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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"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 http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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Harbeth SHL5 specific

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  • Extended warranty question

    I bought my SHL5s directly from the original owner. I do have the original paperwork.

    Am I entitled to warranty benefits and services?

    Thanks

    Pete

    {Moderator's comment: Unfortunately, regardless of whether the original owner Registered for extended warranty or not, the Harbeth Warranty is not transferable from the first to the second owner. But it's worth a nice friendly note to the importer.}

    Comment


    • Hey, Pete

      Your importer up there is Planet of Sound in Toronto, www.planetofsounddistribution.com

      Hope this helps!

      Comment


      • Super Tweeter fix

        OK

        Thanks

        Pete

        Comment


        • Veneers

          Harbeth cabinet veneer question
          Hi Alan

          I just realized that some Harbeth cabinets are veneered both INSIDE and outside. If there is veneer on the inside, wouldn't different veneers have different sonic characters?

          Ian

          Comment


          • The sound of veneers?

            Originally posted by ianm0 View Post
            ... If there is veneer on the inside, wouldn't different veneers have different sonic characters?
            In the light of the (incomplete) thread on 'snake oil' and copywriting here I present three answers for your consideration. All three are right and all three are wrong, as there are no absolutes in audio. You decide!

            Answer A: "Of course, it's a well documented fact amongst Harbeth's worldwide customer base that the more exotic veneers including the sumptuous rosewood and breathtaking ebony fully capture the very essence of the Harbeth sound, allowing the cabinet to breath with heartfelt empathy with the music .... moving the listener to tears with the richness of tone which can be felt deep in the sole. A true releasing the full potential of the latent Harbeth sound which we all knew was possible, but only just achieved thanks to these marvellous veneers ..."

            or

            Answer B: "At best, the total veneer thickness represents under 10% of the thickness of the cabinet side/top panels and even less of the usually somewhat thicker front and back panels. We do not believe that a laminate representing such a small addition to the rigid MDF base substrate can have any significant or audible effect on sonic performance, although in the laboratory it is of course possible that precision measuring instruments may detect some minute differences in elasticity. Therefore, make a decision on the veneer on cosmetic grounds alone ..."

            or

            Answer C: "Under laboratory measurement conditions it is of course possible that precision measuring instruments may detect some minute differences in elasticity. Therefore, just to play safe, you should select the best exotic veneer which is often stated as ebony to be sure you have the best possible sound ..."


            If you like I can easily whistle up a few more answers .... or maybe you can write them yourselves!
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

            Comment


            • Soul mates

              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
              ...deep in the sole...
              With Harbeth you can never put a foot wrong....

              Comment


              • Two veneers better than one {not necessarily}

                I'm aware of one speaker company that makes a point in its sales literature of saying that they veneer both the inside and the outside of the cabinet. I don't think they make any sonic claims for this, but they do say it makes for a more stable physical structure longterm, as any warpage or other stresses conveyed to the substrate by the veneer on one side will be counteracted by the veneer on the other.

                I don't know enough about woodworking to know whether this makes any sense or not.

                {Moderator's comment: perfect sense. It also depends upon panel thickness, and whether hot or cold pressed i.e. hot glue or room temp. glue.}

                Comment


                • Harbeth's (unofficial) guide to veneers

                  Eucalyptus: Gives a light, burnished glowing tone. Very clear and rhythymically adept - very clear, lots of insight, best veneer for high frequency articulation. Also the best PRAT of any of the Harbeth veneers. For the listener who wants less of an emotional experience, more of a clear, cool, limpid insight into the music. The most cerebral of the veneers (though not entirely without emotion), but also good for rock music due to its excellent timing and rhythm. Can work with jazz, especially in smaller ensembles, but lovers of classical music, particularly large-scale orchestral music, will probably opt for one of the dark veneers.

                  Cherry: the workhorse of the veneers. Clean sound across the audio band, a good "jack of all trades" veneer. When you don't want to choose between the sprightly, invigorating articulation of eucalyptus, and the darker more sonorous tonalities of rosewood or tiger ebony.

                  Rosewood: unquestionably the most romantic of the veneers. Gives a rich, burnished, sumptuous glow to nearly all music. Particularly good with the 19th-century Romantic composers, but can surprise with its insight into both medieval music - think Gregorian chant in particular, but also Renaissance polyphony - darker folk music (Phil Ochs or Nick Drake, but definitely not Paul Simon), and even some electronica. Not for everyone, but those who love it will love it a lot.

                  Tiger Ebony: an absolute monster of a veneer, it will thrill you with its resolution of the finest details of a Mahler symphony, but its hard-charging way with a bass line will not disappoint fans of Metallica and Megadeath, to say nothing of the more esoteric varieties of Nowegian death metal. Some may find its sheer scale and vividness overpowering - can be tamed somewhat by the use of single-ended triode tube amplifiers, which will still let this veneer rock to its full potential, while preserving the subtlety of quieter music.

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by EricW View Post
                    Eucalyptus: Gives a light, burnished glowing tone. ...
                    Seriousy disturbing. When a reputed lawyer (trained to be objective) can pick up the pen and mimic the contemporary audio review writing style in a mere 48 hours, it explains why the industry is drowning in 'reviewers'. The problem is, I'm gagging for it now but just can't decide which veneer to go for as I like several types of music mentioned. I don't suppose Harbeth could make the baffle/case/back from three different veneers could they? Worth a punt perhaps? Small price adder?

                    {Moderator's comment: Brilliant concept! It allows us to turn rejects into gold!}
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • Purple prose for the people

                      Originally posted by EricW View Post
                      Eucalyptus: Gives a light, burnished glowing tone. Very clear and rhythymically adept - very clear, lots of insight, best veneer for high frequency articulation. Also the best PRAT of any of the Harbeth veneers. For the listener who wants less of an emotional experience, more of a clear, cool, limpid insight into the music. The most cerebral of the veneers (though not entirely without emotion), but also good for rock music due to its excellent timing and rhythm. Can work with jazz, especially in smaller ensembles, but lovers of classical music, particularly large-scale orchestral music, will probably opt for one of the dark veneers.

                      Cherry: the workhorse of the veneers. Clean sound across the audio band, a good "jack of all trades" veneer. When you don't want to choose between the sprightly, invigorating articulation of eucalyptus, and the darker more sonorous tonalities of rosewood or tiger ebony.

                      Rosewood: unquestionably the most romantic of the veneers. Gives a rich, burnished, sumptuous glow to nearly all music. Particularly good with the 19th-century Romantic composers, but can surprise with its insight into both medieval music - think Gregorian chant in particular, but also Renaissance polyphony - darker folk music (Phil Ochs or Nick Drake, but definitely not Paul Simon), and even some electronica. Not for everyone, but those who love it will love it a lot.

                      Tiger Ebony: an absolute monster of a veneer, it will thrill you with its resolution of the finest details of a Mahler symphony, but its hard-charging way with a bass line will not disappoint fans of Metallica and Megadeath, to say nothing of the more esoteric varieties of Nowegian death metal. Some may find its sheer scale and vividness overpowering - can be tamed somewhat by the use of single-ended triode tube amplifiers, which will still let this veneer rock to its full potential, while preserving the subtlety of quieter music.
                      Wow Eric! One of my favorites post from you on the HUG. It made me laugh a lot. Thanks for such a creative association between sounds and veneers. Uh... only a small mistake, Paul Simon is excellent with rosewood.

                      Sébastien

                      Comment


                      • Cabinet materials

                        Hi Alan & EricW

                        Thanks for the replies.

                        Need clarification on one point about the cabinet material (not the veneer). I refer to the tech spec from {an obsolete Harbeth SHL5 brochure from 20002}. Under Finish, it says: "Cherry Maple real wood (standard)..." Then from the spec sheet on the web site, it says: "Finish: Cherry, eucalyptus, rosewood."

                        I believe the latter is the most accurate description of the current situation. But I am confused about the cabinet material between Alan's statement: "...rigid MDF base substrate.." & that in the first spec sheet: "Cherry Maple real wood (standard)..."

                        Am I correct to conclude the cabinet material is MDF and not Maple timber (including ply)? Why is it Maple ever got mentioned - never seen anybody else talking about Maple? Or was there a Maple veneer in the past?

                        Ian

                        Comment


                        • Veneers, warping and sourcing

                          I've not heard that there has never been any confusion over the base material for any of our cabinets. Speaker boxed cannot be made of solid wood because the cost would be unaffordable, there would be needless rampant destruction of precious trees and, most significantly to the consumer, the cabinet would be warped before it even reached the buyer. Not one consumer would accept a cabinet that is bowed and bent. So the cabinets have always been constructed from a laminate of veneer onto a rigid substrate, normally MDF. The veneer is typically about 0.5mm - 1.0mm (sanded) and the base material about 10mm or so in a thin-wall BBC style cabinet. The pulling-power of he veneer has to be stabilised by attachment to a rigid unyielding base material.

                          The current brochure is here.

                          Yes, we do vary our veneer offerings from time to time. As it becomes ever more difficult by the year to source quality cabinets that meet our specifications we are obliged to concentrate our purchasing power on fewer veneers to meet the commercial terms imposed upon us. Offering too many choices complicates cabinet production, and increases costs for all cabinets (and hence all customers). Choice definitely is the enemy of simplification.

                          Part of my management remit is to seriously consider external threats to our business. The biggest single supply-side worry is the sourcing of cabinets of the right quality, veneer choices and price. The big boys are so concerned about this that they buy-up cabinet makers and they become primary suppliers to their new owners. That deletes that supplier from the general pool and further compounds the already tight supply options. Even the most amateur cabinet maker can, with some luck and plenty of time available, make a pair of fine cabinets at a price. But asked to make the hundreds every month we need, they are completely out of their depth. Don't be fooled by seeming simplicity: the thin-wall speaker cabinet of the type we use has been quoted to me by numerous potential-suppliers as a 'cabinet maker's nightmare' because unlike a chunky thick MDF shell, its removable front and back mean it has to be assembled with precision - it won't self-centre around a tongue and grooved baffle and back. It won't pull itself straight in assembly. It has to be machined exactly.

                          Of all the concerns we have (and I'm sure this is true of all speaker companies) cabinet sourcing has been and will continue to be the No.1 logistical problem. We are, frankly, very lucky that we have the sources we do have considering the difficulties involved. I should add that I have personally rolled up my sleeves and nursed hundreds or thousands of cabinets through production to ensure that you have the quality we believe you deserve.

                          P.S. Part of our overview is to constantly check the credit worthiness of our suppliers as an advance warning of their viability. It is a fact that cabinet makers are having a very hard time with dramatically rising costs of MDF and veneers, labour and overheads. We must be prepared (as we are) for the sudden disappearance of a supplier from the supply pool.
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • But wait! What about grey finish?

                            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                            ...just can't decide which veneer to go for as I like several types of music mentioned.
                            Where do our utility finish grey M40s fit into this sonic panoply?

                            Comment


                            • Black ash?

                              If I remember correctly, my dealer told me that there is also the "Black ash" veneer. Is that right?

                              Sébastien

                              {Moderator's comment: sometimes there is. But it's not guaranteed.}

                              Comment


                              • Where do our utility finish grey M40s fit into this sonic panoply?
                                BBC M40s .... um. Tough question. Maybe best with original source material? Perhaps?

                                Comment

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