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HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts

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.

That's it! Enjoy!

{Updated Oct. 2017}
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  • #31
    Other users' comments drove me to Harbeth

    My path from "meh" speakers to Harbeths includes reviews in magazines, 'Tone Audio' for one and users comments for another. I auditioned a number of speakers before I bought my Harbeths, and interestingly, it only took 5 minutes of listening in a small room, badly set up for audio to say yes, and we spent more time chatting than critical listening. I would argue that a mag/rag review may tweak your interest, but other users experience followed by your own listening review is what will drive the decision. Some of the language used by reviewers is spectacularly out of touch with proper english usage, the dictionary (be it audio or the Concise Oxford) descriptors are not in sync with the any known description. As noted by Alan in a few posts, 50 some years ago the language of audio was established, and yet had to be explained so the reader knew what the writer was getting at. If the author likes the piece of audio equipment because it reproduces music well, and you are looking for that piece of audio (type not brand) then you may be enticed to check it out. If a member of a local forum, (HUG or Cannuck Audio Mart, or...) thinks highly of a brand of audio of the type you are looking for, then it is probably a better bet that you are getting an honest opinion...unless he is a complete train spotter...
    As noted, let your own ears be the final arbiter of the decision. And yes, I have some 7s and am considering another pair or some super 5s

    George

    Comment


    • #32
      Kind words and different approaches to reviews

      Originally posted by GregD View Post
      ... But the point is that crucially, my initial introduction to Harbeth was through the UK and US hi-fi magazines. Of course it helped that the reviews I found in them were very positive about Harbeth speakers. Now that I have become a Harbeth owner and member of the HUG, I have no need for magazine reviews of Harbeth speakers. I strongly feel that. I will only buy Harbeth speakers from now on and any changes I make to my system to a different Harbeth model will not require the reading of reviews or the seeking of reviewers opinions. I believe Harbeth speakers are designed by one man with an unflinching vision of what the BBC legacy means and demands in a loudspeaker and I know he delivers. I have found the Harbeth-way and know that it is right for me.

      Publicity in hi-fi magazines (in the form of reviews) can help to spread the word, but it is crucial that reviewers and feature writers understand what you are trying to do with your speaker designs. Otherwise there is a danger of potential customers (and I believe there are many) missing the boat so to speak and taking longer to find their way here. And the HUG really is the hub of Harbeth ownership experience.
      Now that's very interesting feedback.

      Let me clarify that we are mightily appreciative of the kind words that have been written about our loudspeakers over the years. Those critiques have undoubtedly underpinned our growth and there is no direct substitute for a third-party review. We (real-world commercial people) here understand how the media work and think as poachers-turned-gamekeepers. None of us here would have the courage to live by the pen (it is far less risky to be a producer than a journalist). One of our concerns is that with a relatively long product cycle of 5+ years what new and appropriate words can be conjured-up for a product 5+ years into its life, and still selling very well. That's a real challenge for a writer. One option is to concentrate on what the product doesn't do, through limitation of size, weight, loudness, frequency response, coloration, distortion, pricing or whatever. Another is to make comparisons with other 'nominally' similar products based on a short familiarisation process. Either way, this is not a great way to educate the reader.

      We often mull-over the effectiveness of the HUG as a 'brand-building awareness tool'. My instinct tells me that the HUG is, as you suggest, of tremendous value although (obviously) it is not impartial. But we don't pretend it to be. There are so many subjects that I'd like to explore here with worked examples, but time pressures prohibit it. But now that production is running so sweetly and we have more space thanks to the purchase of the adjacent factory unit last month, we will expand the HUG. And we will continue to take on the mantle of (in rather large quotes) "education and information" to fill what we see are the gaps in the conventional media.

      So where does that leave us with independent reviews? I guess it depends upon the reviewer's agenda. Does he see himself as a technical interpreter between the manufacturer and the reader (which implies he has to check-out the design/production first hand) or does he see himself as a word smith, disconnected from the hardware he's writing about: a modern day audio poet, a Pied Piper weaving a romantic spell around his followers? Is there a place for both? Is one more valuable that the other to the reader?

      Judging from feedback from the print media, I'm told that reader surveys reveal that the most valued, most read and respected journalists are those who are capable of writing exquisite prose - true word smiths - that convey their readers on a romantic audio journey. The ability to write fresh material on a monthly basis is an art form indeed but as a hard, soulless sort, I'm more interested in a frequency response curve than 1000 words!

      So many questions.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #33
        For me it"s just that I want continuing reassuring and confirmation that the speakers I bought are top of the bill. Reviews which are truthfull in their review and opinion are giving me just that feeling. And letís face it donít we all have our doubts that in a certain price range we did buy the best? NoÖThatís why we as audiophiles want constant reassurance we do own the best speakers. Hence the interest in reviews.

        Comment


        • #34
          Reassurance - time limited?

          Originally posted by fred40 View Post
          For me it"s just that I want continuing reassuring and confirmation that the speakers I bought are top of the bill. Reviews which are truthful in their review and opinion are giving me just that feeling...
          Um. Even more interesting. But when you or I read a review of, for example, a holiday hotel or a film we have not the slightest way of knowing if the review is, in your words, 'truthful'. You or I do not know if the reviewer is best golfing buddies with the PR agent behind the product or brand. Or if they are both members of the same lodge, or their wives are old school friends, or they go on holiday together. Or do you have some way of detecting these things? I don't.

          Second, you say that you seek constant reassurance. I understand this psychological need. But it is an illusion. If you read adverts or reviews from the early days of hifi, they trumpeted the marvellous performance of contemporary audio equipment. Seen from today's perspective were those claims downright lies or were they, in the context of the technology of the time, tongue in cheek and reasonable. But surely, decade by decade even highly acclaimed products start to slip behind thanks to competitive pressure. So the reassurances you seek would have to be strictly time-limited and eventually become valueless then ridiculed.

          The car industry is a classic example of this product creep. At what point in the last thirty years would you have to admit to yourself as an owner of even the top-of-the-range Ford Seirra that despite the glowing reviews and glossy brochures, it just wasn't a great car after all? (I had a V6 2.3L Ghia version, new, and it was OK: I doubt there are a few hundred of the 1.3m UK made ones still on the road.)

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Sierra

          Marketing people refer to this need for reassurance as being linked to 'buyer's remorse'. That is, the anxiety that you've spent too much (or too little) and bought the wrong product to fulfil your needs. Do some proper desk research for yourself. Call-in to the Authorised Dealer and explore the product for yourself. Only you know what you expect it to do for you. If you don't get the answers you need ask the questions via the manufacturer's website/forum. No website/forum? Walk away.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #35
            In Harbeth We Trust

            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
            Second, you say that you seek constant reassurance. I understand this psychological need. But it is an illusion
            I agree Alan. For many audiophiles, freeing oneself from the constant need for re-assurance about their purchases should be a goal. Working on developing your own taste and preferences and not feeling a need to justify them to others is what helps someone to feel content with what they already have.

            In my original post about reviews, I tried to explain how I have come to a point where I understand (in my own way) what Harbeth offer, hear the benefits with my own ears, and trust that future developments will exceed current products because I know that is what you work hard to do. Harbeth speakers sound great and a new Harbeth (one day) will sound even better, else you would not build it! No other speaker manufacturer can do what you do, so what do I need reviews for now?

            Comment


            • #36
              IMO, the UK magazines are just about the pits and I personally wouldn't give them anything to review. I have seen from all angles, how the mags work and I wouldn't trust any of them with a decent product, especially a Harbeth speaker which are already back ordered in most countries on the Planet.

              What would a review achieve ? If it's a poor review from an idiot hack, it will do harm to the product image. If it's a good review, it will aggravate the already long waiting lists.

              It's a no-brainer - leave the promotion to the distributors who know what they're doing and ignore the British press.

              Alan, if you want to discuss this, you know where I am.

              Comment


              • #37
                Reviewing the super-expensive

                What annoys me about British Hi-Fi magazines, and Hi-Fi News in particular, is the constant reviewing of incredibly expensive loudspeakers. Monster boxes, with multiple drive units and various metal accessories attached.

                They look impressive.

                Perhaps that is the idea...
                To most readers, I suspect, the price is way out of their league. I would have thought they want products reviewed that they can afford.

                Martyn Miles

                Comment


                • #38
                  Modern journalism

                  Originally posted by Miles MG View Post
                  What annoys me about British Hi-Fi magazines, and Hi-Fi News in particular, is the constant reviewing of incredibly expensive loudspeakers. Monster boxes, with multiple drive units and various metal accessories attached.

                  They look impressive.

                  Perhaps that is the idea...
                  To most readers, I suspect, the price is way out of their league. I would have thought they want products reviewed that they can afford.

                  Martyn Miles
                  Gramophone, on the other hand, tends these days to review very sensibly priced hifi and single box products, also suggesting comparable products. They have said many complimentary things about Harbeth from the beginning, but have not reviewed the SHL5+. Any reason why not?

                  Besides that, most of the magazine is dedicated to the far more appealing subject, to me at least, of music.

                  The most recent editor, since about 1999, Andrew Everard, is sensible and thoughtful. (He took over from John Borwick, editor from 1964.) He has his own site and blog.
                  Here's a pertinent example.
                  https://andreweverard.com/2013/10/01...of-enthusiasm/

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    Sating curiosity about merchandise for the one percenters

                    Originally posted by Miles MG View Post
                    What annoys me about British Hi-Fi magazines, and Hi-Fi News in particular, is the constant reviewing of incredibly expensive loudspeakers. Monster boxes, with multiple drive units and various metal accessories attached.
                    They look impressive.
                    Perhaps that is the idea...
                    To most readers, I suspect, the price is way out of their league. I would have thought they want products reviewed that they can afford.
                    Presumably reviews of equipment that most readers may never have the opportunity to see and hear - let alone own - sell more magazines than reviews of generally affordable mainstream products.
                    What's likely to sell more car magazines - a road test of the Bugatti Veyron or the VW up!?
                    Finally, the exception that proves the rule: http://www.servi-q.nl/wp-content/upl...ut-B6_lres.pdf

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Toys for boys

                      And that they can house in their tiny UK living rooms, both physically and acoustically. I guess it is the same as reviews of Ferrari, Lamborgini and Porsche cars in car magazines: toys for the boys to dream about.

                      They will never drive them, but this way they can talk 'knowledgeably' about them.

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        High end magazines and hi-fi magazines .... bollocks

                        Originally posted by IMF+TDL View Post
                        Presumably reviews of equipment that most readers may never have the opportunity to see and hear - let alone own - sell more magazines than reviews of generally affordable mainstream products.
                        What's likely to sell more car magazines - a road test of the Bugatti Veyron or the VW up!?
                        Finally, the exception that proves the rule: http://www.servi-q.nl/wp-content/upl...ut-B6_lres.pdf
                        Another two exceptions, which prove a/m rule:

                        http://sklep.rms.pl/pliki/pdf/diva25...zja-opinie.pdf
                        http://www.coralelectronic.com/pdf_press/273.pdf

                        Surely neither that class of refinement nor technical elaboration as out of HUG-sters' possesions but for young music lovers as the starters? Second-hand Harbeths, also (good) BBC clones are rare.

                        I bought some Canadian monitors (active pair [cherry laminate] and passive one) years ago. Now dealers ask for n-th iteration of the "improved" (injection molded proprietary reinforced p-p cone replaced with metal one) passive model 3 to 4 times more; active model would be sky-rocketer today! I have comparison with "signature" edition almost next door. Refined veneers or piano varnish, super dooper binding posts, curvy shape, beryllium, cobalt on aluminium, shining bullet, glossy paper booklet, free of charge delivery, 5 year guarantee and almost 8 times flow more. People want this so they get it; true high end. Bollocks ...

                        ATB

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Don't support the magazines

                          Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                          Gramophone, on the other hand, tends these days to review very sensibly priced hifi and single box products, also suggesting comparable products. They have said many complimentary things about Harbeth from the beginning, but have not reviewed the SHL5+. Any reason why not?
                          I refer you to my post No.36.

                          In Alan's place I wouldn't give anything to any UK magazine no matter how much they plead. Its a lose, lose situation.

                          If you want to see sensible Harbeth reviews, you can read many on the www.

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Harbeth walk a different path

                            Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                            I refer you to my post No.36.

                            In Alan's place I wouldn't give anything to any UK magazine no matter how much they plead. Its a lose, lose situation.

                            If you want to see sensible Harbeth reviews, you can read many on the www.
                            I must say that I would completely agree with David on this one.

                            It is very well known that the majority of UK publications (and I can think of one in particular - WHAT really??) give virtually all products reviewed a 4 or 5 star rating, leaving the consumer completely confused. From previous experience, I am aware that some of these 'experts' have also written for gardening or car magazines and have just moved job to the Hi Fi world.

                            It has also been noted that the glowing reviews they give seem to go hand in hand with advertising take up of said reviewed manufacturers. One exception to this that I am aware of (and David may know and correct me) is Rega, who I believe will supply review samples but do not subscribe to a big marketing or advertising budget just to get a good review.

                            I came across Harbeth from glowing overseas reviews of their actual attributes rather that flowery prose, and then did my own homework to find a dealer that I could trust. Giving in to the UK magazines, and their practices, would be more damaging than the wonderful and constant word of mouth reviews and show demos that Harbeth already subscribe to.

                            Flavour of the month? No, Harbeth are not that desperate - and the order books don't lie!!

                            Best regards,

                            Mike.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Proper engineering reviews

                              Originally posted by pkwba View Post
                              Another two exceptions, which prove a/m rule:

                              http://sklep.rms.pl/pliki/pdf/diva25...zja-opinie.pdf
                              http://www.coralelectronic.com/pdf_press/273.pdf

                              Surely neither that class of refinement nor technical elaboration as out of HUG-sters' possesions but for young music lovers as the starters? Second-hand Harbeths, also (good) BBC clones are rare.

                              I bought some Canadian monitors (active pair [cherry laminate] and passive one) years ago. Now dealers ask for n-th iteration of the "improved" (injection molded proprietary reinforced p-p cone replaced with metal one) passive model 3 to 4 times more; active model would be sky-rocketer today! I have comparison with "signature" edition almost next door. Refined veneers or piano varnish, super dooper binding posts, curvy shape, beryllium, cobalt on aluminium, shining bullet, glossy paper booklet, free of charge delivery, 5 year guarantee and almost 8 times flow more. People want this so they get it; true high end. Bollocks ...

                              ATB
                              Dear PKWBA, the Italian magazine You cited has carried out some months ago detailed reviews of P3ESR and SHL5+, with measurements and exam of their crossovers and construction of the speakers. What resulted striking was the extremely low 3rd harmonic distortion of the baby P3ESR; the maximum power input measured for certain level of 2nd harmonic distortion was for both models very near to what Alan demonstrated somewhere on the HUG about peak power "eaten" during music program.

                              Let me add: reviews written by skilled engineers, not bla-bla.

                              ATB

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Vinyl bypassed in Teh Gramophone

                                Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                                I refer you to my post No.36.

                                In Alan's place I wouldn't give anything to any UK magazine no matter how much they plead. Its a lose, lose situation.

                                If you want to see sensible Harbeth reviews, you can read many on the www.
                                AS commented on Gramophone some time ago.
                                http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/s...hlight=Borwick

                                Under John Borwick and his predecessors audio was treated objectively and scientifically. Perhaps the prime example is the series of in depth articles in 1955 and 1956 relating to the Briggs and Walker demonstrations at The Royal Festival Hall.

                                It is foremost a magazine for classical and music lovers and provides an unparalleled online database of record reviews, going back to 1923. The editorials from the early years, most written by the founder Compton Makenzie, are informative and enjoyable.

                                The audio section is relegated to the back pages and I suspect most people ignore it. I don't recall anything relating to vinyl replay being mentioned for ages.

                                Comment

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