• Welcome to the all-new HUG. All content has been converted from the old system, and over the next days we will re-style HUG in a more familiar way.

Why Harbeth Anniversary models?

kerouack

Member
Hello,
Usually Harbeth improved their speakers, creating a new version for similar price than the old one, like from monitor 30 to monitor 30.1 and not selling again the old model , thjis is a business model that i liked a lot.
From what i see with the aniversary models there is an strange situation, the aniversary models are in the webpage but there are no specifications part for them, so a customer will think they sound like the normal models, also in the monitor 30.1 reviews harbeth page there are reviews to the 30.2 aniversary model (not the 30.1), so again the client will think they sound the same.

But some reviews say that they sound different and measure different :
https://www.avhub.com.au/product-rev...ew-test-488463

http://www.avhub.com.au/product-reviews/hi-fi/harbeth-302-anniversary-loudspeakers-review-test-496810

An also i read some comments here from Alan Shaw saying that HL5 was different than its aniversary model. So i suppose the aniversary models are better.

I liked from Harbeth to have only one model for each size, knowing that every knowledge harbeth company has, they put it into that speaker. But now there are two models per size, with different measurements and sound, different price, the aniversary models seems to be better, but at the same time are limited editions so at some moment Harbeth will stop production of the aniversary models and again sell only the normal models ? will then upgrade the normal models so they will be similar sounding as the aniversary models ?

For me, as a customer, this situation is not clear and i liked a lot more the previous situation with only one model per size with improvements when possible (every X years), also this has created a situation with increased prices, some of us are not interested in an special veneer or limited edition speaker but we want the best possible Harbeth speaker.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
The fact is that they represnt a substantial proportion of our total sales.

If you want 'the best possible Harbeth speaker' then that is available right now from your Harbeth dealer according to your budget.

The extremely - rediculously actually - long product life cycle has done this brand no ultimate favours, nor its dealers. That has to stop. It's basically laziness on my part to keep up with best practice and incremental technological advance, and that does not take (an average of) seven years for me to get around to.
 

kerouack

Member
Thank you for your answer, of course is your decision, but other option to make improvements was to make better the normal models, not having two models of each size like there is now, and also with the open question if we will be able to buy the "improved" anniversary models for a long time or not (in the web it says limited edition) and if the improvements will be moved to the normal models or not, and also not mixing two very different things like sound improvements with special veneer or limited editions. What i like about Harbeth is that they are professional monitors, i am interested in better sound but not interested in special veneers, luxury or feeling in possession of an limited edition item.

I mean, you could upgrade your speaker models every 3 years if you wanted to, but this thing about creating two models for each size, with different prices, and mixing sound quality with special veneer and limited edition i think is something not related to just upgrade the models more.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
I agree, but I must also add that my own perception of what I value and what I have learned others value is quite different. I am trapped in the mindset of a 15 year old who was fascinated by what he experienced of fantastic sound on his friend's parents systems (in the 60s through early 70s).

A pocket money budget of scrimping and saving meant every penny had to deliver 100% real sonic value. Technical measurements, then routinely published, kept me firmly planted. My start point was, I recall, the Sinclair Project 60 amp which I compared against the Quad 303 way back around 1970. I've applied that philosophy for decades to have it reset by my more open minded (and younger) colleagues who talk about the audiophile's need and demand to invest in their hobby. The sales have comprehensively proved me wrong, and them right.

Unfortunately, the now departed production manager greatly under-costed the Anniversary speakers, which despite the higher retail prices, do not make an adequate margin for the factory. They are much more fiddly to wire and assemble, and we can produce less in a day. On that basis, they are exceptional value for money, and we are thoroughly recosting them now. So if you are on the fence, undecided, please be aware of this.

It is hypocritical for me to apply one set of rules to the pleasure of owning the best Harbeths I can make and another to the choice of motor cars that I drive. Certainly, a Ford can equally well - and surely more economically convey me from A to B, but I choose to drive two fine German cars. Once I gravitated to one particular brand (a bit of a stretch twenty five years ago) I lost all interest in cars satisfied that it was the best available, a decision I've no need to reconsider, ever. And so it is with our speakers: I can imagine that our best shots will be available as they are now for a long time yet. Let's celebrate excellence in the privacy and safety of our homes and turn off the misery and mayhem pumped into our lives relentlessly.

Would I do it again? I regret that I mixed my personal value system with those of customers otherwise this company would by now be ten times bigger. There is absolutely no need to deliver at the lowest conceivable cost, our philosophy these last forty years. Great value yes, cost minimisation, no. The Anniversary series has comprehensively proved that almost half of our customers want to celebrate and are unconcerned by the small premium for such a durable and satisfying experience.
 

kerouack

Member
I understand your point about changing your view and wanted to make the best possible Harbeth speakers you can, even if that makes having the new models a new price. But again i think the webpage does not explain things properly.

The anniversary models have no specifications section (if it is a new speaker that sounds different i think it should, to make things clear), and also i saw a monitor 30.2 Anniversary model review in the reviews section of the 30.1 model (why not a review section for each anniversary models ?). That makes customers think that they sound the same in fact i thought for years that there was no change is sound in the anniversary models. I appreciate a lot that you are here in the forum answering questions but i think the webpage should be clear enough to understand if the Anniversary models are new models with improved sound or not.
Also in the webpage says the Anniversary models are a Limited Edition and that creates more confusion, as a customer i thought may me in some months production of the anniversary models will stop.

A friend is thinking about buying Harbeth speakers, it is strange for him to pay more to have the best possible sound of an Anniversary model and, at the same time, not been able to choose the veneer, that's why i say that mixing sound quality with limited edition and only one veneer seems strange.

I understand you are selling a lot of Anniversary models, we don't know if it is more cause people feel special about having a limited edition item, because it sounds better, or both. What we know is that a lot of people use super mega expensive low powered amplifiers but the fact that they do it does not means that it is the right thing to do.
I hope the new vision of satisfying "audiophile's need and demand to invest in their hobby" (or just, "give them what they want") don't make Harbeth forget its roots. Audiophile's are usually crazy, as crazy as the Audiophile stuff they buy.
 

MikeM

Active member
A.S. said:
It is hypocritical for me to apply one set of rules to the pleasure of owning the best Harbeths I can make and another to the choice of motor cars that I drive. Certainly, a Ford can equally well - and surely more economically convey me from A to B, but I choose to drive two fine German cars.
Apologies for taking the above quote out of its general context Alan but that, in a nutshell, is why some people choose to own different amplification to the, equally able and capable, Yamaha etc. Japanese amplifiers that some would have us choose.

Each to their own, but I moved last year from a long term Mercedes to a Ford with absolutely no regrets whatsoever - and equal reliability and far cheaper servicing bills. But I would never dissuade someone from buying a Merc if that is what they wanted to spend their money on.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
long a
kerouack said:
I understand your point about changing your view and wanted to make the best possible Harbeth speakers you can, even if that makes having the new models a new price. But again i think the webpage does not explain things properly.

The anniversary models have no specifications section (if it is a new speaker that sounds different i think it should, to make things clear), and also i saw a monitor 30.2 Anniversary model review in the reviews section of the 30.1 model (why not a review section for each anniversary models ?). That makes customers think that they sound the same in fact i thought for years that there was no change is sound in the anniversary models. I appreciate a lot that you are here in the forum answering questions but i think the webpage should be clear enough to understand if the Anniversary models are new models with improved sound or not.
Also in the webpage says the Anniversary models are a Limited Edition and that creates more confusion, as a customer i thought may me in some months production of the anniversary models will stop.

A friend is thinking about buying Harbeth speakers, it is strange for him to pay more to have the best possible sound of an Anniversary model and, at the same time, not been able to choose the veneer, that's why i say that mixing sound quality with limited edition and only one veneer seems strange.

I understand you are selling a lot of Anniversary models, we don't know if it is more cause people feel special about having a limited edition item, because it sounds better, or both. What we know is that a lot of people use super mega expensive low powered amplifiers but the fact that they do it does not means that it is the right thing to do.
I hope the new vision of satisfying "audiophile's need and demand to invest in their hobby" (or just, "give them what they want") don't make Harbeth forget its roots. Audiophile's are usually crazy, as crazy as the Audiophile stuff they buy.
We ourselves do not know exactly what combination of redesign / badging / veneers / marketing / availability etc. drives the consumer to purchase. If we did, I would maximise it, but we can only guess. Whatever that special combination is, it works and delighted consumers and dealers result. One thing we would not do again is combine product technical improvements with cosmetic changes. That's my fault entirely. I was tasked with 'brushing-up' the designs to prepare them for 'Anniversaryisation', but my desire to give it our best shot too over, and in effect we have new generations of speakers yet the same generational number, with the exception of the M30.2, which was renumbered. The SHL5plus Anniversary should have been named SHL6 (as an example), the Anniversary P3ER as P3ESX (example) and Compact 7-ES3 as ES4 (example). But it was too late - pre-maketing had been long underway as I worked on the circuitry. Having learned from this, I would follow marketing guidance and do as much or as little as they, closer to the market than me, required and no more. Lesson learned.

The real questions that the consumer has to answer sre these: a) what is he willing to invest in his new speakers b) does he want Harbeth's 'best shot' c) is the limited venner choice an impediment to making that selection or not.

Either way he has a solution: the continuing standard range or the more expensive Anniversary series.

As for the web site, there are many structural changes afoot in Harbeth UK now. If we wait until the Brexit outcome is clear, my judgement is that it will be too late. Our one-person sales/production manager departed recently and has been replaced by a specialist sales executive and a very experienced operations manager. A specialist production scheduler/MRP operator has been recruited to support our buyer. Our brand manager returns soon from maternity leave, and refreshing the web site is a priority for her. There has been rebuilding at the UK factory to make more office space, and our intern is now at the point of 3D printing experimental parts for our future plans. A more flexible, responsive and fact based regime is slowly coming together. The marketing function is now moving into its correct position as taking soundings from all elements of the business and deriving strategy. All truly great companies anticipate what the consumer wants, when he wants an builds it at a price he wants. In addition - and this is top priority now - we have to strengthen our global distribution to make Harbeth more readily available.

Interesting times for those with a long-term plan. One thing I can promise - the Harbeth sound will not change. Everything around it is subject to ongoing scrutiny. The days of lethargic slumber are over. Thank Brexit for that.
 

kerouack

Member
Thank you Alan very much for the clarification, yes, some Anniversary models changed the name, other did not, yes, that's another point of confusion for the customer.
Harbeth has different options to solve the situation to make things clear.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
kerouack said:
Thank you Alan very much for the clarification, yes, some Anniversary models changed the name, other did not, yes, that's another point of confusion for the customer.
Harbeth has different options to solve the situation to make things clear.
Blame me. (Perhaps) I shouldn't have rolled up my sleeves and reviewed the core design. I should have done what marketing said and just made a cursory examination and then re-badged. I just couldn't stop myself putting my fine test equipment and accululated know how to use. Anything short of that seemed disingenuous.

The issue I face now is that the bar has been lifted so high with these Anniversary models that to make any worthwhile improvements means reengineering at a fundamental level. And than means a lot of manpower, resorces and visionary thinking. We have the resources, but we need to strengthen the manpower even more, a journey that we are on. The substantial reserves that we have available empower us to invest in whatever it takes to future-proof this brand.
 

kerouack

Member
Well, may be not a very big problem, just explaining things better in the webpage could be enough for now. Then when Harbeth wants to stop selling the Anniversary models you can rename the updated models like you sayed and sell them in a normal way with the price that you find fair.

I have the "problem" ( first world problem, of course) now that I want to listen the monitor 30.2 but i don't like going to shops to try speakers, not a nice experience for me. I also find very difficult to compare audio components, and i dont think a dealer will have a system where i can change from listening 30.1 to 30.2 just pressing a button.

One demo that i liked was the one you did in Barcelona a couple of years ago, i am the computer engineer who talked with you after the demo.
Anyway not a very big problem and i probably i should keep my 30.1 for a lot of years, just curious now.
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
If you are happy with your M30.1, enjoy them, cherish them, respect them and let them sing regularly for you.

There is absolutely no need to be seduced with the desire to change. Save that for the day when you have extracted maximum value from your investment in M30.1 and then make that special trip to the dealer's.

If you will the lottery sooner than that, then go for the M30.2s.
 

Milosz

Active member
A.S. said:
If you are happy with your M30.1, enjoy them, cherish them, respect them and let them sing regularly for you.

There is absolutely no need to be seduced with the desire to change. Save that for the day when you have extracted maximum value from your investment in M30.1 and then make that special trip to the dealer's.

If you win the lottery sooner than that, then go for the M30.2s.
I will keep that advice in mind with regard to my SHL5+ that I’m entirely happy with but at the same time somewhat seduced to try the SHL5+ Anniversary. That day will probably come sooner or later but first I need to extract yet more auditory pleasure from listening to my current speakers. I hope Anniversary models will still be around when that day comes.

Thank you Alan for explaining the differences between standard and Anniversary models and background of the special models. I now understand they really should be regarded as “new” models in the Harbeth line-up.
 

hifi_dave

Well-known member
Going to a retailer to audition speakers should be an enjoyable experience. All you do is sip your tea and enjoy some music while the retailer humps them around for you to compare. What's not to like ?
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
hifi_dave said:
Going to a retailer to audition speakers should be an enjoyable experience. All you do is sip your tea and enjoy some music while the retailer humps them around for you to compare. What's not to like ?
That's a very good point made by an A1 dealer who does not need to sell, but enjoys meeting people and showcasing great music. A serious point, actually, that we were discussing today with Ian Chapman, our new sales executive is related:

'How can we be sure that having done our bit to market our products to encourage folk to finally make that appointment with their dealer, that they have a great experience there'.
The absolute worst thing is to feel as you would when visiting a medical specialist likely to give you bad news, and yet, I recall visiting a dealer many years ago who made me feel that I was damned lucky to be granted an audience with him, his time being so precious that I should be honoured. I can remember nothing of the staff, nor the building, nor the equipment (the usual swanky brands of the time) that they demod in their various rooms; all I recall is the suffocating elitism and faux self importance. I will not deal with such outlets. It is anathema to the practical brand values we have here.

As Ian said today, 'we want to hear from consumers who have a a great experience in a hifi specialist store. We want to reward the dealer, sing their praises in public and drive folk to them. If they are not yet Harbeth dealers, even better!'

So vote for your dealer if you've had a great time with them. And god forbid, if you haven't, privately message me.
 

Luthier

Member
A.S. said:
...The SHL5plus Anniversary should have been named SHL6 (as an example), the Anniversary P3ER as P3ESX (example) and Compact 7-ES3 as ES4 (example). But it was too late - pre-maketing had been long underway as I worked on the circuitry. Having learned from this, I would follow marketing guidance and do as much or as little as they, closer to the market than me, required and no more. Lesson learned.

The real questions that the consumer has to answer these: a) what is he willing to invest in his new speakers b) does he want Harbeth's 'best shot' c) is the limited venner choice an impediment to making that selection or not.

One thing I can promise - the Harbeth sound will not change. Everything around it is subject to ongoing scrutiny. The days of lethargic slumber are over. Thank Brexit for that.
From a marketing perspective -- I think you are in a better position than you think. Let the anniversaries run their course. Then, take the non-aesthetic engineering changes from the anniversaries and brand these as the next iteration of your standard veneer main line up: 40.3, 30.3 and so forth as noted above. If your research indicates that there is an ongoing market for premium veneers and binding posts, then you can do lots of special editions 40.3 SE etc. This way your product naming remains consistent and you are able to address a variety of user requirements without brand confusion.

And thank-you for the ongoing commitment for assuring us that the Harbeth sound will not change.
 

Luthier

Member
hifi_dave said:
Going to a retailer to audition speakers should be an enjoyable experience. All you do is sip your tea and enjoy some music while the retailer humps them around for you to compare. What's not to like ?
I wish you were my dealer!
 

A.S.

Administrator
Staff member
Luthier said:
...And thank-you for the ongoing commitment for assuring us that the Harbeth sound will not change.
I care deeply about doing better and am constantly thinking about genuine engineering advances and how we could bring those to future Harbeth models.

I long ago satisfied myself financially when I finally got around to creating an adequate pension to see my wife and I out without burdening our children, and I have no financial aspirations whatever. I do not know how much is in my personal bank account nor how much my shares are worth, and I work under the luxury of self determination. If only I had another 30 years of active life, I'd perfect these loudspeakers and bring them up to the sound I sometimes hear in my dreams. An utterly convicing curtain of sound.

I can do whatever I want in terms of development of the Harbeth brand. I see no reason whatever to throw out the baby with the bath water, nor to take a gamble and adventure into new places.

My favourite food is fish pie and fresh bread (and admittedly, I do like adventures in bread!). Lapsang souchong and scones. That's all you need. :)
 

coredump

New member
hifi_dave said:
Going to a retailer to audition speakers should be an enjoyable experience. All you do is sip your tea and enjoy some music while the retailer humps them around for you to compare. What's not to like ?
Dave. Nice if you are my dealer in my area too! Did you earn enough to be financially stable as Alan haha?

Most hifi dealer are very aggressive and won’t hesitate to kick customer out when there is a sign of “no sales”
 

acroyear

Active member
A.S. said:
My favourite food is fish pie and fresh bread (and admittedly, I do like adventures in bread!). Lapsang souchong and scones. That's all you need. :)
Ah, fish pie, 'long term satisfaction' comes to mind, perhaps other speaker engineers might prefer deconstructed fusion cooking, that would be bothersome. As for the scones, trips to the UK have me in a quandary: Cornish clotted cream vs double cream, clotted cream is mana but is easily over eaten, it is so incredibly rich.
 
Top