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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, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create an audible sonic personality in what you hear. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be 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 potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but on the face of it, any deviation from a flat response - and the frequency balance of tube amplifiers are usually influenced by their speaker load - is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to discuss the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised 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.

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.

If faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians in your home and over Harbeth speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that intention is what this forum has been helping to do since 2006. Welcome!"


Feb. 2018
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Bristol HiFi Show, 24-26 February 2017

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  • Bristol HiFi Show, 24-26 February 2017

    During the Bristol show, Harbeth will, for practical reasons, be primarily using digital sources. However, recognising the revival in interest in vinyl, we will have the means to play occasional vinyl records. We have purchased what we consider to be the best value, most practical turntable system, and will be re-using the hand-picked amplification etc. that we have used previously and been entirely satisfied with. At the end of the last show we packed the gear into suitcases and there it has remained in our store room ready for re-use.

    If you have a gramophone record in perfect condition that showcases a wide dynamic range and frequency response with low distortion, then you are welcome to bring it along. If it really is a great recording/cutting, we'll try and play it.

    See you in Bristol!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    You may run in to the problem of putting on classical music and everyone running out. The first DGG recordings done in the USA with Abbado and the BSO are superb - if only I had any!

    http://www.prestoclassical.co.uk/r/DG/4790012

    A particularly stunning recording is a Melodiya of Richter playing two Prokofiev sonatas, one written for him and the other for Stalin's funeral. They are highly energetic.

    Jazz may be more appropriate. I like the early Impulse! recordings, which were quite exceptional, and Sinatra was well recorded. So here are a few suggestions.

    {None listed, three blank messages followed}

    Tried to post small images:

    The suggestions were real dynamic foot-tappers:
    - Count Basie and the Kansas City 7
    - Ray Charles : Genius + Soul = Jazz
    - The two Basie/Sinatra discs

    I have clean original pressings. Modern pressings from digital copies should be excluded !!

    Comment


    • #3
      My USB/analogue turntable has arrived. Just looking at it, seeing how well designed the carton is let alone the deck itself, the well written user manual, the USB or analogue options in-built: what an amazing piece of kit it is. Included plastic lid. 10.5kg weight.

      Not mentiond though, easy enough to search for, is the playing weight. It's my intention to swap the cartridge for something with a flatter frequency response anyway.

      So, that's vinyl taken care of for Bristol!
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #4
        Ok here's an update. The 'meet and greet' idea attracted no responses, so obviously that's a no go. It could have been quite fun, and I had a traditional Victorian pub in mind down at the old docks.

        What we've decided on in terms of core demonstrations Emma will advise tomorrow. I just wanted to mention the turntable, and especially amplification that we'll use in our two rooms. Once again, we're employing the Hegel H360s that we own in both of our rooms. This is easily the most powerful amplifier that I have used, easily the best array of features (no tone controls though....), brilliantly well conceived gain structure, and very heavy. If you know nothing about amplifiers, buy by weight because weight is often related to the power potential of the all-critical mains transformer.

        So this evening I took the one reserved in stores (I use the other in our listening room) and tested it. Out of curiosity I thought I'd see how difficult it was to present the Hegel's USB socket to my Win7 PC and see if it could find it, and send audio to it. Windows found the Hegel USB DAC immediately, and within a few seconds I had selected the Hegel inbuilt DAC as the Windows sound output device, selected USB input on the Hegel, and was playing music over the P3s.

        To use the modern parlance, this Hegel amp is a no-brainer solution. Buy and forget forever. I have no idea how much it costs, but power, features and facilities like this should rightly cost money. And it's modular inside, so it will be easy to service, and dare I say, future proof. So please, no more daft discussions about puny little effete amplifiers. What you need for serious, realistic music reproduction at a decent loudness is muscle power. Not the whiff of lavender scent.

        Still believe that half a dozen watts is enough with modern speakers? Come to Bristol and hear what dynamic range sounds like!
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #5
          The Hegel H360 is priced at about 4,000, weighs about 20kg and is capable of about 350W into a 6Ω load.
          Test reports suggest that the size of the heatsinks may be marginal if the full power output capability is to be used on a continuous basis.

          In comparison, the outgoing NAD C375BEE, at 15kg and only one-third the price including the optional DAC module, can provide about 190W continuously and reach an instantaneous peak output of about 440W into a 6Ω load. If your budget is in any way constrained, such an option would allow you to spend relatively less on the amplifier and more on Harbeth speakers.

          Comment


          • #6
            Or for almost 1/2 the price the Hegel h160 with still very good power output at 200+ w/channel at 6ohm load, the built in DAC and for a smaller profile, I have this amp driving my SHL5+ and I've never had a problem with overheating. Though I'm pretty sure I'm not tapping the full power capability on a continuous basis.

            I have my 70$ dvd player connected through the digital coax and Hegel's DAC and I continue to be amazed at how beautiful this sounds,

            Comment


            • #7
              Bristol vinyl extravaganza

              Well, I'm amazed by the Audio Technical turntable. Ok, not in any sense a luxury product, but better than it needs to be, and with a phono > line (and ADC) fabulously convenient, especially as the Hegel does not have a phono input.

              So we've bought some fresh, sealed pop/rock vinyl, plus trusty classical favourites and we're making a few vinyl-only demo plans for the three days at Bristol. Come early so you can cut the cellophane yourself!
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #8
                Bristol - this week - come and say hello!

                I very much wish we could identify ourselves at the Bristol Show later this week as the anti-male neurosis, anti-hardware neurosis, anti-bling, anti-establishment brand that we are with a big sign on the door which says "Bugger the gear - step in here to listen to music, ideally with your eyes tightly shut...." That's exactly how we feel.

                No-one at Harbeth goes home and tinkers with hifi equipment, or rechecks tone arm tracking weight before playing, or makes sure all the interconnects are nice and snug or checks that the speaker stands are 100% vertical or any of the other rituals that grips the most chronically afflicted audiophile. My late mother lived a life of misery for herself and those around her because she was trapped in complex personality issues which promoted in her mind fantastic impossibilities (the neighbours siphoning off her electricity) to an unshakable certainty. Just as we observe in audiophilia, the simple logical explanations (in Mother's instance, that supplier costs increase) are ignored and counter explanations that are both complicated and irrational take a life of their own. Observing such a wasted life at close quarters utterly erased in me the nuancing of hifi hardware that I lived as a young man.

                Today's hifi equipment will be swept away by the progress of technology to become dusty museum pieces of the future. When we appreciate the fact that for every generation the gear was, at best, a sort of inadequate conduit of the music to our home as technology permitted, the rightful place of music is restored.

                So please, come and see us at Bristol; we'd love to spend quality time with you, and with you as individuals if at all possible. Whatever you do don't slide past afraid to introduce yourself to email us months later! We're there for you!

                It's the contrast between the 'Harbeth experience' and other offerings that is subtle, but vital. I don't know whether to suggest that you work your way around the whole show and visit us last*, or visit us first and then 'do the show'. The impact on your hearing through exposure must be considered. You are sure to reach the conclusion that, your taste or not, that the Harbeth Offering is on a different physical, emotional and even intellectual plane. As indeed are our customers. Serious people attract serious people.

                Of course I care passionately about the speakers I design, as do my colleages about the QC standards they maintain. We agreed only today that every quarter, we would have staff get-together where one assembled and packed speaker would be randomly drawn from stores and completely disassembled down to the last nut and bolt as a group activity. Yes, we do care a lot, but we don't allow ourselves to be excessively drawn into the emotions of audio hardware. And nor, may I suggest, if you prioritise great music and a balanced healthy outlook should you.

                *I'm slightly inclined to suggest that previous experience may have already demonstrated what a miserable and painful experience 'doing the show' can be if you have sensitive ears. I rarely bother going to any other room because the system (speaker) coloration and/or aberrations of frequency response and/or excessive loudness and/or poor choice of music response heard generally around and about physically hurts my ears, an experience that makes me hasten back to the Harbeth rooms for safety. Great hifi should, never, ever, ever sound harsh or painful not even really loud unless that is the nature of the performance, which is virtually impossible with acoustic music.
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK

                Comment


                • #9
                  Alan, what a refreshing perspective. I'm only sorry to miss the show now that we are based on the west coast of the USA, but do hope to catch you at a show in the US...if our current political administration doesn't scare off people from other parts of the world...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I hope to get there on Friday - can't make either Saturday or Sunday, but hope to say hello on Friday.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Brilliant. We're looking forward to meeting you! We hardly ever bite (note to self: much check lunar phase for later this week).

                      Everyone has their own stories of course, but the ones that make us punch the air and utter "Victory!" are the ones where audiophiles have discovered (or rediscovered) Harbeth and finally jumped off their self-confessed miserable upgraditus audio hardware path and got back to what matters: the music.

                      But there again, each to their own, and I'm a through and through democrat (small d). Nirvana happens when there is a synergistic match between the music, the listener, the room, the loudness and the equipment so there cannot logically be a perfect system any more than there is a perfect husband.

                      We at Harbeth are just hugely grateful that we can satisfy and keep satisfying 0.01% of the global market.
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chazk View Post
                        Alan, what a refreshing perspective. I'm only sorry to miss the show now that we are based on the west coast of the USA, but do hope to catch you at a show in the US...if our current political administration doesn't scare off people from other parts of the world...
                        Quite! I've a number of invitations outstanding but with five different R&D projects on the go (not through choice, just timing) and a patent application I'm working on, this year is more than fully committed.

                        I fully appreciate that it's no real substitute, but we've been thinking about using technology to have occasional two-way web conferences, where we here at Harbeth UK can interact with numbers - 20? - of our end customers using Skype, Facetime or similar in real time.
                        Alan A. Shaw
                        Designer, owner
                        Harbeth Audio UK

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I wish I could visit the Bristol show and say hello. Maybe someday

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Milosz View Post
                            I wish I could visit the Bristol show and say hello. Maybe someday
                            Put it on your bucket list!

                            Seriously, why not join us on one of our on-line video/audio get togethers? Actually, that's an idea..... I wonder if we could stream our room at the Bristol show to those who can't make it? That would be quite fun.

                            Better have a quick look at what technical solutions are available .....
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sure, it's a great idea to stream live from Harbeth room at the Bristol show! I have no idea about technicalities but maybe you could use YouTube channels?

                              Btw, reading the thoughts above, I can really identify with Harbeth, not only musically, but also... well philosophically as those are exactly my thoughts as well. And my audiophile story, which finally brought me back to pure music enjoyment.

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