Harbeth 30.1 Questions

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

  1. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    For anyone very familiar with the sound of the Harbeth 30.1 I have a few questions. I listened to them briefly few times and kind of dismissed them without much effort or thought.
    Is it fair to say that the 30.1s are less influenced by enclosure resonance and are more neutral and open that the C7ES3 and SHL5+?
    Are they more "monitor" like in sound quality and possibly more dynamic?
    On the Harbeth users group it was mentioned that the 30.1 is not a worthy upgrade from the C7ES3 by Alan Shaw.
    If the 30.1 is in fact more neutral, transparent and less colored by the enclosure to me it would be a worth while upgrade.

    Thanks !
     
  2. whaleyboy

    whaleyboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, CA
    I am very familiar with the 30.1 but, alas, not the other models.

    For my taste the 30.1 is pretty much ideal and I compared it (at my house) with many other options and it is the clear winner.

    Of course, this doesn’t help at all since I can’t offer comparison between the models and you are too far away to try my speakers out. My dealer says that this model is his favorite in the Harbeth line so there is that, too.
     
    avanti1960 likes this.
  3. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    anyone else?
     
  4. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Can’t help much but I was speaking with a Harbeth dealer (not about Harbeth though) and we were discussing my c7s. He felt they were the least dynamic in the line and felt the newest 40th anniversary 30.2 was a real step forward and in another league.

    I didn’t pay too much mind because I love my C7s and for now they are all I want but you may want to explore that further. I get the clear sense you are restless and wanting a more dynamic sound (but don’t want to give up all the other c7 goodness).
     
    avanti1960 likes this.
  5. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    thanks, good info. i now wish i would have spent more time listening to them in the past.
    not necessarily restless but the C7ES3s are so well broken in that they have too much warmth and forgiveness. the smoothness of Harbeth combined with a flatter response sounds appealing.
     
  6. Mike-48

    Mike-48 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    I can tell you that, in extended listening, I thought the M30.1 was a really good speaker -- so good I had my checkbook out and was filling in the date. The dealer insisted I try the demo pair at home first -- and I found they weren't a great match for my very difficult room. (Whether they would do better there, now that I have more bass traps installed, is an open question.) That says more about my room than the speaker.

    To put this in context, I like sound that is both accurate and nonfatiguing. Harsh tweeters need not apply. I thought the 30.1 met those criteria.

    I regret, I've not heard the C7ES3, so I can't compare.
     
  7. Gordon Johnson

    Gordon Johnson Forum Resident

    Location:
    Liverpool, South
    I tested the 7's, 5's and 30's at my dealers and the latter two at home.

    The 30s impressed in both locations. I have a slight regret at not trying the 7s at home. Not that I think it would have changed my going for what was then, the new 30.1s. I would just liked to have heard the 7s in my room.

    Very much a monitor but not sure if they are more of a monitor than any others in the range.

    Dynamic for sure and the most "honest" speaker I've beard.

    Room size is about 11' x 22' and I have the 30.1s shooting the length of the room. Works exceptionly well.

    But it took some expensive inters to get the best out of them.
     
  8. I listened to them at my local dealer quite a few times. He didn’t have C7s’s, but I did compare them to the HL5+ and 40.2.

    My dealer prefers the 30.1 to the HL5+. The 30.1 are not as bright. I thought the 30.1 sounded closer to the 40.2, just with less bass.
     
  9. In an earlier post I compared my experience auditioning the P3ESR and M30.1. I thought the M30.1 was a little more refined with a slightly less forward more recessed presentation than the P3ESR. It definitely had a little more lower end extension.

    I couldn't justify the higher price though and I liked the lively-ness of the P3. However, I like the P3s so much that I want to keep them in my bedroom system - they just sound *perfect* in that small room. So eventually, I think I'll get a used pair of M30.1s to replace the P3s in my home theater set up. I wasn't seriously considering spending that much on a new pair of speakers at the time so I didn't listen to them for very long.
     
    Warren Jarrett and basie-fan like this.
  10. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    I have the M30. Yes, it is very neutral, in the sense of well-balanced. I am also a recording engineer and to me the M30 just sounds like an incredibly refined and natural studio monitor. Which I think is a good thing. With the right amp (needs power) and in the right room size, I could definitely mix on them, as they are very detailed with great resolution and at the same time they give you zero fatigue.

    I have no experience with the other models in the Harbeth line.
     
    mr. scratchy esq likes this.
  11. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    There's a pair of the anniversary 30.2's on the 'Gon from an authorized dealer for $6890 shipping included ;)
     
  12. G B Kuipers

    G B Kuipers Forum Resident

    Location:
    Netherlands
    Wow, that price sounds insane to me. Are M30.1s that expensive too in the US? Here in Europe they go for about 3.5k€ new, which is not exactly cheap either, at least to my standards.
     
  13. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    those are the new anniversary models--no idea how much more (if at all) they are from the 30.1's but yes....the sword cuts both ways
     
  14. NoDad

    NoDad Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Santa Rosa CA
    When looking to upgrade I spent quite some time listening to various speakers. I was all set to buy the P3ESR, as they made me want to listen more and more.
    Ended up with M30.1 when I saw a deal on a pair of demos. Didn't compare them side to side, but both of them sound very good to me. The 30.1 may be more monitor like, i.e. analytical, but not so much that it takes away from the music. More like you can hear exactly what's going on in the song.

    My previous speakers, KEF R300, which I found slightly too forward in the mid-range, caused listening fatigue when listening for a long time. The 30.1 doesn't cause this fatigue. Instead I end up wanting to listen to more and more music. Sorry, this doesn't directly answer your questions, but the 30.1 has cured me of upgradeitis.
     
  15. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I’ve had both the C7ES3 and the Monitor 30.1 in my main systems. I kept the 30.1s because they suit my main room and my listening needs better.

    I brought a pair of C7s back to audition again about six months after settling on the 30.1s and stayed with the 30.1s again. Part of the preference had to do with being used to and thoroughly satisfied with the 30.1s, but the small differences provided by the C7s only reminded me why I first chose the 30.1s.

    My main reason for leaving the 30.1s is place is their ability in my medium-size main listening room to beautifully and accurately reproduce natural-sounding timbres of acoustic instruments. I listen to a lot of 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s jazz, some contemporary jazz artists, all playing acoustic instruments. I attend live shows regularly at various jazz clubs in Toronto, which provides me with plenty of reinforcement about what sounds accourate.

    I also attend Toronto Symphony Orchestra performances, classical music performances by a variety of other orchestras when I’m traveling, opera performances in Toronto and occasionally when traveling, and a few jazz dates when traveling as well.

    In my main system (LFD NCSE MKII integrated amp, Avid Diva SP II w/Origin Live Illustrious tonearm and Ortofon Cadenza Black cartridge feeding a Lehmann Silver Cube, Lumin T1 Streamer/DAC), in a listening room with a hardwood floor over rubber underlay and concrete, drywall on metal studs, solid wood bookshelves loaded with books, leather upholstered armchairs, artwork on the walls (oils on canvas, acrylics on canvase, wood frames), end tables, lamps with cloth shades, etc., the Harbeth Monitor 30.1s have a presence and can provide dynamics that get me most of the way to a live set. Studio sets feel like I’ve gotten close to being in the room with the musicians. It’s a great experience.

    If by “dynamics” you mean the speed, accuracy and audible relative change with which the speakers respond to fast crescendo and decrescendo passages, and the way sforzando notes the leap out of a phrase and the clarity/non-congestion of loud, fully instrumented passages and choruses, then I prefer the 30.1 over the C7 because the 30.1 does each of those things just a bit better.

    All Harbeth speakers provide a hard-to-define quality of musicality. I suspect musicality is usually mostly the result of the drivers and crossovers and cabinet combination being able to produce accurate acoustic instrument timbres.

    If I had a large listening room, I’d be using either the SHL5 Plus or the Monitor 40.1/2 (in a very large room). There is something about the two cubic foot cabinet of the SHL5 Plus that (in a room larger than mine) sounds wonderfully true with all material. Same goes for the 40.2 is a very large room. In my medium-size room I’ll take the 30.1 every time though.

    I’ve had the SHL5 Plus in my listening room (for a little over a week). Wrong speaker for the room, and I was never able to get the best out of them.

    That’s my take.
     
  16. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    I have two pairs of Harbeth; P3ESR and M30.1. A while back I had them both hooked up to my vintage Marantz 2238B, one set to Output A and the other set to Output B. I was able to switch one pair in, while at the same time switch the other pair out. They sounded the same, except th M30.1 had an extra bottom octave! I added an SVS to the P3ESR and listened again. Now they almost sounded the same.

    I think the M30.1 sounds amazing, especially on women’s voices. When listening to Aimee Mann, I can shut my eyes and she sounds like she’s in the room with me. I’m done looking for a better speaker (for now).
     
  17. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    very thoughtful and thorough as usual!
     
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  18. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    FYI my dealer lists the cherry finish 30.1 @ $5490 and the 30.2 anniversary model @ $6890.
    I am not considering the 30.2 because I heard them extensively and although setup and supporting hardware contributes to the sound, overall I was not impressed and especially not as the Stereophile reviewer was, for example.
     
  19. BIGGER Dave

    BIGGER Dave Forum Resident

    FYI - probably something you already know, but you can save thousands by going used. I picked up my used M30.1 for $3,200/pair. Look new, sound new and came with original shipping boxes, COA and all original papers. Just a thought...
     
    avanti1960 likes this.
  20. Plinko

    Plinko Forum Resident

    Location:
    Dahntahn
    I recently acquired the 30.2 anniversary and Tontrager stands. I think these are amazing.

    Didn’t get on with C7s a few years ago and believe these 30.2s are better. During this time, have also been enjoying Quad ESL and Quad 63.

    I find these 30.2s more open and dynamic than those C7s (“dynamic” as defined by Agitator here) and would go for these in a choice in upgrade. On the other hand, these were not the current C7s.

    I don’t know if this helps. Sounds like you are on the right path and doing some careful listening, which will allow you to form your own opinion.
     
  21. gov

    gov Forum Resident

    Location:
    NYC
    Boy if that isn't an articulation of what I know but can't say....that's perhaps the one thing I don't love about my C7s that I'd like to correct on my next choice whenever that is.

    Problem I've seen is many that I've heard that correct that introduce other problems (for me).
     
    gabbleratchet7 likes this.
  22. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    In my estimation, the older Harbeth C7 speakers and the newer C7ES3 both have very respectable and thoroughly enjoyable dynamics. I obviously don’t know anything about your listening room, but in the only setup I've got first-hand knowledge of in which someone was unsatisfied with the older C7, it turned out to be poor speaker positioning in a harsh sounding room. Softening the room and re-positioning the speakers made a massive difference. That was eight or nine years ago. The guy is still using the same C7 speakers in the same room and has since made further incremental improvements. Excellent speakers for small and small-medium size listening rooms.
     
  23. avanti1960

    avanti1960 Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Chicago metro, USA
    agreed, dynamics are good with my C7ES3 especially with robust amplification. My biggest complaint against them is the forgiving response and too much enlosure resonance contribution. If the 30.1 in fact do have more rigid, less lossy cabinets and a more monitor like response i would love them (on paper, at least).
     
  24. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The activeness of the cabinets is part of the fundamental design of Harbeth speakers, and a fully integrated part of the sound they produce in any given room and acoustic environment. I don’t know of any way to determine what part of the Harbeth sound I hear is cabinet, what part is drivers or what part is crossover. I do know that if I stiffen a Harbeth cabinet by adding internal bracing to damp all panel resonance just like other heavily braced and insulated cabinets, I’ll effectively ruin the speaker.
     
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  25. Shiver

    Shiver Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Are you determined to stay Harbeth? FWIW, I demoed the 30.1 against some other speakers and in the end chose ProAc D2. For midrange/vocals and general texture the Harbeths were absolutely lovely, but couldn't do the things you appear to be after - dynamics, expressiveness or top-to-bottom clarity - anything like the ProAcs could tbh. Especially with some volume and/or more deep, complex music. Didn't try the Harbeths at home though, where things might have changed. That said the D2s behaved exactly the same way there as they had in the demo room, and still retained a natural tone and texture to music.
     
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