HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. 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 electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon 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, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
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Listening to speakers at home - the room is your friend ....

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  • Listening to speakers at home - the room is your friend ....

    I'm starting this thread to overview the whole issue of listening to loudspeakers at home. I'll transfer this to the Designer's Notebook when its more complete.

    The starting point in this investigation must be be the recognition that in evolutionary terms, the creation of music and musical instruments was just yesterday. Electric sound reproduction - and the loudspeaker - have been with us less than one hundred years and stereo sound only fifty or so. So, the whole business of listening to two loudspeakers in a living room is a very new experience in the long evolutionary development of our hearing - over perhaps 20 million years. Here is a scan of the actual part of our inner ear that detects passing sound waves. The little trees are individual hair cells; treat them with respect because in a listener who has been exposed to chronic loudness they are as if cut off at the stump, hence no flexibility and no sensitivity. They will be deaf.

    Somehow - we are able not only to create recognisable 3D soundscapes at home with real depth and positional information, but to actually enjoy the experience and seek it out as a form or recreation and relaxation. In short - even though the room corrupts and confuses the sound we have adapted very well to this new experience of reproduced sound at home even in just fifty years.

    Technically, if we measure the acoustics of a concert hall or studio, or a loudspeaker in a real room we are in for a bit of a shock. Especially at low and middle frequencies the characteristics of hall or room dominate what we hear. That's why small positional changes to the speaker placement (nearer or further from the wall, higher or lower, angled in or out) and more of less soft absorptive material (cushions, curtains, wall linings, rugs) will all have an effect - usually for the better since the more sound we can absorb in the room's furnishings or structure the less there is to bounce around and 'hang on' after the note has passed.

    This raises the key question - should we consider the listening room our friend or enemy? Could it be that the room contributes something to the reproduced sound that, in moderation, enhances the listening experience even if the result is not technically flat? Perhaps a weight in the lower registers? Could that be a good thing - if not taken to excess? Yes, and I'll explain why.

    More to follow.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK