Harbeth - listening room

First, know your instruments

To design natural-sounding loudspeakers, the designer has to have an ability to recall from memory, on command, the essence of the sound of musical instruments, as heard live. 

It's obviously impractical to have an orchestra on stand-by for live vs. reproduced comparisons, but confidence in the abilities of a speaker design can be deduced another way — by listening to it reproducing human voice which to the trained listener is devastatingly revealing of the limitations of conventional loudspeakers. Harbeth's speech-based broadcasting background has been invaluable in honing our design skills in reproducing natural sound, and long experience has demonstrated that once voice sounds natural, as it does on a Harbeth, that music must too. But not necessarily the converse, as the emotional connection with reproduced combined with expectation bias can so easily skew truly objective judgement. It's the elimination of colorations from the vital mid and presence bands which places the open, fresh, honest Harbeth sound in an entirely different league.

" Hi-fi listening is a grand illusion. To turn the physical loudspeakers into a curtain of sound wider, taller and deeper than the cabinets and to conjure performers on command to your home, the sonic contribution of the drive units has to absolutely precisely blended."

Alan Shaw, MD and designer of Harbeth Audio Ltd.

The RADIAL™ revolution

We know that the tonality of musical instrument follows the choice of materials from which they're crafted but do you know that the very same process is at work in loudspeakers? Perceived sound quality is inescapably related to the nature of the materials employed. The most vital element of the loudspeaker is not the fancy cabinet or exotic tweeter or even the complex crossover, it's the mechanical-acoustic potential of the bass-midrange as it transforms the electrical energy in the music recording into sound waves. 

The mirror-finish surface of the unique Harbeth RADIAL™ drive unit cone tells a fascinating technical story. That gloss finish is evidence that the membrane is precision molded from liquid polymer in our highly polished mould tool. That's the bit you see. What you can't see, but will hear in a Harbeth, is that the polymer itself so crucially influences the sound you hear. In contrast, conventional cones made from stock-grade sheet plastic are hopelessly foggy in the presence band.

Harbeth's RADIAL™ cone technology is the defining technology behind the clean, clear Harbeth sound. From the thousands of polymeric materials available, all of which have their won natures, Harbeth has identified just three materials suitable for natural sound. Expertly blended in optimal proportions for the right mechanical-acoustic properties across the audio band, the mastery of material science sets the Harbeth sound apart. Just listen!

Harbeth - Radial driver
Harbeth -Alan Shaw inspecting crossover filter

Crossover innovation

Take a brilliant RADIAL™ drive unit and fine tweeters and they'll need a carefully designed crossover to weave them properly together, a process which takes years of patient development. All Harbeths created over the past twenty-five years have been designed using CAD simulation. This empowers the designer to explore an infinite combination of virtual components and to anticipate the impedance presented to the amplifier and eliminates circuits which could present demanding electrical loads to the power amplifier. But, no matter how sophisticated the simulation tools, prototype physical circuits must eventually be assembled from the virtual models (picture), auditioned and minutely adjusted while listening to a wide range of music and voice. To create an entirely successful new model, the designer has to have an innate ability to correlate what he hears with the topology and selection of components in the crossover network. 

"The minute self-congratulation seeps into your thinking is the moment you cease to innovate. I'm driven to think out of the box — literally!"

Alan Shaw, MD and designer of Harbeth Audio Ltd.

Better built, work longer

There is a duty of care on Harbeth, as designer and manufacturer, to certify that Harbeth speakers are well made and reliable. With many of our earliest models still in daily use forty years after they played their first note, we understand how to design and manufacture for product longevity. We're proud to have created such durable products, and for our responsible use of natural resources. Our loudspeakers need nothing more than an occasional light dusting to keep them in tip-top condition.

For peace of mind, we offer a worldwide Warranty which may be extended upon completion of the online Warranty Registration.

Harbeth - Radial driver