• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

What is Alan Shaw on about? (is "coloration" unmeasurable?)

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
3,112
Likes
4,639
e.g. there is a guy on HUG who repeatedly comments (promotes) Hypex based amps, Yamaha amps and RME DAC. Every time the same without ever making (and share) any different experiences, progress.
That is me, and I do so in response to people like yourself who claim to hear the sonic superiority of e.g. expensive underpowered amplifiers. My argument is nothing other than what is also put forward here, and documented with measurements. After all, is anything wrong with budget Yamaha amps, the RME DAC or Hypex/Purifi modules? Yes I agree I repeat this quite often, for no other reason than that new people keep coming forward with the same old nonsense.
I also share experiences with subwoofers and dsp room eq, however. And, as you saw and seemed to lament, I recently opened a thread on policies to speed up the transition to sustainble energy. HUG also has some threads on modern culture and society, and climate and high energy prices are on many people's minds. So I posted some information on what the Dutch government is doing, and what we have done personally in terms of home insulation (with measurements) and heat pumps, and the financial benefits (with numbers). I did so in part because I wanted hear about other countries.
As for Alan Shaw and HUG, it is true that he does not really divulge his trade secrets, and I think that is fair enough, although I am obviously curious. From time to time he also has historic bits from his company archive and elsewhere on BBC speaker research. As a historian I find that very interesting, even though it is also clear from what he shows that Harbeth has moved a long way since those early days. In particular, independent tests have shown that over the years Harbeth speakers have acquired a far flatter frequency response. And that, he repeatedly insists, is one of the most important characteristics of a good speaker. He is not alone in that. In the end no speaker is perfect, so inevitably each and every speaker is a compromise. Which compromise you prefer is a personal matter, I am afraid.
Most of HUG, however, is about getting the best out of your speakers, so there are threads on why vinyl is technically inferior to digital, on amplifiers explaining why valve amplifiers have problems that solid state ones don't, that a lot of power is good for a clean reproduction of dynamic peaks, that good amplifiers do not need to cost an arm and a leg (at times with measurements), or on the importance of the room and what to do about that. An interesting current one is on the quality of streamed sources versus CD. His original assumption had been that there was a problem with streaming, but he has now posted a series of measurements from real streamed content to show that this assumption was wrong, provided of course that the same master is used, and that we are dealing with the same 16/44 quality. To me this was not at all surprising, but for some people who claimed to hear differences it was an unsettling result. In any case, to all the posters who claim to hear all sorts of things, his reply is always that their listening methodology may be wrong. He explains time and gain that blind and accurately level matched testing is the only proper way, and in the past has shown how he does that himself. And he insists on the importance of measurements. In short, the ethos is not that different from ASR.
 
Last edited:

tuga

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
3,616
Likes
3,704
Location
Oxford, England
That is me, and I do so in response to people like yourself who claim to hear the sonic superiority of e.g. expensive underpowered amplifiers.

Why do you discount that possibility?
"Sonic superiority" is a matter of personal preference and the effects of some types of distortion are perceived as "enhancing" or euphonic by many people.
Driving SHL5+s with a 12W Leben might give them that kind of "presentation".
 

Waxx

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 12, 2021
Messages
962
Likes
3,438
Location
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
Allan Shaw is basing his designs on measurements but with a subjective housecurve. And he is using old techniques, but tries to get the maximum out of it within it's limitations that he does not deny. And there is a public for this kind of speakers, that is larger than most here assume. His house curve is made to make speech sound natural, not true to the source. Those are not necesairly the same.

I don't think it's bad, because taste differ, and not everybody wants a superclean neutral speaker. Most want a speaker that is easy to listen to and is fairly close to neutral. And that is what his speakers do. If you are into that or not, is a subjective choice.

He is certainly not into real snakeoil stuff like special cables and so. Nor is he into heavy coloured sounds like tube amps and so. I more like those coloured amps, but i'm aware of it's limitations. Allan says his speakers should work with any amp, and a decent build cheap mainstream amp is often better than those esotheric audiophile amps. Idem with sources. And if people on his forums says it's otherwise he goes against it with real arguments, even if that may imply less sales. He is more on the ASR side than on the audiohile side of the spectrum, but he is not as fanatic and fundamentalistic on that as most here on the forum. And some of his public is into tube amps, even into SET amps (altough it think his speakers are not fit for that, to low sensivity and build for medium to low amplifier output impendance/high damping factor). In one of the discussions he mentioned that he mostly use a Yamaha A/S series amp for his personal setup, and those are fairly cheap and mainstream class AB integrated amps, nothing fancy or audiophile.
 
Last edited:

tuga

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
3,616
Likes
3,704
Location
Oxford, England
To me reality is the yardstick.

How many albums are produced in a way that can actually recreate an illusion of reality, a couple of dozens?
Most will be of classical music, perhaps some jazz, and it is likely that they are coming from an audiophile lable and the performance or the programme is rubbish...

Most importantly, your "yardstick" may not be someone else's.

There can only be accuracy to the recorded signal. All the rest is an illusion, and different people are "illuded" by a distinct combination of triggers.

Pushing you preferred approach is not polite nor really useful to anyone else.
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
3,112
Likes
4,639
Allan Shaw is basing his designs on measurements but with a subjective housecurve. And he is using old techniques, but tries to get the maximum out of it within it's limitations that he does not deny.
That housecurve is infact quite similar to the Harman one. As for technology, Shaw has posted that Harbeth will soon introduce a series of active speakers with modern dsp technology.
 

Willem

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 8, 2019
Messages
3,112
Likes
4,639
Pushing you preferred approach is not polite nor really useful to anyone else.
On the contrary, sticking to the science is as useful as can be, and I thought part of the ASR ethos. Of course, people are free to prefer whatever they prefer, but blurring the difference between facts and opinions is a dangerous modern trend, in my view.
 

Waxx

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 12, 2021
Messages
962
Likes
3,438
Location
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
That housecurve is infact quite similar to the Harman one. As for technology, Shaw has posted that Harbeth will soon introduce a series of active speakers with modern dsp technology.
It's not exact the same, but it's very close, that is true. And his last generations are much closer to that than they used to be 20 years ago.

That active version is also because he is probally tired of all the snake oil discussions on his forum, so he wants to make a Harbeth approved system with normal amps, to show what he means.
 

Waxx

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 12, 2021
Messages
962
Likes
3,438
Location
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
On the contrary, sticking to the science is as useful as can be, and I thought part of the ASR ethos. Of course, people are free to prefer whatever they prefer, but blurring the difference between facts and opinions is a dangerous modern trend, in my view.
I agree to stick to science, but not as narrow minded as many here. You can look also into tube amps and explain scientificly what they do and not do, and why some people like those more than clean amps. Amir does that sometimes (altough less than i would prefer). But just shooting (verbally) people because they like tube amps is not usefull. Explaining polite why they are not perfect from science standpoint is very usefull, and then people can make choices based on facts, not on myths.
 

tuga

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 5, 2020
Messages
3,616
Likes
3,704
Location
Oxford, England
On the contrary, sticking to the science is as useful as can be, and I thought part of the ASR ethos. Of course, people are free to prefer whatever they prefer, but blurring the difference between facts and opinions is a dangerous modern trend, in my view.
That is not sticking to Science, it’s sticking to Dogma
 

DSJR

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 27, 2020
Messages
2,046
Likes
2,618
Location
Suffolk Coastal, UK
Sorry in advance to be offensive (and English is not my first language)
Your post and I guess many comments on forums, are only assumptions. Worst on a forum such as HUG, thats regulated and moderated.

You refer to comments about the Spendor chap on other platforms!? Not very trustful.
You talk about the sales and opportunities of the UK market. MoFi sourcepoint 10 wouldn’t sale…? Why? Any facts?
You suspect the sales of Harbeth at different markets, UK, far east? Any facts?
About the 40.3 price you refer to a comment of AS? Really!? Why should it cost a fortune to make them? What is soooo different of the BOM between his models?

It makes me scratch my head seeing people with thousands of comments, and with the same comment all the time.
e.g. there is a guy on HUG who repeatedly comments (promotes) Hypex based amps, Yamaha amps and RME DAC. Every time the same without ever making (and share) any different experiences, progress.

Its worst in my opinion when people spread rumors and lies and make their comment on every others single post.
I'm not spreading lies nor rumours - you forget I was in the UK industry for decades and know some of these people personally, as they used to visit us regularly (or me visiting them in the case of ATC)!!!!!! The Spendor situation is a private group primarily focused on the Spencer-designed era models and both Derek Hughes (the son) and the design chap I refer to, post there from time to time and it was especially useful when it came out that a whole run of models had driver surrounds which hardened badly after ten to fifteen years (Spendor cannot service many of these 80's - 90's drivers I gathered) and how to deal with it, at least temporarily with careful application of brake fluid to soften the compound every few months.

Why *shouldn't* it cost a lot to make the 40.3's? I've no idea of how they schedule production time. They're doing well by UK standards, but they're not a huge company with several 'lines' going at any one time, so I gather it's basically a batch of these today and tomorrow, then a batch of this other model for two days after that and so on. They DO have full order books running months ahead, so they're well able to plan production schedules (I've seen the overall figures and they're a business in good shape it seems and definitely NOT on a shoestring as many boutique audio brands are behind the posh adverts).

I still keep in touch and follow UK trends. 'Retro' doesn't sell here so much, even if it does elsewhere (comments on sales of the Linton came from the rep and not snide comments from a disgruntled dealer!). My comments on popular high end brands here is based on experience, not hearsay and I'm not the only one bemoaning Harman's reluctance (or whatever) to promote the likes of Revel or JBL. Mind you, the products I'm talking about aren't especially cheap and cash strapped dealers will tend to specialise in brands they know they can sell, hence the continuing popularity of Naim (with some Focal off the back if it), PMC (they really are nice people to deal with here) and Danish made Dynaudio, which has a huge manufacturing facility I gather and decent test facilities too.

If you're so suspicious that I'm talking [email protected] that's fine, just please don't come on here telling people who 'know what's what' that they're wrong and spreading guesswork! I do my research and TALK TO PEOPLE I know in th e admittedly small UK industry to get my knowledge. Where you live @ThoFi, it may well be different.
 
Last edited:

Waxx

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 12, 2021
Messages
962
Likes
3,438
Location
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
I still keep in touch and follow UK trends. 'Retro' doesn't sell here so much, even if it does elsewhere (comments on sales of the Linton came from the rep and not snide comments from a disgruntled dealer!). My comments on popular high end brands here is based on experience, not hearsay and I'm not the only one bemoaning Harman's reluctance (or whatever) to promote the likes of Revel or JBL. Mind you, the products I'm talking about aren't especially cheap and cash strapped dealers will tend to specialise in brands they know they can sell, hence the continuing popularity of Naim (with some Focal off the back if it), PMC (they really are nice people to deal with here) and Danish made Dynaudio, which has a huge manufacturing facility I gather and decent test facilities too.
They could sell a lot as there is the demand. Now others fill in that demand, but the demand is there.

And on retro in the UK (and in Europe). It's a niche market, but a very stable one that have several companies that do good bussiness on a small scale. Handbuild oldskool devices that are not dripped into snake oil prices do sell, and i know quiet a few people who live from that. I already mentioned the reggaedj Paul Axis with his Valv-A-Tron brand. It's small scale boutique building, but his orderbook is always full. Phill Bush (Sound & Pressure), an engineer and dj that used to work for big brands, does the same and quit his big brand engineer job that was paying very well because of the success of his hobby. He is even more in full custom builds, altough he has some standard devices also.

They come from a vintage music scene (reggae/ska/northern soul/rockabilly/...) and build devices that create the sound they want there. But they sell also outside their own music scene. And if you want to order something from them, there is a waiting row off months before your order is build mostly...

It's a small niche market, that is true. But it's relevant. As niche and relevant as vintage cars (that are also obsolete tech) or the carbrand Morgan (that makes vintage style cars) is today. And those devices are not cheap neighter, largely because of "hand build in the UK".
 
OP
ahofer

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,998
Likes
5,265
Location
New York City
there is a guy on HUG who repeatedly comments (promotes) Hypex based amps, Yamaha amps and RME DAC. Every time the same without ever making (and share) any different experiences, progress.
Interesting. I have often suggested Yamaha or Hypex amps to people on HUG who arrive wondering about expensive amplifiers (under the same user name). I don’t remember suggesting RME, although I am a fan and an owner. But always in response to someone suggesting a more expensive piece of audiophoolery.
 
OP
ahofer

ahofer

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 3, 2019
Messages
2,998
Likes
5,265
Location
New York City
How many albums are produced in a way that can actually recreate an illusion of reality, a couple of dozens?
Most will be of classical music, perhaps some jazz, and it is likely that they are coming from an audiophile lable and the performance or the programme is rubbish...

Most importantly, your "yardstick" may not be someone else's.

There can only be accuracy to the recorded signal. All the rest is an illusion, and different people are "illuded" by a distinct combination of triggers.

Pushing you preferred approach is not polite nor really useful to anyone else.
I’m not sure you are completely right about this. Most of the people coming in suggesting expensive equipment are under the impression that they can tell the difference. In many cases, as you know, that isn’t true. Willem and I, and more importantry Alan Shaw, implore them to consider the actual audible differences before spending a lot of money (except on Harbeths…)

Certainly some people have a rational preference for the altered frequency response and higher distortion of certain amplifier designs. But most are throwing away money needlessly.
 

krabapple

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Messages
2,182
Likes
2,426
The colouration is subtile in most cases, but they do eq the speakers to a house curve that is close to the harman curve

If you mean, they literally design a 'house curve' into the speaker's output, that's problematic. By Toole/Olive/Harman precepts one wants speakers that whose direct anaechoic response is 'flat' with well-controlled off-axis behavior. The house curve is applied *at the listening position*, not built-in at the factory.
 

Waxx

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Dec 12, 2021
Messages
962
Likes
3,438
Location
Wodecq, Hainaut, Belgium
If you mean, they literally design a 'house curve' into the speaker's output, that's problematic. By Toole/Olive/Harman precepts one wants speakers that whose direct anaechoic response is 'flat' with well-controlled off-axis behavior. The house curve is applied *at the listening position*, not built-in at the factory.
Wel, that is the whole thing you don't understand. Toole/Olive/Harman have a physolophy on speakers that works for many and you see as the absolute truth. But it based on statistics and averages, so not for everyone as not everyone wants the same. Some prefer a certain house curve that brands like Harbeth cater. And the deviation of the Harman curve (that is also a house curve) is small. And as long as you can't understand that not everybody wants the same you will not understand brands like Harbeth and their success. What Toole/Olive/Harman determine, is what will sell and please the most. The most, not all!
 

Chromatischism

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 5, 2020
Messages
4,373
Likes
3,330
Wel, that is the whole thing you don't understand. Toole/Olive/Harman have a physolophy on speakers that works for many and you see as the absolute truth. But it based on statistics and averages, so not for everyone as not everyone wants the same. Some prefer a certain house curve that brands like Harbeth cater. And the deviation of the Harman curve (that is also a house curve) is small. And as long as you can't understand that not everybody wants the same you will not understand brands like Harbeth and their success. What Toole/Olive/Harman determine, is what will sell and please the most. The most, not all!
It seems you are mistaken. There is no mandate coming from Harman et al on how a speaker should sound. In fact, it's pretty clear from research that it should sound like nothing at all. If you aren't getting a certain something from your music, then the music is to blame. This is perfectly logical - speakers are in your playback chain, not the creation chain.
 

krabapple

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 15, 2016
Messages
2,182
Likes
2,426
Wel, that is the whole thing you don't understand. Toole/Olive/Harman have a physolophy on speakers that works for many and you see as the absolute truth. But it based on statistics and averages, so not for everyone as not everyone wants the same. Some prefer a certain house curve that brands like Harbeth cater. And the deviation of the Harman curve (that is also a house curve) is small. And as long as you can't understand that not everybody wants the same you will not understand brands like Harbeth and their success. What Toole/Olive/Harman determine, is what will sell and please the most. The most, not all!

A speaker with a built-in 'house curve' won't give you that 'house curve' at your listening seat unless 1) you are very lucky or 2) it's an active speaker with EQ DSP , and comes with a measurement mic etc. . Any house curve is a *desired measured response at the listening position*.

By the same token, the graphed response of a speaker measured on a Klippel or in an anaechoic chamber can be very different from the measured response at your actual listening seat. A good speaker can sounds like crap in a bad setup.

It may be that you don't understand that. I find it hard to believe Alan Shaw doesn't.
 
Last edited:

MattHooper

Major Contributor
Joined
Jan 27, 2019
Messages
4,478
Likes
7,157
reality as the yardstick:

How many albums are produced in a way that can actually recreate an illusion of reality, a couple of dozens?
Most will be of classical music, perhaps some jazz, and it is likely that they are coming from an audiophile lable and the performance or the programme is rubbish...

Most importantly, your "yardstick" may not be someone else's.

There can only be accuracy to the recorded signal. All the rest is an illusion, and different people are "illuded" by a distinct combination of triggers.

Pushing you preferred approach is not polite nor really useful to anyone else.

tuga,

I agree those are all good points.

On the other hand I think it's fair to recognize that "realistic sound" has been an underlying yardstick for "good sound" for a long time. Not the only one of course, but at least relevant.

In the history of sound reproduction, the starting goal was to recreate the sound of the real thing. That pretty much drove a lot of the sound technology. It's why there'd be live vs reproduced demonstrations (even if they were fudgy), it's why "high fidelity" stereo systems were often sold with the claim of getting people closer to "the sound of the symphony in the comfort of your own living room!"

Once the studio and production effects became a tool of artistic license themselves, then the scope had to widen as to what we were trying to reproduce.
But that still doesn't mean sonic realism isn't a touchstone for good sound. It's been the most common remark when I've demoed my various systems
over the years to guests, how much more 'real' it sounds. Of course it isn't indistinguishable from real live sounds, but relative to what many people are used to, high end equipment can sound "more real" to the degree that is what impresses people.

So I agree sonic realism isn't the whole ball of wax, but it is I think an available yardstick for what many people will experience as "good sound."

(Presumably in the blind testing research for speakers, those that produced vocals with more natural realism were preferred over those where speaker colorations were more obvious intrusions in to the vocals).
 

ThoFi

Active Member
Joined
Aug 15, 2021
Messages
202
Likes
66
That is me, and I do so in response to people like yourself who claim to hear the sonic superiority of e.g. expensive underpowered amplifiers. My argument is nothing other than what is also put forward here, and documented with measurements. After all, is anything wrong with budget Yamaha amps, the RME DAC or Hypex/Purifi modules? Yes I agree I repeat this quite often, for no other reason than that new people keep coming forward with the same old nonsense.
I also share experiences with subwoofers and dsp room eq, however. And, as you saw and seemed to lament, I recently opened a thread on policies to speed up the transition to sustainble energy. HUG also has some threads on modern culture and society, and climate and high energy prices are on many people's minds. So I posted some information on what the Dutch government is doing, and what we have done personally in terms of home insulation (with measurements) and heat pumps, and the financial benefits (with numbers). I did so in part because I wanted hear about other countries.
As for Alan Shaw and HUG, it is true that he does not really divulge his trade secrets, and I think that is fair enough, although I am obviously curious. From time to time he also has historic bits from his company archive and elsewhere on BBC speaker research. As a historian I find that very interesting, even though it is also clear from what he shows that Harbeth has moved a long way since those early days. In particular, independent tests have shown that over the years Harbeth speakers have acquired a far flatter frequency response. And that, he repeatedly insists, is one of the most important characteristics of a good speaker. He is not alone in that. In the end no speaker is perfect, so inevitably each and every speaker is a compromise. Which compromise you prefer is a personal matter, I am afraid.
Most of HUG, however, is about getting the best out of your speakers, so there are threads on why vinyl is technically inferior to digital, on amplifiers explaining why valve amplifiers have problems that solid state ones don't, that a lot of power is good for a clean reproduction of dynamic peaks, that good amplifiers do not need to cost an arm and a leg (at times with measurements), or on the importance of the room and what to do about that. An interesting current one is on the quality of streamed sources versus CD. His original assumption had been that there was a problem with streaming, but he has now posted a series of measurements from real streamed content to show that this assumption was wrong, provided of course that the same master is used, and that we are dealing with the same 16/44 quality. To me this was not at all surprising, but for some people who claimed to hear differences it was an unsettling result. In any case, to all the posters who claim to hear all sorts of things, his reply is always that their listening methodology may be wrong. He explains time and gain that blind and accurately level matched testing is the only proper way, and in the past has shown how he does that himself. And he insists on the importance of measurements. In short, the ethos is not that different from ASR.
I agree that there are lots of good and interesting threads on HUG.
But to me its dangerous to trust a forum that is strongly regulated, comments been retyped/changed by AS, comments been deleted!!
It is also not correct that HUG, AS, does not respect people using e.g. tube amps. Hello? In the far east Harbeth owners very often use tube amps. Don’t they!?
What ethos does HUG, AS has!!!???
I use different kinds of amplifiers and speaker. SS (10W, 50W, 225W), class D (150W), Hybrid (100W), tube (40W). Speakers with different designs,
To me a „realistic“ sound is every time different and has nothing to do with the real recorded music. To me its an illusion to able to recreate real live music.
To me it has nothing to do with e.g. amplifier design, amplifier power etc.

I am trying to be open minded and not been fixed on one or my my only opinion.
Sad to see narrow-minded people who disrespect others opinions.

I think it’s great to have some forums that uncovers „snake oil“.
 
Top Bottom