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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. 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.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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We may need MRI scan after all - audio nervosa

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  • #16
    I am in 3rd....either one if any chances, P3ESR still best to me(I have C7 and SHL5 now..)
    "Bath with Music"

    Comment


    • #17
      I am no musical genius. I have difficulties telling the violin and viola sounds apart on a bad sound system. Harbeth clarity helped me do that. It adds that extra dimension to musical enjoyment. But even with Harbeth - or in a life concert for that matter - I would not be able to tell the 1st and 2nd violin apart. Sound system helps in music enjoyment, but it can only take us so far.

      But most of the time I simply allow myself to sink into that wash of sounds, with no efforts nor desire to tear it apart, to try to hear what instrument is playing what tune. It was simply enjoyable that way.

      What I have now is good enough for me. To go any further, I will need to be trained in music, not better sound systems.

      No I am not letting go of me Harbeth. The P3 especially. The P3 has that element of surprise. Every time when the music comes on, there is always the sense of awe that it can produce a sound so rich and full that belies its diminutive size. P3 fits the expression "small is beautiful" perfectly. Even my wife has develop a fondness of it, and has been listening to a lot more music since I set it up in our bedroom.

      Comment


      • #18
        Originally posted by DrewTurner View Post
        I belong to a rare species.I can concentrate on the music, get lost in the beauty of it all, yet still proudly maintain my forbidden status as a " HIGH END GURU".Scandalous!! Oh I forgot, I also believe quite a few other manufacturers of high end audio equipment, besides Harbeth, have integrity. Of course the rest of them are all part of a world wide conspiracy to cheat us out of our hard earned money and eventually take over the world.
        You have misinterpreted my example. It refers to where you start from - the initial path, approaching music of course, and in what kind of sense you keep on involving yourself to it. I did not mention anything about "hi-End Gurus". Because everyone has the right to listen to music. As well as to buy something decent, within his affordability margin, but without getting crazy day by day with "improvements" and "details" that probably will bring him progressively spending his time to find the "Holy Grail"... And I can't afford the money to provide even a sinking vessel somewhere in the Pacific, so to justify my approach...
        Cheers,
        thanos

        Comment


        • #19
          Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I'd like to think there's a middle ground between obsessional tweakery and listening on a transistor radio. Something like, oh, I don't know, the "golden mean". From Wikipedia:
          In philosophy, especially that of Aristotle, the golden mean is the desirable middle between two extremes, one of excess and the other of deficiency. For example courage, a virtue, if taken to excess would manifest as recklessness and if deficient as cowardice.

          Also known as having your porridge at just the right temperature. Lots of wisdom in philosophy and fairy tales.

          Comment


          • #20
            With all these talk about audiophile deception, the big audio scam, audiophilia nervosa & what not, i just can't help but feel that if one is so polarised to these extremes, then one shouldn't even be listening to Harbeth loudspeakers, much less be in this forum & supporting the Harbeth integrated amplifier. A transistor radio would suffice. What would non Harbeth users think of us when they read this thread? A group of people who totally don't subscribe to 'audiophilia' but yet would spend a few thousand pounds/dollars/ringgit to buy a pair (or perhaps 2 pairs or more) Harbeth loudspeakers to listen to music. Does it even make sense at all? Pardon me for saying this but I think its getting very contradictory here.

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            • #21
              Gan, I think Eric has already answered the question:
              Originally posted by EricW View Post
              Call me a cockeyed optimist, but I'd like to think there's a middle ground between obsessional tweakery and listening on a transistor radio. Something like, oh, I don't know, the "golden mean".
              Of course - the middle ground would depends on individual, and would change in time as well. For the past 10 years - it was an old Rotel loaned to me. For now P3 + AVR or mini stereo is good enough. I do have a C7 - if I were to do it again P3 would have been be a more practical choice.

              There is indeed a deception that exploits the compulsive nature of human. The rows and rows of ever more expensive equipments created the illusion that sound quality is directly proportional to the price of the item. This is the notion that I am challenging. There are many cases of people getting into financial ruins for chasing something that do not add enjoyment to life.

              I almost got 'persuaded' into paying much more than what I should have paid. I was ready to pay 3 times more for the speakers - but luckily I discovered Harbeth early enough. I was in dilemma about proper amplifiers for months. But now - AVR and mini stereo is good enough, despite whatever the mainstream audiophile opinion is.

              I considered Harbeth a honest value for money type of product. But even so I would not recommend it for everybody. I would not even consider this option myself until recently. It is only one has worked hard enough to establish a stable financial circumstance that one can afford this bit of luxury.

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              • #22
                Consumption and selling - and a good dealer

                Originally posted by yeecn View Post
                ... but luckily I discovered Harbeth early enough. I was in dilemma about proper amplifiers for months...
                We must be careful not to frighten those who have applied a proper skepticism to the purchasing of audio equipment (shoes, cars, computers or whatever) and contrast them with those who, for whatever reason, have been vulnerable to marketing. We should not forget that in a modern society, our socio-economic model is based on consumption. We need to buy goods and services. Money needs to rotate through our economic system as fast as possible. The global economy since 2008 has tasted the 'green' alternative society and sitting at home, cold and unable to pay the bills doesn't appeal. We need to buy things - we don't know any other way of providing rising living standards for the majority of people.

                So the problem really isn't one of production, nor is it one of marketing, since the supply side merely puts on the shelf products which conceivably could find a buyer, somewhere. The issue then is solely the inappropriate purchase of those goods by consumers for whom they were not intended, and the subsequent failure of those goods to satisfy the consumer. But if we are really honest, that incorrect purchase is entirely the consumers fault, not the suppliers. So if for example HiFi MegaMonthly magazine runs a story that amplifier X is the best in the world, they are merely doing their job of making us aware of the existence of the product. Some mental process in the consumer's brain then takes over and turns an awareness into an action or even a compulsion - the desire to acquire and own the product perhaps with financially ruinous consequences

                I see production and consumption for what it is; an essential part of the modern economy which fuels all our lives and finances our social services and our high standard of living. The point I've tried to convey these past years is that if you do not apply proper due dilligance to completely satisfy yourself that the purchase is a wise one and that it will do what you want and expect, then you can only blame yourself. The trick is to develop the ability to step outside your own body in the sales situation and better appreciate the processes going on in your brain.

                All of us have allowed our hearts to rule our heads at one time or another. Usually the financial cost of that mistake is small - but sometimes it can indeed be ruinous as the soaring divorce rate affirms. Is it really sensible to marry on your first date? Is it really wise to rush into a hi-fi store clutching HiFI MegaMonthly in your sweaty hand begging to be sold the latest, greatest kit? From the salesman's perspective, you've thrown yourself at his feet and all caution to the wind. Is it any wonder he empties your wallet? Of course not! That's his job!

                A good dealer is worth his weight in gold. He understands you better than you think. Tell him about your hi-fi journey and the good and bad phases. He want a life long sales relationship with you and that's only possible by selling you what you really need rather than what you think you need.

                Personally, I'd leave HiFi MegaMonthly at home and visit a trusted Harbeth dealer who, unlike the magazine, will be held accountable by you for the advice he gives. And he's happy to take-on that responsibility because he too, is in it for the long run.
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

                Comment


                • #23
                  Yes, Sam, the Harbeth dealer in Malaysia has been doing a good job in demonstrating Harbeth in very inexpensive setup. He took pride and delight in being able to astonish potential buyers with his modest setup. His indifference for super expensive amplifiers played a part in shaping my view on amplifiers.

                  I actually seriously think that there is something fundamentally very wrong with consumerism. The model of sellers trying to push/entice buyers to consume as much as possible is simply not sustainable. The bottom line is that the earth simply cannot sustain our current rate of exploitation of natural resources. This type of mindset also lead to all sorts of excesses and social ills. If the current chaos is any indication at all, I think humanity is in for a rough shakeup. But this is not the right forum to discuss these things.

                  I admire Harbeth because it is built to last, it will not get out of fashion and it will be treasured and taken good care of. It is an anti-consumerism type of product.

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by yeecn View Post
                    I actually seriously think that there is something fundamentally very wrong with consumerism. The model of sellers trying to push/entice buyers to consume as much as possible is simply not sustainable...
                    Whilst I agree I'd reiterate my point that whilst we (thinkers) fear it may not be sustainable, we know of no other economic system that can generate the living standard we enjoy.

                    Yes, I'd agree that Harbeth (and that means me) are/is a responsible producer and yes, it gives me immense satisfaction to invoke as few resources as we do in making our loudspeakers that last for so long. If we could use less resources we would. Again, I'd take issue with your comments that sellers 'push/entice' consumers. That's what sellers do! That's why sellers engage (expensive) sales and marketing people! If the orders just kept rolling-in then they wouldn't have to. And once those sales people are in the saddle, they naturally use every trick in the book to entice you, just as a pretty girl would at a party. You can always say no!

                    Whatever you or I say, we cannot turn consumerism on its head. The Green party have been trying to do that for about thirty years and made little headway. And I for one don't want to give up flying and meeting so many Harbeth users thousands of miles from home. Nor do I want to live and work in a Bodger's Hovel deep in the woods. So the issue is not (really) our dissatisfaction with consumerism per se, but our disgust at reckless, wasted consumerism that doesn't provide the anticipated satisfaction. But since that doesn't apply to a Harbeth user, I think we should can afford to let this one simmer. We are not going to change society. The best we can do is to be aware of those pulling our strings.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Alan, If you feel so strongly that we should disregard the opinions of HIFI MegaMonthly,why then do not hesitate to post their positive reviews of your products on your website? Why do you even support these publications with advertising revenue promoting the Harbeth line in their pages.You seem to have such contempt for for audiophile reviewers in general,yet you proudly notify us of the latest award Harbeth has received from the same magazines that employ these reviewers and publish their reviews.It seems to me that the majority of magazines such as Stereophile,TAS, What HIFI and numerous online publications have been have been nothing but fair and objective when reviewing Harbeth speakers and have given your products many glowing reviews.I'm sure none of these positive reviews have impacted on your bottom line negatively.As I've said before in a previous post,if it were not the wonderful, informative review of the SHL5'S written by Sam Tellig of Stereophile (MEGA MONTHLY),I would never have known the Harbeth Company exsisted.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Now really Drew, that is a misrepresentation of my position. Only a complete idiot - and an ungrateful one at that - would be so stupid to bite the hand that feeds him. Why you have associated the fictitious HiF MegaMonthly with one of hundreds of hi-fi magazines eludes me and is plain wrong.

                        What I thought I was making crystal clear, in what I thought was a very carefully worded post (I thought one of my better ones) was that the sales side of the industry, including the magazines, have an essential role to play in a consumer society. I don't know why this hasn't communicated correctly but what I was stating was that the production/selling side will do its very best to produce and sell. If the consumer wants to retain a degree of disconnection from the making/selling process and doesn't want to play the game (i.e. consume) then it is the consumer who must take steps to disconnect. Not the seller. By drawing attention to particular reviews we are merely doing what seller/producers should do: making the audience aware of what we have to sell. That's how commerce works. As I said, what really makes the difference is a good dealer. There is no substitute for a personal relationship with a specialist dealer. And if you do have one within striking distance, please don't insult his intelligence and skill by arriving with HiFi MegaMonthly in hand and rigid ideas. Many apparently do. To quote myself:

                        A good dealer is worth his weight in gold. He understands you better than you think. Tell him about your hi-fi journey and the good and bad phases. He want a life long sales relationship with you and that's only possible by selling you what you really need rather than what you think you need.
                        Personally, I'd leave HiFi MegaMonthly at home and visit a trusted Harbeth dealer who, unlike the magazine, will be held accountable by you for the advice he gives. And he's happy to take-on that responsibility because he too, is in it for the long run.
                        Much of what we comment on here relates to perceived practices in the rump of a once-great industry, and most definitely not to Harbeth specifically. We have been lucky perhaps, at arms length from the industry. But that doesn't mean we have lost all sense of objectivity and proportionality. We can, as I said, see the game from both sides.

                        And to say that I have contempt for audiophile reviewers is a complete falsehood. I have stressed in numerous posts how difficult their role is and how I wouldn't step into their shoes for any amount of fame or cash. The expectations of a hi-fi reviewer are immense. They just can't win. I suggest you read my actual opinion here. I'd also like to remind you that I have on numerous occasions said 'our door is always open to reviewers who want to understand us or our products'. I'm extremely busy, but I'm always most willing to make the time to talk to reviewers, especially those who are sufficiently curious to actually visit us. The better they understand Harbeth, the more accurate copy they can write, and the better your feel of what our brand stands for.
                        Alan A. Shaw
                        Designer, owner
                        Harbeth Audio UK

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Uh-oh, I've been off obsessing about some software bugs and I've been missing everyone else obsessing about obsessions?

                          Jokes aside, I'd like to suggest a different point of view (as ever with my theories, you can take 'em or leave 'em - usually the latter!):

                          Each of us has a personality which we can't really change, there are things that energise us and other things that drain us. And usually our biggest strength is also our biggest weakness... when you know who you are, you can channel your energies into productive rather than destructive activities.

                          So for example we have a friend who really enjoys the chase of purchasing equipment, and as a result got himself into financial trouble as a young man. But he has learned to channel that energy into helping other people research their purchases, and limits his own purchases to insanely great secondhand bargains. So he still has enough gear for about 7 systems - but probably hasn't spent more than the retail price of a pair of Harbeths.

                          Hobbies add spice to our lives, we just have to make sure that there is more meat and potatoes than spice in our existence!

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                            We must be careful not to frighten those who have applied a proper skepticism to the purchasing of audio equipment (shoes, cars, computers or whatever) and contrast them with those who, for whatever reason, have been vulnerable to marketing.
                            Yes, and imho, probably wouldn’t push it to the extent of calling the whole industry as being deceptive or even dishonest. There are honest manufacturers out there, other than Harbeth of course, who clearly state and do commit through their reasonable prices and good performance eg. Parasound/ Nad. There are not too many of them unfortunately. There are many more however who offer good performance products at a good price but are too fearful of sullying their brand through an outright projection of reasonable prices for the fear of consumers equating it with mediocre performance (as mentioned by Alan much deeper into earlier threads). Perhaps this is the aspect of consumerism which needs to be addressed ie. misconception and equation of performance with price (and particularly price points). This is where the consumer needs to do the hard yards of research, instead of just relying on glossies. We have become a society where instant gratification is the order. I don’t hear too many people saying nowadays “im going to save to buy this or save to buy that….” . Saving as part of the process actually instils some rigour of diligence.

                            Ps: ive taken the brave step (more of the fear of venturing into the storeroom to look for the original boxes and packing) of selling 3 items on ebay, a pair of speakers (not Harbeths of course), a tube amp and an old tape recorder (and a cd player soon). We are indeed very irrational beings and can get strange attachments to unnecessary things. What is really worrisome is the number of people who follow what you don’t want. Have told myself ill need a right frontal lobotomy if I go and buy anything unnecessary in future.

                            Singing off. .. AA (Audiophilia anonymous.)

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by kittykat View Post
                              Have told myself ill need a right frontal lobotomy if I go and buy anything unnecessary in future.

                              Singing off. .. AA (Audiophilia anonymous.)
                              What I think you need is a LEFT frontal lobotomy. It will render you into a zombie like existence with no urge to do anything whatsoever. A right frontal lobotomy will make you an uncontrollable maniac! The discoveries in neuroscience are truly fascinating.

                              I have a DAC and two Monster cables to get rid off. The monsters - even if I sell them at 1/4 the purchase price I would feel that I am ripping off somebody!
                              Singing off. .. your fellow AA.

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                MEG scan of the brain response to music

                                Here is an hard to find animation of human brain response to music. It is composed of MEG scan of the brain taken at 500ms intervals. The link to the media file is at the bottom of the page.

                                It would take an experienced neuroscientist to interpret the happenings in the brain. Towards the end there is a extensive lighting up of the left frontal lobe. The frontal lobe has a high concentration of dopamine receptors. Dopamine is a morphine like substance created in the mid-brain. It is the 'good feeling' chemistry of the brain.

                                The left frontal lobe governs the outgoing, cheerful, optimistic, risk taking side of the personality. The right frontal lobe in contrast governs the nurturing, prudence and pessimistic of the personality. I find it remarkable that the left frontal lobe response to music is so strong. This is a clear indication of the uplifting effect of music. You can see the complementary nature of the left and right frontal lobes. The two need to be kept in balance otherwise you will see a very lopsided personality.

                                Another activity that is demonstrated to activate the left frontal lobe is meditation. So the meditators can live with little but there are a jolly happy bunch of people! TV in contrast depresses the frontal lobe activities. I believe it contributes much to the current delinquency problems. I have just unsubscribed our satellite TV. We have been watching very few TV since I setup the sound system. Last weekend we spent some 4 hours glued in front of the TV, and at the end of it my wife and I were telling each other how drained we felt.

                                The frontal lobe is the most important part of the brain. Most personality disorders correspond to some malfunctioning of the frontal lobes.

                                The human brain is a highly intriguing subject. The advancement in various scan technologies have been unlocking a lot of its secrets in recent years. It is perhaps the branch of medical science that has made the most advancement in recent years. This is a very written book on this fascinating subject: Mapping the Mind.

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