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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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Reviewing & preserving audio science

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  • Reviewing & preserving audio science

    A new section, probably outside HUG, is being created to be able to review historical archive documents relating to the comparison and grading of audio material. As this deals with matters of fact, and not opinion, it is best separated out. The objective is to once and for all solve the difficulty of discussing factual matters objectively in an open forum.

    More later.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    I did join the platform that you linked to recently. I'll just wait to see what happens next.

    Comment


    • #3
      Noted, thanks.

      As a contributor mentioned to me in a private message (which he may or may not be willing to quote from himself), the issue is how to balance outright subjectivity and practical objectivity in an open, public forum. Demonstrably, the two do not lie comfortably together.

      There is so much precious research conducted by those now deceased audio pioneers that needs to be aired objectively - totally away from subjective interjections, denials, refutations, and distractions - that it's long overdue to split the forum.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
        Noted, thanks.

        As a contributor mentioned to me in a private message (which he may or may not be willing to quote from himself), the issue is how to balance outright subjectivity and practical objectivity in an open, public forum. Demonstrably, the two do not lie comfortably together.

        There is so much precious research conducted by those now deceased audio pioneers that needs to be aired objectively - totally away from subjective interjections, denials, refutations, and distractions - that it's long overdue to split the forum.
        I have just read the new mission statement. You lament that the user group is failing because users want subjective opinion about 'which amplifier to buy' in the main {this being by far the most read and discussed topic}.

        This is hardly surprising. What separates Harbeth's position vs the rest of the hifi world is your loud and proud "if it is not clipping then one can't tell two amplifiers apart unless they modify the sound on purpose". Add to that your commitment that the universe works in a rational way.

        Compared to other places on the internet there is very little drivel here on HUG. Yes there are the HIFI dealers that chime in something like "NAIM is ideal for Harbeth as they complement the PRAT" well pratt is the word isnt it. But it is pretty transparent. And people do contribute to such threads mentioning ABX testing.

        Any other audio forum and any talk of ABX is met with abuse and vitriol.

        I know there is too much proselytizing the other way too, some members continual exhortations to only buy Karaoke amplifiers for home use because they are the biggest bang for buck. Yes they are right, but who wants one of those in their lounge.

        Yet these are far more valid arguments than you'll find in other audio forums. Here there is very little talk of the music coming out of the blackness- or even inky blackness, or other such tripe.

        Here there are mainly people who have in the past swallowed some audiowoo, who are asking very reasonable questions about equipment that is extraordinarily expensive if it makes no sonic contribution

        we don't want to put spikes into our beautiful loudspeakers or our beautiful floors, we don't want to raise our cables on little ceramic platforms, we don't want to spend any amount more than necessary on interconnects, we don't want to rewire our houses.

        This is the only forum that tells us we don't have to play those games. This is the only forum that tells us that listening . This is the only forum where if we want to look for wider explanation then we can.

        If you strip the equipment talk of any theoretical talk, then there is no point in doing the equipment talk. You call much of the discussion subjective, and so it is. But without objective talk as well, how are we to know even to test our audio equipment, or even know of ABX testing, placebo and the like.

        I'd like to add a few things too- where i say "we don'd want to put spikes".............."we don't want to rewire our houses" i'd like to add- " we don't want to run our equipment in!", and where i've said ......how we like to listen is the best way of listening..... , i'd like to qualify by saying there are many ways to play music and place our speakers and we can like them all.

        And you are right, objective and subjective do not sit comfortably together if you take subjective at face value, but I think many who want to know "how does this INSERT PIECE OF EQUIPMENT HERE sound?" are really asking "is this a quality piece of equipment?" . The difference in the type of discussions found in the amplifier section and the stands and support section illustrate this nicely. There is less woo in the latter because I suspect folk don't need gobbledegook to tell them why they like a bit of what is essentially furniture. The subjective becomes the objective because the criteria are no longer sonic differences.

        Comment


        • #5
          Georges, as excellent at the HUG forum is, it isn't the only audio forum that takes an objective approach. The forum www.regonaudio.com is moderated by a similarly rational being (REG) as A.S. In fact, it was reading his articles in The Absolute Sound that I first came to know about - and listen to - Harbeth speakers. Don't despair. Audiophiles seem - as a group - to have become disoriented in the pursuit of natural reproduced sound, but A.S. is not quite alone in relying upon knowledge in this pursuit.

          Comment


          • #6
            Ned, I'm not despairing, the message I sent Alan was a hot headed response- I know I talked in extremes. Thanks for the link! I have also glanced at Ethan Winers stuff both on youtube and wherever it can be found. But I do feel the Harbeth forum is unique because it is hosted by a manufacturer, folk ask the sorts of questions that ought to be asked by folk that want reasonable reproduction at home, and they get the authority of the fellow who designed the loudspeakers chiming in when threads go too wayward into woo.

            I can see how that very unique position can cause frustration because the real problem is that audiowoo is as entrenched as alternative medecin. The people into it are irrationaly really into it, and most of the rest go along with it because there must be SOMETHING in it musnt there ? and the answers are complicated to people that have swallowed some woo because the bit the woo deals with just doesnt come into it in any way. The initial take up cost of audio woo is very small- some slightly nicer looking interconnects - just as the initial take up in health woo is too- perhaps someone gives you a little arnica for a cold that will go away anyway.

            But like all commercial woo, even though the take up is cheap, the rest isnt! In my own case the first bit of woo I swallowed- because in the mid eighties for a teenager buying his first audio system saved from a saturday job it was probably the only affordable woo- was the amplifier with no tone controls. It cost the about the same- 150 pounds- as many amplifiers with tone controls, but it must have been better right? because there were less electronics to degrade the signal- stands to reason doesnt it?Never mind the miles of cabling and electronics the signal had gone through before it reached the vynil. Never mind that I couldn't boost the bass a little like a young man might have wanted too, I was clever, I was right. Later when I worked through the university vac on building sites, I upgraded my amplifier- guess what to a more expensive model with about the same power output and again no tone controls- and this one being a NAIM needed its own special speaker wire!

            That was the start of a dillusional 20 years. Of interconnects, of vibration free platforms for amplifiers, of special mains conditioners, of CD player upgrades, naturally of amplifier upgrades, of being able to hear extreme differences in coaxial and optical cable! It all finally started to crumble when a few years ago my expensive CD player had to go to the repair shop and was temporarily replaced by an older and cheaper CD player and seperate DAC that I still had from before. " Blimey this sounds good" I thought to myself, " I wonder how it would sound without the DAC?" and of course it sounded the same. Then I tried with the line out from my desktop PC and played a CD through that- no easy thing with a NAIM pre power hicap, an electronics shop had to make up the cable for me. The differences were just not there- or at least suddenly I couldnt hear them.

            I've told my story because it will be both similar and different to many people's stories about swallowing some woo. I am lucky because my father who had worked in electronics all his life had continually told me that many of my upgrades were nonsensical. He never pushed it too hard, but he was always puzzled by how one wire over a short distance could make any difference to another, and he always always banged on about impedance matching between amplifier and speakers. In fact I remember him and his friends and colleagues discussing their HIFIs -always asking each other about their ohms. Needless to say they all seemed to have lovely sounding systems- a little on the warm side for my liking back then, but all strung together with bastardized housewire and all very old fashioned looking with their loudness buttons and tone controls. He always always told me that in a reasonable home system the loudspeakers should be the expensive equipment- very different from every hifi magazine of the day that preached garbage in garbage out.

            I've also told this story to illustrate how little knowledge some of us may have and/or have had when we talk about these things, how we don't have to have swalllowed much woo to set us on a path of constantly worrying about our audio systems, and how a little bit of fact rather than alternative fact can make all the difference in bringing someone back to the real world- well it did me at any rate.

            Comment


            • #7

              The prominence of electronics is perhaps not so surprising. HUG users either have or desire Harbeth speakers, so the only questions on speakers they seem to pose are questions such as 'ís this model right for my (often small) room?'. I am sure they are smart enough to realize that asking whether Harbeth is a better choice than Kef, B&W etc is not a question that can be asked, or would receive an unbiased answer. So they come here to ask about the rest. And if they have been to a Harbeth dealer and chosen their Harbeth model, they have often seen expensive electronics with magical properties, If they have read the hifi press, they have similarly been told that every component has its own sound, and should be carefully matched and tuned. So it is no surprise that they have questions. There is virtually no science based easily available information, in print, or on the web. You really have to look hard, but you will only do so if you have any suspicions ion the first place.

              I bought my first serious audio gear in the 1970's, in the days of proper engineers designing just about the first good sounding stuff (I bought a Quad 33-303 to play with the ELS57). In the early 1980's I added a Philips cd player, that was later replaced by a DVD player and later again by a BD player.

              In the same 1970's that I bought my original gear Peter Walker once gave me a private demonstration of his amplifier comparison set up. I thought I could tell them apart, so he was very peased to show me that I was no better than random. A true gentleman. It was that clear methodological thinking that has stayed with me when I decided more recently that it was time to update some of the gear: which components are simply worn, which ones have been superceded by audibly superior technology, and, therefore, where can I best spend my money to improve the sound in my now much larger listening room. HUG and some similar sites have certainly helped me spend my money rationally. But audio surely was a strange world to come back to.

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