The exclusive Harbeth RADIAL™ project
Well, it is no accident that the RADIAL™ cone technology is what defines the sound of a Harbeth. And as that technology is our own invention and not available to any other speaker company, it's obvious that if you want that clean sound, you have to own Harbeth!
At the start of 2010 I committed to scanning to PDF and shredding all the technical documents we generated during the development of the RADIAL cone. One document alone is over 500 PDF A4 pages long, and the whole RADIAL project probably over 1500 (I'm still scanning, page by page). I wish I could share it with you but it lays out in minute detail every incremental technical step and would give a competitor the precise formulae.
One thing you should always remember is that the path to Harbeth's RADIAL™ material was part Government funded. The govt. does not dole out money without strings. In our case the deal was that we were bonded to a department in the university, under the direct and personal supervision of the Professor and Dr. running the department, and with three allocated ex-graduates who worked exclusively for Harbeth. In effect, a govt. funded knowledge transfer arrangement from academia to industry. And our every step was technically peer reviewed in formal meetings chaired by me or the Professor (alternately) with at least one representative from the govt. fund holder seeking 'best value' for the taxpayer's involvement. So the result was a real technical solution, not marketing BS.
As for whether the taxpayer should have been funding such a commercial scheme, we have paid much more in corporation tax (let alone payroll tax and export income) over the years than the government invested in the scheme so it is a truly excellent return on public investment. There is no possibility that even the most gifted engineer could stumble across the material secrets of the RADIAL cone - it requires man-years of incremental knowledge building.
One of my ambitions for this year is to be able to expose more of the RADIAL project, without of course compromising commercial secrecy. This has never been done by us before. I'll start by selecting page 5 of from the 331 page PDF covering our correspondence and interface with government. At each Management Meeting we had to give technical, financial and commercial presentations to the group. At one, my then graduate colleague laid out four possible outcomes for the project to the Meeting comprising Harbeth (me), the graduates, Professor and government representative - see attached scanned fax. The entire RADIAL research project was approached and written-up in similar direct to-the-point objective language. There is not one subjective word in the entire report. Nor would you expect there to be - it was a scientific study regardless of the subjective appraisal that the product would be put to in the listener's home. Turning RADIAL into a workable marketable product was my sole responsibility after the government funding had ceased.
This cone project remains the most detailed, far reaching and carefully documented loudspeaker material investigation ever undertaken anywhere and is, as you know from listening, as valid now as when we first invented it.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK