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Which Harbeth Compact 7es3, Monitor 30, or Super HL5?

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  • #16
    Correlation between box side and performance

    [/QUOTE]
    {Moderator's comment: the M30 is the second smallest Harbeth speaker next only to the P3ESR.}[/QUOTE]
    I thought the second smallest place belonged to the M20, is it not in production anymore? By refering to size do you mean that the smaller box is what limits scale, dynamics, low volume ability and frequency range extension? Thank you.

    {Moderator's comment: M20/P3 are the same size. It seems logical that there must be a correlation between size and performance! Otherwise we would all be using tiny PC speakers for hifi and producing concert-hall realism!}

    Comment


    • #17
      M30s and stands

      Originally posted by zindra View Post
      I also have M30, my room is big enough but I couldn't audition the SHL5 when I got the M30 and I am considering maybe changing from the M30 to the SLH5 if, when I am finally able to listen to them...
      It sounds like you are sitting quite far from the speakers and/or listen in a large room. Can you give us some dimensions? How far are you from the speakers and how large is your room? I tend to find that M30's can sound a bit 'lost' in very large rooms, especially when pushed into higher volume levels. Try to toe them in so you can just see the insides of the speaker sides.

      I have my M30's on a light open frame 'fishtank' type stand custom made by Custom Design in the UK. Please see attached picture.
      Attached Files

      Comment


      • #18
        My group-Harbeth listening session (personal opinion)

        The OP applies to me to a degree, which pair should I opt for? Tomorrow I start the listening process between the M30.1, C7's and Super 5's.
        Having only ever heard the S5’s (two occasions, totally different set ups) and being hooked on the sound ('no sound' to a degree) of these speakers I have struggled to settle with my own monitor speakers, owned for 10 plus years. It would be easy to just pick up a set of S5’s as I know what they can do and add to that the room size they will be used in it should really be a no brainer.

        Here’s the rub, since hearing these speakers I had to look more closely at them and do a little research (which ultimately led me here). The more I read the more I knew that simply selecting any given set of Harbeth’s without giving the other type’s (well the ones both in my price range and environment needs) would be a mistake. The original plan was to “borrow” both the 7’s and 5’s from my local dealer for a few days to see (hear) which performed in my environment to my liking. Leaving out the M30.1’s would I feel be a mistake.

        To that end all three sets will be given an “airing” over the course of a couple of hours tomorrow. Analogue and digital will be played, music as well as speech. This short (but long enough) session does not exclude any or all of these speakers being “borrowed” for two/three day sessions.

        Before all this starts I will add this. I love the look of the larger 5’s but in practical terms the 30’s are more suited to me. Neither of these points will be considered in any way come decision time.

        Comment


        • #19
          Listening strategy

          A couple of suggestions based on auditioning I've done in the past:

          1) If your prime source is digital put together a CDR containing a selection of your favourite music that covers voice, acoustic and electronic material, with good dynamic range.

          2) After extended listening to one of the 'new' speakers (a week if possible) revert back to your existing speakers for a period. Repeat this process for each new speaker and then use the same approach to a shoot-out between the 2 you like best. Maybe this is stretching your dealer's patience but as you are about to make a major long-term investment he should be accommodating.

          Best of luck and happy listening.
          David

          Comment


          • #20
            Further thoughts - SHL5 now at home on demo

            Thanks David.
            I took a slightly different approach. I took along a good selection of CD's, Jazz, Folk, Classical (string based, full orchestral), rock, acoustic, spoken word, Motown and "world" music. I backed this up with just three LP's. Jazz and rock. Being a short session which ran from the two hours planned to two and a half I wanted to max out the time by using CD.

            It would be unfair to even attempt to "review" these speakers based on such a short time spent with them but here's a few thoughts .....
            I spent as much time as possible on each set of Harbeths. The C7's kicked the session off followed by the 30's and finally the 5's.
            Such big differences between the three sets (the session lead to me questioning the dealer about the M40's, but as they have never had a set in this resulted in a discussion based on speculation from both sides).

            I am fortunate enough to know my dealer well enough for them to allow me the loan of both the M30's and Super 5's for a few days (including stands for both and some cable as the listening space [living room] has been rearranged to the extent that my cables are too short for the new layout). This cable also came in handy as I had to move the 5’s 6 more inches from the rear wall than I had planned as the bass “splashed”.

            So, the 5's are now in place and will be listened to for two days then I'll swap them for the 30's which will be afforded the same time.
            This will leave me with an afternoon to swap them around if needs be before being returned.

            Comment


            • #21
              Room info

              Hi Tryfan,
              looking forward to your impressions on the SHL5 and M30.1's. Could you tell something about your room, dimensions and furniture, listening position.

              Regards
              Peter

              Comment


              • #22
                Brought to tears by choice

                Thanks Peter,
                I'll certainly reply more fully in a day or so. I just changed over to the M30.1's this afternoon. I had to take a break as the weather was affecting my sinus (resulting in a headache).

                Now I'm sitting listening again and am finding it so hard to choose between these two sets of speakers, the set that nearly brought me to tears or the set that did?
                The power of music :-)

                Comment


                • #23
                  With only one sleepless night I reached the point of no return

                  Maybe it was the fact that they brought me to tears and the the others didn't or maybe it was just simple reasoning at home?

                  Well it was simple to make a decision in the in the end. Just listen and be honest with yourself and forget about the prestige (more bluntly, the snobbery) and the aesthetic. It can be hard when you predetermine something, can’t it? But I did that at the dealers and I came to a point that I knew what speaker was going to be purchased. Would that change?

                  Keeping it as short as possible here is what has occurred over the last four days.
                  I had the chance to spend a couple of hours (turned into 2 ½) with the company of three pair of Harbeths, C7’s, M30.1’s and the Super 5’s. At the dealers the TT set up was close to mine at home while the amp at home is integrated I was using same make at the dealers but here it was pre and power. My CD player dates back to the late 80’s while the dealer matched the Naim power with a Naim CD player. None of this mattered as I knew I was going to be listening to at least two pair of the speakers at home. These next couple hours are all about seeing (hearing ) just what the three differing pair could do alongside each other and how they appealed or otherwise to me. The Wednesday listen at the dealers allowed me to discount the C7’s, these where set up when I arrived. Lovely speaker which handled every genre of music I played with ease. Just didn’t work for me, too bright? It sounded like the speaker wanted to please and maybe was trying too hard across the board. Maybe a different set up in a different environment would suit this speaker along with a different ear.

                  Next up the 30.1’s, these had me sitting up immediately. They certainly grab you with the focused sound, ability to sound an instrument and a texture which is natural to the recording and not added (to) by a speaker. They didn’t handle the whole range of music played as well as the 7’s, falling down on bass delivery and complex passages of classical music. Still, very hard to ignore the strong points.

                  Last up were the SHL5’s. I had heard these speakers twice before. Once with some Chord power and once with a tube set up, both with a TT, totally different TT’s on each occasion. Wow, they delivered on every track of every LP or CD I played. While all of the Harbeths take the music out of the box these 5’s did it with so much ease. I had the bass I was lacking at times with the 30’s and it was presenting a soundstage way beyond what both the 30.1’s and 7’s could do. Easy to make a decision here and now. But I’m in a dealers listening room with a different set up to my own. If nothing else simple curiosity required sating, at home.


                  Wednesday afternoon, car unloaded of speakers, cable and stands the SHL5’s found themselves up first simply as they were in the living room. The room being used is approx. 10x20x8 feet, fully carpeted wooden floor. The set is shooting the length of the room while the rear of the speakers consists of mostly glass, curtained. Behind my listening position is a half wall. Two sofas are the main furniture items in the room that will make any difference to the sound. The 5’s had something like 17 hours of playing various material, both material I had used at the dealers and plenty of other, notably more, vinyl. The speakers took a lot of positioning to get the best out of them but it was noticeable quite early on that they could not perform as they did in the dealer’s room. Was that the power difference or the environment? I was leaning towards the environment but that would be a little clearer when the 30.1’s had been given a chance. What was missing was a focus, no matter how I set these speakers (removing the toe in made a huge difference) I could not get that focus of sound I had heard earlier. Initially the bass was splashing but simply 6 – 8 inches away from the rear wall cured most of this. But nor could I get the soundstage I had been hearing, be it via the CD or TT set up.

                  I eventually switched to the 30’s. Though I was less pleased with the 5’s I was still convinced that these would be the ones I would be purchasing. Just ‘because they didn’t match the dealers room was not a reason to discard them or was it? If the 5’s struggled maybe the 30’s would too? Oh no, not at all. I had them singing their little crossovers out from the off. No matter how I positioned them except with very little rear space did they become flustered in their sound and even then it was simply a booming bass. Bass? But that was missing at the dealers on some tracks!! My oh my what an eye opener it was to hear these little monitors perform like this. My jaw was well and truly on the floor (just glad of the carpet). Whack up the volume, focused no matter what the music. Do that thing with the very low volume (which I tried with the 5’s) and still the sound is so detailed and precise. I know, let’s try the classical material it struggled with at the dealers, surely this will throw the buggers. No is not quite true but the limitation of the speaker was less apparent here at home. I hope you can see how much I wanted the 5’s? Nothing I could do would faze these 30.1’s here in my living room. Unbelievable performers.

                  I know some of you will be bored by now, not enough technical detail etc. but let’s be honest, this is about how I hear and experience these three sets of speakers. Maybe I should have brought the C7’s home too. Can’t say they would have impressed as much as the 30’s. These are not trying to anything other than deliver and that they do in a strange, casual but bluntly direct manner. I was still determined to give the 5’s a another go (see how desire can get you?). I switched back to the 5’s after about 12 or so hours of the 30.1’s and here is the key for me. I couldn’t wait to switch back to the 30.1’s. I switched speakers at this point on single track or sections of track to highlight various points between the two sets of speaker on the final full day of listening (Saturday). Every time the 30’s got the nod but by now I had clearly reached my conclusion.

                  So all done bar the purchase. When I return the £5000 (ish) of gear to my dealer in Warrington (Doug Brady) on Monday the order will be placed for the 30.1’s, a pair of stands (that reminds me, think I’ll give these a go on my old stands tomorrow) and some cable. I was loaned some Chord Odyssey to allow for better positioning as my LFD Spiroflex was a little short for all this repositioning. I did try out the ‘flex cable on the Harbeths but did not have the time to evaluate this plus setting up between the two was taking too long for a real assessment to take place.

                  When it comes to Harbeth speakers, the only remaining thing left for me is to have a listen to the M40.1's. Not to buy just to hear how they sound. Now I await the Harbeth amp with interest as that is my next step, a new amp but not just yet I need plenty of time to recover and earn some money :-)

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Music choices?

                    Great post,
                    I can really mostly follow your decision. What musical material did you hear?

                    Regards
                    Peter

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Play list for audition

                      Originally posted by chirhonix View Post
                      Great post,
                      I can really mostly follow your decision. What musical material did you hear?

                      Regards
                      Peter
                      I was going to conclude with a list of material and format that I took to the dealers and a list of what I added while at home.
                      I still have the speakers here along with the audio so will list up the material (and maybe a couple of comments) later.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        A little later ............ my auditioning playlist

                        Peter, best I could do in the short time I have this afternoon.

                        From the listen at the dealers the following all had a play on the C7’s, M30’1’s and most of them on the Super 5’s.
                        Vinyl:
                        The Beatles. Let It Be Naked
                        Chickenfoot. Chickenfoot

                        CD:
                        John Betjeman. A First Class Collection
                        Jeff Beck. Who Else!
                        Bach and Vivaldi: Violin Concertos.
                        Scottish Guitar Quartet. Fait Accompli
                        John Coltrane. Blue Train
                        Jimi Hendrix. First Rays of the New Rising Sun
                        Acoustic Alchemy. Positive Thinking
                        The Temptations. The Ultimate Collection
                        Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabate. Kulanjan

                        Whilst I took more material the listening was limited to time available, the schedule two hours did overrun by 30 minutes.
                        All these had repeat plays only much more fully on the M30.1’s and Super 5’s back home over a period of three days along with these ………………………
                        Vinyl:
                        Jimi Hendrix …………………..
                        BOG (200 Grm Quiex SV-P Classic Records
                        Electric Ladyland Track (3rd pressing)
                        Axis. Bold As Love. Back to Black all analogue EH / Universal
                        Chopin Nocturnes played by Moura Lympany
                        Van Morrison.............
                        Moondance. A Hoffman remaster
                        Veedon Fleece
                        George Benson. In Concert – Carnegie Hall
                        Steely Dan. The Royal Scam
                        Kate Bush. The Kick Inside
                        Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent
                        Delta Swamp Rock. Sounds from the south: Rock, Country and Soul
                        The Grateful Dead – Anthem Of The Sun (Another wonderful repress)
                        Lightnin’ Hopkins. The Blues Of (AcousTech repress cut at 45rpm)
                        David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust ….. (Yet another repress)
                        Pink Floyd. Dark Side Of The Moon ………….and again, a repress
                        Supertramp. Crime Of The Century.
                        Richard Thompson. Live from Austin Texas
                        Doors. L.A. Woman (The Workshop sessions)

                        CD:
                        John Martyn. Solid Air
                        Van Morrison. Moondance
                        Richard Thompson. Rumour and Sigh
                        Requiem. Various
                        Red Hot Chill Peppers. Blood Suger *** Magik
                        On Christmas Day, New Carols from King’s.
                        Them Crooked Vultures. Same
                        Norah Jones. Come Away with Me
                        Alison Kraus and Union Station. Paper Airplanes
                        Eva Cassidy. Songbird
                        Kate Rusby. Underneath the Stars
                        J.J. Cale. Okie
                        Antonio Vivaldi. Guitar Concertos

                        Well no comments, sorry. I don’t think I covered all the material here at home as some did get put back in the racking, certainly some vinyl as I did play other Jazz LP’s.
                        This though gives a fairly good overview of what I took along and have been listening to over the last few days. Many of these had repeat plays between both pairs of speakers, in fact all of them did :-)

                        The Super 5's are reboxed and ready to be returned while the M30.1's are still playing away and will do through to bed time.
                        I'll probably not be playing my HiFi till I get my new speakers, hope I don't have to join a waiting list but if I do the wait will be worth it.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Try the C7ES3?

                          Why not give the Compact 7 a try? They're bigger than the Monitor 30s and should you give you additional bass weight while possibly having the same sound signature as the Monitors, which also have Radial drivers. Compact 7s are cheaper too . . .

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Great list

                            Tryfan,
                            that's an impressive list, quite diverse. But many of my favorites there too. So I can follow your decision quite well.
                            Thanks for the effort.
                            Peter

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Was M30 not M30.1

                              Originally posted by muypogi View Post
                              Why not give the Compact 7 a try? They're bigger than the Monitor 30s and should you give you additional bass weight while possibly having the same sound signature as the Monitors, which also have Radial drivers. Compact 7s are cheaper too . . .
                              I heard the C7's at the dealers and they are as impressive as the 30's and 5's. Hard for me to say why they didn't get a home try. Just didn't work as well for me. I got the Bass from the 30's at home that appeared to be missing (on some material) at the dealers.

                              One correction I have to make here. I returned the speakers to the dealers and placed an order for the 30.1's. While ordering it was made clear to me that the speakers I had loaned were in fact the 30's and not the 30.1's I had posted about earlier.

                              I should have know as I did read that the bi-wire connection had been dropped for the 30.1's. Some things can take over and the obvious is / was overlooked, my error though slightly misinformed!

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                What veneers?

                                Hi Tryfan, not surprised that the M30s worked out well in your room. I had mine for over 6 years . I'm sure the M30.1 are even better .

                                What wood finish are you going for? (mine where in cherry) but the tiger ebony sure looks nice!.

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