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Harbeth SHL5 to SHL5 Plus

Discussion in 'audio' started by ryder, Apr 9, 2016.

  1. Rocketride

    Rocketride pfm Member

    I prefer Spendor than Harbeth too.
    Spendor Classics sound lovely.
  2. timeout

    timeout ignorance is bliss

    how big is big?

    for my case, that is no room for negotiation when comes to integrated amp. I chose the best amp that my money can buy. Accuphase Class A integrated

    if my pocket allows, I would go for much bigger and high end design like Gryphon Diablo, VITUS SIA025, Lavardin IT-15
  3. Igloo Audio

    Igloo Audio Registered User

    Graham Audio LS5/9 with the Hegel H360 sounds excellent.

    That said, I have a soft spot for the Dali Epicon 2 :)

  4. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    I documented my response to the SHL5s in detail a few years ago. I loved them in various dealers rooms, but there were some serious issues in my room at home at that time, so I didn't buy them. This may have had a lot to do with my system at the time too, so all very relative to circumstances. What is clear though is that the SHL5 has a relatively pear shaped response, with an ample and pleasing upper bass/lower mid. It has a lovely baritone emphasis which gives richness in particular to male vocals (and I would imagine cellos, hence the emphatic but unbalanced preference of one poster above).

    In my current room (in a different house) I have owned or heard C7ES3, C7ES2, M30, M30.1, P3ESR, HL5, and HL5Plus.

    One of the things that I'd love to see graphs for is how the presence region response varies in these different speakers. It is clear to me that the C7s and P3s are more pronounced in this region, which gives them an immediate appeal and ability to escape the box. The M30.1 are contrasting in this respect and are very slighly recessed in that region, but not too much; less than the BBC monitors of old. I don't know how the SHL5 are voiced in that region; I'd like to know. I imagine a tiny bit recessed in comparison to the SHL5Plus.

    When you go from a speaker that is relatively recessed in the presence region to a more neutral one they can (in the short term) seem a little brighter. But 'bright' should be put into perspective here. To use this term to describe the SHL5 Plus is really very far from the truth. Anyone who finds this should go and listen to some more obviously 'hi-fi show' speakers like Raidhos. Then you'll get your ears pierced.

    I find the 5Plus a very unassuming speaker that plays all forms of music well. The neturality is particularly suited to all forms of classical music, but I've not found a genre it doesn't play well. I don't find it additive, in the sense that it gives extra lushness to a voice, but it is relatively forgiving. If you compare it to the best Geithain monitors, for example, it is not nearly as revealing, but it is somwhat more forgiving. The good thing is that it is forgiving without putting a rose-tinted prism on the sound. This is the achievement of Harbeths, I think, and I think they provide a good middle ground between a domestic and a monitor type speaker.

    To put this achievement in to persepective I heard some of Paul Coupe's RFC Tannoys at the weekend. These created an effortless richness and dynamics that most modern speakers I've heard can barely dream of. Quite exraordinary. But they don't stop me enjoying the SHL5 Plus, or indeed my other main speakers, the Vaughan Cabernet One.

    Harbeths still seem to me an exceptionally good alternative for listeners who do not have room for classic electrostatic speakers and/or cannot put up with their limitations.

    Oh, and one more thing. SHL5 Plus sound just fine with a 50W integrated like a Sonneteer Alabaster, or a 50W hybrid like a Croft 25/7, so all this talk of them needing loads of power is ludicrous. Alan Shaw is absurdly wrong when he pushes the 'amps don't make a difference' line, but he is right when he argues that you can get great results from modest amplifiers.
    torstoi likes this.
  5. Purité Audio

    Purité Audio Trade: Purite Audio

  6. TLS

    TLS pfm Member

    I also heard both the Harbeths and Spendors in the same room with Naim amps and slightly preferred the Sp1/2r. I dont know why the Classic Spendors seem to be forgotten these days.
  7. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Not really an equal comparison as these speakers are a very different size. As I said above, the M30.1 are the most laid back (in the presence region) of the Harbeths, but there are ways of waking them up. It's all relative to system, of course. I could get the M30.1 sounding dynamic with my Unico Pre/DM (160W mosfet hybrids).

    An interesting comparison would be Spendor Sp2/3r2 vs Harbeth C7ES3.
  8. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    One reason may be the price. Equivalent models:
    Spendor SP1/2R2: £4300
    Harbeth SHL5+: £3330
  9. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    No, you're misunderstanding; he didn't compare the Spendors with the SHL5 Plus.
  10. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    Not clear (to me) who that was addressed to.

    FWIW I wasn't suggesting anyone had compared anything. I was simply making the point that Spendors may not feature so much because they're relatively expensive.
  11. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    Ah, sorry, I thought you were referring to Singslinger's comparison. Yes, the SP1s price is unusually high.
  12. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    Looks like we share the same impression on the sound quality of the Harbeth M30. Apparently the M30 and M30.1 may sound very much alike judging from your posts. It is surely laidback, sort of restrained, not sounding as open or transparent when compared to the rest of the Harbeth speakers. Being a "monitor" speaker, I presume it is voiced to have more control rather than being more open.

    Yes, similarly I find the Harbeth to sound fine with low to moderately-powered amps, capable of playing at stupendous levels in my large living room with the Naim 202/200 (60 or 70W), transforming the room into a mini-concert hall or something similar. The vice-like grip and control over the speaker drivers are superb with the transients all coming through nicely. Maybe a trait of the Naim. Perhaps a smaller solid-state amp may not have the level of grip or control over the speakers at higher volumes, but still, I agree the Harbeth speakers do not need a lot of power to sound good or come alive.
  13. Elephantears

    Elephantears Trunkated Aesthete

    No, I actually found the M30 and the M30.1 quite different. The M30.1 were the most laid back. I couldn't really work out the M30. I just borrowed them out of interest. Myself and Ian (eastone) down the road had a phase of going through a whole bunch of Harbeths, old and new, to see which suited our very different rooms best. At first I thought they were amazing; so revealing and involving. But at times I found the revealing quality to be more monitor-like. They seemed to me less suited for a medium sized domestic setting than the M30.1. I did recall a review (I think by Paul Szbady) comparing the M30 with the C7ES3 that claimed that the M30 really came into their own in a larger room, in spite of being the cabinet with smaller volume. Personally, I never really quite got to grips with the character of them, but I only had them for a few days.

    The C7ES2 were interesting; that's another pair I borrowed from eastone for a few days. They seemed almost exactly the same as my memory of the C7ES3 (which were my main speaker for 3 years) but the mid-bass seemed to have a little less hump. However I had some room treatment by this point so I never worked out if it was the change to my room, or the speaker. I did read they had a shorter port though, and I do think that was significant.

    I think that the C7s have been sidelined since all the (justified) great reviews for the M30.1, but the neglect is not justified. They are very vivid and compelling, and good all rounders. That little bit extra in the 40-50Hz region makes them much better for rock music than the M30.1, even if they are not quite as smooth and refined a speaker in other ways. However the slight slimming down in the hips and thighs region that Harbeth have given the SHL5Plus make them easier to integrate in smaller rooms, and that does make the C7s a less compelling option when budget is not so much of a concern.
  14. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    No worries, and thanks for you very lucid descriptions of the various Harbeth models.

    I've heard the SHL5s and M30.1s several times. I had the former on home loan for a fortnight. It seems to me that since the appearance of the SHL5+, second-hand SHL5s are a real bargain. I'm quite tempted.
  15. Singslinger

    Singslinger pfm Member

    Apologies guys, I hadn't realized that UK prices were higher for Spendors versus Harbeths. Where I am it's the other way around!

    As for the sound of classic Spendors against their equivalent Harbeths, I think it boils down to a individual taste. The Spendors I feel are a bit more forward whilst Harbeths tend to be smoother and more relaxed. Both make excellent speakers though.
  16. hifi_dave

    hifi_dave Hi-Fi Retailer

    As an example, the Spendor SP1/2R2 is £4295 whilst the Harbeth SHL5+ is £3295.
  17. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    Really? Wow!
  18. TLS

    TLS pfm Member

    Prices are about the same in the US. Harbeth Super HL5+ is $6595 and Spendor SP1/2R2 is $6895.
  19. neutrik

    neutrik New Member

    I had the SHL5+. After going thru a few stands and many cables, it still couldn't match my other C7es3 which is more natural and forward sounding.
    Though smaller and without a super tweeter, it has better bass definition and very natural highs. I end up keeping the Compact 7.

    This lesson cost me some money, but that's how good the C7 is.
  20. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    @ neutrik:which is more natural and forward sounding.
    Though smaller and without a super tweeter, it has better bass definition and very natural highs.

    Full agree, even when I'm listening a Compact 7.

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