Definitely not written by computers, as the grammar and spelling are appalling !!!
Definitely not written by computers, as the grammar and spelling are appalling !!!
I gave up receiving HFN in 2005, even though a wealthy and kind friend had bought me several years' consecutive subscription.
This was due to my then feeling an increasing sense of the tedium whilst reading it, caused by what I feel to be its increasingly vacuous nature, and also of audio magazines in general.
My memory of reading such in the 70s was not only of scientifically rigorous reviewing, but of debates about what was going on, which demanded concentration and analysis, with a selfless pursuit of the art form of music reproduction at the core of the magazine's writers and readers.
What seemed to me to be presented in '05 was an increasingly self indulgent platform for a few well known journalists to show off and to flaunt their powerful position; that of listening to very expensive equipment and get paid for it.
In particular an American writer who had been to Maine University in youth, would write indulgently about his love of other artefacts, for example expensive watches and cars, and his style I often found obscure to the point of being difficult to read. I felt that I was being stressed into reading irrelevance to my interest, this pressurised by the high cost of the magazine.
At about this time, or a few years earlier it was becoming widely thought that the magazines were in the pay of the manufacturers, and hence would avoid bad reviews, and also that the equipment reviewed was very often in a price bracket which precluded most people.
What was in evidence though, was that a smooth style was developed by the writers in their image based and egotistical self indulgence for which they were paid.
Apparently he sold all his vinyl and equipment and returned to the States a few years ago; perhaps he realised that the circus of reviewing never ending models which the manufacturers produced, thus priming the consumer pump, was over.
Yes, there has been a huge shift in presentational style between the audio magazines of the 1970s (I have many of them) and those today. I recently skimmed a current (July 2012) consumer electronics magazine and I read a review something like this ....
Now that's very sensual writing - vaguely erotic - and it appeals to us on a very deep emotional level. It bypasses our rational, logical brain and goes straight to the core where it creates strong motivational associations. Nothing wrong with that of course. The issue is that it is a very broad, crude and imprecise way to evaluate a technical product, and assumes that we all respond to base nature in a similar way, which may well be true! Logically then, a manufacturer assessing the positive media attention the design, packaging and presentation of his product receives would be encouraged to divert more money into those external touch-feely features, and if necessary pare down the engineering core to the bone, keeping the overall cost the same. Since manufacturers don't meet their end consumers (this HUG is an exception) they assume, rightly or wrongly, that journalists speak for the public at large. That's surely reasonable, since by implication if they didn't, the (printed) magazines would fail through lack of sales. And that is not what we see - generally speaking the mainstream "Which?" type magazines are doing well. So those journalists we read must be writing in a style that the public will pay for.... Opening the carton sent a shiver of sensuous delight down my spine to my trembling fingers. I could hardly restrain my excitement as I unpeeled the clinging cotton inner wrapping revealing the naked beauty of the satin-finished body. I had to take catch my breath as I stroked the controls, the barely raised buttons inviting a deep investigation of the multi-faceted personality of the inner workings... when I nuzzled part A up against part B the sheer magic of this design flowed ...
My car is serviced by a little local garage run by a very gifted mechanic. The premises are not impressive, but he is. Sometimes if I'm passing I call in for a chat just to see what his latest challenge is. I usually find him under a car and have to insist that he just carries on, not hauls himself out to greet me. He seems to specialise in one particular central-European made small hatchback, now in its fifth or sixth generation. Its TV advertising has evolved to lifestyle orientation compared with its utilitarian beginnings. He has serviced and repaired every generation of the car during its 20+ year product life span. His opinion of the build quality of the later generations compared with the earlier ones is scathing and has pointed out parts that used to be metal and are now nylon, parts that fail more frequently due presumably to cost-down initiatives, and layer upon layer of added complexity - especially electrical - which are doomed to fail.
Wherever you look you see weight reduction, material substitution, reduced durability, cosmetic enhancements and needless or rarely used features added to consumer products. Is it any wonder that the media merely reflect changes in consumer purchasing behaviour? Or do they lead it?
Want to try your hand at being a journalist for an hour to see just how difficult it is to be a critic? Try writing no less than 300 words about your TV here ..... all submissions will be published. I've just mulled this over and realised that a) I can't/mustn't disassemble the TV to see what's inside b) I wouldn't be able to recognise any of the chip function blocks even if I did c) I could never design a modern TV so I have no basic skills to be able to critique someone else's design d) I would have to write entirely about the externals. And that is precisely what we see in contemporary reviews: a total focus on the outside not the inside.
Go ahead - try it!
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK
At one time I wrote for all the UK magazines, most now sadly have disappeared. I found that writing articles and reviews was easy, the only minor pressures were to stick to deadlines and to (occasionally) adhere to a strict, tight word count. It was far easier to write several pages than to be informative and at the same time, concise.
Unfortunately, the mags have agenda hidden from the buying public which, to me, makes them nothing more than a tool for certain manufacturers and advertisers. Personally, I don't trust anything I read in the mags, not even the prices which are often wrong. I receive free copies of a few mags each month and these I skip through, sometimes attacking them in anger with my red pen. After this onslaught they are relegated to the recycling bin - I no longer keep them filed for reference.
It's easy to be suspicious about business practices these days what with likes of Murdoch Inc., Barclays Diamond and JP Morgan Dimon and on and on. Once again - How much on exit for Mr. Jerry de Missier?
I found this on the net, and it is surprise to read about how long this audiophile controversy has been around. The quote is from an interview in 1989 with Ross Walker, the son of Peter Walker, Quad founder.
"Do you try to appeal to the audiophile market?
"No. The audiophile is on an endless quest He wants change. He is not interested in something that is good enough to remain unchanged."
But if Quad is the best, shouldn't he end up with Quad?
"But he wouldn't be an audiophile; that would be the end of it. How dull it would be."
For Quad, replace Harbeth!
Something that never really occurred to me until i read this forum topic was how inescapable the global marketing juggernaut really is, particularly with hi-fi equipment.
I have devised a small test for everyone....
Using a popular search engine, search for a well known piece of "hi-fi" equipment (manufacturer and model), ideally from a brand that is very familiar to you. The first couple that came to mind when i tested this were "Naim supernait" and "pmc gb1i"
The results may vary depending on geographical location and the search engine used, but I was staggered as to how many audio magazine/website entries about the particular piece of hi-fi equipment appear as the first, second, and even third result. To my surprise, the manufacturer's website specific to the equipment was typically buried somewhere near the bottom of the search results on the first page. Why?
I don't know if the search results we receive are deliberate acts of marketing, or if search engine results are classified based on the popularity of a certain webpage, but i thought this observation was worthy of mention in light of this topic. Your results may vary....
Another twist... catastrophisation.
I was teasing my physiotherapist (when he had me in a vice-like lock) about the range of practitioners who offer back treatment, and he cautioned me about trying the well known alternative out.
"The problem with those guys," he said "is that they are masters of catastrophisation of the patients ailments. Example: 'If you don't spend out on these special shoes your limp will worsen and you'll quite possibly end up wheelchair bound. Imagine the burden you'll be to your siblings then. Can you visualise being completely house bound on a diet of Jeremy Kyle and microwave dinners? Eh? Shopping will be a thing of the past as will days out in the countryside. You'll be isolated from society, forgotten, unloved, unwanted. It's all avoidable you know. All that misery can be escaped from for a tiny investment in these ComfortXXX shoes..."'.
"Ummm," said I, "I see what you mean. "We have that sort of game in the audio industry. Example: 'If you spend two hours a day hours every week engrossed in music at home, that's the equivalent of one full waking day in seven. One in seven! Imagine how you'd suffer, how miserable you'd be, how isolated from the activity you love if you were not maximising the pleasure of your hobby for the sake of CD player platter isolators. Imagine the degradation in your hearing, week-in, week-out as your poor ears wear themselves silly trying to resolve detail that's buried. Buried, but luckily accessible if you know how. That's a sort of self-inflicted torture.... a bit kinky don't you agree? And all solvable with a paltry investment of $249.99 ....' "
There then followed a god awful crrrrrrraaaack; time stood still. We looked at each other. I couldn't tell who was the more concerned. I couldn't breath. Was this how it was all going to end?
No! Not a bit of it!
"That's what I was hoping for," said Paul, barely convincing me (and himself). "You see, had I not manipulated you the toxins would have continue to build up until they could have, quite literally, dissolved your spine. That would be a life-changer wouldn't it! Just imagine you're out and about minding your own business - in the supermarket perhaps - and wham!, you literally hinge in half backwards! In half! Just above your hips! But no, you've seen sense, you've recognised the danger, put yourself in the hands of a true professional and now you'll see the benefit of a full, active life, thanks to me."
He paused. "Same time next week Alan?". I meekly confirmed. After all, who wouldn't want the benefits of a 'full active live' for just another $60?
I dared to twitch a toe. Mercifully, I still had sensation.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK
I was cured in our local medical centre for miners pharmacologicaly and mainly by means of electric currents by fantastic medical staff (and my dearest wife at home) for few long weeks; in drastic cases man must go through surgery (which can be dangerous) but total recovery is almost impossible or takes years.
Any problems with e.g lever or kidneys failure (toxins) endangering vertebral column? Is it possible? Or am I too serious?
Guy visits health specialist:
For anyone who visited the Hong Kong / Guangzhou / Macau area in the early 1980s, there is a fascinating "Then and now" article below:
This is also pretty much also the lifetime of Harbeth as a company.
If you start to think of the amount of consumer power and new industry this growth generates, and it is only one little corner of the Far East, it is astonishing that the old western economies get a look-in at all. Shenzhen, which is immediately opposite Hong Kong in mainland China, has grown by 200 times in 35 years to over 10million people. That makes Manchester's growth from c. 1770, the first modern industrial town in the world, look positively snail-like.
One the day when a record UK trade deficit is announced, how many manufacturing industries can compete, let alone sell into such markets?