"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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30 Oct 2016: Alan celebrates 30 years at Harbeth!

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  • #31
    A shy man?

    I'm probably totally wrong in this, so forgive me, but I remember Dudley from 1977 as being a very shy? and extremely 'quiet' man, nothing like the huge egos that seem to populate this industry even today. Maybe by 1987, he was genuinely tired and wanted an end to working involvement?

    I also remember meeting Alan for the first time in the late 80's I think it was, and how incredibly cautious he was I remember. The brand was in a huge upward curve even at this time, the HL5 was doing well, the Compact had just been launched (I bet it's still a very good speaker indeed) and remember visiting the factory for a fascinating comparison of the then new P3 against the Harbeth 3/5a.

    Sorry for any digression. The few years after Alan's acquisition were a fascinating time for Harbeth. Hope the story will further unfold here - please...


    • #32
      More from the archive

      OK, so a few more items from the archive then. These from 1986 and the changing of the guard. Our daughter now 33, is in the foreground aged three, the same age as our granddaughter, Jessica (picture). Do you think that I'm being slightly too hopeful that I can persuade Jessica to become the next generation at Harbeth? I'm going to bribe my way into her good books!

      The premises were not impressive at all. In fact, on my first visit I drove up and down Nova Road, Croydon, south London, several times looking for what in my mind's eye was a huge industrial concern where the famous - indeed world famous - H. D. Harwood was to be found running a large factory. I nearly gave up and had I done, history would have been so very different.

      Harwood's workshop was literally in a car garage behind the up-and-over blue door. Further back up the lane towards the road, you see my then new white NEC company car (a 2.2 ltr. Vauxhall Carlton, a very nice if rather an old fashioned car at the time), and in front of it Harwood's car. I thought it interesting at the time that he chose a Citroen, fabled for its highly damped suspension. An engineer's car for sure.

      It was only because the same day, with a little free time between NEC appointments, that I had a little time to spare and initially searched for and went to Roger/Swisstone relatively nearby, to try and obtain a trade catalogue from them. They told me in no uncertain terms to sling my hook, and I was so humiliated/aggrieved/frustrated/motivated that, checking my watch, I calculated that I had just enough time to track down the Harbeth enterprise. I was not prepared for the shock of the comparison: Rogers were operating at a scale many times bigger than Harwood, although the premises were not in reality much more salubrious. It was clear that I was the first visitor to Newton's Yard for some time. I hesitantly awoke Dudley from his slumber by a one-bar electric heater.

      Nevertheless, as I got into my car and reversed back out onto the main road, I was 100% committed to rescuing the Harbeth brand from what by appearance, later proved by the accounting record, was rapid extinction. Was it risky to give up a coveted position in a Japanese corporation and a salary which in today's money would be considerably more than an MP's current salary? Undoubtedly one's bank manager would say so but it never struck me as anything other then or now, as destiny. I had no choice. I had to make it work for my young family. And if that meant 24/7 for as long as it took, that was exactly what I was going to give it.

      Attached Files
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK


      • #33
        Little acorns

        You must have been inspired by Maggie to give up a proper job for life in a lock-up. Truly a bizarre decision that says more about Mrs Shaw's blind faith and devotion than anything else. And to give up a Vauxhall Carlton into the bargain? Whatever were you thinking?

        Never has the idiom "from little acorns ... " been tested to such an extreme.


        • #34
          Reading this interesting thread, I cannot quite conceive the idea of Dudley Harwood asleep in front of an electric fire !
          I wonder if Spencer Hughes ever took a nap inside a loudspeaker cabinet...