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Thread: Which Harbeth Compact 7es3, Monitor 30, or Super HL5?

  1. #21
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    Default Room info

    Hi Tryfan,
    looking forward to your impressions on the SHL5 and M30.1's. Could you tell something about your room, dimensions and furniture, listening position.

    Regards
    Peter

  2. #22
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    Default Brought to tears by choice

    Thanks Peter,
    I'll certainly reply more fully in a day or so. I just changed over to the M30.1's this afternoon. I had to take a break as the weather was affecting my sinus (resulting in a headache).

    Now I'm sitting listening again and am finding it so hard to choose between these two sets of speakers, the set that nearly brought me to tears or the set that did?
    The power of music :-)

  3. #23
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    Default With only one sleepless night I reached the point of no return

    Maybe it was the fact that they brought me to tears and the the others didn't or maybe it was just simple reasoning at home?

    Well it was simple to make a decision in the in the end. Just listen and be honest with yourself and forget about the prestige (more bluntly, the snobbery) and the aesthetic. It can be hard when you predetermine something, can’t it? But I did that at the dealers and I came to a point that I knew what speaker was going to be purchased. Would that change?

    Keeping it as short as possible here is what has occurred over the last four days.
    I had the chance to spend a couple of hours (turned into 2 ½) with the company of three pair of Harbeths, C7’s, M30.1’s and the Super 5’s. At the dealers the TT set up was close to mine at home while the amp at home is integrated I was using same make at the dealers but here it was pre and power. My CD player dates back to the late 80’s while the dealer matched the Naim power with a Naim CD player. None of this mattered as I knew I was going to be listening to at least two pair of the speakers at home. These next couple hours are all about seeing (hearing ) just what the three differing pair could do alongside each other and how they appealed or otherwise to me. The Wednesday listen at the dealers allowed me to discount the C7’s, these where set up when I arrived. Lovely speaker which handled every genre of music I played with ease. Just didn’t work for me, too bright? It sounded like the speaker wanted to please and maybe was trying too hard across the board. Maybe a different set up in a different environment would suit this speaker along with a different ear.

    Next up the 30.1’s, these had me sitting up immediately. They certainly grab you with the focused sound, ability to sound an instrument and a texture which is natural to the recording and not added (to) by a speaker. They didn’t handle the whole range of music played as well as the 7’s, falling down on bass delivery and complex passages of classical music. Still, very hard to ignore the strong points.

    Last up were the SHL5’s. I had heard these speakers twice before. Once with some Chord power and once with a tube set up, both with a TT, totally different TT’s on each occasion. Wow, they delivered on every track of every LP or CD I played. While all of the Harbeths take the music out of the box these 5’s did it with so much ease. I had the bass I was lacking at times with the 30’s and it was presenting a soundstage way beyond what both the 30.1’s and 7’s could do. Easy to make a decision here and now. But I’m in a dealers listening room with a different set up to my own. If nothing else simple curiosity required sating, at home.


    Wednesday afternoon, car unloaded of speakers, cable and stands the SHL5’s found themselves up first simply as they were in the living room. The room being used is approx. 10x20x8 feet, fully carpeted wooden floor. The set is shooting the length of the room while the rear of the speakers consists of mostly glass, curtained. Behind my listening position is a half wall. Two sofas are the main furniture items in the room that will make any difference to the sound. The 5’s had something like 17 hours of playing various material, both material I had used at the dealers and plenty of other, notably more, vinyl. The speakers took a lot of positioning to get the best out of them but it was noticeable quite early on that they could not perform as they did in the dealer’s room. Was that the power difference or the environment? I was leaning towards the environment but that would be a little clearer when the 30.1’s had been given a chance. What was missing was a focus, no matter how I set these speakers (removing the toe in made a huge difference) I could not get that focus of sound I had heard earlier. Initially the bass was splashing but simply 6 – 8 inches away from the rear wall cured most of this. But nor could I get the soundstage I had been hearing, be it via the CD or TT set up.

    I eventually switched to the 30’s. Though I was less pleased with the 5’s I was still convinced that these would be the ones I would be purchasing. Just ‘because they didn’t match the dealers room was not a reason to discard them or was it? If the 5’s struggled maybe the 30’s would too? Oh no, not at all. I had them singing their little crossovers out from the off. No matter how I positioned them except with very little rear space did they become flustered in their sound and even then it was simply a booming bass. Bass? But that was missing at the dealers on some tracks!! My oh my what an eye opener it was to hear these little monitors perform like this. My jaw was well and truly on the floor (just glad of the carpet). Whack up the volume, focused no matter what the music. Do that thing with the very low volume (which I tried with the 5’s) and still the sound is so detailed and precise. I know, let’s try the classical material it struggled with at the dealers, surely this will throw the buggers. No is not quite true but the limitation of the speaker was less apparent here at home. I hope you can see how much I wanted the 5’s? Nothing I could do would faze these 30.1’s here in my living room. Unbelievable performers.

    I know some of you will be bored by now, not enough technical detail etc. but let’s be honest, this is about how I hear and experience these three sets of speakers. Maybe I should have brought the C7’s home too. Can’t say they would have impressed as much as the 30’s. These are not trying to anything other than deliver and that they do in a strange, casual but bluntly direct manner. I was still determined to give the 5’s a another go (see how desire can get you?). I switched back to the 5’s after about 12 or so hours of the 30.1’s and here is the key for me. I couldn’t wait to switch back to the 30.1’s. I switched speakers at this point on single track or sections of track to highlight various points between the two sets of speaker on the final full day of listening (Saturday). Every time the 30’s got the nod but by now I had clearly reached my conclusion.

    So all done bar the purchase. When I return the £5000 (ish) of gear to my dealer in Warrington (Doug Brady) on Monday the order will be placed for the 30.1’s, a pair of stands (that reminds me, think I’ll give these a go on my old stands tomorrow) and some cable. I was loaned some Chord Odyssey to allow for better positioning as my LFD Spiroflex was a little short for all this repositioning. I did try out the ‘flex cable on the Harbeths but did not have the time to evaluate this plus setting up between the two was taking too long for a real assessment to take place.

    When it comes to Harbeth speakers, the only remaining thing left for me is to have a listen to the M40.1's. Not to buy just to hear how they sound. Now I await the Harbeth amp with interest as that is my next step, a new amp but not just yet I need plenty of time to recover and earn some money :-)

  4. #24
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    Default Music choices?

    Great post,
    I can really mostly follow your decision. What musical material did you hear?

    Regards
    Peter

  5. #25
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    Default Play list for audition

    Quote Originally Posted by chirhonix View Post
    Great post,
    I can really mostly follow your decision. What musical material did you hear?

    Regards
    Peter
    I was going to conclude with a list of material and format that I took to the dealers and a list of what I added while at home.
    I still have the speakers here along with the audio so will list up the material (and maybe a couple of comments) later.

  6. #26
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    Default A little later ............ my auditioning playlist

    Peter, best I could do in the short time I have this afternoon.

    From the listen at the dealers the following all had a play on the C7’s, M30’1’s and most of them on the Super 5’s.
    Vinyl:
    The Beatles. Let It Be Naked
    Chickenfoot. Chickenfoot

    CD:
    John Betjeman. A First Class Collection
    Jeff Beck. Who Else!
    Bach and Vivaldi: Violin Concertos.
    Scottish Guitar Quartet. Fait Accompli
    John Coltrane. Blue Train
    Jimi Hendrix. First Rays of the New Rising Sun
    Acoustic Alchemy. Positive Thinking
    The Temptations. The Ultimate Collection
    Taj Mahal, Toumani Diabate. Kulanjan

    Whilst I took more material the listening was limited to time available, the schedule two hours did overrun by 30 minutes.
    All these had repeat plays only much more fully on the M30.1’s and Super 5’s back home over a period of three days along with these ………………………
    Vinyl:
    Jimi Hendrix …………………..
    BOG (200 Grm Quiex SV-P Classic Records
    Electric Ladyland Track (3rd pressing)
    Axis. Bold As Love. Back to Black all analogue EH / Universal
    Chopin Nocturnes played by Moura Lympany
    Van Morrison.............
    Moondance. A Hoffman remaster
    Veedon Fleece
    George Benson. In Concert – Carnegie Hall
    Steely Dan. The Royal Scam
    Kate Bush. The Kick Inside
    Ted Nugent. Ted Nugent
    Delta Swamp Rock. Sounds from the south: Rock, Country and Soul
    The Grateful Dead – Anthem Of The Sun (Another wonderful repress)
    Lightnin’ Hopkins. The Blues Of (AcousTech repress cut at 45rpm)
    David Bowie. Ziggy Stardust ….. (Yet another repress)
    Pink Floyd. Dark Side Of The Moon ………….and again, a repress
    Supertramp. Crime Of The Century.
    Richard Thompson. Live from Austin Texas
    Doors. L.A. Woman (The Workshop sessions)

    CD:
    John Martyn. Solid Air
    Van Morrison. Moondance
    Richard Thompson. Rumour and Sigh
    Requiem. Various
    Red Hot Chill Peppers. Blood Suger *** Magik
    On Christmas Day, New Carols from King’s.
    Them Crooked Vultures. Same
    Norah Jones. Come Away with Me
    Alison Kraus and Union Station. Paper Airplanes
    Eva Cassidy. Songbird
    Kate Rusby. Underneath the Stars
    J.J. Cale. Okie
    Antonio Vivaldi. Guitar Concertos

    Well no comments, sorry. I don’t think I covered all the material here at home as some did get put back in the racking, certainly some vinyl as I did play other Jazz LP’s.
    This though gives a fairly good overview of what I took along and have been listening to over the last few days. Many of these had repeat plays between both pairs of speakers, in fact all of them did :-)

    The Super 5's are reboxed and ready to be returned while the M30.1's are still playing away and will do through to bed time.
    I'll probably not be playing my HiFi till I get my new speakers, hope I don't have to join a waiting list but if I do the wait will be worth it.

  7. #27
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    Default Try the C7ES3?

    Why not give the Compact 7 a try? They're bigger than the Monitor 30s and should you give you additional bass weight while possibly having the same sound signature as the Monitors, which also have Radial drivers. Compact 7s are cheaper too . . .

  8. #28
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    Default Great list

    Tryfan,
    that's an impressive list, quite diverse. But many of my favorites there too. So I can follow your decision quite well.
    Thanks for the effort.
    Peter

  9. #29
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    Default Was M30 not M30.1

    Quote Originally Posted by muypogi View Post
    Why not give the Compact 7 a try? They're bigger than the Monitor 30s and should you give you additional bass weight while possibly having the same sound signature as the Monitors, which also have Radial drivers. Compact 7s are cheaper too . . .
    I heard the C7's at the dealers and they are as impressive as the 30's and 5's. Hard for me to say why they didn't get a home try. Just didn't work as well for me. I got the Bass from the 30's at home that appeared to be missing (on some material) at the dealers.

    One correction I have to make here. I returned the speakers to the dealers and placed an order for the 30.1's. While ordering it was made clear to me that the speakers I had loaned were in fact the 30's and not the 30.1's I had posted about earlier.

    I should have know as I did read that the bi-wire connection had been dropped for the 30.1's. Some things can take over and the obvious is / was overlooked, my error though slightly misinformed!

  10. #30
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    Default What veneers?

    Hi Tryfan, not surprised that the M30s worked out well in your room. I had mine for over 6 years . I'm sure the M30.1 are even better .

    What wood finish are you going for? (mine where in cherry) but the tiger ebony sure looks nice!.

  11. #31
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    Default Cherry

    Hi P.C.
    Cherry.
    I'm looking forward to picking them up. Not hooked up my old speakers yet, very reluctant to do so.

    BTW, no such thing as a failed artist, just undiscovered.

  12. #32
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    Default Cherry

    Can't really go wrong with cherry . I think the tonal contrast it has with the black grille (to be left on as recommended by Harbeth) is the best (if the opinion of an undiscovered artist is worth a jot!)

  13. #33
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    Default Audition of M30.1

    I own the C7ES-3 and had the opportunity to hear the 30.1 at my local dealer when the North American distributor was stopping by with a pair for audition (Walter Swanbon). I found them to be a little faster or tighter than the Compact 7's.

    Based on Tryfans wide music selection, I can understand why he would choose the 30.1. My guess would be if he were to take home the C7, it would win out with Norah Jones and Alison Kraus where as the 30.1 would be the clear winner with Red Hot Chiller Peppers and the like.

  14. #34
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    Default Old favorites with new ears (on M30)

    Quote Originally Posted by muypogi View Post
    Why not give the Compact 7 a try? They're bigger than the Monitor 30s and should you give you additional bass weight while possibly having the same sound signature as the Monitors, which also have Radial drivers. Compact 7s are cheaper too . . .
    It is hard (has been hard) to pick between the three sets of speaker I checked out at the dealers. I can say I found the 30's more detailed than either of the 7's or 5's. The very fact that the 30's performed as well here at home as they did in the dealers was enough for me when I just could not get the 5's even close to performing as well as I had heard them on no less than three occasions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Jr View Post
    I own the C7ES-3 and had the opportunity to hear the 30.1 at my local dealer when the North American distributor was stopping by with a pair for audition (Walter Swanbon). I found them to be a little faster or tighter than the Compact 7's.

    Based on Tryfans wide music selection, I can understand why he would choose the 30.1. My guess would be if he were to take home the C7, it would win out with Norah Jones and Alison Kraus where as the 30.1 would be the clear winner with Red Hot Chiller Peppers and the like.
    Yes indeed. The likes of Norah and Alison would shine on the 7's I think. This type of material absolutely glowed through the 5's (at the dealers). One thing the 30's did which maybe out shone even the 5's was Jazz. Be it vinyl or CD I was hearing old favorites with new ears. The 30's have a detail about them which even the 5's did not match let alone the 7's. The detail appears to be in the precision of these speakers.

  15. #35
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    Default Harbeth passed on after you depart ...

    Alan really nailed it with the 30.1. If I could only have them all I would.

    I'm very proud to own Harbeth speakers. Here in the U.S. Id imagine sales are good yet you very rarely see them up for sale on the used market. Its the last speaker not the first. You don't sell it. Its passed on after you croak.

  16. #36
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    Default Pleasure to own!

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Jr View Post
    Alan really nailed it with the 30.1. If I could only have them all I would.

    I'm very proud to own Harbeth speakers. Here in the U.S. Id imagine sales are good yet you very rarely see them up for sale on the used market. Its the last speaker not the first. You don't sell it. Its passed on after you croak.
    Having heard three of the five in the series of Harbeths and noting the different values of each I have to agree that owning a "full set" would be wonderful.

    So, I have to update my will then? :-)
    I Anticipate objections!!

  17. #37
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    Default Decisions, decisions ...

    Quote Originally Posted by muypogi View Post
    Why not give the Compact 7 a try? They're bigger than the Monitor 30s and should you give you additional bass weight while possibly having the same sound signature as the Monitors, which also have Radial drivers. Compact 7s are cheaper too . . .
    I did give the 7's a try at the dealers. The 3 pairs all had a chance to show what they could do. The 7's, while as impressive as the others I listened to at the dealers, did not match the 5's. This is simply box size. Whilst I agree that these may well have been a better match for my listening space than the 5’s the very fact that they did not "perform" as well as the 5's was an issue to me.

    Couple that with the fact that both the 7's and the 5's could not quite equal that very revealing and somewhat more "taut" sound of the 30's. Factor in that the 30’s (will be the 30.1’s) are a nice match for the room size both musically (just) and certainly in the physical sense.

  18. #38
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    Default My new M30.1s

    Well just to another thread.

    Having received my 30.1 a little earlier today (really difficult to take myself off to bed) it's a late night listen. Extended warranty done, I feel like I could sit and enjoy the music through these speakers all night. Good job I don't have work tomorrow. Extremely low volume but all the detail is clear, great to not have to use the headphones.

    Are they different to the 30's? Initial listening indicates they do perform differently. I did read they are not as critical with stand hight. That was noticeable when I stood less than a metre in front of them.

    It is hard to really judge between them given the span of time between listens (this is the first time I sat and listened to music since I returned the 30's and Super 5's to the dealers) but it's possible that the sound stage is improved too. Like I say, hard to really say.

    Anyway future posts will be elsewhere on the forum, i'm off to update my details, night.

    PS. Thank you for such quick service Mr Shaw, these are a credit to you and your work force. Though I notice the literature still shows the 30's and not the 30.1's.

    {Moderator's comment: thanks. Which literature please?}

  19. #39
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    Default

    {Moderator's comment: thanks. Which literature please?)

    The red booklet "Harbeth Loudspeakers". The world's most natural sounding speakers.

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