HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"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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Not even yet a Harbeth owner - nice meet-up in Munich

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  • Not even yet a Harbeth owner - nice meet-up in Munich


    my name is Massimo, and this is my first post.

    I visited the Munich HiEnd show and had the pleasure to meet Mr. Alan Shaw with whom I exchanged a few words before leaving. It was a very genial and civil exchange of opinions, something definitely refreshing after the fatiguing climate of some rooms. I wish more people like him populated the audio world.

    I am ashamed to confess that great as my passion for audio is, I have not been able to hear a single Harbeth loudspeaker for a very long time, but know a few people who have the 7ES-3s and resolutely declare they will never change them. For some reasons, Harbeths are a very well known and still mysterious thing for me.. I hope to catch up soon. The 7s are very interesting.

    Greetings Mr Shaw, it's been a pleasure to meet you in Munich, too bad your display in Munich was static, no music playing.


  • #2
    Too much hot air in this industry!

    There are certainly many highly vociferous people in the audio industry and in my experience, a lot of it is "hot air" with little substance to back up the "noise." I have huge respect for those in the industry who work so hard to make such excellent products, are happy to offer their products for technical scrutiny and who try very hard to present facts which are provable, rather than opinions dressed as "science."


    • #3
      The sound sticks in my memory ...

      On Saturday, visiting Parma, I also visited a good audio store and could audition a pair of M30s. They were connected to Exposure CD player and integrated, which I know by fame but not personally. The room was smallish, and rather absorbing both on ceiling and walls. The first impression was strange, of a very rich sound with smooth treble and a somehow forward midbass, at the same time very informative and a bit fat, but it has to be said that I am accustomed to Naim loudspeakers, that are much the opposite with very controlled midbass an a lean presentation.
      Voices and string instruments were very natural, albeit a tad on the beautiful rather than on the true side. I mean, I think I know how musical instruments sound and they are not always smooth.

      As a way of having a better impression, I asked a comparison and the kind owner connected the next speaker, Totem Hawks - costing about 50% more. The sound became dryer, more >modern< perhaps but also boredom-oriented. I also had a clear feeling the the amp was not up to the Totems, less efficient. Then he connected a pair of Audiovector S1is, presently trendy in the Naim forum because they are manifactured by the people who import Naim in Denmark. I very rarely have heard such presumptuous and boring speakers, and they also cost 50% more than the M30. Forgotten them.

      So, I went away with a curious feeling, the M30 have not completely satisfied me yet their sound stuck in my memory which is always a sign that I like a product. Now I am wondering how much the Exposures made the sound. I can't say I was impressed, because with all the smoothness and the detail I found it a globally >fat< sound for my taste.

      The owner has invited me to come back with my Supernait, which is something not so easily done.. I still wish i could listen to the 7s. I imagine that with a clear sounding, not too furnished and acoustically treated room Harbeths could be a very rewarding and involving investment.



      • #4

        Exposure should be OK, at least the models starting with 2 and 3.


        • #5
          Giving-in to the sound source?

          I think (now that you remind me) that they became with 1 - series 10, perhaps, is it possible?

          Anyway, I may not have expressed my impressions well. The M30s' sound really struck me, only it is different from what I am used to. I normally listen very actively, analytically I'd say, and it's customary for me to go towards the sound source more than giving in to it, if I may say so. What I liked in the M30s, and may like even more in other models, is that they let me give in to the sound a bit more than it's comfortable for me to do normally, and still enjoy it..

          Thanks Vlado for your reply.


          • #6
            Try M30.1

            Maybe worth waiting until the M30.1s become available and then re audition.


            • #7
              All the microphone is is a sampling device ....

              Originally posted by maxbertola View Post
              ... Voices and string instruments were very natural, albeit a tad on the beautiful rather than on the true side. I mean, I think I know how musical instruments sound and they are not always smooth....
              One essential thing you should be aware of. Listening to musical instruments, live, in person, is a very different experience to listening over loudspeakers, even good ones.

              First: the real instruments will radiate sound in all directions and this will add a brightness of tone that is bound-up with the acoustic space in which you are listening. Take the same instrument and point a microphone at it and the 1" microphone capsule is only sampling that 1" of sound out of a huge balloon of sound that radiates away from the speakers. That means (I'm guessing) one millionth of the surface area of the balloon at 3m away from the instrument is captured .... the rest of the sound is lost.

              Second: record that one-millionth sample of the instruments sound and play it over a loudspeaker. What do we hear? We hear that single inadequate sample point of the original sound pumped out into our room. But what about all the other sounds we'd hear from the live instrument? All are lost. Stereo works by discarding almost all the vital small details in music and relying on our brain to fill in the missing 'liveness'.

              Third: the recording is absolutely dependent upon the artistic balance that the producer wants. As most recordings are made in dry studios or halls there is never enough true 'top' in any natural-sound reproduction due to the recording process relying on just a few sample points (the microphones) covering the array performers. But it is not the speaker designer's job to add sparkle - it's up to the recording technology to better capture the live event not the speaker to fake it.

              So you can see that the concept of 'real sound' at home is fundamentally impossible. All we can do is make a very comfortable illusion so that listening at home, you have some enjoyable cues about the real life experience. But it is all a trick of the mind .....
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK


              • #8
                My upcoming demo


                thanks for your reply.

                I totally agree with your last paragraph. I never expect to have the illusion of live music at home and don't rely too much, for that, on 3D imaging for my musical enjoyment at home as well, knowing that it is a trick of recorded audio but that live music behaves differently.

                I think that some multi-microphone techniques are aimed at partially solving the problem you explained me; I don't know, I am not a technician and my last experience with microphones dates back to late 70s, when I played and recorded as an amateur in a rock band.

                My mention of true and beautiful was more referring to timbres; I only had a feeling they were a little bit too smooth, but I couldn't absolutely tell the sound of the CD and amp, and the room was very dark sounding and perhaps my hearing is not what it used to be... I am not yet judging anything. Rather, I am simply trying to discover if Harbeths are good for me.

                Tomorrow I plan to audition (at last) a pair of Compact 7s, the dealer will set up apt amplification and I very much look forward to hearing them. As I wrote, I'd like to be able to move to a more involving, less analytical way of listening.



                • #9
                  True power output?

                  Originally posted by maxbertola View Post
                  I think (now that you remind me) that they became with 1 - series 10, perhaps...
                  Hi Max,
                  the Exposure 1010 is a weak amp. I dont believe that the quoting 2x50 Watt is real. The mains transformer is specified at 120 VA and taking the A/B amps efficiency the real power is way below the specs.




                  • #10
                    The OB truck v. the copncert hall

                    Originally posted by maxbertola View Post
                    ... thanks for your reply. I totally agree with your last paragraph. I never expect to have the illusion of live music at home and don't rely too much, for that, on 3D imaging for my musical enjoyment at home as well, knowing that it is a trick of recorded audio but that live music behaves differently.
                    However many microphones the recording engineer uses, each one is just a point sampling device. He must then fold-down or blend together all those mics placed in 3D relative to the instruments into a 2D, left-right mix. If you can imagine 'depth' and even more so 'height' that is solely a function of interpretation of what you hear by your brain. A technical measurement of the L-R mix could tell us about frequency response, distortion, stereo spread etc. etc. but could not reveal 'depth' (unless the echo was so prominent that it drowned the music). Height definitely could not be measured.

                    I was recently in an Outside Broadcast truck and had the opportunity to walk from the concert hall to the truck, with the live sound of the performers in my head. To be honest, it was a disappointment: the collapse of the entire huge hall acoustics into left-right, two speakers, in the cramped, acoustically dry truck space was nothing like the concert hall experience. But the sound engineers had long adapted to that reality and could still achieve a fantastic recorded balance for home listening giving the home audience just enough sonic cues as to the venue, the instruments and the performance to make it enjoyable and satisfying.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK


                    • #11
                      From interested ... to extremely satisfied


                      this morning I could at last audition the C7ES-3s. They were driven by a Northstar SACD and Naim 122x/150x, with proper cabling. I didn't choose the electronics but, as far as Naim is concerned, it was ok with me.
                      My response went from surprised, via interested to involved to extremely satisfied.

                      I must say, it's one of the best two-way enclosures I have heard. To my ears it sounded clearer, perhaps even more monitor than the M30 I heard last week. The whole of the range was lush, rich and detailed but fast, controlled, right.

                      At the beginning I was a bit concerned about the lower mid/upper bass, slightly more prominent than I am used to, and that it might somehow mask the deep bass if such bass had shown. But there's a recording of Brad Mehldau live in Tokyo, playing >Someone to watch over me<, at some point in which he stomps on the right pedal, and the sound of this was almost infrasonic, very controlled, the foot and the wood of the stage. Amazing.

                      I enjoyed Emma Kirkby's and other voices, very very sweet but realistic. The ambience of each recording was so much more evident than with my small monitors, that it made me rediscover a number of performances. True, some bump in the lower range was to my ears apparent, but then, when I got back home and played the last recording I had heard in the store (Barenboim playing and conducting Mozart's Piano Concerto Kv491), everything had become leaner, with a poorer palette of colors, more monochromatic and a bit forward.

                      I am very surprised at how such a wonderful design has escaped my attention so far. Thanks for such a great product. I must add that upstairs a large pair of awfully expensive Magico floor standers was playing, but somehow it failed to trigger anything in me.

                      There might be a follow up, of course. I'll write again.



                      • #12
                        Confused about stands

                        Almost one month later, I am still debating with myself but am much closer to buying a pair of Compact 7 ES-3s.

                        There's the problem with the stands: I haven't owned a stand mount for years - well, yes, but my present nSats have their own stands - and I have lost touch with the stand market.

                        What types are available? Am I confined to iron ones? Is there anything elegant and sound wise good out there?
                        Thanks for your good advice,



                        • #13
                          Read HUG

                          There's is enough information about stands on the HUG
                          I use light, rigid wooden Ikea Oddvar benches of 45cm high > cost 7 euro each!
                          I do use my C7ES3's with them and the sound is very OK in my setup with LFD amp, Cyrus CDP and Michell TT


                          • #14

                            Hi Massimo,

                            Take a look at the Skylan stands. It is one of the stand that set unanimity amongst many Harbeth users. An excellent product and service from Noel, the one man band at Skylan.



                            • #15

                              Cyreg and Sebastien,

                              thanks for the replies and advice. I will patiently browse for all available material.