"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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How would a 1999 Compact 7 stand up against a new ES3?

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  • How would a 1999 Compact 7 stand up against a new ES3?

    I'm actually a Monitor Audio GX100 owner but have always hankered after a pair of Harbeth speakers.

    Anyways, most of them are beyond my budget but I have seen a pair of early Compact 7 speakers for sale. It says "Design 1999" on the rear but I guess they could have been made later than that?

    Unfortunately I won't have the opportunity to listen to these. Can anyone comment on how they might compare to the sound of my uber-hi-tech Monitor Audios and also, given i can't find many reviews of them but I can of the latest ES3 models, how they might compare to the newer versions?

    Is there anything i should be cautious about in buying an "old" speaker? Can they wear out in any way?!


  • #2
    Yes they can and do wear out, so it is not just an issue of the newer models being a better design. The part most prone to deterioration seems to be the cone surround. If this is indeed a 1999 speaker or thereabouts I would personally avoid it.


    • #3
      I think a 17 year speaker should be fine. There ought to be plenty of life left in it. The difficulty for second hand buyers is knowing how the speaker has been used (or abused) over its lifetime. There is merit in buying second hand if funds are tight. It is for the buyer to decide whether the vintage gives enough of a discount on the price to take a punt.


      • #4
        Thanks for the comments. On balance I think it's probably best to sit tight and try to save a few more pennies!