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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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"HUG hates analogue" (true or not?!)

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  • "HUG hates analogue" (true or not?!)

    I heard an interesting comment from someone in the audio trade. Like so much that swirls around in audioland, it's a distortion of the truth which happens to justify a particular stance. It's also extraordinarily flattering to think that a few words written here (of all places!) could impact on consumer behaviour in a retail environment! Wow - we have real power and didn't know it!

    So let's get to the facts.

    Home audio is one of the last great remaining democracies where consumers can spend as they wish chasing whatever audio goal they wish, hopefully not losing sight of the importance of music rather than equipment. When the equipment becomes the be-all and end-all then that's a dangerous slide into compulsive behaviour - as we have heard many times here - and that's not a nice mental position to be in as a consumer, although it is the ideal position for marketeers to hold their consumers to ransom in. We here, me included, are completely and utterly disinterested in the audio hardware at home to accompany our speakers, excepting that we better than anyone know the performance capabilities of our children as only a parent can. As we want the very best for our loudspeaker children, naturally we want them fed with the highest quality material which stretches their potential. We all know that sometimes it really is necessary to be proactive in providing guidance about what works best, and what is unlikely to achieve the full potential we have built into Harbeths.

    As the Harbeth designer, I really do know the potential of my speakers better than anyone alive, as you would expect. I know how loud they will play before they self-destruct (very, very loud), I have explored how they can resolve extremely quiet tones in the music (a bit of a Harbeth speciality) and all manner of other sonic evaluations, and I have optimised dozens of interlocking parameters in the design to make them behave as they do. For me, in my day job, music is largely a test signal to tease out some performance parameter or other from the speakers, as you would expect as it is my job. For personal listening to music undistracted by technology and off-duty as it were, a transistor radio (a fancy one, $100) playing quietly in the background some feet behind me is my way of enjoying music without becoming seduced by a fine audio system. That also allows me on the occasions when I hear a good system to experience hifi afresh every time - like returning from a two week holiday and driving your car as it it was your first time out: you experience sensations afresh.

    And so we get to the analogue/digital debate. Actually, it's not a debate at all, since the facts, as would be demonstrated by expert witnesses in court are clear and indisputable - it's a matter of personal choice, and as with all matters of personal choice, what is technically a better solution may well be set aside in preference to an emotional selection which satisfies in some way. Technically, it is possible to say with certainty that one type of car engine, diesel/petrol, objectively produces less environmental pollution than the other (by using calibrated equipment to measure it), but we can, and do, overlay onto those facts certain personal preconceptions we have about one or other, based on our own interpretations of the merits of either. And we then make a purchase decision, and live by it.

    When the CD format was launched on 3rd March 1983, the day I bought a Sony CDP-101, what surprised me and chums who listened, was that it did not sound vastly, unrecognisably different to the same music on vinyl on an SME/V15-III/Thorens turntable and in that respect it was a little disappointing. Or put another way, it was surprising that a system as crude as stamping platters of PVC (the same PVC as in wood glue) in dirty factories for 5 cents a piece could sound anything like as good as it did - under certain conditions indistinguishable from CD. The record industry, led by the classical labels, immediately adopted digital recording and within a year or two, wholesale discarded analogue recording/editing/mastering/media (esp. vinyl, cassette continued awhile) and never looked back. Those at the front end of the recording process making the recordings could hear musical elements buried under the hiss of even the very finest analogue system, and signal compression and distortion, let alone degradation in storage were completely eliminated at a stroke. They could hear that what they recorded onto digital tape (later, hard disc) was exactly and in every way what the microphones captured. High fidelity recording and replay, the holy grail of a hundred years audio quest, had been reached. Which was not, in hindsight, a very welcome business model, certainly not in retail audio sales.

    We, and others, have looked at the analogue recording/distribution/replay systems, and noted that they play almost no part in modern life, neither in telecoms, nor home theatre, nor the cinema, nor computers, leaving just AM/FM radio and vinyl, most of which is heaped high in charity shops, unwanted. Despite this, there is an army of those creating analogue replay hardware and we salute those who invest sweat and blood (not to mention cash) into finding ever more exotic ways of rotating an LP at exactly 33.3333 rpm. Unfortunately, whilst selling such equipment can be a lifeline at retail level, it does not in any way solve the fundamental problems of a rotating slab of PVC; the problems are not of the motor unit, they are of the entire concept of dragging a sharp gemstone along a trough crudely stamped into the plastic. Surely nobody would even attempt to argue that, compared with even the most basic digital system, that such a solution of storing sound as a highly vulnerable dirt-prone wiggling path feels right as an engineering solution, let alone performs right? The confounding variables that get in the way of making such a system capable of truly high fidelity sound are legion, well documented, have been know for fifty years or more and are, I'm sorry to say, wholly beyond doubt. Beyond doubt technically, that is.

    Which takes us back to the beginning, about audio democracy.

    If a consumer prefers the sound of one carrier technology over another, one loudspeaker over another, one amplifier over another, one cable over another, he has a right to get out his cheque book and put his hard earned cash behind that. And we (and the retail store) applaud that: the more, the merrier. What we cannot get behind is when demonstrably technically inferior solutions that could not, in my view as designer, be relied upon to extract the last atom of sonic detail somehow build momentum to the point that the inferior takes on the mantle of the superior, and myths develops that sucks-in less objective souls. All HUG is doing is highlighting the objective facts behind audio hardware as even-handedly as we are able, but if the consumer can not or will not, or does not want to see life objectively and impartially and makes purchase decisions that seem illogical, then that is entirely his prerogative.

    Speaking with a marketing hat on: ultimately, from an industry perspective, it doesn't matter what quality audio equipment the consumer buys - just get out to your local specialist audio store any buy something good!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Clarify

    Please clarify. All audio is analogue (ultimately). Are we talking analogue sources - 5p vinyl, shellac, wax discs?

    Comment


    • #3
      Does it feel right?

      Originally posted by ssfas View Post
      Please clarify. All audio is analogue (ultimately). Are we talking analogue sources - 5p vinyl, shellac, wax discs?
      I repeat my comments above....

      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
      ..Unfortunately, whilst selling such equipment can be a lifeline at retail level, it does not in any way solve the fundamental problems of a rotating slab of PVC; the problems are not of the motor unit, they are of the entire concept of dragging a sharp gemstone through a trough crudely stamped into the platter. Surely nobody would even attempt to argue that, compared with even the most basic digital system, that such a solution of storing sound as a dirt-prone wiggling path feels right as an engineering solution, let alone performs right?
      And this issue simply will not go away, because it is insurmountable. That does not, of course, impact at all on the pleasure, enjoyment and satisfaction of owning a finely crafted analogue system - but it does leave very serious questions that the consumer must answer for himself on a personal, one by one basis.

      Which is why, a public international forum such as this is the wrong vehicle to recommend such highly personal equipment choices. We are on much safer ground when discussing digital systems and media, because of the universality of their application and benefits and limitless supply of music in pristine form to play on such a system.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #4
        Lost its charm

        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
        We are on much safer ground when discussing digital systems and media, because of the universality of their application and benefits and limitless supply of music in pristine form to play on such a system.
        I have to agree.

        If I were to start my music collection from afresh (and assume I could find all I wanted on CD) I would absolutely abandon vinyl (CD now sounds very nice having cured excessive gain) The variables of the hardware, set up, vinyl condition, dust, static, operation of said hardware over the full record, subsonic power sucking, speaker bashing signals ensures that at some point you get a sub standard rendition of what is likely on a CD.

        I have several records themselves that are seemingly bad presses and have this strange hissy/spitty noise overlay at some points in the record, almost like it is overloading the cart, I really do need to find those on CD, which when played on a $50 DVD player should in fact destroy anything that could be achieved on a vinyl copy, on any TT, arm and cartridge.

        I used to feel clicks and pops on a record were somehow charming and yet lets face facts, that noise just gets in the way.

        Edit: I do still have vinyl recordings that I cannot get on CD, I do play them (though I feel my current phono stage is weak) and do enjoy the ritual of playing a record even if by the end of the lp you have to remove the fluff from the stylus that was interfering with the replay!
        Getting to know my C7ES3

        Comment


        • #5
          Bravo

          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
          All HUG is doing is highlighting the objective facts behind audio hardware as even-handedly as we are able
          A unique and brave attitude in this field !

          Comment


          • #6
            It's just fun!

            I will say this on the matter and then never speak of it again. I retain, play and occasionally buy lps (not classical, long ago got rid of all the vinyl and moved to cd) because it's fun to do. Not because of the sound quality. Sometimes the sound quality is acceptable for what it is, overcoming some pretty steep limitations inherent in the media. And sometimes I have not been able to find a decent digital copy of something I like so the vinyl lp is my friend. It's fun for me to goto the store or goodwill and browse through the bins and find something interesting and hold this big record in your hand with the large artwork and put it on a turntable and watch it go round and round.

            Only in one sense could lps be considered superior in my opinion. Due to the nature of the format they have so far been largely immune to the modern mastering techniques of extreme loudness, compression and squashed dynamics. This takes the wonderful potential of digital and can sometimes kill it for me. Thankfully classical music labels don't do this and they more than others know how to put out wonderful sounding digital recordings. But the world of Pop and Rock and even sometimes Jazz can be very hit or miss.

            Comment


            • #7
              A source of pleasure

              We, and others, have looked at the analogue recording/distribution/replay systems, and noted that they play almost no part in modern life, neither in telecoms, nor home theatre, nor the cinema, nor computers, leaving just AM/FM radio and vinyl, most of which is heaped high in charity shops, unwanted. Despite this, there is an army of those creating analogue replay hardware and we salute those who invest sweat and blood (not to mention cash) into finding ever more exotic ways of rotating an LP at exactly 33.3333 rpm. Unfortunately, whilst selling such equipment can be a lifeline at retail level, it does not in any way solve the fundamental problems of a rotating slab of PVC; the problems are not of the motor unit, they are of the entire concept of dragging a sharp gemstone along a trough crudely stamped into the plastic. Surely nobody would even attempt to argue that, compared with even the most basic digital system, that such a solution of storing sound as a highly vulnerable dirt-prone wiggling path feels right as an engineering solution, let alone performs right? The confounding variables that get in the way of making such a system capable of truly high fidelity sound are legion, well documented, have been know for fifty years or more and are, I'm sorry to say, wholly beyond doubt. Beyond doubt technically, that is.
              Sheer poetry - thanks for that.

              A few points, fairly random.

              1) Lots of kids like vinyl, my son included. His turntable cost 209 new, with stylus and cables.
              2) Anything that gets kids into music is good.
              3) He (and I) like to go vinyl shopping. It is more social and bonding than browsing streaming websites.
              4) The classical aspect proves beyond doubt that, in terms of quality and practicality, vinyl is superseded. In London, a town of 12 million souls, I can only think of one record shop that sells classical vinyl, and last time I was there on a Saturday afternoon to was empty.
              5) On the other hand, there are dozens of vinyl shops and they are normally buzzing.
              6) Strange as it may seem, for my son and his mates, quality of reproduction is not in the primary issue. It is about going to a gig or festival, hearing a new or much loved band, getting the album - SOMETHING TANGIBLE - and listening to it. It is a social activity.
              7) They also meet up and listen to records together. Would you do that with a CD or download? ("Fred, fancy coming round to hear my latest download?" - not likely)
              8) This applies to the more mature of us - how else would I have acquired a copy of "Tonto's Expanding Head Band" if I hadn't gone to my local store, had a chat with the owner, and taken a recommendation from his encyclopaedic knowledge of recorded non-classical music?
              9) I looked at images posted from a recent audio show. The number of very expensive turntables on sale was staggering. I consider them to be audio sculptures, objects of desire as opposed to primarily functional value for money objects. I buy sculptures as well, but they cannot spin a bit of plastic at 33.3333rpm.
              10) Have you ever heard of anyone A/B or blind testing a turntable? Get real. There is no objectivity involved. They are sold broadly as 200 disc spinners or 10,000 objets d'art.
              11) When I recently bought TEAC all-in-one for 200, it had phono inputs. Those clever guys in Japan did not do that by accident, but as a result of market research. Demand and thou shalt supply, as the good book says.
              12) One of the great joys of my youth was Cover Art. It's timeless. My son has those plastic frames and his favourite albums on the wall.
              13) There is a not insignificant community of people who like turntables for their DIY potential or ability to change little bits and pieces constantly and say one is better than the other. I consider such people to be very sad indeed.

              I do not consider vinyl a compromise as it usually sounds as good as digital.

              I would agree that sources are irrelevant (whether analogue, tape, streamed, CD etc.) and a blanket ban on the subject would be a good idea. To try and discuss speaker performance in the context of one or another media source would be hopeless. All we are concerned about is getting the best from a 1v to 2v or thereabouts data stream, it really does not matter what device produces it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Prioritizing the real problem areas - the room

                There are two areas with a meaningful impact on audio reproduction. The first is the recording venue and the placement of the microphones in it, plus the subsequent mix. Almost every time I listen to live radio 3 recordings I am stunned by a recording quality that is often so much better than on cd. Why is this? Is there less dynamic compression (the average level seems to be very low). The snag for the consumer is that you can only respond to bad recording quality by not buying that particular recording.

                Interestingly, however, if you compare reviews of cd's with at least some reviews of BD's you see that the latter have spectrum plots etc. Why not for cd's? The second area of importance is the flip side of this: the loudspeaker and the listening room. Harbeth produce some of the least compromised speakers, and if you select the right size for your room you have basically done all you can - apart from the room itself. In my experience the room is by far the most important area of potentially useful tinkering. My preferred mode of tinkering has been dsp room equalization, but there are other options as well.

                I think we have more or less exhaustively discussed what is required on the amplification side, but we have mostly ignored the room.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Having fun

                  As I stated in my opening post, the only issues I and HUG have is when a highly personal preference for audio item A is advocated by its supporter as a universal recommendation to purchase A, when it can be shown with only marginal effort that A is in fact technically grossely inferior to B, available at a fraction of the price. That is not to say that A's advocate is wrong, I respect his view. It's that he, and those who read his comments confuse and are unable to separate personal fulfilment from universal objectivity. Thus ridiculous comments like "CD sounds like crap" and "anything digital is flawed" and "vinyl is the closest to the truth" are entirely acceptable personal views which will be taken at face value as universal truths. Which they most definitely are not: the truth may be the exact opposite.

                  To quote myself:

                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  ... Which takes us back to the beginning, about audio democracy.

                  If a consumer prefers the sound of one carrier technology over another, one loudspeaker over another, one amplifier over another, one cable over another, he has a right to get out his cheque book and put his hard earned cash behind that. And we (and the retail store) applaud that: the more, the merrier. What we cannot get behind is when demonstrably technically inferior solutions that could not, in my view as designer, be relied upon to extract the last atom of sonic detail somehow build momentum to the point that the inferior takes on the mantle of the superior, and myths develops that sucks-in less objective souls. All HUG is doing is highlighting the objective facts behind audio hardware as even-handedly as we are able, but if the consumer can not or will not, or does not want to see life objectively and impartially and makes purchase decisions that seem illogical, then that is entirely his prerogative.

                  Speaking with a marketing hat on: ultimately, from an industry perspective, it doesn't matter what quality audio equipment the consumer buys - just get out to your local specialist audio store any buy something good!
                  By all means have fun - in fact, that's absolutely essential in this hobby, but make a clear distinction in the mind between the social/psychological side of the hobby and the inescapable reality that if "high fidelity" is the objective, then sometimes that is incompatible with the
                  warm satisfaction certain audio hardware brings to its (male) owners.

                  You will note how I avoid deconstructing the nature of the various speakers that I have designed. Consumers settle on their own balance between size/shape/price/sound/features and market reputation. What I as their designer observe about these children is sealed in a dark corner of my brain not for public discussion. I have my favourites and I think some are closer to that 'high fidelity' grail than others but my opinion is irrelevant - what you hear and like, can afford and can accommodate is all that matters. So when I read effusive comments about general audio hardware that evidently provides pleasure to the owner, it's a bit of a battle unpicking how much of that stacks up with known technical limitations, and what processes are going on in their brain that promotes the inferior to the superior and then motivates them to evangelise that position publicly. Armed with some technical insight, I may be able to see through the complexity of that situation, but the general reader would interpret such user comments a universal call to action. Which it isn't.

                  In short, what blights the high-fidelity business is the confusion of artistic satisfaction with technical truth: they are entirely different universes. The arty stuff is in the mind, the technical stuff is truly universal. To be honest, this does suit manufacturers, ourselves included. I have read end of term speaker reviews where I can barely recognise my own children, knowing what I know of them.

                  And yes, I do have real favourites where critical acclaim seems to have really understood what the product can do for the listener. And thankfully, I'm better skilled at that now than I have been at any point in the past.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Fun for me!

                    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                    As I stated in my opening post, the only issues I and HUG have is when a highly personal preference for audio item A is advocated by its supporter as a universal recommendation to purchase A, when it can be shown with only marginal effort that A is in fact technically grossely inferior to B, available at a fraction of the price. That is not to say that A's advocate is wrong, I respect his view. It's that he, and those who read his comments confuse and are unable to separate personal fulfilment from universal objectivity. Thus ridiculous comments like "CD sounds like crap" and "anything digital is flawed" and "vinyl is the closest to the truth" are entirely acceptable personal views which will be taken at face value as universal truths. Which they most definitely are not: the truth may be the exact opposite.

                    To quote myself:

                    By all means have fun - in fact, that's absolutely essential in this hobby, but make a clear distinction in the mind between the social/psychological side and the inescapable reality that if "high fidelity" is the objective, then sometimes that is incompatible with the
                    warm glow certain audio hardware brings to its (male) owners.
                    Thanks Alan! That's exactly the way I look at it, it's almost like I am two different people sometimes. If I want to have fun I can justify a vinyl listening session or purchase perhaps. I would never try and argue vinyl could be considered hi fidelity at this point in time given advances in playback technology, that would be ridiculous.

                    If I am after hi fidelity I need to track down a good digital copy of a recording. Hopefully one exists and is affordable. But that is not always a given.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks HUG

                      I had nice analog system.After I read Vinyl vs CD here.I compared same music on CD and LP.I simply prefer the CD.I sold my analog system (over 2K) and spent to my family.Thank you Alan and HUG.

                      I struggled much more with amplifiers,but finally I realised my mistake.I'll start to advertise my tube amplifier.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Advice, squared!

                        You are replying to your own posts and losing the plot. Have you broken into a sweat? Didn't your therapist tell you that, under no circumstances, should you ever again allow the subject of vinyl discs, turntables and other redundant analogue technology to enter your consciousness?

                        We are here to help.
                        You might want to listen to this. It will calm you down and the lyrics seem appropriate.
                        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41kF2-JvwPs

                        On a less serious note, whilst there does not seem any point in discussing source components on the HUG, it would be interesting to run a survey of the amplification people use, specifying the model of speaker being driven, watts into 8ohms, input sensitivity, approximate room size and (voluntarily) price paid.

                        p.s. Never ask an audioholic for an opinion on something they own. Their effusiveness will be in direct proportion to what they paid, squared.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Designing with complete confidence in the source

                          Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                          ...p.s. Never ask an audioholic for an opinion on something they own. Their effusiveness will be in direct proportion to what they paid, squared.
                          OK fine, Krell KST 100W, SHL5+ and I forget the rest. Maybe because of the Lagavulin in hand and the late hour, DOH! Audioholics, alcoholics, young persons and pretty much everyone will argue in favor of whatever it is they have purchased, call it human nature. I plead guilty! And finally, on to the task at hand.

                          I have noted a certain dismissive attitude towards the "vinyl experience" here at HUG. It pains me so. But I am smart enough to have deduced that Mr Shaw does not hate analogue. He is at the core, an engineer (my wife of 31 years is also one of those so I kind of get it) and he "believes in science"! By using digital playback systems to design Harbeth speakers he has eliminated a whole lot of crazy variables! Good idea.
                          I am a fan of turntables as well as CD players. I have already written (either here or on the VPI website) that my system at present reproduces both sources in a similar fashion. I have a few overlaps in my music collection and it is probably a 50/50 split whether I prefer the LP or CD.

                          I firmly believe that a great quality record playback system will cost a lot more than a great quality digital playback system. If I total up my VPI Scout 2, Sumiko BB cartridge, and VPI HW-16.5 record cleaning machine I have double the investment of my MF M1CDT and ancient Theta D/A processor. It will also require a lot more effort and for every CD that I bought and found unplayable (2?) I have a stack of warped or nasty sounding vinyl (30+). Why on earth would a common man want to double his investment in hardware for that? So I admit that LP playback is a PITA compared to CD's.

                          Why then do I persist in buying, cleaning, and playing LP's? Two reasons, it is fun for me, and a truly great record sounds better to me. Daft? I may be. But in my defense I have been doing this a long time. I believe that the technical inconsistencies of LP playback talk to my subconscience and convince my brain that it is hearing something lively, something that is living and breathing and cannot be counted by a machine.

                          Does HUG hate analogue? Certainly not. Does HUG have a personality? The personality of the designer of Harbeth speakers? Why yes, I believe it does. Does the designer of Harbeth speakers use a turntable to design them? No, that would be crazy!

                          Anywhoo, my 2 cents! (I'm a Yank, we have cents ;)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Harbeth and equipment spending

                            Another comment overheard (paraphrased):

                            "There is no point me making the effort to visit a specialist audio dealer. I've heard that Alan Shaw designs with an inexpensive Japanese CD player, doesn't use an outboard DAC, has Ikea plant pot stands as speaker supports, uses cheap electrical flex, doesn't have a power conditioner, has a range of old but serviced amps, uses interconnects from the $1 store .... if that lot is good enough for him to design speakers like the SHL5plus and M40.2, why the devil should I spend my hard earned cash on exotic audio equipment?"
                            Why indeed? Why would A.S. not be driving around in a knackered 30 year old, but serviced, car then?

                            There is an important distinction here between what will make an entirely acceptable sound for minimum outlay, and what level of investment will bring pride or ownership, durability and reliability. These cannot and must not be considered substitutes for each other.

                            It is surely the job of the professional salesman to demonstrate to the prospective customer who has the budget available that there is zero pride of ownership in basic, functional electronics made by anonymous, faceless corporations. Setting aside intangibles in the electronics like 'sound stage', 'imaging' and the like as we continue to champion, there are many real-world aspects of manufactured goods which make them worth paying for: styling, quality of parts, after care, functionality, compatibility, brand reputation and so on.

                            Western economies have had a tough time these past few years, and the motor trade has been particularly hard hit. Imagine being a car salesman. Just think of the objections you would face every day. The questions about why someone should buy your marque rather than another cheaper one. About value for money. About image and perception, after care and build quality, running-costs, residual value - surely one of the most challenging retail jobs. So, if a basic Ford can get the owner from A to B just as fast and at a fraction of the cost of a luxury motor, seeing as Western consumers are being so hard squeezed financially, it follows that luxury car sales have been hammered to extinction.

                            Quite the opposite.

                            Mercedes-Benz UK sales have risen over 17% first half 2015 - the biggest increase of any 'luxury' car maker. Why? Great products, an effective sales channel able to demonstrate product advantages to consumers and to take advantage of consumer's desires to own something above the basic. Something to think about in the audio trade? Ordinary people will pay for excellence when excellence is demonstrated. What they won't pay for - nor should they - is BS.

                            Click image for larger version

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                            Our mission is to assure prospective customers that unlike some speakers which present awkward electrical loads to home amplifiers, Harbeths are designed to be a universally easy load. That's absolutely No.1 design factor constantly in my mind. It mandates that we use basic no-frills equipment during the design process, to put ourselves in the least favourable consumer's position. Not by double-guessing what equipment he already has and how our speakers might behave under sub-optimal conditions, not by taking a gamble on how much power is available and about load interaction, by actually using what he would use, to be certain. If our speakers sound great with modest gear, then imagine what can be achieved when there is the will and desire to upgrade.

                            In essence, when the consumer is on a fixed budget, by allowing him to leverage his existing investment in home audio equipment, Harbeth takes a bigger bite of his available upgrade budget - he is not dissipating limited funds over new speakers plus stands, amp and cables. In our business view, that means he buys a bigger and better Harbeth and can revisit the entire system upgrade issue at some point in the future when his budget is not under stress. It's both the car dealer and audio dealer's salesman who need to empathise with the customer and to keep the relationship alive until the time is right for the trade-in.

                            Good business sense I'd say and the reason I drive what I do.
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Pride of ownership

                              You are dead right, Alan, pride of ownership must the number one factor in rotating audio equipment. I said once before that I could happily buy a Garrard 301 on a shiny plinth just to stare at - a design classic that happens to go round at 33rpm. My analogue device sits in a cupboard like the rest of the audio, so no bling for me.

                              Wanting 200w, I was very pleased to buy a unit half price that had apparently not been used as the owner "bought it for his collection". It did indeed look new. It is a Plinius P10, one of the uglier black boxes you could image. Who on earth would want to collect something like that? I can't say I care, his loss, my gain.

                              I am now convinced that power is required for the dynamics of large scale classical music. A new happy SHL5+ owner posted elsewhere about how he enjoys opera on them. I think I avoided orchestral music listening at home because I never had a system to do it justice.

                              Listening to Mahler 6 now on P3ESRs and it's the details that count, the rasp of a snare drum and the tingle(?) of triangle as the strings are chiselling away ... it is surprising how important a piece of bent metal a bit like a small coat hanger can be with 100+ other musicians giving it their all.

                              The fact that it can be resolved at all is remarkable. I still can't do opera at home as live opera is one of life's great and rare (due to the cost) pleasures.

                              Comment

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