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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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The death of the specialist high street audio dealer?

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  • Attached to the past?

    Originally posted by pkwba View Post
    I'll report factual differences if there are any in the range of dynamics, but it will not happen very soon ...
    Don't trouble yourself to do this, unless it is of interest to you/Jeff. I for one am sold on the value of streaming services, used in combination with a local NAS that contains both lossless CD rips as well as 256 kbps iTunes purchases. I even run mixed source playlists without at times knowing what source is playing.

    There is another factor at play here, I must point out: I no longer search for reasons why I ought to not use streaming or lose any sleep over possible quality compromises by using 256 kbps AAC files; I have too much listening enjoyment now available on tap to ever go back to the inconveniences of legacy kit.

    On the other hand those that are still attached to legacy kit may well search for reasons why streaming quality is not good enough, critically comparing things to locate even tiny differences in an artificially quietened room. Differences that they would never have picked up if they were listening to the music in normal conditions without bending all their attention to this fault finding task. The key thing now for me is the music should play without drop outs/stuttering, and the system is at that stability and up time level for over a year now.

    And the stories I read here and elsewhere about how the best of musicians are quite happy with what may be mediocre kit by "HiFi" standards don't make me yearn to go back to fiddly turntables and the clutter of CD racks either. I just consider myself lucky to live at a time when so much magical tech is so easily and cheaply available. Why look for reasons why it cannot be used?!

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    • On the same side of barricade.

      Originally posted by Kumar Kane View Post
      Don't trouble yourself to do this, unless it is of interest to you/Jeff. I for one am sold on the value of streaming services, used in combination with a local NAS that contains both lossless CD rips as well as 256 kbps iTunes purchases. I even run mixed source playlists without at times knowing what source is playing.

      There is another factor at play here, I must point out: I no longer search for reasons why I ought to not use streaming or lose any sleep over possible quality compromises by using 256 kbps AAC files; I have too much listening enjoyment now available on tap to ever go back to the inconveniences of legacy kit.

      On the other hand those that are still attached to legacy kit may well search for reasons why streaming quality is not good enough, critically comparing things to locate even tiny differences in an artificially quietened room. Differences that they would never have picked up if they were listening to the music in normal conditions without bending all their attention to this fault finding task. The key thing now for me is the music should play without drop outs/stuttering, and the system is at that stability and up time level for over a year now.

      And the stories I read here and elsewhere about how the best of musicians are quite happy with what may be mediocre kit by "HiFi" standards doesn't make me yearn to go back to fiddly turntables and the clutter of CD racks either. I just consider myself lucky to live at a time when so much magical tech is so easily and cheaply available. Why look for reasons why it cannot be used?!
      Don't take me wrong. I am not against new techniques of delivering music our homes. But when you invest some reasonable sum of money in technically advanced and up-to date streaming station it would be wise to know why some part of delivered music is not on par with what was declared (or maybe expected from my side only?).

      Definitely I enjoy this new device and opportunities it gives enormously as well as Spotify and downloads via computer. My curiosity about quality the streaming can bring even now is in no contradiction to your views. Nevertheless I will be also picking up physical disks with music yet for some next years. Even LPs if I find any rarity that is in my spotlight . Music matters.

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      • Some further questions about streaming quality and reality of vinyl resurrection ....

        Originally posted by Nessuno View Post
        As a matter of fact, now I can think of at least two reasons to justify real differences in audio data between CD vs downloaded files vs "streamed" that can cause what you experienced, even from theoretically identical master sources:

        1) CD with pre-emphasis curve applied https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emphas...Red_Book_Audio (maybe older pressing). In case of ripping, the resulting file must be passed through a de-empasis filter on playing or the difference from the CD will be easily audible.

        2) The most insidious one: Watermarks https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_watermark which sometimes recording labels embed in the files they sell and which could cause audible artifacts: http://www.mattmontag.com/music/univ...ible-watermark

        My two cents: specialized press, audio manufacturers and all the musical market driving forces should educate customers and push labels to stop gambling with data, instead of quibbling about vinyl resurrection and the like...
        Thanks again for explanations and links. Excuse me if I impose myself on you draining your professional knowledge but in theory is it possible the flac files of the same "depth" can vary in quality depending on the program used for their conversion from wave ones? I made a try with GoldWave and everything is OK.

        ATB

        P.S. Last Saturday we were shopping with my wife in big local center so I went to their audio department. Entry-level turntables from world renowned Far East audio companies attracted my interest the most. Honestly, after some palpative obductions I can swear that monophonic suitcase type "Bambino" gramophone from my early youth was a super rigid superstructure compared to those plastic shoddy devices. The most rigid element of them must be surely 180 plus gram longplay put on their platter. The quality bamboo sticks from true Chinese restaurant would be better tonearms. And all that for one third to half price of modern copy / replica of cult DD super quiet and panzer rigid Technics. Forsooth those marketers have no mercy upon teenagers trying to join "vinyl resurrection" ....

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        • Negligible investment

          [QUOTE=pkwba;39797]But when you invest some reasonable sum of money in technically advanced and up-to date streaming station it would be wise to know why some part of delivered music is not on par with what was declared (or maybe expected from my side only?).
          /QUOTE]
          Yes, but consider that all it takes to start from a zero base is USD 200, if a stable home WiFi network is in place. That will get you a box that contains all necessary hardware and software that is close to state of the art, to have music of surprisingly good quality playing from streamed services. That's if you choose the Sonos route, and I am sure there are cheaper options.Throw in another USD 100 and you can get a NAS box that can hold music from maybe a couple of thousand CDs, giving you music from both sources, wirelessly streamed.

          I don't see that as a big gamble. That money will buy just half a dozen or so LPs now? Or maybe 30 CDs?

          Comment


          • Sonos - splendid system.

            [QUOTE=Kumar Kane;39806]
            Originally posted by pkwba View Post
            But when you invest some reasonable sum of money in technically advanced and up-to date streaming station it would be wise to know why some part of delivered music is not on par with what was declared (or maybe expected from my side only?).
            /QUOTE]
            Yes, but consider that all it takes to start from a zero base is USD 200, if a stable home WiFi network is in place. That will get you a box that contains all necessary hardware and software that is close to state of the art, to have music of surprisingly good quality playing from streamed services. That's if you choose the Sonos route, and I am sure there are cheaper options.Throw in another USD 100 and you can get a NAS box that can hold music from maybe a couple of thousand CDs, giving you music from both sources, wirelessly streamed.

            I don't see that as a big gamble. That money will buy just half a dozen or so LPs now? Or maybe 30 CDs?
            I am considering buying such a system with NAS as a present to our daughter. She loves unproblematic listening to the music. Matched with very good amp and excellent monitors in her possesion will give her a lot of satisfaction .

            ATB

            Comment


            • Lossless codecs are lossless

              Originally posted by pkwba View Post
              Thanks again for explanations and links. Excuse me if I impose myself on you draining your professional knowledge
              You are welcome!

              but in theory is it possible the flac files of the same "depth" can vary in quality depending on the program used for their conversion from wave ones? I made a try with GoldWave and everything is OK.
              The only possibility for this to happen is that the specific implementation of the coder or the decoder is broken!

              Being a lossless algorithms, for any flac implementation is mandatory that the decoded output data are byte per byte identical to the ones contained in the source file. In order for the decoder to check against data corruption (or decoding errors during test phases), every flac file carries between its metadata a checksum of the unencoded source data.

              If for "depth" you mean bitdepth, then although one of the "tricks" flac uses to reduce file size is to shrink the number of bits needed for each sample when possible (in fact highly dynamical tracks compress the less), the original format of the source is always restored by "inflating" every sample on output to the original depth.

              The same is not true for lossy codecs like mp3, vorbis etc... where source samples are converted internally to floating point and then the bitdepth of the output is mainly implementation dependent.

              Comment


              • Digital perfection

                In fact, even a 35 euro Chromecast Audio is audibly perfect, I think: http://archimago.blogspot.nl/2016_02_01_archive.html Plug it into an existing high quality amplifier, and you are done for streaming Qobuz, Spotify, TuneIn internet radio and the like. Add a NAS approached via BubbleUPnP and you can access all your ripped cd's and downloads, up to 24/96. Technically I do not think there is an argument.

                Comment


                • EAsy Sonos

                  While I agree that Chromecast is a great deal, after trying it side by side with Sonos, I find the latter to be more easy to use. As a simple example, to start music playing or stopping it with Chromecast, one must use the handheld device, after finding out where it is and waking it up. Every time. With Sonos, there are start/stop buttons on the hardware; once a music source or playlist is selected, start/stop is a button press on the Sonos device, no need for the handheld. Likewise for changing the volume.

                  Sonos costs a lot more to add to a hifi amp, but in my view the convenience available by features such as these over many years of use are value for the money. Sonos pricing is actually such that it makes a lot more financial sense to buy their all inclusive units that include wireless+amp+speakers in one box, instead of a Sonos front end unit that can be wired to a 2 channel amplifier.

                  Comment


                  • Easy Chromecast

                    Well, for me the smartphone is always in my pocket, and I find that very convenient. But I admit a button on a piece of hardware has a special kind of simplicity. For my purpose the Sonos speakers were a non option (not good enough), and the Sonos amplifier too anaemic.

                    Also, we already had a lot of legacy gear - there is a lot of path dependency in audio, unless you want to waste money. The Chromecast was a very economical upgrade to our existing systems.

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