"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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one step beyond...

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  • one step beyond...

    i would like to say a big HELLO to everyone in this great forum ! i am excited to join, especially after having read through various topics, but most of all i have certainly enjoyed Alan's writings. in my opinion harbeth must be the ONLY british company still making speakers to play pure music, this accompanied by a social/audio philosophy and culture, unique nowadays...

    i am almost 40, collecting vinyl since the age of 8 (cds and flac nowadays).. all these years spent i've been trying lots of gear, at the moment my rig consists of ProAc d Two, Rega Apollo, and Hegel integrated... never happy for more a year (still havent found what im looking for), i think NOW must be the right time for me to go the harbeth way...

    so, i would like to have opinions on how would you proceed with let's say a super hl5, meaning what would you do in my case with the amp. change it too for a supernait or other?

    finally, and most important, how would you describe the sound of super hl5 compared to d two's or better harbeth sound compared to proac ? listening room is about 20 sq. metres. wil i have full sound (mainly listening to prog/psych/classic rock and blues [1955-1975.] - jazz - and a little classic..

    hope i have a great time in this forum,


  • #2
    Speakers first

    Hi Harry:

    First of all, welcome aboard!

    Secondly, if you're going to make the move to Harbeths, I'd suggest holding off on any other changes to your system till that's done. One of the cornerstones of the Harbeth philosophy is that the differences between speakers (which are electromechanical systems) are far greater than between purely electronic components such as amplifiers. Once you have your Super HL5s in place, you may be surprised to find how good the rest of your components suddenly sound.

    Anyway, if you make two changes at once (amplifier and speakers), how will you know which one you're listening to?



    • #3
      ok thank you eric, what about comparison (ProAc to Harbeth sound) you think that a guy who LOVES to listen to sounds of sixties - early seventies might be dissapointed from shl5 sound ?


      • #4
        Hi, indie, welcome to the HUG.

        Given the type and variety of music that you listen to, I think the SHL 5 is the best choice in the Harbeth line up. As for comparison, I'm not too familiar with ProAc-perhaps they're a bit more dynamic and "punchy" sounding compared to Harbeth. To alleviate any doubt, would it be possible to borrow a pair of SLH 5's from a dealer and decide for yourself right at home?

        Best wishes for your search.



        • #5
          Super HL5s and ProAcs

          Hi again Harry:

          KT88's advice is good advice. There's no substitute for listening for yourself. That said, having listened to all of the speakers in the Harbeth lineup, I can tell you that (in my opinion) there's something extra-special about the Super HL5s. Leaving aside the P3ESRs (a great minimonitor, but not what you're looking at) and the Monitor 40.1 (a stunning loudspeaker, but again, outside the range you're considering), I can say that - for me - the Monitor 30 may be a bit more revealing, the Compact 7 ES3 may be a touch more neutral, but the Super HL5s seem to have this special quality of seeming to make everything played through them sound good. They're just a very forgiving, musical, relaxed sounding loudspeaker. The Labrador Retriever of loudspeakers, if you will. And I mean that in the best possible way. They make you forget what the "speaker" sounds like, and just revel in how great the music is.



          • #6
            Hi Harry,

            I heard almost all Harbeths from 1st gen p3 onwards (currently own 7 and 5 in a same room) and to my ears, just let you know how I feel, there is no best among them. All are excellence. The main different among them is their presentation. All play natural sound and musics as good as live and I always feel only real live healthy unamplifeid musics or acoustic instruments or human voices can do better. 5 give more bass due to it's box, high is equally natural but a little bit more obvious compared to another, the mid is relax while 7 or 30 mid can sound a bit more dense. In short 5 is looser and 7 or 30 is tighter. For some music, say piano violin duo, all give healthy illustration of soundstaging, weighty and plenty of natural harmonic decay, the presentation on 5 is a bit more laid back, 7 and 30 are a bit more forward. Some people love 5, some people love 7 or 30 and never like 5. For me, by using same source and same amp in a same room, when listen to 7 i never miss the 5 and when listen to 5 i never miss the 7. If you already love Harbeth sound and can not do demo on all Harbeths, my suggestion to you is just get a pair which is best for your pocket and room size well do. Either pair is excellence natural musics maker.
            "Bath with Music"


            • #7
              thank you thank you thank you.. unfortunately i cannot borrow a pair and listen to the real thing at home.. i'm currently living in a village away from big cities (actually there is only one dealer in greece, he is in athens..)

              the only thing i can do is to travel when i have to the time and do some extended auditioning again..

              you know, i started thinking of upgrading to ProAc D28 paired with a bigger/better amp. (quite expensive combination) then again thought of the case of atc scm40 (i LOVE the british sound, anyway).. but -as i told you before- in my mind there is always harbeth and the fact that it follows a line saying : here you are, you want music, stop changing gear, settle down and listen to it just this...

              i would like your comment on this. from what i have been listening to , if there is a line from coloured/dynamic to monitor sound "ProAc -> ATC" harbeth stands in the middle. am i right. do you agree with this? if yes you think it tends more to ProAc or ATC?

              you know i used to own a pair of Rogers LS4 (that was the model if not mistaken) but NEVER had the chance and happiness to own such a nice music sounding speaker from that.. (must have been late 80s -early 90s..)


              • #8
                Hi Harry,

                To me, yes, to my ears, I never place Harbeth between them. Sound too much different. Choose between them is depend on what is your target in this hobby. For me, quite simple: If my target is to experience different speakers and hifi equiptments design rather then focus on music then I will choose either one but not Harbeth. If my target is to focus on music, want to enjoy, feel, communicate, get connected, get involved, inspired by the music with high fidelity sound standard (acurate timbre, exceptional tonal purity and purest human voice) then I choose Harbeth. And yes, until today, 7 years with my Harbeths, obviously, my target is music.

                Hope this help.
                "Bath with Music"


                • #9
                  Get those ProAc's on E-Bay, buy a pair of SHL5-3 and you will never look back.

                  I don't quite know where to start in comparing Harbeth to ProAc, suffice to say that my musical tastes are similar to your's and I like it loud. You will find the SHL5-3 is faster, cleaner, goes deeper and the mid is solid and tactile where the ProAc is sucked out and flat. The Harbeth has far more presence, better sound staging and information retrieval. It's a whole better experience.

                  As for a change of amp. I would suggest you get the Harbeth's and consider the amp at a later date.


                  • #10
                    I would have to agree. I think the SHL5's are stunning speakers. I am currently using the P3ESR's - which I also love - due to space constraints, but the SHL5's are the only speakers I have ever heard that when I listen to them I want for nothing. In that sense they are the most musically satisfying speaker I have ever heard.


                    • #11
                      Welcome Χάρη, nice to hear so soon from you here too!
                      Man, you are really acting fast !


                      • #12
                        hehe, i did audition for a second time .. then it was clear so clear that i had already fallen in love ...... i placed my order and now am waiting (i guess it will take about a month)...

                        plenty of comments and help from you all in this forum, i know what i'm looking for, after all, so i guess i must be happy, because it seems i found it....