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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.

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{Updated Oct. 2017}
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The art and skills of a great (public) demonstration

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  • The art and skills of a great (public) demonstration

    {Moderator's comment: Did you consider that in some hifi demos it's the equipment that you can't see that can make all the difference.}
    What kind of equipment do you have in mind? Prevailing opinion here on HUG is usually that paraphernalia don't make much difference at all...

  • #2
    Perhaps room eq?

    I assume that what the moderator meant is that there may be room equalization software running on the laptop.

    Comment


    • #3
      Perhaps the room?

      Thanks all, for the suggestions. The room also was my first guess, but that it would have SUCH an impact I didn't expect. I mean, I was aware that particularly for the low end, it can matter quite a lot, but not so much for the dynamics and the clarity of the voices (which sound more recessed here at home).

      And I suppose I could contact the dealer to see if he's willing to cooperate in the little experiment. But then out of curiosity would also have to bring my amp. And afterwards decide if I have to find a new place to live :P.

      @Moderator, I was also curious what you mean by that statement ?

      Comment


      • #4
        Understanding sales

        Originally posted by solidd View Post
        Thanks all, for the suggestions. The room also was my first guess, but that it would have SUCH an impact I didn't expect. I mean, I was aware that particularly for the low end, it can matter quite a lot, but not so much for the dynamics and the clarity of the voices (which sound more recessed here at home).

        And I suppose I could contact the dealer to see if he's willing to cooperate in the little experiment. But then out of curiosity would also have to bring my amp. And afterwards decide if I have to find a new place to live :P.

        @Moderator, I was also curious what you mean by that statement ?
        I think you have to get into the mind of the salesman - any salesman - to be sure that you are truly comparing like with like. I was in London recently, and with a little time on my hands before meeting my son in the City, I thought I'd investigate buying a new jacket. There are many tailors and the better end of mass market clothing stores in and around the City of London, and along Cheapside (definitely not cheap!) so plenty of outlets and choice.

        What disappointed me were the sort of sales tricks that were employed to get me to buy. The overarching motive was to get me to buy something, anything, but right now, this minute. Evidently I am between a chest size 44 and 46. From how it felt and what I could see in the mirror, 44 was really too tight unless unbuttoned (quite a snug, modern fit though) but 46 was really a bit baggy: I needed a well cut in-between size, or some adjustments made. The salesperson was determined that I bought the 44 - maybe they had excess stock, and bombarded me with (un) helpful advice when I could see for myself that it just was not right. I resisted with some weedy excuse that maybe I'd return with my son. Actually, I knew I was wasting my time.

        In a hifi demo, always trace the wires around the back of the electronics to be sure what you think is connected together really is, and directly too. Graphic equalisers or the like are very often used in hifi demos, unbeknown to the listener.
        Alan A. Shaw
        Designer, owner
        Harbeth Audio UK

        Comment


        • #5
          Ambience?

          Originally posted by solidd View Post

          @Moderator, I was also curious what you mean by that statement ?
          My quess is the whole ambiance?

          Comment


          • #6
            Dishonest?

            Originally posted by A.S. View Post
            In a hifi demo, always trace the wires around the back of the electronics to be sure what you think is connected together really is, and directly too. Graphic equalisers or the like are very often used in hifi demos, unbeknown to the listener.
            Possible, but I cannot imagine that serious dealers which sell Harbeth are really this corrupt.

            Comment


            • #7
              Getting the best sound

              Originally posted by martin1305 View Post
              Possible, but I cannot imagine that serious dealers which sell Harbeth are really this corrupt.
              Don't be silly! What has 'corruption' to do with anything? Salesmen are doing what salesmen are trained and paid to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Time and time again I see the complete breakdown in appreciation that hi-fi stores, manufacturers, media, shows etc. survive not because they are first and foremost enthusiasts, but because first and foremost they are businessmen. Business people set out to maximise sales and profit. They are not, although they are often abused as such, providing emotional shelter on a wet afternoon for the fun of it. They need to sell every day they are open.

              It's crucial to understand that at the end of the day when the salesman counts his sales, he goes home in a positive state of mind, or anxious that there are only so many days remaining until the next store rental payment, insurance payment, staff salaries, local rates, gas bill, electricity bill, water bill, garbage bill, payments to suppliers to mention just a few, and in his personal life to the same and more, including feeding himself and his family. Many days can pass in a state of growing anxiety between worthwhile sales. Audio sales is one of the most challenging sales roles possible, far worse than haute couture retailing because of the amount of time necessary to invest in demonstrations. Personally, I think that the industry missed an opportunity to make a small charge for demonstrations as a fair contribution to the store's running costs, and with no pressure either way to sell or buy.

              I attended a public hi-fi show not that long ago and was told by a certain equipment maker that almost every exhibitor had hidden away one of his or his competitor's units and I have no reason to doubt him. He said that the practice of hidden eq/tuning/optimising systems had been widespread in hi-fi exhibitions for years. Many would say, and I cannot disagree on principle, that the public pay to attend such shows: why shouldn't they be entertained to the maximum possible? It seems no different from a car dealer polishing and carefully illuminating a new car for maximum appeal.

              For this reason, we intentionally made an displayed a placard for the Bristol 2015 show which said that at times we were experimentally using the DIRAC room correction system.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK

              Comment


              • #8
                No secrets here

                Originally posted by martin1305 View Post
                Possible, but I cannot imagine that serious dealers which sell Harbeth are really this corrupt.
                I don't know of any serious, professional Hi-Fi dealer using a graphic equaliser. In fact, the ideal is as simple and straightforward a system and connections as is possible. My customers are always well aware of the equipment being used and they can easily see all cables laid out in full view. I would expect all Harbeth stockists to do similar.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Invisible equipment?

                  Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                  Don't be silly! What has 'corruption' to do with anything?
                  THIS SUBJECT HAS BEEN FORKED TO A NEW THREAD, HERE
                  From what I have seen by different serious dealers the set up of the equipment was always transparant, what you see is what you get. (I am not talking about the big audio shops in the city with those panels next to the listening chair to choose 20 speakers and 10 different amps).

                  If I audition equipment without being informed about invisible equipment I do think it it is corrupt and customers won't be satisfied with their system at home and they definitely won't come back. Uncomparable with the polished car for me, it is obvious.

                  Of course exceptions make the rules but the suggestion this invisible equipment is normal, I don't think so.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Desperate need to sell (and make it sound different)

                    Originally posted by solidd View Post
                    It really saddens me if this would now be the widespread norm in the consumer audio industry.
                    It isn't fair to generalise by calling this a widespread norm, and there are also practices that are far less dishonest, but have the same objective of selling kit.

                    Stereo salesmen for decades now have known the little trick about even slightly louder sounding better. Is it dishonest to use this knowledge to sell new kit? It isn't easy to answer even this question.

                    The problem with the industry is that there is almost no audible justification in upselling or for replacing existing hifi kit that is in good working order. And modern solid state kit lasts for years and often for decades.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      All fair in love and business war?

                      I really do not think "dishonest" applies. Let's move the discussion from the high street dealer's esteemed premises but to a public show, which is what was originally in mind.

                      Why shouldn't the exhibitor, who has taken all of the financial risk, do whatever he can to maximise the public response to his wares? It could be dolly birds in tight miniskirts or some exotic electronics hidden from view. For that matter, why not make a specially modified version of whatever the brand produces, tuned to get the very best out of the inevitably imperfect hotel-bedroom environment? If the VW Group can have optimised their products to perform brilliantly under specific circumstances, you don't seriously think that a hi-fi brand is beyond optimising its sound in non-ideal conditions do you? Why shouldn't it?

                      Just a gentle reminder: the audio scene, just like the music scene is a business. If you don't buy, none of us on this side of the desk exist!
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Same rules in photograpy

                        Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                        I really do not think "dishonest" applies. Let's move the discussion from the high street dealer's esteemed premises but to a public show, which is what was originally in mind.

                        Why shouldn't the exhibitor, who has taken all of the financial risk, do whatever he can to maximise the public response to his wares? It could be dolly birds in tight miniskirts or some exotic electronics hidden from view. For that matter, why not make a specially modified version of whatever the brand produces, tuned to get the very best out of the inevitably imperfect hotel-bedroom environment? If the VW Group can have optimised their products to perform brilliantly under specific circumstances, you don't seriously think that a hi-fi brand is beyond optimising its sound in non-ideal conditions do you? Why shouldn't it?

                        Just a gentle reminder: the audio scene, just like the music scene is a business. If you don't buy, we don't exist.
                        Agree. Responsible businesses will educate their customers and be transparent but at the end of the day they too have every right to set up their equipment to get the best out of them. It is the consumer's duty to do the calibration and filtering as well.

                        My hobby is photography. All Camera / Lens makers attach galleries of photographs to the reviews / specs of their products. Naturally those photos are taken by the best in the business. If I believe that by buying the piece of kit, my photos will start to look like the ones in the samples gallery - well, then I have only myself to blame.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Backed into a mental/marketing corner

                          Dealers have a problem. For years they have sold expensive audiophile electronics that do not even have tone controls, ostensibly to achieve a 'purer' sound. Perhaps they have even joined the 'digital is evil' sect. The vast majority of their customers believe this pitch. So how can they sell room equalization and be credible, when that digital room equalization intervenes far more aggressively than any traditional tone controls, and continue selling profitable audiophile electronics that do not have any of this?

                          They could only do so by changing their entire image, away from the candle light coziness to a scientific approach. Devialet and Sonos show that this is possible, but it is a different marketing strategy.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Sympathy with the salesman

                            My profession involves a lot of litigation, so I tend to believe very few people, least of all my own clients. Hence salesmen tend to get short shrift with me. Anyone who believes a salesman's pitch needs their head examined. When I get a telephone call in the office from someone I don't know, and they don't immediately offer business, I normally ask "did you call to sell me something?". Most such calls have ended within 5 seconds.

                            Dave is a great salesman because he hardly says anything at all that does not involve milk or sugar. What he does say is that his products tend to sell themselves. I suspect that is because either they are good products (Harbeth) or the customer has a preconceived notion of what they want, for good or bad, and why upset the applecart?

                            My business partner's husband is a London art dealer. He happens to like art and generally only trades in art that he actually likes. He is pretty successful. Some years ago I advised a friend who was also an art dealer. I don't think he cared one bit about the aesthetics, the pictures could have been potatoes for all it mattered. He was just interested in profit. That said, his sales pitch was brilliant. He also gave me excellent advise that I wish I'd taken. It so happened his family business was and remains the largest private art dealership in Europe. He is a gazillionaire.

                            So the moral? The second guy may not care for his product personally, but he was a brilliant businessman and looked after his clients, who came back to him time and again. He made money, they got great art and were happy and also got excellent investments. It taught me to beware of the amateur, a salesman must understand your needs and objectives and your budget. A shared love with your audio dealer of Donny Osmond's greatest hits may be reassuring, but it is not the basis for getting the best advice.

                            I do feel sorry for dealers sometimes as audio equipment is so subjective. People read reviews, see the bling, have wives to deal with, all sorts of factors come into play. I always contrast with cameras, where reviews continue to be highly technical, as were audio reviews 30 years ago. A review, say, of three 35mm/f2 lenses (A, B and C) from different manufacturers will provide all manner of comparative measurements and images. Most of the reviews are independent of manufacturers or bias. Even so, when A and B measure identically, but B is three times the price of A, plenty of people will buy B for the brand name. C will get ignored because it is too cheap and can't possibly be as good as the review measurements. As most audio equipment measures the same, it is hardly surprising measurements are usually ignored.

                            I think I'll be getting out a Fast Show DVD - "Suits you, Sir". (Up there with the best TV shows ever made.)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Magical offer

                              I've just received an email offer from the USA, it's difficult to refuse:

                              But here's what I'm most excited about today: the new XYZ [product name removed] isolation devices are now available at an introductory price of $312 a set. This is the most economical upgrade for preamps, amps, disc players, and music servers I've heard. If you have a fine component, this is how to get the best performance from it. It's easy to hear the improvements they bring to soundstage, imagining, detail, and overall system coherence. Hearing is believing!
                              This came from a most charming, amiable gentleman who sold me my last amplifier, he spent his career doing budgets for various Senate Finance Committees. How more level headed can you get? He then retires and opens an audio business and after a few years he's pontificating on the magical properties of a bit of dowling with a metal collar. Possibly similar to Michael's Cardas Myrtle blocks all the way from Oregon, but at least Michael's blocks were a small fraction of the price. The irony is that Cardas swore on pain of death about the merits of their rectangular blocks, and these are cylindrical.

                              Who should I believe? Dave, help.

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