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{Updated Jan. 2017}
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C7, HL5, or M30?

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  • C7, HL5, or M30?

    I hope to audition these speakers soon. I currently own Spendor SP1's that I've been enjoying since 1988 or so. I recently bought a Magnum-Dynalab MD-208 receiver that has improved my sound a lot, so now I wonder what improvements I might make with Harbeth's over my Spendors. I have an inexpensive Denon CD player (would consider upgrading this too).

    I listen to Jazz, Classical and Folk on CD's and a lot of FM radio in Boston. I listen to small groups, acoustic music including piano, and vocals, and some symphonic music.

    My room size is 23' x 14.5' x 8' ceiling. (plus an open kitchen that is 10' wide x 15' on one end of the room) Speakers would likely be on the short wall, maybe up to 2-3' away from back walls and up to 4' from side walls, with listening position roughly 10' away.

    I am reading the other posts where folks compare 2 or 3 of these speakers. But I'd appreciate any other input from others who have compared these speakers. "On paper" the SL5's look like they might be similar to Spendors, but would I miss anything by going with the smaller M30 or C7.

    Thanks for setting up the new group.
    Don Tucker

  • #2
    C7, HL5 or M30?

    Hi Don,
    the thing all three Harbeth's have in common is the RADIAL driver. This is one of Harbeth's strengths. I have M30s and I am delighted by the amount of midrange detail I can hear without any strain. The M30s show up the Dynaudio BM15s which they replaced to be bright in the upper mid, some crude measurements confirmed what my ears told me. The BM15s had detail but at the expense of listening fatigue. With the M30s it is effortless. The performance of the RADIAL driver gives all three a common link. The RADIAL performance is superior to most other drivers available and is a result of original research by Harbeth into cone materials and cone design. My room is 25 x 16 x 10 with M30s on one short wall placed well into the room. I am delighted by the pleasure of speakers that disappear leaving the sound floating between them. I think you will be satisfied whichever you chose.

    Ted Rook


    • #3
      Hi Don,

      cant tell you if you would miss out on anything by going for the M30 or compact 7's
      but what I can tell you is that I have a similar sized room to you, listen to classical via the radio and Jazz on CD.

      Also the SP1 was my previous speaker which I thought was the ducks nuts in terms of speakers for my taste in music

      I bought a pair of Hl5's unheard, they cost a lot more than the spendors and I was concered that after all the effort I might be left thinking "well these are not much better than the Spendors"

      Well I fired them up and was immediately delighted and amazed by the difference in sound.
      The longer I listened the more I realized that the Spendors were going to be replaced.
      The next morning I did anothe AB just to be to be shure I had not been deluding myself. I now no longer think about speaker upgrades ( except to wonder what the M40's would sound like in my room.)
      I'm a believer in using the largest size cabinet that will work in your room
      just my experience, be interesting if you can get a comparison

      I also think that separate dacs have vastly impoved, and come down in price (ie the benchmrk dac) and using one of these with your present transport I think will really surprise you.



      • #4
        Listening in Boston...

        I'm a recent SHL5 owner, living in New Hampshire. I like classical and jazz when using the Harbeth's. What fm stations' shows do you listen to in the Boston area?

        As to your question:

        My experience is that the C7 is great, the SHL5 is greater. I first chose the C7's and was pleased (read:at saving money) that I could find the lesser expensive more impressive. Subsequent listening proved that I wanted the fuller sound of the SHL5.

        My room is odd-shaped - a 15x12x8(ht) larger area combined with a 8x10x8 area on the left. Lots of wood doors - closets, bathroom and entrance. Lots of furniture, too. My actual listening area is more in line with yoursl. The Harbeth's disappear nicely and do not overwhelm at all.


        • #5
          Re: C7, HL5, or M30?

          Hi Don,

          I listened to the C7 and SHL5 at the dealer's and chose the SHL5. If I'd only heard the C7, I would have bought it in a minute. It's are wonderful. The first thing I noticed in going to the SHL5, was - what appeared to me - a slightly smoother treble. I listen to almost exclusively classical music - lots of violins. This is a critical area for me. While I could certainly be happy with the C7, the SHL5 won me over with it's treble and (for me) somewhat fuller sound in the mid to bass. My room is aproximately 15 by 20 feet. I didn't get to hear the M30, but gather it's closer in size to the C7 than the SHL5 but with a different tweeter. Would be interested to hear it. . . As others have said, getting the Radial driver and the Harbeth design is the main thing. The music will be fully revealed with whichever one you pick. Good luck -

          Ned Mast


          • #6
            Re: C7, HL5, or M30?

            Recently I heard a demo on C7ES3, I am very impress and at the same time the Harbeth dealer demo a M30 again I am speechless. However couldn't make up my mind as to which will be a better choice for long term listening pleasure.

            I like the clarity of M30 in comparison with C7ES3, however in term of bass & attack it seem that C7ES3 can do a better job. Its not that M30 does not have these qualities it just that the bass & attack seem to be less 'impressive' in comparision with C7ES3.

            I am not sure the I am putting forth the right criterior in choosing between M30 & C7ES3, by only comparing the bass and resolutions of each speakers? I believe M30 & C7 is design for different purpose or application in mind, can we generalised that C7 is more suitable for domestic used? Where M30 is for near-field listening.....

            Appreciate if some guru can highlight what other criterior should be consider in choosing M30 & C7ES3 speakers which we should be aware of....

            There is a side questions, does C7ES3 has the 'BBC midband dip' build into it?




            • #7
              Midband dip, presence dip, Gundry dip .... or not?

              Originally posted by sglim View Post
              There is a side questions, does C7ES3 has the 'BBC midband dip' build into it?
              I have said before and here again for clarity - the dip you mention does not exist in a current Harbeth speaker for these reasons ....

              1. The dip you allude to is one of more dB's and was never applied to the midband as you suggest. The 'BBC dip', much misunderstood, was applied to the presence region - much higher up the audio band. If the midband was depressed, you would comment that the sound was thin and weightless: cello would sound like a violin. A depressed midband is an entirely different phenomena to pushing the presence (the immediacy) backwards by adjusting the loudness of the presence region.

              2. The presence dip was introduced in old, long obsolete, second generation BBC speakers by their BBC designers to mask colouration - or so Dudley Harwood told me when I specifically quizzed him about this. It had a secondary (unexpected?) consequence of pushing the image away from the listener. Since we don't have any colouration in the presence region of a RADIAL driver we don't need to deceive the ear by fiddling with the energy levels in critical parts of the audio spectrum.

              3. No Harbeth designed or manufactured by me in the past 21 years has deliberately featured a dip in the midband region. Such a speaker simply would not sell these days.

              4. It is true that the ear (or at least my ear) is hypersensitive in the presence/low treble region. Extreme care has to be applied in that region during design to bring the speaker's bass-mid-top into a contiguous, seamless harmony. Fractions of a dB will make a difference to ones perception. In the crossover region, more midband and less tweeter sounds completely different to less midband and more tweet even though, measurably, they add to a flat line response at/around crossover frequency. 80% of the design effort is resolving this area.

              Hope this helps.
              Alan A. Shaw
              Designer, owner
              Harbeth Audio UK


              • #8
                Midband dip, presence dip, Gundry dip .... or not?

                Thanks for the clarification :-)