"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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  • #16

    I don't know about other Harbeth users but my wife and I set up an HT system in a family room addition built 4.5 years ago. Used it a few times and both agreed the rear channel speakers had to go. I mean, this is our home...neither of us appreciated stuff blowing up near the patio doorwall behind our heads. We are both much happier with just two fronts, a center, and small subwoofer. I like the Harbeths all alone in a room by themselves for Mozart, Monk, and Miles. Oh yeah, and the real Fleetwood Mac (with Peter Green). For a superb live recording check out Fleetwood Mac "The Boston Tea Party, Part 1" recorded in January of 1970.


    • #17
      Re: Home AV system v. home two-channel

      First let me say that I'm a video watcher and music listener, and not a audiophile or videophile. My primary interest is 65% audio / 35% video ... though I have to admit that recently I found myself building a library of "concert" dvds. I became tired of trying to have a "one system does it all" that really worked for me. I'm not enough of an equipment junkie to deal with so much gear all trying to be tied into one system. I guess as I have gotten older I seem to have less patience in dealing with connectivity problems, etc.

      Since I was going to do some long overdue upgrading (finally got daughter's college and wedding paid off), I decided to separate the audio from the video. I'm going to put together a very good, but very simple new 2 channel audio system from the ground up and leave older equipment in the video system. I started the audio system with my existing Thorens turntable, have purchased an Ayre 7e redbook player on A'gon, and am now strongly considering Harbeth Super 5s for speakers and then will search out a good integrated amp.

      When I'm done there, I'll look to simplify the HT system. It's somewhat ironic that at a time/age when I have more disposable income and can afford more "stuff", I find I have a strong desire to simplify things. I think age often brings a need to simplify one's life.


      • #18
        Re: Harbeth center speaker

        I am absolutely a stereo fan,but I built a HT system for 6 years. last year I replaced my old Avance 960 loudspearks with a harbeth nrg-4 that may be designed for AV systems, Now I am enjoying nrg-4's great sound in both 2 channel or multichannel . though I just watch DVD a few times in a year,but I think a compatible system will be fine , right?


        • #19
          Re: Harbeth - AV centre?

          Originally posted by A.S.
          Commercially, I'm not as convinced as I was a year or two ago that there is a worthwhile market for Harbeth in AV. There is a market, but it appears to us that most Harbeth customers seem to be disinterested in AV and are more than delighted with the pleasure their two channel systems bring them. I for one have an AV system at home; in the last year I have half-watched one film. Am I typicial?
          Alan, I have the pleasure of owning M30 and M40 speakers so I have 2 separate systems. If I am going to watch a film, I take one of my M30's and use it as a center channel speaker with my M40's being the L&R main speakers. It really sounds great having a Harbeth M30 as the center channel speaker, of course in an ideal world I would have three M30's or M40's up front.

          Alan, Is it possible to purchase just one M30 or one M40 speaker?


          • #20

            Hallo everybody. I recently purchased one pair of SHL5 of which - guess - I shortly felt in love. My system is in a small room, surrounded by a bookshelf, of about 3 by 4 meters. Speakers are along the smaller side. On top to music, I enjoy movies a lot and I own more then 300 quad Lps. So I'd like to set up a multichannel system around the SHL5.

            In my view the rear channels are just giving some spatial information and - anyway - I have no option but to place the speakers above the top of the bookshelf which is about 2 meters from the floor. So I would go for a small - not disturbing - 2 ways system. I don't think such application is justifying any Harbeth speakers. The critical point is the front center channel which - as any films lover knows - is reproducing many of the dialogues from the movies.
            So I wonder which center channel is - to anyone experience - giving the same (?)voice quality of my SHL5 ?

            The center speakers in my system can only be just below the LCD panel, where I have available an height limited to 25 cm, a depth of about 40 cm, while the width is more then 1 meter.

            Many thanks, Ciao from Italy,


            • #21
              Harbeth speakers in a 5.1 system ?

              Dear Alan and all,

              This may have been covered before (sorry if it is the case)... but did anyone hear a multichannel system with Harbeth loudspeakers? Does this make sense? I'm asking because I'm equipped with C7s since 1995 with in a good musical system and enjoy a lot of course. On the other side, I also have one of these cheap 5.1 kits for the home cinema around my flat screen TV, which is not very musical I'm afraid (not ideal when a movie has a nice musical track). I'm thinking about upgrading both systems separately (new amp to replace my old valve amp that drives the C7s and a better home cinema kit). Alternatively, would it make sense to try to integrate my C7s in a multichannel sytem? What about adding a central front P3 and two rear P3s, all driven by a good multichannel amp (I hope some are really musical?).

              Thanks for any feedback, Philippe

              PS: great paper on Harbeth and Alan Shaw in Hi-FiNews... I strongly recommend !


              • #22
                Re: Harbeth speakers in a 5.1 system ?

                I have Compacts 7s at the front, and P3-ES2s at the rear and another as the centre channel - it sounds awesome. I did invest in a sub-woofer, but find I hardly ever bother to switch it on, there is just so much clean bass without it.
                Harbeth PR,
                Harbeth UK


                • #23
                  Re: Harbeth speakers in a 5.1 system ?

                  Thanks for sharing this experience of a multichannel system with Harbeth's. Which amp do you use for this?


                  • #24
                    Any AV amp as good as a hifi amp?

                    I have an entry level HT setup that serves our family needs and I do enjoy my SACDs & DVDAs multichannel listening.

                    I like listening to serious music in stereo. I recently used a vintage Pioneer SA 9100 to the speakers (response 20Hz to above audibility) and liked the sound very much with well controlled bass which I do not get via my AV receiver.

                    Can any of you suggest/recommend an AV processor that would be as good as a HIFI amp?



                    • #25
                      AV v. hi-fi amps

                      Having sold Megabuck AV systems in the past, I can say 'no' but it all depends on the budget applied.

                      Hopefully, many thousands of Pounds worth of AV will sound as good as a budget Hi-Fi system but if the budgets are equal, the Hi-Fi in stereo wins hands down. IMHO.

                      If the budget is modest I would always take the stereo route for music reproduction.