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Stop worrying about amps says Alan Shaw from Harbeth

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Nothing but an ego rant with a dash of advertising.

Buy hifi because you like how it sounds and who gives a flying toss about measurements. The only measuring tools you should be using are your ears.

All this self indulgent twaddle is saying is buy any amp you want but buy harbeth speakers.

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Guest MJ.
'forum' - "a meeting or medium where ideas and views on a particular issue can be exchanged"

am I missing something?[/QUOT

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You won't believe me - few take any notice of what I say here - but in the great scheme of things, in a world of great instability and anxiety, you just don't need to fret about this amp or that amp. You cannot - I repeat this - you, the layman, cannot begin to draw any objective, repeatable, valid opinions that are worth passing into folklore (and therefore moulding another person's behaviour) unless you devise a proper controlled comparison using an instantaneous A-B switchover. That is a fact. It cannot be refuted. If you were blindfolded and I walked into your listening room and very slightly adjusted the volume control I could reverse your opinions about amplifier X or Y. You must control the listening level between amps under test - or the comparison is in all honesty, meaningless. And that implies that you need specialist audio measuring equipment.

Alan A. Shaw

Designer, owner

Harbeth Audio UK

Engineering is probably the right sort pursuit for folks who find human interaction so baffling. :)

Picking up on nuance happens not in a right/wrong dimension.

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A very interesting read - especially reading it after I had spent an evening doing A-B comparisons between 4 different amplifiers and reached the conclusion that there wasn't much more than the proverbial sheet of Bronco between any of them in terms of sound quality.

I plan to take his advice - enjoy the amp(s) I have and stop worrying about what I might be missing.

The lineup for what it's worth was

Audiolab 8000a

Audio innovations Alto (the original version - no remote control)

Audio Innovations Alto (the version with remote control)

A big ugly Denon with so-called "optical class A"

Testing was done using a QED amplifier switch and two synchronised SBTs. Before auditioning I used a pink noise track and a DB meter app on my phone to set the pair of amps to the same output level. Not exactly lab conditions, but the best I could manage - obviously would have been better to have a 3rd party there to do the switching, but that wasn't possible on this occasion.

Erm....you may have missed the point...it's not about the amps, anything British...from the 80's on, that's been serviced will be good. What matters is - were you listening to Harbeths?

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I thought only footballers and rock stars talked about themselves in the third person!

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A thought provoking read:

I'd just like to add my postscript to this. I'd like to be blunt; this is how I perceive the situation to be. We here at HUG are the 'source' Harbeth forum, run by us here at the UK factory and that includes me, the designer. The are many other Harbeth forums around the world in various languages but what makes this Harbeth User Group a little different is that it's the 'official voice of Harbeth' because it's the only one I contribute to. So what is written here permeates out as the official Harbeth position. And regarding amplifiers, a visitor could easily draw the wrong conclusions from the churn here about this or that amplifier.

Now, as a speaker design and manufacturing company, and we know all too well that all electro-mechanical transducers (microphones, pick-up cartridges and loudspeakers) are bedevilled with countless measurable problems. It's not far off the truth to say that it is a small miracle that what comes out bears any resemblance to what goes in. That's how bad transducers are. But amplifiers - in most engineer's minds - reached a point of virtual perfection a generation ago, unlike speakers which reached the point of barely-acceptable and became stuck at that point decades ago. People buy Harbeth speakers because they are subjectively better for what they are designed to do (reproduce natural music, naturally at a reasonable loudness) because we've squeezed every molecule of performance from what is, after about a hundred years, a mature technology.

Amplifiers seem to attract a neurosis all of their own, which I find deeply disturbing. It just doesn't seem to matter what I or others caution about the dangers (or even impossibility) of making casual A-B comparisons between amplifiers without calibrated measuring equipment, time and a strategy. Despite all rational logic, a significant number of hifi consumers* persists in attributing characteristics to certain amplifiers and then communicating those opinions to others. Hence an amplifier passes into folklore. And following that, an aspiration gap opens where another group of consumers work themselves up into a terrible state fearing that their amplifier, hitherto working very nicely, is now inadequate. It made beautiful music yesterday but today it's fit for the scrap heap. Madness? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Morally reprehensible? Yes - a waste of precious natural resources and wrong to create anxiety in others. Especially when it is not truly objective.

You won't believe me - few take any notice of what I say here - but in the great scheme of things, in a world of great instability and anxiety, you just don't need to fret about this amp or that amp. You cannot - I repeat this - you, the layman, cannot begin to draw any objective, repeatable, valid opinions that are worth passing into folklore (and therefore moulding another person's behaviour) unless you devise a proper controlled comparison using an instantaneous A-B switchover. That is a fact. It cannot be refuted. If you were blindfolded and I walked into your listening room and very slightly adjusted the volume control I could reverse your opinions about amplifier X or Y. You must control the listening level between amps under test - or the comparison is in all honesty, meaningless. And that implies that you need specialist audio measuring equipment.

As I've said ad nauseam, I work damned hard at the design stage to guarantee - yes guarantee - that my speakers will work well with any hifi amplifier that is operating within and to the original specification. I am not saying that amplifiers 'all sound the same' - quite the opposite. I'm saying that you can expect amplifiers to sound different under loose, uncontrolled 'comparisons' because they all have different gains. And different gains mean different loudness. And different loudness means different subjective characteristics. And they do have. But that is not necessarily to do with the amplifier (although it could be) - it is hugely the consequence of the way humans evaluate by listening and how loudness skews opinion.

May I urge you to be mindful of how comments posted here, on the official Harbeth forum, have an unintended influence on others who are at this moment enjoying great music and who do not have the money or interest to chase the end of a rainbow. Many users have saved for years to buy a pair of Harbeth speakers. I've met them. They're not middle class professional people with money to burn - they're ordinary working people who chose to invest their hard-won savings in Harbeth speakers. And they're very contented music lovers. But I do find it objectionable that having climbed that financial mountain, another one is placed in front of them on the never-ending audio nervosa path. For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And I design the speakers!

Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with Harbeth. Anything British, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story.

The Basics of Owning Harbeth are, as always, just a click away - here.

* Do real music lovers care? I very much doubt it.

Alan A. Shaw

Designer, owner

Harbeth Audio UK

Please elaborate.

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A thought provoking read:

I'd just like to add my postscript to this. I'd like to be blunt; this is how I perceive the situation to be. We here at HUG are the 'source' Harbeth forum, run by us here at the UK factory and that includes me, the designer. The are many other Harbeth forums around the world in various languages but what makes this Harbeth User Group a little different is that it's the 'official voice of Harbeth' because it's the only one I contribute to. So what is written here permeates out as the official Harbeth position. And regarding amplifiers, a visitor could easily draw the wrong conclusions from the churn here about this or that amplifier.

Now, as a speaker design and manufacturing company, and we know all too well that all electro-mechanical transducers (microphones, pick-up cartridges and loudspeakers) are bedevilled with countless measurable problems. It's not far off the truth to say that it is a small miracle that what comes out bears any resemblance to what goes in. That's how bad transducers are. But amplifiers - in most engineer's minds - reached a point of virtual perfection a generation ago, unlike speakers which reached the point of barely-acceptable and became stuck at that point decades ago. People buy Harbeth speakers because they are subjectively better for what they are designed to do (reproduce natural music, naturally at a reasonable loudness) because we've squeezed every molecule of performance from what is, after about a hundred years, a mature technology.

Amplifiers seem to attract a neurosis all of their own, which I find deeply disturbing. It just doesn't seem to matter what I or others caution about the dangers (or even impossibility) of making casual A-B comparisons between amplifiers without calibrated measuring equipment, time and a strategy. Despite all rational logic, a significant number of hifi consumers* persists in attributing characteristics to certain amplifiers and then communicating those opinions to others. Hence an amplifier passes into folklore. And following that, an aspiration gap opens where another group of consumers work themselves up into a terrible state fearing that their amplifier, hitherto working very nicely, is now inadequate. It made beautiful music yesterday but today it's fit for the scrap heap. Madness? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Morally reprehensible? Yes - a waste of precious natural resources and wrong to create anxiety in others. Especially when it is not truly objective.

You won't believe me - few take any notice of what I say here - but in the great scheme of things, in a world of great instability and anxiety, you just don't need to fret about this amp or that amp. You cannot - I repeat this - you, the layman, cannot begin to draw any objective, repeatable, valid opinions that are worth passing into folklore (and therefore moulding another person's behaviour) unless you devise a proper controlled comparison using an instantaneous A-B switchover. That is a fact. It cannot be refuted. If you were blindfolded and I walked into your listening room and very slightly adjusted the volume control I could reverse your opinions about amplifier X or Y. You must control the listening level between amps under test - or the comparison is in all honesty, meaningless. And that implies that you need specialist audio measuring equipment.

As I've said ad nauseam, I work damned hard at the design stage to guarantee - yes guarantee - that my speakers will work well with any hifi amplifier that is operating within and to the original specification. I am not saying that amplifiers 'all sound the same' - quite the opposite. I'm saying that you can expect amplifiers to sound different under loose, uncontrolled 'comparisons' because they all have different gains. And different gains mean different loudness. And different loudness means different subjective characteristics. And they do have. But that is not necessarily to do with the amplifier (although it could be) - it is hugely the consequence of the way humans evaluate by listening and how loudness skews opinion.

May I urge you to be mindful of how comments posted here, on the official Harbeth forum, have an unintended influence on others who are at this moment enjoying great music and who do not have the money or interest to chase the end of a rainbow. Many users have saved for years to buy a pair of Harbeth speakers. I've met them. They're not middle class professional people with money to burn - they're ordinary working people who chose to invest their hard-won savings in Harbeth speakers. And they're very contented music lovers. But I do find it objectionable that having climbed that financial mountain, another one is placed in front of them on the never-ending audio nervosa path. For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And I design the speakers!

Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with Harbeth. Anything British, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story.

The Basics of Owning Harbeth are, as always, just a click away - here.

* Do real music lovers care? I very much doubt it.

Alan A. Shaw

Designer, owner

Harbeth Audio UK

You need to change your profile you are in the hifi industry

- - - Updated - - -

Please elaborate.

I've got this Mark

- - - Updated - - -

AS is completely right, and yet few want to listen to him, and would rather persist with the audiophile crap that is so much HiFi.

S

That's not the issue here Serge

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a thought provoking read:

I'd just like to add my postscript to this. I'd like to be blunt; this is how i perceive the situation to be. We here at hug are the 'source' harbeth forum, run by us here at the uk factory and that includes me, the designer. The are many other harbeth forums around the world in various languages but what makes this harbeth user group a little different is that it's the 'official voice of harbeth' because it's the only one i contribute to. So what is written here permeates out as the official harbeth position. And regarding amplifiers, a visitor could easily draw the wrong conclusions from the churn here about this or that amplifier.

Now, as a speaker design and manufacturing company, and we know all too well that all electro-mechanical transducers (microphones, pick-up cartridges and loudspeakers) are bedevilled with countless measurable problems. It's not far off the truth to say that it is a small miracle that what comes out bears any resemblance to what goes in. That's how bad transducers are. But amplifiers - in most engineer's minds - reached a point of virtual perfection a generation ago, unlike speakers which reached the point of barely-acceptable and became stuck at that point decades ago. People buy harbeth speakers because they are subjectively better for what they are designed to do (reproduce natural music, naturally at a reasonable loudness) because we've squeezed every molecule of performance from what is, after about a hundred years, a mature technology.

Amplifiers seem to attract a neurosis all of their own, which i find deeply disturbing. It just doesn't seem to matter what i or others caution about the dangers (or even impossibility) of making casual a-b comparisons between amplifiers without calibrated measuring equipment, time and a strategy. Despite all rational logic, a significant number of hifi consumers* persists in attributing characteristics to certain amplifiers and then communicating those opinions to others. Hence an amplifier passes into folklore. And following that, an aspiration gap opens where another group of consumers work themselves up into a terrible state fearing that their amplifier, hitherto working very nicely, is now inadequate. It made beautiful music yesterday but today it's fit for the scrap heap. Madness? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Morally reprehensible? Yes - a waste of precious natural resources and wrong to create anxiety in others. Especially when it is not truly objective.

You won't believe me - few take any notice of what i say here - but in the great scheme of things, in a world of great instability and anxiety, you just don't need to fret about this amp or that amp. You cannot - i repeat this - you, the layman, cannot begin to draw any objective, repeatable, valid opinions that are worth passing into folklore (and therefore moulding another person's behaviour) unless you devise a proper controlled comparison using an instantaneous a-b switchover. That is a fact. It cannot be refuted. If you were blindfolded and i walked into your listening room and very slightly adjusted the volume control i could reverse your opinions about amplifier x or y. You must control the listening level between amps under test - or the comparison is in all honesty, meaningless. And that implies that you need specialist audio measuring equipment.

As i've said ad nauseam, i work damned hard at the design stage to guarantee - yes guarantee - that my speakers will work well with any hifi amplifier that is operating within and to the original specification. I am not saying that amplifiers 'all sound the same' - quite the opposite. I'm saying that you can expect amplifiers to sound different under loose, uncontrolled 'comparisons' because they all have different gains. And different gains mean different loudness. And different loudness means different subjective characteristics. And they do have. But that is not necessarily to do with the amplifier (although it could be) - it is hugely the consequence of the way humans evaluate by listening and how loudness skews opinion.

May i urge you to be mindful of how comments posted here, on the official harbeth forum, have an unintended influence on others who are at this moment enjoying great music and who do not have the money or interest to chase the end of a rainbow. Many users have saved for years to buy a pair of harbeth speakers. I've met them. They're not middle class professional people with money to burn - they're ordinary working people who chose to invest their hard-won savings in harbeth speakers. And they're very contented music lovers. But i do find it objectionable that having climbed that financial mountain, another one is placed in front of them on the never-ending audio nervosa path. For crying out loud, let's enjoy whatever amplifier we have to hand and count our blessings that we're safe and healthy. I really don't want to read any more amplifier folklore here. I truly believe it just confuses users and would-be customers. It certainly confuses me. And i design the speakers!

Relax - fear not. Whatever amp you've got will work just great with harbeth. Anything british, made after about 1980, fully serviced will be great. End of story.

The basics of owning harbeth are, as always, just a click away - here.

* do real music lovers care? I very much doubt it.

Alan a. Shaw

designer, owner

harbeth audio uk

tl;dr

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Super Wammer
Please elaborate.

Interesting to note that your first post in around three weeks is one of sarcasm. A trait it seems.

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Interesting to note that your first post in around three weeks is one of sarcasm. A trait it seems.

I have intervened lets not escalate things please

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Super Wammer
I have intervened lets not escalate things please

My apologies :^

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