"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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The professional way to evaluate loudspeakers?

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  • #31
    'Depth' is an illusion?

    You’re absolutely right delgesu.

    Music has none of this fictional hifi concepts of “depth” etc. Isn’t depth etc. conjured up by the skill of sound engineers and technicians? Stereo is a phantom image after all isn’t it? I’ve read many letters to editors of hifi magazines by poor consumers who complain that they cannot perceive depth in their hifi systems etc. The truth is, there is very little of “this” in most recordings, except the nerdy ones tailored for the hifi equipment fetish-ed and fraternity.

    Personally I think these concepts of “image”, “depth” are spun and perpetuated by some retailers (who play recordings with plenty of it during demonstrations) and manufacturers to keep people on the hifi merry go round. Sure there are speakers which can do it better than others, but it’s just the ability to reproduce a “trick”.


    • #32
      The 'smell' of the live sound at home?


      100% my opinion!

      additionally let me tell you that i lately was informed in a german music/hifi magazin by former engineer mr. heinz wildhagen (nearly 60 years engineer/producer for the famous german "deutsche grammophon" label) that ZERO records sound like the real performance at the recording venue (and he mastered/recorded/produced thousands of records). any master tape is mixed, some conductors want to highlight specific instruments or modifications whatsoever.

      my conclusion after a lot of years with hifi and even more with music is that it is an illusion trying to recreate the "real location" in my head while listening to hifi. BUT: it is possible to identifiy the "smell" of the real thing concerning colours, timbre and real voices/instrumental sound. that´s it. and in the best case you enjoy this with a nice pair of Harbeths.

      Harbeth M40.1-Naim NAC52-Supercap-NAP 135-CDS2-XPS


      • #33
        The sound of 'real' and 'artificial' instruments

        I agree with both delgesu and kittykat based on my own experiences at symphonic and other live concerts.

        A distinction is often made between the live sound of "real" instruments and recordings which feature electric and electronic instruments. Maybe if we accept that all recordings are "artificial", the apparent dichotomy between the two becomes less important.

        A question, however: why is it that a Harbeth sounds "better" even when reproducing a non-acoustic instrument? Because I think it does, but it seems more difficult to explain why.


        • #34
          You can smell the wood of the violin on the Harbeth

          Originally posted by delgesu View Post

          BUT: it is possible to identifiy the "smell" of the real thing concerning colours, timbre and real voices/instrumental sound. that´s it[/U]. and in the best case you enjoy this with a nice pair of Harbeths.

          Yes couldn't agree more on that with you Delgesu. Harbeths reproduce the natural colour, tone & timbre of real acoustic instruments & voices extremely well & is the reason why i am still so enamoured with Harbeth after so many years.

          Like my buddy always say; you can almost smell the wood of the violin or cello on Harbeth. No other spks can do the above mentioned quite like a Harbeth. Not even electrostatics or Ribbons. But not many people know how to discern the natural colour, tone & timbre of real instruments & these people often say Harbeths are coloured when in actual fact they are simply too used to coloured spks that distort the tonal truth of real instruments.


          • #35
            Sound stage and depth

            Soundstaging and depth are both very subjective perceptions. In my observation and experience mixed with many type of audiophiles, different person detect both differently. If a hifi setup being detected with excellent big wide soundstage and depth by person A but person B may detect small narrow soundstaging and no depth from it. This all depend on how a person perceive his feeling from reflect or indirect sound. It is also happen on soundstage height. Same detect soundstage above speaker and some detected soundstage below the speaker in a same hifi setup.

            Anyway, above mentioned is no longer bother me. When listen my Harbeth setup, all thing come out so natural, beautifull, always feel I am in a live musical event and totally into the music and nothing else can better than this "live" feeling...bath in music and purified into music....

            mr. heinz wildhagen.....i remember his name in my DG album collections. He made plenty of good recordings..
            "Bath with Music"


            • #36

              Originally posted by EricW View Post
              A question, however: why is it that a Harbeth sounds "better" even when reproducing a non-acoustic instrument?
              In my opinion, electric instruments and modern recordings can be harder to "reproduce" (think its more accurate to say “to listen to”) due to the inherent noise, distortion and loudness. Add further inefficient conversion of electrical energy from amplifier to some speakers equals hurt and pain to the ears. Example...i tried listening to Bryan Ferry’s Olympia (not the best recording) on a pair of mini-monitor speakers (which will remain anonymous) and I just couldn’t continue after 4 tracks. Subconsciously my ear and brain was trying to fend of the attack from the mini monitors, which took all my attention (and enjoyment) away from the music.

              I've put it back through the SHL5's now and I can enjoy the coolness of Mr. Ferry.

              {Moderator's comment: what your are saying in technical language is 'Harbeth speaker have lower coloration than conventional speakers'. As we all know.}