"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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Naim Nova is best with which Harbeth?

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  • Naim Nova is best with which Harbeth?


    I am thinking of buying a pair of Harbeth speakers (either C7, 30.2 or HL5 Plus) and the new Naim Nova amp. My room size is 4m wide by 5m deep. Music is mostly acoustic vocals and jazz with a drop of rock.

    Any suggestion or opinion:
    1. Whether the new Naim will drive those speakers properly
    2. Which speaker would suit my room and music taste best?

    Cheers and thanks

  • #2
    Harbeth speakers will work well with any properly designed amplifier but they like power. In a small room like yours a 2x100 watt rms Yamaha as 701 or as 801 will be fine. As for speakers in a room of this size i would go for the M30.1. But this all depends on budget and personal preferences.
    For very dynamic music a combinatlon of a dac with volume control and xlr outputs and a pro audio power amp with perhaps 2x250 watt or more may be attractive, unless you want to use analogue sources ( i don't anymore).


    • #3
      The amplifier is not that important, first you should choose the right speaker and than you can save money buying a non-exotic amplifier with enough power, reliable service and all the features you want, like Yamaha, Pioneer, Sony, Teac, Nad, Rotel... whatever.


      • #4
        Two pieces of relevant data regarding the Naim Uniti Nova:
        According to the Hi-Fi News test report, into a 6Ω load, this unit has a power output capability of about 125W on a continuous basis and 150W on instantaneous peaks.
        According to the Stereophile test report, this unit overheats (and temporarily shuts down) when run at 1/3 rated power (~27W) for over 15 minutes.


        • #5
          Hello Razuu,

          Welcome to the HUG!

          Firstly, I'd say that any of the speakers that you mention will work well with all styles of music, and so they will suit your musical tastes. Of course, if you should ever wish wish to listen to organ pipe music with fundamentals of 16 Hz or so, or music with lots of low-frequency energy, then a subwoofer might be called for, as no small-enclosure speaker is likely to do that type of music justice.

          You've shown an interest in the Naim Nova amplifier. Compared to other offerings that are available, this is a relatively expensive device (AUD$7900), which is more expensive than even the Super HL5plus loudspeakers (AUD$7250). As such, I'd say that you could be overspending on the amplifier side of things by a significant margin. Compare the Nova's price with that of the Rotel RA-1572 (AUD$2500 and 120 W RMS) or the Yamaha AS-801 (USD$1000 and 100 W RMS). Of course, neither of those has the nice display screen of the Nova, but there are quite a few add-on streaming solutions that do have that type of display screen, and these could be added if it is an important factor in your choice of equipment.

          As luck would have it, there is an extensive review of the Naim Nova in the March 2018 issue of Stereophile (Nain Nova review).

          The objective testbench measurements indicate that the Nova easily produces 80 W RMS/channel into 8 ohms, with low distortion levels. The Nova has a damping factor of about 27 at 8 ohms loading, which is relatively modest but seems adequate. The testing showed that the frequency response errors when driving a simulated speaker load are around +/-0.2dB, which are quite small. This means that the Nova will drive any Harbeth loudspeakers while imposing relatively little of its own behaviour on the output waveforms. The noise and distortion performance of the Nova also appear to be of a good overall standard.

          More tellingly, when the Nova was being preconditioned with a 1 kHz test tone at 1/3 power (27 W) into 8 ohms for 1 hour, it switched off after 15 minutes, displaying an error message "Over temperature, please wait for the product to cool down". Depending on how loud and long your listening sessions are going to be, this sort of behaviour may or may not be much of an issue for you.

          The testing also indicated that the Nova "converts its analog inputs to digital, apparently with a sampling rate of 48 kHz". That's quite different to what is typically found in other amplifiers, which usually have an analog-only signal path that can be used if desired. Again, that may or may not be an issue for you.

          As someone else pointed out, you can save quite a bit of money by choosing a less exotic amplifier than the Naim Nova. The savings can go a long way towards purchasing the Super HL5plus, if that's the speaker that you prefer. In fact, if your budget allows for the Super HL5plus and Naim Nova combination, by dropping the Naim Nova and choosing a less expensive although similarly powerful amplifier, you could possibly go for a pair of M40.1 loudspeakers instead, at a little additional cost.