Loudspeaker design and manufacture, rather like the crafting of musical instruments, is a particular combination of art and science. Aside from the natural variations in veneers — which make for variety on the production line — art hands over to science as the only way to control consistency. There are a hundred or so piece parts that combine onto a finished loudspeaker, and all of these are hand assembled by experts who have worked together at Harbeth for a combined 60 years. We know our products inside out!
Several areas in the factory are concerned with testing. Our policy on drive units is not to rely on suppliers QC, but to incoming-test every drive unit, alongside the ones we make ourselves and then pair-match. We do the same with every crossover board using the same precision audio computer-controlled equipment. Every finished speaker is again sweep-tested before shipment to be certain that it leaves the factory in perfect acoustic and cosmetic condition. Careful packing, in specially-designed boxes, ensures a safe journey to the final customer.
We've maintained extensive traceability records describing the elements in every loudspeaker that we've made since the 1980s - tens of thousands. They tell us about the drive units and the crossover, who tested them here, about the veneer, cabinet maker, who assembled the system, who acoustically measured it and who finally inspected and sealed the carton. It takes time for sure, but above all it fosters a culture of personal responsibility here at Harbeth.