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P3ESR is a great match for the Naim Uniti!

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  • P3ESR is a great match for the Naim Uniti!

    Hello everyone

    I'd just like to say what a great match the P3ESR is with Naim's all-in-one music server, the Uniti. I tried the Uniti with various other similarly-priced speakers from very well-known companies but the Harbeths are clearly head and shoulders above the others.

    I believe the world is full of good speakers but truly great speakers are very hard to come by. The key differentiating factor in my view, is the ability to provide fatigue-free and enjoyable listening for many hours on end. In my experience, some speakers sound brilliant initially but lose their appeal after say an hour or so. This is where the Harbeths come into their own, the ability to engage my attention and entertain me for 3-4 hours at a stretch with a near-perfect tonal balance. I find myself listening late into the night, unable to tear myself away from my study where my kit is located. Great stuff!

    Now, I wonder how the P3ESRs will sound if I were to upgrade with the addition of a power amp....

  • #2
    NaimUniti with SHL5

    Hi singslingr

    Like you, I also own the Uniti which is driving my Harbeth SHL5 to great musical limpidity! I have always felt that Naim synergises well with Harbeth, from Naim's entry integrateds all the way up the Naim hierarchy to their pre/power. I have auditioned the Uniti with a NAP 250.2 but felt the Uniti sounded better as-is, at least in my set-up. Your ears might hear differently so it would be good to audition them for yourself.

    You are blessed to have a Uniti and a pair of 'baby' Harbeths (P3ESR) in your study! I have been thinking of investing in a Qute and P3ESR in my office, so that I benefit from the Naim sound at work and at leisure!


    • #3
      it will still sound the same. it is still a P3ESR even if you hook it up to a 10W 100W 1000W power amp.
      oh, let's make it clear, it is still a small speaker, and that's all you got from it. unless you upgrade to a SHL5...
      next, power amp or integrated would not make a discernible improvement.. but it might blow the speaker if it is a 1000W power amplifier if you crank up the volume


      • #4
        Thanks for the input guys but I disagree with coreydump. In my experience, more quality watts offer greater control and better dynamics at all volume levels. The key is the quality of the power - 20W from a high-quality amp is infinitely better than 50W from an ordinary amp. Similarly, 100W of a quality amp will offer better sonic benefits than 50W.

        I'm confident that the P3ESR is good enough to show the differences in quality and power among different amps.


        • #5
          Originally posted by coredump View Post
          it will still sound the same. it is still a P3ESR even if you hook it up to a 10W 100W 1000W power amp...
          coredump: with great deference, I don't think they will sound the SAME - similar perhaps but it really depends on the amplification topology - tube class A, solid state class A, class A/B, class B or class D! I think what you meant was the dynamic range will be much the same since the speaker can only be as dynamic as its enclosure and is greatly limited by its diminutive size. The P3ESR cannot sound as dynamic as the SHL5 and in turn, the SHL5 cannot sound as dynamic as the monitor 40.


          • #6
            Hey singslingr, we posted within minutes of each other! Already listening to your Uniti-P3ESR in your study? My system is in the lounge but my study is just adjacent and with the door open there is enough music that filters into the study!


            • #7
              Hello denjo, yes I was listening in my study. And yes, I agree with you about amp topology. The speaker's range is of course fixed but different amps with different power/topologies would be able to exploit that range differently.

              As for increased power and sound quality it offers, I once upgraded from a NAP 250 to two NAP 135s and found a huge jump in sound quality in the same system - more headroom, better bass control and the background silences were much quieter, if you know what I mean. This last point is very important to me because sometimes when I'm enjoying music, what's NOT there is equally important to what IS there.

              Anyway, thanks again for the input!


              • #8
                Bear in mind that the P3ESR is the least efficient of the Harbeth range, so in the same room would need a more powerful amplifier to reach the same SPLs. Typically about 3dB less sensitive than all the others, so probably about twice the amplifier power would be needed?

                So my guess is that with the P3ESRs in a smallish living room environment, you would be fine with a 20W amp which can deliver that power without running out of steam (class A or valve, or class B with conservatively designed power supply). My own 15 year old 25W class B amp is not really up to the task.

                (and now digressing onto the topic of amplifier topology) Having owned class A, B, and current-dumping amplifiers - I don't think amplifier topology has that much influence on the sound... and power supply quality has more of an influence than it's usually given credit for*. singslingr's comment about upgrading from NAP250 to 2xNAP135 is a case in point - nominal power is only marginally greater, and as I understand it the amplifier boards are exactly the same in the two products.

                Since the power supply of a class A amplifier is necessarily operating flat-out all the time, the character of the amp doesn't change much with increasing power demands, but in an unregulated class B design the signal is in effect modulated onto the rails and the variation in rail voltage affects both the gain stage and in the case of a stereo amp the performance of the other channel.

                Class B operation can be just as good as class A if the power supply doesn't "sag" when lots of current is demanded from it, and if the gain stage has its own power supply or simply has a very good PSRR (measure of immunity from power supply noise). For example Greg Ball's SKA amplifier can be configured in class A or B, and apparently sounds the same either way.

                * this is why an "old" amplifier, Quad 405 for example, sounds surprisingly good once it has been serviced.


                • #9
                  Interesting points honmanm. You could very well be right about the power supplies, which is perhaps why Naim is so obsessive about their power supplies (and why they cost so much!).


                  • #10
                    Good write-up there by Honmanm. Now I realise why the Naim Supercap power supply alone can buy 13 units of Rega Brio3 integrated with some leftover for fine dining in a posh restaurant.

                    Back to the topic, good to hear the Naim Uniti is working well with the P3ESR. The P3ESR is a gem indeed and a keeper for life. Similarly I have owned and listened to many bookshelf speakers throughout my hifi journey and the P3ESR is a class above, to my ears. As for amplification, although better sound can be had with more boxes, the simplicity of a one-box solution and absence of clutter cannot be dismissed. This is where the Uniti(alongside the Uniqute) scores full marks. If the Uniti is capable of delivering sufficient power to drive the P3ESR, a more powerful amp such as the NAP200 may not bring too much difference to the mix, which has been duly confirmed by Denjo above. A better preamp unit and separate power supply will bring more significant gains in this situation but this would not be possible with the Uniti. At the end of the day it depends on priorities and what the listener wants to achieve in his system. In my view the Uniti is already an excellent match with the P3ESR both sonically and aesthetically without the clutter of additional boxes and wire mess. IMO.

                    Enjoy the music~


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the input guys. Since space and aesthetics are not big concerns for me I'll be adding the NAP 200 soon (already added the Power-line) which is easily placed on a Mana table below the Uniti. Once fitted and run-in I'll post feedback.

                      Yes, the P3ESRs are wonderful - but I have no doubt more can be done in my system to wring the maximum performance from them!


                      • #12
                        You should clearly hear the improvement by adding the NAP 200 as greater bass extension and weight plus better definition and solidity through the mid-band. Well worth doing.