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HUG specialises in making complex technical matters simple to understand, getting at the repeatable facts in a post-truth environment where objectivity is increasingly ridiculed. With our heritage of natural sound and pragmatic design, HUG is not the best place to discuss non-Harbeth audio components selected, knowingly or not, to introduce a significantly personalised system sound. For that you should do your own research and above all, make the effort to visit an Authorised Dealer and listen to your music at your loudness on your loudspeakers through the various offerings there. There is really no on-line substitute for time invested in a dealer's showroom because 'tuning' your system to taste is such a highly personal matter. Our overall objective here is to empower readers to make the factually best procurement decisions in the interests of lifelike music at home.

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Feb. 2018
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Maximum volume from P3ESR in my difficult room?

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  • Maximum volume from P3ESR in my difficult room?

    Afternoon chaps. Prospective P3ESR purchaser here :-)

    After everything I have read about these marvellous speakers, I am salivating at the idea of getting a pair. Unfortunately, living as I do in the south west - near Bristol - I have little or no possibility of trying them in my own home, so it will have to be a blind purchase, which is never ideal.

    One of my biggest concerns is how loud with they go? I am not a head banging rocker, but sometimes I do like to play music at realistic volume. It's nice to play Jazz at the Pawnshop for example such that you could actually imagine being in the club at the time. Or similarly Mahler's 2nd at say the Albert Hall with a 150 strong choir and the final movement is quite a wonderful thing. Can these tiny speakers hope to achieve this sort of equivalent volume in a domestic setting? Clearly neither of these alternatives are Metallica loud, but they aren't library quiet either. Similarly a bit of Nora Jones or Madeleine Peyroux doesn't need to be *loud*, but I like it to fill the room when I am doing serious listening.

    My room is quite modest - 5.1m x 3.6m - and my setup has the speakers in the middle of the long wall, firing across the room (as opposed to down the length of it). I sit close to the opposite wall, about 2.8m away from the speakers.

    My limited maths would tell me that 83.5dB/1W at 1m would mean maximum output of around 100.4dB with a 50w input. That would mean 92dB in my seating position - which is pretty loud I think.

    Is that about right? And is that the absolute maximum they will take, or can peaks go over this?

    Of course I could go for the M30.1's but the wife (such as wives can be, he said sexistly) throws her toys out of the pram if I bring the speakers more than a foot or so from the wall. And the room is quite boomy - if the speakers have too much bass it just isn't going to work. I have had to sell my beloved Wilson Benesch Curves for this very reason. They were awesome in the right room, but not in our current lounge.

    What's your thoughts chaps? I'd be really interested to hear your views.

  • #2
    M30.1 in my room

    Well, the M30.1 works very well in my room with the rear edge approx 12 inches from the wall. It would most likely work a treat in your room also.

    However, if you would be in trouble for having such a speaker, the P3ESR is still a wonderful choice. Obviously, not the scale, bass extension and SPL of the larger models but still exceptional for such a tiny box. The P3ESR has that magical Harbeth, natural, tactile presentation which alludes the majority of speakers. So, buy either with confidence and if you are ever in my locale, pop in for a listen.


    • #3
      Breadth and soundstage

      I have my P3ESRs set up in a room size/set-up similar to yours and I'm amazed at how much effortless volume they can pour into a room. Paired with a good amp of even modest output (I'm using a Sonneteer Campion 44w into 6 ohms), they will really surprise you with the breadth, depth and impact of their big 3-d soundstage, their incredible clarity and outright authority in the mids/upper-bass.

      I honestly can't believe they are rated at 75Hz - 20kHz +/-3dB as their bass depth often sounds/feels like it's plumbing much lower ranges. That said, I've not heard the M30.1, but will be demoing the SHL-5 and Compact 7 this weekend (we are moving into a bigger home next year) so I will post my impressions.


      • #4
        Calling hi-fi_dave!

        Thanks guys - appreciate the thoughts. So where is your locale, Dave? That sounds like a generous offer!




        • #5
          Dealer location

          Well, maybe not so generous as I am in Saffron Walden, NW Essex.


          • #6
            My room

            Is that near Holland? ;-)

            From Bristol, it would seem like it, but thanks anyway for the kind offer.

            Back to the subject, how loud will these tiny speakers go in a 17x12 ft room? Loud? Or not really loud enough?

            I am none too concerned about budget, fortunately, but I am concerned that the M30.1's might be too bassy in my room. If it were not for that worry, I'd plump for the M30.1's in a heartbeat.

            Bass-wise, the P3ESR's will be fine, I am sure, but will they go loud enough?

            So it's a concern either way; not loud enough or too bassy? I guess if I err on the side of the P3's at least they are cheaper and I will lose less money if I've got it wrong.


            • #7
              A very typical room

              I've had many people travel far greater distances than Bristol to audition Harbeth. It's a substantial outlay, so is worth a bit of time.

              Whether the P3ESR will produce the volume levels you require depends on how loud you like to listen. I play my busic loud and have never heard the P3ESR show any signs of overload but I am taking care. I can assure you that the majority of modern, small speakers crack up long before the P3ESR shows any signs of distress.

              If you have any doubts, then the M30.1 is a better choice and I doubt they will 'boom' if sited with a bit of space around them. The majority of my customers have similar size rooms to yours (typical UK) and they are happy with their choices.


              • #8
                My difficult room ...

                Thanks for your comments Dave. My room is a stinker though. I an former setup, I had Wilson Benesch Curves on the short wall, firing down the room, and this worked really well. Stunning in fact. The speakers were about 2 ft from the wall behind them, and well away from the corners, and it sounded just fantastic.

                Unfortunately, for reason I won't go into, I had to change the layout around. Now the speakers are along the long wall, firing across the room. That means I can't have the speakers more than around 1 ft from the wall, and the listening position is much closer. In this layout, the sound is massively worse. The bass from the Curves was completely overpowering with bad standing waves and room nodes, to the point of being unlistenable to. So deeply unpleasant that I had to sell them. I bought Wilson Benesch Arcs, which work much better with their reduced bass output and downward firing (as opposed to rear) reflex ports. Even so, there are bad room modes, but it is OK with most albums. So long as the track is not bass-heavy, the sound is enchanting, but with some music, it is still unpleasant.

                Maybe bringing the speakers further out would help, but the Mrs forbids it. Similarly, bass traps and other are out of the question.

                In an ideal world, I would love to try the M30.1's in my own room, but it can't imagine how that might be possible bearing in mind where I live. I am money-rich (to a degree - I don't mean to sound arrogant), but time-poor, and I simply don't have the spare time to go travelling across the country bringing speakers backwards and forwards.

                All things being equal, I am tending to err on the P3ESR's, because from what you say, they will play loudly enough. I don't need rock or heavy metal levels. Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy at a pleasant volume is all I need.


                • #9
                  Listening position

                  One of the amazing things about the Harbeth speakers, from the P3 to the 40.1, is how well they sound up close. My room is almost square, about 18.5 feet, but the speakers also are along the longer wall. I started out listening 14 ft from speakers that were 10 feet apart, which meant I was 2.5 feet from the back wall. My favorite position now is in the center of the room which puts me 7 feet from each speaker. Before this I thought I should be at least as far from the speakers as they were apart.

                  For me, not only do I want speakers that are going to faithfully reproduce the source, but I also want speakers that make me think I'm listening to the real thing. In terms of the size of the sound stage, especially vertically, I really don't think you can beat the 40.1 speakers. The P3s will sound almost identical to the 40.1s, but the size of sound stage will be different. The wife acceptance factor (WAF) may be a problem because the 40.1s are large, but if you put them on stands with castors, you can roll them out to listen and roll them back the rest of the time. (I know, what about spikes into the floor and bass coupling or isolation and all that. Well, in the domestic world, it's all about the art of the possible, isn't it? says he with 22 years of marriage to the same lass.)

                  Personally I think you should take up Dave's offer. Listen to all of them, and then decide. If you do fall in love with the 40.1s, I recommend you lather up the wife with gold, diamonds, and about 5 new outfits. Otherwise, enjoy the P3ESR speakers!



                  • #10
                    Come and hear for youself - welcome!

                    A foot from the rear wall is OK for all the range - well, in my room anyway. You shouldn't have any problems with the space you have and they are designed to offer perfect sound in the nearfield, so they should do the job for you.

                    If you can find the time to visit, I have them all here, so you can choose whichever takes your fancy.