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Harbeth XD - What's The Difference

Discussion in 'audio' started by ryder, Feb 29, 2020.

  1. xtinct1

    xtinct1 Naimee

    Having previously owned the 30.2 Annies and the hl5 Annies I can tell you that the XD does not sound the same.

    I’ve now got a pair of 30.2XDs which I prefer to either of the two. Thats not to say they were not brilliant speakers. It’s just the XD takes the performance a little further

    30.2 XD looses the slight mid bass hump of the 30.2 and gives a more extended treble. The treble is really stunning compared to any other speaker I’ve heard so far. Nothing touches it including the Dynaudios I’ve heard, which also offer great treble. It’s a fast, lusciously revealing yet melodious speaker. Absolute gem IMO.

    Instead of speculating I would highly recommend you guys audition this speaker.
    Tonyy, Old Shatterhand and maccar like this.
  2. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic pfm Member

    Couple of years back I demoed a load of speakers, Kefs, b&ws harbeth etc. Ultimately I went with Neats as I thought they were the best all rounders. However I did demo the harbeth P3ESR, super hl5 and 30.1 I think. I defo preferred the P3ESR to all three of them and nearly bought them, only thing which put me off was on some songs which I know well the lower notes were absent. That said I will at some point buy the P3ESR as a second speaker as I thought they were great despite a bit of the bass missing.

    I would caveat and state the speakers were on the end of a brio which worked brilliantly with the P3ESR but possibly not enough or not a good match with the other two.
    Panderos likes this.
  3. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    Thanks for the update. I have listened to original M30 back in the day and didn't like it that much. Then M30.1 which sounded better, more open and not as dull, but still no go. M30.2 again sounded even better, more open and lively at the top but as you have aptly put it, the mid bass bump is there which gives it a "thick" sound. Still no go. I picked the SHL5+ over 30.2 for its more open and balanced presentation.

    Although I'm done with Harbeth, may I ask how does the treble of the 30.2XD differ from the 30.2 Anniversary which I presume is more or less the same as the 30.2. Is the treble of the 30.2 XD more extended, airy and open than the 30.2 Anni?

    I currently have the Marten Duke 2 and the treble is more refined, airy and extended than the SHL5+. (I still own the Harbeth)
    Tom60300 likes this.
  4. JoeJoe

    JoeJoe pfm Member

    ...coming back to the OP’s question, what’s the difference? I’d certainly like to know as the Harbeth website isn’t forthcoming about the new designate and what it means in improvements and how they’re implemented. I mean the price has rocketed, presumably to pay for the more expensive components, but what are they?....somewhat bemused here....
  5. EPear

    EPear pfm Member

    yes, the Harbeth official information is less than helpful. As the venerable censor A.S. would not allow access to HUG unless you beg and register, I did that (so he can claim more people joining as well!) and read all that was available on the XD as I was initially interested to know more. One has to read his long convoluted explanations, stories, excuses and complains carefully, but he more or less admits and makes it clear that the XD is largely a reduced cost generation of the Ann series at higher prices, apart from the p3esr which he had to do again due to lack of components he has been using before or something similar. The rest looks to me like pure marketing b.s. and boohoo.
  6. barryb

    barryb pfm Member

    I recall he said something about new crossover components and woofer being somehow different, incremental changes if anything.
  7. simon g

    simon g Older, wiser & retired

    It's not a price increase to reflect component cost increase, that's for sure.

    It's a price increase driven by two factors, IMO:

    The range pricing hadn't increased by that much over a number of years and perhaps it was felt some 'catch up' was required.

    Because they can and most likely the market will bear the increase. Harbeth is a business, like all others, and needs to maximise profits where possible, particularly if there's a planned increased in production, R&D, etc.​

    Harbeth are a brand that has more or less a cult following. Yes, they're good speakers, but at every price point they occupy there are 'better' alternatives, IMO. I speak as someone who's owned and used quite a few over the years. The P3ESR in particular is massively over hyped, IMO.
    EPear likes this.
  8. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    All the little shoebox BBC-"licensed" and -inspired speakers are over-hyped and over-priced. As for Harbeth in particular, the price hikes are for topping up his pension plan. I'd expect the sales to start to dip in the UK with these prices and the recession, but the bulk of the sales for these kinds of speakers is of course in the overseas markets of Asia and the US.
    Fatmarley likes this.
  9. Darren L

    Darren L pfm Member

    I wonder how much of a raise his employees received in their salary/wages?
  10. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic pfm Member

    The P3ESR have had a ridiculous price rise. I auditioned the P3ESR April 2017, so less than 3 years ago, at the time they were £1600 which I felt was expensive at the time. They are now £2495 from the same retailer. That's a 56% increase! There is no explanation for that other than maximising profits, which is of course a businesses right but its excessive in my view.
    Darren likes this.
  11. Allaboutmusic

    Allaboutmusic pfm Member

    Not by 56 percent I bet
  12. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    Isn't Falcon now also asking the same sort of silly money for their LS3/5a?
    Rockmeister and maccar like this.
  13. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    The Falcons went up hugely as soon as they went to a dealer network, it looked to the casual observer something like a 33% dealer markup was just stuck on top of the old website price. I guess Harbeth have looked at the Falcon price, especially the limited edition runs (the ‘Kingswood Warren’ being over £6k IIRC and selling out pretty much immediately) and thought ‘here, hold my beer...’. I’d argue the Falcons cost a lot more to make, the LS3/5A cabinet is high quality plywood and of a more complex construction to Harbeth’s MDF, plus Falcon had to remanufacture both the B110 and T27 from scratch (the Harbeth uses a bass unit designed with a very substantial government grant and a standard Seas tweeter). It all makes the new Spendor 4/5 look exceptional value!
    EPear and Allaboutmusic like this.
  14. Goat

    Goat pfm Member

    Yeah, the Spendor 4/5 does seem comparatively good value at £1,600. Still a big hike over the 3/5r2, but cheap compared to Harbeth P3esr. The build quality is great too, and unlike the P3esr, have magnetic grills/no visible screws. They sound superb too.
    Allaboutmusic likes this.
  15. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    I haven't followed the price changes terribly closely, but weren't the Falcons originally offered for something like £1400 in the UK? No idea what sort of investment Falcn had to make to put the B110 and T27 back into production, but obviously they didn't have to design the units or the speaker. Who did? Falcon also presumably recoups some of their initial investment through sales of the units for those restoring old LS3/5a's. The cabinetry cost differences are probably marginal.
  16. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    As I understand it the Kef T27 & B110 were originally designed by Malcolm Jones when he was at Kef in the 1960s. He and Jerry Bloomfield are Falcon. Reproducing a vintage driver today using the correct vintage materials and processes is exceptionally hard hence these drivers being so expensive compared to their original purchase price. Drivers just are not made the same way in this millennium. Falcon have done an extraordinary job IMO as these really are T27s and B110s. There is a true OCD level of detail here that I can certainly appreciate.
  17. Fatmarley

    Fatmarley Agnostic

    Has anyone measured and compared the new b110 to the old?
  18. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Endlessly in the LS3/5A community! As far as I can tell it is absolutely the real deal. I’m a little less convinced by the T27 as I have a suspicion it has a bit of a spike way up high at around 15-16kHz, there is certainly a corresponding lift there on the Stereophile Falcon LS3/5A measurements and in my own from my JR149s which have both Falcon units fitted. I haven’t measured my own Falcon LS3/5As yet so have no idea if it exists there too. To be honest even if it does it is none of my business as I just can’t hear up that high anymore! Both speakers sound superb to my ears and the treble is wonderfully clean and open without being spotlit or over-analytical. They sound ‘right’. The consensus seems to be that the Falcon LS3/5A is the real deal and a very good one by any vintage standard. With the possible exception of the new reborn Rogers LS3/5A (which I need to better understand) it is the only modern speaker that can legitimately use the model number with any credibility. All the others just aren’t LS3/5As as they merely attempt to emulate the sound, they are just not the same speaker.
    Fatmarley likes this.
  19. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    You mentioned Harbeth had benefitted from some "very substantial government grant" for developing their bass unit but failed to mention that Falcon are producing a replica of a speaker that was designed by the ... BBC. Jerry Bloomfield had nothing to do with the design of the LS3/5 or LS3/5a. He has simply produced a replica with Malcolm Jones's help, but there is no denying the care and enthusiasm brought to the project. Both Alan Shaw and Jerry Bloomfield are canny businessmen who have tapped into a curious zeitgeist of nostalgia and a lucrative niche market. Good for them. I wish them and their UK businesses every continued success, but personally I'd never shell out £2.5k for a speaker like the Falcon (or Harbeth P3ESR).
  20. EPear

    EPear pfm Member

    Exactly my experience. And, yes, I could have arrived at this point slightly earlier but let’s put it down to exploration of tradition, curiosity and enriching personal experience that has lead me to where I am now and enjoying my music so much more. Hope of help to others.

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