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Hello HUG - let's talk about your loudspeakers

Rosie G

New member
Alan Shaw has previously mentioned on here (see link below) his ambition to get even 'closer to the market' following the very successful launch of Harbeth's 40th anniversary speakers.

Alan has asked me to help him get to know our customers and the path that led them to choose Harbeth. By 'who' I don't only mean our trusted dealers and distributors - although they will all be getting a visit/call/email from me soon - I also mean our home and studio users...YOU!

How did you first hear about Harbeth? Where/how did you buy your Harbeth loudspeakers? Why did you choose Harbeth or (gulp) if you went with another loudspeaker brand then I'd still like to know that too - and your reasons why.

Having 'lurked' on HUG for a few weeks before actively joining you on here, I know you are only too happy to share your wisdom, opinions and views and I'd love to hear yours. If you'd prefer to keep comments private/anonymous then please do feel free to contact me away from the forum: [email protected]

I look forward to hearing from you.

Rosie Gooch
Business Development Manager
Harbeth Audio Ltd.

Ned Mast

For many years I've read two audio magazines, Stereophile and The Absolute Sound. Of all the writers in the two, only one - Robert E. Greene - inspires my confidence, especially with regards to speakers. He has written positively about the Harbeth line, and about the BBC approach to speaker development in general. Finding a dealer within driving range of my home town, I called and set up an audition of some Harbeths and other speakers. The SHL5s were my first choice and satisfied me for some time. Eventually I decided to listen to the M40s, and was able to trade the SHL5s in for a pair of those. John Geisen of Wellington Audio was most helpful and accommodating during this whole process. For me, there' been no need to look (and listen) further.


Well-known member
Heard M30's at someone's house some years back, played quite low volume. Was instantly taken by their naturalness. Made the trek to deepest Essex with my amp and a pile of records to listen to SHL5+ when they were first released in mid 2015, Dave made me a cup of tea and that was that. I changed my system around them, getting a Devialet in December 2016 that makes the best of their dynamic abilities. I changed to SHL5+ 40th Anniversary in September 2017 for the walnut veneer, but they do seem to sound a bit better. I've added a small REL S/2 subwoofer to fill in the bass, it was supplied by KJ WestOne, who sold me the Devialet and knew I had the SHL5+.

They just do everything well. In my house they get used for everything from Baroque opera to jazz, techno and rap.

Rosie G

New member
Thank you for your replies ssfas and Ned Mast - and to the other HUG members who have also taken the time to contact me privately. I'm grateful to you for sharing your Harbeth journey with me. I will be in touch directly to ask you a few more questions if that's ok?


Active member
I had been aware of listening fatigue for years maybe due to a combination of prior speakers and badly recorded material, I was determined to find a way to mitigate that. I read about Harbeths low fatigue reputation and was curious. Luckily I had a dealer an hour and a half drive away (albeit in a very busy city). I had no intention initially of spending $4000 on speakers but that 'darker' sound from the Compact 7's made me think something was quite different about these compared to others I had heard, I was a bit reticent at first as was used to a more punchy and immediately catchy sound but took a chance.

Almost 4 years on I can pop on pretty much any disc and just listen without even fussing over any hifi considerations, I also use them for 2 channel TV/film and whilst room shaking bass is not present they do an amazing job with natural sounding voices and the often well recorded scores in films.

I like to feel I am not even an audiophile, just somebody who wants excellent sound without fatigue.


New member
I started to become interested in HiFi again in 2014, and thought a simple system (cheap Denon all-in-one and Dali Zensor Pico speakers) would suffice. However it quickly became apparent to me that the system, despite an initial impression of liveliness, was giving me fatigue. Hence I started reading up on better systems (amplifiers and speakers). From what I gathered the opinions on systems differed partly on differing requirements.

One of the things that I determined was that for my personal needs I'd require a speaker that sounds good at low volume. Meanwhile I'd procured a second-hand Amphion Ion speaker set which does this to some extent, and sounds nice for the money. During my readings I also came across Harbeth as one possible candidate, where many praised its life-like reproduction of sound. By then I'd come to the conclusion that I wasn't interested in the school of thought that the speaker should be exciting, as that seemed synonymous to fatigue in the long term. As I mainly listen to classical and vocal music, fidelity to the original and a good spatial representation are important.

Also when trying to find out more about what is actually needed and how amplifiers, speakers and the auditory system work, I regularly found references to the Harbeth User Group. When browsing the posts on HUG I learned a lot, as the discussion focuses not so much on subjective opinion as on other sites, rather trying to unearth the deeper causes behind our impressions.

So I'd come to the point that for my next step I wanted to buy Harbeth speakers. As I use a near field (desktop based) set-up, this would mean the P3ESR. In the Netherlands (where I live) there are a several dealers, but I'd have to plan a little trip if I wanted to hear one. So I postponed (also to save up in the meantime). Then I found out that nearby dealer where I'd already bought my Quad amp had recently becoming a Harbeth dealer. I arranged a listening session for the P3ESR and ordered a set immediately. I've been a happy owner since. One thing that struck me in particular is the uncanny life-like vocals: it really does sound as if the singer is in front of me. I'd never realised before that other speakers only give a fair approximation of what is possible. The Harbeths are really spectacular speakers, precisely because they don't try to impress you with auditory fireworks, but simple do the job they have to do extremely well.

I consider this to be my final set of speakers. If I'll find myself in circumstances where I can place and afford larger speakers (which admittedly would allow for a more room-filling sound), I'd look at one of the larger-sized Harbeth speakers.


New member
I responded earlier to Rosie’s request with an account of my Harbeth experience in which I explained my reservations about the M30.1s I recently acquired as replacements for P3ESRs. I have now reinstalled the P3s which I realise suit my room much better than the M30.1s because, I suspect, they are more tolerant of asymmetry. Denied room to breathe, the M30.1s sound less integrated and, with a ready replacement to hand, they had to go. I’m sure they’ll thrive in a more suitable environment.


I went to try Harbeth in a distributor after reading baout them in forums. I liked how natural they sound, for example my previous BBC inspired loudspeakers were not convincing listening to jazz drums, were not so real, more in the background, but with Harbeth i get the feel of been in the club, and listen a more realistic drums. Because it was a lot of money and i found a good second hand oportunity i bought them second hand. I also hate the way lot of HIFI distributors sell, having two prices, the catalogue "price" and the "real" price. So you go to the shop and they almost always tell you that they will do to you a discount over the catalogue price, and then you find they tell that to almost everybody so is not a real discount.
So that means if you dont try to ask for this "discount" or you dont know about it they may be will not tell you and you will be the only one in town paying more than other people or may be the "discount" depends on your clothes? i dont know... . I dont complain about the price, but about the way of selling having "two prices", the catalogue one and the real one, with musical instruments was exactly the same until Thomann appeared. So i think would be better just having one clear price, like NAD Hifi has, may be higher than the real price and lower than the catalogue price, so everyone can "enjoy" the same price.