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Thread: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

  1. #1
    dad58gad Guest

    Default "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

    I just joined this group today and would like to give some background, which hopefully will also generate some discussion.
    About 18 months ago I sold my 12 year old Mirage 260 monitors and replaced them with Magnepan MMGs. While the Maggies are very transparent in some ways, I sadly miss the imaging of the monitors, as well as the bass, even if it was the engineered-in bass hump. I have many times heard and read great things about Harbeth, and with your help, I'll choose the right ones.
    I play acoustic guitar, and have alot of solo guitar recordings in my collection. I also listen to alot of jazz (Monk, Davis, Charlie Hunter, Patricia Barber, Diana Krall etc), and small ensemble classical. My rock music tastes go from British art rock (Yes, Crimson) to classic 60's rock.
    My electronics are Parasound Halo A23 and P3. I currently listen in a very small room (10x10). Later this year we will get a new house and I anticipate having a somewhat larger listening room. So, fully realizing the subjectivity of my questions, what do you think of the following:
    -which model would you guess makes the most sense for me?
    -are my electronics appropriate for a Harbeth speaker?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Hong Kong
    Posts
    29

    Default

    Check out SHL5 or M40. Depends on how willing you want to spend time on fine tuning, room acousitcs and electronics matching. M40 is more demanding while SHL5 is relative easier to get reasonable good result in domestic environment.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    29

    Default HL5 vs SHL5 (Musicality vs Accuracy)

    In a local audio forum, some people say they still miss the musicality and warm sound of original HL5 and prefer it over current model. Just want to check is HL5 the last design of Dudley Harwood, or it was designed by Alan Shaw?
    What is the major difference between original HL5 and current SHL5 in terms of cone material and sound character? Is it truth that we can't have both musicality and accuracy?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    South of England, UK
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    4,233

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by kevint
    In a local audio forum, some people say they still miss the musicality and warm sound of original HL5 and prefer it over current model. Just want to check is HL5 the last design of Dudley Harwood, or it was designed by Alan Shaw?
    What is the major difference between original HL5 and current SHL5 in terms of cone material and sound character? Is it truth that we can't have both musicality and accuracy?
    As with so much 'street talk', a rumor based on a misunderstanding. Although we have made thousands of these speakers, I have never heard this comment, and I simply don't believe it is accurate.

    I designed both the HL5 and the SHL5. Dudley Harwood's last model was the HL Mk4 which ended production in about 1988.

    The HL5, HL5ES and Super HL5 are fundamentally the same speaker. The HL5/HL5ES used the round Audax bass unit with the TPX cone and all three use the same main tweeter.

    The later HL5ES2 and current SHL5 use the Harbeth RADIAL driver. The crossovers are very similar from the original HL5 right through to the SHL5, the SHL5 model having the extra components to drive the super-tweeter.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  5. #5
    Martin Buninga Guest

    Default m30 or shl5

    I have listened to both speakers in a shop and favoured the shl5 at that time, because it had a deeper bass. On the other hand I also thought mid and high a littlebit more fluent or rich on the m30. The dealer was so kind to let me try the shl5 at home, but I still hesitate between the two. Maybe a combination of the m30 with sub would work out well for me.
    I am sure many have experience on this topic and I would appreciate some advise here

    I also listened to M40 in a big listening room at the shop and it sounded fabulous. As it was around christmas time they played the propius cd "cantate domino" and the soundstage was uncanny realistic. But I suspect the m40 may be too big for my listening room, which measures 8x3.85x2.65 m.(lxwxh) and is rather expensive as well.
    The shop was in fact not a harbeth dealer, but the Dutch importer, who is really enthousiastic about Harbeth, was very kind to deliver this speaker at the shop, which is in my living town Arnhem, Netherlands.

  6. #6
    Hu Guest

    Default

    IMHO, if you like classical orchestral work, M30 sound better than HL5.

  7. #7
    danrubin Guest

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hu
    IMHO, if you like classical orchestral work, M30 sound better than HL5.
    Why do you say that?

  8. #8
    Peter Jacobsen Guest

    Default

    Alan,

    I think this thread is a good opportunity for you to think about improving the Harbeth website. It's already a good site, with lots of enlightening info, but you often have to answer this kind of question on the forum, so why not put this information on the site: What do the different model-names ("compact", "ES2") mean?; What happened when they changed name (from ES to ES2)?; when did it happen?

    Of course you shouldn't reveal any company secrets or information that might otherwise be detrimental to your business, but potential customers wonder what the difference between model numbers is and make all sorts of speculations, when in fact changes could just be moving the port or perhaps of cosmetic nature.

    I think Harbeth users will find this information useful. It can even help us to research our speakers, or speakers we see on the 2nd hand market.

    "Speaker history", a new academic discipline!!!

    Regards,

    Peter

  9. #9
    sevodude Guest

    Default

    I agree. Like what was the philosophy when they moved from one model to the next, or what was the special design in that particular model etc.
    Like why the dip in 2-4khz in the shl5 and not the monitors30? Why the super tweeter and not SEAS excel?
    That will be interesting.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    South of England, UK
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    4,233

    Default The wheels of time grind slow ...

    Well considering how infrequently we feel the need to update/change/improve/tickle models - about once every five years - you'd think we were thrashing about all day making changes!
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  11. #11
    Celadus Guest

    Default

    In a very small room SHL5 and M40 are too big IMO, too much low freq unable to breathe well.
    SHL5 was my first choice but Alan suggest me the Compact 7ES-2 as a better match in small room and following his suggestion now I'm happy listening in a room nearly 4x4mt (nearly13.5x13.5ft) still a little more space doesn't hurt. M30 are smaller and another good choice. P3ES-2 is better if you don't change your very small 10x10ft room, but if you'll upgrade to a bigger room you'll miss low freq a lot.

  12. #12
    Lars Guest

    Default Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

    Hi

    I`m also looking for some new speakers for my Naim NAC 200/200 Combo. In many reviews you can read that its not a speaker for rock music. Is this true or just a fairy tale? My dealer says the same but he is not a harbeth dealer.

    Thanks Lars

  13. #13
    danrubin Guest

    Default Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars
    you can read that its not a speaker for rock music.
    There is no simple answer to that question and, ultimately, you need to listen and decide for yourself. I think it depends on what characteristics of rock music reproduction are most important to you. For me, Harbeths do a good job of conveying the "musical line", letting you follow the song and all of its parts. And they do a superb job of pulling the vocal out and making it sound real and very human. So in these respects, Harbeths are very satisfying and even rewarding with rock music.

    Where I think people find fault is with the tendency of Harbeths (I can really only speak to my SHL5's) to sound too "polite" for rock music. The speaker tends toward sweetness and softens the leading edge of transients such that raunchy, edgy electric guitar becomes a bit "prettier" than it really is. Cymbal crashes are a bit gentler than they really are.

    I am sure some others on this forum will disagree with me, but that's my experience. Rock is but one of many genres I listen to, and I find the Harbeths work wonderfully well, for the most part, across all of them. But if rock was the majority of what I listened to, I might look at other products.

  14. #14
    musicfan14 Guest

    Default Which Harbeth for me?

    I have had LS3/5a's for more than 25 years, both Spendor and Chartwell versions. I am interested in which Harbeth is most like (or I would accept better) the LS3/5a in the midrange but has somewhat more extended bass and better dynamics. From a looks perspective I would like something not real large. For instance the Monitor 40 would be too large for me even though my room is fairly large. Perhaps Allen would comment as I am sure he is very familar with the LS3/5a.

  15. #15
    Join Date
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    Location
    South Africa
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    87

    Default Re: Which Harbeth for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by musicfan14
    I have had LS3/5a's for more than 25 years, both Spendor and Chartwell versions. I am interested in which Harbeth is most like (or I would accept better) the LS3/5a in the midrange but has somewhat more extended bass and better dynamics. From a looks perspective I would like something not real large. For instance the Monitor 40 would be too large for me even though my room is fairly large. Perhaps Allen would comment as I am sure he is very familar with the LS3/5a.
    I own a pair of Harbeth HP3 ES2s, the 'speaker in the range closest to the LS3/5a. I haven't heard any of the other Harbeth 'speakers. I have, however, recently listened to some old Rogers LS3/5as, and when I bought my own Harbeths, I compared them directly to Spendor 3/5s. My overall impression is that if you're looking for sound that is generally of a similar character to the LS3/5as, but with better bass and dynamics, the Harbeth P3s fit your requirements perfectly. That's exactly what they do. I was not able to compare the P3s and Rogers LS 3/5as directly (I was on a different continent), but I got the impression that while the Rogers had an impressive amount of weight, the Harbeths did the magical trick of disappearing, leaving one listening to music rather than sound. They certainly have much better dynamics and bass than the Spendors, which are relatively light and muffled in comparison.

    It may be that the Compact 7s, with their RADIAL drivers and their greater bass and clarity, are really what you're looking for, but I understand that they're actually quite big. What I can say is that apart from the superb quality of their products, Harbeth are an exceptional company as far as their devotion to their customers is concerned. I have recently experienced this, and can say that I cannot imagine anyone getting better service and personal attention from an audio company anywhere in the world. Alan Shaw and his team are exeptional in every respect!

    David

  16. #16
    musicfan14 Guest

    Default Re: Which Harbeth for me?

    David, Thanks for the reply. What was your experience comparing the HP3's with the Spendor S3/5? I have heard the 3/5's but not the HP3's and your comments would be helpful. I think you may be right on the size. When you are used to a small speaker like the LS3/5a the 7 may be too big of a change. The Monitor 30 may be the way to go but I guess I should also consider the HP3's.

  17. #17
    Hu Guest

    Default Re: Which Harbeth for me?

    I compared Spendor 3/5 and P3 when I bought P3, for me, as David said, P3 are with better bass and dynamics.

    Now I own M30, IMHO, if you look for similar sound but bigger ones, M30 are very good choice with very natural and smooth sound.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    South Africa
    Posts
    87

    Default Re: Which Harbeth for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by musicfan14
    David, Thanks for the reply. What was your experience comparing the HP3's with the Spendor S3/5? I have heard the 3/5's but not the HP3's and your comments would be helpful. I think you may be right on the size. When you are used to a small speaker like the LS3/5a the 7 may be too big of a change. The Monitor 30 may be the way to go but I guess I should also consider the HP3's.

    As I said, I listened to the two speakers side by side in my house, using the same equipment. Conventinal wisdom is that the Harbeths are more revealing, the Spendors warmer. That's correct, except that to my ears there was no contest between the two. The Harbeths were superior in every respect, and the Spendors' "warmth" seemed to me to be coloured and veiled. Others may disagree. A friend of mine who is an audio engineer with years' experience agreed with me.

    If it helps to know what equipment I used here you are: modified Thorens 125 tt, Hadcock 242Se arm, Dynavector DV20H cartridge; Rega Planet CD player; proprietary pre-amp and phono-stage (built by my audio engineer friend; Sudgen Class-A P51 power amp (about 17 watts per channel! the Harbeths are really easy to drive); 5mm welding cable on 'speakers.

    My room is pretty large: 24 x 18 x 9ft. The speakers were 18" from the back wall and about 8' from the side walls. They're on 26" granite stands. Walls and ceilings are brick/concete; floor is concrete with parquet wood flooring. I've never felt that the Harbeths do not fill the room sufficiently, even with Mahler, and they are absolutely magical with solo piano, small jazz ensembles and classical chamber music. I hear, however, that the Compact 7s are even better, with the same degree of weight, but much greater transparency. Alas, I've never heard them. I bought the Harbeths because I wanted a much smaller 'speaker than my previous Martin Logan Aerius i's for aesthetic reasons. They're much better in all respects than the Martin Logans, especially in the treble and in the quality of their bass. And of course they look better as well.

    Hope this helps.

    David

  19. #19
    macolive Guest

    Default Re: Which Harbeth for me?

    Quote Originally Posted by David Schalkwyk
    And of course they look better as well.
    I find it interesting that most reviews say the Harbeths look plain while most Harbeth users find them good looking! I for one think my SHL5 Ebony looks gorgeous, though not a sexy young thing, they are rather like a beautiful mature woman.

    I also had a pair of Electrostats(Innersound Isis) and dumped them for the Harbeths.

  20. #20
    lucagiub Guest

    Default Re: "Which Harbeth is best for me?" New users ask ...

    Hi everybody.


    I'm new to this forum so I guess I'd better introduce myself briefly before firing my query.

    I'm 46 and I live in Italy. I've been quite into music since I was a teen-ager and I bought my first (and last for now) hi-fi system. (Thorens phono / Marantz 1040 amp / tempest lab 3 speakers...good grief! Am I that old????

    Well, My music tastes have somewhat changed since then and - though I don't refrain from playing some lively rock / rock-blues ever now and then - I tend to focus mostly on classical music (my interests range from Gregorian chant and early poliphony, baroque music to 18th-19th century opera via symphonies and concertos). I also like folk and jazz.

    Now, having decided to "invest" about 8000-9000 euros in a brand new system, I would very much appreciate your enlightened help.

    I have set my ... ears on the Harbeth Monitor 30, which - so far - I have listened to in combination with Meridian CD player (g07) and Meridian integrated amplifier (g51).

    The result was very good, although I really need to expand a bit on this, keeping the M30 as a fixed starting point and build the whole system around it.

    Among the few pieces of advice I have been given are:
    - integrated amplifier CHORD CPM 3300 (which I can buy at a considerable discount)
    - Naim 122 + Naim 200 and flatcap 2 (although I must confess, the quirkiness of the Naim in terms of cables, extra machines to add to the system to upgarade it etc. sort of tend to put me off a wee bit).
    - A friend of mine claims Myryad MXI2080 or MXI2150 would really do the trick for an interesting price.

    One more thing: my room is rather large: 4.80 X 7.30, but one long side opens for about 3/4 of its lengths to the kitchen (3x5) which is not separated from the living room. Are M30 maybe a bit too "small" for the room?


    Looking forward to your reply

    best regards

    ps Sorry for my far from perfect English

    luca

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