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Harbeth P3ESR alternative?

Discussion in 'audio' started by marcin375, Jun 5, 2019.

  1. marcin375

    marcin375 Member

    I have these beautiful speakers. The things I like the most about them are that they are so addictive to listen, good on low volume levels and non fatiguing at all.

    And everything seems to be perfect but they are too soft, polite on highs. I mean trumpet or acoustic guitar should have this raw, maybe sometimes sharp sound because that's like the real, live music sounds . With the harbeth everything is so predictable. Maybe that's why they are so easy to listen to but I think that it also somehow makes the music sound similar. This is my main concern.

    As you guys who knows them already know they are especially good on jazz, acoustic, vocal but sometimes seems to lack dynamic and bass on some more modern genres. It's good to play from time to time some classic rock or pop but with these genres harbeths are not the best.

    Do you have some options/alternative speakers that keep good points from harbeths and add the things I'm missing with them?

  2. Joe P

    Joe P certified Buffologist / mod


    Among small speakers — tiny ones, actually — it’s hard to top the Trenner & Friedl Sun.

    The usual caveats apply — as long as you don’t have a large room or play at high levels.

    TimF likes this.
  3. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    May I ask the amp and source that are used with the Harbeth P3ESR? The Harbeth will sound as what you have described with certain amps. 2 of such amps are the Rega and Plinius, in my experience. Having said that, folks who prefer a smooth sound would have no issues with the pairing.
  4. Ptah

    Ptah pfm Member

  5. Arkless Electronics

    Arkless Electronics Trade: Amp design and repairs.

    I'd never even heard of Trenner & Friedl! That's what I call inefficient! 82dB for 2.83V.... it's 4R!
  6. drummerman

    drummerman pfm Member

    Lovely speakers the little Harbs.

    What is the amp used?
  7. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic pfm Member

    I demoed the harbeths and nearly bought them, ended up going for the neat motive sx3 and I think they are great. Really dynamic, excellent bass for their size and great at low volumes. Of course will be room and amp dependant, I drive them with the rega brio 2017 in a relatively small room around 5.5 x 4 m, however the speakers fill the room perfectly so would probably work in a larger environment too
  8. marcin375

    marcin375 Member

    I have Rega Brio-R... :) So you were right. I also thought about the amp reason... and bought Yamaha AS-701. Yamaha opened sound and helped a bit but mids are not as nicely exposed as with Rega and for me Rega sound is much more involving. But still... the highs were polite and smooth.
  9. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    My experience is solely with Harbeth Super HL5 for 7 years and HL5 Plus for 2 years now but I think my experiences can relate to the P3ESR.

    In short, I tried the Rega Elicit mk2 with the Harbeth and the sound was like what you have described. I also have owned Yamaha amps and tried top-of-the-range Sony ES pre/power amps on the Harbeth and no major change in sonic presentation.

    The only small integrated that gave a significant change in sound was the LFD Zero mk3. It gave an instant Wow factor once inserted into the system and fired up from cold. No warm up required. The sound is full of life and vitality with extended highs and rawness, traits which were missing with previous amps I tried. The LFD made all other amps sound dull and lifeless in comparison.

    Before you throw the towel on the P3ESR, it might be worthwhile if you explore few alternatives. There are some who reported great results when matching Harbeth to Sonneteer and Croft amps but i have no experience with these.

    I personally use Naim pre/power on the Super HL5 Plus but wouldn't recommend the Naim integrated for the Harbeth particularly the Nait XS and below. I tried the Nait XS and it sounded very similar to the Rega Elicit Mk2 when driving the Super HL5s. I had a friend over during the listening session and we both looked at each other when we swapped the amps, as we couldn't tell how the amps were different. The Harbeth only started to open up with the 202/200 onward with Naim.
  10. marcin375

    marcin375 Member

    Recently I had a chance to listen to Spendor Sp3/1R2 and these had this rawness in sound I like... but are probably too big. I listened them with Naim XS.

    No chance to listen LFD in my area.
  11. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    Alternative to P3esr, with the ability to play hard rock as well as acoustic/classical: MAD 1920S. Mine trumped all other British monitors I had lived with. Great dynamics, bass, resolution, timbral accuracy. Keepers.
  12. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    If you want a package the same size with more HF air and general refinement, I’d try the Spendor D1. I have both but not tried them side by side yet.
  13. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    I do not have experience with the Spendor. However, if you are willing to work with the P3ESR, I am quite convinced that you will achieve the sound that you desire based on my 10-year journey with the Harbeth SHL5s. I have tried not less that half a dozen amps with the Harbeth 9 years ago when I first bought the speakers. If I hadn't embarked on the journey of amp exploration in an attempt to salvage the Harbeth during that time, the Harbeth would be long gone now.

    Other speakers will give you the rawness and dynamics but the tone may be overly bright and unnatural. I would rather work with natural and warmer sounding speakers by getting them to sound more open, lively and dynamic, not the other way round.

    Good luck in whatever decision you take.
    maccar and hifinutt like this.
  14. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    agreed , you might want to try a sugden a21se , that will have a lot of detail and is hugely dynamic .
    maccar and ryder like this.
  15. marcin375

    marcin375 Member

    These looks stunning. Simple, classy without unnecessary things. I would love to try them but probably not available in my area and are expensive.
  16. marcin375

    marcin375 Member

    Thanks. As you have so much experience with the harbeth you are probably right. I need to try some other amp options. So you said rather no to Regas and Naims below XS. Ok. Good to start with this info. The bad thing that I like Rega sound and simplicity. Comparing to the Yamaha AS-701 it has not as open sound but more involving, more musical, more real? Also the vocals are better. They are like they were standing in my room in front of me. Yamaha doesn't play like that.
  17. marcin375

    marcin375 Member

    What about s3/5R or s3/5R2 instead of D1?
  18. foxwelljsly

    foxwelljsly Keep Music Vile

    P3 ESRs are accurate and pretty amp agnostic. If there's anything you're not hearing, then either it's not in the recording or it's some sort of colouration artefact from a previous amp/source . As for lacking sparkle, I haven't heard another pair of speakers that can reproduce the acoustic tinkle of The Fountains of Wayne's near perfect 'Hey Julie' with similar accuracy (via a CA Dacmagic and an Exposure integrated).
    narabdela likes this.
  19. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Different character from HLP3 but not ‘better’. D1 tweeter more refined and cabinet more damped.
  20. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    Yes, P3-ERS are accurate, but some people are looking for things in music other than accuracy...
    Tarzan and narabdela like this.

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