"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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P3 ES2 - Feedback

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  • P3 ES2 - Feedback

    Dear all,

    I'm proud to say I'm now a Harbeth owner! I bought a pair of Black Ash P3 ES2s yesterday to replace my Proac D15 floorstanders.

    They are pure delight - this is the first time I have heard non-fatiguing music outside a real concert hall. Until now I had the impression you could have either a sweet tone or high detail but never both (e.g., Epos ES14 and Proac Studio 100 respectively, in my experience).

    Interesting to observe that the P3's metal tweeter has sonics more in common with Proac's silk dome units than the Epos's metal domes. The Epos's give some sibilance that is absent from the P3s.

    Amp is a 1980s Rogers A75 transistor and works perfectly. My other amp, a little 10WPC single-ended valve amp, is less suitable—it runs out of puff—the same effect when hooked up to the Proacs.

    Stands are an appalling model from Argos with the rigidity of a slinky spring, brought to height with a stack of telephone books. They are frighteningly insecure so a pair of Something Solid open frames will be on order shortly. I'll be interested to note any sonic difference; I suspect there won't be any, after reading the information of this very helpful group.

    Cables are Chord Rumour bi-wire. I've tried them in single and bi- set ups and wouldn't be confident telling the difference in a double-blind. I keep the speaker post links closed, as per the user's manual guidance.

    Many thanks Harbeth for an excellent product; these will be treasured for a long time.
    Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.

  • #2
    A pair of P3's to replace a ProAc floor stander - that speaks volumes.

    A pair of Something Solid stands will improve the sound even more. I have tried many stands over the years and these always deliver the goods.

    As to 'metal dome' tweeters. There are metal domes and there are metal domes. Many speakers in the 80's and 90's used the same tweeter which had an upper mid suckout, followed by a nasty resonant peak and it was these which gave 'metal domes' a bad name. The Harbeth tweeter is not one of these and sounds sweet, detailed and airy. As you are discovering.


    • #3
      Tweeters and crossovers

      Welcome to the Harbeth family.

      As hifi_dave says, there were indeed some very nasty metal dome tweeters in the 80s. But actually it was the deadly combination of a theoretical crossover design + the inherent characteristics of those domes that created a horrible sonic combination. If speaker designers in that era had thrown out the theory and got down to some proper listening (on speech would have told them all they needed to know) they could have greatly ameliorated the hardness with a sympathetic crossover design to work around - or rather, work with the mechanical design of the tweeter.

      I keep meaning to make a tech talk or two about crossover design and how simulations can help - but in the absence of appreciative feedback I'm not to sure if it's the best use of my time. I'll put it on the ever expanding list!
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK


      • #4
        Many thanks for your comments Dave and Alan. Such feedback from a manufacturer's community is rare and appreciated. Interesting information about tweater and crossover design.

        I will post some comparative observations on stands when the Something Solids arrive.

        If you have time to consider, I have a question about the ES2s - there is a bloom in response, somewhere around the mid-cello frequency range. Is this a known speaker issue? I suspect not, because all speakers I have used in my room exibit this property to a greater or lessor extent. I strongly suspect the room is at stake, here.

        Kind regards, Ben
        Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.