Holy Church of the UK 8" 2-way BBC Monitor Thread...Harbeth, Spendor, Stirling, Rogers etc

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ArdenHiFi, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've had a long-time off and on love affair with British BBC style monitors. Not the small ones, but the mid-size 8" 2-way. I've owned some by Mission, IMF, Celestion, KEF and some of the less popular companies, but I think the real quality comes from Harbeth and Spendor. This is total hifi geekery, but I thought earlier today that I wanted to start a UK BBC monitor tribute thread, so here it is. Thus far, I have owned and lived with (skipping the mid-grade stuff):

    Rogers Export Monitor
    Rogers LS6
    Rogers LS6a
    Spendor SP1
    Spendor Prelude 2
    Harbeth Monitor 30
    ...and maybe some others that I'm forgetting

    What I like about all of these speakers is that the midrange quality, tonal balance, and musicality reminds me very much of my favorite speaker of all time: the Quad ESL 57. One speaker I've always wanted to hear/own, but never have is the Spendor SP1/2.

    What is your favorite UK BBC-style monitor and which have you owned?

    And finally, here's a shot in the dark: has anyone ever compared the Stirling SB-88 with the Harbeth Monitor 30? Very curious about Stirling as well.
     
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  2. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    I'm very much a fan of 2-way monitors with large (8- or 10-inch) woofers. I didn't know the Harbeth 30 was of this type, though; thought it was similar-sized drivers as the P3; learn something new every day ...

    I particularly go for speakers with minimal crossover (or just a cap and resistor to protect the tweeter), and the midband is mostly from the woofer run full range. Generally, a more natural/less fatiguing sound ... Don't know if this is a common feature of BBC-related designs (the LS3/5A has a crossover from hell!)

    Anyway, I believe the Dynaco A25 fits this bill, and was justifiably popular as a result. I'd love to hear some of those BBC-type Spendors, and the Decware (U.S.-made) DM945 (8-inch woofer with ribbon tweeter, and just a cap.)
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
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  3. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Supper's ready

    I like the "English" sound. Current transducer RS3...
     
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  4. Art K

    Art K Forum Resident

    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon
    Doesn't the Harbeth Monitor 30 have the same size LF driver as the Compact 7.
     
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  5. I'm not trying to threadcrap, but hope someday to afford midfi vintage BBC speakers, so could the OP and other knowledgeable members also identify the most desirable makers and models of that type? If the question is off base for this thread, I withdraw it and will post later. Thanks.
     
  6. Lpone

    Lpone Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Canada
    I've been happily living with Rogers Ls7's since 1987.
     
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  7. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Not a threadcrap, I would think ... :)

    The vintage LS3/5A market has gone a bit bananas, I think, with old Rogers, Chartwells, etc. going for stupid money now (collectors in Asia usually get blamed for this); but I think some older Spendors of the 'traditional' type - models usually designated SPX/X ('70s, '80s? '90s?) can be had for reasonable money.
     
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2016
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  8. Bubbamike

    Bubbamike Forum Resident

    Mid-Fi?
     
  9. Mortsnets

    Mortsnets Active Member

    My main speakers for years were the Spendor BC1s which are available at a reasonable price on the used market. Also enjoyed Fried Model Rs if they qualify.
     
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  10. Art K

    Art K Forum Resident

    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon
  11. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Oh, yeah ...
     
  12. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Supper's ready

    Still want Compact Sevens. Perhaps when I retire.
     
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  13. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter


    Yes. All of the Harbeths use the same mid driver except the small monitor.
     
  14. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    One of the nice things about UK BBC monitors is that all of them, even the expensive ones, represent superb value. You get way more than you pay for. All of the speakers on my list above of those I've owned with the exception of the Harbeth Monitor 30s cost me under $500 per pair.
     
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  15. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Dynaco A25 does not fit the bill. The speakers I'm referring to all share something in common in that they follow some version of an old BBC recipe developed by Spencer Hughes and Dudley Harwood (Spendor and Harbeth), which is basically a "lossy" ported cabinet, an 8" poly bass/mid driver, and a tweeter (sometimes a super-tweeter). The speaker is engineered to be more or less remarkably smooth and flat throughout the frequency range with the goal of accurate reproduction for monitor service and to be non-fatiguing over long working sessions.

    Dyanco A25 is a novelty speaker by comparison. I know that people love them and yes, you can get some remarkably transparent midrange out of the essentially wide-open 10" driver, but there are serious problems in trying to match a 10" speaker with a tweeter and for that matter, it's asking a lot from an 8" cone. One of these problems is cone cry or cone shout or cone breakup. It's the distortion that happens when the driver runs out of steam near the crossover point and yes, you turn up the A25 and you can hear it very clearly shrieking away and that is harsh. The speaker also doesn't make any bass and when you have a BBC style 8" two way kicking out more LF than a 10" driver stuffed in a small cabinet, you know we have a problem because it should be the other way around in theory with the large cone. Please don't take offense to my comments as this is just my opinion based on my experience and of course that means that I think that I'm right, but it's still just an opinion and is ultimately meaningless to Dyanco fans et al. I'm posting it for the purpose of potentially helping someone else sort out there hifi experience/journey, so my intentions are magnanimous rather than argumentative. But the main point, is that the A25 should not be part of this topic.
     
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  16. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    Location:
    East TN
    That said, I am an A 25 fanatic, but in the purist sense does not fit the bill as it is not a proper BBC design. And I do like LS3/5a type speakers though I have never owned a pair.
     
  17. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The Harbeth Compact 7's and the Harbeth 30.1 remain at or near the top of my acquisition list. I owned a pair of Rogers LS5/9 that I purchased in London in 1988 and shipped home to Toronto. I used them in various systems up until 1999, when I stowed them in favour of the new generation of KEF and B&W boxes that were luring me away from the BBC designs. I sold the LS5/9 pair and now I want them back. I'll the jump to the Compact 7's or the 30.1 by the end of 2016 I think. I'm running Harbeth P3ESR's in a secondar system right now - great speakers too.
     
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  18. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I like the Monitor 30 better than the rest of the line because I find the tweeter to be so much more smooth and graceful than the metal domes.
     
  19. Art K

    Art K Forum Resident

    Location:
    Corvallis, Oregon
    The Monitor 30 is special for sure. Clean and clear. But the C7 is a very special speaker and there are plenty of folks who prefer it. I think I would settle on the Super 5 + if I had the scratch.
     
  20. Salectric

    Salectric Member

    Location:
    Maryland
    I share your enthusiasm for BBC style monitors and for 2-way designs generally, even though I don't own any of the models you mentioned. However, I do own (and love) my Spendor SP100. I also am a big fan of the A25 which was dismissed a little too quickly by the OP. There is something magical about the A25 woofer being run full range with no crossover components whatsoever to muck up its sound. The same thing applies to my Fulton Musical Industries FMI-80 which uses an 8" woofer and run full range.

    I would certainly not dismiss a 2-way just because it uses a woofer larger than 8". In fact, my vintage 2-way which is based on the Western Electric 753 uses a 15" woofer and a horn loaded compression driver crossed over at 1200 Hz. It sounds marvelously coherent.
     
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  21. bhazen

    bhazen Re: Member

    Location:
    Newcastle, WA
    Actually, the A25 and the BBC monitors do have something important in common: a purpose-designed 'dip' in the presence band, resulting in a slightly laid-back character, resulting (in the BBC's case) monitors which can be listened to for extended periods without fatigue. I only mentioned them in passing, anyway; I, too, want to hear more about Chartwells, Rogers, Spendors etc.!
     
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  22. Thanks for all the great leads. One of the reasons why I enjoy this forum.
     
  23. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    I've owned more Brit bbc legacy speakers than I can remember. Harbeth, Spendor, etc.

    I currently have Wayne Picquet refurbed Quad 57's, they're my all time fav.

    I've had Spendor Sp1/2's twice, they're a great speaker. I'm a big Stirling Broadcast fan. I haven't heard them but people I know who have rave about their new LS3/6.

    Obviously I'm a huge LS3/5a fan. I currently have a pair of the Falcon 15 ohm version with the new KEF drivers. They're stunning.
    Not a bbc product, but looks similar in design and execution - Ryan Acoustics model 610. That's something I'm very interested in .
     
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  24. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    The Dynaco A25 is not, for purposes of this discussion, considered a BBC-style monitor. I had Dynaco A25s for a while years ago and at first, I thought I'd found my speaker. I loved them. Then I realized that when you turn them up, the woofer starts flapping in the breeze at it's upper band and they become harsh. They bark and shout. That's what killed them for me.

    Also, interesting to note, though, that as poor an opinion I have of any 2-way system incorporating a bass/mid larger that 8", that there was a BBC monitor that was a 12" 2-way! I've never heard these, but I'd like to. I'm very, very skeptical though, as the bass/mid drivers is the Rogers LS6 and LS6a behaved poorly.

    Rogers Loudspeakers › LS5/8 »
     
  25. ArdenHiFi

    ArdenHiFi Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I've owned a few pairs of Quads. The best pair I've ever heard were a Wayne Picquet restored pair from around 2006. These were also the best sounding speakers I've ever heard, period. I sold them because someone made an offer that I would never equal again, so there they went. The worst pair of Quads I've ever heard were a Wayne Picquet restored pair from 2014. These were a pair I ordered for a friend after he had heard mine. Dealing with Wayne directly was an awful experience, in fact he still owes me $400 or so that I'm never going to see, and the speakers arrived looking shoddy and sounded nothing like my 2014 pair. They were thin, bright, piercing, and awful sounding. I learned that all of this speakers sound different. There is no quality control to speak of in terms of manufacturing consistency. You get a good pair or a bad pair. Of course, he does not volunteer this information. You find out the hard way after spending thousands. I'm also aware that he's had some serious health problems in recent years, so perhaps that's influencing his recent work. Thus said, if anyone reading this is considering a PK pair of Quads, I suggest purchasing something at least 10 years old or, if possible, place a deposit on a pair, and then do whatever you have to do to go and hear them before paying them off. Make SURE they are what you think they should be. My direct experience is that Wayne is not a man of his word. On the other hand, this is the same guy who made the absolute finest pair of speakers I've ever heard, period, so there. Purchasing from him is a real wild card, though.

    There's also Electrostatic Solutions. I've never heard their Quads, but speaking with them over the phone at length makes me want to. The level of service and professionalism is off the charts.

    Could you talk about the sonic differences between the Spendor SP1/2 and your Quads and also the other speakers that you've owned? My favorite of the BBC monitors are those which are the fuller, warmer sounding models. All of them, of course, have a different character.
     
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