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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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  • #76
    Harbeth "get's it"

    I humbly suggest that whatever Mr. Shaw is doing at present it is with the best interests of Harbeth, it's dealers and it's customers in mind. To sample each of the Harbeth products is to get a feel for Mr. Shaw's best thinking and design at the time that the product was developed.

    My ears tell me that Mr. Shaw, more than any speaker designer I'm aware of, get's it. Anyone with ears is very likely to get what "it" is with just a short audition of any Harbeth product. Sir, of you don't get it, I'm sure there is a competitive model somewhere for you.

    Comment


    • #77
      The earth is not flat - fact

      Originally posted by RogerMBond View Post
      Rude? Mr. Shaw, how can any legitimate designer be so closed to and offended by criticism? I would think you would find it interesting. Or is this forum nothing more than a Harbeth fan/tribute page? The arrogance/snobbery on this site, the hurt feelings, and the ludicrous suggestion that I'm another speaker manufacturer in disguise is amusing, to say the least. You and others seem to focus on the negative aspects of my commentary, but ignore the fact that I think the Monitor 30 is the best speaker I've ever heard regardless of price. That means, Mr. Shaw, that you as a designer have come closer to the mark of perfection than any other speaker designer in the history of hi-fi, according to the hundreds...perhaps thousands...of speaker systems that I've heard/owned. The fact remains that your product line is not perfect. There are issues, design choices, and compromises. Some are better than others. You can use these weaknesses to make you stronger; to create better product...or you can ignore them. If I'm the only one who has the guts to address them in public, then so be it. Those who can't take it are welcome to go sit by their favorite Harbeth speaker and cry.
      Originally posted by RogerMBond View Post

      "The unexamined life is not worth living." -Socrates

      ...}
      You raise a valid point and I as a Harbeth user appreciate that. I am not a Harbeth zombie but Harbeth sound attracted me to be accurate and natural. My decision to purchase SHL5 over M30 and the more expensive Dynaudio C3 was based on listening evaluation.

      I was initially disappointed when our local distributor refused to demo the M40.1 which I thought would be the same class as the C3, at least price wise. He said his showroom was small for the M40.1 to perform at its best. The bass would be overwhelming. He advised me to consider the smaller Harbeths considering my room size was only half of his. I sat reluctantly to listen, wondering how a speaker one third of the price of C3 could be a fair match. After about 2 hours, I purchased the SHL5 without even bothering to bring it home for an audition.

      You are right when you said M30 to be the best sounding loudspeaker you have heard. I thought it to be more accurate but somehow SHL5 sounded a tad more musical. Probably, the extended bass influenced my decision.

      Ok, the point is I bought SHL5 which you described as pedestrian based on the sound. It was two third cheaper than the Dynaudio which I almost bought. Despite all the negative things you said about the speaker it sounded brilliant. So please tell us where and how long you have listening to the SHL5 for you to form such a contradictory opinion about the other Harbeth line.

      Mr. Shaw decided to the come up with the Radial cone because he wasn’t satisfied with the typical pp or paper cones. It was a risky venture. Wouldn’t it make us wonder how could the same man ignore the importance of a tweeter, cabinet or any other parts to compromise the benefits of the Radial?

      The small baby Harbeth won the Japanese Grand Prix award beating speakers that cost 100 times more. Were these people wrong? Or the sound engineers and producer of X-factor were so dumb to choose M40.1 over several other brands?

      As you said that you have listened and owned thousands of system, it is high time to invest in the M30 to save you the time and money from ever bothering about other mediocre speakers.

      Just because one man has the guts to say the earth is flat it doesn’t make him right nor should others swallow it as the whole truths.

      ST

      Comment


      • #78
        It's all about money

        The subject line summations of my posts are hilarious! "My opionions - and proud of them"..."Please develop new models for me". Very creative. Very skewed, arrogant, and subtly degrading. I like it. Someone on the Harbeth forums moderation team has a future in politics!

        {Moderator's comment: Kindly provide a sales forecast for Model X (in thousands of pairs, per annum for the next three years) so we can fully cost and consider your interesting product suggestion. Please also advise how we can shoe-horn this new model into an existing, successful, stable product line without confusing dealers, distributors or end users.}
        Well that's the problem...isn't it? Design the perfect loudspeaker and it wouldn't sell. Sorry, I momentarily forgot that this was all about money. Of course. The market wants products that boom and screech. Alternately, consider updating the SHL5 with a single soft-dome as suggested earlier. It's a great idea. Or would Harbeth be turning their back on the important segment of the purchasing public who likes aggressive metal drivers? Let's get real for a moment. Are we really going to sit around and pretend that the metal tweeter in the SHL5 has the finesse of the soft-dome in the Monitor 30? It does not. Anyway, this thread is tired. The original topic has been explored in it's entirety. The Monitor 30 is a great speaker to have as an alternative to modding an older unit. I'm glad it exists. I don't have much more to say on the subject.

        Comment


        • #79
          Have you actually *listened*?

          Originally posted by RogerMBond View Post
          ... the hundreds...perhaps thousands...of speaker systems that I've heard/owned.
          Really? I'm surprised you have the time to do anything else.

          Also, to repeat a straightforward question you've chosen to ignore: have you actually heard the SHL5 and Monitor 40.1 yourself?

          Comment


          • #80
            Business pragmatism

            Originally posted by RogerMBond View Post
            ...Well that's the problem...isn't it? Design the perfect loudspeaker and it wouldn't sell. Sorry, I momentarily forgot that this was all about money. Of course. The market wants products that boom and screech. Alternately, consider updating the SHL5 with a single soft-dome as suggested earlier. It's a great idea. Or would Harbeth be turning their back on the important segment of the purchasing public who likes aggressive metal drivers? Let's get real for a moment. .....
            Ummm. Interesting.

            The core of this is that based on inadequate market research (of one individual's preferences) I am being told that I should invest precious time developing - as it were - a hybrid model between the M30 and the SHL5. That's like introducing a car model between that BMW 3 series and 5 series; let's call it the BMW 4 series. Business sense tells me that the likely consequence of this '4 series' is not that it increases overall sales of BMW much if at all, but that it will now confuses the would-be 3 series customer and the would-be 5 series customer. In short, it would be a marketing distraction. Marketing people have an axiom: "the confused customer never buys" and setting aside all issues of technical merit, just because it could be designed does not mean it should be designed and definitely does not mean that it will sell.

            And yes, it is all about money. I do not design speakers to tickle my own fancy. Harbeth is a successful business and there is no place in our business for designing and introducing products to give me kick and our sales channels a headache. Sales, design and manufacture are integrated interdependent activities.

            I'm struck by the contradictions in what we've read, which seem to praise the RADIAL driver (thank you for that) yet are dismissive of any tweeters other than the treasured SEAS units in the writer's possession. A donor vehicle is being sought to transplant these tweeters into but at first it can be a thin-wall Mk2 cabinet with a polypropylene driver (read about Harwood's PP here in Newsletter 27) and but then it cannot be the virtually identical thin-wall SHL5 but it could be similar BBC-inspired legacy thin-wall '2 cubic foot' cabinets. Strange.

            What I suspect is not fully appreciated here is that the relatively minor importance of the tweeter, regardless of whether it is made from knicker-silk (a soft dome), a pressed metal sheet (hard dome incl. aluminium) or any other crude or exotic material you care to mention, in a hifi speaker. That's because there is almost no energy in music above about 5kHz. We know this because even on AM radio we can follow-along with classical music, pop and speech, and the AM sound is similar to that of disconnecting the tweeters, or conveniently, unlinking one bi-wire link. So it is better, in my opinion, to focus design time and effort on optimising the woofer/cabinet/grille/basic crossover where 90% of the audio energy is needed and then, not exactly as an afterthought but as a second pass perhaps, make a selection of tweeter 3-6 months down the design path. That keeps all the options open, and avoids the designer working himself into a technical corner because of poor early-on choices. An open-mind is definitely beneficial, and less stressful.

            We have been down this hybrid route once before. I am reminded of the Harbeth HL-K6 speaker (remember it?) which one distributor insisted was desperately needed back in the mid 90s. It used the RADIAL woofer from the C7 and the tweeter from the P3 in a box which was only just wide enough to shuffle the woofer into from the rear. Result: as I explained above. P3 customers found it too big and C7 customers too small. It was a distraction.

            On the subject of the tweeters uses in the old-style BBC monitors, I must say that having recently given a quick listen to the Celestion/Coles HF1300/1400 on one of those old 70s monitors I was surprised just how good it was. It shouldn't have worked considering it's origins as a full-range intercom in a WW2 battle-tank (yes, truly!) but it did. But there again, using underwear-silk impregnated with flexible resin to form a piston is hardly an engineering solution to tweeter diaphragm design is it! It shouldn't work, but it does. But is it necessarily better than a hard dome tweeter? Common sense tells you that it can't be. Each tweeter design has a different set of properties and it is a little foolish to dismiss 'all hard domes' or 'all soft domes'.

            You wouldn't say all straight-6 engines were certainly superior to all V6 ones (or vice versa) would you?
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

            Comment


            • #81
              Supertweeter for the delicate quality ...

              Hi all-originally wasn't going to jump into this, but I must say as an SHL5 owner that I don't believe the supertweeter in this system is at all useless. The small diameter offers greater dispersion at the highest frequencies; even though, as Mr. Shaw has pointed out, there's not a lot of content up there, there are some not-unimportant upper harmonics even with acoustic music.

              And considering the delicate quality of what I hear with instruments such as bells, cymbals, glockenspiels, etc. (better than with any speaker system I've had) this seems to be a worthwhile design option.

              Comment


              • #82
                No substitute

                Originally posted by RogerMBond View Post
                I think the Monitor 30 is the best speaker I've ever heard regardless of price. That means, Mr. Shaw, that you as a designer have come closer to the mark of perfection than any other speaker designer in the history of hi-fi
                Originally posted by Art K View Post

                My ears tell me that Mr. Shaw, more than any speaker designer I'm aware of, get's it. Anyone with ears is very likely to get what "it" is with just a short audition of any Harbeth product. Sir, of you don't get it, I'm sure there is a competitive model somewhere for you.
                ??? No, thank you.

                Comment


                • #83
                  My life with vintage hi-fi

                  Originally posted by EricW View Post
                  Really? I'm surprised you have the time to do anything else.

                  Also, to repeat a straightforward question you've chosen to ignore: have you actually heard the SHL5 and Monitor 40.1 yourself?
                  I don't have time to do very much else. Since 1997 I've been evaluating, collecting, and dealing exotic modern and vintage hi-fi, visiting manufacturers, various listening rooms, writing reviews, and going to shows. Yeah, I've heard a lot of speaker systems....including the SHL5 and Monitor 40. Believe it or not, it was actually a Naim/SHL5 combo that interested in me in Harbeth in the first place...even though I wasn't a fan of the tweeter(s) right out of the gate. Ironic, eh?

                  Comment


                  • #84
                    My upgrade thought process

                    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                    Ummm. Interesting.

                    The core of this is that based on inadequate market research (of one individual's preferences) I am being told that I should invest precious time developing - as it were - a hybrid model between the M30 and the SHL5. That's like introducing a car model between that BMW 3 series and 5 series; let's call it the BMW 4 series. Business sense tells me that the likely consequence of this '4 series' is not that it increases overall sales of BMW much if at all, but that it will now confuses the would-be 3 series customer and the would-be 5 series customer. In short, it would be a marketing distraction. Marketing people have an axiom: "the confused customer never buys" and setting aside all issues of technical merit, just because it could be designed does not mean it should be designed and definitely does not mean that it will sell.

                    And yes, it is all about money. I do not design speakers to tickle my own fancy. Harbeth is a successful business and there is no place in our business for designing and introducing products to give me kick and our sales channels a headache. Sales, design and manufacture are integrated interdependent activities.

                    I'm struck by the contradictions in what we've read, which seem to praise the RADIAL driver (thank you for that) yet are dismissive of any tweeters other than the treasured SEAS units in the writer's possession. A donor vehicle is being sought to transplant these tweeters into but at first it can be a thin-wall Mk2 cabinet with a polypropylene driver (read about Harwood's PP here in Newsletter 27) and but then it cannot be the virtually identical thin-wall SHL5 but it could be similar BBC-inspired legacy thin-wall '2 cubic foot' cabinets. Strange.

                    What I suspect is not fully appreciated here is that the relatively minor importance of the tweeter, regardless of whether it is made from knicker-silk (a soft dome), a pressed metal sheet (hard dome incl. aluminium) or any other crude or exotic material you care to mention, in a hifi speaker. That's because there is almost no energy in music above about 5kHz. We know this because even on AM radio we can follow-along with classical music, pop and speech, and the AM sound is similar to that of disconnecting the tweeters, or conveniently, unlinking one bi-wire link. So it is better, in my opinion, to focus design time and effort on optimising the woofer/cabinet/grille/basic crossover where 90% of the audio energy is needed and then, not exactly as an afterthought but as a second pass perhaps, make a selection of tweeter 3-6 months down the design path. That keeps all the options open, and avoids the designer working himself into a technical corner because of poor early-on choices. An open-mind is definitely beneficial, and less stressful.

                    We have been down this hybrid route once before. I am reminded of the Harbeth HL-K6 speaker (remember it?) which one distributor insisted was desperately needed back in the mid 90s. It used the RADIAL woofer from the C7 and the tweeter from the P3 in a box which was only just wide enough to shuffle the woofer into from the rear. Result: as I explained above. P3 customers found it too big and C7 customers too small. It was a distraction.

                    On the subject of the tweeters uses in the old-style BBC monitors, I must say that having recently given a quick listen to the Celestion/Coles HF1300/1400 on one of those old 70s monitors I was surprised just how good it was. It shouldn't have worked considering it's origins as a full-range intercom in a WW2 battle-tank (yes, truly!) but it did. But there again, using underwear-silk impregnated with flexible resin to form a piston is hardly an engineering solution to tweeter diaphragm design is it! It shouldn't work, but it does. But is it necessarily better than a hard dome tweeter? Common sense tells you that it can't be. Each tweeter design has a different set of properties and it is a little foolish to dismiss 'all hard domes' or 'all soft domes'.

                    You wouldn't say all straight-6 engines were certainly superior to all V6 ones (or vice versa) would you?
                    Mr. Shaw....an excellent, informative post, as usual. Thank you. I'd only like to add clarification to what seems to be confusion about my thought process regarding the modification of an older HL monitor. First, let me say that the ringing cabinet isn't a deal breaker for me. It actually doesn't bother me very much at all. I only noted that it was there. The tweeter section is what I find objectionable. So in other words, I could happily live with the SHL5 were I to swap tweeters and disconnect the supertweeter. But why would I want to invest real money in something that I was only going to carve up? I would not. That's where the old HL monitor came into the picture. When finished with the MK II update/mod, would I have something as good as a contemporary AS design with the Radial driver? Absolutely not. But I'll bet it would sound damn satisfying and I'd be into a few hundred dollars vs a few thousand. In other words, I am willing to accept 70% of what I really want for 10% of the cash output. When you enlightened me about the possible failure of the old, poly cone...that inspired me to stop thinking about the MK II and instead focus on obtaining a pair of Monitor 30's.

                    Comment


                    • #85
                      Replacement tweeter parts for Mk1

                      I have a pair of early (Serial Numbers: 228 A & B ) HL Monitors. The clear polypropylene units have white roll surrounds, which show no signs of distress. The Audax tweeters are OK, too. Falcon Acoustics can supply new Audax dome/voice coils. I had a pair fitted to my original Spendor SA1s. I also have the original 'Harbeth Acoustics Type HL' Instruction/Spec. sheet. Apart from quotes from users of the speakers, there is a profile of H D

                      Harwood and comprehensive notes on the design. In the HL Monitor Specification it clearly states the crossover frequency as 2 Khz. By the way, the price quoted was 298 + VAT. I love my HLs. I wouldn't change them for anything else... MGM .

                      {Moderator's comment: as Alan explicitly stated here recently, the crossover frequency of the Mk2 he measured is NOT 2kHz. Whether that was a misprint or design revision we will never know. One issue to be aware of is the correct phase of the tweeter if you attempt DIY repairs. You *need to make sound measurements of the frequency response of the complete speaker* after repair because there is NO standardisation on Audax tweeter terminal colours/markings, replacement tweeter parts or any other alternative tweeters. You have a 50/50 chance of connecting out of phase.}

                      Comment


                      • #86
                        The earliest Harbeth HL Monitors ....

                        Old news I'm sure and I don't have documented evidence apart from memories, but I think the earliest original HL's went through a tweak or two on its way to settling into production. Within a very short time, we (at KJ) were firm fans of the model and yes Martyn, they did seem to build on the dearly beloved BC1, which was starting to sound just a bit thuddy/tubby, constricted and tired in comparison I recall back then, the bass just not being competitive as the competition improved. The HL just let the music flow effortlessly in comparison, whether it be delicate acoustic music, or The Alan Parsons Project I fondly remember

                        Martyn, enjoy your vintage HL's for the lovely product they still are. The new ones are clearer and tidier, and so they should be, the work and experience that's gone into them, but that doesn't mean your oldies are outclassed, since the "family resemblance" should clearly be there, as it is in my relatively rough-n-ready rebuilt BC2's.

                        Comment


                        • #87
                          BBC monitors and replay loudness

                          Originally posted by DSRANCE View Post
                          ...they did seem to build on the dearly beloved BC1, which was starting to sound just a bit thuddy/tubby, constricted and tired in comparison I recall back then, the bass just not being competitive as the competition improved. .... as it is in my relatively rough-n-ready rebuilt BC2's.
                          I think that was a general observation at the time.

                          What nobody really appreciated (or even wanted to believe) was that they were criticising the BC1 rather harshly for what was in actuality a design feature. The first question to ask of a speaker design is 'what is the target listening loudness?'. If the answer is that it is designed to be used in studio control rooms at a replay loudness rather lower than the studio staff would like because of general commotion in the studio and/or the close proximity of other studios and worries over bleed-through of noise from one to another, then it's a legitimate design decision to lift the bass end output of the speaker. That's because our ears perceive bass strongly correlated to loudness: if the loudness drops even a little, the bass subjectively diminishes rather more.

                          Take that same speaker, optimised for 75-80dB studio monitoring and place it in the untreated home listening environment, set the listener to 2 -3m away from it (rather than in the relative near field), connect it to an powerful amplifier, turn up the replay volume to 90-110dB and you have a recipe for boom and excessive warmth. What do you expect?

                          Re: BC2 .... that had a 1.5" voice coil hence more power handling than the 1" BC1 to pander to those home users determined to use the speaker at higher spls. But it was said that what the 1.5" voice coil gained in power handling it lost in midrange quality.

                          Unsure what questions to ask when considering new loudspeakers? No chance of a demo in your own home? Then ask the above question and it will give you a good starting point about the suitability of the loudspeaker for your needs. There is, of course, no perfect speaker, but a match between your listening loudness requirements (e.g. late at night, easily irritated neighbours) and the speaker design philosophy is the correct starting point.

                          As a class, the 'BBC monitor' is designed to sound full bodied and natural at a lower listening level than most other speakers due to it's application heritage. If you see pictures of speaker brands proudly boasting their rock and roll application or heritage against a backdrop of a huge studio and whaling guitars, avoid them like the plague. That implies that they have been optimised for high replay levels >>> 100dB and will sound gutless and bass light at home at a normal loudness. The ear has to be given a little assistance because none of use replay at home at anything like full concert loudness. This has been known for the best part of 100 years and you can read about ISO226 here.

                          ISO226: see the upward tipping curves in the low frequencies? See that the are not parallel to each other? See that at the threshold of hearing (bottom red line) for 20Hz to sound as equally loud as 1kHz (the pivot point) there needs to be a massive boost of about 60dB? It's the difference between those curves that (ideally) needs to be considered to make a transistor radio sound like a full orchestra .....
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #88
                            French made Audax clone tweeters for Harbeth HL Mk1, 2, 3, 4

                            Re. the Audax tweeter mentioned, it is now available again. Falcon Acoustics supplied two brand new, made in France, HD 12 x 9 D25 models for my original HL Monitors. One tweeter had noticeably gone down in output, so I contacted Jerry Bloomfield ( whom I know) at Falcon. He shipped me a pair out and all was well again...

                            Comment


                            • #89
                              Audax replacements

                              Thank you. When the output of one of my Audax tweeters on my HL Mk. 1s went noticeably down recently, I contacted Falcon Acoustics about replacements. They supply new Audax HD 12 x 9 D25 tweeters, plus voice coil / dome assemblies as mentioned above... The Audax tweeter phase question* was resolved by Jerry Bloomfield of Falcon.

                              He lives very close by me, the other side of Oxford. We discussed the 2Khz. question some time ago. Martyn Miles .

                              {Moderator's comment: *I think this means which signal wire goes to which terminal pins which is ambiguous on that tweeter? But as the Audax company closed down >15 years ago these units are not originals are they?}

                              Comment


                              • #90
                                Genuine tweeters

                                Re. The Moderator's comment about the Audax tweeters. I advise he looks on the Falcon Acoustics website. The HD 12 x 9 D25 Jerry supplied are identical to the old ones, with the (well, it looked to me ) genuine Audax legends, etc. The comment re. Polarity was resolved, as mentioned. The HLs sound just as they did previously. After help from Andy Sinden of Harbeth re. the problem he emailed me to say the Audax units were unavailable. I contacted him after my HLs had been repaired and told him about Falcon Acoustics help, as other owners of HLs would wish to know where to source the tweeters for HLs needing replacements. I hope this clarifies the matter. M G Miles .

                                {Moderator's comment: Audax was (is?) a Harman International Group company. It would be nice to know the recent history of the brand/company.}

                                Comment

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