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Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best 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 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 among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system 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. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

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Feb. 2018
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Keith Emmerson, RIP

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  • Keith Emmerson, RIP

    I had pub lunch today with our company photographer in Chiddingly, East Sussex. Here. The pub draws music fans from all over the south as it has live bands playing every weekend.

    Knowing that Keith Emmerson lived within walking distance and how he used to play for fun there, I asked if anyone had seen him recently. It seems that he commit suicide in the USA, his adopted home, in March this year.

    ELP was the British band of my teenage years. My classmates had their own favourites - Genesis, Pink Floyd, King Crimson. But the band I found attractive on a number of levels, not the least of which was the use of classical tunes, was Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Who would have thought that the last time I'd experience them live was at the Royal Albert Hall some 15 years ago. I'll never forget Emmerson having to take three attempts to get his tightly clad leather trousered leg over the Hammond organ before he stabbed it: his trademark act. Fanfare For The Common Man here.

    I was only listening to an ELP CD in bed on my Sony portable player the other night as my wife gently slept. I'm not sure how soon I can do that again without a tear of gratitude for my musical youth, and for such a sad end. ELP's musicianship, creativity and use of the sound stage was a factor in my being here today.

    Here he explains the Mog synthesiser.

    RIP and thank you. We all shuffle forward one step.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    A golden oldie

    Haven't listened to this one in ages:


    • #3
      Ginastera - Toccata.

      The best to watch a fragment from their famous gig at California Jam 1974 -

      'Emerson Lake and Palmer had completed “Toccata,” a stand-out track on 1973’s Brain Salad Surgery, before it occurred to anyone that they needed to ask permission to use the song. That led Keith Emerson on a quest.

      After all, “Toccata” — though it would ultimately include a wash of Emerson’s patented prog-era synthesized effects, and even a drum synthesizer from Carl Palmer — had grown out of the fourth movement of Argentine composer Alberto Ginastera’s “First Piano Concerto.” Upon contacting Ginastera’s publishers, Emerson Lake and Palmer were politely informed that he did not allow adaptations of his compositions.

      Emerson wasn’t quite so easily deterred. “I learned that Ginastera was still alive and living in Geneva,” Emerson tells Broadway World, “so I got his number and called him myself. The next day, I was on a plane to Geneva. I had a nice lunch with Alberto and his wife, and then I played the tape for him.”

      It’s fair to say that Ginastera, who passed a decade later at 67, had never heard his work quite this way — and Emerson, at first, was horrified by what he perceived to be the great composer’s disdain.

      “When it was over, he had this strange look on his face,” Emerson adds. “He looked like he was in pain! And he said something like, I can’t remember the exact words but something like ‘That is horrible!’ I thought, oh God, he hates it! And I was ready to go home. But his wife said to us: ‘No, no, no, he says diabolical in a good way, like unbelievable!’ It turns out, he was actually overwhelmed by the recording. In the end, he loved it!”'

      after Someting Else!


      • #4
        School memories

        How sad. I do remember them playing in a school concert in my secondary school. It was pretty spectacular. And yes, we are getting on.


        • #5

          Thanks for those comments. It made me curious to find more links.

          This is just fabulous. Listening (and watching) made me realise how my love of staccato piano technique must have been awakened with this track from ELPs Tarkus. How on earth could Rachel play this from memory? Wonderful. Awe inspiring. What a loss. Could any of us have done anything to avert this tragedy? Could he have know how much he meant to a generation? We all failed him.

          Come to Bristol next February and we'll play it. I'd forgotten how much I love it. I wonder if there is a surround mix?

          Here. Play it right through.

          P.S. I've only just realised.

          And here. Wonderful.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK


          • #6
            Internet misery, again

            A little more probing, and the vile hand of the internet (yet again, it's becoming a common theme) shows itself:

            Keith Emerson's girlfriend says he killed himself because he feared disappointing his fans. Mari Kawaguchi says Emerson, Lake and Palmer keyboardist had nerve damage that had hampered his playing and left him "depressed, nervous and anxious".

            The girlfriend of Keith Emerson says the rock legend killed himself because nerve damage had left him unable to perform perfectly, and he agonised about the thought of disappointing his fans.

            Mari Kawaguchi found the 71-year-old keyboardist and founding member of Emerson, Lake and Palmer dead on Friday in the apartment the couple shared in Los Angeles.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK


            • #7
              What a loss

              I always liked the Tarkus album best, even have it on old vinyl, mostly for the artwork. I knew Keith Emmerson died in the USA as I read a note in a music magazine at that time but I had no idea it would be of interest for many here. It was very sad, especially the way he died...

              All in all, one of the best bands of the era and musicianship of the ELP was always impeccable. It was a super group when they started. Keith Emmerson was a member of The Nice before, Greg Lake came from King Crimson and Carl Palmer was in the Crazy World of Arthur Brown and Atomic Rooster before he joined Greg and Keith.

              What a loss it was...



              • #8
                ELP surround sound mixes

                Three ELP albums have been released in surround sound form to date: ELPs debut album and Tarkus (DVD-A) and Brain Salad Surgery (SACD).

                In May 2012, Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) announced that he had recently remixed two classic albums by ELP, their first (eponymous) album from 1970 and second album Tarkus from 1971. Both albums were subsequently released by Sony 27 August 2012 as 3 disc sets. In each case disc one is a CD of the original mix (duplicating the Palmaccio master), disc two is a CD of the stereo remix in the form of an alternate version of the album, adding a lot of bonus material and previously undiscovered tracks recorded during the sessions. Disc 3 is a DVD-Audio containing lossless 5.1 surround sound mixes and high resolution versions of the 2012 stereo mixes.

                Sanctuary Records released a remastered version of Brain Salad Surgery album in 2008, containing three discs. The first disc consists of the original album; the third disc is the same, but on Super Audio CD in surround sound. The second disc contains different recordings and mixes of the album's tracks, as well as two bonus tracks.

                Their Trilogy album is a mysterious case. References to a quad version of this album appeared in 1974 Harrison or Schwann record & tape guides, listing Trilogy in the Quadraphonic 8-track tape cartridge format. Collectors report never seeing a Trilogy Q8 at retail, despite its having a catalog number "Cotillion QT-9903." Quadraphonic mix of the album is perhaps still preserved somewhere in the archives and might be released in the future.

                Similar story happened to their first real live album, Welcome Back, My Friends, to the Show That Never Ends. The band used a Quadrophonic PA system on the tour, allowing a Quadrophonic mix of the album to be released on three 8-track cartridges. A four-channel sound LP, known as Quadradisc, was planned for release but it was scrapped due to engineering issues with master recording which prevented JVC, the manufacturer, from cutting a stable master to meet the format's specifications. In consequence multi channel mix of the album hasn't been released to date.


                • #9
                  The shock of discovery

                  I remember hearing the news of Keith Emerson's death when it was announced on the BBC's Breakfast news show.

                  There have been other musicians, who I have admired immensely from my youth, who have died and the news has slipped me by. It is very saddening when that missed news catches up with you. Somehow it seems to have a greater impact than hearing the news contemporaneously. It reminds you that the world we grew up with is constantly eroding.


                  • #10
                    Really Nice

                    I never really 'got' ELP but I loved this:



                    • #11
                      And now also Greg Lake is dead. He just died yesterday. Another sad news. I loved his voice, especially on ELP and first two King Crimson albums. He was also a great bass guitar player and his role in ELP was very important as he was not only a singer and bass player but also played all acoustic and electric guitars on their studio albums.

                      What a versatile and talented musician he was!


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Milosz View Post
                        And now also Greg Lake is dead. He just died yesterday. Another sad news. I loved his voice, especially on ELP and first two King Crimson albums. He was also a great bass guitar player and his role in ELP was very important as he was not only a singer and bass player but also played all acoustic and electric guitars on their studio albums. Very versatile and talented musician he was.
                        Oh no, no no. Not another loss.

                        Obituary here.
                        Key figure in 1970s prog rock as bass guitarist for Emerson, Lake & Palmer
                        Alan A. Shaw
                        Designer, owner
                        Harbeth Audio UK


                        • #13
                          Just wanted to say that I love the 2012 ELP remasters a lot. ELP's early albums never sounded so good before!