"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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Harbeth 40.2 40th Anniversary with Hi Fi Rack Stands

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  • Harbeth 40.2 40th Anniversary with Hi Fi Rack Stands

    I am enjoying my 40.2 40th Anniversaries with Hi Fi Racks stands. They are special speakers.

    I have made a slight but to me a very significant modification. To lift the speakers off the stand’s polyurethane pads, I have slipped in wooden spacers made from the fat ends cut off of clothes pins. The speakers do not then contact the polyurethane pads. This little change has to me made a very significant improvement in the speaker’s treble.

    Before this I tried several things using some exotic woods and manufactured isolation devices, but the pieces of clothes pins with the narrow side down under the speaker corners sound the best. My humble experience with polyurethane is that it absorbs energy and reflects it back dulling treble. I listen to a lot of piano sonatas, and the change is easy to hear.

    The rest of the Hi Fi racks design is excellent otherwise. Again my experience is that 1.5” inch thick hardwood in the stands is good, 1” or 2 inch just doesn’t sound good for some reason.

  • #2
    I have found that Cardas myrtle blocks are also excellent between the speakers and stands. This was recommended by the US Harbeth distributor, Walter Swanbon.


    • #3
      I cannot think of any physics that would explain such differences, so expectation bias seems the best explanation.


      • #4
        Having the same set-up, I've put in some Kapla blocks, as I have hundreds sitting in a cupboard. Let's see.

        I am intrigued by Townshend's sprung isolation, which demonstrably works, although whether the effects are audible is another matter.

        Also interesting that he says suspended or concrete floor makes no difference.


        • #5
          Considering the design of the 40.2 enclosure, it would seem to me that physics would suggest many ways that the speakers could be impacted by how they are supported.


          • #6
            Originally posted by ssfas View Post
            I am intrigued by Townshend's sprung isolation, which demonstrably works, although whether the effects are audible is another matter.

            Also interesting that he says suspended or concrete floor makes no difference.
            That seems a bit intriguing. A suspended floor will likely have vibration displacement amplitudes that are greater than those occurring with typical concrete floors. I am unsure whether the concrete floor will have a higher or lower fundamental resonance frequency.

            Keep in mind that the passive isolation platform that is being used here has a low-pass filter function. It filters out the high-frequency displacements, so that way the speaker itself sits stably in space on the isolated platform. Of course, the amount of isolation that is achieved is frequency dependent. The speaker sitting on the isolation platform creates a mass-spring system with a certain resonance frequency. Above this frequency, the transmission of vibrations from the floor to the speaker is attenuated.


            • #7
              Hondo, I use small cork adhesive pads on top of my Harbeth oak speaker stands, these are there just for grip and cushioning when placing the speakers onto my stands. I build open frame stands for all our Harbeth loudspeakers in New Zealand now.
              Attached Files
              Thanks Jason.


              • #8
                I now am using stainless steel cones and pads that I purchased on eBay under my 40.2's --- two set of 4Set 24mm Stainless Steel Speaker Spike Isolation Feet Cone Pad Amp HiFi 291711394906. They are very low and are resistant to tipping over.


                • #9
                  After trying stainless steel spikes & cones and ebony spikes and cones of the same design, I have gone back to small Cardas or Ayre myrtle blocks. Placement has an effect on sound. I like them close to the corners of the speakers.


                  • #10
                    Don't delude yourself. Pads, stands and the like do not make any sonic difference. Placement does make an enormous difference, however, because a location near a wall and even more so in a corner will boost low frequencies. Also, room modes may be excited by any particular location. So if you are worried, measure in room response.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by willem View Post
                      Don't delude yourself. Pads, stands and the like do not make any sonic difference.
                      Consider the results of the tests described in this article (all six pages):


                      • #12
                        I have now made a 360 and have returned to using the original clothes pin ends. Ella Fitzgerald and Sara Vaughn steered me back. I'm not sure what wood they are made off, but pine did not do it for me. Not sure if it is the wood and/or geometry.

                        The last part of the article referenced by IMF+TDL gave some credence that I'm not crazy, just compulsive.


                        • #13
                          Alan, my listening space has a floor that was probably installed by a trampoline manufacturer. Won over by a healthy discount, I now own a quartet of these:

                          Using the iOS app "Seismometer" and displacing my not inconsiderable bulk vertically, it is easy to show that these contraptions completely isolate the SHL5+ 40th AE speakers from external vibration.
                          The speakers are sat flat on top of HiFi Racks stands.

                          The result seems to be a significantly tighter bass.

                          Is there a reason why decoupling the speaker from the floor should make a difference to the performance of the speaker?