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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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  • Who, what, when, where and why buy?

    Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
    ... But, if the amp is going to be subjectively better than any other Amps then there's a huge market for it but if the amp is not going to pass the subjective test then it got to compete with long established brands in High End market with the odds against a new player....
    With respect, are you not revisiting what was exhaustively thrashed out a couple of years ago? The one, sole, overarching motivation to even contemplate an amp (and I'm sure you'll be able to quote my own words back to me) is to sidestep the relentless anxiety, neurosis and downright misconception that amps are even capable of the 'night and day' performance variations that bedevil microphones, room acoustics and loudspeakers let alone actually exhibit them.

    It was, and is, my personal belief that there is a significant sector of the music loving market which never have been and never will the slightest interested in technology. My feet, heart and brain are firmly in that camp. As EricW suggests (post #195) these are conceivably a similar demographic group to the Apple user base, and Apple has comprehensively outsmarted 'traditional' audio brands (like Sony) by building -in and focusing on real, user tangible features not airy-fairy BS about technical minutia possibly disprovable as quasi-science. And whilst Apple have been rewarded for understanding the needs of the real world user and giving them more usability, amplifier manufacturers persist in the deletion of tone controls proudly giving the real-world user less influence over music reproduced at home under (always) sub-optimal conditions. Completely and utterly nonsensical. Were the Harbeth amp ever to see the light of day, we would concentrate of returning democracy to the audio enthusiast. Use your vote and apply a little tone adjustment to suit your room, recording or taste here of there, or don't. You decide. It's up to you, not us as the amp manufacturer sitting listening in a perfect laboratory listening room.

    I, we, Harbeth identify ourselves with folk who want the shortest, cheapest, simplest route to great music at home. I would never waste a molecule of energy trying to convince folk that the Harbeth amplifier was 'better sounding' than any other competently designed, reliable, mature analogue design because that simply would not be and could not be true. I have always admired the QUAD marketing strategy of the 50-80s, where the true music lover pops into his hifi dealer and says, 'give me a system preferably from one credible brand .... I'm not interested in the technology, reviews, cosmetics, shape, size, colour or price - but I do expect tone controls that allow me to get the best from my listening room and source material'.

    BTW: the issue of amp sonics is absolutely not proven one way or another. How could it be? Nobody stepped forward to allow the rest of us to hear the difference, so the issue is still unresolved. Clearly, judging by the never ending fascination here and in the current media with amplifiers and the rave endorsements I read, it is as if the 'challenge' was never proposed. The sea opened, Neptune briefly appeared holding up a QUAD 405, the sea closed again and life has continued exactly as before!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

    Comment


    • A simple amp

      Harbeth speakers are high quality reproducers of music, produced specifically for the Hi-Fi enthusiast. They are not for the mass market where price, marketing and gizmos are the be all.

      A Harbeth amplifier should sound good, measure well, be practical and bullet proof, reasonably priced and simple - just as the speakers. Harbeth's market is not, IMO, interested in high tech gizmos and complicated circuitry. If the Harbeth amp had well designed tone controls, then so much the better but few Harbeth customers would need or desire any form of DSP room correction.

      I believe that numerous and varied controls, facilities, switches and knobs belong on the bling AV receiver and play no part in the design of a high quality amp. If you want to play, or impress your mates, then the Hi-Fi chain store has that in abundance along with a range of matching 'high tech' floor stand speakers.

      Comment


      • Thinking like a consumer

        What am I thinking? I am a consumer. I should have as many choices as possible to choose from. *I shouldn't *be concerned with the manufacturers dilemma or their marketing strategy. *I didn't show any apprehension when my preamp designer decided to go into DAC manufacturing. In fact, I encouraged him, privately. Another choice for me.*

        But why is my thinking different with Harbeth? Unknowingly I am sucked into Harbeth cult!*

        So now I am going to be a smart selfish and shrewd buyer. Harbeth has given me an opportunity to shape their DAHLE Amp. I am going to make full use of the opportunity given which is something not many manufacturer willing to do.

        1) Harbeth is making an Amp - good for the consumers. I would like to listen to them at the dealers place.*

        2) Harbeth is including a DSP - not sure. I did use Auddsey DSP to setup my HT but in a well damped room but DSP didn't improve the sound. It is often too complex for people like us to setup. What I hated most was the need to refer to the manual each time I want to adjust the DSP. *So hopefully DAHLE is going to be less complex.

        3) Wish list - It should include a IPOd dock with digital output.

        4) Tone control- I have had used three Amps with tone controls but it wasn't required in my setup. Not even once I used them in the last 10 years. But I still use them in my HT despite using a DSP. And there are still many good amplifiers made with tone controls. Not sure why Alan is saying " returning democracy to us" unless he is referring to the special tilt control type of the QUADs.

        5) big consumer base - important for consumers. It gives assurance of lower price, better secondhand market and spare parts availability long after the expiry of warranty period. Otherwise with the complex DSP it may not easily serviceable locally.

        6) will I buy one?- Yes, if the sound quality is subjectively better than my current Amp AND the price is right. No! I am not going to take the Amplifiers challenge to prove it is better than others

        Comment


        • Amps and M30.1 audition

          I'm sure DSP will be excellent in a controlled studio environment, but what *currently* worries me is in a domestic situation. Not for the technology exactly, but as music reproduction at home is such an emotional experience, the amp will be bought as a heart purchase as much as a cold and clinical objective "head" one.

          I had the pleasure of listening to *and through* some M30.1's yesterday, using a variety of amps, most memorable being a £2200 icon Audio valve confection. Lookded lovely to me and performed to my ears as well or better than the good solid state amps we compared it with (not under scientific conditions I grant you). I found I was able to "suspend disbelief" with consumate ease and although the reproduced sound could be "monitored" with ease as befits a speaker designed for such a purpose, I found it was the "musical details in the playing/singing" that kept coming forward, not just image placement in a mixing or production sense. This combination for me was far more than the typical "tape hiss and distortion revealing" kind of small monitor one used to get (I'm thinking of the very cold handed LS5/12A here, which was incredibly un-musical to my ears).

          What has all that got to do with a Harbeth amp with DSP? Apologies for my ignorance, but is all this digital jiggery pokery really going to combat room issues, or is this technology going to be applied to the speaker itself, removing the passive crossover from the equation and giving the driving amps better control of the speaker system?

          Comment


          • Have confidence

            Originally posted by DSRANCE View Post
            ... is all this digital jiggery pokery really going to combat room issues, or is this technology going to be applied to the speaker itself, removing the passive crossover from the equation and giving the driving amps better control of the speaker system?
            Let's wait and see. I'm confident that Harbeth would not release a product with a feature that they did not think offered a meaningful improvement over what is currently generally available. This is not a marketing-driven company.

            Comment


            • Marketing feedback

              Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
              What am I thinking? I am a consumer. I should have as many choices as possible to choose from. *I shouldn't *be concerned with the manufacturers dilemma or their marketing strategy.... so now I am going to be a smart selfish and shrewd buyer. Harbeth has given me an opportunity to shape their DAHLE Amp. I am going to make full use of the opportunity given which is something not many manufacturer willing to do.

              2) Harbeth is including a DSP - not sure. I did use Auddsey DSP to setup my HT but in a well damped room but DSP didn't improve the sound. It is often too complex for people like us to setup. What I hated most was the need to refer to the manual each time I want to adjust the DSP. *So hopefully DAHLE is going to be less complex.
              ...
              Originally posted by DSRANCE View Post
              I'm sure DSP will be excellent in a controlled studio environment, but what *currently* worries me is in a domestic situation. Not for the technology exactly, but as music reproduction at home is such an emotional experience, the amp will be bought as a heart purchase as much as a cold and clinical objective "head" one.... What has all that got to do with a Harbeth amp with DSP? Apologies for my ignorance, but is all this digital jiggery pokery really going to combat room issues, or is this technology going to be applied to the speaker itself, removing the passive crossover from the equation and giving the driving amps better control of the speaker system?
              Originally posted by EricW View Post
              Let's wait and see. I'm confident that Harbeth would not release a product with a feature that they did not think offered a meaningful improvement over what is currently generally available. This is not a marketing-driven company.
              Three excellent posts which give us in one snapshot the range of views that we've seen over the last two or so years since the 'amp project' was first mooted. Thank you.

              Now, EricW is both absolutely right and absolutely wrong. He says that 'Harbeth is not a marketing-driven company'. In fact, what he means is that we are not a sales driven company. We most assuredly are a marketing-driven company if the definition of marketing is something like 'delivering to the consumer what he wants, is willing to pay for and will provide him with long term satisfaction ...'. In that respect, Harbeth and, say, the mighty Apple Corporation have a similar outlook. The difference is at street level. We do not have the resources to thoroughly test-market any new concept by building mock-ups and then presenting them to consumer panels for usability feedback. A large company would use secret internal and public external panels continuously to fine-tune and shape what will eventually be brought to market. Is the LCD display bright enough? Is the battery life acceptable for real-world use? How about the weight and the position of buttons? Does this soap powder wash-out more of the grass stains? As a professional company modelling ourselves on the big boys, we would dearly love to have the resources to invest in market research. But we don't have, and nor do 99% of manufacturers in the audio industry.

              So? Well, in effect, the media becomes the test market, wittingly or unwittingly. A typical scenario is that an inventor conceives an audio product. He is not "a marketeer" by instinct or training, he's a creative soul who sees the world through those delightfully naive eyes. In truth, his disconnection from commerce and his total inability to sample the market before proceeding means that has a very slim chance of commercial success. Yet, he has passed the point of mild curiosity and has re-mortgaged his home/borrowed from friends and family/given up the day job/frightened his wife senseless/cashed-in the pension - and he just has to complete at least one production specimen. What then? He wraps a blanket around the product, loads it into his car, and with either ludicrously high expectations (or painfully low ones) sets off to visit a dealer or two on a wet Wednesday when they have nothing better to do. It hardly matters whether he receives rapturous praise or downright ridicule; his market sample of a handful of dealers is not in any sense whatever an arbiter of the products general appeal in this country or abroad. It is a statistically insignificant sample. It is a sample only of an intermediary point in the distribution chain, not of the ultimate consumer. And it cannot factor-in the influence of the media (both positive or negative) in creating a buzz about the product. In my opinion, he would have been better spending the time and money on a long weekend break away from the product and the industry, contemplating from a distance the entire game.

              What next then for our boffin?

              The next obvious step then is to try and get a review in the media. That's not difficult and could be set-up after three or four phone calls. The media need new products to bill and coo over. That is their oxygen supply. That's what they exist for. They're constantly on the hunt for new girlfriends, new experiences, new thrills. Last years model is an irrelevance. So naturally, the boffin and the media fall into each others arms. Fine. No problem with that at all. Everyone plays their part. The next step is where the inventor's expectations and the market reality diverge: he (as indeed I did at the beginning) assumed (laughably) that 'a great review means great sales' and that he'd be on the road to riches. Life's not that simple. He's competing with dozens, hundreds of new products on the audio catwalk and it will be very surprising indeed if his have features/performance that is so unique that it drives people to him. But he doesn't know that yet. So he sits by the phone and waits, and waits and waits.

              The sad part is that, although he doesn't know it, if he had had a more empathetic relationship with his potential market - a forum like this for example - he could have better matched his creation to what the market actually wanted not what he thought that they thought that they wanted. There might be a trivial, rectifiable issue that handicaps sales. The price 10% too high? The colour too shiny? The controls in the wrong place? Had he undertaken basic, even if not extensive market research - were that even possible - and been prepared to absorb whatever usability issues were revealed he could have involved the media not as a substitute for user market-testing feedback but as a shopping window for a market-ready product.

              And now back to the point of the Harbeth amplifier. We have seen from the very outset of this concept that there has been confusion about what feedback we have been looking for from HUG, our consumer test panel. Apple's consumer panels are not being asked to decide whether Apple should bring this or that product to the market, or whether Mr. Ives has lost his touch. Or how other consumers the other side of the locked door out on the street will feel and react. The panel have been asked, plain and simple, to judge whatever has been plonked down in front of them for what it is, what is does and what it perhaps could/should do. Apple's corporate executives obviously wouldn't be - and shouldn't be - interested in how a small group of sensitive individuals may use the opportunity to express fear and anxiety about the longer-term corporate thinking within Apple: that is a matter for shareholders alone.

              If I consider this entire amplifier issue - which I am personally still very much interested in as a marketing solution to the wretched question '... what amp ...' (when we all know that any credible amp working to spec will drive Harbeth well) - I see that much time and effort has been addressing issues which a consumer panel shouldn't worry itself over. To put it in very simple brutal terms: we (uniquely?) have invited you, HUG members, in public, to tell us how the product should look and feel. We - I - put my neck on the block for delivering a marketing-driven solution to you that will fulfill your expectations. Leave all the strategic thinking to the guy who's putting up the cash and concentrate on performing the normal role of a consumer panel defining what you want the product to do.

              Finally, the DSP issue. There seems to be much confusion over this 'jiggery-pokery'. I believe that I have a strong sense of what a Harbeth user expects from us, of his technical abilities, of his tolerance of complexity. I have explained here and here the thought process that I have regarding a DSP solution. I have done this in public and I am aware that the entire industry has been following the public reaction to the HUG 'DSP' issue. Whatever you have stated - for and against - has influenced a competitor's thinking and given them a head-start on the marketing issues and challenges. It is as if Apple set-up a consumer panel in a shopping mall, laid bare their next generation of products and allowed the unscreened, unprofiled public to evaluate and comment - including competitors. That's a risk I had to accept to encourage an adequately large respondent sample to contribute to the debate because for the reasons stated above, bringing a product to market professionally mandates market research. We had not other choice.

              One thing that seems to have escaped consideration is this: DSP is a generic, universal, adaptable, precision engineering tool. It can be used to make the smallest adjustments or can be used as a sledgehammer. It could be used in a car ECU to adjust the air/fuel mixture in the 2500-2700 rev range alone where due to turbulence in the manifold there is an acceleration flat spot. Or it could, in an extreme case, apply so much correction that a six cylinder engine could have two or three cylinders turned-off to save fuel without the driver being aware. You can do what you want with it: it's just a mathematical tool.

              One disadvantage of a public consumer panel is that whilst I see anxiety reported about "over use" of DSP, I have to keep my mouth firmly shut in telling you precisely what DSP we have experimented with, to great effect. All I can say is my position remains that there are certain performance issues which we have all (obviously) adapted to and taken for granted over a listening generation or two. When digital technology permits you to focus in on, isolate, quantify and attend to those very small issues that you didn't even appreciate were issues, you have a hugely powerful tool to use - or abuse - as you wish.

              This is a long post. My fingers are sore. I hope this helps.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • High-tech + tradition

                Hmm, so I will also add my opinion on that matter. The problem is off course that if you ask ten people you might get 11 different ideas how that amp should look like and what features it shall have.

                As the idea behind the amp is to bring a product which has a real advantage over a "normal" amp (which as we all know do all sound the same, hehe) I would also think of DSP as the most important thing to add.

                It should be a black box kind of thing cause if you can make further minor adjustments the customer is back on the daily changing route of minor ups and downs which lead to some sort of highend-depression.

                Apart from tone controls (which I would also appreciate highly) I would not add too much more ad-ons.

                Maybe it it is possible to make the amp modular ( a little like a Quad 44, which I use as a pre) for an iPod conncetion or a phono-board. The look of the Quad 44 (the 34 pre being even prettier in a straightforward un-glittery way) series IMO is also the way to go. Cause shiny looks simply would not fit the Harbeth philosophy (offering real world products and no lifestyle-stuff).

                I believe that if you add much more technics there is a subtle point from where the usual highend-listener does not consider this amp as being musical. It is just psychological, but you cannot act against human nature. Somehow the lack of comfort gives people the feeling of using a machine only because of its musical qualities despite its lack of comfort. And the line inbetween is thin.

                So: I would opt for an integrated with professional looks (Quad, maybe Bryston or even the old Camtech-stuff, or the extremely beautifull Nagra stuff) and DSP including tone controls and only an optional (modular) iPod-Dock or even remote-control. Alltogether in a range of about 2000,-/2500,- Euros (apart from the modules mentioned before).

                If it could be made cheaper (once again) it would not be considered as Highend.

                As a little (let´s say quirky) option to give the amp some sort of Britishness (and a connection to the classic look of their speakers) a wood case could be offered for a wished traditional look. That would even bridge the gap of hightech DSP and traditions (which are connected to the name Harbeth) and make it stand out on the market I guess.

                The mixture of (useful) hightech and tradition is the way.

                Comment


                • AR demo

                  Around 1970 I stepped into the AR demonstration room in Harvard Square. AR also had a demonstration room in Grand Central Station in New York. The room had an AR turntable, AR receiver and perhaps four pair of speakers representing the AR speaker line at the time. I fell in love with the sound, and the simplicity of their products and presentation. The demonstration rooms would not sell products, but I am sure they hooked many like me on their sound and design approach. To this day, I still remember this as my introduction to HiFi.

                  Comment


                  • A useful resource - room correction ideas

                    HUG members may find this a good introduction for improving sound reproduction in a typical domestic room:
                    http://www.computeraudiophile.com/bl...n-systems-222/

                    (As I noted earlier I'd regard a simpler implementation of room correction as the top priority for a Harbeth amp 'module'.)

                    David

                    Comment


                    • Democracy at work?

                      I am delighted to hear that the Harbeth integrated amplifier is back on the drawing board.

                      It is very frustrating to shop for amplifier today—most don’t even offer a balance control.

                      I trust that whatever Mr. Shaw releases (eventually) that it will be extremely well conceived and democratic, giving the user the most (practical) flexibility.

                      Mr. Shaw, do you have any plans to offer provisions for analog users? MM phono stage? Mono? And maybe even a couple filters to deal with TD or extremely worn records? I’m not an “audiophile” but I do have a lot of records and also take an interest in historical recordings.

                      Comment


                      • No balance control?

                        Originally posted by Zemlya View Post
                        ....It is very frustrating to shop for amplifier today—most don’t even offer a balance control...
                        Really? So everyone has to have perfectly balanced hearing, listening to speakers playing equally loud (regardless of position in or shape of listening room) in the exact geometric centre of the stereo spread. Not even the ability to shift the sound a dB or so to the left or right?

                        I just cannot comprehend what planet such designers live on. Certainly not one that amp designers up to the 1990s lived on. Or my planet. Or the same planet that people who attend live concerts attend. Or play a musical instrument. Why does the media encourage this degree of circuitry/feature minimalism? Surely they should be rooting for more, not less features and usability. I am completely bewildered by the direction that audio electronics has taken - a swing from the far left to the extreme right of consumer politics.

                        If I live to be 100, I will never, ever understand this. I have to conclude that exotic audio electronics is designed in a lab, by lab technicians who have never been in a recording studio, who listen on headphones (negating the influence of the room) - a fantastical, wholly illusory audio nirvana LSD trip to another sonic universe which cannot be replicated in the real world, at home with loudspeakers in untreated rooms. Pinch me: this must be a long dream.



                        P.S. I wonder what conceivable justification there is for depriving me, the consumer, with facilities (tone controls, balance controls, filters etc.) on my amplifier. Could it be something to do with removal of as much (expensive?) circuitry as possible to keep the cost down? Or could it be a completely misguided belief that passing the signal through another handful of additional transistors to provide those facilities in the home amp will be chronically degrade the audio? This is a complete fallacy.

                        Step back a moment from the replay end of the recording chain and consider that what we hear at home is the consequence of the entire chain, from the microphones to the ear drum. First we have the microphones themselves. Most modern mics have many transistors in them (also here) and (shock, horror!) many classic misc have audio transformers, just like tube amps, through which the signal must pass. Tube mics are still popular. There may be about the same number of components in a single microphone as in one stereo audiophile preamp. Consider then that an orchestra may need 100 mics, each with the equivalent of one audiophile preamp's component count. That's a lot of components!

                        Then we have the (analogue) mixing console with thousands upon thousands of transistors, ICs, resistors, capacitors and the rest. Each 'strip' on the mixer has its own circuitry (each strip has much more circuitry than an entire audiophile preamp).

                        Then we have the cables, ADCs, DAC's, racks of 'outboard' processing equipment - great example here - can you imagine how many electronic components and solder joints the signal could pass through? Millions perhaps.

                        Against this reality, can one seriously be expected to believe that the removal of the last handful of innocuous components in audio chain (in the home amplifier) can magically undo the deleterious effects of the preceding vast circuit complexity through which the signal has passed? How? Why? The sole point I wish to make is that what is delivered to us as recorded sound has passed through a chain of signal processing. It is surely not logical to snip off the electronic components in the last inch of that mile long rope when that last little dab of circuitry could actually give us some (tone controls, filters, balance etc.) remedial influence over the preceding journey?

                        If you asked a recording engineer - the chap who sits at the mixing desk (example above) and for a living mixes what we hear at home - if he'd mind hiding the channel strips knobs and switches with sheets of hardboard to prevent their use because operating the controls would degrade sound quality, he'd look at you as if you'd gone bonkers. He couldn't do his job without having lots of flexibility in how to shape, and compensate for, the sounds he hears over his monitors. The home user has every right to apply the same artistic control to the sound at home - unless someone has stripped him of the controls. Tone and balance controls are not a crime! They empower the home listener.
                        Alan A. Shaw
                        Designer, owner
                        Harbeth Audio UK

                        Comment


                        • Audiophiles derision

                          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                          Tone controls are not a crime!
                          Heh heh...I don't know how it started, but audiophiles snigger at amplifiers with these, for the supposed compromise they make to the integrity of the signal path and purity of the sound:-)

                          Don't ask me why this is so, I for one am quite happy with the tilt control on my Quad preamp.

                          Comment


                          • The facts ....

                            Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
                            Heh heh...I don't know how it started, but audiophiles snigger at amplifiers with these, for the supposed compromise they make to the integrity of the signal path and purity of the sound:-)

                            Don't ask me why this is so, I for one am quite happy with the tilt control on my Quad preamp.
                            Then they are ignorant of the facts then aren't they.

                            The truth is incontrovertible.
                            Panic may resent it,
                            ignorance may deride it,
                            malice may distort it,
                            but there it is.

                            Winston Churchill

                            HOUSE OF COMMONS

                            May 17th 1916.
                            Here is another challenge then! I bet that if 50 dual IC amplifier chips* were soldered into a long stereo signal chain such that the output of one became the input of the next right along the chain, that the audible difference between the final chip output and the first chip input would be inaudible. If someone would like to design a single PCB that could make that comparison possible, I'd pay for it.

                            * As a minimum, an active stereo preamp would need one dual channel chip. If tone/tilt controls were added, three dual chips would be needed. If top-cut or bottom-cut filters were needed, another three or so stereo ICS. The balance control does not need any transistors/ICs - it can be just a passive volume-type potentiometer. So, if we set the audibility test at, say, 50 ICs in a line, then that is the equivalent of stringing together about 10 fully-equipped stereo pre-amplifiers. Or thereabouts.

                            A one-IC stereo mixer (or amplifier) here. The industry standard audio IC is the TL07X (or later variants) - read here. It is a certainty that the audio you hear at home will have passed through many of these - or functional equivalents. They will be in the capacitor microphones themselves, the microphone amplifiers in any mixing desk, the EQ/tone/balance/reverb/level/compression/limiting/ signal path and virtual-earth mixpoints in the analogue mixing desk, the outboard and effects units connected to the mixing desk, your CD player's analogue output, your solid state preamp, power amp and iPod. In short, your precious signal has passed through a bucket load of these chips so is it really credible that tone controls should be stripped-out of a home audio preamp to save the last handful of components along such a very long signal path? No.
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

                            Comment


                            • Not an absolute fallacy, a relative one ...

                              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                              ... your precious signal has passed through a bucket load of these chips so is it really credible that tone controls should be stripped-out of a home audio preamp to save the last handful of components along such a very long signal path? No.
                              I think the important thing to note about these ideas is that they're not completely wrong - there's always a grain of truth. That is, all circuitry will degrade the signal to a degree, even tone controls - I think your point is that (1) the "degradation" caused by tone controls is so infinitesimally small that it's not worth worrying about, and well below the capacity of human perceptual mechanisms to pick up; and (2) the real-world advantages conferred by, say, a well-designed tone control vastly outweigh the minute theoretical distortion they cause, and it's a bad bargain to give up real, perceptible improvements in sound to avoid insignificant, microscopic, inaudible forms of "distortion".

                              Seen that way, the problem is not one of absolute fallacy, but one of scale - the reasoning process involved (e.g. in preferring "minimalist" amplification) is not inherently unsound in absolute terms, but completely fails to account for the relative scale of the positive and negative effects. I suspect a lot of audio fallacies fall into that category.

                              I don't know if there's any commercial consequence to this, but maybe it's worth thinking about whether a modular design approach could accommodate both camps. Or whether you just prefer to do what you think makes sense.

                              Comment


                              • Harbeth & Luxman?

                                Maybe Harbeth could partner with Japanese brands Luxman or Accuphase . . . as these amp makers still have the old school tone controls, loudness, balance and the sexy VU meters of old . . . my Compact 7 seems very happy driven by a class A Luxman L-550 AII.

                                Comment

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