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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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HUG - a special sort of audio forum in 2018

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  • HUG - a special sort of audio forum in 2018

    Just some idle thoughts as we closeout 2017 about HUG.

    This year we've allowed HUG to somewhat freewheel. There has been (consciously) far less effort to use this forum to investigate, tackle and illuminate hard technical subjects. So issues like how we hear, how we attribute subjective adjectives to the sensory experience of contrasting audio experiences - or equipment - and so on are far from complete here on HUG, which continues nevertheless.

    The Anniversary products have opened my mind to the fact that quality audio is an expression of many sides of a personality, and that desiring to understanding how audio equipment works is perhaps of little or no consequence to many. In which case, HUG should not be investing effort in these areas. But if HUG disconnects from the objective side of audio, then how is it differentiated from any of the other audio chat forums?

    The purpose of this post is to invite opinions as to how you would like HUG to develop next year. Emma, Andy and I have an open mind to suggestions. All we want is that by the end of 2018, the Harbeth brand is even stronger than today. But HUG is different. It has a strongly objective leaning, simply because without insight, how can the consumer be expected to select the best value equipment for his system? He can't.

    If you want to make a contribution, feel free to call me on Skype - please find me at: harbeth-hq (harbeth-hq@outlook.com at Skype)
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    My thoughts on this subject are very clear but when I dared express them, I was treated like a no-nothing beginner and shut down with derision and condescension. Since then I have not taken part in discussions and not sure whether to bother in the future. Why waste my time sharing my experience gained over 40+ years selling Hi-Fi when any HUG keyboard warrior knows better than me ?

    What I want and what I have strived for over the past 10 or 11 years I have been selling and promoting Harbeth, is for the brand to be successful and have the recognition it deserves. When I first contacted Harbeth, there was no representation, just one UK stockist and no demo stock. Since then, the brand has gone from strength to strength and I'm glad to be part of it.

    For the HUG to develop, it needs to be friendly, welcoming and a fun place to talk about Hi-Fi as other forums do. There is a place for purely objective, measurement based information but for the HUG to expand and develop it needs more regular members and that won't happen with aggressive posting and no fun. A separate section for 'Hi-Fi chat' might be the way to go, suiting the subjectivist and the objectivist.

    I had intended to be just a HUG observer but decided to come out of retirement for this thread, because I am a Harbeth evangelist but I won't bother again if I am, once again, treated like an idiot.

    Comment


    • #3
      Well Dave, that need an answer from me. If sales records tell the whole story, then the policies and procedures here at HUG combined with product introductions are achieving results quite spectacularly. If they do not, and customers are either informed, entertained or unaware of HUG, then I really do not know what you find so stressful. Just let it be (man).

      What the passing of years has taught me, if anything, is that time alone does not bring wisdom. I am quite certain that I know less about the intricacies of audio than in my self-assured blinkered youth. What I see is thousands of unanswered yet interconnected issues, and my regret is that there is no time to explore more than a handful in any meaningful way.

      We here do not count the success of HUG by member numbers. We know exactly what our reach is from Analytic information, and it is wide, deep and global, out of all proportion to the number of active members, contributors or even Harbeth owners. The implication is that most readers are not contributors, which is fine. But they read. They come here. They don't have to agree. They can be make a counter-argument if they wish.That's highly encouraged as it builds the brand identity. Fun? Does that equate as folk clambering over themselves to make their subjective points? Haven't they got anything better to do? I think we can leave that to other forums.

      This has been our best year for UK sales in the history of the Harbeth company. By far. With UK dealers bulk-ordering of Anniversary speakers to be sure they have shelf-stock, I don't sense a general problem in retail. Far from it.

      The quality of membership here, judging from application information, is astonishingly high. Many members are professional people who work analytically. Do they really want need another audio forum immersed in subjectivism - discussing equipment that Harbeth doesn't even manufacture! - wholly disconnected from objective fact? Evidently not.

      Dave - your metric for evaluation of communication effectiveness is quite different to ours. Our door is open for you to come to Harbeth's Research Centre where all of my equipment will be available to you. Together we can probe any area of interest to you in audio, and separate the subjective from the objective. Once and for all, you can determine truly which amplifier, cable, stand, transport and so in is the best. And once you've convinced me, I'll promote it regularly for you as truly the best to make your job as a salesman as easy as possible. Please do make a date. We'd love to see you.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #4
        I did "let it be" and will do again. The HUG plays no part in my day to day business - all I am trying to do is help.

        To date, I can recall only two customers coming to me to buy Harbeth because of the HUG and they had decided to PM me because they couldn't get the answers they needed from the HUG. My customers often go on the HUG after I have talked with them or demonstrated Harbeth and usually they were completely unaware that the HUG exists. As I mentioned in a previous thread, I have only one customer who occasionally posts here. When I go on other forums, there are several of my Harbeth customers posting regularly.

        You asked for views on how to "develop" the HUG and in my opinion that will involve extending the subjective, chatty side so that people feel part of the HUG and not excluded as they are now. Fair enough, if you want to keep it purely objective, then that is your right and very instructive it is sometimes but if you want more members who actually take part, then the subjective side needs to expand.

        Comment


        • #5
          It is nonsense to say that people are excluded. Not one post in 100 is rejected or edited.

          The point is Dave that there are so many better places to go to to 'chat audio' on the www. Why should we complete with forums that have found their voice and do it so well? We're different here. We want to be. We, and our speakers, are unique. We celebrate that. I've never been interested in conforming.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            I read ( and sometimes contribute ) to other Audio Forums and find they can be useful.
            What I like about the HUG is that it doesn’’t ‘go off’ on random subjects.
            At the moment there is a thread on an audio forum about modifying a Quad 909 amplifier.
            To be frank, it’’s just ridiculous.
            If I was the Moderator of the said Forum I’’d delete it.
            Last edited by Miles MG; 31-12-2017, 03:11 PM. Reason: punctuation

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm very happy to find Hifi Dave still posting here; but after his recent run-in, I'm also surprised. I've never bought a single thing from him, and he has zero need of my defence and promotion, but in my view he always posts reasonably, affably, and from experience. Should he ever feel frozen out from HUG, then in my view something has gone wrong. Many of us I would imagine, perhaps almost all of us, come here after hours, to wind down and get away from work and the news. Does a hi-fi-related website always have to be so scientifically serious and on-message? Keep the science and objectivity coming, but the zeal turned down a notch? I love my C7s -- thanks.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                Dave - your metric for evaluation of communication effectiveness is quite different to ours. Our door is open for you to come to Harbeth's Research Centre where all of my equipment will be available to you. Together we can probe any area of interest to you in audio, and separate the subjective from the objective. Once and for all, you can determine truly which amplifier, cable, stand, transport and so in is the best. And once you've convinced me, I'll promote it regularly for you as truly the best to make your job as a salesman as easy as possible. Please do make a date. We'd love to see you.
                Such a meeting could form the basis for a fascinating video - or series of videos - seeking to resolve the subjective versus objective debate. Episode one might address amplifiers, with hifi_dave bringing his amp of choice to be compared with whatever unit A.S. selects.

                Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                You asked for views on how to "develop" the HUG and in my opinion that will involve extending the subjective, chatty side so that people feel part of the HUG and not excluded as they are now. Fair enough, if you want to keep it purely objective, then that is your right and very instructive it is sometimes but if you want more members who actually take part, then the subjective side needs to expand.
                What better means to champion the subjective side of HUG than to accept this most generous offer extended by A.S.? Continued procrastination only serves to make your position appear that much less tenable.

                Comment


                • #9
                  It seems to me that any perceived disagreements exist not over products that Harbeth does make, but over products that Harbeth doesn't make. May I stress again that this is the manufacturer's forum of the loudspeaker brand Harbeth. We are not a nominally independent, third-party chat forum. We are bonded to one brand. We exist to discuss loudspeakers (rarely discussed) and music and other non-brand general issues. Not amplifiers, which is the dominant discussion and we don't even make the things!

                  A critical question to ask is 'why should the HUG discuss audio equipment that it does not make?' in the retail sense that such discussion could lead to retail sales of that product?
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd like to add, rather than look at this from a retail perspective, consider this from the manufacturer's. Whilst HUG can dispense advice about loudspeaker design, any discussion of, say, amplifiers, surely cannot occur here without resorting to the technical evaluation of amplifiers generally, and any recommended amplifier specifically. Otherwise, the HUG has been used as a sales influence for equipment Harbeth has never seen or touched. And that's unreasonable for a manufacturer's forum. Indeed, it was pointed out recently by a contributor that an amplifier one dealer enthused over was photographed, under the lid, quite shocking in its use of tiny heat sinks. So the dealers belief, trust and enthusiasm for the amplifier was not supported by a technical scrutiny. Such is human nature.

                    Harbeth speakers are process of a 40 year application of logic and cause-and-effect engineering. No amount of group-think could produce them, on HUG or elsewhere. They are the outcome of a dogged intellectual path, overturning stones and hurdles one after another. That journey is carefully documented. It can be scrutinised and validated in the future. It's far removed from public discussion of amplifiers, or even loudspeakers. It's a process that leaves no room for chit chat.

                    As an example, I have placed on-screen, side by side, three key concept maps that I created a few years ago when it was time to make more RADIAL material for our cones. It came from a minute review of the documentation (over 2000 A4 sheets) from the government co-funded cone investigation programme we undertook in the early '90s. As the team had dispersed, it was the documentation, and documentation alone that would lead me to manufacture more material of the correct balance of properties.

                    So, here for the first time, necessarily blurred, are the key issues that you have to become familiar with to manufacture a high performance loudspeaker cone material - Harbeth's RADIAL. Each block in the map is itself a knowledge island to be drilled-down. These issues interconnect, and loop back on themselves. One is 'Micro-Brownian motion in non-crystalline structure' and another 'Relaxation of chain segments in polymer'. You cannot, for example, have simultaneously extreme stiffness and proper damping. So now, if you build this knowledge-map, you may have a great loudspeaker cone. But that's just the start. The design process for the complete loudspeaker system is even more complex. We rarely discuss loudspeaker design on HUG, which considering the complexity of the subject and my willingness to throw some light on it is a surprise.

                    Having seen the mental process which brought about RADIAL, does it really seem comfortable to expect the manufacturer to encourage unsubstantiated and unsubstantiatable subjective opinions on his forum about products that he doesn't make? What, surely, would be reasonable would be for that manufacturer to say 'OK, let's widen the discussion away from our products to related ones such as amplifiers, but let's apply the same mental evaluation processes to those third-party products as we do to our own'.

                    That seems wholly reasonable and respectful don't you think? Both of the manufacturer's engineering philosophy and efforts, those applied to third-party products that wish to be discussed and of the consumer who the manufacturer has a moral, if not legal responsibility to guide towards the best possible system for the money? Is that objective mirrored at retail?

                    One solution would be to close HUG to any further discussion of amplifiers, since our position is abundantly clear, and the use of the Pioneer at the Bristol show in February will reinforce that point again.


                    Click image for larger version  Name:	RADIALmap.jpg Views:	1 Size:	401.3 KB ID:	75115
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                      It is nonsense to say that people are excluded. Not one post in 100 is rejected or edited.

                      The point is Dave that there are so many better places to go to to 'chat audio' on the www. Why should we complete with forums that have found their voice and do it so well? We're different here. We want to be. We, and our speakers, are unique. We celebrate that. I've never been interested in conforming.
                      I didn't say "people are excluded" but few post here because there is little to talk about and if they dare ask about electronics, they get the same answer. So why bother ?

                      You asked about how to "develop" the HUG and I was offering my opinion that it could be more popular ,with numerous posts, if it had a subjective section. I have been on two other forums this morning and both have had dozens of posts since yesterday evening, when I last looked and this is a quiet period. There are far more posts about Harbeth on other forums than on the HUG and that is where I support the brand.

                      I understand that this is a 'manufacturer's forum' and it is your right to run it as you prefer. I get that but I was attempting to help with suggestions on how to 'develop'.

                      I am not the enemy - just trying to help but feel I am wasting my time.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Dave - you are not the enemy, although you repeatedly express yourself as one. I have gone to great lengths to explain our position many times. As a salesman, I'm sure you have the communication skills to dismiss everything you read here, should you be asked by customers, as biased nonsense. We export to 45 territories globally through hundreds of retail stores and there is satisfaction with HUG as it stands, or we'd hear about it very quickly.

                        I couldn't care less how many posts we get here. It is not a useful metric. One solid, practical, argued post is worth 1000 others. It says somewhere in the introduction to HUG that the objective is' to leave something lasting'.

                        You can try all you like, we can continue to have this interaction, but we will not develop HUG into a general free-for-all chat forum. Please don't ask, because it will not happen. Period. We coexist alongside dozens of audio forums, and we are different.

                        Simple answer: No subjective discussion of amplifiers from 1 Jan 2018? I'm hardly any further forward in this open discussion that in my first post. If anything, I'm even less inclined to reshaped HUG as a chit-chat forum. That need is well catered to already and elsewhere on the internet.

                        P.S. Want an example of what this forum was created to explore? Perfect example here. Solid, objective, reasoned, durable, meaningful, lasting knowledge that permits informed debate. Anything less is far better placed elsewhere.

                        And more here.
                        Alan A. Shaw
                        Designer, owner
                        Harbeth Audio UK

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                          Simple answer: No subjective discussion of amplifiers from 1 Jan 2018? I'm hardly any further forward in this open discussion that in my first post. If anything, I'm even less inclined to reshaped HUG as a chit-chat forum. That need is well catered to already and elsewhere on the internet.
                          Well, how about we make that no subjective OR objective discussion of amplifiers since, as you yourself have pointed out so many times over the years, as long as you feed your Harbeth adequate power and have an amplifier with the facilities suited to your needs, buy whatever you want at whatever price suits you and your taste. If it is not possible to ignore the objective side, then at least moderate out any mention of brand names from discussion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by MikeM View Post

                            Well, how about we make that no subjective OR objective discussion of amplifiers since, as you yourself have pointed out so many times over the years, as long as you feed your Harbeth adequate power and have an amplifier with the facilities suited to your needs, buy whatever you want at whatever price suits you and your taste. If it is not possible to ignore the objective side, then at least moderate out any mention of brand names from discussion.
                            That's indeed a solution! Drop the discussion of amps altogether restating our policy that...

                            'just about any amp will work fine with Harbeth speakers because they are designed, intentionally, to be amplifier agnostic...'
                            I'm warming to that one.
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Alan, yes agreed!

                              And all it would take would be to include a full enough explanation under one of the main website dropdown headings and no further discussion would be needed on this particular subject.

                              Whilst, along with David, I cannot hide from having some misgivings within some of the threads here (mostly amplifiers!), I must say that I do find the HUG the most interesting place of any Hi-Fi forum and I have learnt more in the last three years from you and some members here (almost always those I have disagreed with on the amplifier front!!) than in the previous 30 years. The result - I no longer chase rainbows.

                              Comment

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