"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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Wrong statements from dealer?

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  • Wrong statements from dealer?

    I've discovered the Harbeth brand a few months ago through a video from PSAudio. Last Saturday I've been to a dealer to audition the P3ESRs. Sound wise, the experience was as good as expected but the dealer made some statements I've believe to be wrong:

    * Harbeth P3ESRs need to placed exactly 30cm's from a wall as per manufacturers recommendation.
    * The P3ESR anniversary edition has upgraded tweeters.
    * Töntrager stands were developed together with Harbeth.

    Could anyone enlighten me on above statements?

  • #2
    That is not quite accurate.
    1 30 cm is the minimum. Mine benefitted from a bit more distance.
    2 Don't know but I did not think so.
    3 No, there was contact but not joint development, as far as I know. The Tontraeger stands are nice but expensive. In fact, any stand will do. Sonically the crucial thing is that the tweeter needs to be at ear height when you are listening, and as exactly as is practically possible. Beyond the height criterium, there are two other things: First, esthetics (up to you), and stability (you do not want your expensive speakers to be knocked over).


    • #3
      you better check this side because all statements are wrong. funny, to think the distance ftom the wall should be exactly 30cm...


      • #4
        Same tweeters, I think Alan looked Töntrager because of their eco credentials, but they don't have adjustable feet so you'd better have perfectly level floors. HiFi Racks are cheaper, custom made for Harbeth and some appear in Harbeth literature, specifically the SHL5+ 40th Anniversary.

        People use P3's as a main speaker, desktop, wall-mounted or sitting on a shelf. Mine are desktop close to the wall with big toe-in.

        PSA Audio makes people quite opinionated, me included, and I'm a customer. but to their credit they have a pair of P3's for workshop testing purposes. Enjoy the P3's and don't worry about it too much. PS Audio don't make speakers but, again to McGowan's credit, he agrees 100% that speakers are the No. 1 important component in any audio system, even though they've not sold speakers yet, but are promising to release the world's best speaker, or something like that, very soon.


        • #5
          I demonstrate the P3ESR and Anniversary P3ESR on stands, anywhere from 1 inch to 18 inches from the rear wall and they sound pretty darned good anywhere. Many of my customers use them on brackets or desk and enjoy them without issue.

          As to the Tontrager, I believe Alan had seen and used them at one of his stockists in Germany but that was all. They might be good but very, very expensive and lack the fundamental facility of levelling. This has to be accomplished, I believe, by using pieces of card under the bases.


          • #6
            Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
            I demonstrate the P3ESR and Anniversary P3ESR on stands, anywhere from 1 inch to 18 inches from the rear wall and they sound pretty darned good anywhere. Many of my customers use them on brackets or desk and enjoy them without issue.

            As to the Tontrager, I believe Alan had seen and used them at one of his stockists in Germany but that was all. They might be good but very, very expensive and lack the fundamental facility of levelling. This has to be accomplished, I believe, by using pieces of card under the bases.
            I think the underlying assumption in German engineering is that all floors are perfectly flat. There Germans make great over-engineered audio, but there is no compromise.


            • #7
              Interesting thread. I think the above comments pretty well cover the facts.

              Interesting comment during final interview with our soon to start sales manager. He asked about dealer training and was, frankly, horrified that there had been no take-up on our open house 'design a,speaker in a day' invite. Surely knowledge is power?

              You can always get the facts here on HUG, for free. Shame we don't do coffee here..
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK


              • #8
                Thank you all for your comments. It's a pity to see that a customer has better knowledge, just by reading a forum, than a dealer. The Harbeths sounded great though. Now to convince the missus that small speakers on a stand are nicer to look at than big floor standers.


                • #9
                  I see a great weakness in the advice and supply chain for specialist audio (or, for that matter, video equipment or many other consumer goods).

                  First, the dealer does not have any test equipment (as they did in the 50s and 60s) to conduct independent evaluation of equipment that they sell and so are entirely reliant upon the consumer audio media and manufacturer's marketing. This becomes a self-fulfilling feedback loop which at one extreme has a tendency to supress new market entrants (even ones with fundamentally good products) and at the other to give undue emphasis to, for example, historical recreations/regenerations of classic products which objectively have a miserable performance but have the potential for a goodly word-count.

                  You can surely forsee the difficulty of providing objective advice - even explaining by pointing out technical measurements - why A sounds different to B, let alone which one is 'better'. In my mind a world-class dealer would have some basic test gear (an investment of, say, GBP1500), the knowledge how to use it, and would freely share that knowledge with the consumer in whatever depth the consumer was able to absorb. The bold facts are that 90% of the differences between the subjective experience of audio equipment is fully explainable by objective measurement of the frequency response, as it always has been and always will be. That's how our ears work: loudness versus octaves.

                  Our new sales executive who joined us today sees 'dealer training' as one of the most vital and underinvested issues.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK


                  • #10
                    mmm... educate the dealer who’s store is full of exotic equipment could be tricky. This hobby and willingness to invest is based on sentiments, imaginatiom and the subjective experience.


                    • #11
                      A good dealer allows the customer to compare and choose the equipment which suits his tastes best. Bit like buying a car, going to a restaurant, buying a suit, buying some spectacles, buying shoes. No amount of measurements or reviews in mags will persuade a customer to buy something they don't like or convince them not to buy an amp they like because it doesn't quite measure the way the dealer expects. And who is the arbiter of measurements ? Can you imagine any manufacturer supplying and working with a dealer who demonstrates with an oscilloscope ?

                      A good dealer needs to be convinced that the products he sells are competently made. They need to measure well and be properly put together, so that they are reliable and trouble free. No SETs or horn loaded speakers will meet the requirements but the majority of modern products will measure perfectly well.

                      Another thing a good dealer does is sort the good from the bad manufacturers.Some products praised in the mags and on forums are unreliable and the manufacturer or distributor has poor or non-existent service facilities. This doesn't show up on a scope - it's experience.


                      • #12
                        As someone who listed to the same gear for many years, then re-rentered the dealer world and landed on Harbeths, I have been subjected to a torrent of nonsense from dealers. They are, as we say in my industry, "talking book", and they don't even do it that well. The thing I find most annoying is the assumption that there is a predictable and orderly, highly positive correlation between price and sound quality -particularly in amplification and accessories. This applies, of course, only to brands they carry. The other brands aren't worth the materials. I'm sure A.S. would have enjoyed the lecture I got about the importance of placing harmonizer blocks on top of each HL5, and the exactly 20% improvement of the Tontrager stands.

                        I'm someone who takes quite a bit of (not always rational) joy in his rig and his music. I visited several dealers and found little of either. It's a shame. Perhaps in retirement I can open up my own dealer and call it "The Simple Joy of Music Reproduction". I suppose the local brand monopolies would never allow me to assemble the things I think work best, and the amplifier brands might well hate me.


                        • #13
                          I completely agree with the comments, every HiFi shop i visited in my city wants to sell you exotic and expensive cables and stands.
                          Another part of the thing is, would they survive without selling that type of gear and accessories? My friends dont even have a 400 euros HiFi equipment, so not a lot people is into HiFi. At they same time is also true that shops sell also TV's, not only HiFi.