Audio Note AN K\J\E or Harbeth 30.1\ C7es-3

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Melody50, Apr 8, 2018.

  1. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    I am using AN OTO phono version with AN AX-2 for past 1 year, I am considering for an upgrade next level, my music preference is Pop, jazz, classical... but not serious listener, no dictated room, the system is put in living room, the speakers can be close to wall and maximum 1 meter inside the room with 2 meters apart, no acoustic treatment.
    I heard the Oto with AN-E verison with blue color woofer, not sure which iteration of AN-E (the demo price is USD 6K, out of my budget), I quite liked the sound because of more details and life like naturalness, however I am not sure if it is overkill for OTO, will K or J will good enough for OTO?

    And will Harbeth 30.1\ C7es-3 be a good match for Oto based on the listening condition and musical preference, need your inputs, thanks.
  2. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    Unless you have a small room, the Harbeths may not be efficient enough to be properly driven by the OTO. The AN K for example has an efficiency of 90db vs. 86 / 85 for the Harbeths.
    Check out the Spendor Classic 2/3s - more efficient than the Harbeths and slightly less expensive than the 30.1s.
  3. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    The OTO is a more powerful amp than 10 watts would indicate and in a small room it should be enough for the Harbeths. That said The AN E is around 10 times easier to drive meaning you will get need 100 watts with Harbeth to get the same volume you get with 10 watts for the AN E.

    The AN K, J and E are all upgrades and all will be fine with the OTO in a live room. Typically, you don't need room treatments for AN speakers unless the room itself has issues like severe clap echo.

    As for sound try and do what I have done and compare both Harbeth and AN in the same room at the same time with the same gear (or appropriate gear) with the same music at the same volume level. Furthermore, listen to a broad range of music as you listen to pop, classical and jazz bring those recordings.

    There are a lot of loudspeakers I could live with including Harbeth - for me it comes down to more than just the sound of the speakers. Sure that is highly important but for me it comes down to (in no order):

    1) size - placement issues
    2) bang for the dollar
    3) ease of drive (I may want a 3.5 watt amp one day as I find SET to sound best)
    4) resale value
    5) play all kinds of music at quality low and high levels. Many speakers need to be played loud only to sound good.
    6) synergy

    Some people do in fact prefer the overall sound of the AN K to the other models. The AN K is a sealed box design and the bass is a little different (faster roll-off). If you liked the AN E get it it will probably be fine. I live in HK and my AN E has to sit on the sides of my 60 inch TV. So 6 feet apart or so. It's a live room.

    I tend to prefer the dynamics and open faster transparent sound of AN speakers over the Harbeths or most low efficiency designs.

    Other alternates to look at off the top of my head would be Volti Rival speakers, Teresonic speakers, Rethm speakers (from India), Reference 3a, Pure Audio Project, Spatial loudspeakers, RossoFiorintino loudspeakers, Acoustic Zen, and Zu Audio which should have offerings at $6k and under all of which would be able to be driven off an OTO.

    Whether they will meet the position demands or the other criteria I listed is another issue. Some of these are below

    Acoustic Zen 89dB


    Pure Audio Project Trio 10 Voxative ($5,995) Trio10 Voxativ, Open Baffle Speakers for Small Rooms - PureAudioProject 89dB

    These won't have the bass of the AN E nor are as sensitive.

    Spatial M3 Triode Master $3995
    94dB 16 ohm makes them dead easy to drive. 60 day home trial offered and 20 year warranty.
    M3 Triode Master


    Still, the AN J and E are difficult to truly beat at the prices factoring it all in - there is a reason they have been selling continuously for over 35 years.
    bhazen likes this.
  4. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Avanti1960 and Richard thanks..

    My Room size is 4 to 8 meters, tried various floor standing speakers and all had their share of Bass boom issues. Mr. Peter(AN) suggested me to keep the speakers close to wall(it was 1 mtr away from wall) and have high mass speakers instead wood stand which I am using for AX-2, to my surprise the bass increased and the vocal got better clarity, so placing close to wall gives better result for AN speakers and it is useful for me and they are easy to drive which makes more sense..

    I heard Harbeth 40.1 in audio show with Audio analogue electronics, an integrate amplifier with BMC CD player, the sound was not attractive when I heard them first time, but when I heard same CD(Chicago) in Gamut system(source to speaker from Gamut) in another room(recommended by Harbeth dealer), I realized how good are Harbeth with simple electronics, however they get better with higher up in the ladder.
  5. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    This is what my dealer is carrying, its demo, asking price is USD4K, is it worth it?
    There is another pair, never bothered to hear it after hearing AN E, don't remember what model it is?
  6. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    Well the speaker would have to be at least the AN E/Lexus Hemp which retails for $5800 (well 3 years ago) and I owned it for a few years before buying the AN E/Alnico. The only lower model is the AN E/D but that one only comes in black. All of them sound good - my view is just get the one you feel comfortable spending.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  7. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Recently acquired Harbeth C7 paired with Spec integrate is sounding great, I think I can hold for quite long without any changes for this system

    For tube oriented system will wait for AN-E( hope to get it end of next year) to pair with AN-Otto, currently happy with AN AX-2.

    I hope I can best of both world with this 2 systems.

    Richard, thanks for introducing AN, I have been following you on every post in this site, the wealth of information you have about AN is amazing.

    The thing is whatever I listen at dealer place, it is not same in my home, that caused me to spend money for many different speakers.

    However AN-AX2 was nothing special in showroom, however i liked the sound, and at home it is better sounding.

    And Harbeth C7 never listened before but I heard top of line Monitor 40.1 and dealer explained, C7 is similarly tuned speaker but in smaller scale.

    Harbeth C7 is the first speaker I brought without listening, fortunately it is better than the speakers which I brought extensive listening.

    It is strange how difficult to get the sound what you like, I am not sure whether everyone goes through this road or it is me alone.

  8. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Since I have Harbeth C7, looking tube integrate and below are the ones I have sorted, appreciate if owners can share their experience

    1. Leben CS-600; dealer had paired with Dynaudio floor standing, couldn't quite got the character of Leben
    2. Octave-V40SE; Heard with Proac Book-Self and vocals were good and clean, source was Vinyl
    3. Unison Research Triode25; Heard with Triangle speakers , Unison has enough power to drive the Triangle with good authority , sweet sound.
    4. And also have some liking towards Melody2A3; i2A3 , not sure if they have enough power to drive Harbeth C7
  9. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    My C7's absolutely love the 100 watts per channel KT120 power of my Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II- and about ~$400 worth of NOS 12AU7/12AX7 tubes.
    If budget allows, the Rogue separates - RP5 tube preamplifier and Stereo 100 power amplifier- are truly class A high end products.
  10. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    From your list I would lean to Melody to drive tougher speakers though can't speak to the 2a3 model as I've not heard it - but seems like it would be under powered. Octave would be my second choice.

    But to be honest I haven't much cared for tube amps with Harbeth - I tend to side with Alan Shaw on using high power SS and I preferred MSB's power amps among others like AN, ARC, or Rogue Audio on them. Granted MSB was considerably more expensive. Still Harbeth is not that easy to drive in general.

    I am not a huge fan of push pull tube amplifiers to try and get bigger power - for instance I would take Accuphase over Rogue Audio if I needed a bigger power amplifier and then you don't need the hassle of biasing or the expense of tube replacement/failures etc.

    I am really not a fan of partnering tube amps with speakers absolutely NOT designed for tube amplifiers - and Harbeth is absolutely NOT designed for tubes. Most push pull tube amps (EL34 and 84 exceptions) often sound closer to solid state amplifiers enough that to me they don't make enough sense to put up with their issues.

    Do your best to try and build a SET/HE system. If not Audio Note try other HE speakers from Rethm, Teresonic, Pure Audio, etc.

    And if it must be tubes try for a higher power SET amp.
    G B Kuipers likes this.
  11. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    avanti1960, thanks for inputs will try to check on the suggestion provided

    Richard Austen, worth considering your suggestion, the difficult part is the HE speakers are expensive and not much choice, however keep exploring...
  12. captwillard

    captwillard Forum Resident

    Octave have interesting power supply options for their amps which help them drive difficult speaker loads. Their amps are, however, very linear sounding. If you want a lot of "tube magic", Octave may not have enough for you. They are really nice amps, though. I've heard them drive Dynaudio and Sonus Faber and both sounded great.
  13. theron d

    theron d Forum Resident

    Baltimore MD
    agree x2
  14. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident

    Chicago metro, USA
    But to be honest I haven't much cared for tube amps with Harbeth - I tend to side with Alan Shaw on using high power SS and I preferred MSB's power amps among others like AN, ARC, or Rogue Audio on them. Granted MSB was considerably more expensive. Still Harbeth is not that easy to drive in general........[/QUOTE]

    The C7's are a 6 ohm load and from my experience very easy to drive. I have more than plenty of power and dynamics from my tube integrated and they sound best with the 8-ohm tap.
    Also I thought Alan Shaw's mantra was that amps do not matter :)
    snorker likes this.
  15. plimpington2

    plimpington2 Forum Resident

    I have heard several of the Harbeth speakers on my small 15 watt tube amp (EL-84 based) and I thought they did just fine. These included the 7’s and the 30.1’s. The little Accuphase integrated (which was FIVE bills) didn’t sound as good despite it (presumably) having the kind of SS grunt the Harbeth’s needed. In the end, I liked the Graham LS5/9’s better than any of the Harbeths, but that one really did need more power.

  16. You’re right. Harbeths are easy to drive with their relatively flat impedance curve. They’re great with tube amps (which is how my dealer drives all of them), as long as they are of sufficient power (about 100W, more or less). I run my 40.2 with an MC275, which is about 90W.
  17. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    Well you can't get away from the sensitivity of the speakers and the fact is a watt is still a watt. I am not a big fan of Harbeth to start with - I like the 40.1 (though I think the AN E/Lx sounds better for 1/3 the price) and Super HL5Plus (I like the AN J/Lx better for 2/3 the price) and those are the ONLY two I like. Both would sound MUCH better with a 15 watt EL84 than using said amp on below 87dB speakers.

    SOme of this comes down to what music one plays and at what volume levels. If you are playing consistently at moderate levels in relatively small rooms - then I would take my EL84 Kingko amp on a Super HL Five over an Accuphase at 7 times the price too! :)

    IMO though EL84 is simply a little more special than the likes of KT88 or EL34. Which is kind of why I singled out those tubes in my prior post specifically.

    Still at the listening levels I require my 12 watt EL84 and Harbeth won't cut it. I am currently looking at a higher power amplifier for reviewing lower efficient speakers but I keep stopping myself because A) I don't find very many low efficiency speakers sound any good - and B) I don't find high power amps (SS or Tube) to sound very good. I have only heard separates from Accuphase. Ayre's amps hold promise in that they are no feedback designs. They hold promise from a design perspective - plus Ayre uses EI transformers so I may try and investigate them more but I have to find enough LE speakers to make it worthwhile.
    Irisaurus Rex likes this.
  18. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    The C7's are a 6 ohm load and from my experience very easy to drive. I have more than plenty of power and dynamics from my tube integrated and they sound best with the 8-ohm tap.
    Also I thought Alan Shaw's mantra was that amps do not matter :)[/QUOTE]

    The speaker is 86dB sensitive and they recommend a minimum of 25 watts. My commentary is usually based on their flagship models or near to it.

    My comments like most are opinions. IMO a good competent SET amplifier destroys a PP amp on sound quality. Affordable good SET amps are typically around 8 watts. Harbeth is a bad match IF you intend to play AC/DC or the RIte of Spring at a reasonable level.

    It's not that I think a 100 watt Tube amp will sound worse than a 100 Watt SS amp - But I personally don't see the point of them - I have not liked the high powered tube amps I have heard (at least not at a budget like Rogue) - they're not bad they're just not better (or enough better) than SS amps for the same price - they are still push pull. And then you have to put up with tube issues - expense and biasing.

    To me if I am going to put up with tube amps - and they're a pain in the ass compared to SS - then the sound has to be revelatory - it has to be a major step up. The cheapest entry to me have been the EL84 Class A push pull amps from Kingko and AN's I Zero - But the latter isn't exactly inexpensive and the former is not exactly a household name. And it still requires $450 in tube upgrades to really show its mettle.

    I am personally not a fan of any of the smaller Harbeths or in fact most small speakers - not trying to sound like a pompous ass - but I can't go back to small standmounts - they just all lack way too much for me.
    Irisaurus Rex likes this.
  19. Melody50

    Melody50 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Richard. did you heard any speakers from 'Living Voice'? Those are 94db sensitivity.
  20. Richard Austen

    Richard Austen Forum Resident

    Hong Kong
    Been too long to really comment because the rest of the system matters - and the room. I remember them being 3 drivers with a tweeter in between offset and claimed high efficiency - generally not a fan of floorstanders and narrow baffles but I did feel they were better than most I heard - but man this has to been several years - I don't believe they have dealers in Canada anymore and I have not seen them here in Hong Kong. And they may have improved or have new models since last I heard them.

    Though I am always on the look out for a good Higher efficiency speaker line I can recommend to people - if you know of a dealer in Hong Kong for these or other, in the realm of affordable, HE speakers I would be pleased to try some out. Maybe try to get something in for review. Tough to find some appealing sounding stuff these days.
  21. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Im using a 17 WPC Audio-Note Kits EL84 PP with the Harbeth SHL5+. For my room, I have plenty of power. Prior to getting the ANK, I used a variety of SS amps, and going down in power with the EL84 PP havent made a difference in the bass and I ended up, after replacing the stock tubes, prefering the ANK sound over everything I had SS wise.

    All Harbeth models apart from the 40.1 are designed, like Alan Shaw says, to be played not much louder then 85db. Therefore, I do think that unless your very far away from the Harbeth, a Oto should be plenty if you respect their intended SPL.

    do add conrad-johnson or ARC. Those two are tops when it comes to PP tube amps.

    I prefer EL84 sound though over most other tubes so I went EL84 way

Share This Page