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I am amazed by NHT SB-1 speakers. What about SB-3 or SuperOne, even better?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by Warren Jarrett, Nov 24, 2019.

  1. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC In Memoriam Thread Starter

    Fullerton, CA
    A few years ago, I bought a used pair of NHT SB-1 speakers on Ebay for a very cheap price, to use as rear speakers but never actually used them... until a few weeks ago. I heard them as main speakers with very expensive and high-end front-end electronics. WOW, I was VERY impressed. The bass was satisfactory, the imaging was stunning, and the dynamics were impressively audiophile. Tonal balance is just right; nothing sounds rolled-off or boomy. Now I am using them with a little Steve McCormick "Micro Power" amplifier, with shockingly excellent results. These speakers were made in 2003, so who needs "newer is better" speakers? The amp is probably even older.

    But I am curious. What will I hear if I buy a pair of NHT SuperOne speakers? They are a little bigger and a lot newer. And they can be found new, still, for $300 a pair, free shipping.

    I don't think they will be as pretty, because the SB-1 are super high gloss with rounded edges. Maybe I would prefer the older SB-3 speakers instead. Any comments from people who remember what these models sounded like?
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
  2. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    I am an NHT fanboy and run SuperOne 2.1s in two systems (and SuperZeros in two more). I would love to be able to do a shootout with the SuperOne 2.1 with the little Harbeths.

    As far as what *you* will hear, get a pair and audition them. I find them to have enough bass (I am not a low frequency fan) that's punchy and great mids and highs. Terrific for jazz, vocals, and the wide range of music I listen to.
  3. Glmoneydawg

    Glmoneydawg Forum Resident

    Ontario Canada
    Bought my dad a pair of super ones about 10 years ago....still shocked how good they are.
    Warren Jarrett likes this.
  4. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    I owned a pair of Super Ones a long time ago. My memory of them was they were just ok, nothing to get excited about. A few years later I inadvertently won an auction for a pair of SB3s. The SB3 was a joy to listen to. Plenty of bass, non-fatiguing highs and decent dynamics. Both experiences are more than 10 years ago I think, so FWIW on this one.
  5. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC In Memoriam Thread Starter

    Fullerton, CA
    It seems that most NHT fans have largely forgotten about the SB-1, -2 and -3. Are the Super models so much better that nobody cares anymore about older NHT models?
  6. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    In my case, the only NHT speakers I've ever owned (going back to 1995) were the ones I mentioned in my earlier post. Those were SuperZeros. I used a solo SuperOne as a center channel speaker in my home theater as they didn't have the center channel speaker yet. I still use it as it works well. My later sets came from my good experience with the early ones. I couldn't tell you if they were better or worse. What I *can* tell you is that the SuperOnes are good enough that I don't have a lot of interest in their other (or any other) speakers though I'm tempted by the new C3s. However, the system I would try those in already has a pair of Celestion DL-8 IIs which totally satisfy me after owning them for 30 years.

    Even though it's my secondary system, I listen in my living room more often (about 13.5 'x 18.5' x 8'. I have a pair of the new SuperOnes powered by a Marantz PM8004 and use a Marantz CD6004 and Technics SL-QL1 as source players as well as an iPad Mini connected into the CD6004's USB port. They sound so good in this room that the idea of any other speakers is just not in my thinking. At this moment, I'm playing the 1967 stereo LP of John Coltrane's 1957 "Blue Train" and I honestly could want for nothing more soundwise.
  7. F1nut

    F1nut Forum Resident

    The Mars Hotel
    You'll like the SB3 even more.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  8. Prea

    Prea Active Member

    Not the models you are asking about.. but I purchased a pair of used Evolution T5 floor standing speakers which are really just a pair of M5 speakers on top and large B5's on the bottom (12" drivers I think). It came with a Boston SA1 sub amp but I don't know if that was the original equipment or not since I purchased an CL.

    They sit in the back of the room. On top the M5's are my 5.1 rear channels. They do a really good job but of course don't get much action as surrounds. When I auditioned them prior to purchasing I was blown away at how good they sound. The mids / highs instrumental detail in particular.

    I built a custom rack for the sub amp so it sits perfectly vertical behind the couch and the switch is easily accessible. When I want some extra bass for movies I turn it on and instantly get two extra subs firing in the back of the room.
  9. hesson11

    hesson11 Forum Resident

    I really liked the NHTs that I've owned. I have no experience with the SB series, but I used to have SuperTwo speakers, which are basically the Super One extended to the floor on a column, with a downward-firing woofer. Bit by the upgrade bug, I tried for years to replace them with something "better" and more expensive. I had to go all the way to the Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 (an expensive step for me) to find something I liked better, top to bottom. To me, that was a strong testament to the quality of the Super Twos.
    Apesbrain likes this.
  10. csgreene

    csgreene Forum Resident

    Idaho, USA
    I'm not laying out $2400 to test out a pair of the P3ESR's but I think that's where I'd have to be to find something I liked as well as the SuperOnes. And not that it really means that much on small speakers like these but the SuperOnes have a wider range.

    Harbeth P3ESR:
    Frequency response

    75Hz - 20kHz ±-3dB free-space, grille on, smooth off-axis response

    6 ohms, easy to drive.


    Amplifier suggestion
    Works with a wide range of amplifiers, suggested from 15W/channel.

    Power handling
    50W programme

    Two 4mm gold-plated binding posts for wires or plugs

    306 x 190 x 184 mm (+12mm for grille and binding posts)

    NHT SuperOne 2.1:

    2-way acoustic suspension
    Woofer – 1 x 6.5" paper cone
    Tweeter – 1x 1” soft dome

    Cabinet Material
    16mm MDF with .5 mm vinyl laminate exterior. Braced in two places internally.

    Black high-gloss vinyl laminate

    Power Handling

    Frequency Response
    56Hz - 20kHz +/- 3dB

    Crossover Frequency

    Crossover Slopes
    12dB/oct. low pass, 18dB high pass


    8 ohms nominal, 5.3 ohms minimum

    Color coded gold-plated 5-way binding posts

    Product Dimensions
    11.6” x 7.25” x 8.5”

    The above said, I rather be looking at the Harbeths with their real wood veneer finish than the black vinyl finish of the NHTs.
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2019
  11. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    Gee, a subject near and dear to my heart. I got into the enthusiast thing via NHTs. Super Zeroes in '94, Super Ones in 97, SB1s and SB2s in maybe '03. The SZs were matched with the 8" SW1P and the SB1s took over for the SZs. A used Sub Two (2 10" woofs in tall sealed box) then replaced the SW1P. Combined with a NAD 304 integrated, that was a fun system in my 13 x 20 living room. A couple of years ago I accidentally blew up the sub (it is apparently fixable) while dusting it and the SB1 has been running by itself, mostly just with the Saturday night movie. It continually amazes me at how it handles booms and movie music bass at pretty high volumes. Never hurts the ears.

    Anyway, I thought the SB series easily bested the original Supers. They didn't image as well as their corresponding Supers, but they were smoother and could handle louder volumes with greater ease. I've not heard the two new versions of the Supers, but would like to see if that gap was closed while retaining the imaging advantage. Despite having metal tweeters, the SBs were very easygoing on the ears; not always the case with the older Supers. (They weren't really bright, but they were less forgiving.)

    All I have left are the SB1s and one Super One not blown up in college by my son. The bass on the Super One tends to impose itself into the midrange and I gather that is what the current SOs crossover changes have addressed.

    After 15 years, the SB2s went to live with my now older and wiser son, having been aced out by the Wharfedale 225s last January. (Not a slam dunk- just different. I was ready for something new.) I never had a moment of dislike when I had them, though. I thought this report on them many moons ago in S&V was pretty representative. In my 12x13' basement room, they produced pretty good energy on a Stereophile 32 Hz test tone and even a bit at 25.

    War of the (Little) Worlds First Place

    A really good price on a well preserved pair of Classic 2s or the 3-way 3s (replacements for the SBs) would be very tempting, but the Absolute Zero (replacement for the SB1) hasn't appealed as much; apparently it lacks that bit of bass beef on the SB1.
    timind and 33na3rd like this.
  12. patient_ot

    patient_ot Senior Member

    Never heard them, but the SB-3 look interesting.
  13. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

  14. onemug

    onemug Forum Resident

    I've used a pair of Super Ones in the Guest bedroom for 10 yrs now.

    Over the yrs, I have powered them with a variety of vintage equipment such as... Marantz 18 receiver, then a 250m/7t combo, then a Scott 399, Scott 340a and now (today even) a Fisher 500c. All producing an enjoyable sound.
  15. soundboy

    soundboy Senior Member

    This is a photo of a system with the NHT SB2 that I've always aspired to....

  16. psulioninks

    psulioninks Forum Resident

    Midwest USA
    Timely post. After doing the Corey Greenberg of Stereophile recommended NHT SuperZeros teamed with a NAD 304 integraded amp and NAD 502 CD player for a bit, I purchased a pair of NHT 2.5i floor standing speakers back in the early 90's and teamed them up with an AudioCenter-1 center channel speaker as the basis for my family room home theater.


    Just this past month after using a Bluetooth speaker in the family room to stream tunes, I thought to myself, "Those NHT 2.5i speakers are a waste sitting there getting no use for music." So I purchased a Cambridge CXN network streamer and have been using it daily now with a hard drive of my LP rips connected for 24/96 playback. They sound wonderfully neutral paired with the Cambridge even if only being driven by a lowly Pioneer AVR.

    The NHT 2.5i speakers along with their larger siblings the 2.9 and 3.3 are some of the very best values in used speakers out there. Perhaps someday I will run across a minty pair of 2.9 or 3.3 speakers...until then, I am very happy with the sound produced from the 2.5i.

    BTW, here's a link to Greenberg review of the NHT SuperZero speakers from 1995: NHT SuperZero loudspeaker & SW2 subwoofer
    Tremaindous, SpeedMorris and beep like this.
  17. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC In Memoriam Thread Starter

    Fullerton, CA
    Those curves, and the sensitivity, look pretty much the same, dont they?
  18. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    In the ballpark, I reckon. Somewhat smoother for the Classics, it looks to my eyes. NHT spec'd the SB3 6HZ lower. The Classic is a 3-way, of course. The current C-3 was compared to the Classic Three in a review somewhere and was regarded as an incremental improvement.

    I nearly jumped on a pair of SB3s on eBay a couple of times, but wondered if my 50 wpc NAD would be happy and whether the 3 would be boomy in the location the 2s absolutely had to sit (and sounded pretty much "just right").

    Making me all sentimental. I had mine upside down, grilles off and pointed at each ear. Had I not gotten a pair of Diamond 10.1s in the next room and began to notice some details heard on the 10.1s not heard on the 2s, the 2s would likely still be in residence. The 225s supply that extra detail while retaining most of the mellow character of the 2s. Bass is pretty similar in depth, with the NHTs being a bit tighter and the Wharfedales a bit fuller and a dB or so more sensitive.

    Edit- in the "PS" department, my Grado Red could have been a factor in comparing the 225s and SB2s. I wonder if, for example, having something like an AT540 might change the outcome.
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2019
  19. timind

    timind phorum rezident

    Why did you have the SB2 upside down? You might've heard more detail with the proper orientation. I always thought about turning my SB3s upside down to see how they sounded with the tweeter on the top.
  20. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    I did try each way, but my ears generally don't like tweeters, I guess. I have my listening chair a bit lower with my Wharefdale 225s so as not to be on tweeter level. Got my 10.1's upside down. Been turning treble down since I was a yute. I go back and forth with grille on and off with the 225s.
    Benzion and timind like this.
  21. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    I thought NHT might have been crazy a few years back when they released the 36 x 7.25", 3 x 5' woofered Absolute Tower, with bass spec'd only down to 58, for a grand a pair. But Budget Bob thought it had "enough" bass ( was apparently nice and tight) and others thought it matched great with subs. It measured well and some liked it better than the Classic Three. Obviously no need for stands. I never see them for sale, but it might be a nice small room tower for the right listener at the right price. I imagine they were great in theater setups.

    I would think a nice used ST-4 would be a fun speaker if one had the juice to give them; an originally $1K towered SB3 with 8" side wiring woofer.

  22. soundboy

    soundboy Senior Member

    NHT needs to release a floor-standing speaker like the SuperTwo.
    SCM and wgb113 like this.
  23. Warren Jarrett

    Warren Jarrett Audio Note (UK) dealer in SoCal/LA-OC In Memoriam Thread Starter

    Fullerton, CA
    I think there was a SB-4 too, another floorstander, wasn't there?

    The older models of NHT speakers were so good, and now so cheap on Ebay, why not simply "invest in the best"?

    I am definitely a little over zealous about audio. Besides my SB-1, during the time of this thread I have purchased a pair of SuperOne and Classic 3 to compare, still looking for a pair of SB-3 for the ultimate comparison of this NHT size category. I could of just bought a pair of towers, for that money, and should have been happy with one fully satisfying pair of NHTs. But NOOOOOO: :shake:

    Would NHT towers have sounded better than my $13,000 Theils in Room 1 or $25,000 Audio Notes in Room 3? I doubt it... well, I certainly hope not.

    The NHT bookshelf listen-off will take place in The Audio Home dining room, with a 50 watt McCormack "Micro" poweramp, Chinese import (ebay special) remote volume control, and Sony ES BluRay disc player. My cables will far out-value the components and speakers combined. :crazy:
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2019
  24. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    Wild man! Seriously, it should be a lot of fun to see what your impressions turn out to be.

    Did you get the SuperOne 2.1?

    Re: the floorstander models in the Super, SB & Classic Lines, there were:
    SuperTwo- $750
    ST-4- $1000
    (Classic) Absolute Tower- $1000-1100
    Classic Four- $2K initially
    NHT Classic Four Floorstanding Speaker System Review

    C4- $2K
    C 4 Floor Standing Tower Speaker

    This is fun because the company used to be a pretty big deal and now it's almost an underground operation.

    12-15 years ago the T6 was the cheapest Stereophile Full Class A speaker by far and the XD sub-sat was Class A limited frequency response. The Classic 3 was nearly Class B and the Absolute Tower may also have had that notation. Then they ditched those Class A models and those models' designer Jack Hidley left the the company. The only "new" releases have been the updated Super and Classic (now C series) models. The nice thing is that the Supers cost what they did in the 90s (a bit more now for the Zeroes).
    timind likes this.
  25. SpeedMorris

    SpeedMorris Forum Resident

    There is a bit of a hole in that category-price range. The criticism of the old SuperTwo was that the mids weren't as pure as the One and the bass was a bit thick and ill-defined. The counter argument was that they were a lot of fun.

    One would think some revisions could address the criticisms from 20 years ago. I listened to them at a store once and thought they were rather inviting. Was listening to some Monitor Silver series that a couple there were just oohing and ahhing, but they were killing me with what was apparently "detail". Going into the next room and hearing the Twos was like putting on that comfortable pair of shoes or slippers.
    timind likes this.

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