"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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My impressions of the 7ES3

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  • My impressions of the 7ES3

    Exerpts from a review I did on another forum:

    Musical, flowing, easy; drawing you into the performance to the point where you don't even want to take a bathroom break...LOL. Treble is neither laid back, nor forward---it's just right. Incredible air and the most 3 dimensional soundstage these ears have ever heard, period. Mid-range is buttery smooth, making acoustic instruments and electric rythm guitars darn fun, and never cold or strident sounding. Voices also benefit; zero chestiness in male vocals, and female vocals soar. Bass was interesting--and the first thing that was the most "different" in tonal character from previous speakers. It took me awhile to articulate what I was hearing, but here goes...The 7ES-3 doesn't do "bookshelf bass"...huh? you say. Many bookshelf's try to reproduce more bass than they are capable of, and in the process come off as wooly, or thick in mid-bass as a distraction from the fact that they can't plummet the depths. The 7ES-3 doesn't bother. It does what it can do, realistically, and in a strange paradox the bass is actually outstandingly real and a touch punchy. There's zero artificial mid-bass bloom--which is a good thing, and this adds to the overall linearity of the system top to bottom. This is an "end the tail-chasing" speaker; I suggest you take a listen before plucking $5 large down on anything else.

    Another thing I've noticed with the 7ES-3's is that I listen at significantly lower levels. The upper bass/lower midrange has a dynamic character and "drive" (for lack of a better word) that I just don't have a need to bring the volume up to get that visceral feel usually required by higher levels. It's not an efficiency thing, it's a rightness to the tone that just doesn't require more power to get satisfying results. I found this to be a very unique characteristic of the Harbeth. This makes them stellar for late night, super quiet listening. They're also a percussion lovers dream; jazz, latin, etc; anything with lots of drums, congos. The snappy midrange makes "Rush" sessions incredibly fun. I'm beginning to understand the big following with these speakers---they are exciting, without ever being fatiguing.

    I'm also catching myself listening for far longer than I usually do, they just draw you in that way. It's strange--they are a "sneaky" speaker. Their magic lies in the consistency and richness of tone. No sparkles, no thunder, no aural gimmicks; just a tonal rightness that keeps you coming back for more.

  • #2
    Well done!


    • #3
      Excellent review!


      • #4
        Thanks for sharing Steve.
        Even you got a big TV in between the C7ES3, that can not stop you enjoying the quality sound and music from Harbeth. Also Harbeth is really excellent for low vol late night listening.
        "Bath with Music"


        • #5
          I realize the TV is "suppose" to be an issue, it's clearly not. I was able to bring the speakers out another 4" last night--but being a family room, my options are limited. End of the day, it's a non-issue for me as my setup has been this way for 8 years and I've always been able to get very good sound in this room.


          • #6
            You are the luck one. I think I am too. My hall look pretty empty by just looking on the photo majority will judge the sound can be echoey or hollow. The fact is, to my ear, not. In fact the hall sound surprisingly good enough for me without any need to do any acoustic treatment. So I understand what you mean. Enjoy the music
            "Bath with Music"


            • #7
              Room acoustics however are not something subjective but physics.

              I also thougt that I had decent acoustics in my room, no problems at all.
              Except maybe some tiny little problems in the bass-region at very high levels.

              After my first experiments with room treatment I know I was wrong.
              The whole sound changes dramatically for the better.
              I donīt want to write more of the usual hifi-vocabulary, as its always the same.
              You know the words.

              I am now sure that you have no idea how good your speakers can sound in an acoustically good room.
              And physics, as mentioned, simply say that you CAN NOT have good acoustics in an underdamped room.
              I saw your pictures keithhawk. I urge you to try it.
              You will be pleased with the results.
              Because of the size of your room however it may be a big effort.

              To me it is rather funny that audiophiles are doing so much to achieve good sound. They all read something
              about how important room acoustics are. Still (you can see it at "Harbeth at home pictures") an extremely
              high proportion of the people have obvisously bad conditions in their room.

              Amusing about that:
              I was the very same!
              Allways changing components including cables.
              Allways assuming the room would be no problem.
              2 weeks ago (after 20 years of audio-highend-journey) I first tried to do something serious about the room
              and I wonder why I did not do that before!!!!!?


              • #8
                Thanks thurston. I appreciate your suggestion. I will try if one day I realised something (sound) keep disturbing me from listening to music.
                "Bath with Music"


                • #9
                  I can only encourage you.

                  Still if you are enjoying the music now, then the most important thing has been reached! But without a doubt your Harbeths are better than you know.

                  Greetings from snowy Germany!


                  • #10
                    Another element that I failed to mention in detail, I really like the integration/crossover transition. Voices are finally placed properly with respect to driver integration; making them as real and organic as I've heard. Most speakers tend to push vocals ever so slightly too much to the tweeter, making them sound more processed and less real. The 7ES3 addresses this issue perfectly.

                    In regards to room acoustics, I think we would all love to have that dedicated listening room; and I'm certainly aware that my setup isn't optimal. But it is what it is for now. When we finally get into a home with a large secondary room, my 2-channel equipment will get it's dedicated room and optimal setup. Furthermore, I have no interest in equipment that can't peform in a less-than-optimal setting; to me, that's a major design flaw. In my system, foo-foo equipment need not apply.


                    • #11
                      The first thing I noticed when I demoed a pair of P3's was how well integrated the drivers sounded. In other words there was no "sound"! I came from Ohm floor standers which were quasi-full range drivers, so I was very used to music naturally energizing the room with no crossover in the mid-range. The P3's sound "crossover-less" IMO...


                      • #12
                        The P3 ESR model is a considerable leap forwards in terms of transparancy, coherence and indeed driver integration, when compared against the P3ES2 model which sounds great itself.

                        As the ESR is the first P3 with a true Harbeth-made Radial mid/bass unit, it more or less follows in the footsteps of the OP's C7ES3's. The classic models Compact 7ES2/3 & S-HL5 and the more recent Monitor 30 & 40 have a Radial mid/bass unit with an unusual bandwidth which is able to maintain a very high level of clarity and articulation across it's operating frequency-range.

                        The P3ESR has it's own small-scale Radial unit, undoubtedly one of the most costly (circa) 5 inch units ever made. This means that since the introduction of the ESR, all Harbeths can deliver this astonishing level of clarity. Designing a crossover that mates the high frequency unit(s) well with these Radial units in a seamless manner is tricky but designer Alan Shaw does it every time (each time it takes many months of design, measurement and auditioning).

                        The devotion of Alan, Andy and all at Harbeth to making truly musical acoustic transducers is evident in every speaker that comes out of the Lindfield factory.


                        • #13
                          Nice review Steve. I could never write a review like that. I agree about the percussion, jazz and latin statement completely. That's primarily what I listen to and it's why I bought the C7ES3 last October. Last night I pulled out my very favorite Brazilian Tropicalia CD 'Clube da Esquina', which is Milton Nascimento and Lo Borges among other amazing Brazilian talents. If you're not familiar, check it out. It opened me up to a whole new genre for which I'm very thankful. I've spent the last few years digging deep into Brazilian tropicalia, samba and bossa nova music.


                          • #14
                            Beside classical music which I like the most, I do have some light bossa nova albums by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd and I pretty enjoying those from both 5 and 7.
                            "Bath with Music"


                            • #15
                              keithwwk. Do you like piano? I would suggest seeking out Herbie Hancock 'The Piano'. It was recorded at Sony Studio's in Japan back in the late 70's and was one of the first direct to disc recordings. It was only recently released in the U.S. He had to play each side of the album with only a pause between each song to compensate for the groove cut in the record. It's an amazing recording and is piano only. It's beautiful jazz if you enjoy piano.