HUG - here for all audio enthusiasts


"This Harbeth User Group (HUG) is the Manufacturer's own managed forum dedicated to natural sound, realisable by controlling the confounding variables between tthe microphone and the listeners' ears.

For example, the design of and interaction between the hifi amplifier and its speaker load can and potentially will alter the sound balance of what you hear. To reproduce the sounds captured by the recording microphones, as Harbeth speakers are designed to do, you would naturally select system components (sources, electronics, cables and so on) that do not color the sound before it reaches the speakers.

Identifying components for their system neutrality should, logically, start with the interpretation and analysis of their technical, objective performance, as any and every deviation from a measurably flat frequency response at any point along the serial chain from microphone to ear is very likely to cause the total system to have an audible sonic personality. That includes the contribution of the listening room itself.

HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, aiding the identification of audio components likely to maintain a faithful relationship between the recorded sound and the sound you hear. With our heritage of natural sound, HUG cannot be really be expected to guide in the selection, approval, endorsement or even discussion of equipment that is intend to introduce a significantly personalised sound to the audio signal chain. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various electronics offered there. There is no on-line substitute for that time investment in a dealer's showroom.

If you desire to intentionally tune your system sound to your personal taste, please consider carefully how much you should rely upon the subjective opinions of strangers. Their hearing acuity and taste will be different to yours, as will be their motives and budget, their listening distance, listening loudness and listening room treatment, not necessarily leading to appropriate equipment selection and listening satisfaction for you.

Alternatively, if faithfully reproducing the sound intended by the composer, score, conductor and musicians over your speakers is your audio dream, then understanding something of the issues likely to fulfill that objective is what this forum has been helping with since 2006. Welcome!"

Jan. 2018
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How many Harbeths do you own?

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  • How many Harbeths do you own?

    This thread invites users with more than one pair of Harbeth speakers to tell us what they own, which rooms they are in, and their experiences.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  • #2
    Re: How many Harbeths do you own?


    I've 3 pairs.
    1st pair - C7ES3 in main music room (11'W x 19'L x 9'H)
    2nd pair - SHL5 in my living room. (17'W x 19'L x 10'H)
    3rd pair - P3ES2 in my small home office/study room (9.5'W x 15'L x 9'H)

    I was listening to SHL5 for 2 years in my main music room before decided to get both the C7ES3 and P3ES2 at the beginning of this year.

    All 3 pairs sound great and allow me to enjoy my music (mainly classical and opera) in my main music room. But my current preference/favourite is the C7ES3 as my main music listening speaker.

    Best regards,


    • #3
      Re: How many Harbeths do you own?

      Dear fellow Harbeth-owners,

      My Compact 7 (the first ed.) has been serving me years of wonderful sound reproduction.... and Yes, one pair of Harbeth just can fulfill my hi-fi needs. =)




      • #4
        Re: How many Harbeths do you own?

        Boss and fellow Harbeth-owners,

        Soon my M30 of 30 anniversary edition will arrive, so I own two pairs of M30s.




        • #5
          Re: How many Harbeths do you own?

          Our family have 2 pairs of Harbeth at the moment.

          A pair of HL-Compact from the very early 90s in my Dad's living room

          A paif of Compact C7ES-3 in my living room

          No plan to buy or sell any in the near future expect for upgrading to SHL5 when living condition allow (ie. have more space) or when Alan announces that he is not making speakers any more, then i surely will have to stock a pair or two SHL5, wonderful speakers for great music, that I wouldn't want to part with for the rest of my life.


          • #6
            Re: How many Harbeths do you own?

            2 pairs of P3s - one in my dad's living room and one in mine,
            the former in teak veneer and the latter in walnut. Been listening
            to these for > 15 years.

            yslee - what are your comments on the difference between the SHL5 and
            C7ES3 ? Why did you swap them in your main listening room?
            Apologies if this is sligthly off topic, I did not want to move this thread.



            • #7
              Re: How many Harbeths do you own?

              An embarassment of riches, I must admit, as I own two Models. My first pair is a 25th Anniversary Edition of the Compact 7 ES 2's, in the lovely and rare maple finish, mounted on Epos 12 20" open frame stands. These are in a fixed installation with vintage conrad- johnson tubes up front (PV 10A pre amp, MV 75 A1 amp) and also a rather rare GSI modified Dynaco Stereo 70. It uses the now defunct 8417 power tube and is wired for 28 WPC, push-pull triode. This is the best sounding amp in my house, including a pair of Quicksilver Audio V4 monos-now that's saying something. Sources are a Califronia Audio Lab CD player and a Project 1 X-Pression turntable, Sumiko Blue Point Special cartridge.

              I recently aquired my second pair, a 30th Anniversary Edition of the Monitor 30. These are in rosenut, and sit on Foundation 24" open frame stands. I am a professional musician and use these in a variety of systems and settings, often to listen critically to recordings of my own work. I love the portability of these speakers and their utterly neutral and transparent sound. Sometimes they reside in the basement with vintage NAD gear in front, including an original 3020 amp which still sounds quite good, nearly 29 years after I originally purchased it. When I really want to hear it all, I'll park them in front of the Magneplanar MG III A's in my main rig upstairs. Here they are fed by a VPI HW 19 Mk 4, a Well Tempered Arm/Grado Reference Sonata, Njoe Tjoeb CD player, Audible Illusions Modulus 3 A pre-amp and the Quicksilver V 4's. The Excel Tweeter in the 30's rivals the ribbon in the Magneplanars, and overall, I don't have a preference between these two speakers-the 30's are that good!

              Going from the Compact 7's to the Monitor 30's is like moving from Row K to Row C in the same concert hall-same overall sound, but with a different perspective. Each is equally addictive in its own way.

              Alan, many thanks and blessings to you and your entire staff for bringing music to life in my home and providing me with a tool for critical evaluation!


              Bob LaBarca
              State College, PA


              • #8
                A pair of different sized Harbeths

                I own a pair of early HL Monitors, Serial Numbers 228 A&B, bought secondhand. They have had replacement Audax tweeters and new grilles. These are in my main living room. Also a pair of '93 HL-P3s, also bought secondhand. These have new grilles supplied by Harbeth. The P3s are in my Conservatory.

                The HL Monitors give a sense of scale to music, which is somewhat lacking with the P3s. I use a turntable with MC cartridge, radio tuner or Minidisc with the Monitors, and also a CD player sometimes. The P3s are more 'intimate' speakers. Listening to vocals, such as Nat King Cole, gives me a sense of being close to the singer. I use mainly a CD player ( a Naim ) and an occasionally an old AR XA turntable with a MM cartridge . Both Harbeths give me a great deal of musical satisfaction. If I had the money I would probably change the HL Monitors for, perhaps, M30s and the HL-P3s for P3ESRs.


                • #9
                  Some choices but be careful ...

                  My suggestion MGM would be to change the HL's ONLY for the SHL5's if the room allows it (your experiences posted here and there suggest this is fine ). The P3ES's could become ESR's or M30's, if you can find a pair of series 1 versions at a good price (I really don't think there's a huge difference between them, just an 'evolutionary' refinement of what's there, in the same way that M30's build on a well 'warmed up (for the suspensions) pair of LS5/9's, these latter being rather more temperature sensitive in their old age I suggest.

                  The way I came to lend out and eventually sell my lovely HL5's (domestic issues and nowt to do with the speakers themselves) is very sad looking back, but since I'm coming round full circle with some inherited, rebilt and much loved Spendor BC2's, which aren't as 'seamless' as any Harbeth, but which have the 'family resemblance' nonetheless, it's inevitable that I'll have some more Harbeths at some point in the future as nothing else for midrange reproduction will quite do ;)


                  • #10
                    My multi-system

                    I seem to have become a member of the multi-Harbeth owners club as well. Currently loving my P3ESR's in luscious Rosewood in my smaller room that is largely for spinning vinyl and listening to radio with a refurbished Luxman T-12 FM tuner, powered by a SIM Audio 250i this system is controlled, and yet musical. I consider this system more flexible, and the electronics here may soon get switched out. Latest addition is a wonderful new Ortofon Cadenza Red.. it's a beauty !

                    My Rosewood SHL5's are powered by some of Blue Circle's top offerings, the fully tubed BC303-DWBB is a fully balanced 2 chassis beastie that has some beautiful sonic skills. The motive force for the SHL5's comes from a BC206-NST. this amp was initially a fully hybrid BC206, but Gilbert had developed a new pre-driver option that removes the tubes and makes it a fully solid state unit (NST= No Small Tubes ! <--- Get it ?)

                    The synergy with the tube pre-amp, and solid state power amp, along with the SHL5 is truly a joy, and fully captures both grace and scale in full measure. Sources in this rig are a dedicated music server PC running Jriver18 to a Calyx 24/192 DAC and a Magnum Dynalab MD102"T" tuner.. yes.. I enjoy radio !

                    The DAC may soon be switched out in this system, but it will require some some serious homework and trial before I upset the apple cart and mess up the good balance I currently have achieved. The Calyx truly punches above it's weight particularly when running from it's balanced outputs and with the external PSU.

                    I also did own a pair of M30's for a couple of years prior to the arrival of the SHL5's and it honestly is a toss up between the 2 models, the M30 was perhaps more "honest", the SHL5 more beguiling in its charms, but my room was large enough to readily support the SHL5 and I've certainly not regretted the swap.


                    • #11
                      The fresh Harbeth sound

                      I am currently owning a pair of Teak finishing Compact 7 in a delicated room and a pair of Rosewood finishing Super HL5 at living hall. My only wish in this hobby now is to own a pair of M40.1 one day. I am happy and stay put as now.

                      My home music playback thru both Harbeths never failed to impress me in this almost 10 yrs of ownership. The music seem forever fresh like mountain air.

                      "Bath with Music"


                      • #12
                        Twin Harbeths in my home

                        I currently own two pairs of Harbeths - P3ESR and M30.1. Both finished in a lovely cherry, and sit on custom made open frame stands.

                        I have been using the M30.1 with my Devialet 110 as my main system and the P3ESR as a second system. I have owned P3ESRs before, but returned back to them a couple of times now.

                        I have rotated the Harbeths in my main system and have been comparing the P3ESR and M30.1 once again in the same room (4x4mx3.2m)

                        Itís had to say which is best suited to my needs. The P3ESR visually blend into the room better but still have ample scale. The M30.1 are a little better on the fine details and sense of realism, but I sometimes have to calm the bass a little with the tone controls. Whilst the M30.1 are probably the better speaker, I do enjoy what mini monitors can do.

                        Both are fantastic speakers!

                        Has anyone else had the pleasure of owning / comparing both models? Any preferences?


                        • #13

                          Own 2 pairs, about 2 months back, managed to secure a deal of the Ls3/5a Alan Shaw Signature Edition, Ebony finish, pure honey. Subsequently bought a pair of SHL5, Tiger Ebony finish, hopefully the M40.1 in the near future.


                          • #14
                            Ordered both pairs!

                            I could not decide so I ordered 30.1 and 40.1 at the same time. I think they will both be perfect.


                            • #15
                              Amazing P3 bass

                              I still have my pair of P3ESRs that I've been pulling out to compare to my new M30.1s, but sadly, I have no room for my P3s and they are up for sale.

                              I'll be sad to see them go, they are truly astounding speakers that always leave me shaking my head in disbelief at how much in-room bass and big-sound scale they are capable of.