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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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"Why we like Harbeth speakers" - Users feedback

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  • #77
    I bought a good chronograph watch from the U.S. some years ago through internet order. I paid a total of 900 euros, all in, delivery at my door. I damaged the mechanism (my responsibility), and the local dealer repaired it -to his honor- like I bought it from him... He said the worldwide guarantee is valid as far as it was bought brand new and stamped from any authorized worldwide dealer. He didn't ask me about the purchase price I paid. His price, here, was (including discount for cash payment) almost double. So, I liked the American price (with cargo, taxes, etc.,) and chose it, while I also admired the excellent policy of the local dealer/distributor to keep the brand name to a very high standard, even by servicing something not sold by him. Later on I found that few companies do this. Most do not accept the guarantee of something bought from elsewhere. I still do not know why the local dealer can't sell at about the same prices like the U.S., especially when the watch is Swiss! Greece is much closer to Switzerland than the U.S.A.!!!
    I don't know who's fault is, surely not mine, but I think it has to do with the mother company's commercial policy. Not that it is bad, but seems rather lacking some "regulative flexibility".
    I see similarities with the issues that previous posts are examining and discussing.
    Regards,
    Thanos

    Comment


    • #78
      Originally posted by A.S. View Post
      ....

      Can we realistically expect quality audio to be sold by mail order to the consumers complete satisfaction? Of course not.

      Support your real, physical dealer.
      Provided it's a good dealer, I agree. The good ones really do earn their money. And even as a consumer, it can be less expensive in the long run to buy the right product with the benefit of good advice and a proper audition than to experiment by trial and error.

      But there's a limit. I assume Harbeth supplies directly to its UK dealers. When a distributor or two gets injected into the chain, however, they need to eat as well, but they are not necessarily providing value commensurate with what they cost. I imagine it's more convenient for Harbeth to supply to one distributor in a given market than to supply dealers individually, but that automatically makes Harbeths more expensive in a foreign market that has a distribution chain in between the dealer and the company.

      I don't see why that's absolutely necessary in an age of near-instantaneous electronic communication (it's "online order" now, not "mail order" - moves a lot more quickly). As I see it, a distributor has two main functions: (1) he aggregates orders (good for the producer) and (2) he takes care of logistics of importation (good for the consumer). But it's all administrative, logistical, middleman-type work. The true value-added, in my humble opinion anyway, is not that great, at least from the consumer's perspective. There's surely some way to rationalize this function in a way that would reduce costs to the end user: maybe allow dealers to place orders directly with Harbeth (if they themselves don't want to carry inventory), etc. Or allow consumers to order directly from Harbeth provided they've had an approved audition with a Harbeth agent, and build in a margin for that agent/dealer. Maybe there's some other model that would work. But if someone (i.e. the distributor) is making a couple of thousand just for filling out forms, I'd rather fill them out myself.

      After all, Harbeths are a great investment as audio goes, but they are a luxury good and a discretionary expenditure. At the end of the day, I don't think you want to discourage people too much from spending money on Harbeths rather than on one of the vast number of alternatives (by which I mean not necessarily competing speakers, but the near-infinite number of uses to which that money could alternatively be put).

      Comment


      • #79
        Originally posted by EricW View Post
        ...At this time, the Super HL5 is 2280 in the UK, with a 200 premium for rosewood, my preferred finish. So, 2480 - VAT included. At current exchange, $3761 Canadian dollars...
        Like Eric, rosewood is my preferred finish and if the price was $3761 CAN, I'd have the SHL5 already in my living room. But $6000 CAN... I'll be glad to hear Alan on this case since he received Canadian's price list.

        To follow Thanos, there is a lot of paradoxes in our globalized world. Hope we can put some light on them.

        Also, thanks to "Hi-Fi Dave" for some precisions. It is always a pleasure to read you.

        Finally, I'll react to the last Alan's post. As a dealer, it happens that you serve a young person just coming to hear good hi-fi system or just buy a vinyl brush. Than, years later, you realize that that person comes to buy a $5000 sound system and years and years later a $30 000 one (a true story that a dealer in Montreal told me). All in all, it is customer's right to be treated with respect and equality even if they buy or not.

        Sebastien

        Comment


        • #80
          Originally posted by Sebastien View Post
          Like Eric, rosewood is my preferred finish and if the price was $3761 CAN, I'd have the SHL5 already in my living room. But $6000 CAN... I'll be glad to hear Alan on this case since he received Canadian's price list.
          Actually, Sebastien, it's an even bigger difference than that because the UK price includes the sales tax. As you know, we pay the sales tax on top of the $6000 - in my province (BC), the final price is $6720. I think even higher in Quebec.

          Comment


          • #81
            Hi Eric,

            Yes, sales taxes are a little bit higher here in Quebec. They are around 13.5% actually.

            Incredible the price you can get if you buy from the UK! I also read on a forum that Harbeth has already sold directly to some customer worldwide were they don't have any distributor/retailer. In that case, I'm talking about Australia. Can you imagine how much they save without those intermediary? A lot!

            Maybe Alan can gives us precisions about that. Does that practice still exist?

            Sebastien

            Comment


            • #82
              This is not a simple issue and humbly feel that it goes beyond just the retailer/ dealer, the distributor, but also distributors of other competitive products (through price setting) and even government policies (pertaining to retail protectionism).

              Pricing is unfortunately imho very arbitrary when a manufactured item is not considered a “commodity” (in a broad sense). And “hifi” somehow isn’t or hasn’t fallen into this category, unlike say ipods (or what surround sound gear seems to be heading towards).

              There are some very valid points here. EricW raises “value add”, and feel that perception of value add does make buyers’ decisions in this day and age a pretty significant deal maker or breaker. The “trouble” for a self importer is minimal and most of the paperwork is done by freight forwarders (at least for the transitional stages) and clearing agents (here in Australia anyway) who charge a small amount. Australia (and NZ) are pretty extreme examples of electronics pricing where premiums over other countries are difficult if not impossible to explain. This is really the boondocks as far as access is concerned (and pricing is after all an issue of access) and if you look at how things are priced, you can imagine a horse and carriage outside the pub waiting to take you down to the wharf where a ship waits to transport you back to the colonial mother.

              It doesn’t help either when a government imposes retail protectionist requirements like C-Tick (Electromagnetic clearance, something like CE etc). It just makes things simply much more expensive. Why regulate and price things like they are semi precious objects when they are really only manufactured commodities you use and throw when they break. (Ok, maybe not the Harbeths).

              Perhaps this is an issue of technology and information moving at speeds beyond what the current retail and distribution chain can handle. Should we be addressing access instead? It might give the whole 2 channel industry a big shot in the arm.

              Comment


              • #83
                Thank you Sebastien.

                Some years ago, I had a chap in the shop asking if I could service his Linn LP12 as he had taken it to another dealer who had charged him 200 and it wasn't right. I did the job and charged him 10 and he said 'one day I will buy a big system from you'.

                True to his word, a year later he came in to order the 'best system you have'. This was followed by several more, one each for every home he owned including an island he owned in the Caribbean.

                It goes to prove that you never can tell !!!

                Comment


                • #84
                  If there were no distributors ....

                  A few posts back someone questioned the role of the importer/distributor. So this morning, we at Harbeth UK did some blue-sky thinking analysing a world without distributors. It may sound appealing to the consumer, but I can assure you that the overall consequence is unlikely to appeal.

                  Assuming that, overnight, all distributors and overseas retailers evaporated, and assuming that the end-user demand remained the same but now ordering direct, this is how we would have to cope with the new situation:
                  • We would have to recruit at least two full time, professional sales staff to 'nurse' (I quote) each and every user through the selection process, by email/phone guiding them on what we believe to be the best model/veneer for them without ever meeting them, seeing their room or knowing about their audio purchasing history, tastes etc.. We currently employ no sales staff.
                  • We would have to recruit at least two, full time logistics persons to arrange the packing, paperwork and despatch of each pair, pair by pair, and call-in various freight companies during the day to collect. This is a part-time function at present.
                  • We would need to recruit additional staff in the accounting department (currently one person) to handle payments in
                  • We would need to know about duty rates, commodity codes and the rules and regulations for individual regions as a mistake on any of these details could result in goods being impounded
                  • We'd need to employ a person to handle the inevitable transit damage, insurance claims and the like
                  • We'd need a completely new invoicing system of greatly expanded capacity as we moved from forty distributors to thousands of direct sales records
                  • We'd need a new telephone/email system to minimise on-hold time
                  • We would be unable to plan production more than a day or two in advance
                  • We would have to greatly increase our inventory to be able to satisfy any and every ad hoc order we received, regardless of model, veneer or quantity
                  • We would dissipate our cash over a mountain of inventory
                  • Our storage space would have to increase - as would insurance costs; we'd need a bigger factory
                  • We'd need more, flexible production staff who could turn their hand to any model at zero notice
                  • Maintaining QC would be extremely challenging as we moved from a batch production method to a series of one-offs
                  • The record keeping system would have to be completely overhauled to handle the volume of data, with ISO9000 implications
                  • We would have to negotiate carefully with our bank as to how they would handle the increased volume of activity and prove that our cash flow (v. inventory investment) was solid

                  That's just what we thought of in the first five minutes. It's the tip of the iceberg. None of this would come free. Efficiency would plummet. Waiting times would inevitably increase. Just to cover the extra staff costs we'd need to double our turnover (impossible). So clearly there is a vital buffer role performed by the importer/wholesaler/retailer, in addition to which he manages local reviews, after-care, exhibitions and so on. It looks easy - it may look like a gold mine but it isn't.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #85
                    Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                    ..... another dealer who had charged him 200 and it wasn't right. I did the job and charged him 10 and he said 'one day I will buy a big system from you'..... one each for every home he owned including an island he owned in the Caribbean.
                    I am more interested in this guy who could afford an island but not willing to pay $190 extra but got the time to look for better price. Strange world, isn't it.

                    ST

                    Comment


                    • #86
                      Originally posted by EricW View Post
                      At this time, the Super HL5 is 2280 in the UK, with a 200 premium for rosewood, my preferred finish. So, 2480 - VAT included. At current exchange, $3761 Canadian dollars.

                      The price of the rosewood Super HL5s in Canada is $6000 ($5999) plus combined sales tax (here in BC) of 12%, so $6720: almost double the UK price.
                      Just to check that the other way - how much would you expect to pay for say a Bryston 2B SST2? Current UK price looks to be around 3000 including VAT.

                      Comment


                      • #87
                        Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
                        I am more interested in this guy who could afford an island but not willing to pay $190 extra but got the time to look for better price. Strange world, isn't it.

                        ST
                        Maybe he was just got 10bucks for his TT in that period of time.....Anything could happen after a yr..
                        "Bath with Music"

                        Comment


                        • #88
                          Originally posted by keithwwk View Post
                          Maybe he was just got 10bucks for his TT in that period of time.....Anything could happen after a yr..
                          ...or maybe the guy who wanted to charge him $200 already knew about his financial standing. :))

                          Comment


                          • #89
                            Ok..joke aside, I do think the asking 200 may sounded too ridiculous so the owner just did not bother to talk to that service man...I guess of course, but I did encounter such cases many time made me did that and nvr called a dealer again...1 good example:

                            ..I knew a old UK brand which produced one of the best amps for Harbeth when it was still made in United Kingdom.. I called a dealer who stored quite a mumber of these old used amps. He was pretty cheerful and friendly over the phone and happily shared me his view why these amps are so good. I was pretty convinced by him because I heard the pairing before..In the end of convesartion, he offered me a special price: CDP/Pre/Power = 16k. What's wrong with the price? well, it enough for me to buy a brand new SHL5 and P3ES2 with some changes for good LPs or CDs in that period of time (I had seen some used same amp floating in my local used market was less than 1.2k before)...I told him that's expensive and the dealer said those are obsoleted model which still the best for Harbeth, so the price is just right.."ok, many thanks for your time...I need to consider and let you know again."

                            That's it. The end.
                            "Bath with Music"

                            Comment


                            • #90
                              Originally posted by weaver View Post
                              Just to check that the other way - how much would you expect to pay for say a Bryston 2B SST2? Current UK price looks to be around 3000 including VAT.
                              It would be around 2000 here.

                              As for Alan's post above, well, if a world without distributors is a utopian fantasy, so be it. I understand the practicalities, and don't object to paying a premium over the domestic price to be able to own a pair of Harbeths. However, I'd like that premium to be fair and reasonable. When the premium on most models is, say 25 to 30%, and on the Super HL5 is more like 75 to 80%, it tells me that it's being marked up excessively relative to the other models. That was my point. The importation, insurance, shipping, storage etc. costs can't be that different, so an undue profit is being taken on that one model. Which happens to be the model I want.

                              So if there needs to be a distributor, fine. But I'd still like to understand the reason for the very disparate pricing of models within the line.

                              Comment

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