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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. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best 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 will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system 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. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

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. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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Computers and their Operating Systems in Audio

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  • Computers and their Operating Systems in Audio

    I've become particularly fascinated by Linux. Anyone else using it generally at home or in their workplace, and for audio?
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    I use only Linux (Ubuntu) at home including audio but most of the time a Logitech Media Server on a Synology DS215j NAS.

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    • #3
      Not yet, I've backed a DACBerry Pro Kickstarter project to use a Raspberry Pi Squeezebox player as a front end to my recently purchased Yamaha P2500S power amp (thanks, HUG) via XLR connectors. Will be having a play when it arrives, hopefully in the next few weeks

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      • #4
        Iíve been using Linux both personally and professionally since mid nineties, when we students installed one of the first available distributions on some spare hardware in my facultyís lab. Nowadays in the organisation I mainly work in, proprietary softwares mandate Microsoft OSs, but on my workstation I still use Linux, with a VirtualBox Windows installation to perform user side tasks.

        At home Iíve been using PCs as main audio source since about 2006, running Linux until 2010, then Apple OSX, but recently my main source has become a Chromecast audio, which after all runs a Linux derived OS internally , connectet to Spotify and controlled by an iPad.

        Edit: just for the record, at my workplace I also operate a server farm, made of both physical servers running Linux for high reliability/availability tasks and virtual servers running Microsoft OSs for less demanding user oriented tasks. The virtual servers are physically hosted by a large blade server system running VMWare ESX, which is a Linux derivate itself.

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        • #5
          My audio system has included an Aries streamer whose "Lightning" software is Linux based, as is the QTS operating system in my QNAP NAS drive. Both have been largely faultless and have caused no angst at all.

          In the very early days I had a server/player using MS Media Server, that was a nightmare at it had a habit of stopping and rebooting when MS told it to. I then had ripper/server (which I still use to rip) with a modified version of MS Media Server not connected to the internet. It was third party software also licensed for use in the popular Naim server. It used a SQL database that, in the event of a power outage, could result in a fatal crash requiring a full return-to-base reinstallation. Naim have abandoned that platform in their new product range.

          Linn's Kinsky and subsequent Kazoo platforms are both very reliable. Was one of the first ones to appear. Again, runs on Linux and is open source.

          My son uses Chromecast, also on Linux and faultless.

          The Qobuz app is my main listening source. It's a really classy piece of software. It is embedded in my streamer, also about to be embedded in Devialet players. I can stream HD and DSD from it via Devialet Air, one of several bespoke broadcasting platforms that avoids having to use Airplay.

          Of course the leading software must be Sonos. At their peak a couple of years ago they reached sales of almost $1 billion, and it is an utterly brilliant software platform. I use at home and in the office. The key element is the Sonos Bridge, which basically provides a separate network for the Sonos system, so it is unaffected by other usage in the same environment. It is a completely closed system.

          With the exception of the two MS-based systems, Linux seems to have prevailed in the music platforms I have used. They are all idiot-proof and do not require any special computer skills.

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          • #6
            Audio blogger Archimago has built and measured various Raspbery Pi incarnations. See here for his last post: http://archimago.blogspot.nl/2017/03/ (but browse back to his earlier contributions like http://archimago.blogspot.nl/search?q=raspberry
            The conclusions are clear: even the cheapest of these micro computers are perfect front ends for streaming. In fact, some of them can be found inside streamers by high end manufacturers. http://archimago.blogspot.nl/search?q=linux

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            • #7
              I've toyed with the idea of using a linux box for a music server but quickly give up because of the cost of purchasing another computer and the added time of researching software solutions etc. I'm using a MacBook pro with Audirvana and an external solid state drive. I'm interested in learning more about other's journey with linux-based music systems

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              • #8
                I use Linux on a dedicated computer for data science research. Variants like Ubuntu are mostly as simple to set up and use as Windows, and I believe that they make far better use of the hardware than Windows (being more efficient).

                Raspberry DACS are interesting but you need to spend some time to get (and keep) them running, furthermore you need to make an effort to put them in a nice case. For those reasons I prefer packaged solutions like my Bluesound Node, which I believe does use Linux internally.

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                • #9
                  We've installed some Linux systems here and I must say how impressed I am. I've bought a few books on Linux, and one you overcome the fear of the Command Prompt, you have a very flexible and potentially attractive system.

                  Unlike WIndows, the desktop can be 'skinned' to place icons and so on as you wish. Here is a selection of the different user experience that can be delivered from the same underlying OS. Here.

                  Actually, I wasted hours yesterday trying to repair my Win10 desktop which due to a boot sector/corrupted hardware extraction layer will not boot and which I've now given up on. I think I've only been beaten once before in a similar situation, and over the past 30 years I must have built or used or tweaked over 50pcs for my own use. I am sorely tempted to try and make the switch to Linux rather than make another Win10 system. The only thing holding me back is that I need to be able to see PDF thumbnails, and I'm not yet sure if that can be done in Linux. Anyone know?

                  The choices for me are Mint, Ubuntu or essentialOS, and I've loaded them onto three old PC as test beds. One think I'd be very happy to see the back of is the industry of tweaks and tuning that surrounds Windows OS. The defraggers, the opimisers, the registry cleaners. I've been a mug for all of them. Long cured of audiophilia snake-oil, but still a WIndows upgradeitis victim.

                  The bigger picture is that in a browser > program environment, the PCs OS ceases to be an issue at all.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Under Ubuntu 17.10 the standard file manager can show pdf thumbnails.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by chirhonix View Post
                      Under Ubuntu 17.10 the standard file manager can show pdf thumbnails.
                      Of local and network PDF files?

                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                        The only thing holding me back is that I need to be able to see PDF thumbnails, and I'm not yet sure if that can be done in Linux. Anyone know?
                        Do you mean, viewing thumbnails of pdf files when opening a folder or thumbnails of pages while reading a single file? Anyway, yes to both.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                          Of local and network PDF files?
                          Yes by default, but network file preview can be disabled by the user, or enabled only for files smaller than a given threshold, on slow connections for example.

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                          • #14
                            Local and on my mounted Synology NAS. I'm using the Gnome Desktop environment under Ubuntu 17.10.

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                            • #15
                              Thanks. On Mint I guess the default is static thumbnails.

                              Ok, so here is a real-world scenario then.

                              In a Windows environment, NAS boxes are mapped to a local Win drive letter, so that, for example, the NAS at local ip 192.155.2.20 holds a folder called /Research. On a local network WIn PC, this folder is mapped to drive letter R:, so that the contents of the /Research folder appear (immediately) as local drive R:

                              That's worked for years, and there are many documents that I've created that point to files in R:

                              Now a problem.... Linux doesn't use drive letters AFAIAA.

                              So ...

                              If I open the ex-Win document in Linux, there is an issue with those links pointing to drive letter R: because R: (letters representing hard disks) as a concept does not exist in Linux. That means all the links are dead. Yes, I could map the NAS in Linux, using (I assume) the path such as smb://192.155.2.20/Research but I'd have to edit every single link in the document - impossible - and even if I could do that, passing the document back to a Windows user would have created links that are Linux friendly, and that they would have to re-edit back to Win-safe R: drive.

                              Is there a standardised method that could point to NAS folders and files and which is completely functional in both a Win and Linux environment so that on the same LAN, internal document hyperlinks become agnostic as to whether the document is opened on a Win or Linux box?:

                              Incidentally - and I do not think this is relevant - the NAS is actually Linux based.
                              Alan A. Shaw
                              Designer, owner
                              Harbeth Audio UK

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