Harbeth 30.1 Questions

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by avanti1960, Jan 26, 2019.


    LARGERTHAN Forum Resident

    How to measure your room's acoustics with Room EQ Wizard | MusicRadar

    I'd grab a Behringer measurement mic or borrow if at all possible and have a gander at what's afoot with Room EQ. You're just looking for some insight from a frequency sweep, you don't need to go too in depth. Folks here will also have a look too at any measurements you make. Plus, if you go the sub route, being able to do measurements will make blending a sub easier.
  2. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    i have had one sub in the past and it can sound very good especially with monitors that have a steep bass roll off like my former harbeth c7es3 and your 30.1s.
    with speakers that play deeper into the sub bass region two subs are mandstory imho because of the overlap. tuning a single sub to two large monitors or towers has led to unacceptable compromises in my experience.
    a t9i will not overload your room as long as you properly position and level set. i like the t9i vs the 7i becase it plays deeper and smoother, the 7i seemed peaky and emphasized one note when i heard it.
    make sure you can place the sub at least 12 inches from any wall. closer will cause peaks.
    using rta is also an excellent idea, i have found it to improve over what can be done by ear alone.
  3. Gordon Johnson

    Gordon Johnson Forum Resident

    Liverpool, South
    Cables change a lot if his we hear audio, sometimes I'm a big way. I'd be looking to improve the overall of the set up. It might work in a way that makes you reconsider what needs to be done to tune the system in for your liking.

    Most HiFi dealers have used cables as trade ins, its bow I got my LFD SR inters. Yes, cost a lot but not as much as it could / should have.

    Again, simply by using dealers. They knew me, my set up my listening preferences so gave me first refusal on a home demo. I didn't take them back :)

    Boy did it make a difference to how I hear the low end.
  4. Gordon Johnson

    Gordon Johnson Forum Resident

    Liverpool, South
    It does sound like you are set on a piece of additional gear :)

    Try borrowing the measuring equipment from a dealer. I have ni idea who may have one though.

    I read a few post back about MOFSET and Harbeth. My experience is negative in that combo. No real focus for my tastes but certainly worth a trial as different strokes and all that.
  5. Gordon Johnson

    Gordon Johnson Forum Resident

    Liverpool, South
    Too late to edit the last post!

    The combo of tubes or hybrids work a little better with 7s and 5s in my experience. P3s and the 30 series are seemingly more suitable with SS at least from what listening I have done.
  6. RCAlbin

    RCAlbin New Member

    Dallas, TX
    OK... well... I finally found an amp that can man-handle the 30.1's into submission. Well... when complimented by the Townshend Super Tweeters. The Hegel H590 (but, from what I understand any of the Hegel integrated amps - H300, H360, H390 or H590 - do so). They tame the bass and upper mids enough that M30.1's actually have the clarity, detail resolution, and balance that they can compete, in those regards, moreso with Proac's, Tannoy's, and are closer to the ATC's, or Ocean Way Audio monitors. And, of course they have much better mids, than those. Clears them up enough that I may actually keep them.

    In the meantime... I did acquire a pair of the 40.2's, which are sublime when driven by the H590 - similar effects on them as the M30.1's.

    I still love the clarity of the ATC's, Tannoy's, Ocean Way Audio's, and Proac's - which are favorites among recording engineers, because of their clarity and transparency - but - the rich, full, weighty sound of the M30.1's is hard to give up. They sound very much like the M40.2's I have - just a bit smaller sound, with a bit less balance and resolution, and, of course, bass. But then few speakers compare to the M40.2's.

    I have considered swapping the M30.1's for the Super HL5+, because of it's better balance and more prominent highs, but from what I've read, many (perhaps most) may consider the rich sound of the M30.1's to be preferable to the lighter balance of the SHL5+. Having not really heard the SHL5+'s, I can't know... but... I'm not sure I want to go to the trouble / expense of getting the SHL5+'s to compare. Got to draw the line somewhere.
    Vinyl Archaeologist likes this.
  7. dianos

    dianos Forum Resident

    The North
    I just swapped my SHL5 Plus for Tannoy Eaton Legacy. There are no regrets here. Wonderful speakers.
  8. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Audio Expurdt

    Free Speech Land
    Last week I rebalanced my Bi-Amped Harbeth Monitor 30.1 speakers---added a bit more power to the tweeter and suddenly THERE IT WAS.
    That MAGIC of resolved midrange quality to DIE FOR.

    I have NEVER heard such a clear as water detailed without fatigue midrange in my entire life and I have been selling price no object stuff for 45 years.

    My wife and I were listening to Steve Stills "Love the one you're with" and she stopped the music in its tracks.
    "That's a Kalimba!
    I always thought it was a steel drum!
    And it is so CLEAR!" she exclaimed.

    In fact, every voice and instrument seemed to be presenting as an act of God in three dimensional holographic clarity that was beyond scary.

    My God---I LOVE these Harbeths.
    Is there ANYTHING they can't do?
    timind, Gordon Johnson and OC Zed like this.
  9. OC Zed

    OC Zed Bludgeon Riffola

    Costa Mesa, CA
    How would you describe the differences between the two?
  10. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    A better one would be to ask why he hasn't yet filled his equipment profile. ;)
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
    Bananajack likes this.
  11. Mike-48

    Mike-48 A shadow of my former self

    Portland, Oregon
    Mine have provided a lot of pleasure, but they have not made me breakfast and coffee.

    Glad you've got your where you want them!
    Arknine likes this.
  12. dianos

    dianos Forum Resident

    The North
    This is in my room with my equipment. I'm sure they can sound better in other combos.

    The SHL5 Plus midrange is a bit thin and picky on what you listen to. It lacks the lower midrange warmth that is so important IMO. On well recorded tracks with lots of air around the instruments they are magic but very often with my Naim 272/300DR they created listening fatigue for me and specifically the mids were a challenge. When the Eatons entered this immediately was solved. The midrange was pushed back some on the eatons and feel more relaxed and in control and for the first time since i bought the SHL5s I can now listen to more material and listen to the music, not the sound. There is a say that Tannoy is more fun and engaging and that Harbeth are more technically correct. I would say that perfectly sums it up. I want to listen to Tannoy for hours and hours and never get tired but not so with my 5s. So midrange is probably not technically better on tannoy but I want and can listen to it and never think about that "Ah this song is always borderline harsh so I'll skip that". The highs then. Harbeths is better there. More air, more details etc but I don't miss it that much really when listening to the overall performance. The bass on the Eatons I find better. It's bigger, have a wider span than on the 5s which to my ears are more narrow and bumpy and struggles more to get going. Really enjoy the bass response on the Eatons. So relaxed and well defined. What also strikes me is they weigh more than my bigger 5s. 20kg compared to 17. HUGE speaker inside this cabinet.

    The Eatons are also much less picky on placement. On the 5s the sweetspot is extremely small, not so with Eaton. They spread their music in a much bigger spectrum around you and I believe the one speaker technology is the reason behind the great soundstaging on Eatons. After playing with the Eatons for 5 days I switched back to the 5s and directly it went into this listen to SOUND mode and not MUSIC where the 5s sound much more forward and picky on many tracks. Maybe the 30.1 would suite me better but now it's Eatons all in.

    So to sum it off. Only area the 5s are better for lovely long listening sessions is in the highs. The mids, bass, soundstage, placement acceptance, listening excitement, looks goes to Eaton.

    And the looks... I mean...

    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
  13. Erocka2000

    Erocka2000 Forum Resident

    Brooklyn, NY, USA
    I’ve been looking into the Eatons lately. What stands are you using and what is their height?
  14. dianos

    dianos Forum Resident

    The North
    I have them on my Harbeth stands now approx 43cm but have ordered 53cm stands from Atacama Audition AU 500. They don’t seem that sensitive to height really from my testing. Harbeth is far more sensitive.
    Erocka2000 likes this.
  15. RemyM

    RemyM Forum Resident

    I don't know what to do.

    Can buy a newish set of early Harbeth 30 Monitor for €1700 or Harbeth Compact 7 ES3 €2199 (both demo's from a former Harbeth dealer, first version speakers).
    A second hand set of Spendor BC1 (in good state) for €800 or a second hand set of Harbeth Super HL 5 3oth anniversary for €2150.

    I love the look of most Harbeths. My heart says the Harbeths, my head says the Spendors, so far i have only listened to the PS3ER and loved it. If i want to go for the Harbeths i need to be patient and save up till december.
    The 7ES3 or Super HL5 will probably be my end goal speakers (definitely budget-wise).
    Gordon Johnson likes this.
  16. Gordon Johnson

    Gordon Johnson Forum Resident

    Liverpool, South
    Room size and amp that you plan on matching Remy?

    Only you can decide :)
    RemyM likes this.
  17. RemyM

    RemyM Forum Resident

    Room is 18 square meter. 4ish by 4ish. After this i'm planning to upgrade my NAD C325Bee, which have been working great for me with my current KEF speakers. Not top of the bill amp but really curious what they can do with mentioned speakers.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2020
    Gordon Johnson likes this.
  18. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Audio Expurdt

    Free Speech Land
    It's weird.
    When I first got the Harbeth Monitor 30s I found they provided a wide image, great overall tone and super realistic timbre.
    Then I bought some small Parasound amps and bi-amped the Harbeths.
    As I experimented with this combination of amp/preamp I tried turning down the power amp while greatly increasing the preamp signal levels.
    And, as they were now bi-amped, I could adjust the balance output between woofer and tweeter to suit the characteristics of my room and provide clearer timbre.
    This made the speakers sound a great deal more vibrant.
    The reason, as you might know, is that the different voltage hitting your first stage of amplification at your power amp (the power amp input stage) will alter the response the output section of the power amp makes.
    For instance if you overdrive the power amp input stage and then slowly back off until just below distortion you will have a super wide dynamic range and a "hot" sounding signal.
    In reverse, as you lower the preamp signal and run the power amp wide open, the signal will usually harden up and lose some of its "alive-ness."
    Same thing with altering the balance between tweeter and woofer output.
    Without disrupting speaker phase or using dreaded "tone controls" you could make the Harbeths more shrill or more muddy---or find the perfect setting in between.
    So in general, at one point all is optimum---but at all other preamp levels things become less than ideal.
    What is special about the Harbeth Monitor 30s is that there is ONE level of drive when the speakers suddenly develop this incredible crystalline midrange where the resolution becomes so detailed you can hear information you NEVER heard was on these recordings before.
    And the Monitor 30s, unlike other speakers I have tried, do NOT need to be brittle , harsh and "shouty" to render this crystalline detail in tremendous amounts.
    I hit the magic spot once with mine, about ten years ago.
    And I hit the spot again just this last week with new, more powerful amps than before.
    These speakers always sounded phenomenal.
    Now they are frightening.
    it's like I have entered a magical world where I can hear how the engineers were THINKING as they laid the tracks and mixed it down.
    Some of it is speaker setup, some is tweeter to woofer balancing (using two amps per speaker) and some of it (that LAST drop of quality) is amplification that suits them perfectly.
    There has been a lot written about how easy Monitor 30s are to amplify.
    Well, yes and no.
    They will always work extremely well in my experience.
    But these speakers have an amazing other-worldly transparent sound if you keep digging and keep experimenting with how you drive them.
    Amazing speakers.
  19. Bananajack

    Bananajack Well-Known Member

    Interesting discussion indeed.

    I owned in the past Harbeth C7ES (was it ES3? Don’t remember, bought them new 11 or 12 years ago.
    And I owned M30 right afterwards and M30.1 (sold 1.5 years ago).
    None I owned more than a year, which might shed a light on my personal happiness with them.

    A) C7ES and M30 (whatever versions) are simply two different speakers.
    To characterize I would say (and my best friend, also former M30 owner, agrees), that C7ES are a nice, warm
    and natural source of background music for e.g. reading, talking, gaming - a wonderful living room speaker.
    They embrace you emotionally, there was nothing wrong with them. Except ... there were M30s. Bad.

    B) M30 are monitors for listening concentrated, not as pleasant or warm or embracing, but definitely more precise
    in anything they do. You have to take care how you position them. They need the right amp. They tell you when
    the source is harsh or muffled. Good speakers, not as pleasant as C7s, but more truth. Sold due to buying Sonus
    Faber Guarnieri Homage (1996) and comparing them side by side. Uhh, the Harbeth were no match, but I feel
    it was an unfair comparison.

    The Guarnieris got subwoofers, I moved twice and they went to a friend, the strings are not good for guys with
    young dogs. And somehow they were too sweetish. Reactivated my old Linn Nexus (pretty the same concept and
    effect as C7s). Not satisfied. M30.1 it had to be.

    M30.1 were definitely a strong upgrade to M30s. Details, soundstage, clarity, all better. In the end they are small
    M40 without the bass driver. And that’s their strength, but also their weakness - they are simply not grown up
    speakers for living rooms. 8inch is enough for a den (maybe), but not (for me) satisfying - which is the result
    from often listening to Rock. They can’t do it. Not enough bass, not big soundstage, not warm ...

    So I call them the best speakers I don’t like ... but definitely very recommendable. They went to a friend, who sold
    them on after 6 more months for the same reason. Great speakers, perfect in what they can do ... just not the right
    ones, doesn’t hit a sweet spot.

    They were replaced by Tannoy Monitor Gold (LSU 12/8 from 1970) for about the same price I sold them. Not as
    detailed, not as perfect ... but huge, warm, creepily good voices and real bass. Those I finally keep ... I modify them a bit.

    M30.2 are not better at all, forget the fake story of oh so big changes, it’s just the same speaker with minimal changes,
    more glitz and new furnish. For a lot more money. Sorry Alan Shaw, wateva story you wanna tell me about a new tweeter
    ... you just need the stash.

    They react strongly on stands. Mine came with Skylan stands (Plastic!!!), to be avoided, the bass is dead. Replaced them
    with crazy heavy old steel Celestion Stands, much improvement. Sound Anchor stands are perfect for them. Maybe tilt
    them a bit backwards, my impression was it improved them (tweeters and woofers better aligned, less forward).

    So overall it is as you thought - C7ES are HiFi speakers, M30s are real monitors. Yes to your last sentence, they are
    more neutral, transparent and less colored. Guaranteed.
    Just happiness over time is another issue ...

    Buy them used, they are very easy to sell. I got mine relatively inexpensive in closed boxes from a UK dealer. Overstocks.
    bgiliberti and avanti1960 like this.
  20. Bananajack

    Bananajack Well-Known Member

    Had the chance to listen to them a bit longer 4 weeks ago - these are VERY good speakers. Congrats!
    The oh so great treble of the SHL5 come from the super tweeter - just add one (parallel or serial, both okay).
    Use a simple Capacitor for the super tweeter (equals a 6dB crossover, i recommend 2.2mF = 6KHz for a 4 Ohm).
    Have a look at ESS Labs Heil AMT (the small Heil will fit). Not so expensive and due to bidirectionality it
    sounds very airy and pleasant. Reduce the Tannoy tweeter by 1.5dB on the front if needed. Finished.
    Surely you can experiment with different Cap values. ...

    I will be doing that to my Tannoy as well.
    dianos likes this.
  21. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Chicago metro, USA
    My SHL5+s are long term keepers. They are finally settling in and are growing warmer and richer every day yet still yield excellent transparency when called for. This took ~ 400+ hours.
    Very sensitive to positioning and toe-in.
    Glmoneydawg likes this.
  22. Bananajack

    Bananajack Well-Known Member

    I understand ... and they sound like big C7ES (well, they are). Tradition derived from BBC LS 5/9, the
    best were Spendor BC1.

    Just give the Tannoy a listen. The act as a point source, the coherence is really better, something is just right
    with them (the price is not though, haha). It’s always good to know the competition (and sometimes expensive,
    nobody knows that better than me).
    bgiliberti likes this.
  23. dianos

    dianos Forum Resident

    The North
    Mine are 5 years old so burn in done
  24. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Personal Survival Daily Record-Breaker

    Not my experience at all.
  25. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    A better question might have been, what other stand heights did you try?

    It’s always a critical matter - at a given seated listening position - that the height of the tweeter position is just right for a given speaker design and listener. If someone hasn’t done that height experimentation with a standmount speaker, then he can’t know for sure whether he’s gotten the best out of the speaker or not. Often, as little as in inch or two either up or down can make the difference between a ‘meh’ experience and a ‘wow’ experience.

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