HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
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1dB Difference - an experiment in audibility

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  • #16
    Detecting small level differences

    Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
    Did you get it right the first time or took many quick trials?
    Actually I listened to the four pieces last night a couple of times, decided to wait until the morning and then replied after another two listens through. The notes I made last night after the first listening were similar to the final result I reported except last night I just couldn't decide if X and A were the same loudness or not. This morning I decided that possibly A was shade quieter than X but it was right on the edge of detectability (for me).

    This says to me that when concentrating, listening in silence and when a virtually instantaneous comparison can be made it is barely possible to detect a 1dB difference in overall loudness. Even after toggling back and forwards repeatedly, the level difference is on the edge of detectability - for me anyway. If there was more than a second or two gap between the tracks and/or I looked away and/or some other external background noise and/or this level difference was less than 1dB then it would be completely impossible for me to reliably detect hear it. This result seems indicative of the motivated, interested, serious listener. For the casual disinterested listener, I'd expect a much greater difference would be needed.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK


    • #17
      I am not really happy about the intended results. It was quite obvious in my cheap about GBP5 PC speakers. Yes, I took several trials before coming up with the results. Whether the experiment is affected by the file conversion to SWF or the loudness level of the test or the closeness to the speakers affects the results are still unknown. This itself lead us to another experiment if the differences are more discernible in different format.

      In the end, I am glad that even to Alan's most trained ears it was impossible to tell "Z" correctly as I expected.

      ================================================== ================================================== =
      {Moderator's comment: If nothing else I hope that this experiment illustrates several important points to you which Alan already touched on and I list here: -

      1] Spend ten times as long constructing the experiment, considering all the variables as actually doing the experiment
      2] Do not expect the public to take any interest in and contribute to what to you is an interesting experiment. Past experience here confirms that. People will take, but few will give; that is the ethos of the internet
      3] The public do not like to make fools of themselves especially when it concerns their main hobby
      4] You have just one-shot at such an experiment. That chance has been used up.
      5] We HUG management remain interested in such experiments. We are considering creating an exclusive membership controlled area to hold such advanced discussions but those who are permitted to join that select group would be expected to actively contribute to retain membership there.
      6] Finally; 99.9% of audiophiles are entirely comfortable in their beliefs and have no interest or motivation to challenge them. The (impossible) art of the politician is to be inclusive to all even with very different and strongly held opinions.


      • #18
        Louder equals better?

        I am still trying to grasp the difference in the file size of WAV and MP3 format. Re-reading the masking effect of in MP3 encoding it explains partially why MP3 files are smaller when the loudness is reduced quite significantly.

        Strangely, the files in WAV remained the same. i.e 889,388 bytes. By looking at the files nothing is missing. This itself is interesting and take me one step closer to understand what information MP3 discards. I am asking myself the whether difference that I perceived in the earlier experiment here may have to do with the loudness level rather than the sound resolution or quality. Did I perceive the loudness to be better quality?



        • #19
          Don't worry too much about the file size. If RLL coding is used in the data stream, 0000 of FFFF would be coded efficiently.


          • #20
            Human perception and value appraisal - a complex subject

            Agreed 100%. It doesn't matter if someone can show evidence that a US$3000 Lexicon BD-30 is nothing more than a re-badged US$1000 Oppo BDP-83 as seen in these pictures. Read more

            And more re-badged brands here. There are consumers still willing to pay more for the same thing.

            Someone reminded me that I must look into the whole system's synergy when I talk about cable effect. What can I say? It has been proven that a cheap US$700 system on a wooden stool sound as good as a more than US$12000 system. The test result showed that more people preferred the US$700 system. See .

            It would have been nice if more people can share the same enthusiasm to get to the bottom of so many audiophiles myths.



            • #21
              Saving lost souls (are you serious? Mod.)

              Originally posted by STHLS5 View Post
              ...It would have been nice if more people can share the same enthusiasm to get to the bottom of so many audiophiles myths.
              My good friend - I have been on the same thankless mission for many years! Have my warm, soft hands cured anyone of audiophilia? I very much doubt it (sadly). But god knows, I have devoted myself to pragmatism and will continue to do so in the hope that 'out there' there may be a lost soul I can save, converted to a life of musical appreciation from one of financial ruin!

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


              • #22
                Soul almost saved

                Harbeth's sensible ethos appeals to me greatly. These forums have given me a wealth of intelligent, backed-up information. Like many in this group I've been on a hifi journey and it's time for it to end. I've been through valve amps and valve-rolling and been cured of that (having found preference in my old Rogers A75 transistor amp); I've been cured of stand-filler material hype and the stand-floor interface. There's one last step in my journey - I'm not yet a Harbeth owner and will someday replace my recently acquired Proac floorstanders with a pair of P3ESRs. The floorstanders were an expensive and unnecessary mistake, putting out too much bass. Worrying about disturbing my neighbours ruins my appreciation of music, which is the most important thing.
                Ben from UK. Harbeth Super HL5 owner.


                • #23
                  The lost souls of stereophilia

                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  ...mission ... warm, soft hands... god ..devoted ..lost soul ..I save..Brother..
                  LOL.. Seeing all those words in a paragraph is spiritually enlightening.


                  I just came across a research published by the National Academy of Science of the USA where a mere suggestion that subjects were made to believe they were tasting an expensive wine, the MRI scan showed marked increase in activity in parts of the brain responsible for sensing pleasantness. In fact, medically it is all right to perceive -which is real to the brain- that expensive is better.

                  There also suggestion if patients with damaged part of brain something called "Phineas Gage" lesions would react differently, i.e not influenced by price? Now, it looks like I am on the wrong side.


                  p.s Dear Mod, please feel free to edit as necessary.

                  {Mod's comments: No need, Brother. No need. You are on the path.}
                  Last edited by STHLS5; 17-11-2010, 11:46 AM. Reason: Adding attachment.