KJ West One - Connoisseurs of Sound - Est. 1965
KJ West One - Connoisseurs of Sound - Est. 1965

Harbeth

Possibly the world's most natural-sounding loudspeakers

In the 1970s, the BBC’s engineering department designed and commissioned a set of monitor speakers to be manufactured for use by their engineers and in their studios. A number of companies were commissioned to produce the speakers including Rogers, Spendor and Chartwell. At one point, even KJ ourselves manufactured LS3/5As under the pseudonym of Audiomaster. These speakers are still legendary to this day. The LS3/5a is a true hi-fi icon. 

The lead designer of these speakers was Dudley Harwood.

In 1977, Harwood retired from his position as senior engineer at the BBC, and left for pastures new. Dudley set up his own speaker manufacturer, Harbeth. His Initial project was to design the world’s first speaker to use a polypropylene cone (unheard of at the time but is now considered normal). 

If there was ever a Birtish Hi-Fi hall of fame, Harwood would be one of the first names inducted, no doubt. 

The fact that Harbeth was set up by Dudley Harwood is a huge feather in its cap. The BBC is an institution that has an unrivalled understanding of sound. The level of production in the majority of their recordings and broadcasts is sensational. Dudley’s legacy at Harbeth has set a precedent for ensuring BBC levels of sound quality are always maintained.

Harbeth’s current lead designer Alan Shaw began working with (and under the tutelage of) Dudley in 1986. Already a great mind in his own right, the lessons learnt from Dudley would have been invaluable. Alan has ensured Harbeth speakers have kept what made them so great from the beginning. 

In the mid 00s, here at KJ, we only stocked the Monitor 30 from Harbeth. At the time, we found out that a number of shops in the area had stopped selling their speakers strangely. After discussing options with the guys at Harbeth, we saw the potential of being the London hub for their speakers and went in to partnership to stock the entire range in our showroom. 

Since getting the whole collection in, the brand has gone from strength to strength with us. Harbeth are now some of the most popular speakers that we have in the shop.

What sets Harbeth apart from most other speakers on the market is its natural sound quality. They are very accurate especially in the mid-range. Vocals and strings are particularly impressive through Harbeths. We believe that the level of sound that you get from a pair of Harbeths far outweighs their pricetag. 

Not to mention they are a very handsome speaker, the classic box design of Harbeths are extremely popular with all ages. Their traditional look makes them the perfect partner for a products like a Linn LP12 and in any interior.