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Thread: The Harbeth integrated amplifier

  1. #161
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    If all amplifiers sound the same and a cheap amp is as good as an expensive amp - where is the market for a complicated, complex and necessarily expensive Harbeth amplifier ?

    In the past ten years, I can think of possibly, two customers who have enquired about tone controls - so it's not a big issue. As for DSP, I think it's a complete non starter. I've never yet found a room which couldn't be improved sonically by the judicious use of a few curtains and carpets. Why pay for complicated electronics ?

    The Harbeth customer is looking for high quality, good value and invariably, two channel music, with no frills and gizmos.

  2. #162
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    ....... A high quality, robust, simple amp is one thing....... I for one, would not be interested in all the digital gizmos......
    Fully agree with Dave; those were my first thoughts/feelings when I read about an amp with all that digital s**t

  3. #163
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyreg View Post
    Fully agree with Dave; those were my first thoughts/feelings when I read about an amp with all that digital s**t
    Sadly, I know exactly what 'digital s**t' is capable of and trust me, properly executed you would never go back. The combination of Radial plus DSP is breathtaking.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  4. #164
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    Well, I thought Alan was looking for support for the Amp project. Anyway, IMO a subwoofer would be the next logical step with its Amplifier that should be good enough to drive the main speakers after the low pass filter.

    Customers looking for an active subwoofer also have the advantage of using the sub's amp to drive the speakers. *It should sell for the convenience of no additional preamp and amp for main speakers or for just being a Harbeth subwoofer. Cost wise it would be a huge savings.Just a thought.

  5. #165
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    I'm 62 years old and happy with technology. I stream all my music. There is a HTPC hiding in the broom cupboard which is the room next to the lounge. All the clever stuff happens there. I control everything from my laptop, but just a few hours ago I received my 160 Google Nexus 7 Tablet. Looks excellent. After sorting out my Gmail and Fastmail accounts I installed the Logitech Squeezebox Commander App for Android - went straight it, found my Squeezebox and took control. I can now control my music system from the 7" Tablet.

    Now there will be some my age, and younger that would struggle with this, but most youngsters of the iPad/iPad/Laptop generation won't - it will be second nature.

    From this younger and information literate generation will come future buyers of fine loudspeakers. Makers of such loudspeakers need to appeal to this generation that is used to convenient media sources. Backward looking manufactures might easily find their market share shrink to nothing - some will say the decilne is well in progress.

    Harbeth's strengths are in getting the right drivers into the right boxes -those strengths need to be married to the latest technologies for delivering the signal to the driver.

    The digital amp full of (to some) frightening gizmos may be necessary to defend the BBC tradition of loudspeaker design and construction.

  6. #166
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Sadly, I know exactly what 'digital s**t' is capable of and trust me, properly executed you would never go back. The combination of Radial plus DSP is breathtaking.
    Crossed posts, Alan. I repeat. Combine the Harbeth/BBC tradition of speaker design and construction with the very best and latest electronics and . . . wow.

    Both B&O and Meridian seem to have found a way forward. The right black box of gizmo's could lift Harbeth performance some considerable amount.

    But I can see that selling the idea to some of the current customer base and dealerships might be an uphill struggle: we can all have our cake and eat it - keep the strengths of the BBC tradition and use the latest electronics to allow that tradition to blossom into the middle of the 21st century.

  7. #167
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    From this younger and information literate generation will come future buyers of fine loudspeakers. Makers of such loudspeakers need to appeal to this generation that is used to convenient media sources.
    In my case, I have a four zone Sonos system, with one zone driving my C7 pair. Brilliant Harbeth sound, with all the quality and convenience of digital tech and internet music. The other zones aren't meant for critical listening, so lesser speakers do the job very well there.

    I would suggest that for the younger generation, Harbeth speakers don't look cool enough. At my age, I don't care much what they look like, as long as they sound the way they do, and I can see the build to last quality in them. But for the younger set, they want something that will look current to look in line with the other home gadgets and furniture.

    One recent threat to independent loudspeaker makers looking for the next generation market in any volume is from the latest Sonos offering. A pair of active Sonos speakers, wireless capable, and a recently launched Sonos Sub, also wirelessly connecting to the speaker pair, with enough signal processing magic in it to integrate well with the speaker pair. And the Sub looks so cool, that it seems a pity to put it away where it is most effective, but may not be seen. Sound quality is surprisingly good, approaching a mid level separates system. Much much better than the Zeppelin kind of competition.

    And what Sonos has done today, they will build further on, expand the market, and that in turn will attract equally capable competition.

    There will always be hold outs of course, but that will constitute a niche market, heading towards the kind of market there is for vinyl.

  8. #168
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    Default Buy in expertise?

    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    Crossed posts, Alan. I repeat. Combine the Harbeth/BBC tradition of speaker design and construction with the very best and latest electronics and . . . wow.

    Both B&O and Meridian seem to have found a way forward. The right black box of gizmo's could lift Harbeth performance some considerable amount.

    But I can see that selling the idea to some of the current customer base and dealerships might be an uphill struggle: we can all have our cake and eat it - keep the strengths of the BBC tradition and use the latest electronics to allow that tradition to blossom into the middle of the 21st century.
    What greatly surprised our DSP partner was that the application of DSP to the Harbeth RADIAL cone made such a small sonic difference compared with std. speakers they'd worked with. But boy, was it addictive.

    I'm beginning to think that a strategic alliance with an existing amp maker, or a cash buyout. We have the internal resources to invest. Pass the word on.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  9. #169
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    What greatly surprised our DSP partner was that the application of DSP to the Harbeth RADIAL cone made such a small sonic difference compared with std. speakers they'd worked with. But boy, was it addictive.

    I'm beginning to think that a strategic alliance with an existing amp maker, or a cash buyout. We have the internal resources to invest. Pass the word on.
    Go for it, Alan. It is the future.

    We have to find a way of selling fine audio transducers to young techies. They know a good sound on earbuds. They rarely hear that quality projected into a room. That is sad.

    I love the trad Harbeth look, but, as has been said, a different style is also needed.

    First post on my new Nexus tablet.

  10. #170
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    Default Growth strategy?

    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    Go for it, Alan. It is the future.

    We have to find a way of selling fine audio transducers to young techies. They know a good sound on earbuds. They rarely hear that quality projected into a room. That is sad.

    I love the trad Harbeth look, but, as has been said, a different style is also needed.
    OK, thanks for the input. Sailing on Lake Windermere and ruminating over the best way forward it's now clear: Harbeth could grow by acquisition. We'd need to pull into our orbit, our philosophy, our way of looking at life, talented young engineers who are boffins but have proved themselves incapable of running a business.

    Running a business and keeping out of debt requires completely different skills to being a creative engineer. Rarely can one individual be comfortable in both camps. We have an enviable track record in business efficiency and the resources to add real talent to our brand but at 55, this is not the time to physically overstretch myself by taking on too much more in-house, non-core work when there are speakers to develop.

    But I have a vision.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  11. #171
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    I have a vision.
    This is exciting. Labarum is right. Computer/digital/file-based delivery of music is obviously the future. If you can marry that up with Harbeth's fundamental quality at the transducer end, I think you've potentially got something great.

    I likewise think that intelligently-designed and incorporated DSP has huge potential and is also the way of the future.

  12. #172
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    The digital electronics - even Class D power amps (anathema to some, but B&O do it well) - are best left to the young 'uns under supervision; but the transducer end is another matter.

    Now here might be the daftest question ever asked: they now make very good violins out of carbon fibre - will it work for thin wall cabinets? It won't come cheap, but neither is the thin wall wood enclosure.

    http://www.luisandclark.com/?product=cello

    Nice shiny active P3s and M30.1s might get the prosperous 30 somethings interested.

  13. #173
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    Default Investing in people ... where are they?

    Quote Originally Posted by EricW View Post
    This is exciting. Labarum is right. Computer/digital/file-based delivery of music is obviously the future. If you can marry that up with Harbeth's fundamental quality at the transducer end, I think you've potentially got something great.

    I likewise think that intelligently-designed and incorporated DSP has huge potential and is also the way of the future.
    Then what we need is solely the good fortune to find those young sparks who have the technical intellect, but need resources and mentoring to make it happen. We can bring both to the party - but - we are a very disciplined business and performance targets would have to be met throughout the enterprise. We are not hobbyists. This is for serious.

    History has proven to me that providing the latent skills are in evidence, it is better to develop a budding young entrepreneur who freely admits he doesn't know one end of a balance sheet from another than invest time and energy in a BS who talks the talk.

    If the brand has developed something of a market niche so much the better, but ultimately we are investors in people not necessarily today's products. Anyway, these opportunities occur in their own good time and cannot be hastened.

    I just wonder where we could find such under-resourced genuine audio-related talent in Europe.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  14. #174
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Then what we need is solely the good fortune to find those young sparks who have the technical intellect, but need resources and mentoring to make it happen. We can bring both to the party - but - we are a very disciplined business and performance targets would have to be met throughout the enterprise. We are not hobbyists. This is for serious.

    I just wonder where we could find such under-resourced genuine audio-related talent in Europe. History has proven to me that providing the latent skills are in evidence, it is better to develop a budding young entrepreneur who freely admits he doesn't know one end of a balance sheet from another than invest time and energy in a BS who talks the talk.

    If the brand has developed something of a market niche so much the better, but ultimately we are investors in people not necessarily today's products. Anyway, these opportunities occur in their own good time and cannot be hastened.
    Heed Audio in Hungary seems to be a fairly young company with some interesting lines of amplifiers...(no affiliation)

    Please put me on the waiting list when the amp goes into production!

    cheers

    George

  15. #175
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    Default A waiting game

    I think the best plan is to sit back and see who quietely taps on Harbeth's door.

    I believe that the initiative and desire to work closely with us should be initiated from the other side. The first step would probably be for the prospective party to join the HUG and thoroughly research it to get a good idea about how we think and work. Step two would be to send me a private message.

    This is not going to be a five minute fix. In the meantime, we will continue to research the amp/DSP subject and to accumulate more knowledge of the subjects. Incidentally, on the subject of knowledge management, after a years-long search for suitable software, I recently committed to tipping my entire life's audio knowledge archive into The Brain to give it some permanence.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  16. #176
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post


    Nice shiny active P3s and M30.1s might get the prosperous 30 somethings interested.
    "Prosperous 30 somethings" buy a name and a lifestyle - not high quality Hi-Fi. So many Hi-Fi companies have blown millions on trying to attract them to no avail. Witness TAG MacLaren with all their millions and marketing expertise.

  17. #177
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    Long time ago Harbeth talked about Harbeth Magic Box. I did suggest it to incorporate the Ambiophonics concept and attempted to invite Ralph Glasgal to this forum. Any idea to expand the idea beyond Harbeth's Amp plus DSP?*

  18. #178
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    The Brain looks very interesting. Thank you for the link Alan.

  19. #179
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    Default From 500 → 50,000 UK pounds - amp group test

    One of the UK hifi magazines on the shelf now has a group review on amps from a few hundred pounds to → → 50,000 UK pounds. The praise heaped on the big boy is so mouthwatering and comprehensively positive about sound stage, image depth, presentation, inner detail etc. that we're wondering how much longer we can survive without acquiring one. Suggest you read it all for yourself.

  20. #180
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    I have a Quad 77 integrated amp and a DADA restored Quad 520f.

    I think I'll stick with those.

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