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Harbeth vs Tannoy, Proac and Spendor

Discussion in 'audio' started by novak, Oct 21, 2020.

  1. novak

    novak pfm Member

    Hi all,

    I was wondering whether you have any first-hand experiences comparing Harbeth SHL5+ to Tannoy Legacy Eaton (and maybe Cheviots) and Proac D2R, maybe Spendor too?

    I currently own the Harbeth SHL5+ and have been a long term Harbeth fan – mostly P3ESRs and also had C7ES3 and M30 & M30.1.

    My room is around 4.5m x 5.5m. Set up is a Jadis Orchestra Ref SE, Chord DAC, and a Mac.

    The SHL5+ are wonderful speakers. More open and dynamic than the P3ESR I grew so used to. Also even better at low volumes, which I mostly listen at.

    Simply out of curiosity, I'm interested in the Tannoy Legacy Eaton, the Proac D2R, maybe even some of the newer Spendors - A7 and D7.2. They seem to be picking up lots of praise.

    How do these Harbeth alternatives compare?

    The Harbs don't lack anything as such... ideally they would be a little smaller visually! The Tannoys are quite large but aren't quite as large, and they aren't as deep physically. I'm interested in the potential further insight into the recordings from the Proac, and maybe the Spendors? Also the more immersive 'wash' of sound from the Tannoys.

    I favour an open, natural sound, realistic, good resolution, dynamic but not fatiguing. Lots of vague words, but hopefully makes sense.

    Are the Tannoys big sounding and bassy? Would they have the natural sound and level of insight of the Harbeths?

    Do the Proac D2Rs get over-analytical, or are they the next step in resolution?

    Do the Spendors (A7 or D7.2) lack the natural midrange of the Harbs, or do they add a level of dynamics the Harbeths possibly flatten?

    All assumptions here... and a little hard to demo at the moment. I could but sale-return is possible. Any insight and real experiences would be much appreciated.
  2. ALFY

    ALFY pfm Member

    Not to keen on proac - personally

    Have A7 they are great - really good
    But I am moving to Harbeth
    Always fancied them
    Old school
    Taking the plunge

    Good luck
    novak and maccar like this.
  3. Gervais Cote

    Gervais Cote Predator

    The Proac D2R are very good speakers but your actual Harbeth sound more natural while the Proac would be more for rock and jazz music giving it a bit more punch and bass.
    All IMO of course.
    Tarzan likes this.
  4. maccar

    maccar pfm Member

    I think the SHL5+ has all you're looking for... one of the most natural sounding speakers around.
    Saying that, if it's an itch you're looking to scratch, try and get a home demo of the others.
    Gervais Cote likes this.
  5. Moppit

    Moppit pfm Member

    Demoed both Harbeth shl5+ and the Eatons for a few weeks. Harbeth won hands down. Much more natural and open sounding. The Eatons have a punchy bass but don't go lower. They are congested in the mids and upper bass. Not as flat as the Harbs. Using much more power with the Harbs gives a similar punch.

    Heard Proac's in the dealers and whilst initially impressive they can overpower the room.

    I've been using my shl5+ 40th for 18 months and everything else sounds flawed in comparison.

    My latest journey has been around trying more amps and DACs which give a whole new life to them. My room is 4 x 5 so similar to yours.
    maccar and Rockmeister like this.
  6. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    We are all so different in our tastes . I am so thrilled that many love the shl5 plus. They really are sweet with a beautiful midrange and beautiful with piano.

    Some while back my dealer had a pair of eatons and a 10k thrax valve amp in his car

    We had the eatons and harbs in a bake off with firebottle and a few others

    The harbies sounded like they were on steroids and excited a room node , the eatons were just astonishingly good and the whole room was unanimous in praise

    Some prefer the harbies and some prefer the eatons . Standmounts don't last long at hifinutt towers , having had Martin Logan summit x etc. So far the eatons have been here nearly 3 years

    They are so natural and non fatiguing, they could take the plaster off the walls with bass if you wished.

    Both deserve a try and rather like cars you choose which one you like . Enjoy
    ThELiZ likes this.
  7. Hook

    Hook Blackbeard's former bo'sun.

    Have heard SHL5+, ProAC D2 (not the R) and Spendor D7 only at shows. I thought the Harbeths were a good improvement over previous models. The other two sounded ok, but neither really excited me.

    Used to own C7ES3’s, but sold them on because their bass in my room was flubby. Would love to try the SHL5+ at home, but my listening room is only 11’x13’ and I am pretty sure they will need more free space to sound their best.
    panditr likes this.
  8. yuckyamson

    yuckyamson pfm Member

    Personally, I don't like Harbeths, as excellent as they are. I'm sure they measure very well and they are very detailed, smooth, and 'nice' sounding, but for my taste they have no balls. And I need balls.

    Tannoy is where it's at for me. Warts n' all.
  9. Tarzan

    Tarzan pfm Member

    Home demo is the way forward Sir?

    Have fun.:)
    novak, JTWzen and hifinutt like this.
  10. Gumice

    Gumice New Member

    I have the Spendor A7

    Unfortunately I've not demo'ed against any of the others you are considering
    My reference point was my previous Acoustic Energy AE120 speakers but they are not in the same league. That was a pretty big jump forward for me...

    I've been really impressed with the A7. They have way more bass punch than they "look". I have them in a big rumpus room probably 6Mx12M and they perform well

    They are not fatiguing at all and really happy with the detail across the range

    They would likely work well in a 4.5m x 5.5m room and they are not very large speakers

    Best wishes and for the money you'll spend yes a home demo makes sense. It's such a personal decision of course

    novak likes this.
  11. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Ask shrink. He flipped his Harbs for Eatons.
    novak likes this.
  12. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    Which Harbeth model and what is the size of the room where you found the Harbeth to lack the balls?
  13. Moppit

    Moppit pfm Member

    Yes I agree it depends on what you want, or perhaps can't live without.. very much a personal thing.

    I played around with dirac and mini dsp and this gave me some clues as to what was happening. With 3 models of Lockwood speakers they had more of a mid to low bass hump which gives the impression of a weighty punch but clouded the midrange. Using dsp I was able to dial thus out and get more of a flat response though not as sweet.
    I think for rock Tannoy, Proac sound good for this reason.

    Back to my harbs, moving over to a Soncoz SGD1 DAC brought bags more detail than my Chord. Both used with a Quad QSP. The QSP has bags of welly and is a good match.

    I've finally moved onto a Neurochrome 686 power amp which has around 360 wpc and very low noise levels. Ive never heard the harbs deliver such crisp extended bass and sharp transients. On good recordings it's incredible. On bad recordings however it's a tad uncomfortable!!!
    novak likes this.
  14. tuga

    tuga Legal Alien

    Most(?) Jadis amplifier have a high output impedance and the combined (amp+speaker) frequency response will be very speaker-dependent (load characteristics), or vary from speaker to speaker.
    This is something that should be taken into consideration when audition new speakers as there's a good chance the each of the speakers you mention may sound somewhat to very different depending on the amplifier they're connected in comparison to partnering them with Jadis; in other words, always listen with your own amplifier.

    Harbeths present an easy load and thus the combined response is expected to be reasonably neutral / low colouration.
    Spendors and ProAc do too, not sure about the Tannoys...
  15. JTC

    JTC PFM Villager...

    Tannoys are an easy load.
    tuga likes this.
  16. Olsen

    Olsen pfm Member

    People pay premium for 3-way Harbeth sluggish bas.
    Well done AS.
  17. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    i rather like this
    Tarzan likes this.
  18. Old Shatterhand

    Old Shatterhand pfm Member

    You can't stop bashing the Harbeth 3-way, can't you?
    anuenlil likes this.
  19. ThELiZ

    ThELiZ pfm Member

    If this helps, I had M30.2, but they really excited bass modes in my room (3.5m x 5m). I then had the Legacy Cheviots and these were much better in terms of not exciting those same modes. They go a lot closer to the wall, too. I’ve never got on with any of the ported Harbeths.

    Only moved the Cheviots in as I needed the funds for other things. They are wonderful speakers.
    vince rocker and novak like this.
  20. Dave***t

    Dave***t Revolutionary relativist

    FWIW I had Harbeth 30.1, and tried a pair of Eaton Legacy for a few weeks. This was when I had Naim gear up front, and wanted to solve an issue with a grating quality in the upper mid/treble.

    Initially I thought they were better. More tangible, more real.

    But as time went by, I found something grating still. I think perhaps it was down to the metal tweeter. And adjusting the controls on the Tannoys just couldn’t solve it. So I went back to the Harbeths, and was happier again.

    I later changed from Naim gear to a Primaluna integrated and NOS DAC, which has been more effective at solving the issue I had. So I would be curious if that change meant that the Tannoys would now suit. They’re excellent speakers. I’d also like to hear a pair of Spendor 2/3 here. But the time has passed, and the Harbeths will stay for the time being, with a better DAC being the likely next change eventually.

    The bottom line is you have to hear them for yourself.
    hifinutt and ThELiZ like this.

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