"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, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create an audible sonic personality in what you hear. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be 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 potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but on the face of it, any deviation from a flat response - and the frequency balance of tube amplifiers are usually influenced by their speaker load - is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to discuss the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised 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.

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.

If faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians in your home and over Harbeth speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that intention is what this forum has been helping to do since 2006. Welcome!"

Feb. 2018
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The grovel thread.... learning and appying knowledge from HUG....

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  • The grovel thread.... learning and appying knowledge from HUG....

    Having fallen for SHL5+ immediately on their release, I bought them knowing my SET amp was not sufficiently powerful.

    I knew nothing about audio at the time. I am more interested in music and dance. I have followed the HUG since and am now slightly less ignorant. I can just about tell the difference between a valve and a capacitor (the former doubles up as Christmas decorations).

    Having read about the importance of POWER and GAIN, I have reconfigured my audio system along basic principles previously unknown to me. I have two sources - digital and analogue. The digital happens to be three sources into a DAC. The DAC has a volume control. The analogue is both mm and mc for a dual arm deck. My newly modified phono pre-amp (it was previously a phono amp with no gain control) has a variable gain on the back panel to modify the gain on the phono stage. It has a master volume control on the front, controlling the gain into the new power amplifiers (actually 10 years old and rebuilt to match the speakers), which now have oodles of power.

    Result: I can control both the analogue and digital gain into the pre-amp stage, they are both pretty much level with each other, and the gain into the power amps is at 12 o'clock for normal listening. My bass has come back from the dead, Hindemith's sonata for piano and bass tuba has total control and airiness, and Mezzanine is now visceral. As the amps are in triode mode, vocals are liquid.

    For reasons I shall not explain, this exercise may even end up cash-positive.

    Any similar HUG-inspired outcomes out there?

  • #2
    The two curses of home audio - eliminated


    I was aware of amp input overload but never really understood just how fundamental that was to a good sound.

    I traded away a minimalist (through quite powerful) fixed gain amp and sold some moderately priced Nain cable towards my C7's. I happen to own some inexpensive pro electronics, a mixer and a power amp, along with budget interconnects/loudspeaker wire. The pro equipment has gain stages a plenty so I can match sources, the gain allows me to pick how much rotation I want for a given volume, the power means that there is absolutely no chance of clipping within the handling of the C7's. The power amp also has DSP so I can set a high pass filter to eliminate subsonics from vinyl.

    As far as I can tell everything sounds good. I'm not quite convinced that a $300 2 channel mixer is the worlds best pre amp but I can now take my time in looking for something more domestically acceptable that has similar features.

    Ssfas, with your gain control and power you have eliminated perhaps the two nastiest bugbears from home audio (pro audio having gain stages and power a plenty as standard)

    Edit: I have owned said useful pro audio pieces for a few years now but never used them with hifi loudspeakers until now, I do wonder if in a level matched ABX I could discern them from some more standard hifi amplification? The phono stage perhaps sounds a bit 'grainier' than I'm used to but that could be well in my head....I imagine if any part of that set up is weaker than typical it would be the phono stage.
    Getting to know my C7ES3


    • #3
      Better system gainstructure = CD sound pleasant now

      A second piece of wisdom I have gained from HUG (not directly related to loudspeakers) is the realization that my original preference of vinyl over CD was connected more to the quieter signal from vinyl that suffered less clipping than a loud CD signal.

      This meant that vinyl sounded more pleasant than CD on average. Now with a better gain structure my CD's don't shout anymore and I am listening to CD more than vinyl as it doesn't suffer the blatant click's, pops and static.
      Getting to know my C7ES3