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Thread: Mini-monitor doubts started by a Spendor demo.

  1. #21
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    Slight setback today.

    I am trying to arrange a demo of some P3ESRs in London in a couple of weeks time. KJ West One are listed (by Harbeth) as a dealer and I could conveniently combine a nice day out in london with a demo. That was the plan.

    I tried calling KJW1 on both of their two telephone numbers on a few occasions throughout business hours today, but both numbers were constantly engaged all day. Combined with the 'holes' in their not very well updated website I am wondering if they are still operating.

    Maybe the KJW1 website is out-of-date (along with the contact numbers) or maybe they were actually busy on the phone all day.

    I have found out that there is a dealer in Guildford (en route to London from my place) who list Harbeth speakers, but they don't list P3ESRs and I cannot find them on the Harbeth website as an official UK dealer so I think I will leave them alone rather than take any chances.

  2. #22
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    Default UK dealers and availability

    KJ are most definitely alive - or they certainly were a day or two ago when I overheard them place another order. The currently active dealers are listed on the Harbeth website.

    I'm not sure whether it is good news or not - I think in these difficult economic times that it must be read as such - but our order book is now 100% full to mid March 2011. Some customers have orders far beyond that. Now, I've said that we have - and will - keep a capacity in reserve for UK sales which are entirely unplanned, ad hoc and impossible to predict by model or veneer. But even that has now crept out to about four weeks turnaround. The upturn in the UK market this past year has been most remarkable. But we have decided, to protect our existing dealers and minimise overall lead times that we will not take-on as formal dealers any new UK outlets. So please don't expect to see any expansion of the dealer base. Those we have are generating an order level that we can just cope with in reasonable response time and we very much appreciate their hard work and customer service.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  3. #23
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    and thank you Alan, Andy and the team for such great speakers. If the speakers weren't so good, we wouldn't be able to sell them.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by A.S. View Post
    ...

    I'm not sure whether it is good news or not - I think in these difficult economic times that it must be read as such - but our order book is now 100% full to mid March 2011. Some customers have orders far beyond that. Now, I've said that we have - and will - keep a capacity in reserve for UK sales which are entirely unplanned, ad hoc and impossible to predict by model or veneer. But even that has now crept out to about four weeks turnaround. The upturn in the UK market this past year has been most remarkable. ...
    I think this is fantastic news but it doesn't altogether surprise me. I've said it before, but I think one consequence of the economic upheavals of the past couple of years is that people have become focused not only on spending less, but also spending smarter, and that means among other things getting off the merry-go-round and investing in real longterm quality. That is Harbeth to a T.

    My only question (and I know the past history, and therefore the reluctance to overcommit), is there ever any point at which Harbeth decides to "bite the bullet" and invest in more capacity? Or perhaps take on a licencee? Or have a separate facility e.g. for driver manufacturing, to increase capacity? Having a one-year order book is mighty impressive, but surely there's got to be a point at which you're comfortable that the market will absorb a bit more production. Or are the risks simply too great?

  5. #25
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    Given the nature of the Radial technology, the finite amount of raw material to make it, and the painstaking 'recipe' and production of Radial, then having a 'licensee' could be disastrous (even assuming it was remotely possible.)

    From what I understand the Radial raw material production is an unrepeatable process (due to some of the ingredients being impossible to ever make again.) When it's gone, its gone. In Alan's position I would never let the stuff go out to someone 'outside' the Harbeth team. (More likely to mess it up).

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by TSH59 View Post
    Given the nature of the Radial technology, the finite amount of raw material to make it, and the painstaking 'recipe' and production of Radial, then having a 'licensee' could be disastrous (even assuming it was remotely possible.)
    Well, wouldn't that depend on what they were doing? Back in the day, there were a number of producers of the LS/35a, for example, and they all seemed to be capable of assembling them to a reasonable standard.

    Besides, almost anything could be disastrous. Implementation is everything.

  7. #27
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    Eric, who wants a 'reasonable' standard?

  8. #28
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    Default Precious RADIAL™ and the sales process

    This is a very interesting (to me) thread and you've raised some interesting questions and observations.

    We have, as noted, been at this commercial point before exactly twenty years ago (as I discussed here recently) and I'm extremely reluctant to double-guess the next twist of the economic cycle. After all, if governments couldn't have foreseen the economic turbulence that touches every one of us as citizens and taxpayers, I think that it's remarkably arrogant of me to sit down and map out our future, and hence our overhead structure. It's overheads that kills businesses - many perfectly good, respected audio brands have closed or changed hands because the overheads (and/or director's remunerations) have been disproportionate for what is most definitely a non-essential product as all hi-fi is.

    Today I arranged a sack of the RADIAL™ cone material to the moulder and reminded him that we cannot waste even a single gramme. Even the chap who actually does the moulding on the shop floor is acutely aware of the value of the base material - any cones that he lifts from the injection mould tool that are slightly misshapen or otherwise unusable are ground down and added back into the hopper. That's yet another advantage of injection moulding the RADIAL™ cones; the traditional vacuum forming process, when cones are made from thin sheet (called film), means that any dud cones are completely useless and have to be scrapped because the moulded film cannot be reused.

    Part of the boom (but only part) has been the success of the P3ESR. It was obvious to me as the most severe critic of what we produce that this was going to be a rip-roaring success, based on the actual product performance and without the oxygen of publicity. To my slight disappointment, back last spring when the design was finished, I made our key export customers aware of the impending launch and urged them to place early, adequate and sustained orders to be sure they had the stock to meet the demand. Some did. Some waited. Some didn't react. And now, entirely predictably, there are significant differences in availability of the P3ESR across the globe. We are "order takers", not "order getters", and it is not and never has been our role to twist orders out of customers. We are entirely reactive to orders arriving and leave being our distributors alone to proactively manage their local markets about which they are in intimate contact. This surely must be the best way to run a business - the orders we have reflect what our distributors truly believe that they can sell without a molecule of sales pressure from us. We don't have a sales operation - we have a production department who very gratefully receive sales orders daily from our team of dealers.

    As one of our overseas distributors told me on the phone this week Harbeth is in a completely different class of commercial operation to any brand he has ever dealt with - no pressure, no hassle, no cajoling, no targets. We just save our energy for making the product and doing our very best to deliver a quality, long lasting product on time.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  9. #29
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    A 'reasonable standard' about sums it up. Have you compared the various brands of LS3/5A ? They weren't all of the same quality. IMO

  10. #30
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    I think Alan is wise not to over-stretch his resources. Most experts agree that the first rule of a successful business is to keep overheads low. I have seen many Hi-Fi companies over the years, disappear when they stepped up production, took on larger premises and employed more staff. Then when the downturn came, they simply couldn't survive.

    None of my customers complain about waiting for a pair of Harbeth speakers. All good things are worth waiting for.

  11. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifi_dave View Post
    Most experts agree that the first rule of a successful business is to keep overheads low .... when the downturn came, they simply couldn't survive ... all good things are worth waiting for.
    It's a temptation with so much unoccupied commercial property on the market to to increase our scale of operation. But we have the luxury of making what we want to make without external pressure from financiers who foresee a vast untapped market if 'only we'd modify our products'. We even tried that strategy with the Xpression!, HHB and NRG speakers returning full circle to our core HL and Monitor series products. No, as hifi_dave says, so many good or great brands have disappeared, changed hands or been absorbed into other networks that we see it as our duty to protect the Harbeth baby. That inevitably means we are risk averse as our crystal ball has clouded over and just doesn't seem to be reliable any more!

    Which British brands are truly still 100% in the British owner's/founder's hands? The reason so many aren't seems to me inextricably linked to irresponsible or overambitious increases in overheads. I've been there, done it, have the t-shirt and I can seen the tell-tale signs in others. And one of the give-aways is a sudden splurge in UK reviews.
    Alan A. Shaw
    Designer, owner
    Harbeth Audio UK

  12. #32
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    Hopefully by now the original poster has heard and ordered his P3 ESR's..... They really are extra-ordinarily good and although seemingly expensive, these are not the sort of products to buy and sell on in a year or three. Rather, and like the best of the BBC "legacy" speakers of decades past, you buy them and keep them for many years, the speakers getting better as the source and amplification have improved.

  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by DSRANCE View Post
    Hopefully by now the original poster has heard and ordered his P3 ESR's...
    Got through to KJW1 eventually and a nice chap called Richard sorted me out with a demo next week! Thanks Richard.

  14. #34
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    Default P3ESR replace Quads

    I auditioned the S3/5 and S3/5R against both the P3ES2 and P3ESR..... Since then, I have been listening to a pair of ESRs.

    The Spendor's are SMOOTH, but overly so and even closed-in compared to the ESR. I had to replace QUAD ESLs and this wasn't going to work with the otherwise well made but introvert Spendors.

    Depending on taste and acoustics a QUAD electrostatic can be one of the most addictive speakers. Thus a midrange master had to be found in order to replace them without losing interest in certain music.

    The Harbeths fit the bill and keep me in the sweetspot, fully immersed in the music as the ESLs once did.

    {Moderator's comment: you are hearing for yourself the additional clarity of Harbeth's engineered bass/mid RADIAL cone plastic versus g.p. polypropylene as used in shampoo-bottles. The molecular structure of the cone material completely defines the microtonal detail.}

  15. #35
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    Default Long may Harbeth survive!

    I have learnt a lot in the last five minutes. I have only just bought my first pair of Harbeths. An old pair ( Serial Numbers 258 A & B ) of HL Monitors and I am so impressed with them.

    I considered buying a pair of P3ESRS, but funds wouldn't stretch. I've dabbled with LS3/5as ( three pairs !) little Spendors ( SA1s) and various small Rogers ( Studio 3s, etc.) All very good speakers, but the HLs have, at last, given me the satisfaction I have been searching for. I work, in a small way, in semi-prof. audio and make my own ( mainly speech ) recordings using high quality mics. etc. The LS3/5as ( and others ) gave me very good results.

    The Harbeth HLs give me that ' the person is in the room' effect. Long may Alan Shaw's philosophy last. MGM .

  16. #36
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    Default Added another pair

    Quote Originally Posted by Miles MG View Post
    I have learnt a lot in the last five minutes. I have only just bought my first pair of Harbeths. An old pair ( Serial Numbers 258 A & B ) of HL Monitors and I am so impressed with them.

    I considered buying a pair of P3ESRS, but funds wouldn't stretch. I've dabbled with LS3/5as ( three pairs !) little Spendors ( SA1s) and various small Rogers ( Studio 3s, etc.) All very good speakers, but the HLs have, at last, given me the satisfaction I have been searching for. I work, in a small way, in semi-prof. audio and make my own ( mainly speech ) recordings using high quality mics. etc. The LS3/5as ( and others ) gave me very good results.

    The Harbeth HLs give me that ' the person is in the room' effect. Long may Alan Shaw's philosophy last. MGM .
    Since I wrote the above, I have acquired a pair of HL-P3s. They were without grilles, but Harbeth supplied me with a pair of genuine new ones. On a second system, driven by a Quad 303/ Passive preamp. combination, they have that midrange magic all of the above ( excluding the early HLs ) lacked.

  17. #37
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    Default P3ESR is better still

    Hi Martyn,

    Glad you like the P3's. I can assure you that the ESR version is another leap in midrange clarity again, and makes the ESR's easily as good as some active models I've heard - better in fact because they're so much better behaved yet with no loss of precision.

  18. #38
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    Default P3ESR upgrade?

    Quote Originally Posted by DSRANCE View Post
    Hi Martyn,

    Glad you like the P3s. I can assure you that the ESR version is another leap in midrange clarity again, and makes the ESRs easily as good as some active models I've heard - better in fact because they're so much better behaved yet with no loss of precision.
    Much as I'd like to, it's finding the money. I suppose I could sell my P3s... They cost me nearly £500, plus the grilles. I don't regret the outlay for one minute, but I would have to find a substantial amount. What does the ESR version retail at ? Martyn.

  19. #39
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    Default Just how does the P3ESR do it?

    Quote Originally Posted by DSRANCE View Post
    Hi Martyn,

    Glad you like the P3's. I can assure you that the ESR version is another leap in midrange clarity again, and makes the ESR's easily as good as some active models I've heard - better in fact because they're so much better behaved yet with no loss of precision.
    Yes,yes,yes!!!...I was thinking the same thing just an hour ago.. also the bass on these is tighter, much more powerful, and more tuneful than a pair of aktive keilidhs... kinda makes one think.. how the heck is this possible?

    another thing i noticed is that vibrations are really well controlled, place hands on speaker and there's barely any vibration. Oh and they sure sound great playing at low levels at night, you don't have to play at above whisper levels to get detail, at 83db per watt how is this possible?

  20. #40
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    Default Harbeth is something else!

    Quote Originally Posted by Miles MG View Post
    Much as I'd like to, it's finding the money. I suppose I could sell my P3s... They cost me nearly £500, plus the grilles. I don't regret the outlay for one minute, but I would have to find a substantial amount. What does the ESR version retail at ? Martyn.
    It's not like me to reply to my own thread, but now having lived with a pair of 'ESRs since Christmas I endorse all that's gone before on this Post.

    They are THE most realistic loudspeakers I have ever had in my home. Female vocals, in particular, are stunning. Spoken voice ( from the BBC ) is frighteningly real. John Humphreys ( pulling a Politician to pieces ) is almost too much to deal with !

    Spendors have been spoken of here and I still hold them in great respect having lived with BC1s for over 30 years, but to use the modern parlance the Harbeths are ' something else '.

    M. Miles.

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