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miniwatt
30-05-2010, 05:49 PM
Hi, I'm not too sure whether this was being discussed before, but I found that Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why" seems to clip/distort slightly when it's being played on my system. Would appreciate if you share your experience.

keithwwk
30-05-2010, 06:03 PM
may I know which album and the album was made in?

miniwatt
30-05-2010, 06:19 PM
Hi Keith, it's the "Come Away With Me" album. I'm not quite sure where was it made in...

keithwwk
30-05-2010, 06:55 PM
Hi, you can try using headphone to listen tht trck see if any distortion...try on CDP, then from amp or from another amp..If it was due to cd, you shd heard it even in low volume...try another input on you amp as well....

hifi_dave
30-05-2010, 07:46 PM
It isn't a particularly good recording, so don't worry, your system isn't at fault.

kittykat
30-05-2010, 11:39 PM
Hi, I'm not too sure whether this was being discussed before, but I found that Norah Jones' "Don't Know Why" seems to clip/distort slightly when it's being played on my system. Would appreciate if you share your experience.

hi miniwatt, listening to it now for the second time. dont hear any distortion. "you'd be on my mind..." you sure you havent got it on too loud? its the 2002/2003 Bluenote version yeah?

Mw, are you running a low powered tube amp by any chance?

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 02:05 AM
Hi all, I tried using Grado SR80i to listen, found the same distortion, particularly at low volume. And yes, it's the blue cover album in 2002/2003. Lately I've upgraded my amp to Naim Nait 5i2 from a 2.5W Miniwatt S1.

keithwwk
31-05-2010, 02:37 AM
Yeah...I think the problem is CD itself then. I did encounter similar problem on a Ricky Lee Jone "POP POP" CD. I then brought another same CD which was pressed in US and no more problem.

STHLS5
31-05-2010, 02:42 AM
Are you referring to the SACD release? This one of my favourite test CD for vocals (SACD format). Could you tell the track time of the distortion?

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 02:56 AM
The part with significant distortion, especially on left side is between 1:13-1:14. It's more obvious when you listen at very low level. I guess it's not due to amp clipping nor tweeter defect. It sounds the same with my Sennheiser CX300 II as well. Maybe I'll try it with Naim DAC later.

STHLS5
31-05-2010, 03:31 AM
Miniwatt, which format? SACD or CD?

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 05:06 AM
Hi STHLS5, it's a CD format.

kittykat
31-05-2010, 06:09 AM
Hi miniwatt

Had another look at it for you. Its because of copy control. Does your copy have the C sign on the cover?

The only way you can enjoy it is to rip the tracks out.

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 07:00 AM
Hi kittykat, mine has the same cover as this one:
http://www.jazz.com/assets/2008/1/9/albumcoverNorahJones-ComeAwayWithMe.jpg

Mine is ripped into Apple Lossless format via iTunes. Does it make a difference? Because I can hear the same distortion when playing on both CD and ALAC format.

Gan CK
31-05-2010, 07:13 AM
That's why i never did like this album....recording sucks imho....sounds ok on car stereo or mini compo but not so on hifi setups.

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 07:22 AM
Another album I'm facing problem is Diana Krall's "The Look of Love", track 4, "Cry Me A River".

kittykat
31-05-2010, 07:26 AM
hi miniwatt

the ones sold in Australia have this logo on the cover. its copy control. and many people have complained about it causing playing problems so i thought it might have been the reason for your issues.

Gan CK
31-05-2010, 07:26 AM
Another album I'm facing problem is Diana Krall's "The Look of Love", track 4, "Cry Me A River".

Haha yes i too face similar problem with this particular track on this recording.....but overall this is still a much better recording than Norah Jone's "come away with me" album.

keithwwk
31-05-2010, 08:05 AM
Hi kittykat, mine has the same cover as this one:
http://www.jazz.com/assets/2008/1/9/albumcoverNorahJones-ComeAwayWithMe.jpg

Mine is ripped into Apple Lossless format via iTunes. Does it make a difference? Because I can hear the same distortion when playing on both CD and ALAC format.

Mine is Sg press...I will check the track too this wkend. Love this album and her later yellowish cover album very much. Sound fantatic on my 5 and 7..I heard this "Come away with me" in vinyl format..simply lovely...:)

Btw, I got another CD got similar distortion at a particular track too when Freni sung with her high pitch...but stil very nice recording to enjoy.

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/images/G/01/ciu/cc/0f/9c43793509a05f368b696110.L.jpg

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 08:51 AM
Forum search result shows that Alan is also facing some distortion/clipping problem with Diana Krall's "Live in Paris". I guess Harbeth is just so natural that it'll reproduce whatever it's fed with. Haha...

Gan CK
31-05-2010, 08:58 AM
Yes Harbeth may not be overly & or superficially transparent but is still very revealing to highlight differences in recordings very well.

A.S.
31-05-2010, 09:48 AM
CD distortion can be commonly attributed to:



Problems with the recording which may or not have been noticed in the studio or mastering such as microphone overload
Distortion considered artistically beneficial added or permitted in the recording or mastering - a hotter more aggressive 'live' sound
CD recording or mastering at the very limit of its dynamic range i.e fully modulated which puts strain on the entire reproduction system (all too common)
Mismatch between CD player audio output and amp input due to extremely high signal output from CD player causing overload of amp input stage (I suspect this is common)
Amplifier unable to provide enough power under peak drive conditions.

An in-line attenuator (commercial example here (http://www.sidcd.de/attenuator-e.html)) between the CD player and the amp input is a simple, invaluable gadget which reduces the signal from the CD player (perhaps by 10-20dB), reduces the strain on the amp and speakers and can greatly soften the sound under peaks. As the link shows, if the sound is very loud at low volume settings then you could benefit from reducing the CD player's output.

It's very easy to look at the waveform on the CD using test equipment to see how close to maximum loudness it has been mastered at. If you have a track that sounds distorted, do you have the software to rip the track so I can take a technical look at it?

You should consider that modern close-to-the-mic recording of vocals is trying to create an effect and has nothing whatever to do with attempting to capture the voice with high fidelity. If you sing close to a microphone, the mic is working very hard at perhaps 120dB+ and it should be no surprise that there is a edge to the sound. But pop music consumers are not in my experience much motivated by high fidelity considerations.

A.S.
31-05-2010, 01:52 PM
Another album I'm facing problem is Diana Krall's "The Look of Love", track 4, "Cry Me A River".I have found am MP3 claiming to be of the track in question from the 'Look of Love' album here (http://www.garageband.com/mp3cat/.UZCMZiSF5ayv/01_cry_me_a_river_Diana_Krall.mp3) (you may need to answer the security question).

Whereabouts in the song does it distort? There is no way of knowing anything technical about the quality of the Mp3 conversion, levels or anything - this is just for fun.

A.S.
31-05-2010, 01:58 PM
OK, with the caveat that we have no details about this recording, how it was ripped (or even from what CD it was ripped) and we know nothing about the ripping settings (for level etc.) I've looked at the waveform. It is clipped (or within 0.1dB of clipping) throughout - surprising considering that it doesn't sound that loud. Screen pictures to follow.

STHLS5
31-05-2010, 02:06 PM
Hi STHLS5, it's a CD format.

The SACD version is without any distortion.

ST

miniwatt
31-05-2010, 04:30 PM
Hi Alan, the clipping on the "Cry Me A River" isn't that obvious, but it's there when I listen to it attentively, especially late night. As seen from the wave output, the clipping occurs very briefly, not easy to notice.

STHLS5, worth the money!

Don Leman
31-05-2010, 05:33 PM
The statistics on the "Don't know why I didn't come" track are that it is .001% clipped. I personally though headphones cannot hear any distortion at 1:14 - 1:15. The CD I have is not copyright protected.

This shows the entire song.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4054/4656537302_415fc2590c_b.jpg

This is from 1:11 to 1:15

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4042/4655917437_18c5cc236e_b.jpg

Don Leman
31-05-2010, 06:02 PM
In looking at the pictures posted I couldn't help noticing the positive half of the wave form is higher in volume than the negative. That this occurs in the recording chain is not surprising, but does it occur in real life? If not, or possibly not to as great an extent, would a speaker driver that was more resistive in its outward motion sound more natural?

A.S.
31-05-2010, 07:31 PM
In looking at the [second, lower] picture posted I couldn't help noticing the positive half of the wave form is higher in volume than the negative.Yes, that seems to be so. What you are saying is that the waveform on both the left (top trace) and right (bottom trace) channels have the equivalent of a DC bias. We can see that if you run your eye along the grid line at the infinity symbol (on the right axis) which is the mid point of the vertical axis that there is clearly more signal (green trace) above than below the line.

In effect it means that the loudspeaker is not exactly swinging through zero; the cone(s) are sitting slightly offset outwards towards the listener when playing music - exactly the effect if the amp's output stage bias is incorrectly set. It must have some effect on the sonic quality because speaker distortion is directly linked to the position of the voice coil in the magnetic structure.

The trouble with so much modern music and recording is that it is created on semi-pro equipment. Anyone can be a sound engineer with zero training. No different to anyone can be an author thanks to Word. A sign of the times. However, my first example image had a fundamentally different clipped characteristic to the example you posted, above.. My 'Cry me a river' example shows persistent virtual clips throughout the song. If we zoom in to the first phrase (attached) "Now you say you're lonely..." starting at about +18 secs. you can clearly see that the waveform has been destroyed in the recording or mastering (or conversion to MP3).

A.S.
31-05-2010, 08:37 PM
If we take the aforementioned 'Cry me a river' and concentrate on that first line, we can attempt to regenerate the missing peaks by some clever mathematical analysis of the waveform and how it 'hill-climbs'. Remember - once the waveform is clipped all we can do is guess how the original pure waveform would have looked. But we can attempt to make the wave look (and sound) more natural.

So, I took the first phrase "Now you say" (A) which has the severely clipped waveform. Pure, natural speech and music can never look like this under analysis. Then I reduced its loudness by 3dB and pasted in into the file as section (B). You can see that even though the clip is now quieter, the peaks of Diana's voice are cut-off - gone for good. This is a tell-tale sign of overload in the recording/mastering/format conversion process. The I applied some maths to try and guess what the wave really looked like - (C).

A.S.
31-05-2010, 09:00 PM
Final contribution from me on this one ....

We can compare almost side-by-side tthe modern-style Diana Krall presentation with a more relaxed, warmer style from Ella. See attached: the top two waveforms are the entire 'Cry me a river' from Diana (Left above Right) and the lower two, the same song at a lower tempo) from Ella.

There are two interesting things to note:


The yellow arrow shows that the dynamic range of Diana's recording is bigger than that of Ella's: Diana's sound louder and more punchy, like turning up the contrast on your TV. The red arrow shows the smaller dynamic range of Ella's recording
More interesting (to me) is that as I've reported before, Diana's recording touches the (upper) edges of the graph, using 100% of the absolute maximum loudness that can be reproduced by a CD. Ella's recording never even approaches the loudness capability of the CD: there is always lots of dark green 'reserve' space around the music dynamics. That's how CD's used to be made.

Sadly, to sell CD's these days they have to be louder. And than means processed. Which is why, to my ears, so many of the modern discs sound so horribly hard. The same effect as watching TV with the contrast on full. Finally, a look at the statistics of the Diana recording .... as it reports, on the left channel 111 clipped samples and 51 on the right. On Ellas - none.

One last thing we can look at is a histogram of the loudness levels within the music. We can see (attached) that most of the energy in Ella's recording is at about -15dB. Diana's is about 3dB louder on average at about -12dB. Due to the difference in dynamic range, the scales are not directly comparable. There are no really quiet parts to Diana's recording. But look how different the energy distribution is throughout the song (watch out for scale differences): Ella's has a graduated loudness; in the case of Diana's, there seems to be an excess of energy at around the -20dB signal level. Compression in the recording or mix?

miniwatt
01-06-2010, 03:11 AM
Alan, you've done a very impressive analysis. Now we know that there're lots of bad recordings/mastering out there. Thanks for your time! All of us enjoy reading your articles.

kittykat
01-06-2010, 03:51 AM
Alan, you've done a very impressive analysis.

second that.

some of these threads do contain gold and although it might be a resource overhead for the site (and yourself Alan), if they can be moved to a reference area -"problem solving" or "resources" perhaps, it could be a real benefit to many and not only Harbeth users. I dont think there are too many other music/ hifi (i know you dislike this word) sites which go into such depth or tangential discussions such as the gamelan or 3000 year old music.

yeecn
01-06-2010, 04:20 AM
When it clipped - do you get a flat top? Can you zoom in to take a closer look?

I have one CD that clipped in a very peculiar way. Instead of climbing up the wave climbs down creating a dip at the top. This is likely to be an Integer overflow problem manifesting in a most peculiar way. This form of clipping is awful, and can be heard very prominently as the voice cracking up. I will try to upload a picture later.

A.S.
01-06-2010, 10:01 AM
When it clipped - do you get a flat top? Can you zoom in to take a closer look?You get a flat top if the original signal exceeded the maximum 100% potential of CD continuously during the zoom-in time frame. In your case, the signal must have had some peaks above 100% (which have been cropped) and must have fallen back below 100% for some of the time. If you have your own tools to zoom-in (as I have done with this attachment) then you should be able to decide what happened.

Zoomed-in example , central peak lasting about 0.3 secs. again from Diana's 'Cry me a river'. Just one randomly selected from the 111 clipping reported by the program.

A.S.
01-06-2010, 10:04 AM
Thanks for the feedback. I frequently wonder how much of what I contribute is worthwhile; it is very time consuming and I am busy and have a normal domestic life to lead so I have been throttling back recently as I think I've pretty much said it all. But sound editing (and hence waveform analysis) and sensory perceptions remain of great interest to me. It depresses me when, despite laying out my views on - say - bi-wire terminals, we get postings inviting users to open their speakers (and negate their warranty) and fiddle around with the wiring. I'd appreciate if you, as a group, could be a little more proactive and jump on such nonsense and act in our overall best interests. I really don't want to have to invoke a formal moderation policy where each post is filtered (by a moderator) but nor do I have the time (or interest) in repeating myself over such non-issues.

STHLS5
01-06-2010, 01:02 PM
Meaning no more posting from neuroscience or Psychiatry's journal? For the past two days I have been trying hard to find out whether Oohashi conducted the test on nude subjects and found the answer. Is that a green light or red light topic? :(

ST

miniwatt
01-06-2010, 04:43 PM
STHLS5, I think Alan is referring to the topics such as...

1. What speaker cables?
2. What amplifier?
3. What speaker stands?
...

keithwwk
01-06-2010, 05:22 PM
IMHO, nonsense posting such as "open the speaker to modify or change something inside...". This is definitely a big "NO"

But, unless pure music lover who only really care on music...there is simply no way to stop questions as what miniwatt listed out above...hifi hobbyist just like to do that and repeat and repeat again until he suddenly realised what is the final conclusion for himself after few times, few years or ,worst, never realised....by then...new comers join in and the question will appear again, maybe with a qoute "...I know someone sure asked this already but I just want to make sure with more inputs.....best cable for my harbeth??" There is simply no way to stop unless there is zero choice.

Sebastien
01-06-2010, 06:27 PM
... but I just want to make sure with more inputs.....best cable for my harbeth??...

Harbeth should make their own speaker's cables! ;-)

Sebastien

Champion
01-06-2010, 10:58 PM
I like the idea of having a reference / problem solving section. I agree that some topics have been covered many times but for a relatively new user like me, I did not know what has been talked about, and whether some of the views have been changed. Maybe it is just me, I find the search engine really hard to use. I could never find the right thread using the search engine. I would appreciate if someone can shed some light on how to use it effiiciently.

kittykat
01-06-2010, 11:30 PM
Hi Champion

i tried using google just to search this site and it seems to work quite well, in the google box type the topic you want followed by a colon and the target website eg...

shl5: www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup to search for SHL5 related or

amplifier: www.harbeth.co.uk to search for amps etc.

having the "slash usergroup" seems to make a slight difference and something you can play around with.

honmanm
02-06-2010, 11:29 AM
STHLS5, I think Alan is referring to the topics such as...

1. What speaker cables?
2. What amplifier?
3. What speaker stands?
...

These are tricky ones... this is an equipment manufacturer's forum, so the expectation of newcomers would be that it is a forum for discussion of the products and how they integrate into a system - and those 3 items are three of the four "integration points" where a speaker interacts with the rest of the world (the other one is the "elephant in the room" - the room itself).

A blog is a more suitable vehicle for keeping things "on-message" but the forum contains gems of information from many contributors - comments from the Harbeth dealers have been especially useful thanks to their broad experience.

I also enjoy articles like this one where things are discussed on a factual basis.

Pluto
03-06-2010, 04:13 PM
...the waveform on both the left (top trace) and right (bottom trace) channels have the equivalent of a DC bias...

This problem demonstrates a distinct disadvantage of an "all digital" production chain. It's often hard to say exactly where such DC offsets creep in, but they do - and while they are not necessarily a problem, they certainly ain't good. For example, if a passage that peaks to 0dBFS is subject to a DC offset however slight, the samples pushed out of range will become irredeemably damaged.

By having an analogue process late in the mastering process, DC offsets will be removed as most analogue kit is not DC coupled. If you are running an all-digital policy, DC offset should be checked for and eliminated at every production phase. The easiest way to ensure this is to have a digital high-pass filter in your equipment chain (either real or virtual) at about 10Hz.

STHLS5
04-06-2010, 03:11 AM
...

Harbeth is very clear about amps, cables or stands and they have clearly stated that in their FAQ or manual or in HUG many times. I know of one Loudspeaker manufacturer with their own cables yet in private says that any good speaker cables will do and there's no justification in buying their cables. Another international distributor told me that one high end Cd player designer told him an ordinary CD player and the standard cables were all the designer needed to enjoy his music. To him they were accurate.

We have to respect Harbeth's background and maybe better to keep these topics in some other Harbeth fan club forum. Many audio professionals actually laugh at our obsession but at least here we are guided without being cynical (mostly).

ST

kittykat
04-06-2010, 08:16 AM
Many audio professionals actually laugh at our obsession ...
ST

...and wondering why we haven't got on to their loudness drug.

Loudness is the drug which has made listening to music while you walk, while you’re in your car or a noisy bus or plane possible. Has it become the ideal crutch of our times to feign detachment and a choice not to engage with people around us or is it the most ideal way to listen to music in our current busy lifestyles? ST, the record executives must really be laughing if they can picture us sitting in front of Harbeths. It will be the most comical ever they can imagine!

Very unfortunately the software side of the entertainment business is playing to consumers’ (the latter possibly not realising it) penchant for “loud” but at a cost to the whole enthusiast industry of quality sound equipment manufacturers like Harbeth (and its users like us, as potentially fewer quality releases hit the stores).

The worrying thing is that software sales trends indicate consumers don’t seem to want quality (at the current price-points at least), as download revenues (mostly compressed) go up but cd sales go down. Is this because most consumers haven’t experienced what a good recording played through good loudspeakers in an appropriate room could sound like? There is not even a sound equipment dealer in the Cbd area of the city I live in. There is a box moving outfit but they don’t have a listening room where you can actually sit down and listen.

The laughing stops...

A.S.
04-06-2010, 08:42 AM
...Many audio professionals actually laugh at our obsession ...No. I think that should be almost all. That doesn't concern me, because the consumer is free to spend his disposable income exactly as he wishes. The views of professional sound engineers does not have any economic impact at all on this industry. Conversely, consumer habits greatly influence the recording and production of music, as it always has done.

The real economic issue is that all this talk about cables (just to name one issues) hammers another small nail in the door that used to be open and welcome new, fresh (younger) buyers. Imagine this scenario - we, collectively representing serious hi-fi enthusiasts, are asked to make a presentation to the local college about our hobby. It starts out well, outlining the basic equipment - amps, speakers etc.. We carry the audience with us. Them some bright spark at the back puts up his hand and comments that his uncle is a hi-fi buff, and has spent more on cables than his car. The audience start to titter. We start to explain how that is a reasonable purchase in pursuit of the last gram of sonic nirvana .... laughter .... someone studying consumer psychology asks some awkward follow-up questions and so on. More laughter - the audience is now mocking us. Would you in your worst nightmare want to be fronting that lecture? But that is the reality of interacting with real world, ordinary consumers who like us, listen to music for pleasure.

Why can't we see this for what it is? A psychological game that the consumer willingly allows himself to play. How the devil can we keep this industry alive if we don't offer product that is relevant and value for money to the next generation of consumers? All this BS talk just drives consumers away - as indeed it alienates women. And no serious, commercially viable domestic consumer expenditure can survive without the full commitment of wives and girlfriends.

weaver
04-06-2010, 11:24 AM
I made my first hi-fi purchase in 1986, a pair of KEF speakers that sat in my bedroom - one on top of a wardrobe, the other on a bookcase and connected by what must have been 20-30 feet of bell wire to my dad's system in the living room down stairs.

At the time Tottenham Court Road in London was full of 'hi-fi' shops many of which were staffed by the then popular breed of assistants who spoke condescendingly (if they spoke at all) to youngsters such as myself. In part as a consequence of this the speakers were bought mail order - unheard, and the amp, turntable and cassette deck that followed over the next few years all came from the London Bridge branch of Richer Sounds (in fact, at the time it may well have been the only branch).

What I'm getting is that the industry wasn't without pretty major issues (in my view) even back then.

What has happened since then? Initially CDs must have given two channel a major boost, the Walkman was already around - laughable to the iPod generation, but music on the move and perhaps the beginnings of music as a private experience.
The really big story though was the internet and the computers central importance in our lives. I can't recall what the statistic is, but isn't it the case that more people are now listening to radio - once internet listening is taken into account - than for many years? It's not that people aren't listening to music it's that they are listening in different ways and what would have been a standard domestic appliance - some sort of stereo system be it a music centre or separates based - is no longer considered part of the furniture.

I use my work computer for music a lot, I have always had a stereo system at home; so why don't I have a computer based stereo system at home?

I look into it regularly but I still think it's too difficult, too much of a faff and that's even in comparison to playing vinyl!

I also don't think that (in general, in the UK) the hi-fi dealer mentality is that different to what I experienced back in 1986. This is not intended as knocking the good dealers that do exist, or planting the blame in any particular area.

My experience of the 'enthusiast' level locally is a bunch of people trying to get the best out of the budgets that they have and in the main relying on listening to friends systems and swapping kit amongst themselves. Every once in a while an item is bought new, from a dealer and the 'dealer relationship' that is so often talked about becomes part of the equation. But, and this may be partly down to basic geography, the notion of dropping by a dealers on a fairly regular basis just to have a listen to what they have currently and plan for a purchase sometime in the future just isn't an option.

And that's from an enthusiasts point of view!


Is this because most consumers haven’t experienced what a good recording played through good loudspeakers in an appropriate room could sound like?

Yes.


...as indeed it alienates women. And no serious, commercially viable domestic consumer expenditure can survive without the full commitment of wives and girlfriends.

I took my wife to the Bristol show a few years back and she came away saying that (despite the fact that the attendees were 90% male) they were amongst the most polite and friendly groups of people she had encountered at any kind of show - somewhat contrary to her expectations.

A.S.
04-06-2010, 12:43 PM
...I can't recall what the statistic is, but isn't it the case that more people are now listening to radio - once internet listening is taken into account - than for many years? It's not that people aren't listening to music it's that they are listening in different ways...Undoubtedly true, but it brings very little money to the specialist audio industry.

I repeat my mantra (again, again, again: it's boring me and must truly be irritating you) forget about the industry now. What about the next generation of consumers able and willing to spend money on specialist hi-fi rather than Apple's latest gadget (2 million iPads made and sold in just one month). Those in their twenties and thirties. Where are they? One thing is for sure: if they don't enter dealers premises, listen to quality audio, appreciate what they hear and actually buy it, this industry is finished.

So consumer-confusing non-issues like substituting my carefully designed bi-wire links for some expensive exotica do nothing to encourage those youngsters to take the plunge and visit a dealers store: quite the opposite. They classify us as wierdos. And for that reason, I am going to discourage all that sort of discussion here. We need to keep our feet firmly on the ground, reassure the consumer that we are approachable, pragmatic real-world people who concentrate on genuine engineering and long term value for money.

yeecn
04-06-2010, 01:27 PM
I took my wife to the Bristol show a few years back and she came away saying that (despite the fact that the attendees were 90% male) they were amongst the most polite and friendly groups of people she had encountered at any kind of show - somewhat contrary to her expectations.
I would never - I say that again - NEVER - bring my wife into a hi-fi shop. I never walked into a hi-fi shop for over 10 years for that matter. The prices of most of the items are simply beyond the reach of common people, and beyond common sense. She will think that I have gone mad for getting into this hobby!

And the perception the industry projected is that, if you are buying something cheaper, then the sound quality you are getting is proportionally inferior. So if you can't afford the high price items, you might just as well forget about the whole thing. I have heard doubts about Harbeth being not high end enough - because it is not expensive enough (as compared to others), and it doesn't look fancy enough.

weaver
04-06-2010, 01:36 PM
Undoubtedly true, but it brings very little money to the specialist audio industry.

I repeat my mantra (again, again, again: it's boring me and must truly be irritating you) forget about the industry now. What about the next generation of consumers able and willing to spend money on specialist hi-fi rather than Apple's latest gadget (2 million iPads made and sold in just one month). Those in their twenties and thirties. Where are they? One thing is for sure: if they don't enter dealers premises, listen to quality audio, appreciate what they hear and actually buy it, this industry is finished.

So consumer-confusing non-issues like substituting my carefully designed bi-wire links for some expensive exotica do nothing to encourage those youngsters to take the plunge and visit a dealers store: quite the opposite. They classify us as wierdos. And for that reason, I am going to discourage all that sort of discussion here. We need to keep our feet firmly on the ground, reassure the consumer that we are approachable, pragmatic real-world people who concentrate on genuine engineering and long term value for money.

Given that I agree entirely with what you are saying here: do you see any need or possibility for an alliance or coallition with other similarly minded manufacturers?

Will it be Harbeth alone that 'reassure(s) the consumer that we are approachable, pragmatic real-world people who concentrate on genuine engineering and long term value for money' or might the message come across more strongly if it were more widely proposed?

STHLS5
04-06-2010, 02:06 PM
I am totally lost here. Harbeth or any other specialized high fidelity audio equipment manufacturers surely cannot be targeting today's young customers. Even if somehow an average all in one Harbeth system costs as little as a mobile phone or a lap top or ipod , hifi would still be their last choice. Would today average generation spend their disposal income on a LCD or a pair loudspeakers? Today's generation faced with multiple other necessities.

I remember growing up to see the gramophone for the first time about 40 years ago which was my late uncle's. He was in his late thirties and already got his LP player but still liked to play his gramophone. Then a first hifi setup at my preschool tuition teacher which belonged to their father and there are few more examples like that. The point is - even as far as 40 years back Hifi (referring to dedicated high fidelity playback) always belonged to the head of the house who were already have steady source of income and settled down.

The first Hifi setup that one is going to buy is likely to be an entertainment addition to their home rather than for truly accurate musical reproducing. That comes after Hifi develops into a hobby. But unfortunately for large number out there it also turns out to be a status symbol and a trophy to boost one's ego.

I am strictly speaking from my experience. So my view maybe the exception but I am also a part of the general customers.

ST

A.S.
04-06-2010, 03:03 PM
But unfortunately for large number out there it also turns out to be a status symbol and a trophy to boost one's ego.Seemingly so. And it has to stop in the interests of preserving the remains of this industry and above all, welcoming those real-world consumers who just want to listen to quality music at a reasonable price. Everyone has their own little vices - including me (I fiddle about with PCs) but what is totally intolerable is to give the impression - as this industry does this at almost every point of interface with the ordinary prospective buyer (good dealers excepted) - that not only does he have to invest his hard earned cash in real genuine product (credible amplifiers, CD players, speakers) but that is merely the bottom rung on a long ladder to heaven and that he's obliged to keep throwing money at his hobby. What sane person would stumble into a hobby which from the off painted a near-certainty of unfulfilled expectations and never ending expenditure 'chasing the dream'? And we wonder why women are not interested?

I am truly fed up with the whole wretched bi-wire BS. More to the point, I am tired of the industry putting obstacles in the path of would-be consumers and frightening them off through fear of unquantifiable financial exposure. Who would buy a car if the cost of ownership and ongoing service costs were not known and predictable in advance?

It is of no interest to me whether or not consumers chose to allocate their disposable income to fancy bi-wire links or the like. What I do object to - and very strongly - is the impression that unless he spends-out, his listening experience will be somehow crippled. I have used every ounce of my limited abilities to guarantee that what you buy, out of the carton, is as good as we can make make it. You do not need to throw any more money at it. There is plenty of unfulfillment in the world without adding to it.

honmanm
04-06-2010, 03:42 PM
(was going to post this earlier, then lunch intervened)

The thing with any hobby is, there will always be someone willing to take it to extremes - consider railway modelling ala Hermann Goering (http://www.bills-bunker.de/113101.html)...

However the model railway types don't have the hi-fi like drive to buy ever more expensive gadgets (the drive is more for rivet-counting attention to detail in recreating a particular place and time) - on the other hand gadget and tweak mania pervades radio controlled car racing.

When a significant proportion of the customers buy stuff for bragging rights, there will always be lots of BS thrown about. The good thing about that is that it results in a healthy supply of secondhand gear, the down side is the challenge of seeing through the marketing speak to work out which of it is any good.

The BS-free Harbeth approach has its own problems - they are very scarce on the UK secondhand market & recently a pair of P3ESRs sold on ebay for 90% of their retail price. The other problem is that the "next generation of consumers" is not going to be spending £1000+ on a pair of speakers unless they have already been bitten by the hi-fi bug. So outside of the professional market those in the Harbeth customer base have already been orbiting the black hole of hi-fi.

If circumstances permit it would be great for Harbeth to have an entry-level offering along the lines of the NRG speakers especially if it could be cheap enough to be a "first speaker" and well enough engineered to stifle the upgraditis before it really takes hold. One more thought... how about selling the Harbeth amplifier complete with cables in the box?

A.S.
04-06-2010, 03:51 PM
If circumstances permit it would be great for Harbeth to have an entry-level offering along the lines of the NRG speakers especially if it could be cheap enough to be a "first speaker" and well enough engineered to stifle the upgraditis before it really takes hold.Wait. Before we even consider revisting that again, we need to carefully consider the demographics of a Harbeth consumer. It varies greatly from continent to continent. Many new Harbeth buyers in the west are 55+. Most in the far east are about 30. So they are, right now the 'new generation' of customers. We don't have to wait for them; they are amongst us today.

When I complain here about all the BS I am really talking to those Asian users, not the western consumer with the disposable income to fritter hither and thither. We here have a duty to reassure the (far east) consumer that having saved for years to buy a pair of Harbeth speakers that they're not on a financial treadmill. In those markets consumers really do save up week by week and over a period of years. But in the far east, the real value of hard earned money is still fully appreciated and there are daily hard choices to be made, often literally of life and death in the absence of a state-funded social net.

And speaking as one of a very very few westerners who has actually worked on a production line in the far east, I can tell you that we in the west have not the slightest idea of what hard, grinding work actually means. Hence the tragedies due to unfulfilled dreams we have read about recently (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-05-26/suicides-among-china-factory-workers-surge-labor-group-says.html).

miniwatt
04-06-2010, 05:21 PM
Most in the far east are about 30.

True enough! I'm 30 this year...

Sebastien
04-06-2010, 06:33 PM
... Those in their twenties and thirties. Where are they? ...

I'm here Alan! Just waiting for my new SHL5...

Sebastien

Sebastien
04-06-2010, 06:44 PM
...I am truly fed up with the whole wretched bi-wire BS...

As French is my first language, there are some English expression that I don't understand. What does "BS" means?

Sebastien

yeecn
04-06-2010, 06:47 PM
BS = merde (I believe)

hifi_dave
04-06-2010, 07:12 PM
Actually it is Bull merde.

STHLS5
04-06-2010, 07:30 PM
7. The Biwiring Lie

"Even fairly sophisticated audiophiles fall for this hocus-pocus. What’s more, loudspeaker manufacturers participate in the sham when they tell you that those two pairs of terminals on the back of the speaker are for biwiring as well as biamping. Some of the most highly respected names in loudspeakers are guilty of this hypocritical genuflection to the tweako sacraments— they are in effect surrendering to the “realities” of the market.

The truth is that biamping makes sense in certain cases, even with a passive crossover, but biwiring is pure voodoo. If you move one pair of speaker wires to the same terminals where the other pair is connected, absolutely nothing changes electrically. The law of physics that says so is called the superposition principle. In terms of electronics, the superposition theorem states that any number of voltages applied simultaneously to a linear network will result in a current which is the exact sum of the currents that would result if the voltages were applied individually. The audio salesman or ’phile who can prove the contrary will be an instant candidate for some truly major scientific prizes and academic honors. At the same time it is only fair to point out that biwiring does no harm. It just doesn’t do anything. Like magnets in your shoes".

-Source The Audio Critic's The Ten Biggest Lies in Audio (http://www.theaudiocritic.com/downloads/article_1.pdf).

BTW, what is "Like magnets in your shoes"?

ST

Champion
05-06-2010, 11:43 AM
I totally understand Alan's concern regarding those BS driving people away from hi-end audio. I was a Merlin TSM user before I got my C7. Don't get me wrong, I still like many attribues of theTSM and I still think it is one of the best speakers at the price point. And Merlin is similar to Harbeth in the way that they keep refining their products for many years. But one of the main reasons that I move away from it is due to the philosophy of the designer - cable, amps, stands etc makes a huge difference in sound. It wasn't a problem at the beginning, but everytime I ask the designer how I can improve the sound (e.g. better bass), the answer is something - your cable is not up to the task, try brand x. And when I look at how much those cables cost, they are like several hundred dollars. So it is a no go. Next time it would be the preamp is not good, or the amp is not ideal. Try the new jumper. I appreciate his help but at the end, I feel that I will never be able to get the best sound out of my speakers or even get anywhere close, and my system will always be sub-optimal. That started me looking for something else.

If an audiophile can be driven away from a good product by pseudo-science, how can we expect non-audiophile to start this hobby?

A.S.
05-06-2010, 02:08 PM
I totally understand Alan's concern regarding those BS driving people away from hi-end audio. ... I [felt] that ... my system will always be sub-optimal ... If an audiophile can be driven away from a good product by pseudo-science, how can we expect non-audiophile to start this hobby?The answer is you can't expect newcomers to be attracted to quality audio any more than they'd be attracted to the mysteries of witchcraft. In marketing speak, if there are significant barriers to entry to a hobby or interest, very few would-be consumers will jump those barriers. And if they do, their interest may quickly wane once the complexity and confusion (and cost) becomes apparent after they've joined the club.

So BS serves the industry only in the short term. In the long term, it divides and destroys. As we at Harbeth are only interested in the long term, we are hostile to BS. It is the enemy of long term commercial growth and consumer satisfaction.