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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, 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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Help me understand my Harbeths sound so great!

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  • Help me understand my Harbeths sound so great!

    I currently have two systems in my home. The larger one consists of a pair of Martin Logan Summit Xs driven by a McIntosh C50 dac/preamp and MC452 amp. My smaller system has a McIntosh MC275 and MC22 preamp with Benchmark DAC1 driving a pair of Harbeth Compact 7ES-3s and a pair of REL T5s. At the moment, they are both in the same room until I get my editing room ready for the smaller system.

    Now, on the face of it, judging by the specs, the larger system should sound better in every way. Better coverage of the frequency range, more modern dac/preamp/amp. And indeed, when you listen to the larger system, the highs are more sparkling, the lows are lower, the midrange seemingly more extroverted. Yet, when I have a choice, I tend to prefer the Harbeth system. I have a visceral, almost physiological reaction to music played on the Harbeths, while music played on the other system seems more distant and less involving. I also feel as though I can hear more information in the music, even though the big electrostatics would seem to have more detail across the range.

    I've had people listen to both systems and within the first few moments, everyone says that the Logans are more "detailed". Even to me, there seems to be more information, especially in the high frequencies. But somehow it is the Harbeths that allow me to really hear into a track.

    I'm afraid I don't have the experience or vocabulary to describe what I'm experiencing. Have any of you had a similar experience comparing Harbeths to speakers costing far more? I can't explain it, but somehow they are more endearing than other speakers I've heard. The new REL T5s, by the way, seem to be a very nice match for the C7s.
    Last edited by jplaurel; 03-03-2011, 02:16 AM. Reason: grammar correction

  • #2
    You're experiencing musicality

    Hi jplaurel, what you are experiencing is called musicality. Harbeths don't just reproduce sound but more importantly, the intent, art & soul of the music.

    Listening to music should be a relaxing & heart warming experience. A lot of modern spks put too much focus on delivering a high 'wow' or jump factor to the sound making music appear mechanical or clinical & lacking in emotional involvement.

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    • #3
      Dac

      In addition to the Harbeths the smaller system may have a better DAC.

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      • #4
        Comparing speakers to sharpened digital images?

        I don't have your experience, but perhaps the comparison of a sharpened digital image with the same image, unsharpened but at higher resolution is a suitable analogy.
        Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.

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        • #5
          DACs?

          I don't think it's the DACs. The smaller system has the Benchmark DAC1, but the larger system has the new McIntosh C50 DAC, which can asynchronously decode input from the USB port up to 32bit/192kHz. Anything you send to the C50's DAC gets resampled to it's native 32/192. Though the Benchmark or the Peachtree DACs are each great in their own right, the are not in the same league as the C50.

          Originally posted by Drdennis View Post
          In addition to the Harbeths the smaller system may have a better DAC.

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          • #6
            What is 'musicality'?

            That must be the answer, but what it "musicality"? How do you measure it?

            The Harbeth is indeed a very interesting speaker. Clearly, Alan is designing for something beyond just measured response. I am starting to understand why people say that Harbeths allow you to see deeper into the mix.

            I found BAS-H's analogy of a sharpened digital image vs an unsharpened one of higher resolution a good way to describe these two systems.

            Originally posted by Gan CK View Post
            Hi jplaurel, what you are experiencing is called musicality. Harbeths don't just reproduce sound but more importantly, the intent, art & soul of the music.

            Listening to music should be a relaxing & heart warming experience. A lot of modern spks put too much focus on delivering a high 'wow' or jump factor to the sound making music appear mechanical or clinical & lacking in emotional involvement.

            Comment

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