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I need a HUG

Luthier

Member
I'm a proud P3ESR owner - mine are finished in a lovely rosewood veneer with spectacular figure. So why on earth do I need a HUG?

Because, for me at least, shopping for audio ancillaries has been an unpleasant experience. I purchased my P3ESRs a few years back in anticipation of our family move -- we now have a smaller house and family room and it is time to downsize the rest of my audio equipment to something more domestically friendly. A broadcast-quality slimline solid-state integrated amp will replace extremely large tube separates and I may add a good outboard DAC.

The trouble I have is that many ancillary components I'm looking at are sold by resellers who neither carry or respect the Harbeth brand. I've come out of a few auditions lately listening to components hooked up to speakers that sound so unnaturally bright that my ears rang for days. When I bought my first system over 30 yrs ago, there were many good dealers around who understood how to set up and demo an audio system for a classical music lover. Sadly there are only a few who remain in my geography. To many dealers these days, a good hifi demo of classical music is reproducing the canon shots in the 1812 overture. This situation makes the audition process difficult and tiring.

I'd like to end on a positive note, I feel very grateful and privileged to own Harbeth speakers. The quality and craftsmanship is wonderful. Every time I listen I feel like I have a miniature model of a concert hall in my living room. In addition to the natural sound, I admire the fine cabinetry ever time I walk into our living room. Ever notice how the grain lines of the wood veneers on your Harbeths run all the way around the cabinet? It takes a fine eye, excellent craft skills and attention to detail to produce furniture grade cabinetry like this. I'd put Harbeth in the same category as bespoke furniture makers of generations past like Alan Peters and the Barnsley workshop etc.

So perhaps if I ever meet Alan Shaw, I should give him a HUG.
 

grandwazoo

New member
Just go on Amazon and get a Yamaha or something like that with enough watts and features to meet your needs. I would say don't agonize over it. The Harbeth speakers are easy to drive and should not be a problem for most mass market integrated amps on the market. I listen to a ton of classical and use this one in the link below. It's reasonably priced with good specs and features but I am sure there are many similar things.

http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-visual/hifi-components/amps/a-s501/
 

willem

Well-known member
+1. You want one with an in built DAC. If you need more inputs, look at Yamaha's receivers, some of which are quite generously equipped with digital inputs (and even some mm phono input).
 

Luthier

Member
Ah, the amp was the easy part. 60-70W is all I need for my space and listening preferences -- I've selected a good reliable unit built to broadcast quality standards. In fact the many posts here helped really ground my search to something practical. The trouble I'm having is auditioning source components at dealers who don't carry the Harbeth line. In one case I listened to one DAC hooked up to another manufacture's speakers. Things sounded so bright and edgy, the opposite of what real live music sounds like I left the shop wanting to scream. Came back a week later - the dealer had a second hand pair of HL5s. Guess what? the dac sounded superb.

The dealer I bought my P3ESR's from has the Harbeth line set up wonderfully, however they largely specialize in analog gear and their digital sources are simply out of my price range.
 

willem

Well-known member
There is little point in auditioning dacs. Above a quite modest minimum there are no audible differences anymore. The only dacs that may sound different are some audiophile ones that are tweaked to sound different (read: not neutral). What sources are you considering?
 

Luthier

Member
I finally got my new amp installed -- it is an integrated amplifier by Bryston (B60-R). Pretty plain unit, no special features but it is built to broadcast quality standards with reliable parts with a design philosophy of 'it needs to work within spec for 20 years'. I had the phono board installed which rivals some of the best standalone units I've heard. A meagre 66W may not seem a lot these days -- the measurement paper that came with the unit notes .005% distortion at rated output. That is 100x less distortion than my old tube amp which is rated at .5% distortion!

With all the talk of big power these days, the one thing that shines through is how easy the little Harbeths are to drive. Even with 65 watts, I can drive the P3ESRs to unsafe SPLs in my small room / listening distance without any sign of strain (either from the speaker or the amp). In all fairness 65 watts may be closer to 90W as the unit is so conservatively rated, nevertheless it illustrates just how easy the Harbeths are to drive.
 

IMF+TDL

Active member
Luthier said:
I finally got my new amp installed -- it is an integrated amplifier by Bryston (B60-R). Pretty plain unit, no special features but it is built to broadcast quality standards with reliable parts with a design philosophy of 'it needs to work within spec for 20 years'. I had the phono board installed which rivals some of the best standalone units I've heard. A meagre 66W may not seem a lot these days -- the measurement paper that came with the unit notes .005% distortion at rated output. That is 100x less distortion than my old tube amp which is rated at .5% distortion!
With all the talk of big power these days, the one thing that shines through is how easy the little Harbeths are to drive. Even with 65 watts, I can drive the P3ESRs to unsafe SPLs in my small room / listening distance without any sign of strain (either from the speaker or the amp). In all fairness 65 watts may be closer to 90W as the unit is so conservatively rated, nevertheless it illustrates just how easy the Harbeths are to drive.
From the following review, you might note that the short-term peak output of the B-60 into a 6Ω (Harbeth) load is about 135W:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/bryston-b-60r-integrated-amplifier-measurements
 

Luthier

Member
IMF+TDL said:
From the following review, you might note that the short-term peak output of the B-60 into a 6Ω (Harbeth) load is about 135W:
https://www.stereophile.com/content/bryston-b-60r-integrated-amplifier-measurements
Interesting -- the little Bryston certainly 'feels' more powerful than the 75W McIntosh tube amp I previously owned, regardless what the McIntosh metres said.

In all honesty I owe the switch up to many of the 'common-sense' posts I've read here by members about Harbeth amp requirements, particularly those by Alan Shaw.
 

Luthier

Member
I'm starting to wonder if any of the larger Harbeths would work in my room. I'm running the P3ESRs with a REL sub. My room is on the small side 11 ft wide and 18 long opening up to a larger area. The basement ceiling is low at at 6 ft 8! the p3esrs are 6 ft apart 47 in out from the back wall and 23 in from the side walls. See photo.

I had a listen to the Monitor 30.1, C7 and SHL5+ at my dealer yesterday. All are great but the room was large. Even the Monitor 30.1 is quite a bit bigger than the tiny P3ESR. Given my small space and I'm using a Sub would there be any benefit to upgrading to any of the larger Harbeths?

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