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Feb. 2018
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A big brother to the P3ESR a possibility ?

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  • A big brother to the P3ESR a possibility ?

    Hello all,

    First post here from a new, and extremely satisfied, P3ESR owner. The speakers exceed my expectations on all counts. Tone, realism, musical involvement, a real joy. I have them coupled to a Heed Obelisk Si3 integrated amp.

    However, to state the obvious, there's only so much a 4 1/2 inch bass-mid driver can pull off dynamics- and scale-wise, even in my small room. The two small REL subs I have added to subtly fill in the deep bass do add some welcome measure of scale and tangibility to the proceedings, but again within certains limitations I'm well aware of and am careful not to exceed -- especially with bass heavy material such as electronica.

    Which brings me to my question : will Harbeth ever consider adding a new model to their line-up, which would slot right above the P3ESR, with, say, a 6 1/2 inch bass/mid driver and similar tweeter, and slightly larger cabinet to accommodate it, BUT not as large as a monitor 30.1 or Compact 7? Essentially, something suited to small rooms and relative proximity to rear wall, just like the P3, but with just that extra measure of oomph and power handling. I would be ALL OVER that model, were it to one day exist.

    Am I dreaming? Thoughts?

  • #2
    Are the subs simply augmenting the p3 or do you have a crossover set which alleviates the 3 from low bass duty? I can see why you might have to be careful if you are using subs if just augmented as it could be difficult to establish the point where the 3 struggles, the 35W of the heed is no doubt quite limiting. I run my 3's with a 30Hz high pass filter just to take the edge away from the work the woofer needs to do, running them with a powerful pro amp allows them to play surprisingly loud even with electronic music.
    Getting to know my C7ES3


    • #3
      Acroyear: simply augmenting, yes. I agree that using a crossover could take some load off the P3s, but it would also run counter to REL's optimal connection, which is to run the mains full range for smooth integration. Even so, my present setup *can* indeed play surprisingly loud, given that I'm in a small room. But in my experience nothing beats a bigger mains driver for a sense of scale, dynamics, headroom etc. That's the only thing I sometimes feel is lacking in my current setup.
      As for the Heed, the 35W you mention was true for the previous iterations of the Obelisk. The current version (3) is now 50W, with significantly beefed up power supply -- I never feel short of power on the amp side -- it remains extraordinarily composed even at fairly high levels and on complex material. I suppose it's also saying a lot of the P3's relatively easy load, despite their insensitivity.


      • #4
        Harbeth do not normally comment on future models, but I would doubt that they will make your dream come true. Designing and prototyping a drive unit is extremely time consuming and costly. My first question for you would be how large is your listening room?
        Let me add that I tried my own P3ESRs from my study in our large living room, even if just as an experiment. I added the quite big B&W PV1d subwoofer (with Antimode 8033 room equalization - highly recommended) of the normal main system, and the result was uncanny, with deep bass seemingly coming out of such small speakers. The combination produced a bigger sound than just the P3ESRs, but it still did not quite fill the large room (40+20 sq m). Mind you, this was using the 2x140 watt Quad 606-2 of my main system for amplification.
        I think that if you want a bigger and more dynamic sound, a bigger amplifier would help, but a bigger speaker like the M30.1 would help more. The M30.1 is the smallest almost full range speaker in the Harbeth range, and the smallest speaker that can handle rather big power. My school going son is working in a supermarket to save money for a pair of M30.1s rather than P3ESRs to replace the LS3/5a that he is borrowing from me. He decided that the P3ESR was too much of a compromise for him, and that the size of the M30.1 was acceptable enough, even in the small appartments that he is likely to be confined to for the next ten or twenty years. In preparation I gave him a 2x250 watt Yamaha P2500s power amplifier, to replace the old 2x45 watt Quad 303 that he had been borrowing from me.
        So I guess it comes down to the two questions of your room size and your tolerance for bigger cabinets in your living room.


        • #5
          Originally posted by JRainville View Post
          Acroyear: simply augmenting, yes. I agree that using a crossover could take some load off the P3s, but it would also run counter to REL's optimal connection, which is to run the mains full range for smooth integration.
          I am not really sure why "REL's optimal connection" is to "run the mains full range for smooth integration". In some ways, that approach could be classed as being sub-optimal, as the main speakers are still expected to handle the full low-frequency signal load. That's not so difficult with larger speakers, but smaller speakers end up having quite large cone excursions for not much acoustic output. From REL's perspective, blending in the REL subwoofer with the main system might be a little bit easier, but the full benefits and capabilities of a subwoofer tend to be underutilised as a result. An advantage of the REL approach is that it is relatively simple, as it's unnecessary to have to deal with any high-pass filters being applied to the main speakers. However, that very advantage is also a bit of a disadvantage.

          In the case of the P3ESRs, a 2nd-order high-pass filter set at about 70 Hz will significantly reduce the low-frequency reproduction load that is placed on their 4.5-inch woofers. I can imagine that this might clear up the sound of the midrange a little, as the woofer is now working much less hard, excursion wise, especially at higher listening sound levels. The resulting 4th-order low-frequency roll-off on the P3ESRs would still be easily blended with the response of a subwoofer (or a pair of subwoofers).


          • #6
            Witwald : yes, REL's approach is certainly not optimal in all ways, but its musicality is, to my ears, its most convincing feature... Their basic argument is that by feeding the subs signal directly from the spk output terminals (rather than from a preamp signal -- which they can also do), the subs see precisely the same sound signature and timing as the mains do, yielding sound that is exactly from the same cloth. I don't know if the argument fully holds water on theoretical grounds, but they do sound extremely coherent, that is, mostly inconspicuous -- until you turn them off and hear the soundstage depth dramatically collapse, and instruments and voices lose some of their their 3d-ness and texture.

            So, given that I'm in a small room and don't need VERY high SPL, I'm more than willing to live with the excursion compromise you describe, especially given the setup simplicity and results I'm getting. I was only hoping that Harbeth might have a model on the horizon that would give just that little more breathing room and dynamics when some of my music asks for a bit more, without forcing me to spring for a MUCH larger box, and demanding placement requirements. With the tight placement I have to work with, my P3's front baffles are 2 feet from front wall, and one of them is 2 feet from the side wall. From what I've read, the 30.1 would require much more space, which I simply don't have.

            If one day I move to a larger place, however, I would very certainly consider trying your 70-hz high-pass filter strategy, which would make perfect sense (insofar as it doesn't null the other purported REL benefits described above -- only testing could tell).


            • #7
              Willem: your last sentence sums it up nicely: as I've just explained in my response to Witwald, my tolerance (or rather, my living room layout's tolerance) for significantly bigger cabinets is very low, which is why a slightly larger, sealed cabinet that would allow me to maintain the current position I have my P3s in (plus or minus a couple of inches) would be pretty much the only thing that would work. To answer your question, my room is 16 feet x 12 feet, with the speakers' front baffles 2 ft from the rear wall, and the left spk 2 ft from the side wall (right spk has more room on its side). Room is actually L-shaped with an additional 8ft deep by 8 ft wide "cavity" behind the listening position, where the small, open space bedroom is. I pull a curtain on that space when I'm listening more seriously to avoid weird reflections coming from behind me. God this is hard to explain. In any case, the details don't add much to this conversation, I feel.
              I have tried every sensible placement option in that room, and where I have them now sounds excellent. Anywhere else gets crazy bass nulls at listening position.

              About drive unit development time and cost: haven't *all* of Harbeth's drive units been developed from scratch at some point in their history? What would make developing yet another one an absolute no-go from now on? (I'm asking candidly, not cynically - let me know if there's something I don't know about Harbeth's choices for the future).

              About the Antimode: prior to me registering on this forum, your previous posts about that unit had already piqued my curiosity, but my current amp has no preamp or tape out, so that option is out for now. Should my setup change in the future, I'll definitely give it a try. But then, as I explained in my other post, this would potentially not exploit one of REL's fortes -- the direct spk connection. Man, the ever shifting balance of virtues this hobby can create! Good thing I'm already plenty happy with what I have...

              About your 30.1 suggestion: too big, or not enough room to place them for optimal performance. Read my other post.


              • #8
                Witwald and Willem: And since a picture is worth a thousand words, see attached to get an idea of my space limitations. Be aware that my very wide angle lens squashes perspective a bit. Picture taken from the listening position,10ft from the spks, which are 8ft apart. Bed+curtain Click image for larger version

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ID:	73625 is behind me.


                • #9
                  OK, this is clear even if I cannot see the picture. It makes sense. As for the Antimode, you can connect it to youir amplifier at speaker level. You can do this with the 8033s, or with the 8033 cinema with an attenuating cable (that is what I do). See here for examples and explanation: I think it works very well, and gives a far better defined bass. Because you do not have to worry that much about room modes anymore, you can also play the subwoofer at a more realistic level.


                  • #10
                    Not able to view this pic.