"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
See more
See less

What can I do with the unpleasant smell from my P3ESR?

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • What can I do with the unpleasant smell from my P3ESR?

    I use Harbeth's P3ESR as nearfield monitors to my desktop computer and feel a unpleasant smell. I'm pretty sure it coming from the woofers, the wood is not smelling unpleasant. The smell is more clear when playing music than not but the smell is clear enough that I have to move the speakers away when not playing with them.

    The sound is lovely, it has the best (I have ever heard) stereo imaging sound that can match my reference but I can't use them anymore as nearfield monitors if I can't find a solution. I have tried several times to carefully expose the woofers to the sun and monitored the temperature with hope that the smell would decrease but it will not. Please return if anyone have other ideas!

    Can someone confirm if there is another Harbeth speaker that not have this smell? One solution is to replace my P3ESR.

  • #2
    I use my P3ESRs as near field monitors as well and I do not smell anything. I am somewhat asthmatic and allergic to perfumes, so there are no perfumes from detergents etc in our house that could mask any smell if there is one. In short, I am baffled.


    • #3
      Have p3 esr .No smell from mine,even after a fews hours of music through them.What is the smell like ?


      • #4
        Have you engaged with your supplying dealer over this? I note that you do not define the smell. Have you owned these from new? Are there youngsters in your household? Has this smell only recently appeared?

        What make and model of amp have you, and how old is it?
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK


        • #5
          Good to hear that your Harbeth's don't smell. Have I caused the smell myself in some way? I have not engaged this with the dealer, can't honestly see the point of what the dealer can do to help.

          The smell is like chemical plastic/rubber, the grill (off) also have the same unpleasant rubbery smell in the middle. To clarify! The wood smells more than the rubbery smell but the rubbery smell feels more unpleasant (in my nose).

          The speakers are new since late 2015 and I discovered the rubbery smell some weeks later. Can the smell be harmful?

          No youngsters and we almost never use perfumes at home of any kind, even in laundry detergents. I appreciate good ventilation and maybe I'm a bit sensitive, particularly to new home electronics, but these smells usually decline over time.

          My amps? I mainly use a Denon PMA-2010AE from 2012 to the P3ESR.

          Thanks for all replies!


          • #6
            I strongly suggest that you take this up with your dealer for a second sniff.

            I do not honestly believe that we can progress this here. I cannot understand any mechanism in the speaker itself that could conceivably cause this issue. Let us know the outcome please.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK


            • #7

              I have similar issue with my M30.1. I bought it new from Guildford Audio. It worked perfectly and I loved the natural sound so much.

              One day I change the amplifier to Heed Obelisk which was also brand new. I listened music as before like max 90dB, but few days later I noticed some unpleasant smell which unfortunately never disappeared completely. I have lack of technical knowledge, but I connected this side effect to the new Heed Obelisk amplifier. The previous 4 years the M30.1 worked perfectly with different amplifiers. I bought brand new SHL5+ which driven by QUAD QMP + QUAD Artera Play and works and sound flawlessly.

              Harbeth is simply the best speaker. I'm glad I'm lucky enough to own pair of SHL5+. I never buy any other speakers to listen music. After 6years I still fall in love the Harbeth natural sound. This was my best audio investment. I'm sure your dealer or Alan will find solution and your P3ESR will work perfectly.


              • #8
                A small update.

                I would appreciate more comments, I'm tired of not to be able to listen to my Harbeth's at nearfield position.

                The P3ESR still smell as bad as before. Several people I asked says the same, no matter where on the front (grille off) we smell, it's terribly bad but nothing on the sides. We also agree that the smell is like rubber / glue. The whole grille smells the same, even the edges. None of us can feel the smell at a normal nearfield position but it's possible to feel the smell when playing or not playing with the grille off. The dealer can't help because I bought the speakers on mail order and the boxes was never broken.

                Some important points:
                * The whole grille smells, from the edges to center.
                * The whole front of the speaker smells, not only one of the drivers.
                * When I rub my finger on the baffle it smells like wood, not the bad glue/rubber smell.
                * It's nearly impossible to decide if the smell comes from the grille or the front of the speaker.

                Next thing is to open and take everything apart and replace/fix the part that smells but I'm curious if anyone have something useful to add in my search to find what smells.


                • #9
                  I own a pair of M30.1 that smell and a pair of SHL5* that donīt smell. As the M30.1 have eucalyptus veneer and the SHL5+ have cherry veneer, I thought the smell was due to the different wood. But I will try and see where the smell comes exactly from.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Gillis Rob View Post
                    A small update.

                    I would appreciate more comments, I'm tired of not to be able to listen to my Harbeth's at nearfield position....
                    May I suggest that you inform us what your dealer has said? Personally, I have not the slightest idea of what the source of this issue could be. In 31 years here, I have never heard of such a thing.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK


                    • #11
                      I have sniffed my M30.1's carefully. When I acquired them some 18 months ago and for some weeks or months the smell was very strong, all the room smelled when you entered it. But today you have to get very close to the speakers to notice the smell. The outside doesnīt smell at all. The grilles smelled but wuen I pulled them off I realizad that smell comes from the inside of the speakers: around 95% through the ports and around 5% through the woofers. It is not the woofers that smell but the smell comes out through the circle around them. The grilles simply retained it but after one hour the grilles didnīt smell. As the P3ESR have not ports, it is logical that the smell comes out only through around the woofers. In my opinion, the smell is not like glue neither petrol. At least not as normal glue like superglue, maybe a special softer glue. But I am not sure if it can be a wood smell. Maybe it is the coating of the wood. Are the veneers coated inside too? I donīt think the foam can smell as strong. And as smell has faded with time, it is more probable that it was a fresh coating. So if you want the smell to disappear fast, I guess you will have to open the back panel and vent the speakers for some days.


                      • #12
                        The dealer said he never heard such a thing except one customer who cleaned his amplifier so the woofer blown in his Harbeth's and that caused an unpleasant smell.

                        Many thanks for the careful sniff, I agree that the smell is like softer glue on the P3ESR as well.

                        I start to suspect that the smell comes from the gaskets on both the woofer and the back of the baffle. It's possible but hard to see both gaskets on my P3ESR and that fits well why the smell is less present at the sides and directly at the front of the baffle (this is tricky because the baffle is small). This can perhaps also explain why the smell is more present from the port on the M30 and why the smell also comes from the edges of the front on the P3ESR.

                        OK, now I'm more convinced I have to open them and see what part that smells and it can hopefully be an easy fix...


                        • #13
                          The smelling thing with my P3ESR is solved!

                          I opened one of the speakers and removed the seals/gaskets on the baffle, woofer and tweeter and the smell is now almost gone outside of the speaker (inside is a whole other story...) The gaskets is now stored in zipper bags and all screws are more tensioned than original.

                          Do this affect the sound? Yes it does! Specially voices sounds thinner. For example Paul McCartney's voice on The Girl is Mine on Michael Jackson's Thriller. And also the the drums at 1:50 on Keep Talking on Pink Floyd's The Division Bell and the electric piano on Your Latest Trick on Dire Straits Brothers in Arms has a lot thinner sound than the original Harbeth sound.

                          However, I find that the stereo imaging is still spot on and is as good as before!

                          The second speaker has got a fabric gasket for the baffle and I hope to get a warmer sound with this solution (see Now it will be to find the right torque for the screws which can be a challenge.

                          Thanks all, I can finally use Harbeth speaker as a monitor reference and special thanks to jarbez who also noticed the smell. My guess is that not every Harbeth speaker necessarily has this smell, it depends on the gaskets.


                          • #14
                            I seriously doubt this was a good idea.