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B-grade cabinets for charity?

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  • B-grade cabinets for charity?

    Because we believe that we should maintain a very high standard, from time to time we accumulate cabinets that fall below our cosmetic and constructional A1 standard. Sometimes we accidentally damage them during production. Today, we scoured the dark corners of the store room to round-up unmatched and B-grade cabinets. Normally we would physically destroy these cabinets so that there is no chance of their emerging in the market being passed off as representing our true quality level.

    However, as Christmas is approaching we wonder if there is some way that these B-grade cabinets can generate money for local charities. We would be willing to make-up these cabinets and give the entire profit to good causes especially children's charities. The only problem is how to protect our brand name and reputation and to inhibit these speakers being resold as perfect. Also, we do not want to divert any business from our hard working and loyal distributors especially in the current economic climate.

    What do we do? Proceed to destroy them as we would normally do with B-grade? Your constructive feedback most welcome as always.
    Attached Files
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Re: B-grade cabinets for charity?

    good idea Alan, charity is fine. you can solve the problem with new labels, where is clearly stated, that the product is cosmeticaly B grade.


    • #3
      Re: B-grade cabinets for charity?

      If the fear is that a first time Harbeth user will complain about the look and feel of the B-grade speakers, then restrict the sales to only existing Harbeth user for the following reasons:-

      1) Since we experience and know what is means to own a A-grade speakers, we will not complain if we buy a B-grade speakers knowing very well that what is the TRUE quality of Harbeth speakers

      2) Opportunity for us who desire to own a 2nd pair of harbeth :-)

      3) Use it as a center channel speaker for AV setup. I saw a Harbeth dealear using a single unit of C7ES2 as a center speakers for AV it sound fantastic!!!

      Well, may be the worries is when B-grade speakers owner resell their speakers in 2nd hand market, but 2nd hand buyer know very well they are not buying a visually perfect speakers anyway what they desire is the Harbeth sound :-) we have win-win situation here


      • #4
        Re: B-grade cabinets for charity?

        I second the suggestion to use otherwise A-grade but unmatched cabinets as a centre speaker - an all-Harbeth 3, 5.1, or 7.1 speaker setup for sacd/dvd/dvd-a/bluray multichannel classical (or indeed any genre of) music is something I believe definitely has a market, especially seeing as bluray's ability to store uncompressed 24/192 LPCM for up to 7.1 channels has already started to garner attention from record companies:

        Audio only 192kHz/24bit 5.1:

        Audio only BluRay discs from Surround Records...

        Deutsche Grammophon:

        As for the rest of the B-grade cabinets, I know many piano companies circumvent this problem by offering a budget line of products, often under a different label (ie. non-Harbeth) where it is clearly understood that the manufacturing materials are not A-grade. Unfortunately, their manufacture is often outsourced to a country with cheaper labour costs (ie. The Korean or Japanese companies will have a Chinese / Indonesian line under a different label). As your labour costs would likely be the same regardless of the speaker cabinet quality, I am not sure this would be in your best interests.

        Another suggestion that might address this problem is to offer relatively cheap DIY kits using the inferior cabinets (again, this could be under a different brand name in order to protect the Harbeth image and quality). You could also substitute other drivers if you are unwilling to sell the radial driver this way. I think there are many people out there who lack the funds to purchase Harbeth speakers, but would be more than willing to build their own speakers from a relatively inexpensive kit, with the understanding that the cabinetry might not have made Harbeth's steep requirements.

        As Christmas is fast approaching, and this is a time of economic downturn, it might be possible to find people willing to donate the time to put some of these kits together as a gift for those less fortunate than many of us: I'm sure that there are many places nearby that would definitely benefit from the gift of music and would have enough traffic to make them worthwhile: orphanages, struggling town halls, theatre/music troops, schools, etc... Even if a suitable place isn't found, one could easily arrange to auction off some of these pre-made kits to individuals and have the proceeds given to children's or other charities: I'm sure this would generate interest both for the speakers themselves and for those wanting to donate.

        It seems a waste to throw away these cabinets or to use them for a purpose other than audio: they have already been optimized for this particular application, and while they may not be the cream of the crop, they still would be miles ahead of much of what is out there. They could be stamped, engraved or labelled in such a way as to prevent them from being converted by those with less than ethical intent to be passed off as genuine Harbeths while still providing people with high quality sound reproduction.

        There are a lot of people out there who would be willing to purchase b-grade Harbeths if it means they could save some on the cost (I would jump on the opportunity to get a pair of unmatched or blemished SHL5s =D ), and if some or all of the proceeds were to go to charity, even better.


        • #5
          Re: B-grade cabinets for charity?

          Alan, a very nice gesture from Harbeth. BTW, are you fixing them with radial drivers? Well, to differentiate the A-B grade, simply tag a 'Profit from these B-grade Speakers will be donated to the Charity' plate visibly on all side of the speakers. Just to play safe. I reckon that, few years down the road, these speakers will be a rare collectible item.


          • #6
            Re: B-grade cabinets for charity?

            something that can not be removed on the back side at least, etched deep enough into the wood so it will clearly be visible if removed, to stop speakers from being reselled as perfect grade speakers.
            Well, just a thought................


            • #7
              Re: B-grade cabinets for charity?

              Hi Alan

              That is a wonderful idea, for a very good cause.

              Like the others here, I would suggest etching on wood at the rear of the speakers, the following words:

              "These special production speakers are manufactured and sold as B-grade speakers with the entire proceeds donated to charity!"

              Paradoxically, and notwithstanding what caution you place or etch on the speakers, the fact that they are "special" and will most probably be a very limited run, and for this reason, will intrinsically be more valuable than the A-grade speakers and might well fetch a higher resale price than a brand new, Grade A Harbeth. I don't think you can prevent or minimise such secondary market transactions, the point is, Harbeth would have already succeeded in its primary goal of (1) saving the trees, and (2) helping charities. The fact that there will be a secondary market speaks very well of Harbeth's benevolent initiatives and reputation for carftsmanship, manufacturers of the world's finest and most musical speakers!

              Best regards


              • #8
                Charity pair sold to Denis Morecroft of DNM Audio UK

                I'm delighted to say that Denis Morecroft of the renowned amplifier manufacturer DNM has kindly bought a pair of graded Monitor 30s for his demo facilities in Huntingdon, UK. We're splitting the proceeds three ways to support various charities and the first donation will be made to a local hospice before Christmas. Many thanks to Denis and Tim Ryan of Harbeth USA for making this possible.

                If anyone else is interested in the remaining graded stock please do let us know, but I regret that we do not have the capacity to make any more speakers other than those normal Grade-A on-order before our Christmas closedown commencing 23 December - reopening 5 January 2009.
                Alan A. Shaw
                Designer, owner
                Harbeth Audio UK


                • #9
                  Speakers for charity

                  Alan, as this was a good idea and had a favourable reception from forum members, is there any possibility of Harbeth repeating this exercise for charity?


                  {Moderator's comment: a very reasonable question. We certainly have the stock available. But although such a gesture supports a charity, how do we balance that against a sale lost to a heard working dealer? Thoughts?}


                  • #10
                    B-grade cabinets

                    It's a real dilemma because, at present, I would like to buy a new pair of Harbeths but simply do not have the resources. But I recognise your need to support the dealers.

                    Perhaps then you could operate a scheme whereby, while stocks remain, dealers could sell B-grade speakers as a 'second pair' to customers who buy new, with a percentage of the price going to charity.

                    Or would that be unworkable?

                    {Moderator's comment: how would that help you? You do not already own Harbeth - you are after your first pair! Also, how can we police this? We are nervous that somehow, Graded could become passed along as Premium stock, perhaps between generations of customers. This must not be allowed to happen. Graded means graded and must not be confused.


                    • #11
                      Charity speakers?

                      It wouldn't help me but it might help the dealers, who in turn will be able to help me when I am able to buy a regular pair of Harbeth speakers. Actually... you're right, it's a silly idea.

                      As for policing, how about engraving and special suffixes to the serial numbers?


                      • #12
                        Permanent marking?

                        Originally posted by Dougal View Post
                        how can we police this?
                        Perhaps heat burnt a "non commercial grade" marking onto the back and front panel? with the purchaser's name? or even country of destination?


                        • #13
                          Auctioning on HUG?

                          How about calling them Shaw 30's, and auctioning them on HUG, with the proceeds to your favorite charity,


                          • #14
                            Engraved cabinets?

                            Originally posted by kittykat View Post
                            perhaps heat burnt a "non commercial grade" marking onto the back and front panel? With the purchaser's name? Or even country of destination?
                            engrave on the speaker "not for sale"


                            • #15
                              Orphanage children's home

                              Harbeth could consider donating them to orphanage children's home or schools in other countries. You will be doing a charity to the much needed children and also commercially it may help to establish Harbeth brand in young and future consumers. One place in my mind is India where Harbeth can donate through Christian missionary based in UK.

                              I chose India over other countries because Indian music still prioritizes vocals and acoustic music something suits Harbeth well.