Announcement

Collapse

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}
See more
See less

The Futility of Audio Shows

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • The Futility of Audio Shows

    Today, I had an opportunity to attend my very first audio show. I thought I'd pop in to see what the audio industry had to offer in an all inclusive show. I have to say, this was the most futile and irrelevant afternoon I have ever spent. Multiple rooms in a hotel, with sound leaking everywhere, and especially into the corridor linking the various demo rooms. Only one room bothered with attempting to reduce sonic miasma by placing absorbers at the first reflection point, and bass traps in the corners. The sound was the best there.

    The Harbeth room, unfortunately, only had a single pair of Super HL5-plus speakers hooked up, with example single (?) units of the other models - presumably to show their size, and finish.

    Music was of the quieter range, played with a 40 wpc integrated. I have no doubt that despite the relatively small room, 100 wpc would have helped. The source was computer, but the tracks were old recordings of Miles Davis, or, a turntable. Proper CD quality sound would have also helped. Speaker grille off. Again, grille on sounds remarkably better to my ears. More coherent. Sound ? Indifferent.

    Had I not known just how good these speakers sound set up with adequate amplification, I would certainly not have noticed them at all. I felt sorry for the distributor, who saw multiple people drift into and then rapidly out of the room. I doubt many new potential customers were won over that afternoon.

    The rooms around him featured all singing/dancing giant boxes of power amplification, huge plinths, and super loud muzak, all twinkling bells, and heavily processed piano, and vocal choruses, and jungle drums. A little 1960's Miles, with the antique piano sound emanating from one channel only, and a drum in the other channel, and a thin sounding trumpet in the middle did not compare well.

    Apart from that, I saw many record players hooked up to as much tube amplification as was physically possible, and many big snakey speaker cables, power cables, and lots of men, and two women.

    What I've learnt ? Nothing can possibly sound good in this setting. An Audio show is where you go to get an idea of what something looks like, and nothing else!

  • #2
    Axons avoided

    Pretty much agreed, I could have gone to the big Axpona show near Chicago but realized that the only thing I could likely determine there was roughly how loud a given system could be played.
    Getting to know my C7ES3

    Comment


    • #3
      Drive attendees to a dealer for a proper demo

      You've hit the nail on the head with your last sentence.

      Hi-Fi shows are to spark interest in products and to direct interested parties to a Hi-Fi dealer for a proper comparative demonstration.

      Comment


      • #4
        Trade v. public shows - different audience

        Trade shows are normally for manufacturers to meet their distributors and retailers and launch new products, with specific trade and consumer days.

        From what I've read about major shows like Munich and CES in the USA (held in January, the best time of year for the trade), they are proper trade shows, all the major companies turn up and there are many launches, including for example SHL5+ in Munich in 2015.

        I went to one such show, Earls Court in 1980, but the two shows I went to in the Midlands in 2014 and 2015 were entirely consumer, very few major brands exhibited and many of the exhibitors seemed to be smaller UK brands for whom an exhibition room is a large part of their annual marketing cost.

        I don't think such shows are intended or even designed to generate large consumer sales. To the contrary, my family business used to attend a trade show in Earls Court every year and take about half the annual sales orders in the 3 days.

        Comment


        • #5
          The reality of shows

          Originally posted by ssfas View Post
          Trade shows are normally for manufacturers to meet their distributors and retailers and launch new products, with specific trade and consumer days.

          From what I've read about major shows like Munich and CES in the USA (held in January, the best time of year for the trade), they are proper trade shows, all the major companies turn up and there are many launches, including for example SHL5+ in Munich in 2015.

          I went to one such show, Earls Court in 1980, but the two shows I went to in the Midlands in 2014 and 2015 were entirely consumer, very few major brands exhibited and many of the exhibitors seemed to be smaller UK brands for whom an exhibition room is a large part of their annual marketing cost.

          I don't think such shows are intended or even designed to generate large consumer sales. To the contrary, my family business used to attend a trade show in Earls Court every year and take about half the annual sales orders in the 3 days.
          Speaking as someone intimately acquainted with the capabilities of Harbeth speakers, I have to say that I'm apprehensive (at best) at the acoustic delights of hotel bedrooms.

          As you say, the audience at a trade show is somewhat different in purpose and objective to that of a consumer show, but the lines are blurred. Unfortunately, for relatively slowly evolving products like audio equipment, and recognising that consumer audio often has bouts of hardware nostalgia (e.g. vinyl), hard bitten audio salesmen have, to a large extent seen it all, heard it all and sold it all before. Attending a 'trade' audio show is just, for many, an unfruitful day away from the retail store. I can just imagine hifi_dave nodding in total agreement. After 40 years selling high end audio and putting on thousands of demos under decent conditions respectful of the products and the customer, he's the last one I'd expect to see at a show (pity, Dave!).

          The turning point for me was watching the HighEnd part of the USA CES show wither. When one has manned a stand there for entire days and seen just two native USA-based audio retailers from the land of cheap and willing travel, versus rather more international trade visitors, it tells you something about cost-effectiveness and apathy at retail level. The Munich show is far better attended, but is still, in reality, a public show that has a so-called trade-day. Although it's not that difficult to find a way of squeezing in even if you are a member of the public - as I've noted.

          The most curious thing for me is that anyone would turn up at such a show and, as we are told by the organisers, make a serious procurement decision based on a brief audition. That's surely as unlikely as asking for a test drive of a car, but confined only to the showroom floor itself not the open road. What can the consumer really hope to learn? Admittedly, if the brand is new with no market presence, physical contact with the products could be helpful, but if the brand has been around for decades, has global traction, is highly ranked in Google etc. etc., what extra value can be obtained from a show? But again, consumers like to see the brands representative, and for me, that is by far the most interesting and rewarding part of the experience. Which, I may add, takes days or weeks out of your life and thousands out of your marketing budget. The whole show experience, all shows not just audio shows, is just so ineffective and ineffectual in this day and age, but nobody has come up with a better alternative - yet.

          What keeps us all exhibiting? Basically the same motivation that makes me go to the gym twice a week, every week. Fear. The fear that if we stop exhibiting those rooms we fought so hard to secure will be lost forever* and the brand will fade away in the media and public's mind. Fear of how non-attendance after years of attendance will look to a mendacious journalist or competitor. No: if you are doing shows, the only way is up!

          All vendors, regardless of product or nationality need the trade and public to, please, make the effort to come-see or the entire concept of shows, trade or otherwise, will vanish on economic grounds.

          *Note: there is an automatic right to re-exhibit in the same room, but only if you confirm the booking six months before the show or it's offered elsewhere.
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            Alternative: meet the maker at a dealer open-day

            A.S. - I regret that your benign/malign (take your pick) influence has made trade shows totally redundant for me.

            I have been trading down in price and up in quality, and the other day added up the cost of my audio system. I excluded the vinyl part - that makes no sense - just the digital from the hard drive to the streamer, DAC, pre and power amps, speakers and stands + cables. I also exclude a power regenerator, which I purchased as we had local power issues and gives me peace of mind, but is hardly an essential item. Bear in mind that I have seriously powerful new Quad mono blocks recently picked up ex-demo. The speakers are SHL5+ on 500 HiFi Racks stands. Cables included, mostly XLR, but total a modest 250. The end result was that the speakers/stands cost about 43% of the total actual system price paid and about 37% assuming full retail price for everything.

            I think you posited some time ago the concept that speakers (Harbeth in particular) should consume as much of the budget, on the premise that good speakers provide much better bang per buck than any other component, so spend the money where it counts. 50% is possible, quite easily if you live near Sainsburys, but my 43% doesn't seem that bad.

            So why I should ever want to wander round some huge exhibition hall for 3 days in the hope of seeing the new atom-converting CD player or hearing speakers better than Harbeth, I shall never know.

            I enjoyed the M40.2 product launch tremendously. That's more my cup of tea.

            Comment


            • #7
              Let the people decide!

              I should add that hifi-Dave, a.k.a. the Sage of Saffron Walden, has it seems developed a unique sales technique based on not trying to sell anything at all. He is either a genius, relies on telepathy or is bone idle.

              Possibly a lot of it is down to a non-BS approach to audio and a representative listening space. As we saw with Brexit and BoJo, a dodgy BS sales pitch is not good for your long-term career prospects

              Comment


              • #8
                Knowing the customer's needs

                Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                I should add that hifi-Dave, a.k.a. the Sage of Saffron Walden, has it seems developed a unique sales technique based on not trying to sell anything at all. He is either a genius, relies on telepathy or is bone idle.
                I imagine that the salesperson has to make a judgement about what the customer wants and follow that initial judgement. I will only need the salesperson's help if I have some specific questions. If I am just browsing I wish to be left alone to browse. I will browse and am out of the store within minutes. (This applies to all merchandise rather than just hifi).

                I appreciate that browsing leads to a purchase only occasionally and that is something that the salesperson needs to be aware of. My partner is actually offended if she is approached while browsing, and will generally walk out of the store before the salesperson gets too near. She is much more likely than I to make a purchase while browsing if she likes a particular handbag or jacket, so the actions of the salesperson can be costly.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Sincerity and integrity

                  Originally posted by ssfas View Post
                  I should add that hifi-Dave, a.k.a. the Sage of Saffron Walden, has it seems developed a unique sales technique based on not trying to sell anything at all. He is either a genius, relies on telepathy or is bone idle.

                  Possibly a lot of it is down to a non-BS approach to audio and a representative listening space. As we saw with Brexit and BoJo, a dodgy BS sales pitch is not good for your long-term career prospects
                  Correct. I am the World's worst salesperson.

                  I stock only what I believe in, without any of the flavours of the month from the magazines. This means my selection is fairly limited but all good quality, sensible and from manufacturers with excellent backup if needed.

                  I treat all potential customers equally whether they want to spend 10,000 or 12 on a spare belt. I make them comfortable, play some music and if they like what they hear and decide to purchase, then everyone is happy. If they don't buy, at least we have enjoyed some music.

                  I can't imagine how awful it would be to attempt to push equipment I didn't believe in. I couldn't do it.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Room correction v. speaker placement

                    I must qualify my original post now - in that there WAS one room where the people showed some effort, and the reward was a sound that made me stay a little, and think about their product. Two bass traps, first reflection absorbed, rear wall reflections absorbed. Curtains drawn on the front facing windows, and unusually, all electronica unobtrusively tucked away. Playing digitally, if one took the care to look. They outdid the room which was purporting to sell the locally made room treatment products!! There was detail, stereo image, and a lovely tune.

                    To contrast, the room demonstrating {snip} room correction played using massive flat panel speakers the size of stonehenge, and used twin subwoofers. After explaining that room nodes would only be corrected in the listening position, the audience was seated across the whole width of the long axis. Then, using an electronic switch, to turn room correction on and off, the demonstrator explained the corrected equalisation would result in a 2-3 dB lift of the mid range, and a drop in the bass frequencies. Needless to say, the sound improved to sound clearer, with less bass boom.

                    Could this be achieved with just better speaker placement ? If so, how much better would the room correction software contribute to the overall sound compared with ideal speaker placement ? And do we need to use the system to "correct" the speaker frequency response too ?? Isn't that the object of the work a speaker designer is supposed to do ?

                    Thirdly, in reference to the comment above, I asked the distributor of one set of large speakers how *much* power the amplification used had, to drive their speakers..I was wondering if the amps were being overdriven... the answer was $10000. !!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Demo stands too low

                      I too was at the same audio show. And indeed went around the rooms. Including the room containing the Harbeths. I spent some time in this room. One thing I notice straight away and I did point this out to the person in charge was the obvious.

                      When seated in the chairs provided, the SHL5s were way to low to give a good impression. Ear level of anybody seated meant that the tweeter would have been 6" lower at least. Not at all acceptable for someone who should have known better. The show was over three days. I did expect some change over the following days but it never happened..

                      I think Alan would have been disappointed...

                      I did use the show to catch up with people I had only previously contacted via the net... So it wasn't a loss...

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Impossible

                        Just as at home, it's impossible to optimise speaker placement to suit more than a maximum of two people, usually in the front row. You can't give a decent sound to people at the back or off to the sides. It can't be done.

                        However, the exhibitor should take the time and trouble to optimise the sound for the 'hot seat'. To not do that, at least, is unforgivable.

                        The last few shows I have attended were to meet old pals and have a good ol' chat and not to listen to equipment. That is done in my demo room.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Feutile audio show?

                          I received a mailing for a new audio show in London. So far as I am aware, there hasn't been one for years.
                          https://www.indulgenceshow.com

                          The sales pitch it interesting - suggesting people with nice portable audio might like to invest in some static hifi at home.
                          https://www.indulgenceshow.com/london-calling/
                          We know that there is a growing audience that are happy to indulge themselves with higher quality headphones and portable audio. We want to show that there is a progression to high quality home hi-fi and that it can be just as much of an indulgence, bringing the same amount of pleasure as their portable audio systems and enhancing their well-being further. We want to introduce consumers to brands and products that they may currently be unaware of, while exposing them to other complementary sectors that will excite all their emotions and allow them to enjoy a weekend spoiling themselves.
                          Still an exercise in futility?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The death of audio shows?

                            I noted reports from an audio show in the Midlands this weekend. It used to be, apparently, in the top 2 or 3 UK shows.

                            It is the only show I have been to in 35 years, in 2013 and 2014. As a result of those visits I bought a DAC and my turntable.

                            Reports are that it was a poorly attended both by exhibitors and paying visitors, with exhibitors standing in the corner of their rooms waiting for the meteorite to hit rather than engaging with their potential customers. When I went it was very busy. The only respite was an independent retailer who has a niche market in top-end headphones and has deservedly garnered a UK-wide reputation for having a huge range and excellent listening facilities.

                            I wonder what the commercial point is of some of these events anymore.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Golden days of hifi shows

                              Back in the olden days of the 70's and 80's, audio shows were for potential clients to play with, discuss with manufacturers and each other and listen? to products they aspired to. Dealer principals could meet with the toffs high-up the manufacturer's ladder and 'schmooze' with each other and the dealer staff that actually knew about and *sold* the stuff could congregate in the bar and get drunk - the last bit's a bit unfair, but a lot of alcohol would certainly be consumed at audio shows I remember.

                              P.S. I remember a 'Heathrow' show around the late 70's where after a hour or two traipsing round different rooms of impressive 'HiFi' sounds, we ventured into one of the Quad rooms, where a Thorens turntable (TD160 from memory), played into a 44/405 and a pair of their '57's' sited on small trestle-type tables. What a lovely sound it was, the rectangular room being host to many weary 'punters' just chilling out to some of the best sounds at this show. I'll never forget the experience - one of the very best 'Quad' dems I heard until decades later and the launch of the post-takeover product range...

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X