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anybody want some free speakers?

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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Here is a challenge then.

If, in a controlled experiment with all variables accounted for (incl. differences in frequency reponse and within the power range appropriate to the amps) under instantaneous A-B relay switchover, driving any Harbeth speakers, if you can positively identify an amplifier by sound alone, I will give you, FOC, a pair of brand new Harbeth speakers, up to and including a pair of M40.1 in any veneer you fancy.

I am quite confident that under controlled conditions, these fabled amplifier differences disappear and that I will never be parting with my money!

However, I don't have the time to play around. You have to conceive of the test, design the switch over system and bring it to us here and we'll cooperate fully. There are plenty of examples of carefully constructed tests over the past 30+ years to draw on that meet my critera, and every one of them comes to the same conclusion. As far as this 'amp matching to Harbeth speakers' issue goes, it is a non-issue. As dead as the dodo. I cannot comment on the amp matching for other speaker brands. We take care to make our speaker an easy load: other speaker designers may be less consumer-focused.

NO CORRESPONDENCE PLEASE - CALL ME WHEN YOU HAVE THE WHOLE PLAN EXECUTED!

Amplifiers should be selected not for "sound quality" (whatever that is) but for facilities, design integrity, durability, after care and likelyhood of being able to source service parts in 5 or 10 years. Also, if you're really serious, a quick peek at the financial standing of the brand might tell you if they are likely to have the financial resources to weather the economic downturn of the next few years which is effecting the whole consumer electronics sector. Some of the most likely surviving (UK) brands rarely advertise, rarely exhibit, have relatively old-fashioned designs, use standard parts, have been around for a generation and are rock solid businesses. They deserve to be respected and supported because they will be there to look after you in 10+ years.

There are some very difficult times ahead for the consumer industry: now is a time to be cautious.Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK

 

paradiziac

New member
Jan 8, 2011
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Craig M. said:
There are some very difficult times ahead for the consumer industry: now is a time to be cautious for low-cost sensationalist guerrilla marketing campaigns.
Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK
:rofl:
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,233
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19,195
John Duncan said:
Craig M. said:
incl. differences in frequency reponse
So using EQ to make them sound the same?
I recall Alan Shaw is an advocate of tone controls and - as his challenge obviously tells us - not a great fan of exotic 'Audiophile' amps.

I would guess that something like the the Quad Elite Integrated amp (£899) would be about right. (Assuming it has retained Quad's 'tilt' and bass lift tone controls in some fashion.)

Or an Audiolab 8000a (the original with tone controls).
 

Craig M.

New member
Mar 20, 2008
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paradiziac said:
Craig M. said:
There are some very difficult times ahead for the consumer industry: now is a time to be cautious for low-cost sensationalist guerrilla marketing campaigns.
Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK
:rofl:
maybe when you've stopped rolling about laughing you'd like to bag yourself some speakers then? or are you worried you wouldn't be able to tell them apart? i mean, surely some exotic class a amp would sound sufficiently different?
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
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Craig M. said:
don't almost all amps have a flat frequency response?
Rooms, furnishings and people's personal tastes aren't flat though.

One person will throw salt over every meal, regardless, another might taste the food first and 'adjust' with a little salt, another might not like salt at all.

As far as tone controls/eq. I prefer to have the option.
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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i'm not disagreeing with you chebby, but what does that have to do with the context of my post? ie, for comparison purposes, if amps have a flat frequency response why would you need to eq them?
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Is he perhaps suggesting that Harbeth's speakers are not revealing enough to show differences in amps? :rofl:

I note that he's very skimpy on details. "Positively identify any amplifier"? Out of how many? "Under controlled conditions"? Who controls them? Furthermore, as JD has already said, once you start to compensate for amplifier differences as Shaw seems to be suggesting, there's little question that you won't be able to tell.

Personal experience is that I can "reliably" tell the difference between an Onkyo tx-sr607 and a Marantz PM7003 on Dali Lektor 2's. Likewise, I might be able to tell the difference between dac->densen B-310->Spendor SA1 and dac->Marantz PM7003->Densen B-310->Spendor SA1, but I've never tried that blind.
 

CJSF

New member
May 25, 2011
251
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Craig M. said:
Here is a challenge then.

If, in a controlled experiment with all variables accounted for (incl. differences in frequency reponse and within the power range appropriate to the amps) under instantaneous A-B relay switchover, driving any Harbeth speakers, if you can positively identify an amplifier by sound alone, I will give you, FOC, a pair of brand new Harbeth speakers, up to and including a pair of M40.1 in any veneer you fancy.

I am quite confident that under controlled conditions, these fabled amplifier differences disappear and that I will never be parting with my money!

However, I don't have the time to play around. You have to conceive of the test, design the switch over system and bring it to us here and we'll cooperate fully. There are plenty of examples of carefully constructed tests over the past 30+ years to draw on that meet my critera, and every one of them comes to the same conclusion. As far as this 'amp matching to Harbeth speakers' issue goes, it is a non-issue. As dead as the dodo. I cannot comment on the amp matching for other speaker brands. We take care to make our speaker an easy load: other speaker designers may be less consumer-focused.

NO CORRESPONDENCE PLEASE - CALL ME WHEN YOU HAVE THE WHOLE PLAN EXECUTED!

Amplifiers should be selected not for "sound quality" (whatever that is) but for facilities, design integrity, durability, after care and likelyhood of being able to source service parts in 5 or 10 years. Also, if you're really serious, a quick peek at the financial standing of the brand might tell you if they are likely to have the financial resources to weather the economic downturn of the next few years which is effecting the whole consumer electronics sector. Some of the most likely surviving (UK) brands rarely advertise, rarely exhibit, have relatively old-fashioned designs, use standard parts, have been around for a generation and are rock solid businesses. They deserve to be respected and supported because they will be there to look after you in 10+ years.

There are some very difficult times ahead for the consumer industry: now is a time to be cautious.Alan A. Shaw
Designer, owner
Harbeth Audio UK

An interesting challenge . . . money where the mouth is? I am of the old school, late 70's, 80's, early 90's. I have done a sort of A-B test . . . back in summer last year. Not using Harbeth speakers, I have a pair of; circa 1990 PMC, LB1, a relic of my past. However, if I had been looking for speakers, as I was at a Harbeth dealer, they would have definatly been on the short list, as a fan in the old days of sealed cabinet speakers.

To go into the complexity as described for an A-B test seems a little OTT? . . . Do it the old fashioned way; I had specifics in mind, the Brio R was the 'must have, giant slayer?' at the time, at a reasonable price. My dealer friend new me well from those heady, early days, he suggested the entry level Croft Hybrid, his thinking, it would suit my tastes, as an ex audiophile, valve enthusiast? . . . but one would have to stump up twice the money. Incidentally the source was a Rega Apollo CDp.

We did the A-B first, it was obvious to me, although my back was to the amps, which was which. Tis true, sound was not the factor, the two amps were close. Detail, clarity and image presentation were distinctly different. We then did protracted listen on both amps. Leaving me in no doubt the Croft was head and shoulders above the Brio in the finer points of its musical presentation, the nuts and bolters were there in both, it was the craftmanship of the Croft that stood it out . . . but then, as has been said on here before, so it should be at twice the price?

Personally I have no axe to grind one way or the other, however I do feel that some attributes are given to amps, and hifi in general that should be taken with a pinch of salt, volume for instance, loud is not necessarily better? I used to be able to spot a conventional valve amp a mile off, that one feels is not so easy these days.

The croft amp does not have the a soft valve signature of old, it is sharp, tight, has excellent base, excellent image and detail, much like a good solid state amp, without the clipping problems, the Croft runs out of puff fist, as do my small stand mounted speakers.

My experience says, at normal levels, through a reasonably efficient speaker, I can identify one amp from another, but not on sound, its the finer, more tangible points that give them their signature IMHO.

CJSF
 

paradiziac

New member
Jan 8, 2011
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Craig M. said:
maybe when you've stopped rolling about laughing you'd like to bag yourself some speakers then?
I know some people enjoy Harbeths and I'm not knocking that, but personally I wouldn't have them in the house, been there done that. They certainly didn't sound good to me with any of the 3 amps I tried them with in 2 different rooms and on 2 different kinds of stands. So either Alan Shaw has questionable hearing or his advice about amps/stands not making a difference isn't true.

He wants people to design their own test and go to him with the finished protocol, "NO CORRESPONDENCE PLEASE", yet at the same time he says "there are plenty of tests that meet my criteria".

He says he doesn't have time to play around and neither do I.
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
901
202
19,270
Alan must be incredibly naive - yes one day when I'm in heaven all amps will have 999w/channel and sound the same and we'll all live happily ever after. Come to think of it one could say the same about speakers as well. Hang on add CD Players, DACs and streamers as well.

Sometimes I wish we would live in a communist state - the government will pick a good sound system for all of us, and the pangs of choice would vanish.

Alan begs double floor-rolls of laughter.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
I quite fancy some new speakers but I won't be doing this as I already know the answer - I won't hear a difference (assuming both amps will be operating well within somthing like 0.1% THD limits).

Good luck to anyone who thinks they can do this - there have been numerous challenges over the years, some offering tens of thousands of dollars (and that was when that was a lot of money) and no one has ever taken the prize. Ever.
 

Craig M.

New member
Mar 20, 2008
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i see a lot of people on different forums making claims about their ability to pass, or how wrong mr. harbeth is, but at the back of my mind is this...

nawty said:
Good luck to anyone who thinks they can do this - there have been numerous challenges over the years, some offering tens of thousands of dollars (and that was when that was a lot of money) and no one has ever taken the prize. Ever.
 

chebby

Well-known member
Jun 2, 2008
1,233
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manicm said:
Sometimes I wish we would live in a communist state - the government will pick a good sound system for all of us...
There was this communist run electrical goods factory in Czechoslovakia (called Tesla Litovel) who met some people from NAD in 1983 and got some tooling from a company in Yorkshire and got Germans, Bostonians and Czechs to design the NAD L-GAT...



(right click and 'view image' to make it readable or click here)

The NAD L-GAT (Tesla NC-470 to the locals) was known to us as the NAD 5120 and Tesla Litovel went on (eventually and very circuitously) to become Pro-ject's factory in 1991 :) (And still is.)

Andrew Everard posted a couple of blogs on the subject in 2007 and last year...

http://www.whathifi.com/blog/no-not-that-tesla-making-the-pro-ject-turntables

http://www.whathifi.com/blog/pro-ject-still-re-inventing-20-years-on
 

shooter

New member
May 4, 2008
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There is a fella out their using a pair of Nagra VPA monoblocks with Harbeth P3 ESR. Nagra mono's are 10k ish, has to be a mentalist to pair up with the P3, why not get a Leben CX XS and be happy; even AS says it's ott.

Currently listening to: Doors ~ LA Woman
 

John Duncan

Well-known member
Jan 8, 2008
2,027
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Craig M. said:
i see a lot of people on different forums making claims about their ability to pass, or how wrong mr. harbeth is, but at the back of my mind is this...

nawty said:
Good luck to anyone who thinks they can do this - there have been numerous challenges over the years, some offering tens of thousands of dollars (and that was when that was a lot of money) and no one has ever taken the prize. Ever.
I make no claims as to my ability to pass the test. I'd like to see how somebody would claim to remove all possible variables though...
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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similar tests have been done in the past, so it must be possible. ensure the amps are driving the speakers to exactly the same volume and neither of them clipping? i've seen evidence of such tests, with the amps being indistinguishable.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
It's fairly easy to set the amps to the same conditions.

Eliminate all variables in peripherals (easy job) and then use 0db test tones to set the amps to just below clipping point (probably using a 1khz test tone as that is dead easy to hear clip) and then reduce the gain of the loudest one to that of the quieter one using a db monitor and pink noise (and if you like reduce both so that one isn't on the edge of its performance limit).

Switching unit to the speakers and job done.

The interesting bit is how the tests are carried out and this is 100% where so called 'blind tests' fall down. ABX, duo-trio, triangle, paired comparison, the known scientific sensory methods for this kind of thing are very well known and proven, as is the maths behind it which will prove statistical significance (the like of which faster than light neutrinos have to go through). They are designed to remove ANY subjectivity from a test which is often yields results that people won't accept. All this shows is that the human mind is an incredibly powerful and deceptive thing and people will 100% hear a difference in different pieces of kit without there actually being one. And so what, as long as they are happy? I'd just rather people were aware of where the differences they hear come from.

That's not to say there aren't ways of getting differences, IMHO loudspeakers are one of the best ways of getting different sound BUT speaker positioning, listening position and room treatment play an equally big part - I can make any speaker sound rubbish by putting it in a corner and pointing it at the wall (except Bose... :rofl: ).

Anyway, I'm rambling and have forgotton the point I was trying to make, time for another glass of vino :grin:
 

manicm

Well-known member
May 1, 2008
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So until I do ABX testing, my opinion that one amp sounds better than another is complete rubbish right? Haven't we gone around this circle before?

Long ago when our amp got stolen the insurance company tried to foist a cheaper model (same brand). Myself, my older brother and my dad all agreed it sounded the pits.

Majority rules...
 

Petherick

Well-known member
Oct 29, 2008
122
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18,595
Okay, I've fallen for it.

Your phrasing of your 'rules' gives the game away - what you appear to be saying is that if we can exclude all differences, all amp's are the same.

Just one question - if as you say, "NO CORRESPONDENCE PLEASE - CALL ME WHEN YOU HAVE THE WHOLE PLAN EXECUTED" - then I assume absolutely no response will be given by you on this forum. This being the case, do you promise that if I stipulate the same, you'll abide by my judgement? I stipulate it!
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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haha! who are you making your stipulation to? me, who copied this from another forum? or alan shaw, owner of harbeth, who posted it on the harbeth forum? if it's me; stipulate away, it won't achieve much. if it's alan shaw, as he didn't post it here he is unlikely to respond to you here. :grin:

and i think the gist of his post is that amps that measure the same, and are used within their comfort zone (not clipping), will sound the same. in terms of frequency response and thd, a lot of amps seem to measure, broadly, the same. i think the key part of it is they shouldn't be clipping.
 

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