"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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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!