All of our 40+ distributors are small companies; most are family concerns; some, like the highly successful Harbeth Japan are both family businesses and single-brand businesses. All have overheads too, but spread over their tens or hundreds or pairs (unlike our thousands of pairs) a year means that each pair supports a significant overhead, much more than our overheads per pair. That's unavoidable. That's how commerce works.

    But we should always keep in mind not the original purchase price but the TCO - total cost of ownership, which spread over twenty years makes a Harbeth a very inexpensive long term acquisition. And an environmental success story.

    Leave a comment:


  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
    .....if the customer is willing to pay..!
    During a product launch of a US100000 loudspeakers, someone asked why their loudspeakers were so expensive? He answered 'Why not? People are willing to pay". I hope Harbeth would not follow other high end manufacturers sales strategy.

    How do one really know how much the customers are paying for Harbeth? It is normal in Malaysia for other British products (not Harbeth) to be retailed less x% then UK listed price but official price will be the exchange rate. Whatever it is, considering my country's GDP of US$13800, I hope there won't be any price increase to subsidize Harbeth prices in higher GDP countries like US ($46400), UK ($34600), Canada ($38000), Singapore $50000, Japan $32000. Obviously, for Malaysians the price of Harbeth takes a big chunk of their disposal income but still relatively lower and more value for money than other high end products.

    ST

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  • A.S.
    replied
    Originally posted by EricW View Post
    Alan, thank you for your response...I appreciate your looking into it, and I do understand and respect your position. If there is a price rise in the UK, I fear this may make me unpopular with UK HUG members.
    Surely not! But seriously, maybe we really are under pricing. As you can imagine, the poor old manufacturer (us) makes the least margin in the entire selling process. But that's the way of the world. I read that the iPad, retailing for $400 (??) leaves the China factory for $11.50. But if the customer is willing to pay and perceives it as good value, maybe even $400 is under-priced.

    Just enjoy your P3's and leave the sales struggle to us!

    Leave a comment:


  • EricW
    replied
    Alan, thank you for your response and the inquiries you have made. I appreciate your looking into it, and I do understand and respect your position.

    Two thoughts:

    1) If there is a price rise in the UK, I fear this may make me unpopular with UK HUG members. Sorry. (On the other hand, you've been warned: buy now if you can.)

    2) On a more positive note, if Harbeth books increased corporate revenue as a result of my persistent and no doubt somewhat annoying inquiries, you may feel free to express your gratitude by sending me a pair of Harbeths, gratis. The Monitor 40.1s if you're feeling exceptionally generous, but any model will do, really. If you need my shipping address, just let me know. : )

    Leave a comment:


  • A.S.
    replied
    Pricing and distribution policy ...

    I have set in motion an investigation and overnight I have received adequate information to draw a line under this subject. I do not feel that the minutia of our pricing policy should be discussed in an an open forum and I'm sure as professionals - including lawyers - you will understand this and respect our position.

    First, our NA distributors sell everything we can supply, and within days or weeks of its arrival. The demand is growing in NA. Our UK retail prices do not reflect the true operating costs in those extremely expensive business environments and there may also be a l issue of, as suggested, cross-subsidies. If anything, the Harbeth UK retail price list is too low, and we hear this very often from UK dealers who say that, on a side by side comparison with other models, 'Harbeth outperforms speakers costing twice as much'. I am satisfied that there are sound long-term reasons why the prices in NA are set as they are. Doubtless the prices could be lower if we were selling millions of units rather than tens or hundreds with the overheads spread far thinner.

    So I think that our next step, thanks to drawing this issue so forcibly to our attention here, is to review the UK retail prices to be sure that each model is contributing properly on a value-performance basis. I would add that our market intelligence is better than you might imagine: we log all approaches and monitor the occasional out-of-territory enquiry. For example, we are well aware that a few identifiable prospective customers have scoured the world seeking a bargain, which is directly contrary to Harbeth's distribution policy as it voids the warranty and puts our relationship with the distributor under the microscope. Nobody benefits from that, which is why such approaches are immediately reported to us at UK HQ.

    We have nothing more to add to this.

    Leave a comment:


  • kittykat
    replied
    Hi EricW, yes, you raise an important determinant as well ie. exchange rates. The AUD went gangbusters until recently when it has fallen approximately 16% from the peak. Where do distributors draw the mean/ median for a meaningful exchange in these volatile times? We’ve seen it here as well when auto prices were raised when rates fell but remained the same when it went back up. Some Japanese manufacturers passed on the savings though.

    Leave a comment:


  • EricW
    replied
    Hi kittykat: yes, this has occurred to me and it's probably a factor. I suspect, however, that the primary consideration is the fact that North American retail prices were set back when the pound/dollar (whether US or Canadian) relationship was substantially different, and the retail price might have been justifiable then on the basis of then-prevailing exchange rates but looks like a much worse deal now (for North American consumers). If I'm correct about this, then one reason that the other Harbeth models are not as out of whack, price-wise, is simply that they're more current and prices were set after the pound had started to depreciate.

    I can understand that once a price has been established in a market, you can't re-adjust every time the currency rates fluctuate - there has to be some stability. You'd also rather not go backwards. However, when there's been a substantial and persistent shift of relative currency values over time, and nothing is done to reflect that, then somebody is making substantially more than they used to, and in this case I'm pretty certain it's the distributor.

    So let's assume that the distributor is trying to maintain a stable price. I get that. However, if the currency swing had gone in the other direction, I don't doubt for a second that the distributor would have raised his prices fairly quickly - he'd have to, or he'd go out of business. So the question becomes, at what point is the consumer entitled to see some of the benefit of a longterm change in exchange rates? It seems to me there's no simple answer. The distributor may say, as long as the speaker keeps selling, there's no problem. And maybe that's right, at least from his point of view. But from my point of view, I don't like it because it's costing me more than I believe it ought to. From Harbeth's point of view, I'm not sure it's an ideal situation either, because losing a sale is losing a sale. They have plenty of sales on the books now (and long may it stay that way), but you never know when that can change.

    But this is all just speculation on our parts. I'd really like to know from the people who are situated to know for sure, either Harbeth or Harbeth's distributor(s). Maybe the reasons will be regarded as confidential, and will not be shared. All I can say is, there's a lot of information out there these days, and you can't expect that people won't find information in the public domain anywhere in the world. You also can't fault people (I hope) for wanting to be treated fairly. If I'm going to cover your costs when things go up, I'd like to get some consideration when things go down.

    Leave a comment:


  • kittykat
    replied
    Originally posted by EricW View Post
    If there is, I'm all ears.
    Hi EricW, imho its competitive price point setting. If anyone here follows cars you’ll understand why BMW, Mercedes and Audi price within countries their Z4’s vs. TT’s/ 3 series vs A4’s vs. C Class’/ 5’s vs. A6’s vs E class’s etc. But the pricing gets out of whack (proportion wise as you have pointed out) between countries for many different reasons, demand (and affordability) being a major one, and others like weather (on coupes for example or where the vehicle is esoteric ( eg. too small or too big and it could swing the price high or could go low)).

    But back to your question, think the SHL5 situation seems to be precedence based (and possibly demand based) as far as I can observe as a consumer. For a similar 2 cubic foot 2/3 way BBC tradition loudspeaker the competition is offering it at, guess?, an almost similar price (if not slightly more expensive). But when we move up to the large 3 way market, the M40.1 loses out price wise but then its possibly a much better speaker than the competition etc. I consider the competition to be the “S”.

    For a large speaker, and ill say it again, the SHL5 is at the boundary of being portable enough to be moved around and friendly enough for a domestic situation while having most if not all the advantages of a large speaker. Perhaps the distributor is also pricing this in?

    Leave a comment:


  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Hi Alan,

    Thanks for the clarification. It looks like 11:25 PM in England. I wish you a good night.

    Sebastien

    Leave a comment:

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