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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

Since its inception ten years ago, the Harbeth User Group's ambition has been to create a lasting knowledge archive. Knowledge is based on facts and observations. Knowledge is timeless. Knowledge is human independent and replicatable. However, we live in new world where thanks to social media, 'facts' have become flexible and personal. HUG operates in that real world.

HUG has two approaches to contributor's Posts. If you have, like us, a scientific mind and are curious about how the ear works, how it can lead us to make the right - and wrong - decisions, and about the technical ins and outs of audio equipment, how it's designed and what choices the designer makes, then the factual area of HUG is for you. The objective methods of comparing audio equipment under controlled conditions has been thoroughly examined here on HUG and elsewhere and can be easily understood and tried with negligible technical knowledge.

Alternatively, if you just like chatting about audio and subjectivity rules for you, then the Subjective Soundings sub-forum is you. 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.

The Moderators' decision is final in all matters regarding what appears here. That said, very few Posts are rejected. HUG Moderation individually spell and layout checks Posts for clarity but due to the workload, Posts in the Subjective Soundings area, from Oct. 2016 will not be. We regret that but we are unable to accept Posts that present what we consider to be free advertising for products that Harbeth does not make.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Nov. 2016A}
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  • #31
    Abandoned (?) amplifier project

    Originally posted by A.S. View Post
    So it can be made to work. But do you think after the crushing defeat I suffered here last year over the amp (which resulted in moderation bing turned on) that I'm going to put my head in that noose again? Not bleeding likely!
    Sorry if this is off-topic Alan, maybe there is a thread elsewhere I could have found. I noticed you mentioned the Harbeth amplifier. I read something about it on another thread a while ago but did not know you had pulled the idea completely. What happened? What exactly was the crushing defeat? I remember reading lots of rabid audiophile-type questioning of the plan and people seeming to get confused over details even though you kept repeating and reiterating your position. If it is a sensitive issue for Harbeth then I apologise in advance for bringing it up again. I would buy a Harbeth amplifier, I'm sure, and was just curious about the whole idea.

    Comment


    • #32
      (Don't remind me of the amp, link)

      Originally posted by GregD View Post
      Sorry if this is off-topic Alan, maybe there is a thread elsewhere I could have found. I noticed you mentioned the Harbeth amplifier...
      Here's the link:

      http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...beth+amplifier

      Sebastien

      Comment


      • #33
        Harbeth Integrated Amplifier

        Originally posted by Sebastien View Post
        Thanks for pointing out the link Sebastien. I've just read the whole thread. Sore eyes and a headache now! Well, all I can say is that I hope and pray to high-heaven that the Harbeth amplifier sees the light of day soon.

        Comment


        • #34
          Harbeth amplifier?

          To follow on from GregD's post, I too am sorry the project died. I won't presume to judge Alan's reaction to the HUG response, but going back and reading the thread, there did seem to be a lot of positive feedback, as well as some confusion and perhaps misplaced criticism.

          I for one would be very interested were this product ever to make it to market. I have a high regard for the values underlying the Harbeth brand, and would pretty much buy it on faith.

          Comment


          • #35
            Positive comments about Harbeth amplifier

            I thought there was a lot of positive comment too. But for some reason the issue got hijacked and turned into a message board about audiophile nervosa, cynicism for the high-end and assumptions/concerns about the Harbeth amplifier's 'sound-quality'. I can well sympathise with Alan's frustration.

            It was clear as day that Alan did not intend it to be the silver bullet for obsessed, nervous audiophiles so that they'd never need another amp. These people will not be satisfied with ANY amplifier. These people's problem is psychological - not sound or music related (although they think it is). They'd be better off spending money on a psychotherapist to help them understand and deal with their difficulty, I'm serious.

            A lot of people here say they have got off the upgrade merry-go-round but according to that thread it seems the only thing they've stopped buying is speakers because they've discovered Harbeth. Everything else in the chain is still up for grabs.

            Why people could not see the Harbeth amplifier project for what it was and accept it on those terms I do not know. A lot of people only saw it in the context of their high-end worry-bubble and needlessly commented on issues irrelevant to the amps target market, derailing the whole project.

            It would have been a neat solution for pragmatic, realist music lovers. Sufficient in the Rolls Royce sense. When a confused person asks the HUG "Which amp do I buy?" Alan's advice about "anything competent and well-designed" is often invoked. Offering a Harbeth amplifier is consistent with that advice. To that answer he/we could now add "our integrated will be entirely sufficient for all models of Harbeth speakers". I see no reason why that advice should be contentious or wrong - then or in the future. Let's cross our fingers...

            Comment


            • #36
              The amp was much more than an amp ....

              Originally posted by GregD View Post
              ...It was clear as day that Alan did not intend it to be the silver bullet ...
              Surely one of the most insightful and pertinent contributions ever made here on the HUG. Maybe at some point in the future we should look again at the Harbeth amplifier. What Alan didn't say, or did not want to admit at the time was that the Harbeth amp was conceived as a launch platform for a DSP concept he'd been playing with. He always has a reason for doing things. Stifling the amp concept killed the DSP platform. A real pity for Harbeth users and a real shame that those on the sidelines did not speak up in support. That is human nature I guess.

              Comment


              • #37
                The psychotherapist and the quest

                Originally posted by GregD View Post
                ...These people will not be satisfied with ANY amplifier. These people's problem is psychological - not sound or music related (although they think it is). They'd be better off spending money on a psychotherapist to help them understand and deal with their difficulty, I'm serious...
                I think that we must be cautious here. The need for a psychotherapist should be base on a problem that brings suffering to someone. Plus, it affects in a negative way one or more spheres of his life: personnal, social, work, etc. When someone is in a hobby, like many of us in audio, he can have a real pleasure to experiment different set-up in that infinite quest of the "Grail".

                Sebastien

                Comment


                • #38
                  Music is important, time is short ...

                  I don't disagree that trying lots of different equipment is interesting and exciting if you are a hi-fi hobbyist. However, people posting in the Harbeth amplifier thread spoke of "mental torture" and "suffering".

                  Endless frustrating endevours to feel happy with their system, even though they are more or less 'there' by choosing Harbeths did not sound like people enjoying a leisurely promenade through the high-end's wares. We are talking about people who cannot properly enjoy their music even though they have - in some cases - spent tens of thousands of dollars perhaps over decades. This is IMO a psychological problem that evidently causes distress, rumination, financial burden and a lot of frustration - these feelings could easily have wider implications in other areas of life too.

                  As you will agree, music is very important to most of us here and our lifetime is finite. If we can't enjoy our favourite music (which should be therapeutic, to quote AS) because of this problem, then we are wasting our precious time by not enjoying it to the full and experiencing the full emotional connection to music.

                  As time is the most precious commodity we have, I feel a bit sad when I hear of people who have taken decades to reach satisfaction with their hi-fi systems. That is a terrible waste. If someone can be helped out of the audiophile nervosa trap (eg. by a therapist - as ludicrous as that may sound) then that can only be a good thing. And in many cases, cheaper!

                  I feel very fortunate to have learnt about Harbeth speakers and a more rational, sensible approach to hi-fi at a relatively young age. It sounds as if you have too Sebastian - I hope we both have many decades of wonderful listening ahead of us!

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    A hobby-life balance.

                    Originally posted by Sebastien View Post
                    I think that we must be cautious here ... When someone is in a hobby, like many of us in audio, he can have a real pleasure to experiment different set-up in that infinite quest of the "Grail".
                    That's a good point but I do wonder if chasing that grail you write of can sometimes take a really worrying hold on someone to the detriment of their life. I've certainly seen the never-ending quest get its long fangs deeply into the tragically afflicted making them extremely miserable and financially empoverished. That can't be right can it? Almost all of that could be avoided if the consumer showed more skepticism and less gullibility - nothing more of less than that is needed. Many human conflicts have their roots in one group of individuals hoodwinking another.

                    As I mentioned a few posts back, we at Harbeth try to provide solutions to those wishing to get off the audio merry-go-round. It seems to work. We regularly recieve very touching calls, letters and emails from those who have terminated their dependence by gravitating to a pair of Harbeths. We haven't pushed our solution on them, they've discovered it for themselves. But we're not a social service; we're a business. And one which is growing solving this particular problem. So that's a win-win I'd say.

                    If you want to become involved with a pretty girl - go for it. Or to buy a fancy car or some hifi equipment - great! There is absolutely no need to justify it to others. But when that justification motivates other to spend their precious money chasing your dream, not theirs, that's when the anxiety takes hold. Dream your own dream. Solve your own needs.
                    Alan A. Shaw
                    Designer, owner
                    Harbeth Audio UK

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      The illusion "our dream, our needs"

                      I read Alan's and Greg's posts two times. I retain from Alan that we should do this hobby for ourselves "Our dreams, our needs." and it shouldn't be at the detriment of our life. Plus, Harbeth offers a way to go away that infinite merry-go-round audiophile trick. I must say that it's one of the rare company to do this. From what I know.

                      To continue on hifi shows, I always have a lot of respect for demonstrators that show you a good system at a realistic price. Coincidence, last year at the SSI in Montreal, the cheapest set-up I'm and remind was the one from our local Harbeth dealer, Son Ideal. They were showing the C7ES-3 with a Rega P3-24 turntable and a Rogue Audio Cronus amplifier. By the word of many, that was one of the best sound of the show and... one of the most economic set-up.

                      I come back on Greg's last post, I retain from him that many hobbyists have frustration with their systems and it limits their appreciation of music. Like him, music sits at the top of my pyramid. Then, there are the lives shows, then there is hifi at home, but priority to music. The gear is there to help us attain a more realistic illusion of live music intent by their musicians. Harbeth's a part of this.

                      Sébastien

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Music or Accuracy lovers?

                        There is nothing wrong with people feeling not satisfied with any amplifier. If your hobby is to reproduce the true representation of a live concert than no amplifiers or even speakers can ever achieve that. The challenge to the people whom you label as one with "physiological" problem is to continualy strive for the closest match to live sound. It is an impossible task but that's the idea of having a hobby. Sometimes, their hobbies lead them to financial ruins and family break ups but we can't take responsibility for that.

                        You really don't need high fidelity to enjoy music. I know many musicians do not own hi-fi at home to enjoy music. You can be half deaf or even completely deaf like Beethoven but that shouldn't stop you from producing a great musical masterpiece. We have to accept the fact that anyone who is willing to spend more than the price of a mass market consumer audio is more interested in accurate replay of the original sound but does that mean their priority is to listen to the message and soul in the music? What are we? If we take the football fan's analogy, are we the type who enjoy the game watching in the stadium or who likes to watch in High definition or 3D in the comfort of home? Who is more well versed about the game? Who's judgement about the game is correct? To whom the emotional impact is greater?

                        Well, having said the above, I too ask myself why I even went in to high end? I don't really listen to western classical music, rock or even blues nor I am really acquinted with 1st grade piano or violin sound. They are not my main musical diet. A concert hall is an alien culture to me and probably to another 2 or 3 billion people. Most of the time when Alan talks about piano recording sample, I have no idea about the piano sound texture he is referring to. I can only tell this is "correct" and "right". My only relationship with the high end is the one and only thing I look for which is "true to life vocals". The bonus having SHL5 is the bass that accompanies the amazing vocal clarity. To be honest, I did find one HT speaker with good vocals but it just cannot match Harbeth bass +vocal and musicality.

                        Perhaps this dicussion can held under "So how important is high fidelity and to whom it is important?" heading.

                        {Moderrator's comment. Very thought provoking. We'll see if we can create and move posts to the new thread you suggest.}

                        ST

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                        • #42
                          Constant fears and doubts can rob musical enjoyment

                          STHLS5...

                          I agree that there is nothing wrong with being dissatisfied with your audio equipment per se. I was referring to the point SOME people reach where it gets beyond a simple dissatisfaction and becomes something more serious that means they become incapable of enjoying their music fully because of constant doubts and over-analysis of the sound. I did not intend to imply that all high-end audio enthusiasts are ill. Only that some suffer more than is necessary and that it can be a problem.

                          I myself have really enjoyed the hi-fi hobby over the last few years since I discovered it. If truth be told, I have lost a lot of money through unnecessary upgrades and side-grades but along the way in this journey, I have learnt much about music and audio and the people who make it all happen for us - Alan and his staff for example. It is an enjoyable hobby, obsession even. I would not want to end up getting to a stage where I become unrealistic and it took over my life though.

                          What you say about our own internal references for natural sound is indeed interesting. Since getting involved in hi-fi I have made a point of attending live classical concerts when I can. This is not an option for everyone. It is a valuable reference for me sure, but enjoying my system has to come first.

                          I started buying hi-fi because a friend said my music would sound better with separates - he was right of course. But I am at a stage now where I realise I must not forget that initial purpose. Any equipment upgrade/change MUST be with the goal of feeling more enjoyment from my music. Alan's recent post about the relative importance of the speakers/room acoustics and the electrical equipment has only added to the rationalisation of my personal equipment upgrade philosophy.

                          Does that mean I will buy the very cheapest amplifier that drives my speakers adequately? No. But for others it may mean that. I still think there are other characteristics of a hi-fi component that attract me to them such as heritage, build-quality, features, reliability and even circuit topology. However, like Alan said I must not mistake any of the above characteristics as a sound-quality or musical improvement delivering more enjoyment from my music.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Technical knowledge of equipment, audio memory of the live perfomance

                            Originally posted by GregD View Post
                            ... Only that some suffer more than is necessary and that it can be a problem....Since getting involved in hi-fi I have made a point of attending live classical concerts when I can. This is not an option for everyone. It is a valuable reference for me sure, but enjoying my system has to come first.....
                            Again, I am not implying anyone here is wrong or right.

                            To some with a little bit of technical knowledge they are able to grasp the difference in various equipments. For an example, for amplifiers without Zobel network, cables length and capacitance (or is it impedance?) play a major role in the different sound they hear and at one point they may reach an optimum combination for their preference.

                            Those with technical knowledge know exactly why and how the sound changes and if they are able to demonstrate when everything is equal there's hardly any discernible difference to human ears. It is unfortunate, for non technical guys they have to take a longer journey and often get sidetracked with snake oil to achieve their desirable sound.

                            Let's be honest and take an example of one amplifier manufacturer who recommended a certain cable and a certain length for the amplifier to sound correct. Whatever effect that this particular cable and length do can be incorporated in the amplifier design itself giving consumers the freedom to buy cheaper cables. But due to profit consideration, they designed an amplifier "inadequately" and then sell the cables to remedy them. As a consumer I think this is very wrong.

                            Another, interesting comparison would be preamp and power amp combinations. Maybe, later I will write about this and about a so called "Preamp of the century" and so called SOTA DAC.

                            Now, let's take the standard western classical music in concert. Do you really get a chance to hear the true individual instruments, (I am referring to violins and piano) long enough for you to have sufficient memory of it to compare outside the concert hall? 90 or maybe 99% of the time when we listen to classical music it is difficult to hear any one instruments individually. We usually have 10 to 30 people playing simultaneous making it impossible to know how an individual violin sound like. When an individual note is repeated simultaneously by 10 or 20 different violins what you hear is sum effect of original sound with colouration due to imperfection in synchronization between different players.

                            In one concert, there was a solo piano and harp recital, I am still doubtful whether they were the original sound or an amplified sound of those instruments because when compared with the whole orchestra sound they were louder than what's should be the norm. Now, would it be fair for people like me to claim I know what original piano or violin sounds like in a concert hall? In another word, how many of us can be absolutely sure that all live concerts that you attended did not have any amplified sound?


                            ST

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Thread for "world music"

                              Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                              I don't really listen to western classical music, rock or even blues nor I am really acquinted with 1st grade piano or violin sound. They are not my main musical diet. A concert hall is an alien culture to me and probably to another 2 or 3 billion people.
                              ST
                              May I ask a favour?

                              Would you mind starting a thread in the music section specifically dedicated to non-western music?

                              I have had a quick look there but given the world-wide reach of Harbeth speakers I personally would find it interesting to discover more of the world-wide music that is played on them.

                              Thank you.

                              {Moderator's comment: a good idea. DONE.}

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                The acoustic averaging effect of western orchestral music

                                Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                                ...let's take the standard western classical music in concert. Do you really get a chance to hear the true individual instruments, (I am referring to violins and piano) long enough for you to have sufficient memory of it to compare outside the concert hall? 90 or maybe 99% of the time when we listen to classical music it is difficult to hear any one instruments individually. We usually have 10 to 30 people playing simultaneous making it impossible to know how an individual violin sound like...
                                Very true. Not only is the sound of various sections of the orchestra [strings, wood, brass] aggregated during a concert the microtonal differences of individual instruments are averaged and buried. On that basis orchestral music with its averaged tonal nature would not make a good test of speaker resolution. It may tell something about serious coloration though. Coloration and resolution are not the same effect but they may be linked. Severe coloration may sound like increased resolution. Solo voice is very handy for exposing both coloration and resolution limitations of a speaker.

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