What Is So Special About Harbeth?

SLike probably all of you, I just received notice from Audiogon of a 20% discount on Harbeth XD. I clicked on the tab and found that the sale price is about $2700. I have read so many glowing comments here about Harbeth — as if just saying the name is the password for entering aural nirvana. I admit, I haven’t listened to Harbeth speakers. But looking at these, they just look like smallish bookshelf speakers. I’m not questioning how good others say these speakers are, but HOW do they do it out of an ordinary-looking box?

Is it the wood? Is it the bracing? Is it the crossover components? Is it the cone material? What is the reason why these Harbeth’s are such gems compared to other bookshelf speakers? What is it about the construction or technology that makes these speakers a deal at $2700 on sale versus the $800, 900 or $1,000 that others normally cost? What is the secret that makes audiophiles thrill to get such a costly bargain?


As for listening to Harbeth, the only local high-end audio retailer specializes in big projects, like wiring houses for complete audio-video systems, though they probably carry some individual speakers. I feel a bit uncomfortable going there just to hear the equipment with no plans to purchase. Might just bite my lip and go in. 

Just call ahead and explain that you want to experience what all the fuss is about. They've almost certainly had similar inquiries. 


Harbeth is becoming the Bose of British speakers -- they’re such a powerhouse in marketing that you can tell folks that there are better alternatives until you’re blue in the face -- doesn’t matter, they’re going to sell droves of them regardless.

Putting it in perspective, Harbeth is a tiny company with 15 employees. Here is their UK business filing (link). Their budget is shockingly small to me (but I work in the tech industry). Hardly what I would call a "powerhouse in marketing".

I run a pair of 40.2's and the the key difference compared to my other speakers (Dynaudio C2 Plats and various hybrid electrostatic speakers inc Apogee 6 and 8's) for my setup up is the full range and dynamics I get operating them at low volume. They are my number 1 speaker set. I use an Accuphase A70 and McIntosh C22/MC75's to drive them.


They use a lossy tuned cabinet resonance design that gives them a controlled richness

This is distortion by definition. The resonating cabinets are producing their own sound like a musical instrument and this is superimposed on the signal. Hmmmm!


The crossover design also incorporates circuits to assist the drivers in sounding as good as they can by eliminating distortion, frequency peaks and making them easier to drive

So on the one hand we have intentional distortion built into the cabinet and on the other hand we have a brilliant crossover design to elliminate distortion.

This thread is really not helping the brand. It seems that if you want to experience distortion, er um sorry, no distortion, whatever, that the only way to really hear this schitzophrenic speaker is with a Hegel amp 🙄



Properly executed anti tanking parts are not in the signal path…

Could you please elaborate on this. I design speakers and can assure you that everything in a crossover is in the signal path. Everything.


curious -- what is your stake in this?

there are people who like harbeths, others that don’t -- clearly you don’t, we get it

sizeable portions of the hi-fi industry wouldn’t exist without the notion of sympathetic distortion that makes listeners feel the music sounds nicer, so what? ... there’d be no market for vacuum tube gear for instance

harbeth is a small company, but been at it for many years, has a loyal following worldwide enjoying their product, refining speaker designs and concepts that arose out of bbc research into acoustics and monitor speaker design in the 1960’s -- they have stayed small, stuck to their knitting, know what their customers want and what their brand means... it’s a tough time for all businesses, i am sure they aren’t immune, given covid, brexit and so on...

but what’s it to you? and what’s your product (as a proudly self claimed speaker designer)? do you have a commercially available product? how is it doing? put cards on table please... i am sure your speakers are absolutely and precisely accurate to the source, free of any distortion, use only the best parts extant, perhaps i can purchase a pair?

there is a long thread on this forum currently about users here with hidden agendas ... or is it that you simply enjoy pissing on others’ happiness?