by Eric Shook
The most interesting room in the world.
Okay, maybe not the world, but the show… good possibility. Something strange was going on in Room #323 at Capital Audiofest 2018. Was it as strange or erie as Room #237 in Kubrick’s version of The Shining? No.
On Friday afternoon in the Capital Audiofest universe, there was something amiss in the system of Harbeth, Roger’s High Fidelity, Accusound assembled by Fidelis AV. There was no magic, no real bass to speak of, and the remaining upper ends were wonky at best. I blamed Harbeth.
Initially this could have ended poorly for Harbeth being… you know… Harbeth. But with further efforts and investigation from my David Blumenstien of Dagogo, we engaged ultra-linear mode, set ourselves to cueing up proper British content, and took the developing drama from “Meh” to possibly one of the best rooms at the show.
Staying true to cause we plunged deep into recordings from the 1960’s and ’70’s circling around London. Ultimately we established a guideline that promised any recording made within forty miles of the Harbeth Factory during a two (or more) decade period in history, was without fail to perform fantastically on Harbeth speakers. So much so, as to create a lustfully iconic sound, that we can only assume was the original appeal of Harbeth speakers.
I say original appeal, as I do believe that the more recent members of the Harbeth cult (especially stateside) have been enamoured more with Harbeth’s less widely appreciated attributes. To confirm our findings, David and I petitioned, our friend and my fellow Part-Time Audiophile journalist, Marc Phillips to come have a listen. Marc is an experienced ear, and die-hard Harbeth fan. With toes tapping and grins everlasting, Marc is captivated by the sounds. Track after track unfold before him, big and dynamic, tuneful and excessively rich.
When it is all over, I ask — “So what did you think?” — to which he replied after a pause, “You’ve made Harbeth not sound like Harbeth.” which didn’t surprise me. I replied, “What we’ve done is to find what made Harbeth so great in the first place.” Not a straightforward task by any means, but one that pays dividends continually. Does this mean Harbeth has a content sweet-spot? Maybe.
For David and myself who haven’t always understood the cult of Harbeth, now — we can’t stop listening. The Fidelis AV room had few fellow press members and myself locked-in for almost THREE HOURS — this is unheard of by show standards. Exhaustion and journalistic responsibility peeled us away from our seats like cheap Velcro® and ordered us to reserve ourselves to the bar in pathos. We couldn’t wait to go back. So we returned on Saturday and Sunday, just to be sure. We were.
– Rogers High-Fidelity 34S-1 Integrated Amplifier
– Harbeth 30th Anniversary 30.2 Monitors
– Cabeling by AccuSound