"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 may be for you. Either way, welcome to the world of Harbeth!"

Feb. 2018
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Digital downloads and CD sales DOWN, vinyl UP

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  • Digital downloads and CD sales DOWN, vinyl UP

    Neilsen's mid year music industry report reveals some interesting stats:

    Digital album sales down 11.6%
    CD sales down 19.6%
    Streaming up 42%
    Vinyl LP sales up 40.4%

    They don't break down lossless digital downloads vs lossy (i.e, iTunes et al), but I hope that the seemingly dramatic popularity of streaming doesn't cause the industry to focus on it to the exclusion of lossless downloads. It can already be difficult to obtain lossless copies of music that you want. Often, the only choice is to purchase the CD online, rip it to some lossless format, then give it it away, sell it, or toss it into your digital rubbish pile. I fear that the easy availability and instant gratification of sound that is "good enough" in the form of lossy downloads and streaming, combined with the fact that few people today actually own high fidelity sound systems, will further drive the popularity of lossy, compressed audio.

    Vinyl sales are no surprise as they have been growing for years, but of course the actual numbers are extremely small.

  • #2
    Sales data

    For balance and to save people delving into the report, I think it beneficial to see a fuller picture, rather than 'selected' statistics - certainly for me anyway? These figures are for the US only.

    TOTAL ALBUM SALES (in Millions) 2014 Mid-Year in US

    CD Album Sales = 62.9
    Digital Album Sales = 53.8
    LP/Vinyl Album Sales = 4.0

    Overall music consumption (sales & streaming) down by 3.3% from 2013