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Thread: The Harbeth integrated amplifier

  1. #81
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    Default Marketing the amp

    I think discussion thus far has been concentrated (predictably) on the consumer's perception of what we are planning to do and where it may/may not fit into the marketplace. But that really is only one side of the equation. We have to give at least equal weight to the supply side and the distribution process. In a mature consumer society there are no completely unique products carving out market segments for themselves. It's almost all been seen or done a hundred times before in various guises. Even the new Apple iPad has competitors. So a new amplifier in a mature market already supplied by thousands or models and brands needs to either behave (function) differently (which it won't) or to be targeted at a sub-sector of the amplifier buying community (which it will) or it won't sell.

    I wish I could condense a marketing degree plus thirty years experience into a few words about demography and consumption, but I can't. The subject is just too wide ranging. Can we just say that we have a good handle on what this product will do and who will buy it. It is not, as you correctly point out, a core product, nor will it consume (much) of Harbeth's precious management time. It is somewhat at arms-length and it needs to be. I believe that we have one of the best worked-through marketing strategies in the audio industry and I feel confident that extending this to cover an amplifier (or whatever) is brand enhancing - to our target market.

    I stress (yet again - please read this carefully!) we will not be promoting the amplifier on (meaningless) sonic grounds! If you want to believe that it sounds better than brand X - great! But you will find nothing in the forthcoming Harbeth promotional literature that makes claims about it's sonic superiority. We are not targeting a consumer who needs deep reassurance about the amp's sonic abilities since we do not ourselves have the means of objective evaluation of sonic performance. We just don't want to 'get into' that scene.

    Does that clarify the situation? I really do want to put the sonics issue to bed once and for all. If I uses it to design and listen then, for the target consumer, that will be endorsement enough. It will not be enough for any other non-target user, who by definition, we are not interested in or ever likely to sell to.


    Alan /Back in the UK
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  2. #82
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    You are in a very philosophical mood, Thanos. I suppose that is understandable given the economic a political situation in Greece. How are the ordinary folk feeling?

    Here in Cyprus many of us have thought for a long time the economic model is unsustainable - with either the Cyprus Pound or the Euro. But not much changes here except the prices! Too many government employees, too many banks, too much over staffing.

    On Harbeth I must advance another view. They a good, very good; but are a prestige product and expensive. On the other hand the speakers do probably offer value for money, because of their long life.

    Much of my HiFi I have owned for between one third and one half of my 60 years. Spread over half a lifetime prestige products that give real pleasure year after year represent really good value. Let those who suffer from upgradeitus take note!

    A Harbeth amp (like my Quad or Sugden) that sits on the shelf and performs for 25 years with only replacement power supply capacitors once a decade represent fantastic value for money. I am sure a Harbeth amp would be in the same class.

  3. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    I stress (yet again - please read this carefully!) we will not be promoting the amplifier on (meaningless) sonic grounds! If you want to believe that it sounds better than brand X - great! But you will find nothing in the forthcoming Harbeth promotional literature that makes claims about it's sonic superiority.
    Alan /Back in the UK
    O yes. An amplifier should be invisible and inaudible!

  4. #84
    yeecn Guest

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    Alan, I wish you all the success.

    The audio industry has gotten so ridiculously convoluted it needs a fresh start. The consumer base need to be reassured again of the old (almost forgotten in the current consumeristic craze) trusted values of good products that are built to last.

    I think you will find a lot of resistant in the establish Western market. But in the Far East the audio industry is still very young in comparison. Some local producers are just beginning to trying to jump in the the audiophile bandwagon with their 'tube sounding' transistor amplifier type of bullshits. I think this is a very good window for you to establish the Harbeth value in the Far East.

  5. #85
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    Default Not driven by targets

    Quote Originally Posted by yeecn View Post
    ... The audio industry has gotten so ridiculously convoluted it needs a fresh start. The consumer base need to be reassured again of the old trusted values of good products that are built to last...
    Ah! That American English word, gotten which doesn't exist in English English and always jumps out at me when I read or hear it!

    Thanks for your encouragement. It occurred to me as I was taking my lunch (Google Street View of me eating a sandwich sitting on the park bench at about this time last year here) that I've inadvertently made assumptions about how you imagine the sales process inside Harbeth actually works. Without this vital piece of information, you are worrying needlessly about the success of the amplifier project.

    So, here is the situation, believe it or not. At Harbeth UK we live each day as if it were our last. We have no sales department, no sales forecasts, no sales targets. We never ask for orders, we never do deals and we operate strictly according to the price list. We don't give priority to "favorite" customers over others in-line, we don't hassle customers for payment and we don't build to different quality levels. Each day, each month is its own self-contained business module, in isolation from others. We don't 'keep the books open' beyond the end of the month to hit sales targets because there aren't any to hit. Thanks to your wish to own Harbeth speakers, new orders arrive almost every day from around the world and out entire focus is on designing and producing, marketing communication about what we do and why we do it, but not on selling. That takes care of itself. Unorthodox for a commercial company? Yes but with an order book a year into the future, why would we need to change our corporate culture from being order takers to order getters? So it means that the amplifier project is not life or death for us. It doesn't matter if it takes five years to gain a small market share as there is no pressure at all from this side to shift boxes. We'll invest some reserves into a launch stock of amplifiers (obviously we have to pay our supplier up-front) and we'll see how they sell. When our inventory is low, we'll order and pay for some more. It means that we don't have to pump-up the promotion and make outrageous claims about its sonics versus other amplifiers. In short, we have the luxury of taking our time. We do not need to quickly recoup our investment. We are not under pressure and nor are you.

    Now I think you'll agree that we can let the amplifier find it's own market niche. Whether that niche is large or small, time alone will tell. But if it should take off fast (as early indications from face-to-face discussions with our distributors indicates), our subcontractor can cope with the demand, allowing us to concentrate on making great loudspeakers. A win-win all round.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  6. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    Ah! That American English word, gotten which doesn't exist in English English and always jumps out at me when I read or hear it!
    Ah yes. It's perfectly grammatical English, but archaic in the United Kingdom.

    And it is arguable that Americans use the verb "to get" better than the British do.

    http://www.miketodd.net/encyc/gotten.htm

    And in these days when the male role is belittled it is sad that "begat", "beget", "begotton" are no longer in common use.

    A female may "conceive", but a male "begets" - there is no other verb is so precise. The verb from the noun "father" has a much wider scope than "beget".

    Now, Alan, this new baby of yours, this amplifier: did you conceive it or beget it?

  7. #87
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    Just seeing the word is enough to set the hair of some British English speakers on end. Yet, despite the many claims that it is an Americanism, it is most definitely of British origin
    Well, well. You learn something new every day! And yes it definitely does set my hair on end! It immediately tells a native British English speaker that the other person was taught by an American English speaker.

    But don't think for one minute that Americans are universally comfortable with gotten, for even on the other side of the Atlantic it is, these days, seen as somewhat vulgar and not to be used in proper speech or formal writing.
    See what I mean! However, it appears in the Asia edition of The Wall Street Journal (19.5.2010) which I read on the plane home from Hong Kong.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  8. #88
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    "Gotten" I don't mind at all. It has, as I said, sound grammatical and historical roots.

    It's "upcoming" for "forthcoming" that sets my teeth on edge - not when used by Americans, but when affected by Brits who ought to know better.

    So also "military" means "of land forces", and we should properly speak of naval, military and air-force agencies; but we have the creeping use of "the military" where "military" becomes a noun and is used to describe all armed forces - sea, land and air!

    Grrrrr!

    Oh! Back to the understated, politely performing Harbeth Integrated Amplifier. May it live long and prosper.

    Traditional case with nice wood ends to match the speakers?

  9. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    You are in a very philosophical mood, Thanos. I suppose that is understandable given the economic a political situation in Greece. How are the ordinary folk feeling?

    Here in Cyprus many of us have thought for a long time the economic model is unsustainable - with either the Cyprus Pound or the Euro. But not much changes here except the prices! Too many government employees, too many banks, too much over staffing.

    On Harbeth I must advance another view. They a good, very good; but are a prestige product and expensive. On the other hand the speakers do probably offer value for money, because of their long life.

    Much of my HiFi I have owned for between one third and one half of my 60 years. Spread over half a lifetime prestige products that give real pleasure year after year represent really good value. Let those who suffer from upgradeitus take note!

    A Harbeth amp (like my Quad or Sugden) that sits on the shelf and performs for 25 years with only replacement power supply capacitors once a decade represent fantastic value for money. I am sure a Harbeth amp would be in the same class.
    Hi there,
    If you came here at morning, you would prefer to catch the afternoon plane and return back... That's how things are, going from bad to worse... No, I'm not in a philosophical mood. It is just that the tide hasn't reached Cyprus yet. Cyprus, although small, has a stronger infrastructure than Greece. That's why. I'm very serious about what I predict above. I am not influenced from our local problems, I can see somehow into the future coming problems, because all these have taken years to build up, based especially on European (not only Greek) stupidity. Just take a look at Italy, Spain, Portugal, France and (unfortunately so) the U.K. So it's a matter of (as we say here) "better tie up your donkey in your garden today, instead of running around tomorrow to find it in the fields..."!

    As for the amp project which has most certainly elevated the heat in the forum, I pretty well know that Alan would design it to last for a lifetime, and with a price that would brake the bones of the "Hi-End Gurus"... I'm sure about it. You don't have to ask him... Just take a careful tour around his 'School of thought" and his contribution in the forum, and you'll immediately understand what he would probably do...

    I'll have to insist that Alan's goods are cheap, not expensive. If you see it in terms of comparison, but also in terms of amount to be paid, I think we shall both agree. You see, you pay once (as you correctly put it previously), then you enjoy forever, with a very serious approach to perfection... This is cheap (with the noblest meaning of the word- meaning that it is quite affordable for every human soul's pocket - with some savings you buy a lifetime's solution), isn't it?

    I have gone for swimming seven times since the last two weeks, how about you folks? Cyprus is meant to be warmer than Greece...
    My best summer regards,
    Thanos
    Last edited by A.S.; 21-05-2010 at 08:25 AM. Reason: corrections

  10. #90
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    Ah yes. It's perfectly grammatical English, but archaic in the United Kingdom.

    And it is arguable that Americans use the verb "to get" better than the British do.
    Not just arguable, undeniable.

    If you say "forget" "forgot" and "forgotten" isn't it logical that you would also say "get" "got" and "gotten"?

    Having a clear participial form reduces ambiguity and clarifies usages.

    As for saying it's considered "vulgar", that's a bit strong. It's perfectly acceptable in everyday speech. I might think twice about using it in a formal paper or presentation, but I would say that of a lot of words without necessarily classifying them as vulgar (except perhaps in the strict etymological sense of the word).

    It's just a matter of what you've gotten used to hearing, that's all.

  11. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanos View Post
    Hi there,
    If you came here at morning, you would prefer to catch the afternoon plane and return back... That's how things are, going from bad to worse...
    Thanos
    Thanos, I'm glad you're well and hopefully you're riding out the current unrest. As you point out, it's not just a Greek problem - it's just manifesting there particularly severely at the moment.

    But there are no easy culprits, I fear: not the politicians, not the rich, not the bankers, and not the people either. It seems to be a failure of democracy almost everywhere that I'm aware of. The temptation to have more than one can afford seems well-nigh irresistible, and everyone's a little guilty of participating. Politicians make the promises, people like the promises and vote for the politicians who make them, politicians get bankers to finance the cost of their promises. All great, till time comes to pay the bill. For Greece, the time seems to be now. But the time will come, everywhere - I have little doubt of that.

    Schiller: "Gegen der Dummheit kämpfen Götter selbst vergebens" - against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.

  12. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanos View Post
    ...2. Under these current circumstances, money for buying music playing equipment will shorten. The so called "Hi End" makers will face disaster. They already do. It's a matter of time...
    Hi Thanos,

    Inspired by your post , today, I ask one of my audio dealer here in Montreal how things are going. He said that everything is very good and sales are continually improving. Do your "so called High End" include Harbeth? Because Harbeth seems also on its ways of continually sales improvement.

    Sebastien

  13. #93
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thanos View Post
    If you came here at morning, you would prefer to catch the afternoon plane and return back... That's how things are, going from bad to worse...
    No comfort to you, Thanos, but here is a newspaper article to read

    "Whatever Germany does, the euro as we know it is dead"

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/c...t-is-dead.html

    The Telegraph is a fairly right wing paper and does not like the EU or it's centralising policies - there are seen as a challenge to the sovereignty of the UK Parliament.

  14. #94
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    Dear Sebastien,
    Of course not! No way! Harbeth is out of this phenomenon. They don't (you already know it very well) pretend, they don't lie, they work for a perfectly reasonable profit. Alan has gone through this many times. Which, I feel, makes us all proud to have chosen such a serious, genuine I'd say, product to serve our passion for music.

    Don't even think to compare Canada with Europe at this moment. As Eric put it above (and he did so well), Europe -especially its southern part- will now take this tide among the first. In Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and France (with this row), the so called consumers' price indicator, is constantly decreasing. In my country we currently go to a vast 25% decrease, together with unemployment climbing out at about 16%, from 9,8% where it was several months ago. Consumer Electrionics simply follow this. The Euro didn't prove strong, finally... If Greece brakes, the whole southern Europe starts cracking. I don't worry so much about Canada. Despite some problems, this country always had - and has - a terrific potential and can breathe when others struggle for oxygen...

    And, wanting to add something to Eric's very wise comment on peoples' (and manufacturers' accordingly) behaviour and reaction, when most companies in HiFi were sleeping, not able to forecast what was coming, Alan Shaw, by nature & instinct, or by talent & ability, or by character & knowledge, or by education & experience, or by a combination of them all, had the wisdom to put out a strategy that keeps him alive and walking on the right path. We all wish this will go on in the deep future. You'll get frustrated if you'll see what goes on here with our audio dealers...

    Well, let's get a bit more optimistic (me I mean), because otherwise I'll catch a plane and come there tomorrow on, for a better opportunity. Just one opportunity, I dare say...
    Best Regards,
    Thanos

  15. #95
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    No comfort to you, Thanos, but here is a newspaper article to read

    "Whatever Germany does, the euro as we know it is dead"

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/c...t-is-dead.html

    The Telegraph is a fairly right wing paper and does not like the EU or it's centralising policies - there are seen as a challenge to the sovereignty of the UK Parliament.
    And last, but not least:
    Dear Brian,
    You know that the U.K. will survive... You were wise enough to keep the pound living. Then, everyone was embarassed by seeing the British at least being reluctant and opposing this "United Europe" scenario. Ok, you have problems, but History teaches that you can solve them by keeping yourselves intact, as much possible, from this "disease". So, I also fear not for the U.K.'s future. The British (and I mean BRITISH) people, always had a different DNA, as to contain themselves within this "European Dream". Which rather failed and goes to probably painful reformations. Yes, the newspaper article is more than interesting, hot I'd say...
    Regards,
    Thanos

  16. #96
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    Not to distract from this interesting thread, but I would like to know a few more practical things about the amp: watts per channel, number of inputs, tape loop, etc. I think there are far too many very expensive amps that are far too "minimalist", where you have to give up features to get a reliable amplifier. Is it too early to talk about these things?

  17. #97
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    Hi Thanos,

    Thanks for the precisions above.

    Sebastien

  18. #98
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    good to hear that Harbeth is rolling out a integrated amplifier for the convenience of Harbeth user or would-be owner.

    are these threads responsible for tickling the idea..
    Thread: Tone controls, equaliser or tilt controls at home
    Thread: Matching Amplifier for SHL5?
    wonder who is lucky to get the serial number 1?

  19. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by coredump View Post
    wonder who is lucky to get the serial number 1?
    Don't need to wonder: AS!

  20. #100
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    Quote Originally Posted by Labarum View Post
    Don't need to wonder: AS!
    In this case, I can settle for s/no 2.

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