2 hours of listening
4 hours of listening
6 hours of listening
Beyond 10 hours of listening
Cheers to all HARBETH users!
Although you may, as indeed I do, find it difficult to believe, a few years ago a large broadcast organisation selected a monitor speaker system without any consideration of listener fatigue at all. I read the internal report. I read the external report too. I talked to some of those involved. When I asked if listening fatigue had been considered in the selection process I could see by the momentary look of terror that it hadn't but that (being asked by a speaker designer) it just might have been overlooked and might even be important (Shock! Horror! Career on the line!). It is beyond my comprehension that users (or a selection of users) should be deprived of the opportunity to live with a loudspeaker speaker for, say, ten hours, during which time any latent issues would surely become apparent. The sign of a good loudspeaker, as this thread demonstrates, is not that the listener listens more and hears more problems (the usual situation) but that he listens more and can't find any problems. Because I've taken inordinate care to make sure that there aren't any - that's my duty in the creative process.
I went out and bought one of the 'selected' speakers. As you will know, I rarely comment on other speakers but in this particular case, the listening fatigue set-in after a few seconds and had my head in a vice like grip. It was the very definition of loudspeaker listening fatigue. In my opinion, such a poorly executed design should never have passed from R&D into production. Obviously, it was never compared against a real vocalist. That it did slip out tells you a lot about the real commercial power base within the manufacturing company concerned. We here surely don't hold a monopoly on the judgement of good sound and it seems likely to me that there are many good listeners in other speaker manufacturing companies. So that must mean that they are either
- not at all consulted during the design
- consulted but their opinion ignored
- are consulted but are unable to succinctly express their opinions about a speaker in a way that the designer can adjust the design
- are apathetic about the products they make or sell - 'it's just a 9-5 job'
That all said, looking back over the experience I am truly delighted that we were not bullied into giving-away loudspeakers at or below cost. Commercially we've never looked back as it demonstrated to me that we make excellent products and should not rely on commercial endorsements - especially when the selection process is so nobbled. If others like our products we are most appreciative of their kind words, but we have not, must not and cannot abrogate the responsibility to make and market our products to third parties - even very well intentioned and friendly ones.
You, collectively, have listened to Harbeths for hundreds of thousands of hours more than me. If there were latent issues you'd have rumbled me long ago. I have a crystal clear target specification in my mind, and I release the product when I am totally confident that you, with your massive listening-time advantage over me are not going to catch me out! Above all, you are buying loudspeakers built to last decades. Nobody but me ever hears a Harbeth under development. I cannot create these loudspeakers as part of a collaborative team. They are a personal journey and life is so exceedingly short to give them anything less than ones best shot.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK
Some potential ad slogans for Habeth (offered free of charge):
"Harbeth: Because Your Speakers Shouldn't Hurt"
"Harbeth: Because Life's Too Short to Listen to Anything Else"
"Harbeth: Because They'll Sound Just As Good In Ten Hours"
"Harbeth: Because Your Ears Will Thank You."
Maybe the readership would like to toss out a few others?
" They are a personal journey and life is so exceedingly short to give them anything less than ones best shot" - Alan Shaw
Abolutely amazing! I hope we all realize how fortunate we are to be using products designed by a man with this kind of vision and philosophy- we should all make it a goal to bring this same attitude to everything we do in life-seriously. And the man takes time to share this stuff with us. Un-#$%*ing -believable in this day and age...
Thank you, Alan, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!
to quote you Alan -"life is so exceedingly short "...
Appreciating the brevity of life can help set priorities as well as put things into perspective and the right place.
My recent quest for a higher level of music enjoyment was driven by the realisation that within 10 years if not sooner, my hearing would have lost its edge. I saw this happen to my father, who could not hear frequency extremes, probably exacerbated by the fact that he caught malaria in Malaya in his teenage years. He was a bit of an audiophile and had this ?family game? with a frequency sweep track of a test record. When the needle dropped on the track he would ask everyone who could hear ?anything? to raise their hands. His hands were always the last to be raised and the first to be dropped.
The restart of this music enjoyment quest of mine is after many years of detach due to poor sound quality (more of the edgy irritating type) and a music industry which, to me, seemed to serving up rather soulless and artist image driven music. The latter (software) seems to be improving while the former (hardware) seems to be still largely caught in the web of passionless large corporate grey (and possibly going to be more so, looking at industry trends of brand aggregation and segment management).
Happy to say, in the last month, in a frenzy, I?ve listened to many artistes, many of whom are from this last decade, ones ive never listened to before, which id probably would never have considered but enjoyed nevertheless knowing that through the Harbeth?s, they?d be ok. From these few artistes, ive slowly learnt more about what type of music I like. The choice of music and inclinations haven?t changed a tiny bit. They were probably set by the time we were in our early teens. To me, its all been part of a learning process, and path towards a better understanding of who we are today, through the music we like and thanks to a soulful company for making that an experience.
When I look back to my teens (well over thirty years ago!), it is without doubt the chance I had as a Saturday volunteer at the local BBC station that sealed my fate with regard to my involvement with these BBC-inspired monitors. The BBC design approach seem just so perfect in its concept and execution; cost effective, simple, elegant and backed by the research of serious professional engineers at the BBC whose careers and reputations depended upon producing something that fulfilled the specification - and could, literally, be made on the kitchen table by general-purpose laboratory staff who could cut wood and operate a lathe.
There are many many different approaches to speaker design, and in a buyer's democracy we are completely relaxed about that, and positively welcome the contrast in sound it makes with a Harbeth. But I've never been tempted away from this approach because, at such a formative age, I was - and still am - in awe of the engineering thinking that went into their realisation at the BBC. Never a day goes past without my respect and gratitude for the efforts of the BBC engineers and their inspired leaders like H.L. Kirke.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK