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Thread: Experience with Music Hall or Audiolab?

  1. #1
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    Default Experience with Music Hall or Audiolab?

    Hi, I am currently in the process of building a quality listening system consisting of P3ESR or P3ES2 speakers.

    I was wondering if anyone has experience using Music Hall or Audiolab with Harbeth speakers? Both seem highly regarded. Music Hall offers two integrated amps (the a15.2 and the a25.2) and a couple CD players. The Audiolab components would consist of the 8200 CDQ and the 8200 power amp or a pair of the 8000 series mono's.

    I have read on numerous threads that the speakers are easy to drive and each amp should provide ample power. The Audiolab components appear to cater to a variety of uses besides a cd player (DAC, digital audio, etc) so in terms of versatility it is an obvious winner. The Music Hall amp/cd combo is not as expensive as the Audiolab gear. I do not possess the funds at this time to make the jump to Naim which is how I narrowed down these brands.

    I have not had a chance to audition the Music Hall as the amps have not been available. I listen primarily to CD's and a variety of music including light rock, jazz, blues, reggae. Do any users have any experience with these brands in regards to driving Harbeth speakers and could you possibly elaborate on your experience?

  2. #2
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    Hi Haligonian:

    Not sure why you're considering the P3-ES2 as they're the discontinued model; by all means go for the P3ESR if you have a choice: the RADIAL driver is a great advance and worth paying more for.

    I haven't heard either the Music Hall or the Audiolab though as has been repeated here ad nauseam Harbeths will work well with any competently designed amp, and the audible differences between amplifiers, while possibly noticeable, will not be hugely significant.

    That said, if you're going to buy a Chinese-built amp (which both of the above are), why not consider an NAD instead? The advantage (besides the fact that you will know who designed your NAD) being that NAD are owned and distributed by Lenbrook in Canada, who also own/distribute PSB speakers, so you know they're in it for the long haul. That means (1) your amp's resale value is more likely to be preserved, and (2) you're more likely to be able to get the amp properly serviced if/when this is required.

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    I appreciate the advice EricW. In my experiences with NAD, I have always felt that something was missing. While I am sure most audio enthusiasts in Canada have owned NAD equipment at one point or another, I was never really impressed with the look of them. I should have mentioned that I am shooting for something a bit more visually appealing to match the beautiful veneer of the Harbeth's.

    I am really not concerned with NAD resale value either, and there are a number of reputable repair shops in town. My largest concern is that the P3ESR (!) will be a starting point for me with the intent of eventually upgrading to a larger Harbeth model. I would like to continue to use the same CD Player/Amp during this transition.

    Is there an amp you would recommend that is not made in China?

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    I'm driving P3ESR's with an NAD C326BEE with a C545BEE and Rega RP1 for sources. Sounds great! Gotta replace the cheap amp jumpers on the NAD's and then they really sing. Another option is the new Rega Brio R. Well build and better than any Rega integrated to date (besides the Elicit and Osiris) .

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    I agree with ArtK: based on long-ago (mid to late 1990s) experience with both a Rega Brio and a Rega Mira, I doubt you'd go far wrong with a Rega product.

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    Fellas, thanks for the heads up on Rega. I did own a Rega turntable and it was fantastic - never thought to look back on the brand. I will check out the combination at my local dealer in the upcoming week. Thanks for the help EricW and ArtK, you may have opened a door for me.

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    The new Rega Brio R is a great amp and unbeatable at anywhere near the price. I have heard the Audiolab and NAD amps and can confirm that the Rega is on a different planet.

    It isn't available here just yet, so not sure when it will reach your shores but it shouldn't be too long. Be patient, it is worth the wait.

  8. #8
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    Default P3ESR with Audiolab

    Our local dealer presented at the last SSI in Montreal the Harbeth P3ESR paired with two smalls mono-blocks from Audiolab. Excellent match from what I heard. I already reported here on the HUG. Hope you can listen to this match in an environment and electronics similar to yours.

    Sébastien

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    The new Rega integrated looks like it might be a bit out of my budget. I will look into the 'older' brio though. Its looking like I can save some space with some of these smaller components...

    And thanks for the heads up on your posting regarding Audiolab, i'll be sure to check it out.

    Music Hall is the least expensive route to go, does anyone have any experience with their amps?

  10. #10
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    Music Hall is built in China and doesn't sound a bit better than NAD. By most accounts the new Rega Brio R is very special. I owned the Mira 3 and it was not any better sounding than my present NAD C326BEE. Dave and I will disagree on that. A friend on another forum also mentioned that his recent experience with an NAD C356BEE was that it sounded better than his Rega separates...different strokes. Is Exposure too expensve where you live? The 2010S is a very nice little integrated so too is the Creek Evolution 2. Most of these amps are built in China.

    If you can stretch your budget I'm betting that the Rega Brio R will meet your needs and your desire for an amp that isn't built in China.

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    The new Rega Brio R is £480 in the UK, so it's not much different to the Audiolab surely ?

    If the R is really out of your budget, the previous Brio is still a very good amp and available for around £300 now.

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    hifi Dave, you are right. That would still fall within my budget, and I could just purchase a used Rega CD player to make up an shortcomings. I have been pretty fixated on using separates in the last few years, but will give the R a shot.

    I imagine the Rega might be future proof when the need for larger Harbeth's come into play as well. Art K, what speakers/source did you hear the Brio-R with?

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    It's a good 50 watts and has plenty of drive and grip. Sounds really good with the M40.1 !!!

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    I have not listened to the Brio R (that's why I stated "by most accounts") but I owned the Mira 3 and those that I know that are familiar with both prefer the Brio R to the Mira 3. Some even prefer the Brio 3 to the Mira 3...I'd say it's mixed. I prefer my NAD C326BEE to both. That said everyone I have spoken to (that has listened to all) has stated that the Brio R is head and shoulders better than the Mira 3 and the Brio 3. That and the fact that it is not made in China makes it a default recommendation in it's price range for your needs. Dave has listened to all three and can give you a good comparison.
    Last edited by Art K; 13-05-2011 at 02:34 AM. Reason: posted before finished

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