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{Updated Jan. 2017}
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Which Harbeth Speaker for my System / Room

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  • Which Harbeth Speaker for my System / Room

    I own the following stereo music system:

    FM Tuner => Magnum Dynalab MD-90
    Turntable => VPI Scoutmaster + SDS
    Digital Streamer => Linn Akurate DS + Dynamik
    CD Player => Linn Akurate CD
    Pre-amp => Linn Akurate Kontrol + Dynamik
    Power Amp => Linn Akurate 4200 + Dynamik (4 x 200W)
    Bookshelf Speakers => Linn Katan (Aktiv)
    Speaker Stands => Linn Katan Stands
    Powered Subwoofer => Linn Majik 126

    My listening room is 12 feet x 14 feet (3.6m x 4.2m) and is untreated except for furniture, area rug and curtains behind the listener. The speakers would be roughly 8 feet (2.4m) apart and 1.5 feet (0.5m) from the wall behind them with some amount of toe-in since the left speaker would be 2 feet (0.6M) from the side wall but the right speaker would have no side wall. The listening position would be roughly 9 feet (2.7m) away.

    I would like to replace my Aktiv Linn Katan bookshelf speakers + Linn Katan stands but would like to keep my Linn Majik 126 powered subwoofer.

    I listen to all types of music, except Country / Western.

    During the daytime, I like my music a little louder than normal and at night I like to listen to my music at low volumes.

    I've heard great things about the Hrabeth speakers (especially that Radial mid/bass driver) and looking at my budget, I would have to say that the Harbeth Compact 7-ES3 speaker would "fit the bill" just right.

    What do you suggest / recommend?


  • #2
    Re: Which Harbeth Speaker for my System / Room

    the room is about the size of mine too, so the C7s are just right. But, as far as you are using the sub, I wouldn't say that music would be at its best. Harbeths don't really need subs, because somes serious music (great classical or opera or jazz recordings) would probably loose some integrity and naturalness. If needed for ambient or home theater, then OK. If you'll just keep up with music though, I would strongly suggest the SHL5s (which I also have), and which will give you plenty of good bass.You'll also save some space from removing the sub. Both the 7s and the 5s are really good playing at low levels. I have to tell you that my space between speakers is just 1,8m., so don't worry. You can sit just 5 feet away from them (toed in) at your sweet spot and enjoy.
    Hope this helps,


    • #3
      Re: Which Harbeth Speaker for my System / Room

      Thanks for the feedback Thanos!

      How would you describe the sonic differences between the Compact 7-ES3 and the Super HL5?

      What would be the pros and cons of each speaker?


      • #4
        Re: Which Harbeth Speaker for my System / Room

        I heard them both and I can express some personal remarks.
        The 5s are a little more laid back than the 7s. You'll benefit from it particularly if you like big classical, orchestral, opera and ambient. This is due to the bass (certainly also from larger cabins), which acts as a very tuneful foundation to the music. Mids are exceptional for both models. The supertweeter of the 5s also creates a bit more "air" around the higher octave region. The 7s are 2 way, so I heard some slight forwarding as to voices (mainly solo) and small jazz compositions. Thats why they sometimes are heard like being a bit more "live" than the 5s, but this is subjective I guess. My 5s proved to be extremely comfortable for long night listening, no fatigue at all. By far the best speakers I ever had or tried, regarding this issue. Their bass is more powerful than what their specs suggest. But wonderfuly tuneful! They would benefit from a -say- larger room. But -as I've already mentioned- you'll not have a problem with a small room, not even if you'll place them close to each other and sit pretty close to them as well. You'll find that some essential differences in sound occur when you'll experiment with placement and toe-in. Simply thinking, I would still go for the 5s, as being more "complete" than the 7s. If you'll ever move to a larger room, you won't have to change speakers. It's always better to have something a little larger than the currently needed size. Which also applies to so many things, like clothing, horsepower, fuel, and....courage with smile in life of course! I would finally describe the two models (as to my taste of course), well... the 7s are a very warm, beautiful and loving girlfriend, while the 5s are more like a beautiful, warm and tender wife! I hope Alan won't send me to a psychologist for this! (laughlaugh)... Finally, the ultimate decision -and this is a "religious" rule for all music lovers- it's your choice after a listening test.


        • #5
          Re: Which Harbeth Speaker for my System / Room

          For 7 vs 5 sound, I agree to what Thanos said but not on the subwoofer.

          I was love sub then became hate sub...but now I love it again..recently, I heard my friend shl5 setup match extremely well with a REL Strata sub (a more than 15 yr old sub). We did tried to listen the whole setup with and without the sub. With the sub off, the 5 sound is extremely well in all area, particularly it's bass is good enough and yes, tuneful. With the sub on, all the good sound remain but the bass just play better and goes deeper, punchier and the overall stereo imaging is more enveloping. The differences with and without sub when playing classical music like Bruckner 9, Handel harp concertos, etc is obvious: with sub the musics are even more complete and fundation of the music is solid/presence.

          Good sub integration is not easy. Need a room with no serioue bass issue and a really good sub (musical sub like REL). I do not have any experience with Linn sub. But I suggest you do keep your sub for either 5 or 7. If your room do not have serious bass issue (room mode booming, etc) and the Linn sub is a good sub, I think either 5 or 7 will be benifited.
          "Bath with Music"