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Which Harbeth and system for this size room?

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  • Which Harbeth and system for this size room?

    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

  • #2
    Originally posted by che13 View Post
    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

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by che13 View Post
      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.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by honmanm View Post
        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

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by che13 View Post

          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.

          Comment


          • #6
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by yeecn View Post
              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                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

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by kittykat View Post
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by che13 View Post
                    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/s...hen-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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        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.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          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 (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.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by hifi_dave View Post
                            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.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              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!

                              Comment

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