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Thread: New Harbeth P3ESR

  1. #1
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    Default New Harbeth P3ESR

    I see from Stereophile's CES 2009 blog that Harbeth has released a new version of the P3 using a radial cone!

    http://blog.stereophile.com/ces2009/...tes_a_classic/

    If I had not just bought my Stirling LS3/5a a couple of months ago, I'd buy a pair of these new P3R's... DOH! This fulfills one of the 2 things I'd really like to see from Harbeth. The other is the floorstander.

    Or if not a floorstander, I'd really like to see something to fill the huge gap (in terms of price) between the SHL5/M30 and the M40.1

    Will

  2. #2
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    Default New Harbeth P3ESR - production when?

    Actually, the prototype which I showed at the CES I brought out with me from the UK having worked over the Christmas break on voicing it. We are some way from mass production and the P3ES2 still has a strong following and is still being reviewed so we're not rushing into this new variant after 19 years of P3 > P3ES2 production. The current SEAS based M20 version of the P3ES2 continues in production for the foreseeable future as the BBC are in the middle of a re-equipping programme replacing other monitors with M20 and are happy with it. We've lots of parts for the P3ES2/Monitor 20 in stock so these products are very much alive and selling and they are great mini monitors.

    Furthermore, we just don't have the capacity to slot these new P3ESRs into our full order book without carefully managing the transition or it will inevitably slow down other production. There are some custom made parts (such as the injection moulded RADIAL cone, new cabinet, new tweeter, crossover etc.) which are on order from suppliers but we're at the back of their production queues. There are no plans to make any other demonstration pairs as we just don't have the parts to do so and certainly no formal reviews are planned until we are ready for production. A marketing launch will be scheduled for March/April.

    So you are welcome to order through your dealer but the delivery date will be after May 09 and we expect the first batches to be snapped-up.

    If anything changes we'll let you all know through the Harbeth User Group. Thanks for your patience.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  3. #3
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    Default Complimenting low frequencies ...

    Good news! And I almost purchased version 2 to replace my Harbeth LS 3/5a. Have you ever been thinking of complementing the P3/M20 with a subwoofer? I have no idea if that might work, but it would be a wonderful solution for the small living room!

  4. #4
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    Default Subwoofer for P3ESR?

    Quote Originally Posted by henningh View Post
    Have you ever been thinking of complementing the P3/M20 with a subwoofer? ...
    Actually, right at the top of my Designer's Briefing for the new speaker was the mandate that the bass had to be strong - unusually good for a small speaker - just like the P3ES2 which is a class-leader for bass output.

    You've reminded me - we did make a speaker stand-subwoofer product called the Harbeth Xtender some years back, but many users reported that there was enough bass for typical music even without the Xtender. However, it's an interesting concept and one we should look at again.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  5. #5
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    Default Re: New Harbeth P3ESR

    The bass of the P3ES2 is surprising indeed! But by nature, its size does not allow to reproduce a cello and double bass section of an orchestra in a believable way. That's where a dedicated subwoofer for the P3 could be of great help. Personally, I would like to have a subwoofer as an extra box which I could hide behind the piano (or curtain) instead of a speaker-stand subwoofer: I remember the Rogers subwoofers for the LS 3/5a -- and never liked them aesthetically (and sound-wise!).

    What are the improvements of the R compared to the version 2? More bass? More neutrality? Do they play louder? Everything together??

  6. #6
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    Default Re: New Harbeth P3ESR

    I too look forward to hearing from Alan his assessment of the appreciable sonic changes in going from the current P3 to the ESR version. Has the Radial driver lived up to its promise of enriching the tonal palette of the shoebox format speaker? Does it come that much closer to the expressiveness of the C7? Are there other enhancements, perhaps even unanticipated ones? It will be fascinating to hear for ourselves as the opportunities unfold...

    cheers,

    -paul-

  7. #7
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    Default Design brief for P3ESR

    Well, first a little history as to why this speaker came about.

    You know, the SEAS woofer (and tweeter) have been used in the P3, P3ES and P3ES2 since 1990 which means that the P3 has had nearly as long a production run as the venerable LS3/5a. What brought the LS3/5a to an end was that the supply of the (KEF) drive units dried-up*. For a third-party drive unit maker like SEAS to keep a rather specialist unit in production and hold the cost down and quality up for twenty years or more is an intolerable burden. And so, SEAS have been indicating to us by progressive price increases that they needed to cover their understandably increasing costs for what is a very specialist and custom-made unit.

    The cost to us of that woofer unit is now really astonishing, and as the market has a clear price ceiling for a mini-monitor (like the P3ES2) simply because it is small, we have been squeezed in the middle with rising costs (drive units, cabinet, crossover, packing etc.) yet unable to pass those costs on. The P3ES2 may seem expensive but believe me for the engineering that's inside, it is a true bargain. So, we recently decided to buy in one final large stock of woofers from SEAS enough to cover ongoing production of the Monitor 20 (for the BBC), for several months P3ES2 production (we have a strong order book for it and many fans after nearly 20 years) and to cover spares requirements for years ahead. We have those - although our accounts dept. does draw my attention to the cost of this insurance stockpile.

    So what was my brief for the new RADIAL based P3ESR then? Well, history repeats itself, but slowly. One of the reasons to introduce the P3 in 1990 was a political decision to protect Harbeth should KEF chose to discontinue the woofer/tweeter for the LS3/5a so that Harbeth could always offer a mini-monitor alternative. In fact, KEF's takeover by a well-funded and well organised overseas company extended the production of those parts for about ten years. So we are really at the same point now the the new P3ESR. The RADIAL 5" unit is Harbeth-made alongside the Harbeth-made 12" (for the M40.1) and 8" units (all models) and we have full control over our drive unit sourcing and have recently bought-in enough component parts to make these woofers for years ahead.

    Concerning the excellent tweeter used in the P3ES2 - we've experimented with alternatives but returned to the SEAS custom-made unit because it's really unbeatable - although, as you'd expect from a Scandinavian unit, expensive..

    So, when designing the P3ESR woofer, what was the brief? The starting point was to re-measure the LS3/5a and the P3ES2 at the BBC anechoic chamber to refresh my memory about the overall response shape, loudness (sensitivity) and bass response. That done, I studied the curves, made a lot of cups of green tea (good for thinking!) and conceived a specification for the new P3ESR compared with the P3ES2 and LS3/5a ...

    1. Match or exceed the overall midband sensitivity around 1kHz with similar power envelope for a small speaker

    2. Design for an easier electrical load on the amplifier = increase the impedance from the P3's 4 ohms to about 6 ohms so that the P3ESR needs less power and a smaller amplifier

    3. Reduce coloration in the presence region (and completely eliminate LS3/5a-type coloration at 5kHz by careful design of dustcap) so that the P3ESR sounds more like its bigger, RADIAL-based Harbeths. Remarkably so, actually.

    4. Increase clarity, detail and stereo imaging and overall 'smoother' sound.

    5. Maintain same bass response

    All have been achieved although the manufacturing cost has increased a little. It must be said my respect for the P3ES2 is very high: it has a remarkable deep-bass output with a moderately powerful amplifier.

    * A more detailed summary of the end of the LS3/5a is here.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Re: New Harbeth P3ESR

    Didn't know green tea is also good for thinking!

    i have owned a pair of p3es for 9 years before moving on to another brand only eventually moving back to harbeth again.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Design brief for P3ESR

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post

    So, when designing the P3ESR woofer, what was the brief?
    Thanks Alan for your accustomed thoughtful answer. I very much look forward to hearing the result. And yes, quite venerable Zen literature praises the qualities of green tea, as conducive to quiet contemplation...

    -paul-

  10. #10
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    Default New Harbeth P3ESR - name??

    Will 'P3ESR' be the actual name of the successor of the HL-P3ES2 ? What does HL, P, ES, 3 mean?? Have you tried to say HL-P3ES2 in German or French? I am afraid, It sounds terrible (not the speaker, the name!), is difficult to pronounce and more difficult to remember.

    If word of mouth is important to Harbeth, a good name is crucial. I guess a Porsche 911 wouldn't be a Porsche 911 if it was called Porsche HL-P3ES2. What about a Leica HL-P3ES2, Rolex HL-P3ES2, Apple HL-P3ES2?

    There might be potential customers who are put off investing (almost €2000,-) in a mini monitor with an impossible name, when there are alternatives that cost less, sound fine to them in the shop and have a name that boosts their imagination and memory.
    It's not possible to tell your friends: "I bought the new P3ESR"! I think you'd rather say: "I bought a loudspeaker... I don't remember the name, but it's the successor of the BBC LS 3/5a". BBC LS 3/5a seems like a complicated name too, but works well: BBC (a pleasure to say and a name that stands for excellence) LS (that means loudspeaker doesn't it?) 3/5a (sounds good and is a joy to roll over the tongue!)

    My point is: if Harbeth's target group are professionals and enthusiasts around the world who are willing to invest in excellent professional loudspeakers, the new mini monitor should have a name that takes that into account. Also: considering th above, is there a real need to have 2 names for the same product?

    It might be interesting for Harbeth what your customers think. Your forum is a good place to test that kind of ideas... Maybe some Harbeth enthusiast somwhere in the world has 'the' idea!


    BTW: After comparing my Harbeth LS 3/5a with the HL-P3ES2 at home, I am ready to order the version 3 of the loudspeaker no matter what name it will bear... But I would prefer it to be Monitor 20.1 instead of P3ESR.

    BTW 2: I do have a few friends who bought their LS 3/5a after they had heard mine in my home. There is no better advertising!

  11. #11
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    Default Product naming - not so easy

    This is not a straightforward matter, and believe me, there is no 'right' name that will satisfy everybody. OK so here is the history and the reasoning. It's really not as illogical as it seems.

    HL = Harbeth Loudspeaker

    P3 = The name of Harbeth's smallest speaker, introduced in 1990! (So, the name issue is twenty years old!)

    ES = Extra Specification; the ES version of the P3 (with different bass unit/crossover and bevelled cabinet front edge) was introduced about ten years ago so by that stage Harbeth's smallest speaker was known as the HL-P3ES.

    -2 = cabinet front edge now rounded

    R = RADIAL, our special cone material.

    So, from a marketing position, after investing twenty years in brand and image building, it would be totally irresponsible to drop the name "P3" and wipe away twenty years of positive feedback and consumer awareness and to start all over again for what is clearly a new generation of that very product. So some decisions were made here recently ....

    1) Simplify the name of the new generation mini-Harbeth to "P3-something". As we'd used 'ES' before to advise of a specification upgrade, then P3ES seemed sensible.

    2) Use R for RADIAL

    3) Drop the HL, so not HL-P3ESR but just P3ESR

    That's about it!

    Now, in German it may be difficult to say the product name but conversely, in China and Japan (together our biggest market) it's extremely easy to say it. In Japanese and Chinese '3' is 'san' so the smallest Harbeth is affectionately known on the street as "P-san" and has been since 1990! We anticipate that in everyday speak in English, German or whatever, the new RADIAL based P3ESR will just be known as "P3" or "P3R".
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  12. #12
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    Default Re: New Harbeth P3ESR

    Alan, will the P3ESR follow the trend of the C7, and offer just one pair of terminals?

    regards,
    -paul-

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    Default Re: New Harbeth P3ESR

    Why not "just" P3-R? That should cover it I reckon.....

    Regarding "buy-wire" terminals. If the crossover boards have a decent layout (of course they will) with careful attention to earth paths etc, then keep them single wired. Saves a lot of messing about in my view and will calm the nerves of often neurotic audio customers [grin]...

    Interesting to hear the BBC are re-equipping again. What little monitors are they replacing I wonder (I have an idea)?

  14. #14
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    Default Re: New Harbeth P3ESR

    Yes it will. Just one red and one black terminal.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  15. #15
    normandl Guest

    Default Re: Product naming - not so easy

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    This is not a straightforward matter, and believe me, there is no 'right' name that will satisfy everybody. OK so here is the history and the reasoning. It's really not as illogical as it seems.

    HL = Harbeth Loudspeaker

    P3 = The name of Harbeth's smallest speaker, introduced in 1990! (So, the name issue is twenty years old!)

    ES = Extra Specification; the ES version of the P3 (with different bass unit/crossover and bevelled cabinet front edge) was introduced about ten years ago so by that stage Harbeth's smallest speaker was known as the HL-P3ES.

    -2 = cabinet front edge now rounded

    R = RADIAL, our special cone material.

    So, from a marketing position, after investing twenty years in brand and image building, it would be totally irresponsible to drop the name "P3" and wipe away twenty years of positive feedback and consumer awareness and to start all over again for what is clearly a new generation of that very product. So some decisions were made here recently ....

    1) Simplify the name of the new generation mini-Harbeth to "P3-something". As we'd used 'ES' before to advise of a specification upgrade, then P3ES seemed sensible.

    2) Use R for RADIAL

    3) Drop the HL, so not HL-P3ESR but just P3ESR

    That's about it!

    Now, in German it may be difficult to say the product name but conversely, in China and Japan (together our biggest market) it's extremely easy to say it. In Japanese and Chinese '3' is 'san' so the smallest Harbeth is affectionately known on the street as "P-san" and has been since 1990! We anticipate that in everyday speak in English, German or whatever, the new RADIAL based P3ESR will just be known as "P3" or "P3R".
    I can understand and appreciate the new name for the new Harbeth mini monitor speaker. From a branding perspective, you are showing continuity. It is more of an evolution of the current line of the P3 mini monitor family (from generation to generation, the P3 is improved and refined).

    Besides, I like the name P3ESR.

    Normand

  16. #16
    artemesia Guest

    Default Re: Design brief for P3ESR

    Thanks for the brief, Alan. Could you please provide us with an update on the new P3ESR? Have you continued to improve upon the prototypes you demonstrated at the CES. I'd specifically like to know how successful you were in making the P3ESR an easier electrical load than the P3ES2. Thank you.

  17. #17
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    Default P3ESR - update (1) - final woofer and PCB layout

    The P3ESR is completely finalised. Yes, after CES we made a batch of woofers to check their consistency against the hand-made pair of woofers (s/n ProtoWoofer_046 and _047) used in the rosewood cabinets that I demonstrated at CES in January.

    As our experience in making woofers in-house is for 8" and 12" units, the 5"RADIAL woofer for the P3ESR is a new member of the family. To check consistency, we ran three small pilot production batches since January. We completed the design cycle at 'Woofer_050' after standardising on some parameters of the woofer to be sure that every woofer we make (just like the 8" RADIAL drivers) is virtually identical to every other. This means that all variables have been tied down. There were no surprises - just details that needed to be perfected.

    Having finalised the crossover network for W_50, the master reference, I was able to make some minute improvements to the crossover to make the in-room response of the P3ESR incredibly flat. This was just a matter of pride - I only had to adjust a few values but I did want to get a virtually ruler flat response (on the test computer) because that is exactly how she sounds. For example, I changed one inductor from 2.2mH to 2.0mH, and a capacitor from 33uF to 38uF.

    The last thing to do with the circuit finalised was for me to design the PCB to take the components, on screen, using my PCB track layout programme. Many of the components are in fact inherited from my Monitor 40.1 PCB design so I lifted those component symbols from the M40.1 artwork and placed them onto the brand new P3ESR PCB.

    During this four day PCB track layout process, from time to time as I reached milestones in the PCB layout, I used a screen-cam program to "film" the PCB layout as it was coming along on my screen. Now you can see what I could see and hear me narrating through exactly what I was doing as I move components around to fit them in to the available PCB 'real estate'. We plan to put this on line in the next week or so. It's as good as you standing looking over my shoulder. I hope you find it interesting to see the design actually appearing before your own eyes. Perhaps the first time a designer has shared the intimate secrets of his PCB design?

    About the electrical load: the P3ESR is a much easier load - probably rather similar to a Harbeth LS3/5a. Of course, the laws of physics dictate that a small box cannot simultaneously have very high sensitivity and play very loud and play deep and have a really easy load, and I certainly have not reinvented physics - but I have achieved a similar perfectly usable sensitivity to the P3/ES/ES2 but with about half the amplifier power needs.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  18. #18
    Vlado Guest

    Default Re: P3ESR - update (2) - tweeter

    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post

    The P3ESR is completely finalised....
    Hello Alan,
    what kind of tweeter is used in the final version of P3ESR?

    Kindly

    VA

  19. #19
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    Default Re: P3ESR - update (2) - tweeter

    It is a derivative of the tweeter that we've used in the P3 right back to 1990, made by SEAS. Very good sound: measures very well, stable and repeatable and of course, SEAS are a well managed quality driven company. But it is expensive.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

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    Default Re: P3ESR - update (1) - final woofer and PCB layout

    Zounds!!! And I just took delivery of my new P3ES2s, thinking I just could not endure the several months of waiting until their replacements were available in Canada. Anyway, I am delighted by the older P3s and suspect they'll do just fine for a year or two while I save up for the newest arrivals. My wife, who loves and knows music but is less of a fan of the equipment has flat-out refused to let these little Harbeths out of her sight. So please, please forum members, no early reviews crowing about how wholly superior the new ones are...

    best,

    o

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