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che13
06-05-2010, 02:18 PM
Good Evening All From Oz,

Looking at purchasing some Harbeth speakers. My dedicated listening room is 13.5 ft x 13.5 ft with 9 ft ceilings.

Present system is as follows:

Dynaudio Confidence 5 (lovely mid range but only come alive at decent levels) - Sealed speaker design
Atma-Sphere Mp Mk 2.3 (tubed pre amp)
The massive Atma-Sphere MA 2 mk 2.3 (tubed mono block amps) 220W of pure class A tubed power

Looking at either starting from scratch and getting a system which is a lot smaller as the Harbeths by all accounts are easy to drive. I don't 'need' to sell any of the gear though so could be used with the Harbeths.

Just wondering how the harbeths sound next to the dynaudios. I tried the small proacs but not to my tast, way to harsh on the upper notes (it was driving me from the room, 20 mins and I would have a head ache). The Dyn's I could listen to for hours, but are very analitical. On good records it sounded mind blowing, on bad recordings it sounded...well bad.

Heard the Harbeths are not too fussy on whats driving them as they are forgiving. So maybe all this expensive class A gear maybe an overkill? Maybe it would be worth going to an intergrated system and pocket some cash (Plinius / pass Labs / Einstein hybrid)?

Do Harbeths sound better with SS or tubes in general.

Anyway I look forward to all your opinions. I'm on this Audio Merry Go Round and I want off! Its doing my head in and my partners as well :)

Thanks again

Cheers
Che

yeecn
06-05-2010, 04:18 PM
Anyway I look forward to all your opinions. I'm on this Audio Merry Go Round and I want off! Its doing my head in and my partners as well :)

Get off the Merry Go Round. Pocket the money, save your marriage, and preserve your sanity.

Life is about balance and harmony. I have a wife who is as deaf as I am blind. She loves to adorn the living spaces to the tilt as much as I love to embellish its soundscape to the ultimate degree. She is always changing the curtains, cushions, furnitures and whatnots. I got lost in my own home - and I missed the Zen like simplicity of my bachelor days. My music taste is at least 50CD going simultaneously at any one time, while her musical diet is 4CD at a time, evolving at the rate of 1CD per year.

When I made an accidental foray into the strange world of audiophile not too long ago I almost got insane. It took me nine months of really hard work - more work that I put in for my Master degree - to find my way out again.

Anyway I found my balance. When she is around - I play Pachabel, Chopin and some light music. When I am home alone - it's time for Mahler Symphony for a Thousand and everything else I fancied.

And my gears? I have a Denon AVR driving Harbeth C7ES3 in the living room, and a ridiculously cheap Denon mini hi-fi driving P3ES2 in the bedroom. Small enough to pass her aesthetics sense, and good enough for my musical taste.

My honest opinion: the speakers makes a hell of a difference, next come the room acoustics, amplifier and electronics comes a very distance third. From what I understand about electronics - nothing has changed much in the last 40 years in terms of circuit design and component used, with the Class D amplifier being the exception. With at least 40 years in the business I think it is beyond the capability for big guys like Denon, Pioneer, Marantz to make anything bad - no matter how cheap or lowly a piece of equipment is. I don't think they can afford to make anything bad - they have a high end reputation to uphold, and it is fierce competition in the mass electronics market.

Mass produced electronics are incredibly cheap. To give you an example - what do you think the price difference is between a 24bits/96kHz Burr Brown chip vs the 24bits/192kHz holy grail of DAC? I read somewhere that it is only $3!

Happy listening.
Yee

honmanm
06-05-2010, 05:55 PM
220W of pure class A tubed power


No wonder it's hot down in Aussie-land... you must be generating at least a kilowatt of waste heat.

The current Harbeths really aren't fussy about amplification (certainly not the small but low-efficiency P3ESRs that we have), perhaps partly because they are balanced to work well at moderate volume levels (= not much power needed). Obviously they are accurate enough to show up amps that lack clarity but that won't be a problem for you.

I favour obsolete transistor amps (yes therapy is called for) but in due course some helpful people with more high-end systems should pop up here.

che13
06-05-2010, 07:46 PM
No wonder it's hot down in Aussie-land... you must be generating at least a kilowatt of waste heat.

The current Harbeths really aren't fussy about amplification (certainly not the small but low-efficiency P3ESRs that we have), perhaps partly because they are balanced to work well at moderate volume levels (= not much power needed). Obviously they are accurate enough to show up amps that lack clarity but that won't be a problem for you.

I favour obsolete transistor amps (yes therapy is called for) but in due course some helpful people with more high-end systems should pop up here.

You got the heat issue spot on. Each chassis draws over 800W each....in summer I definetly need the Air Conditioning on to just listen to music. But winter (like now) it warms the room just nice to sit back with a nice glass of red and enjoy.

I'm more leaning towards selling the big class A mono blocks and going to a smaller A class amp that will fit in my rack. Most likely go with a used Pass Labs XA 30.5. There are rated 30W into 8 Ohms and 60W into 4 Ohms. So 6 Ohms I presume they would be running at approx 45W per channel. By all accounts these should power the smaller harbeths with ease?

Really tied of having to 'crank' the volume up to appeciate good music.

So what speaker model? I can't demo them here in Australia as no dealer. But I'm leaning towards the P3ESR with the closed box design. I'm not a real bass guy, more into the warmth of the vocals (especially female vocals). Half the reason why I'm thinking of keeping my tubed pre amp to give the voices a bit more warmth. My music taste range from soul, jazz, blues, Reggae. No classical what so ever.

I just hope these little speakers are voiced a lot better than Proacs as the sound was shocking in my room with the little monitors (no warmth what so ever).

Cheers

EricW
06-05-2010, 09:35 PM
I just hope these little speakers are voiced a lot better than Proacs as the sound was shocking in my room with the little monitors (no warmth what so ever).

Cheers

The P3ESRs are exceedingly neutral and natural-sounding and they are "warm" not in the sense of adding coloration, but in allowing music to sound like music. Since in my experience real music does sound "warm" (i.e. not edgy, fatiguing or difficult to listen to), I think you would be quite satisfied with them. I don't think your room is too big for them either, as long as your expectations regarding volume and bass are not unreasonable. Their reproduction of vocals in particular is fantastic.

ryder
07-05-2010, 12:57 AM
Surprisingly the first few posts didn't address your speaker issue but went on another direction. It is indeed difficult to decide which speaker to get especially when you can't listen to one. Making decisions based on recommendations can be useful but it can lead to disaster as well considering that most people have different perspectives and preferences on how good music should sound like.

Having said that I reckon you have three choices for your squarish room in the P3ESR, M30 and C7ES3's. All are wonderful in the types of music you listen to, and as Alan says they are all different and special in their own ways. If you like warmth of vocals, soul, jazz and blues you have picked the right choice in going for the Harbeth. Whichever speaker you choose will give you what you want that is lacking in the Dynaudio Confidence 5. The M30's are glorious in vocals and alongside the C7ES3's have a bigger scale and depth compared to the smaller P3ESRs which are still excellent on their own.

The Confidence 5's are difficult speakers, hence I am not surprised you need to crank up the volume higher on your amps to get a more full and enveloping sound from them. They have a low sensitivity of 83dB and an impedance of 4 ohms, a recipe that needs a high current amp to come alive. A change to the Harbeth will be a godsend in that you won't find the need of huge-powered amplifiers to make them sing. They will sound good with most decent amplifiers out there but will sound glorious with better amps. The Class A Pass Labs amp will be a fine choice.

Good luck.

kittykat
07-05-2010, 01:28 AM
Mass produced electronics are incredibly cheap. To give you an example - what do you think the price difference is between a 24bits/96kHz Burr Brown chip vs the 24bits/192kHz holy grail of DAC? I read somewhere that it is only $3!


…or even much less. In quantity, components, and even the "key components" at the heart of what makes the item tick (eg output transistors or DACs as you mentioned) are very low in cost.

The major ticket items, cost per piece, are in fact the ones which don’t contribute directly (or contribute very little) to good sound quality. The hardware like fixings, fascias, heatsinking, mountings normally cost the most, The circuit boards are “costly” in that its proprietarily customised and would have the factor of run numbers. i worked in the low end town of electronics for a short time and it can be a dog eat dog world. The purchasing manager’s diligence plays a major role in company profitability. And volume sales (to big US chains like kmart etc) are important to keep the backend purchasing have the upper hand in terms of component price negotiation with vendors.

…this is why I think electronics’ (and hifi) choice can be very simple. Go for good practical design (and engineering) and good execution (at the price point you’ve established) and you’ll buy a good product. Harbeth to me has these 2 qualities. Forget the esoteric nonsense (sorry but Pass Labs falls in here) , they don’t do nothing extra.

Che13, my room size is quite similar to yours and have a pair of SHL5’s in them. The essence is never lost at low volumes. In fact the charms of good design and execution takes time to reveal itself and appreciate and once you’ve experienced it, you never want to go back.

che13
07-05-2010, 06:17 AM
Hi All,

Thanks for the input so far.

So a few votes for the P3ESR and the SHL5. if I'm selling all my equipment to down size and get off the "merry go round" I will have sufficient funds to buy any of the speakers listed, but I'm opting for the most pratical solution. I'm also leaning towards the P3ESR at present just due to the size.

Now the question comes to amplification of the Harbeths. What seems to work best. SS or Tubed. I would not mind geting a hybrid tubed of some descrition. Maybe a small Pathos (70W per channel)...has anyone heard these amps on harbeths before. Or a solid state intergrated like the plinius 9100 (125W per channel in 8 ohms)

Thanks again for your time.

Best Regards
Che

yeecn
07-05-2010, 06:52 AM
In fact the charms of good design and execution takes time to reveal itself and appreciate and once you’ve experienced it, you never want to go back.
I concur 100%. Now that I have a few months soaking in Harbeth sound I had not found myself drawn to any other speakers yet.

What I learn from spending a night with Alan (in KL) is that not all speakers are created equal. Alan mentioned that Harbeth will give a life like presence to acoustics instruments, but is not quite suitable for electric guitars type of bass. And he took delight in taking a jibe at the Americans for not knowing how real instruments sound like.

I had formulated in my mind the difference between a good speaker and a bad speaker is like the difference between a good violin made by a master craftsman vs a mass produced one for beginner learners. Now it looks like the difference is more like between an acoustic guitar and a electric guitar!

Che 13, I believe that for you room size - even the P3ESR will provide you with plenty of enjoyment. Of course the bigger models will give you a larger scale in bass if your budget and room treatments allows for it.

One aspect of Harbeth that I admire greatly is that every single model is designed to the max without any reservations. So each model of Harbeth is as good as it can be within the constraints of its form factor, and each is a delight and enjoyment in itself.

While I listen to the P3ES2 (precursor of P3ESR) in my bedroom driven by the ridiculously cheap mini-stereo - I marveled at how good the speakers are, and I never have to urge to take the music down to the larger C7 in the living room.

I am sure that whatever choice you make, you will not regret it.

kittykat
07-05-2010, 08:17 AM
Or a solid state intergrated like the plinius 9100


Che, ill give the plinius a berth as wide as the titanic is long...

http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?445-Thud-sound-when-power-down

personally wouldn't consider any of the amps which have been mentioned in the thread above that have issues with turn on/off clicks and pops. Simple inability of the designer to get the basics right. You're better off elsewhere. Leaving the power on all the time to solve the problem is short of ridiculous.

EricW
07-05-2010, 08:36 AM
Che13:

If you like Class A, are thinking of solid state, and at the same time want to simplify/downsize, many people speak very highly of Luxman integrateds, particularly in combination with Harbeths. The L-550AII and the L-590AII, both of which are Class A, get excellent reviews and reports. Not cheap, but well worth the price by all accounts.

hifi_dave
07-05-2010, 10:34 AM
As mentioned above, you don't need an expensive, complicated, muscle amp to power your chosen Harbeth speaker. I regularly use amps like the original Quad II's at 12 wpc but also modern amps like the Rega Brio which makes great sounds for just over 300. Sometimes I wonder 'why spend more' ?

I'm not sure what is available to you but I regularly sell Croft, LFD, Naim and Rega amps. If you fancy Class-A then Sugden should be on your list. They were probably the first to make a solid state Class-A amp and their latest A21 sounds incredible through Harbeth's, the combination producing stunning vocals. Not cheap at 1769 but I've heard other megabuck so-called Class-A amps which are dull and bland in comparison.

When you have your chosen Harbeth you need to audition a variety of amps, preferably in your room.

honmanm
07-05-2010, 10:51 AM
Regarding differences between different models, the dealers (hifi_dave and garmtz come to mind) probably have the best knowledge on differences in the range and with competing products.

For example, the comment here (http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/showthread.php?851-HL5-lover-needs-to-downsize-C7ES-3-vs-M30&p=8845#post8845) (actually the whole thread has info that would be very useful if you're looking at options other than the P3ESR).

To me the P3ESRs have very little sonic signature of their own, and perceived warmth depends on how close they are to room boundaries - it is possible to "warm up" the sound this way. If you are going to buy speakers without having the opportunity to audition them, the bigger models would be a safer choice - better sensitivity and power handling.

Re amplifiers, while I have never heard a class A amp that sounded bad, a well executed class B can be just as good (I suspect a lot depends on the power supply, and by definition a class A amp cannot have a wimpy supply). One to look into might be your fellow Aussie Greg Ball's SKA amplifier.

Or if you're really feeling cheap a Denon UD-M31 mini system - I'm not joking here, this was recommended to me by a friend who has Audio Research gear. In fact after an evening trying out the P3ESRs on his system he brought an UD-M31 down from his son's room and it didn't sound shabby at all.

ryder
07-05-2010, 01:41 PM
As mentioned above, you don't need an expensive, complicated, muscle amp to power your chosen Harbeth speaker. I regularly use amps like the original Quad II's at 12 wpc but also modern amps like the Rega Brio which makes great sounds for just over 300. Sometimes I wonder 'why spend more' ?

When you have your chosen Harbeth you need to audition a variety of amps, preferably in your room.
Ditto on the above except for the Rega's recommendation. No doubt the Rega is good on its own ONLY when you don't listen to other superior amps. I have owned the Elicit and it got blown away by the Naims. That is one of the main reasons of spending more. At any rate do audition some of the shortlisted amps to get a feel which will suit the system best to your own ears. In my experience all the amps I have tried impose a sound on the Harbeth, and the more costly ones usually sound better.

Don't take my word for it, or others for that matter. Go and audition yourself.

Good luck.

KT88
07-05-2010, 01:53 PM
Hello, Che

I would second Ryder's recommendations, leaning toward the Monitor 30's. This model has become somewhat anonymous since the Compact 7's were upgraded to the ES-3 model, and it also has the problem of being priced identically to the SHL 5, which is puzzling to some, since it is quite a bit larger than the 30, is a 3-way, etc.

Given your taste in music, I'm thinking you would love the 30's. It seems that there are fewer Monitor 30 owners on this forum than any other model, but we tend to be fiercely loyal. It's one of the best speakers I've ever heard. If you can get your hands on any of thhe models and bring them home for a trial period, youwould be thrilled with any of them.

Good Hunting!

KT88
07-05-2010, 03:52 PM
Hello again, Che

Here's a P.S. : On tubes vs. solid state, I've had excellent results with either, my solid state amp being a low power (12 WPC) knock-off of one of Nelson Pass' designs. As stated by others above, and many times on this forum, Harbeths will work well with just about any kind of decent amplifier.

che13
08-05-2010, 05:07 AM
Thanks everyone for there thoughts.

I will most likely go the Plinius 9100 route. Speakers, still deciding. I prefer the look of the smaller speakers honestly and I do like the sealed cabinet (P3ESR). I have lived with the Dynaudio for quite some time (which is also sealed) and it makes it a lot easier to position in the room. Other options are the compact 7's or M30's. The thing is I have heard that M30's sound is thick and lacking the open approach of the C7 or P3ESR? Your thoughts? As much as I would like to venture into the SHL5, I think they will over power my room.

Decisions decisions decisions. I can't audition them as no one stocks them In Australia? So I'm taking a punt and I'm leaning on you guys for honest advice.

Cheers
Che

ryder
08-05-2010, 05:44 AM
Since the Dynaudio Confidence 5’s are medium-sized floorstanders, you will feel a reduction in scale and bass if you opt for the P3ESRs. If you can live with the reduced scale then there would not be any issue going for the P3ESRs. This wouldn’t be too apparent when switching from the Dynaudios to the bigger M30s or C7ES3.

It is little unfortunate you can’t listen to the speakers yourself and have to rely on advice in the forums. What people say on the forums may not reflect what one hears in his/her room. The C7s and P3ESRs are airier and more open than the M30s but that doesn’t mean the latter is more shut-in in comparison. It is just that the M30s have a richer tonality and thicker in the midrange. This quality gives the M30s an upper hand when it comes to vocals, and since you mentioned you are more into warmth of female vocals, soul, jazz and blues, I thought the M30s will suit your musical tastes better than the other alternatives. Some folks thought the M30s possess a more forward sound due to this added richness in the mids. The tweeter in the M30 is more refined and resolves finer detail better.

If one listens to pop and rock the C7ES3s (and P3ESR) will be a better choice as the M30s character will render music to be shut-in with less airiness.

The above is only on speakers. Amps play an important part as well although the degree of differences they bring to the table may not be as significant compared to the speaker model you choose. I am familiar with the Plinius house sound having owned the SA 100Mk3. It has a rich and warm tonality which can be too much of a good thing when matched with an equally thick sounding speaker like the M30. As always, everyone hears things differently so YMMV. You may like the sound of a particular speaker or system while another person may not.

Can’t help you too much on speaker selection as I guess you need to pick one based on your instincts and recommendations from people here in the forum. Nevertheless, I trust you would be able to get some amps on demo from dealers that are available near your place. If that is possible you can then pick the best matching amp that suits you listening preferences best. The folks here don't place to much emphasis on amps so it is best if you can explore them yourself rather than asking which amp you should get.

Good luck.

EricW
08-05-2010, 05:46 AM
The thing is I have heard that M30's sound is thick and lacking the open approach of the C7 or P3ESR? Your thoughts?




The M30, like all Harbeths, has its fans.

That said, the designer himself has said more than once on this forum that the P3ESR, Compact 7-ES3 and the M40.1 have in common that they were each developed relatively recently, with more advanced tools and techniques than the older models, and that they represent a more current state of the evolution of his speaker design knowledge. So while there's certainly no such thing as a bad Harbeth, all else being equal I would look at that group first.

Since the M40.1 is more speaker than you want, I would choose between the C7-ES3 and the P3ESR based first on size and aesthetics (since you prefer a smaller speaker and don't need a lot of loudness or bass capability), and secondarily on budget if that's at all a factor. As others have noted, the smaller speaker may be a bit easier to place, but I wouldn't let that be too much of a factor given that Alan Shaw has repeatedly pointed out that he designed the C7-ES3 in a small room and states they work very well in that environment. I really feel you can't go wrong with either speaker.

yeecn
08-05-2010, 06:41 AM
The bigger guys like C7 and SHL5 are more sensitive to placements. The cabinets requires more room to 'breath'. If placed too close to the walls the low bass could be quite overbearing.

My C7 is placed almost right against the back wall - for wife acceptance reasons. I used to always have to pull them out for listening, but after a while I simply could not be bothered anymore. The mind do have an amazingly capability to adapt. I believe this is a survival mechanism - otherwise we would be running around bothered by a thousand complaints and we would not survive a single day in the wilderness, not to mention being an A--h--- to everybody else. Most of the BS about allowing 'break-in' time is mostly about letting the ear to 'break-in' to the new (often horrendous) sound signature of the new equipments.

Some says the P3 needs to be placed against the walls to enhance its bass. That could be just personal preference and adaptation - but I am no expert. But I do think the P3 is a lot less sensitive to placements.

garmtz
08-05-2010, 10:38 AM
In my opinion, the M30 is the best real-world (meaning the M40.1 is very, very big and puts out more bass than most rooms can handle) model in the line-up. It is less laid-back, more homogenic and more dynamic than the C7ES3 IMO and just more honest. It has a more 'shut-in' tonal balance, but actually it resolves more top-end detail! It just does it with less emphasis. I don't think it is 'thick' sounding, although the C7ES3 has a bit more transparency in the bass.

The M30 will show the quality of the equipment you use with it more than the other models, which in my opinion is only a good thing if you really are willing to go the extra mile.

hifi_dave
08-05-2010, 05:59 PM
I would recommend that you don't disregard the M30 as it is a great speaker if you have the room. If I can't be assed to hump out the SHL5's (and obviously not the M40.1's), the M30 is my speaker of choice.

For my music tastes I really need greater scale and far more volume than the excellent P3ESR can provide and this is where the larger bass driver of the M30 scores. It also has a very solid and tactile mid band which puts the vocals right there in the room with you. It is a wonderful speaker by any standards.

che13
09-05-2010, 02:20 AM
Thank you all for your help, it really is helping.

Will look into the M30 a bit more. By the way what would you recomend as good power to get some decent volume out of this speaker. I'm presently looking at an amp that has 46W per channel....too small?

How would these sound with "Amy Winehouse" style of music. This is what I'm 'mainly' listening to these days.

Cheers

KT88
09-05-2010, 02:34 AM
Hello again, che

Quite glad to see the Monitor 30 on your radar screen. I've lived with them for over a year now and for the life of me can't quite figure out the word "thick" to describe their sound. I've used 125 tube WPC to drive them (Quicksilver V-4's) and a 12 WPC Class A solid state amp, and in many ways prefer them with the low powered amp. I can't imagine that 46 WPC wouldn't drive them beautifully.

My world geography isn't great, but would New Zealand be an expensive jaunt for you? We have a guy named Jason Parmenter in the group here who is a Harbeth dealer on the west coast of the island. www.parmentersound.com

Good Hunting!

hifi_dave
09-05-2010, 11:05 AM
Yesterday afternoon I was pumping out Amy Winehouse (Monkey man) on the M30's driven by 21 watts of Sugden Class-A and they sounded great with no trace of amp clipping. During the same session I used the Croft Series 7 hybrid at 45 wpc.

You should have no problems I'm sure unless the amp is very finicky, in which case you will need to worry about any speaker you choose.

EricW
09-05-2010, 06:09 PM
Forgive the slight detour off-topic, but Dave, if you've had the occasion to try other Sugden integrateds (A21SE and Mystro) with the Harbeth line, would be very interested in your comments. Thanks.

hifi_dave
09-05-2010, 06:42 PM
Not tried the SE yet but the Mystro is nothing special - the A21 is. I'm hoping the SE will improve on the A21 but won't really know until I get a loan one.

che13
30-05-2010, 07:56 AM
Hi All,

After talking to Harbeth they suggest for my music type I should be looking at the P3ESR or the C7 (preferably the latter).

Would 8W of SET amplication be sufficient for the small P3? I'm also looking at an intergrated tube amp of 24W per channel. Would this amp match OK with the C7?

Was out listening to spaekaers yesterday. Unfortunetly no Harbeths in Australia, but the Monitor Audio Silver RX2 sounded great on the 24W intergrated tube amp. Great value as well. I was comparing it to speakers of over twice the cost and it was defnetly morem warm / relaxed / analitical than the others.....definetly chasing the warmth.

Cheers
Che

hifi_dave
30-05-2010, 10:42 AM
Bit confusing - you start off about the Harbeth speakers and then Monitor Audio.

I am not up to speed on the MA range which seems to increase almost every week but those I have heard haven't been particularly easy to drive.

On the other hand, the Harbeth range is easy to drive and playes exceptionally well at low volumes should you need to. 24 watts of tube power should be fine with any of the Harbeth range.

tein3
31-05-2010, 04:13 AM
Hi All,

Would 8W of SET amplication be sufficient for the small P3? I'm also looking at an intergrated tube amp of 24W per channel. Would this amp match OK with the C7?

Che

Hi, I am driving my C7s with 2A3 tubes and it sings beautifully and many of my friends were shock / amazed by the sound stage and liveliness it produces in my listening room(6.3m x 2.9m), if the room is not huge, I do not think you will face with much trouble...
In fact, I am looking forward to get my SHL5 later this year, as that is even "easier" to drive and I have friends whom drive SHL5 with 2A3 amp too. Prior to this amp, I was driving it with a SET 300B amp, generating only 7.5w or 8w.

che13
31-05-2010, 05:28 AM
Tein3,

Thanks for this. This sounds promising to say the least. So you think the Compact 7 with 8W of SET will do the job in a small room of 4M by 4M. Just want the 300B magic. My listening is low to moderate.

Cheers