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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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  • #46
    "Who can you trust?"

    I opened my micro-talk in Rotterdam last week by saying that were I the audience, in the market for quality hifi equipment, reading the audio media would simply confuse me at best thanks to contradictory opinions, and perhaps dissuade me from buying anything at all. The point I made was 'just who can you trust?'.

    The talk was recorded in high resolution 4k MP4, which we have now standardised on. We've upgraded our non-linear editing software and if we can find a practical way of editing it, maybe I can place that element here?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

    Comment


    • #47
      God save The Queen and premium audio press (wherever in the world)..

      Originally posted by BOZEN View Post
      Let me add: reviews written by skilled engineers, not bla-bla.

      ATB
      Exactly. I prefer pay some bucks for subscribing valuable information than wasting time on colourful audio gutter press.

      ATB

      Comment


      • #48
        The audiophile addiction

        Originally posted by MikeM View Post
        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.
        Twenty odd years ago I assumed that all those reviews were valid and reasoned descriptions of various products, reading the little snippet at the back of 'Whichever hifi' told me that my new arcam amplifier 'lacks string bite' made me immediately question my purchase, did I really just spend 450 UK pounds on something that sounds boring?? You scroll down that list of several hundred or so units and every one has a subjective appraisal of sound quality, what better way is there to hook people to audiophilia.

        Until said amplifier was stolen I always wondered how my system might sound if it had that little bit of extra 'string bite' like it was supposed to, I have no doubt it did not lack for anything......it even had tone controls, my next amplifier did not ('they are not required and get in the way of the signal....') another step into the impractical world of audiophilia.
        Getting to know my C7ES3

        Comment


        • #49
          Advertorials

          I bought my first gear some 40-45 years ago (Quad 33-303 and ELS 57's), based in part on the kind of in depth and scientific reviews that prevailed at the time. This gear has served me faithfully until recently.

          So the only money I wasted was on the occasional audio magazine, until it dawned on me that these days reviews are just subjective advertorials. Since then HUG has been my guide, supplemented by websites such as those by the Audiocritic, Nwavguy and Archimago.

          Comment


          • #50
            Thin line

            Of course you can discuss the objectivity of the magazines, they are the feed of the hungry man. Fortunately we can make up our own mind and decide to go with the audiophile flow or not. Are there innocent victims here ? I don't think so.

            What surprises me is the sceptic attitude against these magazines and refer to all the positive award winning reviews of Harbeth models. What should I trust ? I probably know the answer but it is a thin line between marketing and an honest approach to be make good products.

            Comment


            • #51
              Tickle, tease and sell

              I don't see anything wrong with audiophilia. My father has horoligitis, his watch cost more than I ever spent on audio. It makes him happy. It is apparent from forums that there are many people out there whose audiophilia brings a smile to their face every time they hit the "play" button. The audio magazines are merely the oil that lubricates the hi-end machine.

              It's the audiophiles who are in constant paroxysms of agony as to what to upgrade next that I feel sorry for.

              Comment


              • #52
                Sonic satisfaction....

                Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                I don't see anything wrong with audiophilia. My father has horoligitis, his watch cost more than I ever spent on audio. It makes him happy. It is apparent from forums that there are many people out there whose audiophilia brings a smile to their face every time they hit the "play" button. The audio magazines are merely the oil that lubricates the hi-end machine.

                It's the audiophiles who are in constant paroxysms of agony as to what to upgrade next that I feel sorry for.
                Audiophile vs audiophiliac maybe??

                I agree, music reproduction should always bring pleasure, I suspect there are those who just love swapping boxes and enjoying the whole experience even if they find the music more of a test signal.

                I feel a system with a lack of fatigue is very important, as soon as your system grates your ears then I feel the angst begins, I'm quite happy to listen to the radio via my Tivoli model 1 with its rather rounded and dark sound, hides all sorts of defects in music, I was/am always amazed at how room filling that tiny 3 inch speaker can be and 15 years on it still works well. Amazingly I used the model 1 speaker as my dvd sound system (the input was extremely sensitive though on aux for a 2V signal) for a while as it trashed the TVs own amp and speakers.
                Getting to know my C7ES3

                Comment


                • #53
                  Definition of hard work

                  Originally posted by martin1305 View Post
                  Of course you can discuss the objectivity of the magazines, they are the feed of the hungry man. Fortunately we can make up our own mind and decide to go with the audiophile flow or not. Are there innocent victims here ? I don't think so.

                  What surprises me is the sceptic attitude against these magazines and refer to all the positive award winning reviews of Harbeth models. What should I trust ? I probably know the answer but it is a thin line between marketing and an honest approach to be make good products.
                  As we have consistently said here, anyone who has the sonic acuity combined with writing skills to convey what they hear to a mass audience - and to do it for little financial gain - deserves our respect.

                  Journalism, sadly, is not likely to be a track to a decent income, and I would expect that audio critics are paid at a rate which would require them to generate, perhaps, 10 pages of commentary a month just to pay the mortgage. That's a sort of hell: the need to hear the unhearable (?) and then verbalise it.

                  I wouldn't swap places with them for all the tea in China. It's really hard, thankless work.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #54
                    Fast track to journalistic suicide

                    I was watching a tv program yesterday on the decline of independent journalism in Russia. One journalist on a Putin friendly station was interviewed, to declare that journalists were selected on the basis of their political affinities. He did not mind ('there are other stations and newspapers with different views') that his station was biased. Facts such as on Russian complicity with the downing opf the MH17 flight (incidentally killing one of my friends) for him were just opinions.

                    I sympathise with his plight that he needs to earn a living, but at the same time this modern use of 'opinion' where we are talking about factual things deeply disturbs me, particularly in the hands of populist politicians. I am enough of a historian to know where this can lead to.

                    At the same time it is obvious that there is big market for subjectivism, and the apparent democracy that anyone can talk about anything without any knowledge, only because it is their opinion. Surf the web for anything in the audio world, and the majority of the posts are horrifically ignorant and full of self confidence in the value of subjectivism and the irrelevance of science.

                    That is the crazy world that audio journalists have to survive in. For them to publish a graph and come up with a scientific argument is professional suicide.

                    Comment


                    • #55
                      Honesty cannot pay

                      ... and I thought Alan's way with words, collection of colourful audiological adjectives and ability to call a spade a shovel would have made him a perfect audio critic.

                      It probably wouldn't last long as after including a few oscilloscope readings and technical measurements there'd be a stream of emails to the editor saying that if they wanted an objective technical assessment they'd have purchased 'Electronics Weekly' and could they please revert to entirely subjective reviews all concluding with a 5-star rating and the reviewer liking the unit so much they bought the demo unit (shorthand for the manufacturer bribing the reviewer for writing the flattering review in the first place and they couldn't get anyone else to review said 50kg CD player so they might as well keep it).

                      Or am I being unfair?

                      Comment


                      • #56
                        Trust?

                        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                        As we have consistently said here, anyone who has the sonic acuity combined with writing skills to convey what they hear to a mass audience - and to do it for little financial gain - deserves our respect.

                        Journalism, sadly, is not likely to be a track to a decent income, and I would expect that audio critics are paid at a rate which would require them to generate, perhaps, 10 pages of commentary a month just to pay the mortgage. That's a sort of hell: the need to hear the unhearable (?) and then verbalise it.

                        I wouldn't swap places with them for all the tea in China. It's really hard, thankless work.
                        mmm... so now you trust the sonic acuity of the reviewers with low income ?

                        Comment


                        • #57
                          History repeats itself - level matching

                          Originally posted by willem View Post
                          I bought my first gear some 40-45 years ago (Quad 33-303 and ELS 57's), based in part on the kind of in depth and scientific reviews that prevailed at the time. This gear has served me faithfully until recently.

                          So the only money I wasted was on the occasional audio magazine, until it dawned on me that these days reviews are just subjective advertorials. Since then HUG has been my guide, supplemented by websites such as those by the Audiocritic, Nwavguy and Archimago.
                          Many thanks Willem for pointing out the above websites.

                          I have just downloaded the free pdf (one of a dozen or so available) of issue 16 from The Audiocritic and what do you know! A reader letter on page 5 picks up on what Alan has also banged on about for so long about level matching of amplifiers / blind, double blind listening and how a reviewer will still manipulate the figures to their own ends. Their letter was refused publication in Stereophile magazine. And when was the subject raised - last year, the year before - no, it was 25 years ago!!! An interesting insight into what was already being doubted so long ago.

                          Mike.

                          Comment


                          • #58
                            When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

                            Originally posted by martin1305 View Post
                            Of course you can discuss the objectivity of the magazines, they are the feed of the hungry man. Fortunately we can make up our own mind and decide to go with the audiophile flow or not. Are there innocent victims here ? I don't think so.

                            What surprises me is the sceptic attitude against these magazines and refer to all the positive award winning reviews of Harbeth models. What should I trust ? I probably know the answer but it is a thin line between marketing and an honest approach to be make good products.
                            No business is suspended in artificial cocoon, preserving it from outer world. Real life demands one being very sensitive to the market and the competition thus affirmative opinions and reviews are helpful for building future. Surely manufacturers' web net fora are supportive for their professional activity, some more snobistic, some full of interesting facts, some moderated in submissive, some in sometimes arrogant way IMHO but I prefer reading them and pass instead of watching BS in colourful audio street press.

                            ATB

                            Comment


                            • #59
                              Doing business in mass media

                              Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                              ... and I thought Alan's way with words, collection of colourful audiological adjectives and ability to call a spade a shovel would have made him a perfect audio critic.

                              It probably wouldn't last long as after including a few oscilloscope readings and technical measurements there'd be a stream of emails to the editor saying that if they wanted an objective technical assessment they'd have purchased 'Electronics Weekly' and could they please revert to entirely subjective reviews all concluding with a 5-star rating and the reviewer liking the unit so much they bought the demo unit (shorthand for the manufacturer bribing the reviewer for writing the flattering review in the first place and they couldn't get anyone else to review said 50kg CD player so they might as well keep it).

                              Or am I being unfair?
                              Nope, the editor would receive at least a few e-mails with words of surprise, some would read the words of wisdom others would omit the techs part of the text as too difficult or boring. The point is who is going to maintain or order professional job at independent audio engineers with all this boring and costive workbench stufff in high profile colourful audio press while it is more profitable to order some flourishing audio poetry and shining studio snapshots of the gear?

                              Imagine there are numerous decent premium audio magazines in many countries throughout the world, some released in electronic form only, led by qualified audio engineers confronting their workbench test results with auditioning experiences of professionals, musicians or music producers. The level of concordance is astonishingly high despite usual personal sonic preferences :). Usually there are no stars, ears or dots in resume of the review. Editing such press takes time. Some may call it passion, some professionalism.


                              ATB

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                The audiophile's ears or eyes?

                                The way I see it now - and it's been decades coming!!! - is that audiophiles listen and buy mostly with their eyes. Pages of colourful prose probably just makes the purchase easier - and I seem to remember expensive cars being given the same treatment by the likes of the late LJK Setright in 'car' magazine, a gent able to write pages when a paragraph would have done the same thing (I seem to remember he was very highly qualified technically too, unlike most audio reviewers).

                                At the end of the day, the gear we buy has a job to do - to reproduce/decode/amplify a musical, electronic signal and getting in the way as little as possible and the loudspeakers have the hardest job of all, to make a stab at converting this into a sound signal and do this in all manner of rooms.

                                I've discovered recently that my own sitting room is dire for this purpose, especially as I'm unable to place my favoured two-cubic-foot boxes (with a 'natural warm sound') fifteen to eighteen inches off the floor and a couple of feet out from the rear wall. Horrible thunderous low bass and a lack of presence is the end result (I tried different amps to no avail) and it gave me a headache! maybe I should follow the other discipline for a ten litre active model including analogue and digital preamps that dispenses with the bulk of the stereo gear altogether. Fortunately for me at present, my wife hates 'small boxes on stalks,' so I'm allowed to indulge a little still.

                                It's my experience and view that Harbeth speakers aren't usually a 'first purchase.' many/most? owners have done the audiophool 'thang' and come out the other end much wiser. Audiophiles/Audiophools? further back down the line who often post on other forums don't like Harbeths anyway, finding them boring, due to lack of nasty resonances adding false 'excitement' I think.

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