"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create the audible sonic personality that you hear. This includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, such as the relationship between recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to get deeply into discussing the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"

Feb. 2018
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BBC pilots lossless Radio 3 stream

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  • BBC pilots lossless Radio 3 stream

    I have just come across details of this pilot, see here :-

    The stream can be found here :-

    Because the stream is only available using the Firefox web browser (at the moment), it may be a bit limiting for most who may be compelled to listen via headphones connected to a computer, but there are ways to get the stream into your hifi sytem, If you have a USB DAC, or audio out via HDMI, or S/PDIF out on your computer, with a corresponding input on your amplifier.

  • #2
    It is coming through, and seems to sound just fine. However, since I am outside the UK and higher resulutions are normally not available outside the UK, does anyone know of a way to check within Firefox what bitrate I am actually receiving?


    • #3
      I have tested the BBC Radio 3 stream. The data rate seems to be in the range 80 kB/sec to 100 kB/sec. For uncompressed CD-quality stereo data, the data rate is about 176.4 kB/sec. FLAC compression of CD music typically results in the file sizes of tracks being halved. Hence, it looks as if the Radio 3 stream is sending data that is at a typical data rate commensurate with FLAC compression.


      • #4
        I do not think this trial stream is geo-blocked so you should be getting the same as UK residents.

        It is not obvious to me how to ensure bit-perfect playback from the Firefox browser. If I find out more I will report it here. In most audio players there is an option to use WASAPI output which will ensure bit-perfect playback, but that is not an option with a web browser. This web browser stream is therefore being 'processed' by the Windows audio mixer (or similar processing on MAC or Linux systems).

        Some DACs will report the sample rate and bit depth, but they will report the sample rate after the signal exits the Windows audio mixer. In other words it will be whatever the Windows mixer is configured to do. Setting the Windows mixer to the same bit depth and sample rate that the audio leaves the BBC may be the way to let this radio stream through the computer 'unmolested' by the Windows audio mixer.


        • #5
          Thank you all. It certainly sounded very good, and rather better than the low bitrate that I normally get for BBC radio 3. But there is always expectation bias.....


          • #6
            I am listening to Tristan und Isolde, live from the Met. The sound quality is excellent, but there is a continuous noise/hum in the background, easily audible in quieter passages. Would that be the Met's airconditioning?


            • #7
              If you are on a Windows 10 machine, you can go and open the Task Manager. Click the Performance tab. Then click Open Resource Monitor, located near the bottom left of the window. Click the Network tab. Look at the section labelled Network Activity, where you should see the Firefox application listed somewhere. Once there, you should be able to see the download rate for the Firefox process that is getting the Radio 3 music stream.


              • #8
                Now that I have listened a bit more, I must report that the signal is quite often dropped for a second or so. We do have pretty fast cable internet and the computer in my study has a wired ethernet connection. Otherwise I am very happy with the quality.


                • #9
                  I get a fluctuating rate between 0Mbps and 2.7 Mbps, without other processes running.


                  • #10
                    I am listening to the wonderful Johannes Passion under John Butt, who I still remember as the organ scholar at King's. The BBC sound is fantastic, as is this music. If my desert island life would allow for only one piece of music, this would be it.
                    No dropped signal this time, not even once.


                    • #11
                      I am currently listening to the live broadcast from King's College Cambridge (on my main system). The broadcast sound is indeed excellent, almost persuading me that lossless is indeed superior. The recording itself is on the dry side, without too much of the chapel's reverberant acoustics. It does not quite sound like the real thing that I happen to know so well.
                      In the interval some studio recording of piano music, with enough detail to hear the pedal mechanism... Again, no dropped signal.


                      • #12
                        I have 'dipped into' the lossless Radio 3 stream 4 or 5 times. A few times I got continual playback of music, and on 2 occasions I had problems with buffering (audio dropouts) too frequent to make the experience enjoyable.