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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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The Harbeth integrated amplifier

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  • #61
    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
    ... If anyone has seen me listening to loudspeakers critically, I focus on the middle distance on the floor between me and the speakers and never look at the speakers themselves...

    Alan /Out East but back in UK soon ....
    Alan, I already read you on this way to listen critically to speakers. I try it at the last SSI in Montreal and I appreciated it. Thanks!

    By the way, I wish you a nice return home. When do you come back?

    Sebastien

    Comment


    • #62
      Originally posted by ryder View Post
      ...To quote Sebastien, is there some sort of device that can measure the taste of different wines? ...
      I was simply talking about my tongue.

      Cheers!

      Sebastien

      Comment


      • #63
        Marketing the amp ....

        But if the marketing of the Harbeth amplifier makes claims about its (subjective) sonic performance, do you agree that simply perpetuates the neurosis that the amplifier is designed to annul. However, we must be careful. QUAD (for example) took a very hard line with their 'straight wire with gain' marketing, and it alienated the reviewing community even though their target market 'bought-into' the simple concept. It was rumoured at the time that the 606 was introduced (in the 1980s?) that HiFi News used up their equipment budget to buy one from a retailer just to bypass QUAD's no-review policy. The review was not (as I vaguely remember it) very positive.

        I wonder if QUAD's eventual demise was directly linked to their own marketing dogma. If so, we must avoid that trap and find another, more sensitive solution to promoting a well engineered, beautifully made product.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #64
          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
          But if the marketing of the Harbeth amplifier makes claims about its (subjective) sonic performance, do you agree that simply perpetuates the neurosis that the amplifier is designed to annul. However, we must be careful. QUAD (for example) took a very hard line with their 'straight wire with gain' marketing, and it alienated the reviewing community even though their target market 'bought-into' the simple concept. It was rumoured at the time that the 606 was introduced (in the 1980s?) that HiFi News used up their equipment budget to buy one from a retailer just to bypass QUAD's no-review policy. The review was not (as I vaguely remember it) very positive.

          I wonder if QUAD's eventual demise was directly linked to their own marketing dogma. If so, we must avoid that trap and find another, more sensitive solution to promoting a well engineered, beautifully made product.
          This thought has occurred to me too. I think you have to be very careful here, as you're walking a bit of a tightrope.

          On the one hand, your view is that there is really no significant sonic difference between competently-designed amplifiers above a certain base level of quality.

          On the other hand, you're bringing out an amplifier, which means that you have to provide the prospective customer with some reason to buy a Harbeth amp over some other competing product. I mean, you're not going to say "here's our product, we don't really care if you buy it because you'd be just as well off with Brand X, and amps are nothing all that special anyway."

          I suspect that the trick will be to find a way to describe the amp's virtues without being seen to contradict your own core values and beliefs. That will take a bit of work.

          I suggest the word "honest" as a good place to start, and a good theme to expand on in your marketing.

          Comment


          • #65
            Originally posted by EricW View Post
            ...On the other hand, you're bringing out an amplifier, which means that you have to provide the prospective customer with some reason to buy a Harbeth amp over some other competing product. I mean, you're not going to say "here's our product, we don't really care if you buy it because you'd be just as well off with Brand X, and amps are nothing all that special anyway."

            I suspect that the trick will be to find a way to describe the amp's virtues without being seen to contradict your own core values and beliefs. That will take a bit of work.

            I suggest the word "honest" as a good place to start, and a good theme to expand on in your marketing.
            That's a pretty interesting post from Eric. It has to be consider by Alan and Harbeth's marketing staff. In fact, is there any? I guess so. And how many employees work at Harbeth? Just curious.

            Sebastien

            Comment


            • #66
              The audio review business

              I think the following article is very revealing of the industry practices of audio reviewers.

              REVIEWING THE 'REVIEWERS'

              Comment


              • #67
                Also in the same webpage see this link. And another case of judging a book by its cover. This link was posted by someone from HUG in January.

                You can also google to see how one magazine was reviewing a pair of loudspeakers with a not so perfect home made amp resulting in erroneous conclusion. I think there was a lawsuit pending between those two so I am not posting the link.

                ST

                Comment


                • #68
                  Originally posted by EricW View Post
                  This thought has occurred to me too. I think you have to be very careful here, as you're walking a bit of a tightrope.

                  On the one hand, your view is that there is really no significant sonic difference between competently-designed amplifiers above a certain base level of quality.

                  On the other hand, you're bringing out an amplifier, which means that you have to provide the prospective customer with some reason to buy a Harbeth amp over some other competing product. I mean, you're not going to say "here's our product, we don't really care if you buy it because you'd be just as well off with Brand X, and amps are nothing all that special anyway."

                  I suspect that the trick will be to find a way to describe the amp's virtues without being seen to contradict your own core values and beliefs. That will take a bit of work.

                  I suggest the word "honest" as a good place to start, and a good theme to expand on in your marketing.
                  I couldn't have put it better if I'd tried, in fact I did try and failed - so thank you!

                  To me, one of the most appealing aspects of both this place and the main Harbeth site is the availability of honest information. Harbeth seem happy to publish much of the technical background to the speakers and their development and Alan is always ready to answer queries - even when very far from home.

                  Whilst I understand completely the commercial necessity of keeping new product under wraps until the time is right, it does seem that to a large extent discussion of this amp has been the opposite of discussions about the speakers: with no real data available, with very few specifics about a product which I'd guess must be all but signed off at this stage, there is a void at the centre of the conversation. This seems to me a rather un-Harbeth way of doing things.

                  The digital side of this project, the room correction aspects, will (according to Alan's post at the top of this thread) get some proper coverage when he is back in th UK but what of the integrated itself?

                  I have to say I'd assumed that a pre and power was most likely as this, I'd guessed, mirrored the studio situation most closely. Maybe a true 'one box' solution was felt to be more important.

                  Given the built-in ability to accommodate the 'Magic Box' does this also suggest a pre amp by-pass function with the Magic Box then doing room correction, volume control and maybe DAC duties?

                  Alan has dropped hints from time to time, but if the intention is to get some useful feedback from HUG then surely the group needs to know what it is actually talking about.

                  Comment


                  • #69
                    Believing is Hearing

                    Floyd Toole presented a paper at the 97th convention of the Audio Engineering Society, November, 1994 titled Hearing is Believing vs. Believing: Blind vs. Sighted Listening Tests, and Other Interesting Things. Floyd originally worked at the National Research Council in Ottawa, Canada and then went to Harman International Industries, Inc., Northridge, CA. Floyd concludes: “Overall, though, it was clear that the psychological factor of simply revealing the identities of the products altered the preference ratings by amounts that were comparable with any physical factor examined in these tests, including the differences between the products themselves. That an effect of this kind should be observed is not remarkable, nor is it unexpected. What is surprising is that the effect is so strong, and that it applies about equally to experienced and inexperienced listeners.

                    Since all of this is independent of the sounds arriving at the listeners’ ears, we are led to conclude that, under the circumstances, believing is hearing, The bottom line: if you want to know how a loudspeaker truly sounds, you would be well advised to do the listening tests “blind.”

                    Comment


                    • #70
                      I think the above pretty much sums up the differences between a rationalist and a subjectivist.

                      Subjectivist believes they hear a lot of things, and considers them absolute.

                      Rationalist went about finding out whether the differences they hear is not pure imagination. Blind listening test is the means to do it.

                      Blind test is very simple - puts two equipments together, one with the magic quality, one without. Try to pick the one with the magic quality through repeated listening without knowing beforehand which is which.

                      Comment


                      • #71
                        I agree entirely.

                        I would strongly recommend anyone interested in this issue, particularly as applied to Loudspeakers, to read Floyd Toole's book "Sound Reproduction - Loudspeakers and Rooms" (ISBN 978-0-240-52009-4) which references a large number of scientifically-based studies. He cites evidence that establishes basic requirements for good loudspeaker performance based on extensive blind listening tests by experienced listeners.

                        David

                        Comment


                        • #72
                          Marketing etc.

                          UK and concept marketing is down to me, with input from distributors and here on the HUG. We have separate PR person as PR is a very specialist subdivision of marketing.

                          I know of no other brand - audio or otherwise - that is quite as open as we are here on he HUG but I'm sure that it must be obvious to you that in a completely open forum like this, there is a point of disclosure about any project beyond which I just cannot go. I have a crystal clear vision of where the amplifier will fit in to our long term strategy which I will restate (again) so that we are all singing the same hymn. Anyone who holds a position in business, commerce, engineering or eductation surely bases their career on facts, and the fact is - like it or not, I'm certain about this - that amplifiers may well sound diferent because the evaluation process of casually listening to A or B is deeply flawed. So deeply flawed that it is totally meaningless as a piece of objective science. That's our starting point.

                          With that said for hopefully the last time by me, is there a role for a Harbeth amplifier? Yes. But not for overstated sonic reasons. We will not be promoting it as a great sonic leap forward because it can't be. It will do a job, as a piece of quasi-capital equipment hopefully year in-year-out and will be offered to those (realists) who just couldn't care whether it is or isn't the best thing since sliced bread. People like me in fact. And also - I'm guessing - the silent majority here who just are not interested in nit picking the thing to death before it's drawn its first breath. People who want music at home and not a heap of audio gear.

                          I really don't want to take discussion too much deeper as we are alredy getting bogged down in the details. I've measured the amp in comparion with a well known an respected amp with a long warranty and it is (virtually) identical. I've measured it against my long-term British made amp from the 80s and it is technically better with lower distortion etc.. And that dear friends, is good enough for me.

                          But as I've said, you are free to buy anything you want as Harbeths are an easy load. If you have the interest/cash/time please feel free to investigate the thousands of other options with your dealer to guide you. You will hear differences. But the target consumer we have in mind is the one who slumps down in the dealer's couch and says 'give me a simple one-stop-solution to making beautiful music without all the hype'. I think that when you are motivated to get off the hifi merry-go-round this amp will serve you well at a reasonable price. Every one of our Far East distributors thinks it's a great idea and have orered it - so much so that we have enough orders to negotiate a better price with the supplier and pass that along to you.

                          If you believe and/or can hear that there are substatial sonic differences between amps in uncontrolled 'comparisons' and are not concerned about why and the importance of properly constructed comparisons (to eliminate all the variables that skew consumer preferences) then this amp is not for you. It will not give you the thrill that you're after and I'd urge you to cross it off your short-list and seek something more audiophile. (Whatever that means.)

                          Alan /Hong Kong aiport
                          Alan A. Shaw
                          Designer, owner
                          Harbeth Audio UK

                          Comment


                          • #73
                            Originally posted by yeecn View Post
                            ... “Overall, though, it was clear that the psychological factor of simply revealing the identities of the products altered the preference ratings by amounts that were comparable with any physical factor examined in these tests, including the differences between the products themselves. That an effect of this kind should be observed is not remarkable, nor is it unexpected. What is surprising is that the effect is so strong, and that it applies about equally to experienced and inexperienced listeners...
                            This is the placebo effect. Recents studies in medecine demonstrated that it works at 80%. Impressive!

                            Sebastien

                            Comment


                            • #74
                              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                              I really don't want to take discussion too much deeper as we are alredy getting bogged down in the details. I've measured the amp in comparion with a well known an respected amp with a long warranty and it is (virtually) identical. I've measured it against my long-term British made amp from the 80s and it is technically better with lower distortion etc.. And that dear friends, is good enough for me.

                              Alan /Hong Kong aiport
                              Thanks Alan, that's good to know.

                              I find the reasons that people (in business) make the decisions that they do with regard to their products interesting.

                              Given your working methods with speakers I am assuming that your ears confirmed what your measurements had already told you.

                              Comment


                              • #75
                                If it measures (virtually) as well as a Bryston, then it's as technically good as an amp can be, and probably better - for all practical purposes - than it needs to be. That's good enough for me.

                                Alan, just curious, do view participation on this forum as "picking nits"? I thought that engaging in discussion was the point. If not, I'm happy to bow out.

                                Comment

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