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INTRODUCTION - PLEASE READ FIRST TO UNDERSTAND THIS FORUM!

"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound from microphone to ear, achievable by recognising and controlling the numerous confounding variables that exist along the audio chain. The Harbeth designer's objective is to make loudspeakers that contribute little of themselves to the music passing through them.

Identifying system components for their sonic neutrality should logically proceed from the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance. Deviations from a flat frequency response at any point along the signal chain from microphone to ear is likely to give an audible sonic personality to the system at your ear; this includes the significant contribution of the listening room itself. To accurately reproduce the recorded sound as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would be best advised to select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and will alter the sound balance of what you hear. This may or may not be what you wish to achieve, but any deviation from a flat response is a step away from a truly neutral system. HUG has extensively discussed amplifiers and the methods for seeking the most objectively neutral among a plethora of product choices.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

Please consider carefully how much you should rely upon and be influenced by the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, loudness and room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you. Always keep in mind that without basic test equipment, subjective opinions will reign unchallenged. With test equipment, universal facts and truths are exposed.

If some of the science behind faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over Harbeth speakers is your thing, this forum has been helping with that since 2006. If you just want to share your opinions and photos with others then the unrelated Harbeth Speakers Facebook page http://bit.ly/2FEgoAy may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"


Feb. 2018
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A humbling photo - our place in the universe

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  • A humbling photo - our place in the universe

    Truly astonishing picture of our planet taken from 900 million miles away here. To think that, on Friday 19th July, we were going about our lives, consuming resources, loving, sharing, helping, earning and learning. And our future king was still three days from emerging into our little planet from the safety of his mother's private universe.

    When we see our tiny place in the universe, doesn't it put issue like cable directionality, isolation platforms and amplifier sonics (et al) into their proper perspective of utter irrelevance? I'd say that it does.

    My plea remains for greater rationality and less gullibility amongst consumers, a better sense of the reality and universality of physics throughout the universe.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Our many obsessions

    Yes, you're correct. We are SO obsessed with irrelevant things on this planet. I have been reading the history of the Manhattan Project, to develop the atomic bomb. Then the years of the Cold War and the literally MAD ( mutually assured destruction ) way the two opposing powers built up approx. 40,000 atomic devices each.

    What is wrong with Mankind ? Why can't they see the good in each other ? Seeing our wonderful home planet and all it has to offer for Man, rather then the negative side of destruction and decay.

    Comment


    • #3
      Self-interest gone mad?

      Originally posted by Miles MG View Post
      Yes, you're correct. We are SO obsessed with irrelevant things on this planet...What is wrong with Mankind ? Why can't they see the good in each other ? Seeing our wonderful home planet and all it has to offer for Man, rather then the negative side of destruction and decay.
      You do of course mean 'why can't we see the good in each other'.

      For me, quite an interesting barometer of blinkered self-interest is the rising sales of gas guzzling 4x4 vehicles, of the Range Rover type. There are an astonishing, and growing, number of these on the small roads of Britain. We have known for a generation that pitiful fuel economy (around 10 mpg?) is a deplorable waste of natural resources, produces unnecessary pollution and that these needlessly large vehicles "Chelsea tractors" choke roads. In 2005, environmentalist organisation Greenpeace drew attention to the aggressive marketing of Range Rovers here. That was eight years ago; since then, and despite the 2008 economic downturn, there has been an explosion in new Range Rover registrations, and many similar types of vehicles, despite the flagging economy.

      What hope for mankind have you when the example set, especially in these difficult economic times, by those who have to those who aspire, is so lamentable. It is the haves equivalent of one finger and a sneer to the little people struggling to make ends meet. And you wonder why religious fundamentalism has a growing appeal? No wonder to me at all. We in the west have brought it upon ourselves by runaway self interest and taking such delight at displaying that wealth.

      'Old money' has no need to display itself publicly. 'New money' simply doesn't know any better.
      Alan A. Shaw
      Designer, owner
      Harbeth Audio UK

      Comment


      • #4
        A way of life

        Apropos of this discussion:

        http://youtu.be/FkxUY0kxH80?t=1h14m44s

        Roughly 1:15 to 1:21

        Comment


        • #5
          ... paying the piper ...

          Originally posted by anonymous View Post
          Apropos of this discussion:

          http://youtu.be/FkxUY0kxH80?t=1h14m44s

          Roughly 1:15 to 1:21
          Largess and runaway consumption may have a place at a point in the economic cycle. If you look out of your farmstead window and see wheat and beef as far as the eye can see, it would not be remarkable that you became fat on it. But if the weather turns, the wheat doesn't grow and you've eaten the last of the cattle, there will always be someone willing to lend you the money to buy wheat and beef to sustain your old life style. That someone expects to be repaid. Your former, excessive, unrealistic, unreformed consumption habits will be encouraged by your lender because they trap you in a cycle of dependency, and politicians know that trick well. Non-democratic governments and rich individuals will, obviously, be motivated to multiply their wealth by lending money, one of the oldest and easiest businesses, to those who are mindlessly on the path of reckless consumption. We in the west have a lifestyle supported and encouraged by overseas capital and overseas oil and natural resources. We run our homes and cars on oil that is, in effect, on credit.

          An alien cruising past planet earth and scanning for resources, would observe our planet-sized petri dish supporting a socio-economic system totally dependent on minerals, oil and food. A secondary scan would reveal an interesting situation, unlike that of bacteria feeding on agar: the geographical location of resources is far from the main location of consumption. An alien eyebrow or three would raise with the thought that 'those irresponsible earthlings are lining themselves up for never-ending war'. It's a frightening prospect for this tiny planet.

          The core issue is that for a generation, there has been a belief that more consumption, more goodies means more happiness - the audiophiles mantra. This just is not the case, as revealed recently that 'Unicef paints a picture of a country that has got its priorities wrong - trading quality time with our children for "cupboards full of expensive toys that aren't used".' Report here. We are already discussing in the Shaw extended household the dreadful prospect that (at the age of 3?) our granddaughter will have her first tablet or mobile phone. Not on my watch she won't! And the argument that 'all her peers will have' doesn't wash with me. Wherever you look, you see corporations treating humans as merely consumption units. 25% of youngsters clinically obese? That's an outrage. Politicians should be dealing with that because we will all end up paying for it. That one issue alone exposes the real relationship between the food industry and our governments in the west. As I understand it, other religions have a more respectful view of our own bodies rather than that of a mobile garbage bin we self-evidently believe in the west.

          Our western consumption habits will have to change or we must accept geo-political conflict as a routine, and growing, element of daily life. We've wasted the last decade. I wonder when conscription will return?
          Alan A. Shaw
          Designer, owner
          Harbeth Audio UK

          Comment


          • #6
            Audio and consumption habits

            This discussion seems to be really about the state of humanity, and its relationship with the planet and the consumption of 'things'.

            I have mentioned before how my interest in audio, which I will always have, morphed into an interest into the psychology of audiophiles in their relationship with their equipment, and that this is a 'microcosmic index' of people's relationship with possessions and their consumption. It illustrates all of the wrong perceptions about what things can and cannot do for us, the limits to those benefits, and the apparent blindness to 'saturated fulfillment of needs', and how we are encouraged to consume on the basis of 'created' wants.

            Surely everything we consume has an ordination in its significance to our life functioning, and that is especially true of money, which is after all a tool, one with which to purchase other functional supportive auxiliary tools.

            I suggest that many have lost their sense of 'centredness', and become disconnected from their real self, that of deeply held beliefs based on philosophical truths supported by inner feelings, and a sense of personal growth in life, which is surely the most exciting and reinforcing validation of the joy in living.

            To have a 4X4, for reasons of others' approval, or for expressing superiority when next to the Ford Focus whilst on the M23 is surely a sick and neurotic way of validating oneself, and I feel this must ultimately reflect an inner insecurity.

            The more I listen to my system as it progresses, the more I realise that much of the improvement in SQ is from scientifically based progress, in a simple and non ostentatious way, usually showing very little visual appeal. This is so refreshing, as are the comments from those who visit, look at my system but are then very surprised at the SQ because of the equipment's lack of blinginiess. (My equipment rack is made MDF shelves, inserted into four heavy gauge broom handles).

            We are coerced into competitive alienation by lawyers accountants, and advertising men, these thriving on the sales of things which do not address the underlying causes of people's unhappiness, and which may often just compound it or cause it.

            Unhappy with the day's struggles, go home and have some beers and a fag, after eating too much (poor) food that is. Look at the way that surrounding TV progs. on obesaity, are numerous food adverts, often for junk food; so the loop continues.
            Last edited by A.S.; 26-07-2013, 10:06 PM. Reason: Additions and clarification/tidying

            Comment


            • #7
              Rapacious human consumption

              Originally posted by A.S. View Post
              ...An alien cruising past planet earth and scanning for resources, would observe our planet-sized petri dish supporting a socio-economic system totally dependent on minerals, oil and food. A secondary scan would reveal an interesting situation, unlike that of bacteria feeding on agar: the geographical location of resources is far from the main location of consumption. An alien eyebrow or three would raise with the thought that 'those irresponsible earthlings are lining themselves up for never-ending war'. It's a frightening prospect for this tiny planet.

              The core issue is that for a generation, there has been a belief that more consumption, more goodies means more happiness - the audiophiles mantra. This just is not the case, as revealed recently that . . . We are already discussing in the Shaw extended household the dreadful prospect that (at the age of 3?) our granddaughter will have her first tablet or mobile phone. Not on my watch she won't! And the argument that 'all her peers will have' doesn't wash with me. Wherever you look, you see corporations treating humans as merely consumption units. 25% of youngsters clinically obese? That's an outrage. Politicians should be dealing with that because we will all end up paying for it. That one issue alone exposes the real relationship between the food industry and our governments in the west. As I understand it, other religions have a more respectful view of our own bodies rather than that of a mobile garbage bin we self-evidently believe in the west.

              Our western consumption habits will have to change or we must accept geo-political conflict as a routine, and growing, element of daily life. We've wasted the last decade. I wonder when conscription will return?
              I agree wholeheartedly that the perpetuation of the belief that more consumption equates to more happiness is the core issue. There was a study done in the last few years. Researchers interviewed a number of people and found that the happiness of respondents did not increase greatly beyond a certain annual income. I believe it was 75K in US dollars. Now, obviously the amount that one needs to live is somewhat dependent on location, even within one country, and $75k in a major city won’t get you as far as it will in a suburb or rural community. But, I think the point stands that there is a limit to how much income one needs to make to be happy. I would go so far as to say the same could found to be true in virtually any other area of life dependent on economic factors. Food. Square footage of housing. Automobiles. Stereo. Computers. Home electronics.

              And yet people continue to esteem highly those things that have no intrinsic value and don’t add to their happiness one jot…merely because clever marketing tells them these things are valuable and worthy of desire. It’s a sad state of affairs. I can’t speak for the UK, but here in the US it’s a bit strange when you walk into a big box retail store and realize that a large percentage of the items being sold are essentially disposable items that provide limited use and satisfaction. And, yes, the goods are largely made with oil, while the stores are powered using oil.

              Crops are subsidized and allowed to go to waste, and resources that could be used to grow actual food are used to make the base ingredients for junk foods. I visited two forests recently, filled with some of the oldest trees on earth. It was amazingly sad to find that these forests had been reduced to 5% of their original size in the last 100 years alone.

              Humans are rapacious animals.

              During our last election cycle, I spent some time looking over the historical, current, and projected budgets for the federal government and its numerous departments. It was an eye-opener. If I recall correctly, they were all inflation-adjusted figures, and across the board, the increasing expenditures over the decades were significant, outstripping revenues by a large margin in virtually all departments.

              I’m afraid that any aliens passing by could only see us as mentally ill.

              I do hope you can keep your granddaughter away from anything that could be used for computer games. I’m sure that there are educational programs for these devices, created by people with the best of intentions, but I still can’t help but think it’s better for a child to avoid until absolutely necessary. It’s funny. Computers are wonderful devices, but like so many other forms of technology, they are easily misused. Ostensibly, technology is supposed to help us be more efficient in our labors, so we can spend more free time with loved ones or doing things we love. When it ends up becoming yet another engine of the production of the unnecessary, you can be sure that human lives are not being improved in any real way.

              Comment


              • #8
                Range Rover drivers

                Originally posted by A.S. View Post
                You do of course mean 'why can't we see the good in each other'.

                For me, quite an interesting barometer of blinkered self-interest is the rising sales of gas guzzling 4x4 vehicles epitomised by the Range Rover... In 2005, environmentalist organisation Greenpeace drew attention to the aggressive marketing of Range Rovers here. That was eight years ago; since then, and despite the 2008 economic downturn, there has been an explosion in new Range Rover registrations, and many similar types of vehicles...
                Did you happen to notice what William was driving when he collected his wife and new baby from hospital?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Designed for one application - used for another

                  Originally posted by weaver View Post
                  Did you happen to notice what William was driving when he collected his wife and new baby from hospital?
                  I did. Considering the necessary security, I wholly concur with the choice. That's an entirely different situation to pottering around small towns and villages with one occupant shopping for milk and bread.

                  Considering the solid construction of the brute, I doubt that armor plating adds additional strain to the guzzler's voracious appetite. In that role - indeed in the original design role as a farm vehicle, it is the perfect marriage of design and practical application. But in and around our towns when it has never seen a molecule of turf or mud? Original marketing concept here.
                  Alan A. Shaw
                  Designer, owner
                  Harbeth Audio UK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    The worm of decay

                    Originally posted by Pharos View Post
                    This discussion seems to be really about the state of humanity, and its relationship with the planet and and the consumption of 'things'.
                    As the lifespan of Harbeth speakers is often quoted as ' at least 25 years ', and thinking of Mankind's rapacious consumption of things, I often speculate what has happened to those lesser speakers. Rotting chipboard in landfill sites with rusting chassis inside them in a lot of cases, I suspect. The better ones still being used and loved ? I hope so. I owned a pair of Spendor BC1s for over 30 years. They now have a very happy owner in Thailand. I hope my two pairs of Harbeths will be looked after by my sons when I pass on... Martyn Miles.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      We exist to consume

                      Originally posted by anonymous View Post
                      ...the perpetuation of the belief that more consumption equates to more happiness is the core issue. There was a study done in the last few years. Researchers interviewed a number of people and found that the happiness of respondents did not increase greatly beyond a certain annual income . . . And yet people continue to esteem highly those things that have no intrinsic value and don’t add to their happiness one jot…merely because clever marketing tells them these things are valuable and worthy of desire. It’s a sad state of affairs . . . I do hope you can keep your granddaughter away from anything that could be used for computer games. I’m sure that there are educational programs for these devices, created by people with the best of intentions, but I still can’t help but think it’s better for a child to avoid until absolutely necessary. It’s funny. Computers are wonderful devices, but like so many other forms of technology, they are easily misused. Ostensibly, technology is supposed to help us be more efficient in our labors, so we can spend more free time with loved ones or doing things we love. When it ends up becoming yet another engine of the production of the unnecessary, you can be sure that human lives are not being improved in any real way.
                      Whilst I have my own issues with gas guzzling antisocial vehicles our economic model mandates that we should all be cruising around in expensive SUVs spending out freely on nourishing and adorning them, and regularly trading them in for the next, greatest upgrade. Logically, any consumer who does not buy into the consumption cycle is at least partially economically inactive - a pensioner, a "leech" - for which there really is no place in our economic system. That must be the conclusion. And so much the better if the cycle is funded by credit as that keeps even more plates spinning. This western consumption mania simply is not sustainable.

                      That reminds me: when I was about 17 (mid 1970s) I had a desire to turn my interest in biology at school into a career. I was actually rather good at biology (dissection was a favourite - I had my own preserved rat and dogfish which, over the months, I carefully dissected and drew). The environmental movement was just making itself heard (Ralph Nadar?) and I recall telling my father that I wanted to be some sort of 'environmentalist', a wholly new term. It was then impossible to conceive how one could make a living pointing an angry finger at others. Look how far we have come in under forty years.

                      The sad facts are that we are brought into this world innocent but as soon as we can observe moving images we are moulded into consumers. And the technology we buy? Maybe created in the west (at this phase of our cycle) but manufactured far away in countries with national objectives, muscle power and growing populations that we should be concerned about. Are we? Are we hell.

                      Spent a very enjoyable afternoon at a watermill today and bought a bag of freshly milled wholemeal flower for my breadmaker. I have some pictures of the mill and of the chair maker in his little woodworking workshop surrounded by bundles of the most wonderful varieties (and smells) of timber from the local woodlands. A day communing with nature here and we feel so much the better for it. Total outgoings today? About 10, mainly on tea, coffee and sandwiches. But as consumers, today we failed. We didn't spend much. We didn't use credit cards. We were out in the countryside not in a shopping mall. We made almost no economic contribution to the country. Our economic inactivity let our countrymen down.

                      The economic reality of the ordinary household in the USA and UK. Has there ever been a worse time to advertise ones wealth?

                      >
                      Attached Files
                      Alan A. Shaw
                      Designer, owner
                      Harbeth Audio UK

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Parasitic business?

                        I do hope Alan that you are not seriously implying that pensioners are 'leeches*', but that you were mocking their relative economic inactivity!

                        There are many positions in our economic model which I consider to be those of exploitative leeches, ranging from an immediate neighbour who at 54 has never had a job despite very good parental support and opportunities in childhood.

                        There are also those in the centre of economic activity earning a great deal who are parasitic; many businesses exist on the basis of arranging a cash flow, and hiring expertise to provide a service, this made possible because of the lowered income of those experts.

                        I am personally offended by business/investment 'angels' who, because of their positions and contacts in business, are able to offer a new PhD student (who has developed a water purifier with which to help those in countries where there is a shortage of clean water, and devoted years of devotion and graft in so doing), but expect to take 40 to 50% of the profit just for facilitating production.

                        {AS comment: most definitely not!}

                        There are forms of real leeching throughout society, and anyone who has had to deal with the Pension Service will know just how inefficient it is, this resulting from a lack of commitment by staff. In trying to get them to deal with an issue I rang them 43 times over several months, but it was only finally when I asked to speak to someone in authority that I was able to get a reasonable response, she saying "I have listened to the first 16 of your calls, and it seems that our staff need some training".

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Marketing and SUVs

                          Irrespective of the reasons for the choice of vehicle (and indeed the police and armed forces in the UK have used Land Rovers / Range Rovers for many, many years) I'm sure that if you were sat in the marketing department at Range Rover you would not be unhappy with the images being seen around the world!

                          Leaving that aside for now, Cotehele is indeed a lovely place and along with Heligan and the Eden project is a destination that persuades us to leave Devon and head west from time to time.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            As we all march towards the exit door via retirement we will inevitably pass through a phase of relative economic inactivity where our needs are simple; not much different from when we arrived on this planet.

                            The point to make is that resources here on earth are finite, until alchemy is possible, which it may well be with enough understanding of nuclear physics. Until that point (and god help us all if the patents/processes/techniques/tricks are not discovered by western companies/countries) we have to make do with what we have. Waste, needless consumption, unnecessarily short replacement cycles, excessive cost for negligible tangible benefits and so on are wrong on multiple levels.

                            What appealed to me about the 'BBC monitor concept' - when I initially encountered it first hand some forty years ago, and still does - is the extreme simplicity and minimal use of resources to create a box that produces good quality sound and continues to do so for a generation or more. The use or resources and the longevity are linked: there is not much in the product and hence not much to deteriorate, relatively speaking. And what there is, is the best-of breed, chosen not for some BS marketing tale but for functionality. Our 'marketing' doesn't add psychological value by spinning-up the existing marketing of sub elements in the Harbeth speakers. If anything, we down-play the contribution of capacitors, cables, tweeters and connectors, not absorb their individual marketing stories into ours.

                            The waste of energy in the audio game is legendary. Completely useless gadgets that have consumed natural resources, look attractive yet provide no sonic benefits at all. Non-science epitomised by the cable business (I wonder if a single NASA engineer would buy-into the cable tale?) and worst of all, the perception hawked by the media that there is a potential for massive improvements in sound quality with current technology and that it's available in sexy packages with big price tickets this month, and another big step forward next month, and the month after .... forever. Nonsense. Technological progress occurs in inconveniently irregular jerks, not in a linear way just in time for publication dates.

                            As anonymous said, any industry exhibiting such a nasty cocktail of resource irresponsibility, marketing illusion and slavish following must be tapping into "mental illness". If that is so, one thing is certain: the purchase of more hardware cannot solve the compulsive behaviour that keeps the audiophile cash registers tinkling. Music might, but hardware can't. Physical exercise certainly can. I wonder, as a demographic class, if the audiophile is particularly vulnerable to consumption mania because, as a class, he is physically static in doors and wholly under-exercised?
                            Alan A. Shaw
                            Designer, owner
                            Harbeth Audio UK

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Audio myths & the perceptual system - a 'blind' test is mandatory

                              Some interesing thoughts and facts to perception and more: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BYTlN6wjcvQ

                              {Moderator's comment: This interesting contribution also relates to a report in today's paper about audio memory: this is extremely profound}
                              ////////////

                              Best, Alex

                              Comment

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