Funny you should bring this up in this thread as it regards “nervosa”. Becoming fascinating, this thread, with yeecn’s inputs. EricW, if you can isolate wanting the SHL5’s from nervosa and dilemma then…
Imho agree with you and although having no experience and privilege as you have with the complete Harbeth range, the bigger the well designed speaker with decent sufficient watts ive heard in the past (in the appropriate room), the more effortless it makes music. Oversimplification again, the smaller the speaker nearing its performance envelope (in too large a room) will sound like the voices and instruments are all clambering to get out during a fire drill. This is an extreme polarisation though.
Imho think room size, sufficient damping and portability may be considerations as well. The last factor prevented me from owning big speakers for a long time. The SHL5’s are a very nice balance in terms of one person’s ability to grab and move it. Any heavier and/ or bigger and it will be a struggle. Performance wise, think there’s enough which has been said about how good they are.
Value wise, think the SHL5’s can keep any demanding enthusiast and music lover occupied for a long time. I personally don’t forsee changing it unless it breaks, and a replacement would likely be another Harbeth. So my approach in spending is, don’t buy something in compromise, because changing will cost money. If you really like it, and if the room is available. the SHL’5 are a big keeper.
Finally, I look at good speakers* as a proxy for a musical instrument. Owning, maintaining and using a piano for example is unfortunately impractical, for me anyway.
Funny, I did tell the wife that if I leave this treadmill life and she doesn’t want the speakers (she doesn’t) , she should try and get someone to dig a hole deeper than 6 feet so I can rest on top of them, :-)
* watched a news bulletin showing South Korea putting up speaker arrays with banks of amps aimed at the North.