HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

The Harbeth User Group is the primary channel for public communication with Harbeth's HQ. If you have a 'scientific mind' and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - audio equipment decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual Science of Audio sub-forum area of HUG is your place. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and should be accessible to non-experts and able to be tried-out at home without deep technical knowledge. From a design perspective, today's award winning Harbeths could not have been designed any other way.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings area is you. If you are quite set in your subjectivity, then HUG is likely to be a bit too fact based for you, as many of the contributors have maximised their pleasure in home music reproduction by allowing their head to rule their heart. If upon examination we think that Posts are better suited to one sub-forum than than the other, they will be redirected during Moderation, which is applied throughout the site.

Questions and Posts about, for example, 'does amplifier A sounds better than amplifier B' or 'which speaker stands or cables are best' are suitable for the Subjective Soundings area only, although HUG is really not the best place to have these sort of purely subjective airings.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters and Harbeth does not necessarily agree with the contents of any member contributions, especially in the Subjective Soundings area, and has no control over external content.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Oct. 2017}
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Social media marketing techniques

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  • Social media marketing techniques

    Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
    I became a member of the forum just a month ago, and I thought I might share my reasoned views that the only valid reason to upgrade is if the DAC feature is needed. If not, this statement was just a brazen lie that would create dissatisfaction in PM 6004 owners, best ignored, because in general I noticed a lot of upgraditis noise and money being spent by other members as evidenced in many threads. And statements about how this 50wpc make of amp is better than that 50wpc amp of another make for the sound quality, musicality, and the usual adjectives.

    Never again. I have made my last post on that forum.
    When travelling through Forums and social media on the internet, and this includes many if not most audio forums, be on your guard. Many/most are not, in fact, run directly by the brands - why should they be? It's expensive having people with the ability to write sitting at computers all day long. These forums and social media sites are subcontracted to firms who specialise in masquerading as the manufacturer and his readers, for a monthly fee, with various extras and options. Sitting across a desk in a call-centre arrangement are the "manufacturer" facing the "consumer" and they pre-agree and micro-manage post by post, hour by hour, day by day, the way they intend to steer the forum for the benefit of their client.

    Additional paid-for options the client can take-up include:

    - unsociable hours support (the UK may be asleep, but China readers are awake),
    - weekend operation
    - crisis management 1 (oil well explodes, people injured, production halted)
    - crisis management 2 (countering a bad review)
    - counteracting Warranty issues
    - countering hostile competitive comments (from other social media management agencies - possibly even the same agency, different client team on the floor above!)
    - creating excitement over new products
    - placing reviews
    - managing reviewers/journalists
    - handling takeover/staff changes etc. etc.

    Name one of the well know audio forums, incl. UK ones, and it's a virtual certainty that it is run by a third party, outside the manufacturer's premises, and is free wheeling to an approved agenda with the client. Payment, above a basic fee is related to a number of measurable criteria such as number of times a product is mentioned in social media outside the forum, retweets, new member sign-ups and the like.

    You may not like HUG, you may violently disagree with our objective-driven positions, but you are hearing Harbeth's views directly, unadulterated, undiluted, unfiltered and first hand. That is extremely rare indeed in audioland. So when you are trawling other forums, ask yourself who is really behind those posts that breed discontentment with last month's product.

    Contrast that nonsense with the number of times we here at Harbeth blow our own trumpets about our products. You are going to have to look very hard indeed to find such posts here: we let our users do the talking for us. It is also why we have to lightly moderate this forum, to remove what we sense, rightly or wrongly, are product placement pitches by contributors who may be paid advocates (of, for example, audio amplifiers) or worse, members of the public who have been manipulated into being unpaid brand advocates. It's a dirty, cold, ruthless business which uses every and all means to get audio products above the noise floor and to the attention of the public and social media is the cheapest, most immediate and most effective way of doing that.

    How much that is written in the general audio media (which I do not read, at all) would I believe about, for example, audio electronics? Not one single solitary word. Nothing is as it seems on the radio, on TV, in print, in the cinema or in social media.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Media management

    Examples of social media agencies:

    velocitydigital who offer "Content creation... Compelling and effective blog posts, impactful and clever videos and shiny graphic design. All things we do and do rather well. Even if we do say so ourselves."

    The list of suppliers is endless as is the long as the range of services they can provide clients.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK


    • #3
      For practical info only

      I do not know much about Audio Forums - but are there many that even pretend to be a "manufacturer's forum"? I can only think of the Naim group (other than HUG).

      Most other forums I have come across appear to be run by enthusiast groups (HiFi Wigwam) or internet portals of audio-video magazines (what hifi etc).

      One would think both can be influenced by manufacturers or their PR agents with specific agendas - probably easier with the second group but even the first one must have a "business model" to survive. I only trust one thing - even though its the most unreliable source - how something sounds to me. I have rationalised that to myself by using two simple (possibly flawed) arguments:

      - I somehow always seem to like the cheaper products (so the economic driver is strong)

      - at the end of the day it is me who will listen to the system - so its better to buy something that sounds good to me rather than trust the opinion of a reviewer or another user (whose taste or hearing may be different than mine)

      I use forums only to seek practical information (like how to set up or how to secure the speakers on a stand etc) - not to decide what I like or what I will spend my money on.


      • #4
        A select list of forums

        Apart from the HUG I restrict my regular sampling of Audio Fora to Computer Audiophile and the PS Audio Forum.

        The latter is (like the HUG) run by the owner / designer / CEO of the company. The former has a wealth of reference material and is run by an independent engineer (as far as I can tell based on the material presented).

        Both have intelligent discussions with the occasional inevitable conflict of views but very rarely is there any rancour. Contributors have been warned to behave and in extremes banned from membership.


        • #5
          Forums overview

          Originally posted by davidlovel View Post
          Apart from the HUG I restrict my regular sampling of Audio Fora to Computer Audiophile and the PS Audio Forum.

          The latter is (like the HUG) run by the owner / designer / CEO of the company. The former has a wealth of reference material and is run by an independent engineer (as far as I can tell based on the material presented).

          Both have intelligent discussions with the occasional inevitable conflict of views but very rarely is there any rancour. Contributors have been warned to behave and in extremes banned from membership.
          Linn have a user forum, not commercial at all, quite handy because when I had a Linn streamer it had a remarkable reluctance to emit an audio signal. Linn people only talk about Linn. I suspect they dream about aktiv cards. Their "General hifi" page seems to be exclusively about Linn. Their products lock you in and you have to escape (like I did) before its too late.

          PS Audio - and I have two of their boxes in my system - has (from 20 minutes of thorough research) extensive and generally interesting input from their owner, an opinionated Scottish-named bloke who's been knocking around in audio since the mid 70's and hates valve amplification and spinning bits of plastic, to the extent that he's made a device that turns your treasured LPs into billions of 1's and 0's. Personally, I plugged in those two boxes and forgot they existed. He does bleat on a lot about how wonderful his stuff is, but can be forgiven as he clearly treats every customer as his last.

          One UK forum in particular is good for selling stuff (like Linn streamers) and another well-known one seems to be a bunch of old box-swapping mates wittering on incessantly. I went on fora 3 to 4 years ago to try and learn something about today's audio when putting together my system. I learned that the last place to go to learn about audio is an audio forum, my system having evolved by dumb luck, if not random selection, and the occasional use of my ears.

          Even though I have two valve-powered devices and spin bits of polluted plastic that might as well have been manufactured on a poultry farm, HUG has been very useful detox and I may have learnt a thing or two.

          If you want to know one of the tricks of the internet marketing trade, check out, to whom I recently paid $77 of my hard earned ...


          • #6
            Mind control

            Regarding Alan's post 1, I had realised that there were stooges of a drone/clone type deliberately placed on forums to influence direction of discussion in favour of certain manufacturers, but not perhaps realised the extent to which contracts and formal business arrangements existed to that end.

            Attempting to control others' thoughts or influence them in an underhand or dishonest way I regard as immoral; we ought to use argument and persuasion only, not manipulation.

            Although slightly different in vein, over recent years I have been becoming increasingly unable to tolerate media as in radio and TV, and have come to the conclusion that although it may not be a result of a contracted arrangement, increasingly programmes shown are from a narrow spectrum, politically not controversial, and usually exhibiting clichéd values and social reactions. A film maybe shown which exemplifies certain values several times in a week, rather than others which may have provided a variety, and of political stances also.

            Whilst plumbing yesterday I heard the Archers on R4, and have observed over the recent months just how the actors are playing roles which are involved in extreme emotional upsets, and seeming to impress upon listeners an adherence to old entrenched patterns of behaviour and ideas, thus not tending to provoke radical analysis. This seems to me a major tool of political 'control', that of constant repetition of example which may well result in internal absorption and embedding, at least subliminally.

            This is counter to personal free will, personal evaluation of cultural norms, and tending to be counter to a healthy autonomy which enables evolution through reasoned argument.

            I wonder exactly what is discussed in board rooms, or at the golf course by very senior people in Government and large organisations like the BBC for example. When I was there it was widely expressed and presumably also thought, that the BBC was independent from the Government, despite the latter financing the World Service, which is blatantly of political value to the state.

            It has since emerged that certain BBC employees who were regarded as having questionable political loyalties would have a small Christmas tree symbol stamped on their personal reports, determined by the security services, despite the earlier claims of independence from Government.

            I am a member of another audio forum which seems to be more like a mutual admiration society then a group involved in discussion about seeking truth. It is evident there that anyone seen to break 'the code or protocol' by being contentious, is immediately ridiculed and 'punished'. The moderator runs the forum like a sheep dog rounding up the flock, biting at the heels of any dissenters.

            So we seem to be in a society in which the dynamic is that the powerful attempt to control the psychology of the individual by any and every means.


            • #7
              Covert influence

              Originally posted by ssfas View Post
              If you want to know one of the tricks of the internet marketing trade, check out, to whom I recently paid $77 of my hard earned ...
              It's hard to believe anyone who would create such an obnoxiously busy looking website would have anything to teach. Was it worth $77 or $7.77?

              It's somewhat ironic that a thread about social media marketing techniques would actually have immediate examples, thus propagating the brands mentioned in the thread, even ever so slightly.


              • #8
                "Asymmetry of Information" is the foundation of market economics

                In a day and age when most "news" sources (be it print or television or radio) mostly broadcast opinion masked as "news", should anything like this surprise us at all?

                As it is probably true that manufacturers or marketing companies employ PR agencies to manage their reputation online, similarly one would not be surprised to discover that there are also agencies employed to blatantly or subtly (in the latter case by questioning any feature anyone else claims that puts the "sponsor" at a disadvantage) to undermine specific brands or to undermine all competition to a specific brand.

                Going through this forum one does notice a few threads where not-so-subtle endorsements of specific brands are made. I am sure many of them are perfectly innocent - just someone very happy with his/her purchase. Also, many of them are probably just someone's bias or love for a specific brand or approach.. but then some probably are not that innocent.

                Free market does not, necessarily, guarantee "freedom of mind". And that's because the strongest supporters of free market have everything to lose if that "freedom" was universal. Economists talk about a term called "asymmetry of information" - without which there would be no market inefficiencies. And if a market is completely "efficient" which requires every player to have equal access to information (without any adulteration) then there will be no opportunity to take advantage of what traders refer to as "arbitrage".

                Sadly it is the "consumer" (in more sense than the narrow definition) has least access to real information.


                • #9
                  Crowd funding an audiophile magazine?

                  Suprising that the industry come to this? Read here.

                  Click image for larger version

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                  • #10
                    Hifi journalists living on the edge ....

                    I think there is a convergence of traits and opinions towards the idea that audio is in its dying throes in the conventional sense that it has existed for 50+ years, and also that this crowd funding ad. represents a last ditch attempt to further the journalists' situations.

                    We have seen through the 'foo', more rationality is entering audio discussion and audiophoolery being exposed. One of the most regrettable traits I have experienced in the last few weeks is that much equipment is now not very compatible with other equipment, and a further purchases may be necessary to make them work together.

                    This is a disgraceful tactic, but which obviously promotes sales and thus furthers commercial interests; it is I feel disingenuous.

                    I am gradually losing my hearing acuity, and as far as I can perceive my system is so good that much film and broadcast sound is despite this, easily faulted on it.

                    Many might say that because voices particularly, are unnatural, that this indicates flaws in the system, but I regularly hear much better sound from imported music on broadcast programmes, which suggests to me that the medium is functioning OK, and that the poor voice quality is due to lack of care by broadcast production teams and engineers.

                    I believe this because Alan and Derek in the anechoic chamber are well replayed, and in several recent programmes, one on Anne Boleyn particularly, the narrator is clear and on mic, but the contributers, even in the open air, sound as though in a cupboard.

                    These circumstances, along with the poor state of artistic creativity, poor singing, and poor recording, conflate to discourage me from any desire to improve my own reproduction quality; it is good enough to enjoy good art.

                    There must be many Hi-Fi journalists worried about their futures I feel.