Announcement

Collapse

HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

The Harbeth User Group is the primary channel for public communication with Harbeth's HQ. If you have a 'scientific mind' and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - audio equipment decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual Science of Audio sub-forum area of HUG is your place. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and should be accessible to non-experts and able to be tried-out at home without deep technical knowledge. From a design perspective, today's award winning Harbeths could not have been designed any other way.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings area is you. If you are quite set in your subjectivity, then HUG is likely to be a bit too fact based for you, as many of the contributors have maximised their pleasure in home music reproduction by allowing their head to rule their heart. 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 only, although HUG is really not the best place to have these sort of purely subjective airings.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters and Harbeth does not necessarily agree with the contents of any member contributions, especially in the Subjective Soundings area, and has no control over external content.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Oct. 2017}
See more
See less

Curious questions about reviewers...

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Curious questions about reviewers...

    When you read reports from reviewers that are at exhibitions or shows and they listen to a setup, which is entirely different from there one at home, and they say...

    "Oh, the cables were open and transparent" or

    "The amplifier had lots of punch and drive" or

    "The speaker were gloriously smooth"

    or on the other hand...

    "The amp was grainy" or

    "The speakers were XYZ"

    How does the reviewer know which component is creating whatever characteristic sound he might be hearing? How does he not know that grainy top end my be the fault of the speaker? Or that the transparent open sound he is hearing is actually the product of the speaker??? Seems off to me.

    Any thoughts??

  • #2
    Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

    Good point Teuton. If the reviewer keeps the same audio gear for a number of years then he's become well acclimatized to it and has a good point of reference. He can then swap out any one piece and quickly discern any audible differences between A and B component. There are however, some reviewers that are constantly taking on- board new review pieces while switching out cables, CDP's etc. They no longer have a point of reference, so how can they possibly form a valid opinion of the new review piece in question?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

      Originally posted by Teuton View Post
      How does the reviewer know which component is creating whatever characteristic sound he might be hearing? How does he not know that grainy top end my be the fault of the speaker? Or that the transparent open sound he is hearing is actually the product of the speaker??? Seems off to me.

      Any thoughts??
      Teuton,
      you neglect the most important point. The reviewers are paid for writing!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

        Originally posted by Vlado View Post
        Teuton,
        you neglect the most important point. The reviewers are paid for writing!
        I understand this but doesn't common logic expose this process? I mean, if people are buying gear based off reviewers endorsements of certain products at shows, how can she or he absolutely trust that what that reviewer is hearing is the result of X product--more so when there is no point of reference.

        Isn't the reviewer/writer embarrassed by this tiny technical point? There is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with attending a show, listening to systems, and reporting what you subjectively heard--as long as there is a disclaimer that what you heard was setup specific, being sure to include all parts that make up the whole.

        But saying that specific sound characteristics were the result of X when you have absolutely no point of reference is like throwing a baseball at a target after being blindfolded and spun around 50 times.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

          totally agree with your doubts on gear review. reviews are ways to push their product to the mass market. it's a marketing gimmick. u can't just rely on photos of your product and spec; and expect it to sell. reviews let ppl find out more of the products. Harbeth SHL5 also have a long review that comes with a Leben CS600, PS1, cables, etc. I didn't even bother to read it except looking at the photos. just read it for fun and product awareness.

          once, the reviewer say i3 got punchy bass, good high, sweet mid, wide soundstage, powerful drive, Mind you, it was highly rated in Hi-Fi choice at that time! based on reviews, i brought a moon i3 home, it's sound horrible.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

            Yes, we all have our doubts regarding the reviewers. From the Stereophile I trust Sam Tellig and Art Dudley. As I mentioned elsewhere I bough my first "serious" amp based on Sam's review. But I listened it first. I consider an review as a notice which gear should I consider. Those two reviewers are very honest, at least for me.
            Sam mentioned many times that he is a music lover not an audiophile and he damn audiophiles. Art outed himself very clearly in autumn.

            On other hand I roll my eyes when a reviewer is going to piss in his pants when is reviewing USD 14 000 interconnect cables...

            The same situ was with the Harbeth. I was saturated by the unisono of my speakers and decided to replace them, so I started to search something "uncomercial". Harbeth was unknown to me and I found Sam's review of the C7 (well actually a couple of notes), vent to Vienna to give the pieces a listening. Yes, Sam's was right again. That’s the way to go. Of course Harbeth wasn’t the only brand in my attention, but after few listening was clear who’s the winner.

            …there is no point of reference…

            I think that music is not belonging strictly to a category what can be measured and rated upon reference. If somebody has good ears then no reference is needed to say that’s better then this, count the individual tastes and the presumtion that the reviewer is honest. I noticed that this forum is frequented by a reviewer, perhaps he can explain oneself, but: idem est nihil dicere, et insufficienter dicere!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

              Interesting thread.

              Of course, as a product designer, I don't expect a reviewer to be intimately acquainted with my design; if he was that interested and curious then surely he'd be making a living as a designer himself. But what troubles me is that it is extremely rare for the reviewer to contact us to verify any detail about the product they've been given to review. Not even the most rudimentary and fundamental data such as dimensions and price!

              In my opinion, it is really quite impossible to thoroughly evaluate any manufactured product unless you (try and) get close to the designer. It's critical to understand what was in his mind when he was working on the prototype. Was he designing for top speed or fuel economy - two mutually incompatible objectives. He can't have been designing for both simultaneously, so the reviewer really should know what the designer was striving for before he can begin to assess how well he fulfilled that objective.

              As noted, writing generally and reviewing specifically is very poorly paid. So poorly that only the biggest names make a half-decent living. Society does not value journalists as it does accountants, chemists, management consultants or dentists. Consequently, journalism must be a real financial struggle unless there is a second income. Some reviewers dabble in 'consultancy'. Some are supported by their working wives. Many have two jobs. But this raises questions about just how many hours they can afford to dedicate to reviewing a product. Two? Six? Half a morning? It'll be something like that for most. It has to be - most are paid cents by the word. They're running a verbal sausage machine and I respect anyone brave enough to select reviewing as their occupation. I couldn't do it: I'd really want to know how the product ticked, how the designer set or had set the design objectives. By the time I'd spend a day pursing that basic information before switching the product on, I'd be out of pocket. There just wouldn't be any time left for serious listening, let alone writing.

              Without an input from the designer, or any contact from the factory, reviewers will approach the product 'cold'. They may never even have heard of the brand. When you consider how much wonderful press we've had over the years and how extremely rare it is for us to hear from a reviewer before we, like you, see the printed page, I suppose it reconfirms the intrinsic value of a Harbeth even in unfamiliar hands. But I'd be more than happy to share my design notes (very carefully documented in log books) with any serious reviewer as I do my thoughts here.

              Imagine if you will that you've just had a phone call from your editor. He's told you that UPS will drop-off an amplifier to you tomorrow morning for you to review. He couldn't remember the brand or model so you've no time to prepare. He needs the 2000 word copy by mid afternoon latest. Now, you try and write 2000 words yourself! It's a very difficult challenge indeed but that is how reviewing actually works.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

                Originally posted by Vlado View Post
                ?there is no point of reference?
                Consider for moment that it is not only the consumer who is deprived of a point of reference. Even audio purchase decisions made in large organisations can be undertaken without a point of reference. Indeed, reconsidering that situation with the benefit of hindsight, it's clear that deliberately removing the point of reference allows procurement decisions to be conveniently made by management on anything but sonic grounds. Price, lead time, extended warranty, size of supplier's organisation etc. are so much more objective and less awkward for corporate buyers than the desperately subjective matters of how it sounds ....
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  ...was he designing for top speed or fuel economy - two mutually incompatible objectives.....
                  Alan,
                  fuly agree with you, you get the point.
                  The reviewers and their products, the reviews are very poor also in other areas of industry, cars including....

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Reviewers, evolution and biology ...

                    Further thoughts overnight ....

                    A defining characteristic of a human being is self assurance; the belief that man today, this generation at this very minute has reached the absolute pinnacle of his evolution to eclipse all previous generations, evidently superior in every way. This self-delusion is a biological necessity. Every young man looks at his grandparents and wonders how such elderly, wrinkled, conservative old people could ever have been attractive to each other. The young man is sure that his generation is the first to discover love and romance, and how today's girls are uniquely attractive, intelligent and clever. Lucky for him (and mankind) that contemporary girls feel similarly towards him. The dangerous alternative (for the population) would be that they'd prefer to wait a generation or two to find Mr. Right, on the basis that future generations of men will be fitter, more resistant to illness, longer living and wealthier. But in reality, every civilization and every generation believes totally in itself and its creativity. The Romans believed with good reason that they were the most technologically advanced civilization the world had ever seen - but from our perspective they were simple people. And we in turn are living in the relative dark ages to future humans. I'm sure that the Romans also had reviewers who waxed lyrically about their inventions, art, lifestyle and countrymen with utter conviction!

                    This illusion of contemporary greatness is at work when reviewing audio equipment. The reviewer is predisposed to believe that the product in front of him is at the pinnacle of evolutionary development of such products, and that it must be superior to the products from previous generations of designers which preceded it. He may see it in isolation - cut-off from it's past, its heritage, and disconnected from its future. But does (or can) the young man look ahead and evaluate his prospective wife's relative merits seen from twenty years in the future? Does he sense that he himself is just a dot on an infinite line stretching back millions of years and forward who knows how far. Does the reviewer sense a product's true place on the hifi timeline and consider whether the product really represents an evolutionary step which it will hold for a generation or more? Does he care?

                    Or does the reviewer perceive product evolution freezing at the exact moment that he writes his review, with no concept or possibility that future generations of designers (or product) will outperform today's? I can see a sort of evolutionary-biological self-fulfilling trap here, the need to totally and irrationally believe in the today, to write-off the past and ignore the future.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Reviewers, evolution and biology ...

                      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                      Further thoughts overnight ....

                      A defining characteristic of a human being is self assurance; the belief that man today, this generation at this very minute has reached the absolute pinnacle of his evolution to eclipse all previous generations, evidently superior in every way. This self-delusion is a biological necessity. Every young man looks at his grandparents and wonders how such elderly, wrinkled, conservative old people could ever have been attractive to each other. The young man is sure that his generation is the first to discover love and romance, and how today's girls are uniquely attractive, intelligent and clever. Lucky for him (and mankind) that contemporary girls feel similarly towards him. The dangerous alternative (for the population) would be that they'd prefer to wait a generation or two to find Mr. Right, on the basis that future generations of men will be fitter, more resistant to illness, longer living and wealthier. But in reality, every civilization and every generation believes totally in itself and its creativity. The Romans believed with good reason that they were the most technologically advanced civilization the world had ever seen - but from our perspective they were simple people. And we in turn are living in the relative dark ages to future humans. I'm sure that the Romans also had reviewers who waxed lyrically about their inventions, art, lifestyle and countrymen with utter conviction!

                      This illusion of contemporary greatness is at work when reviewing audio equipment. The reviewer is predisposed to believe that the product in front of him is at the pinnacle of evolutionary development of such products, and that it must be superior to the products from previous generations of designers which preceded it. He may see it in isolation - cut-off from it's past, its heritage, and disconnected from its future. But does (or can) the young man look ahead and evaluate his prospective wife's relative merits seen from twenty years in the future? Does he sense that he himself is just a dot on an infinite line stretching back millions of years and forward who knows how far. Does the reviewer sense a product's true place on the hifi timeline and consider whether the product really represents an evolutionary step which it will hold for a generation or more? Does he care?

                      Or does the reviewer perceive product evolution freezing at the exact moment that he writes his review, with no concept or possibility that future generations of designers (or product) will outperform today's? I can see a sort of evolutionary-biological self-fulfilling trap here, the need to totally and irrationally believe in the today, to write-off the past and ignore the future.
                      As a historian in training I can see what you are trying to say, and I think this applies to a lot of things in modern life. It's almost as if we are willing to sacrifice quality for convenience, or assume more of something is superior to less.

                      My own personal philosophy is that old three word cliche 'less is more'--which, is actually a very classical idea.

                      What does this have to do with Harbeth?

                      In my opinion, Harbeth has not ignored its past. Quite simply the opposite in my eyes. It seems to me that Harbeth embraces their heritage, and looks to it for future inspiration--what made it great in the first place. Furthermore, Harbeth looks ahead with a very structurally sound design philosophy that is completely modern without being a victim of the latest fashion.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Reviewers, evolution and biology ...

                        Originally posted by Teuton View Post
                        As a historian in training I can see what you are trying to say, and I think this applies to a lot of things in modern life. It's almost as if we are willing to sacrifice quality for convenience, or assume more of something is superior to less.

                        My own personal philosophy is that old three word cliche 'less is more'--which, is actually a very classical idea.

                        What does this have to do with Harbeth?

                        In my opinion, Harbeth has not ignored its past. Quite simply the opposite in my eyes. It seems to me that Harbeth embraces their heritage, and looks to it for future inspiration--what made it great in the first place. Furthermore, Harbeth looks ahead with a very structurally sound design philosophy that is completely modern without being a victim of the latest fashion.
                        Couldn't agree more with You.

                        I was reading the 6moons SHL5 review, as I did with lots of previous ones. I'd like to post some remarks:

                        - What is the role of the reviewer? He wants to convince us about something?
                        - Is he the one who can tell how music should be heard? Why? The maestro or the performer in an orchestra isn't he/or she a more reliable advisor about this matter?
                        - Would any reviewer know and judge how various loudspeakers perform under exactly the same set up in our living rooms? Because there is the real point. And because each of us has a totally different approach to music itself.
                        - If the reviewer's objective is information/help for deciding what to buy, how "democratic" could this be, by any standards? If he intends to "teach" us what is correct or incorrect about music reproduction, why believe him? Is he a kind of Guru for our ears and intensively personal preferences?
                        - An opinion, any opinion, is primarily subjective. Common ground exists only in measurements with scientific methods and tools. But measurements themselves tell nothing about "like it or not", they simply present data, materials, costs and comparative results between them.

                        As 6moons report of the SHL5 of being "phenomenally communicative" declares, and this is just a COINCIDENCE with my opinion, I have to say that I bought them by comparing their sound, price, approach, BBC sound tradition, tech support and constructor's excellent attitude with many many other speakers from the world. And I found them perfect for my taste and ideology. And this probably explains more & better about my decision making than any review would ever try to persuade me.

                        At last, me being just a listener & user, it was Alan who always said "trust your ears". We don't need Scientific opinions and Guru guidance to make up our minds for buying and listening. Just keep up loving good live music and its enjoyable reproduction.

                        Cheers,
                        Thanos

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

                          Hello, Thanos

                          I think you answered your own question with your final statement: "Keep up loving good live music and its enjoyable reproduction".

                          The operative word is LIVE music, which should be our absolute standard. I'm quite blessed to be a professional musician, so I'm exposed to the sound of real musical instruments most of my working day. To my ears, the Harbeth speakers that I use come very close to accurately reproducing those sounds that I hear, day in and day out.

                          Anyone who loves music should take some time out from their listening at home and give your ears (and your souls and spirits) a periodic tune-up by attending a live musical event. The more you do this, the more imbedded the live reference will be in your own mind. Go home and listen to your Harbeths-if the sound comes close to that reference standard, you've got yourself a damn good set of speakers. No one needs to tell you that!


                          Cheers!

                          Bob LaBarca
                          State College, PA
                          USA

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Curious questions about reviewers...

                            Originally posted by KT88 View Post
                            Hello, Thanos

                            I think you answered your own question with your final statement: "Keep up loving good live music and its enjoyable reproduction".

                            The operative word is LIVE music, which should be our absolute standard. I'm quite blessed to be a professional musician, so I'm exposed to the sound of real musical instruments most of my working day. To my ears, the Harbeth speakers that I use come very close to accurately reproducing those sounds that I hear, day in and day out.

                            Anyone who loves music should take some time out from their listening at home and give your ears (and your souls and spirits) a periodic tune-up by attending a live musical event. The more you do this, the more imbedded the live reference will be in your own mind. Go home and listen to your Harbeths-if the sound comes close to that reference standard, you've got yourself a damn good set of speakers. No one needs to tell you that!


                            Cheers!

                            Bob LaBarca
                            State College, PA
                            USA
                            Well, Well, Well!

                            What more to be said?

                            Bob,

                            I do Thank You for this. It is putting back -where it should always be- the rule of MEASURE.
                            A musician -like you- will always tell me what/how a tenor sax or a Gibson Les Paul or a Strad type violine plays, and he'll do it by PLAYING it, solo or in an orchestra, and this is an act, not a speech or review!. And this presents the measure. Fine -through machines- reproduction comes second, always after it... Simply right!

                            Thanks again,
                            Happy & Creative Playing & Listening!

                            Thanos

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Reviewers, evolution and biology ...

                              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                              A defining characteristic of a human being is self assurance;
                              In terms of neuroscience, it is much more mechanical and deterministic. The fundamental mechanism works this way: when a neuron pathway is being stimulated, it will stay in the excited state for a short length of time. The excited pathway is easier to get stimulated again against other new pathways. Do you see how prejudice works? When a pathway is stimulated enough - it got burned-in, so to say.

                              This is how we learn everyday tasks like walking, tying a shoelace etc. This is also how habits, prejudices etc are formed. The key is repetition, repetition, repetition. There is absolutely no need for moral persuasions or reasonings.

                              Many simpler animals - for example a new born goose - will take the first object it saw as being it parents. The famous animal psychologist Lorentz who discovered this phenomena was nicknamed mother Lorentz because he used to have a troop of geese to follow it around. Well - human beings are governed by this simple mechanism.

                              The human mind can be highly fallible. I mentioned an article that I wrote earlier in this forum The fallibility of Human Brain. This is to spell out the mechanism in more technical terms.

                              Human being are not doomed. There is indeed another dimension of human existence that is not governed by the universal pattern patterning. But this is another discussion altogether.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X