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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.

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{Updated Oct. 2017}
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UK currency weakness

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  • UK currency weakness

    The continuing weakness of the UK pound compared with this time last year has been accompanied with progressive cost increases. In the modern real, global world rather than the fantasy Little Britain world some promote, practically everything that is 'manufactured' in the UK uses significant amounts of imported raw materials. Harbeth bass units made here use plastics imported from Japan. The gold plated fibreglass used for our circuit boards has no UK equivalent and so on.

    Tomorrow, we hear, our hapless government will make some sort of posturing announcement about what our exit from the EU might look like. However you look at it, it is unlikely to be good for consumer prices, and those of imported materials too. Today, a trigger point that we set internally for the US dollar to GB pound was breached. The purpose of this post is to give you a heads-up that we are calculating a new price list, likely to be effective in a week or so.

    This is a great time to buy Harbeth (amongst other things), and if you are hesitating, please be aware that the price can, through no fault or wish of ours, only increase. Our position here at Harbeth, being real-world sorts of people is that practical isolationism has costs, and we have consistently and unwaveringly warned of the consequences in the Brexit thread. It is then with a heavy heart that we have to increase prices.

    Doubly so when the macro economic picture in the UK is so concerning for overall disposable income and consumer demand, here.

    Sorry.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    I wonder how this pound weakness and resulting manufacturing cost increases in the UK also translate to potentially lower prices here in the US with the pound down 25% against the dollar? I assume the US importer sets these US prices and it is curious to notice that they rarely go down even when a prolong currency exchange move would justify it?

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    • #3
      It's enough to make one weep, Alan... "The fall in the pound is good for UK exports", we are told over and over again. Why is there so much wilful ignorance in our post-truth world?

      David

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      • #4
        This is indeed bad news, and it is only likely to get worse. In a normal world where people listen to experts this would have improved export opportunities. However, since the UK government is hell bent on leaving the customs union as well, they have blocked the opportunity to benefit long term from the lower value of the pound in their largest market and make up for the rising cost of imports. They have just opted for the worst of two worlds.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by willem View Post
          This is indeed bad news, and it is only likely to get worse. In a normal world where people listen to experts this would have improved export opportunities. However, since the UK government is hell bent on leaving the customs union as well, they have blocked the opportunity to benefit long term from the lower value of the pound in their largest market and make up for the rising cost of imports. They have just opted for the worst of two worlds.
          For those of us who studied economics at high school (my best subject I recall), the subject of Price Elasticity of Demand needs a dust down.

          Those that take the line that the weaker pound is good for experts fail to consider demand elasticity because they have a crude appreciation of how the real world works, and in particular, how consumers actually behave. If the UK pound is now, say, 20% cheaper in real terms to a foreign buyer, that does not mean that the UK factory sells 20% more goods by quantity. The quantity that he is likely to sell, which not necessarily increases at all - could actually decline - is the result of many obvious and non-obvious factors, all rolled-up into the Price Elasticity of Demand, a serious matter for any businessman.

          My best guess is that a 20% currency devaluation increases export unit sales by 3-5%, a highly inequitable position for the exporter who in total revenue terms does not benefit. You can see that with material costs of the nominally UK-made item increasing by, say, 20% due to the weakness of the currency when the factory lays down UK pounds to import needed materials, that a 3-5% increase in unit sales is more than swallowed up by increased material costs. The weakness of the UK pound is most definitely not the solution to economic survival despite whatever drivel the politicians spew, because almost all of our food is imported, and bang on cue, it will be the poorest members of society, a major targeted element in the Brexit campaign, that will impoverish themselves. It's started already.

          And let's not forget that although cheaper, there is only so much British beer that can be exported and drunk, or British shoes that can be worn, or British hifi or cars or Tweed jackets or British made aero engines that the world needs. We live in a global hightly interconnected world where there are layers upon layers of invisible interconnections between economies, corporations and individuals. When you pay for your goods at the supermarket, consider that as you slide-in your credit card, the financial transaction is actually sent to the USA, then back to your local bank then authorised, and that the computer system recording the sale may be based anywhere on earth.

          And of course, recognising that virtually nothing is 'home grown' in the UK anymore, the frightening and real prospect of runaway inflation. And social disorder. And economic stagnation and decline.

          Price elasticity here.

          More depth, here.

          Again, on behalf of Harbeth, costs have risen and our selling prices are directly linked to those costs. I'm really sorry about that: price minimisation and great value for money are core principles of my business strategy. Had we anticipated the outcome of the referendum, I suppose that we could have invested more heavily in material piece-parts and stockpiled them as a hedge on cost increases. To some extent we do that anyway, as to keep our sales prices as low as possible (material costs always increase) we habitually run with 3-6 months of pre-paid piece-part inventory in the UK, sometimes more, bearing in mind that the interest rate for cash on deposit is a pitiful 0.1% or so. As a policy, we purchase components from UK companies wherever possible and we minimise the proportion of knowingly imported parts in our inventory. I am not aware of a UK supplier of, for example, voice coils in the quantity and to the standard we require.

          However, that component inventory is now flushing through, and we're having to replace it, at much higher prices. I must warn you that the regular issuing of retail price lists will become the norm for most companies.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            Upcoming price increases - a tip off

            Although I mentioned in the opening post on this thread that we were suffereing price inflation on materials, we actually decided to wait a bit and not to implement our annual price adjustment reflecting cost increases. That means that it is nearly two years since we adjusted selling prices. That's a long time in a very fluid economic/supply market.

            However, now we are into the 2017-18 financial year, I'm sorry to say that we really have no choice. As soon as we can work through the numbers we will have a final position, but I'm just giving you a heads up on an overheard conversation between accounts and production here this afternoon. There are mutterings about 10% increases in retail prices.

            So, seriously, this is your last chance to take advantage of 2015's retail prices.
            Alan A. Shaw
            Designer, owner
            Harbeth Audio UK

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