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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

INTRODUCTION- PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

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. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

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, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. 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 electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon 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, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"


Jan. 2018
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Harbeth HL Compact 7ES-3 specific

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  • Re: Compact 7 value?

    Originally posted by Gan CK View Post
    Sad to say, many so called audiophiles don't really listen to music. They are only interested in listening to exaggerated 'bang' & artificial 'wow' elements in music. Things such as correct timbre, tonality, emotion & artistry of music are deemed as unimportant. Just as somebody from this Usergroup has highlighted before, many high end loudspeaker manufacturers don't place any emphasis on correct timbre & tonality as their design criteria. But, if timbre or tonality is not correct, how can music sound like they are supposed to in the first place.

    As far as i know, Harbeth is the only loudspeaker manufacturer in the world to use the human voice as their reference in voicing their loudspeakers & there is absolute logical sense to do that. After listening to & having owned countless speakers, i totally agree with Harbeth's claim that they make the world's most natural sounding loudspeakers. Probably i'll add in to say that Harbeth also makes the most correct & musical sounding loudspeakers. Period! Value? What value are we talking about when music sounds this natural & correct with virtually no peers from any other loudspeakers at any price? To me, its priceless.

    I know that's a very strong statement to make but that's really how i feel.
    Hi everybody,
    now, here is a very simple reference test on how Harbeths ( HSL5s) are voiced, just to justify how important is the above issue:

    I did try my new HSL5s, back in 2003, with the Mad Scene from Donizzetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" (Il dolce suono...) interpreted from Maria Callas, within the issue of the well known EMI complete opera with libretto. This -very long- aria is considered to be "the horror for the worlwide sopranos..." No need to explain why... and I adore it...
    I've done this test again with quite some other speaker pairs, more than 7-8 times, I remember.
    Now, with Harbeths, was the only and last time that I noticed three things:

    1. The tweeters did not "shout", "scream" or "cling", at all, even in very high volume setting.
    2.The instantaneous passes from tweeters to mid-woofers and vice-versa, a very delicate point of the X-overs, was seamless indeed. Single point of sound radiation, I'd say... The soprano's voice has -when contrasting/accompanying the piccolo- a tremendous instant variation between the highs and the lows, quiet or loud, between lets say 1,5khz and somewhere around 4-5,5khz. Especially from Callas, you can imagine what I say...
    3. I did feel the aria, I did concentrate on what was happening...

    So, according to Harbeth's and Alan's philosophy, that's the point. Voicing, Voicing, Voicing!
    And, he has done it. Speakers that speak to us, not just play... Priceless, indeed...

    Cheers from Athens,
    Thanos

    Comment


    • Re: Compact 7 value?

      Originally posted by Thanos View Post
      Hi everybody,
      now, here is a very simple reference test on how Harbeths ( HSL5s) are voiced, just to justify how important is the above issue:

      I did try my new HSL5s, back in 2003, with the Mad Scene from Donizzetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor" (Il dolce suono...) interpreted from Maria Callas, within the issue of the well known EMI complete opera with libretto. This -very long- aria is considered to be "the horror for the worlwide sopranos..." No need to explain why... and I adore it...
      I've done this test again with quite some other speaker pairs, more than 7-8 times, I remember.
      Now, with Harbeths, was the only and last time that I noticed three things:

      1. The tweeters did not "shout", "scream" or "cling", at all, even in very high volume setting.
      2.The instantaneous passes from tweeters to mid-woofers and vice-versa, a very delicate point of the X-overs, was seamless indeed. Single point of sound radiation, I'd say... The soprano's voice has -when contrasting/accompanying the piccolo- a tremendous instant variation between the highs and the lows, quiet or loud, between lets say 1,5khz and somewhere around 4-5,5khz. Especially from Callas, you can imagine what I say...
      3. I did feel the aria, I did concentrate on what was happening...

      So, according to Harbeth's and Alan's philosophy, that's the point. Voicing, Voicing, Voicing!
      And, he has done it. Speakers that speak to us, not just play... Priceless, indeed...

      Cheers from Athens,
      Thanos
      Hi Thanos, thks for sharing the above observation with us here. Though i am not technically inclined, but your above tests prove once again that Harbeth is peerless when it comes to natural & correct voicing. A friend of mine who is also a Harbeth user once told me that Harbeth don't just reproduce sound but convey the full emotion, spirit & soul of the music....which is exactly like what u mentioned above, speakers that speak to us, not just play. To me, this is the ultimate level of music reproduction that any loudspeaker can achieve, let alone a box one like Harbeth.

      Comment


      • Re: Compact 7 value?

        Hi Thanos & Gan

        I like to think of my Harbeth SHL5 as a musical instrument, no different from a high quality acoustic guitar or a Stradivarius violin, which uses the wooden speaker enclosure as an acoustic device to project the music, thus giving a natural, unforced sound with correct timbre, tonal accuracy and decay of notes. I think the word "emotion" is appropriate as listening to my Harbeths is a truly emotional experience that allows me to connect intimately to the music, the ambience and atmosphere. The speakers simply disappear, and in so doing, present a more believable "live" performance and the feeling of "being there" with the singer and musicians. I have never been so absorbed with and in the music.

        It makes me forget audiophile jargon and simply invites me to enjoy the music!

        Best Regards
        Dennis

        Comment


        • Re: Compact 7 value?

          Originally posted by denjo View Post
          Hi Thanos & Gan

          I like to think of my Harbeth SHL5 as a musical instrument, no different from a high quality acoustic guitar or a Stradivarius violin, which uses the wooden speaker enclosure as an acoustic device to project the music, thus giving a natural, unforced sound with correct timbre, tonal accuracy and decay of notes. I think the word "emotion" is appropriate as listening to my Harbeths is a truly emotional experience that allows me to connect intimately to the music, the ambience and atmosphere. The speakers simply disappear, and in so doing, present a more believable "live" performance and the feeling of "being there" with the singer and musicians. I have never been so absorbed with and in the music.

          It makes me forget audiophile jargon and simply invites me to enjoy the music!

          Best Regards
          Dennis
          Dennis,
          Well said! Harbeth allows me to focus on on my music and stop my itch for trying out new speakers. Lately we have been attending some live symphony and Harbeth is very very close to reproducing the tone purity & musicality of the violin - is just the dynamics of live music is hard to recreate... one possibility is my room.... Probably have to make dead quiet!

          Cheers.

          Comment


          • Re: Compact 7 value?

            I noticed that apart from LS3/5a (including Harbeth's LS3/5a of course) Harbeth is the only speakers which resale price has gone up. Bot an old P3 at Sg$650 6 years back. Current resale price is close to Sg$1k! Speaks very much of their sound quality!

            Comment


            • Re: Compact 7 value?

              Actually, the UK retail price has been held for 3.5 years now. I'm afraid that this can not continue for too much longer as after a long period of relative cost stability, all costs are on the march upwards now. In particular, the cost of cabinets has dramatically increased as our cabinet maker has re-costed our entire product line. The SHL5 cabinet, for example, now cost us 27% more than it did in November last year - and we can't absorb that for much longer. In addition, as at today, diesel fuel, necessary for all transport of materials to us, is also about 25% more expensive than at the end of last year.

              To open out the subject a little, there has been a steady contraction of UK hi-fi manufacturing over the years. The days of UK hi-fi manufacturing run by hobbyists with little or no financial understanding and control are long over. Big and well respected names have closed down or been acquired by overseas investors who have installed appropriate management systems. It is said that very few (UK) speaker manufacturers have or are making profits or are conventionally viable by the criterion that non-hi-fi businesses are measured, probably connected to rising costs and the unwillingness to pass them on.

              Our view is that Harbeth is a conventional business structured for the very long term and that however unpalatable price rises are, we cannot and must not drift into being 'busy fools'. We must protect our entire customer base by being here, alive and vibrant if/when spare parts are ever needed. Hence financial control and micro-management is a strong function within Harbeth UK and yes, sadly, from time to time that does mean prices will rise as costs do. But you can be absolutely sure that you are not paying one penny towards needless costs such as company cars, leased equipment and boards of directors - we don't have any of these.

              So, if you are contemplating purchasing, please be aware of this situation.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • Re: Compact 7 value?

                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                Actually, the UK retail price has been held for 3.5 years now. I'm afraid that this can not continue for too much longer as after a long period of relative cost stability, all costs are on the march upwards now. In particular, the cost of cabinets has dramatically increased as our cabinet maker has re-costed our entire product line. The SHL5 cabinet, for example, now cost us 27% more than it did in November last year - and we can't absorb that for much longer. In addition, as at today, diesel fuel, necessary for all transport of materials to us, is also about 25% more expensive than at the end of last year.

                To open out the subject a little, there has been a steady contraction of UK hi-fi manufacturing over the years. The days of UK hi-fi manufacturing run by hobbyists with little or no financial understanding and control are long over. Big and well respected names have closed down or been acquired by overseas investors who have installed appropriate management systems. It is said that very few (UK) speaker manufacturers have or are making profits or are conventionally viable by the criterion that non-hi-fi businesses are measured, probably connected to rising costs and the unwillingness to pass them on.

                Our view is that Harbeth is a conventional business structured for the very long term and that however unpalatable price rises are, we cannot and must not drift into being 'busy fools'. We must protect our entire customer base by being here, alive and vibrant if/when spare parts are ever needed. Hence financial control and micro-management is a strong function within Harbeth UK and yes, sadly, from time to time that does mean prices will rise as costs do. But you can be absolutely sure that you are not paying one penny towards needless costs such as company cars, leased equipment and boards of directors - we don't have any of these.

                So, if you are contemplating purchasing, please be aware of this situation.
                Very assuring to hear this Alan.

                Now I can know that the pennies that I will save will at least buy me a M40.1, if not a .2 or .3 (really depends on how much and how long I can save )

                Comment


                • Tiger Ebony - sadly discontinued

                  When I wrote my previous message here at the start of today, I didn't know what would hit us as the day progressed. We've been advised by email that our UK cabinet maker (owned by overseas people) has more cost increases to pass our way. In particular, concerning the Tiger Ebony cabinet, we have been told that with immediate effect, we must pay +57% more. Clearly this is impossible as we can not expect our customers to pay this. So, aside from a few remaining pairs in stock, we have no option but to discontinue Tiger Ebony.

                  I think that the time is rapidly approaching whereby we have to seriously examine all other cabinet sources in Europe and further afield to stabilise cost increases. If we select and manage our suppliers according to the ISO9001 system we use internally, do you care where we source our cabinets? I'm told that we are the only UK speaker manufacturer that uses only UK-made cabinets - everyone else here buys from a range of overseas suppliers and have done for years. Our single-source, UK-only cabinets policy has been a key reason why we are more vulnerable to cost increases than other UK speaker manufacturers.

                  It's my job to manage quality, delivery, veneer range and to satisfy you, our customers. But we just can not optimise all factors at an affordable price unless we review this whole supply situation. It's really frustrating.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • Cabinet sourcing and Quality Control

                    Alan,
                    I think it is admirable that you've been purchasing your cabinets in the U.K. Having said that, however, as a customer I've never been overly concerned about from where the materials of audio products I buy are sourced. I' m concerned about the quality I'm getting for the price I'm paying. To remain competitive within your industry, I believe that you have to make the decision of where to buy your cabinets, materials, or whatever, based upon where you can find the quality you require at a cost that is reasonable. I'm sure that you would not willingly compromise quality, and assume that you have prices in mind for your various speakers beyond which you feel you would not be competitive in the marketplace. For us Harbeth users, audio is a love; for you - while it must be a love, too - it is also a business, and we want you to succeed and be there as long as we are!

                    Comment


                    • Re: Tiger Ebony - sadly discontinued

                      For the past decade of so, I've had this strange attraction to Brit gear for its particular sound quality, and its cult like status within the hi-fi word. For me, I expect the gear to be designed, and manufactured by British folk, because they seem to take pride in thier work. When Exposure announced it was being whored out to the far east, I lost interest in paying any "real" money for that product.
                      Stick to your guns Alan; perhaps a compromise could be reached with your local cabinate supplier?

                      JR

                      Comment


                      • Re: Tiger Ebony - sadly discontinued

                        Originally posted by digiphobe View Post
                        For the past decade of so, I've had this strange attraction to Brit gear for its particular sound quality, and its cult like status within the hi-fi word. For me, I expect the gear to be designed, and manufactured by British folk, because they seem to take pride in thier work. When Exposure announced it was being whored out to the far east, I lost interest in paying any "real" money for that product.
                        Stick to your guns Alan; perhaps a compromise could be reached with your local cabinate supplier?

                        JR
                        I've always been a big fan of Brit hifi stuff since early 80s & have always felt they are just inherently superior musically. Currently, products like Harbeth & LFD has merely strengthen my faith that brit stuff still lead the pack indeed!

                        Comment


                        • Re: Tiger Ebony - sadly discontinued

                          Alan, to answer your question... I do not care where you source your cabinets from as long as it passes your stringent QC.

                          Comment


                          • Material sourcing ...

                            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                            ... In particular, the cost of cabinets has dramatically increased as our cabinet maker has re-costed our entire product line. The SHL5 cabinet, for example, now cost us 27% more than it did in November last year - and we can't absorb that for much longer. In addition, as at today, diesel fuel, necessary for all transport of materials to us, is also about 25% more expensive than at the end of last year....
                            Hi Alan,

                            I shall make a comment regarding your awareness of pricing your products, and it will not be a praise, it's just the truth...

                            If you will consider -by overviewing your advising policy on purchasing goods- what an average person on this planet has to pay, in order to achieve that natural sound we enjoy for so many years now, from other brands (now of course made mainly in China), you'll get to laugh (or cry) realising that your needed increase in manufacturing cost will hardly be a segment, comparing with new really "antagonistic" speaker pair prices...

                            So, Ok, you might worry about keeping prices where they should be ok for this real world... But, if we try some other "exotic" solutions, the difference we'd pay for them, would be possibly enough to build a whole new music library... I mean hundreds of new cds... And, I guess, most/all friends in this site, are indeed music fans. They have chosen once their speakers, so the rest of the current/future money savings will go on buying music.

                            This, as said in the past again, is exactly the Harbeth philosophy and achievement: Speakers that perfectly serve music itself, for the common pocket of the common man. Isn't that a very important issue and achievement?

                            Thanos

                            Comment


                            • Material sourcing ...

                              "Common pocket of the common man" - that is exactly who we want to continue to serve. But we just cannot convince our key supplier that we are not able or willing to pass-on cost after cost. Nor can we continue to absorb them. Our suppliers are running a business for profit and why should they be interested in our bleating? They must do what they think best for their business short term. We must do what we think best for our customers long term.

                              As MDF and the veneer itself are (presumably) imported to the UK, that implies that high UK costs are primarily because of high wages, transport, taxes and general overheads. I assume that offshore cabinet makers draw from the same global suppliers of MDF* and veneer (at the same QC level) as the UK cabinet maker, but their cost control reflects the lower overheads of production outside the UK. Of course, we read the writing on the wall at least two years ago and have not been idle. We can not - and will not -just sit back and do nothing.

                              Thanks to our trendy government these past 11 years, the UK has been transformed into one of the most expensive business environments on the planet (fully anticipated by the more conservative business community who read the hype of 'Cool Brittania' as an excuse for inefficiency and cost increase) as anyone who has bought a cup of tea at Heathrow airport (about USD 6) will testify. And - surprise surprise - general inflation is now on the way up just at the time of the credit crunch.

                              * As far as I know, MDF is not made in the UK but imported from huge global corporations.
                              Alan A. Shaw
                              Designer, owner
                              Harbeth Audio UK

                              Comment


                              • Re: Compact 7 value?

                                How refreshing, a manufacturer that talks openly with his customers about the challenges he faces. From my perspective, any business that continues to absorb costs without passing them on to the consumer is of no use to anyone because they will soon be out of business.

                                The issue of price/value in hifi has always been of interest to me. My friends often can't believe that I've spent several thousand $ on speakers, when those same people think nothing of spending $40,000 on a BMW...and given the robust second hand market for Harbeth, I believe they remain a great investment regardless of the upfront cost.

                                Comment

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