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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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Historical audio magazine archive

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  • Historical audio magazine archive

    This thread is to highlight memorable and interesting journalism relating to the history of audio.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    "30 years of HiFi News magazine"

    That's the story they ran in June 1986. But now in 2010 that's more like a fifty year look-back. It was (only) HFN from the late 60s and 70s that got me fascinated with HiFi - a really exciting blend of practical, theoretical, DIY and aspirational audio - like SME tone arms, V15 cartridges - and the inside story of what the BBC were doing.

    I remember those last four covers - what's your story about influential media from the distant past?
    Attached Files
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

    Comment


    • #3
      HiFi News from the 60s ...

      Hi-Fi News was the first magazine I ever bought way back in 1962 when I started work. It was a great influence on me as a source of technical information and interest, written by knowledgeable and ethical gentlemen.

      I learnt a lot from Hi-Fi News over the years but unfortunately nowadays it is more of a brochure for expensive Hi-Fi companies, holding little interest for me.

      Another great source of information is Gilbert Briggs of Wharfedale book - Loudspeakers and More about Loudspeakers. These books explain a lot about the subject in terms that the novice can appreciate.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
        I learnt a lot from Hi-Fi News over the years but unfortunately nowadays it is more of a brochure for expensive Hi-Fi companies, holding little interest for me.
        I think the recently revitalised HFN has somewhat returned to the earlier format that you and I benefited from. The question is, does a magazine reflect changing consumer interest or does it lead and shape it? For example, in the days of yopre, HFN ran DIY constructional articles, including speakers, amplifiers and even tone arms. As a schoolboy I found that even the thought of creating something from nothing very exciting, and maybe even within the limitations of my pocket money. But supposing HFN ran constructional articles now, would anybody much care? Who has the time or even basic technical skills (soldering etc.) to assemble even basic circuitry. And could they allow themselves to believe that whilst not perhaps performing at the very outer edges of performance compared with the best commercial designs, the whole process of DIY is hugely satisfying and a learning experience.

        I suspect that most for-a-living (professional?) designers like me are nothing molre than glorified hobbyists still enacting the dream of 'I can beat a shop-bought product at a fraction of the price'!

        Attached an article scanned today for the archive from Martin Colloms, HiFi News 1985 about his 'DIY LS3/5a'. Martin is one of the best qualified general audio engineers in the industry, and it follows (obviously) that this DIY speaker was tackled from a position of knowledge about the BBC design. But so often the devil is in the detail and only when you are working in a narrow specialist field like speaker or amp design do those subtle design details take on great significance. Or, I guess as they say, 'we'd all be at it' and living high on the hog!

        For comparison, his Harbeth LS3/5a 1988 review is attached - you can compare and contrast the frequency responses on axis: very different indeed. So maybe it was never realsitic for DIYers to topple commercial product and the consumer became aware of that and lost interest in DIY. One thing is a dead-cert: you cannot make a mini-monitor sound full-bodied and believable unless it has a complex crossover/equaliser. Three of four components just is not enough.

        What I miss most is journalists who have the budget, curiosity and editorial backing to really dig into and around the subject - or product. That seems to be a luxury long displaced .... or is it?

        >
        Attached Files
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #5
          "What is a tweeter?" article - Popular HiFi?

          Perhaps hi-fi dave remembers this article from my archives? I think the magazine was Popular HiFi (?) and I'd guess it was about 1975-ish? Printed on very cheap paper but you know, that definitely added something to the appeal. Gave it a real hobbyists feel.

          There are several interesting features in this humble looking article which is why I kept it. On page 48 a polar plot of the HF1300 tweeter v. the B&W DM70 electrostatic (you can see how much smoother the 1300 was). Second, p50, the frequency response of the HF1300 on (I assume) a large baffle - remarkably smooth but with a large undamped peak near it's resonance frequency which could 'bark' if the crossover allowed that band to bleed through too much and third, on p52, the crossover to the twin-HF1300s of the BBC LS5/1 speaker (about which someone asked here recently). Finally, on p54, showing how the manipulation of even a handful of components in the crossover radically effects the frequency response of a speaker system. All that in an unpretentious hobbyist audio magazine well over thirty years ago! I spent hours and hours pouring over articles like that! Oh happy days!

          >
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            Old hifi magazines - could teach you something

            Now, those were good articles, written by people who knew what they were talking about and in depth with plenty of measurements and graphs to illustrate the points made. Unfortunately, we get very little of this now, instead we get a brief description and then lots of 'first to spin was the new CD from Joe Bloggs' etc.

            I've completely lost interest in the modern magazines, they can't tell me anything I don't already know and very often get things very wrong. They are little more than comics IMO.

            I still have hundreds of old magazines including the very first edition of Hi-Fi News. They are stashed away safely in the loft and most probably there is that Popular Hi-Fi article. I do, occasionally pick out an ancient magazine, put up my feet and flick through with great interest. Those were the days !!!

            Comment


            • #7
              A good read about tweeters

              A very interesting article indeed Alan. If i recall correctly, the HF1300 & T27 were some of the most sophisticated tweeters during that time. I heard the IMF monitors (which later became TDL) during the 80s & they were really good. So were the various Spendors, KEFs, Rogers, Wharfedales etc etc.....

              Anybody here recalls the defunct Gale 301, 401 & 402?

              Comment


              • #8
                Yes I do recall the Gale speakers; quite different looking at the time with the chrome end pieces. I do own several of the Gale LP recordings that came with a 3 year warranty that could extend to 10 yrs provided the record was still in print. It covered scratches, warp, breakage and wear. You could get a new record for 1/3 of the current retail price.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Distortion measurements - useful or not?

                  Thank you Alan

                  I found the distortion measurements (in HFN) most interesting. Would it be correct to say that this is one of the more crucial measurements to find out how much colouration (and subsequently how tiresome and fatiguing) a speaker is? Does Harbeth measure the levels of distortion between its models and be prepared to reveal them? Thanks.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Distortion, coloration and percentages

                    Sadly, there seems to be no or little correlation between distortion measurements and subjective speaker distortion. And I'd say that there has never been a link between "coloration" and distortion (2nd, 3rd, intermodulation distortion etc. etc.) although as you say, coloration may or may not have a measurable tell-tale trace. Most likely not. Coloration (btw, no u in coloration, even in English English, a mistake I still make) is still the most challenging thing to measure, yet the trained year can often pick-out small traces of it.

                    Do you know how tolerant of conventional 2nd/3rd harmonic distortion the ear is? Several percent of 2nd harmonic may well not draw attention to itself, which is just as well otherwise analogue tape recording and LP reproduction would be completely intolerable.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Taking a stand against digital - a Thorens turntable ad from June 1986

                      Another one from the archives.

                      I recall in summer 1983, just after the CD launched, attending what I think was the London Olympia hi-fi show, and at a well respected 'must have' turntable manufacturer's display stand. I asked the salesman when they'd introduce a CD player recognising the commercial imperatives of doing so. He violently denied that his company could, wound ever, never, not before the end of the universe, ever make such a product. To his great irritation I laughed, being somewhat more aware of how commerce works than he and predicted that they would. And they did. Do they still make that well respected turntable?

                      I think this Thorens advert seen again from today's perspective, is refreshingly honest. I still have my TD125/SME 3009/V15III and my (can't remember the name of the other TT - Al something UK made belt drive).

                      >
                      Attached Files
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Kit speakers

                        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                        I think the recently revitalised HFN has somewhat returned to the earlier format that you and I benefited from. The question is, does a magazine reflect changing consumer interest or does it lead and shape it? For example, in the days of yopre, HFN ran DIY constructional articles, including speakers, amplifiers and even tone arms. As a schoolboy I found that even the thought of creating something from nothing very exciting, and maybe even within the limitations of my pocket money. But supposing HFN ran constructional articles now, would anybody much care? Who has the time or even basic technical skills (soldering etc.) to assemble even basic circuitry. And could they allow themselves to believe that whilst not perhaps performing at the very outer edges of performance compared with the best commercial designs, the whole process of DIY is hugely satisfying and a learning experience.

                        I suspect that most for-a-living (professional?) designers like me are nothing molre than glorified hobbyists still enacting the dream of 'I can beat a shop-bought product at a fraction of the price'!

                        Attached an article scanned today for the archive from Martin Colloms, HiFi News 1985 about his 'DIY LS3/5a'. Martin is one of the best qualified general audio engineers in the industry, and it follows (obviously) that this DIY speaker was tackled from a position of knowledge about the BBC design. But so often the devil is in the detail and only when you are working in a narrow specialist field like speaker or amp design do those subtle design details take on great significance. Or, I guess as they say, 'we'd all be at it' and living high on the hog!

                        For comparison, his Harbeth LS3/5a 1988 review is attached - you can compare and contrast the frequency responses on axis: very different indeed. So maybe it was never realistic for DIYers to topple commercial product and the consumer became aware of that and lost interest in DIY. One thing is a dead-cert: you cannot make a mini-monitor sound full-bodied and believable unless it has a complex crossover/equaliser. Three of four components just is not enough.

                        What I miss most is journalists who have the budget, curiosity and editorial backing to really dig into and around the subject - or product. That seems to be a luxury long displaced .... or is it?

                        >
                        I recall my time 'dabbling ' with various makes of LS3/5a ( and subsequently discovering Harbeth..) and a pair made by a BBC engineer. Ex. RAM cabinets, Falcon crossovers and the correct Kef drivers. I had owned Audiomaster, and had a pair of Harbeth '3/5as when I bought the 'kit' ones. OK, not truly home built/DIY, but not a licenced make.
                        They sounded OK, but the Harbeths were a little smoother. I have no idea if the kit built ones were measured, etc. Sold them and bought the HL-P3s . The buyer of the kit ones was happy, so it worked out well.

                        Comment

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