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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, since deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to create an audible sonic personality in what you hear. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

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. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but on the face of it, any deviation from a flat response - and the frequency balance of tube amplifiers are usually influenced by their speaker load - is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral amongst a plethora of available product choices.

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 and pragmatism, HUG cannot be expected to be a place to discuss the selection, approval or endorsement of non-Harbeth system elements selected, knowingly or not, to create a significantly personalised sound. 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 offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by 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, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

If faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians in your home and over Harbeth speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that intention is what this forum has been helping to do since 2006. Welcome!"


Feb. 2018
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The professional way to evaluate loudspeakers?

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  • HUG-1
    started a topic The professional way to evaluate loudspeakers?

    The professional way to evaluate loudspeakers?

    This thread concerns itself with how previous researchers have set about evaluating loudspeakers. It covers the recognised defects of loudspeakers known as 'coloration', their measured objective characteristics and the design of and results from listening panels. It commences with the historical perspetive of public hifi denonstrations from over fifty years so.

  • kittykat
    replied
    Coloration

    Originally posted by EricW View Post
    A question, however: why is it that a Harbeth sounds "better" even when reproducing a non-acoustic instrument?
    In my opinion, electric instruments and modern recordings can be harder to "reproduce" (think its more accurate to say “to listen to”) due to the inherent noise, distortion and loudness. Add further inefficient conversion of electrical energy from amplifier to some speakers equals hurt and pain to the ears. Example...i tried listening to Bryan Ferry’s Olympia (not the best recording) on a pair of mini-monitor speakers (which will remain anonymous) and I just couldn’t continue after 4 tracks. Subconsciously my ear and brain was trying to fend of the attack from the mini monitors, which took all my attention (and enjoyment) away from the music.

    I've put it back through the SHL5's now and I can enjoy the coolness of Mr. Ferry.

    {Moderator's comment: what your are saying in technical language is 'Harbeth speaker have lower coloration than conventional speakers'. As we all know.}

    Leave a comment:


  • keithwwk
    replied
    Sound stage and depth

    Soundstaging and depth are both very subjective perceptions. In my observation and experience mixed with many type of audiophiles, different person detect both differently. If a hifi setup being detected with excellent big wide soundstage and depth by person A but person B may detect small narrow soundstaging and no depth from it. This all depend on how a person perceive his feeling from reflect or indirect sound. It is also happen on soundstage height. Same detect soundstage above speaker and some detected soundstage below the speaker in a same hifi setup.

    Anyway, above mentioned is no longer bother me. When listen my Harbeth setup, all thing come out so natural, beautifull, always feel I am in a live musical event and totally into the music and nothing else can better than this "live" feeling...bath in music and purified into music....

    mr. heinz wildhagen.....i remember his name in my DG album collections. He made plenty of good recordings..

    Leave a comment:


  • Gan CK
    replied
    You can smell the wood of the violin on the Harbeth

    Originally posted by delgesu View Post
    kittykat,

    BUT: it is possible to identifiy the "smell" of the real thing concerning colours, timbre and real voices/instrumental sound. that´s it[/U]. and in the best case you enjoy this with a nice pair of Harbeths.

    best,
    delgesu
    Yes couldn't agree more on that with you Delgesu. Harbeths reproduce the natural colour, tone & timbre of real acoustic instruments & voices extremely well & is the reason why i am still so enamoured with Harbeth after so many years.

    Like my buddy always say; you can almost smell the wood of the violin or cello on Harbeth. No other spks can do the above mentioned quite like a Harbeth. Not even electrostatics or Ribbons. But not many people know how to discern the natural colour, tone & timbre of real instruments & these people often say Harbeths are coloured when in actual fact they are simply too used to coloured spks that distort the tonal truth of real instruments.

    Leave a comment:


  • EricW
    replied
    The sound of 'real' and 'artificial' instruments

    I agree with both delgesu and kittykat based on my own experiences at symphonic and other live concerts.

    A distinction is often made between the live sound of "real" instruments and recordings which feature electric and electronic instruments. Maybe if we accept that all recordings are "artificial", the apparent dichotomy between the two becomes less important.

    A question, however: why is it that a Harbeth sounds "better" even when reproducing a non-acoustic instrument? Because I think it does, but it seems more difficult to explain why.

    Leave a comment:


  • delgesu
    replied
    The 'smell' of the live sound at home?

    kittykat,

    100% my opinion!

    additionally let me tell you that i lately was informed in a german music/hifi magazin by former engineer mr. heinz wildhagen (nearly 60 years engineer/producer for the famous german "deutsche grammophon" label) that ZERO records sound like the real performance at the recording venue (and he mastered/recorded/produced thousands of records). any master tape is mixed, some conductors want to highlight specific instruments or modifications whatsoever.

    my conclusion after a lot of years with hifi and even more with music is that it is an illusion trying to recreate the "real location" in my head while listening to hifi. BUT: it is possible to identifiy the "smell" of the real thing concerning colours, timbre and real voices/instrumental sound. that´s it. and in the best case you enjoy this with a nice pair of Harbeths.

    best,
    delgesu

    Leave a comment:


  • kittykat
    replied
    'Depth' is an illusion?

    You’re absolutely right delgesu.

    Music has none of this fictional hifi concepts of “depth” etc. Isn’t depth etc. conjured up by the skill of sound engineers and technicians? Stereo is a phantom image after all isn’t it? I’ve read many letters to editors of hifi magazines by poor consumers who complain that they cannot perceive depth in their hifi systems etc. The truth is, there is very little of “this” in most recordings, except the nerdy ones tailored for the hifi equipment fetish-ed and fraternity.

    Personally I think these concepts of “image”, “depth” are spun and perpetuated by some retailers (who play recordings with plenty of it during demonstrations) and manufacturers to keep people on the hifi merry go round. Sure there are speakers which can do it better than others, but it’s just the ability to reproduce a “trick”.

    Leave a comment:


  • delgesu
    replied
    yes, but especially with classical recordings you have a big issue concerning phase incoherency when (extreme) multi-miking was applied. if the mastering does not manage this then the "depth" is lost or artificial. it is not accidentally that some of the very old recordings (for example decca with their "decca tree" technique) give us a very fine flavour of what "depth" on a recording can be.

    despite that it is interesting that in live performances of classical music i never had the feeling of things like "depth" as well as "focussed strings" or something like that. especially when attending the "bayreuth wagner festival" the only thing you recognize concerning ""depth etc." is a wall of sound. no focus, no depth, no nothing of the often quoted hifi-terms.

    best,
    delgesu

    Leave a comment:


  • hifi_dave
    replied
    Depth

    I believe 'depth' refers to the depth of the sound stage, where you have layers of sound. With a small group, you would expect the vocals or soloist to be to the fore and the drum kit way behind. With classical orchestra there should be layers to the orchestra spread out between the speakers.

    Leave a comment:


  • Macjager
    replied
    Studio recordings - and depth etc.

    Excellent point, from the Mod! I have further explored this idea in regards to this album and have been able to ascertain that the recording was done over three days, and that evidence points to the photo as probably accurate. Notwithstanding photo proof or not, I did hear two song today back to back, one was a live recording of Green Onions by Booker T and the MGs Concert for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, immediately followed by a studio recording of the Black Keys "Brothers". the Booker T song had depth* while the studio album sounded very much lacking. The studio album was very lifeless in comparison, like Alan's examples of recording in a non-reflective space (anoechic chamber) or what the musicians hear in the orchestra pit.

    It is truly amazing what one can hear when focusing on music as the primary source of aural stimulus.

    Cheers
    George

    *Depth - my definition of depth means that the sound continues slightly after you first hear it, not an echo, but a pleasant layer that remains for a short period of time as the next note arrives. It does not muddy the sound but seems to enhance it. A song that does not have depth is one where the sound stops almost as soon as it is heard, how you hear things in a space that deadens the sound instantly, ie no echo.

    Sorry about the verbage, but when I read a lot of descriptions of music or a particular reproduction medium, (speaker, cable, pre-amp etc), I don't really understand what the author is trying to convey, for example, what exactly does "the speakers had a dark chocolate sound" mean...? Alan's sound clips that describe soundstage are excellent, but it takes a few listenings to understand the differences. This is what I am trying to convey in many words.
    Last edited by Macjager; 12-02-2011, 01:08 PM. Reason: Spelling and grammar

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Guest replied
    Stereophile shows?

    Originally posted by Sebastien View Post
    ...I find those 1950s demonstrations exceptional. Why don't any modern hi-fi show don't do this anymore?...
    A friend of mine told me this week that Stereophile actually do this with some audiophile clubs.

    Sebastien

    Leave a comment:


  • Macjager
    replied
    Frank Sinatra recording "The Concert Sinatra" (recording quality/style)

    In reviewing the articles in this thread, especially the "Live Shows" I began to wonder at how live recordings, ie no overdubbing, multi-track recording, sounded as compared to "in the studio work" (orchestra lays down music, singer comes in later with headphones and sings)?

    I recently came across a 1961 Frank Sinatra recording with Nelson Riddle arranging and conducting. The description on the cover relates the equipment, personnel and location of the recording: to whit, Westrex 35 MM recorder, 24 RCA 44BX microphones, 8 track, 21 position mixer console, 73 musicians, and 4 sound stages of the MGM studios in Hollywood. The picture on the album cover front and back is of Sinatra, the orchestra, Nelson Riddle and all these microphones on really long arms hanging over the orchestra, yet no "live audience".

    In listening to the album there is not a sense of recording in an airport hangar, rather a depth of sound as described by Alan. This concept of full sound and recording studio (or hall) is intriguing and i would like to explore other "live/living" recordings for comparison. Are there others who hear this and on what albums if so?

    Cheers

    George

    {Moderator's comment: one thing to be wary of: do not assume that the publicity photo of the orchestra + mics + hall is the actual set-up used to make the recording. Any album photo is for 'marketing purposes' and not necessarily a legal fact!}

    Leave a comment:


  • A.S.
    replied
    As there are no mention of microphones in the equipment list, I think we can conclude that where the live performers were introduced, the recorded music would cease, except in the recorded + live organ piece. I guess that there was a system of cue lights. I'm not clear about whether there was an attempt to (virtually) seamlessly stop the replay over the speakers on a particular bar and allow the live performers to start or whether whole pieces were played through, then switched to live.

    Did you notice the comment about how the pre-recordings were optimised to the hall and how those same recordings may or may not be suitable for getting the best out of the domestic hifi setup? Back to the thread on damping the listening room for consideration of that.

    Ok, so what's next. Well I think we need to at least note that there is a fundamental difference between the loudspeaker on-stage in the hall and in the listening room. What's missing in the hall is the close proximity and sonic contribution of the side walls and the ceiling - the floor is the same in both although if you are seated near the stage, the floor bounce may well be above your head and not audible. But at home, there is no escaping the floor bounce unless, as I showed in the TechTalk, the listener is actually lying on the floor.

    We know from the audio examples in the non-DSP room damping thread that early reflections (sidewall, floor, ceiling) have a critical influence on the perceived sound at the sweet spot. On stage, the side walls are far from the speakers and reflections off them whilst measurable may well present a completely different impression to the listener in the hall, if any at all. Certainly, the combination of very large drive units with directional high frequencies will spray far less HF laterally and that combination of narrow HF beaming plus side walls far from the speakers is a completely different situation to the real world domestic listening set-up.

    Alan / Tokyo: Stereo Sound Award 2010 ceremony day

    Leave a comment:


  • kittykat
    replied
    Those big spakers played loud ... at home?

    Looking at the photo and how big the room is, I would imagine those speakers would be capable of going insanely loud in a smaller domestic sized room. I’d be interested in knowing how they would perform in a modern sized living room, at socially acceptable sound levels.

    Leave a comment:


  • weaver
    replied
    Clarification please - what did 'live' actually mean?

    May I just ask a quick question, the answer to which may be obvious to everyone else but is puzzling me?

    In these demonstrations was the live sound also being played back through the speaker system?

    I have read the articles a number of times and in places they refer to switching between live and recorded in a manner which suggests to me that both were going through the amplifiers and speakers, ie what was being compared was the speakers reproduction of a recording and the same speakers reproduction of an instrument being played live.

    Leave a comment:

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