"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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Unique qualities of the P3ESR?

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  • Unique qualities of the P3ESR?


    Are there any qualities of the P3ESRs that are unique to them among the Harbeth product line or which they do better than any other Harbeth speaker? Qualities that might lead someone to choose these little boxes over their bigger brothers, aside from the obvious space-savings?



  • #2
    Small room and filling-in low end

    They will also sound better in a small room. In small rooms big speakers with substantial quantities of lower frequencies will suffer badly from room modes, badly degrading the sound. Domestic rooms are just not like concert auditoriums, and the problem is bigger the smaller the room.

    If, for example, you have small study, avoid anything bigger than the P3ESR. The human brain is much better at adding missing lower frequencies than removing booming room modes.


    • #3
      I agree

      +1 for use in smaller / boomy rooms.

      They can't beat the larger models for scale, of course, but...I've not heard anything to touch their balance of coherence, delicacy, warmth without boom or sluggishness, pinpoint imaging, excellent depth, and musicality at low volume levels. They are tremendous 'real world' speakers in all respects, and well capable of rewarding upgrades further up the chain.

      Hope this helps. Paul.


      • #4
        Harbeths redicovered my music

        Thanks for the feedback. I've asked this question because I'm a new owner of PSESRs, and they are amazing. They've got me tapping my feet and actually listening to my music again, and even "air conducting", something I've not done since I got rid of a pair of Radio Shack(!) speakers I bought back in the 1980s.

        I occasionally find myself wishing for a little more bass extension, not because I like to shake the walls, but because I miss some subtle bass nuances that are much less audible and palpable than I'm used to.

        If I switched to the Compact 7 or Monitor 30.1 would I lose any of the wonderful qualities that make the P3ESRs so fantastic, resulting in a trade-off of sorts, or would I only be gaining?

        Also the speakers that the P3ESRs are replacing are a little larger physically, and they seemed to put the music in my lap, which I did not like at all. The P3ESRs do not do this at all. Would larger Harbeths exhibit this characteristic due to their physical size, or is that aspect just a manifestation of the speaker designs as described here?

        Harbeths are everything I've been looking for, they've brought music back into my life.



        • #5
          A common and satisfying sound

          They're small, beautifully constructed and finished and *feel* the money you spend on them. The design has been painstakingly done after hours of listening and fine tuning and despite the obvious hype from the manufacturer, the 'RADIAL' cone material really does offer a superb midrange and seemingly impeccable performance around the crossover point, unlike other cone materials. Treble too flies in the face of 'accepted wisdom' about metal dome tweeters too, being clear and very sweet, rather than jangly and full of 'tinsel.'

          The other thing about most Harbeths is that the sonic flavour is similar in all of them, the soundfield getting bigger (and louder) with every model upwards. The P3ESR's go far louder than their predecessors and ancestor LS3/5A, but in my opinion, you can't beat a bigger 'un, as long as it's designed properly


          • #6
            A true family sound and philosophy

            Harbeth in my opinion is different than any other loudspeaker manufacturer. I know most of Harbeth loudspeakers and I can't honestly say that any of them is 'better' or 'worse' than any other loudspeaker in Harbeth range. It just doesn't work that way. All of them play music as beautiful and engaging as any other Harbeth. Difference is only in room requirements, space needed, bass extension and last but not least - individual preferences.

            In this context P3ESRs are a real steal as they have the same heart as their bigger brothers and can give you as much pleasure but cost much less. It's a very honest approach of Harbeth that I appreciate. That's why I admire P3ESRs so much. I listen to them in a small 15m2 room. I also have a bigger listening room, around 30m2, where I have my 'high end' system with loudspeakers of a different make.

            Problem is that since I have P3ESRs, I hardly even turn on my big system as listening to these small shoeboxes just gives me much more pleasure than my 'high end' floorstanders. Now I'm trying to get rid of them so that I can get another pair of Harbeths. I think it's going to be SHL5 because from my experience it should be the best option for 30m2 room within Harbeth range. But I'm going to get SHL5s not because they are 'better' than P3ESRs but only because I want a second pair of Harbeths and they seem to fit my bigger room perfectly. I'm still going to listen to P3ESRs in my small room and enjoy them as much as I do now.

            PS As regards unique qualities of P3ESRs comparing to their bigger brothers, I think you will find them in ultimate resolution which is absolutely breathtaking, pinpoint imaging and... bass reproduction since they are the only sealed box designs in Harbeth range. It means that their bass reproduction is very natural and does not cause any problems even in smallest rooms. Sometimes less is more!