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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.

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Feb. 2018
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Odd-shaped room

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  • Odd-shaped room

    Hi to you all!

    I am considering a pair of Harbeths. But before doing that, I'd like to get some opinions of the forum. I have enclosed a room plan - it is in Dutch, but I think it is easy to work out - and as you can see, the living room (on the right) has an unusual shape (as has the sleeping room).

    Can a set of Harbeths be made to work in this room. And can people here suggest possible solutions to problems I might encounter?
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Unusual Room Shape Will be a Challenge for any Speaker!

    Was the architect under some sort of 'influence' when he designed this!? It seems his artistic side got the better of him.

    I fear that this unusual shape will require an unusual solution to speaker placement. If you are considering room treatment - bass traps etc. - I would suggest discussing it with an expert. Most ideas I know of (in my limited experience of addressing such problems in my rooms) assume right angled corners. I don't know how lower frequencies would behave in your living room. I would guess there might be some advantage in less boomy bass then a conventional room because of the greater range of corner angles. On the other hand most ideas include the concept of symmetry, meaning left and right speakers are the same distant from the nearest walls and these walls/corners are the same shape.

    If you really want to do this properly you need to measure the frequency response in the room as you place the speakers and your chair to see what is going on, and have the freedom to place them anywhere.

    I would think most speakers would have similar problems in this room.


    • #3
      P3ESR solution

      I agree. The plans did shout "headphones" to me.

      A pair of P3ESR either side of the door from the living room to the bedroom in an equilateral triangle about 2m each side would give you lots of space to the side, some space behind and avoid close proximity to the big windows. Don't worry placing the P3ESR close to the walls.


      • #4
        Bass unbalance?

        Not an expert here but the position can make a big difference . If you place the speaker tight in the corner of the the bass response will be higher than in free position.

        Your room seems to be more difficult to find the right position for both speakers to get more or less the same bass response from both speakers. Placement on both sides of the bedroom seems to be the most logical place here.


        • #5
          Try before buy

          I would not worry about this room. Especially if you buy one of the smaller models. Of course, ideally, try before you buy. I would start by placing the speakers on the right wall of your living room. The best of luck: please report back


          • #6

            Thanks for the input so far.

            I do have one advantage. I'm yet not in the house (the reason I got this house is because I was in need of a house and the location for me is ideal, having to live near my sick mother; I can't be too choosy at this moment in my life), so it is easy for me to experiment as much as possible.


            • #7
              Almost certain harmony

              An unusual room for sure but a pair of P3ESR should work well there. Harbeths are very room friendly and if any speaker will work, they will.

              Best bet is to get your Harbeth stockist to loan you a pair for a couple of days, in order for you to experiment with layout and position.


              • #8
                Stunningly real P3ESRs

                I would not really worry about the shape of the room. Instead the room's small size is an issue for two reasons. The first is the obvious one that you do not want any speakers to get in the way of walking around etc. The second is that small rooms suffer more from room modes (bass peaks at the resonant fequencies of the room's dimensions).

                Fortunately these two issues point to the same solution: small speakers. Harbeth P3esr's would be perfect for this situation. They are small enough not to clutter any room, and because they are of sealed box design they can be positioned relatively close to the wall. Their bass is extraordinary for such a small box, but even so it does not go deep enough to give you room mode issues (or pester the neighbours). I would indeed position them in the middle of either of the two long walls, and sit opposite.

                If you really crave for deeper bass, there are two alternatives: the larger M30.1 or an additional small subwoofer (but only with dsp room equalization like the Antimode 8033 to tame room modes). The P3esr with a small sub is obviously the more convenient for saving space.

                The P3esr is by far the best small speaker on the market: I am writing this while they are playing Ben Webster, and the sound is nothing short of stunningly real.