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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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A tribute to a fabulous recording - Benjamin Britten's 'Peter Grimes'

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  • #46
    Summary 2

    Originally posted by Zemlya View Post
    ... Again, recording 2 clearly has more dynamic range and a more spacious sound, but sometimes its low noise floor can be distracting. Clearly we hear "more" of the recordings natural surroundings {in clip 2}.

    Recording 1 does have a warmer sound. It seems more recessed in the higher frequency range. Again, these are just my subjective impressions but this might be the more "natural sound" people on the analog side often refer to?...
    Originally posted by Zemlya View Post
    Without a doubt, clip 2 sounds more like I am there.
    Great. Now we have some more data to work with. Thanks again. This type of exploration just is not worthwhile as a monologue from me. It absolutely needs input from your side. Obviously, I don't start the discussion unless I have an absolutely fixed end-game but the fun is getting there in a way that we can all hopefully take something away of personal relevance. As a general appeal, if you find this type of discussion interesting, say something! Make a contribution! Get off the fence! Whatever you have to say is certain to be an opinion held by others. There are no right or wrong answers! Whatever you contribute, I'm going to get us to the end point eventually so don't be shy!

    So, to paraphrase then: Clip 2 has greater fidelity* because a) it sounds more like being there and b) has more detail, ambience etc. but clip 1 sounds warmer (and) with less top. Is that what we're saying? Any other input for/against that summary?

    *Surely the definition of audio fidelity must be that of greater realism, more like the live performance, what one would hear standing at the microphones.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    • #47
      Feedback #6

      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
      So, to paraphrase then: Clip 2 has greater fidelity* because a) it sounds more like being there and b) has more detail, ambience etc. but clip 1 sounds warmer (and) with less top. Is that what we're saying? Any other input for/against that summary?
      I'm going by memory (dangerous, I know) because I'm away from home but that accords with what I heard when I listened this morning. I think clip 1 is more like being at the hall, even if I hear more detail in clip 2. However, at that point, I find it hard to separate purely sonic considerations from artistic ones: for example, do I like the singers better in 1? Does the balance of instruments against voices underscore the voices better and make them easier to hear? I don't know how to separate the two - except perhaps by lots more careful listening.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by EricW View Post
        I'm going by memory... I think clip 1 is more like being at the hall, even if I hear more detail in clip 2....
        A perfectly valid opinion of course - we're dealing with matters of sound which is necessarily subjective with no right and wrong answers.

        If I understand you correctly, you preferred Clip 1 as sounding more like 'being there' (in the hall) - I wonder if you mean standing at the microphones/conductor's podium or seated in the hall amongst the audience, hence my original question about what composer/conductor Britten would have heard.

        If that is your (entirely resonable) opinion, it is the opposite of feedback #5 where there was a definite preference of clip 2 as more lifelike. So, (I planned for this eventuality days ago) let me present another clip from a different opera to see what you think about 'being there'.

        (More later)
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

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        • #49
          High-fidelity as a service to art ...

          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
          *Surely the definition of audio fidelity must be that of greater realism, more like the live performance, what one would hear standing at the microphones.
          I think a big part of the problem is that people get into a mode of thinking: in this case that digital is bad. I've been there with photography. I shoot 35mm and medium format for my personal work. But I also shoot digital casually. Each has their purpose but I can say with absolute conviction that I shoot film for aesthetic reasons.

          Like musicians who create music, photography is primarily (in my case) a creative endeavor in which the tools used, like a painter or musician, result in a subjective rendering that is to be appreciated as one reality—a re-presentation of reality. Even if a musician wanted to use artificial or low-fi gear in their treatment, this should be reproduced without influence from everything downstream the input signal for it is respecting the original intention of its author.

          If the primary goal for the reproduction of art is to respect the original intention of its author, then the reproduction of the original input signal in its purest form (film too) is the goal (fidelity). Fidelity is the science and craft of audio reproduction. Is it an art? Maybe, depending on how you define "art", but not in the sense that its objective is to alter or change the original input signal. In its truest sense, hi-fidelity is more of a service to art.

          Some photographers will choose lenses with inherent qualities or distortions in their rendering of reality (perspective). So too do musicians add artificial flavouring (distortion boxes, room acoustics, even tube and analogue devices or they use a certain make of instrument for its tone) in an effort to achieve a certain feel or sound.

          Imagine if a person was writing an art book on van Gogh. Now imagine that he subjectively believed that van Gogh's painting could be "improved" and "enhanced" through changing the balance of the colour palate. Wouldn't the objective of any reproduced art be to try and reproduce it with as accurate means as possible in an effort to preserve the original authorial intent? Imagine a digital {consumer grade} scanner that added or took away from the retrieved image? Hi-fi has more in common with an expensive {professional} drum scanner. Nothing can compete with the original, but the goal is to stay as true to the original source as possible.

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          • #50
            Continues on Advanced private forum with more audio examples.

            Also read here.

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