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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Listening in an unfamiliar situation

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  • Listening in an unfamiliar situation

    I'd make the observation that listening to equipment at a dealership can be fraught. Like test driving a car, there is an artificiality in the situation which colours our experience, and makes us vulnerable to suggestion.

    The listening room used by the Hifi shops are often cluttered with other speakers, esoteric and likely non-neutral (expensive) chords are used, without us knowing if they have resistance circuits or some such built in, power conditioners constrain the current supply, or rooms are overdamped to the point of being dead to echoes, the rooms are smaller than our listening rooms, or much larger, and so forth.

    All of these factors can bias us towards brighter/duller, low powered/high powered amps, clipping (more incisive sounding initially), handicap lower powered amps or advantage amps with overspecified capacitors ( ie being fed a lower current than the designer intended).

    I suspect that one could devise a listening room which might exaggerate the advantage of expensive gear over cheaper gear - especially as the relationship between power and price seems to be exponential! I mean, cheap amps or budget amps tend to deliver 60 to 80 watts, moderate priced amps seem to deliver something under 100watts, and most units that deliver 100-150 watts go up a step, and beyond 150watts, prices tend to get silly.

    Is the price relationship a carefully cultured but fictional expectation? Does a $150 aluminium faceplate, an extra 5 cm in height, and some LEDs really justify the extra 2x premium? One has to wonder...

    I've had a frustrated dealer tell me that my problem was that my Shl's were the problem. Too hard to drive. Too hard to "match" with amplifiers, and to consider speakers which were more "adaptable", which I took to mean one of their speakers. Not too controversial, I suppose, as Harbeths are not currently distributed in Australia.
    The same dealer managed to suggest they tried to negotiate a reduction in RRP of 35% would allow a certain amp to "walk out of the door" (at $8000)....but that they could only secure an assurance down to $10000, from $12000... So just what is the price elasticity of the product??!

  • #2
    We had this discussion here in Greece, recently. It is sad to inform our worldwide HUG that most (more than 90%) of the dealers in my country avoid or deny bringing Hi-Fi equipment at home for demos in the real environment of the potential buyer...
    I just can't understand why, amidst an international financial crisis with sinking sales for the majority of consumer electronics, this stupidity grows instead of being replaced by increasing willingness to fully cover the buyer's needs.
    One has to be very narrow minded to think only about his profit margin, instead of adding a probably permanent and dedicated client/supporter to his clientele.
    And I feel very happy to have a first class professional like Mr. Alan Shaw behind my SHL5s... For very obvious reasons!


    • #3
      Home Trials are Essential

      My principal these days (since I've been buying higher end gear) is that home trials are essential.

      My current set of equipment which was bought over the last ten years or so comes either from on-line stores, direct from the makers, or via a dealer who works from his home. All was selected because of home trials and the selection process began either from recommendations and/or on-line research.

      Any decent on-line dealer will allow a home trial (paying money up front of course).

      With a small scale dealer you obviously have to develop a rapport with him, to trust him. The choice of equipment is limited to dealerships he can get but also, if he's an honourable man, stuff he believes in. I went to his house to discuss my requirements and listen to some equipment. Selecting a few pieces we then go to my home and try them out. If one seems worthy he leaves it with me for a couple of weeks to get the feel of it.

      I'm very satisfied with both methods.

      I leave behind questions of discounts etc. for dealers like mine.