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Harbeth XD - What's The Difference

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

  1. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Likewise. I really love good little speakers, but that is too much to justify. I bought my Falcon LS3/5As second hand quite recently as to be honest I was kind of kicking myself for not having bagged a pair on release when they could be had direct for about £1250 with the introductory offer. I’m happy with the purchase as they are a really tidy (mint boxed) pair and I’ve got the Falcon stands too (which are very good, but LOLprice new). I’m very well equipped with mini-monitors at present; the LS3/5As, JR149s, and the S3/5Rs downstairs on TV duty. All so easy to store and swap over for a change of presentation now and again. I’m on the beanbag listening to some live Jarrett on ECM through the Leak valve amp and LS3/5As and they really are stunningly good!
     
    RoA, Panderos and Torris12 like this.
  2. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    I am dead jealous. Feel the same way about the original offer. I tried to bag a pair a couple of years ago, but the price had already shot up to something like £1700. Jerry Bloomfield sounded a little embarrassed about the UK pricing when I asked him and told me 99% were sold abroad.

    Greg (Nagraboy) has posted some impressions comparing his Falcons to P3ESRs. Be interested to hear yours comparing the Falcons with the S3/5Rs. I'm wondering about the treble...
     
  3. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I suspect the S3/5Rs may be stretching the Leak a little compared to the high impedance LS3/5A, I’ll eventually have a shootout of the three using a 303.

    What I can say for certain is the S3/5R are lovely speakers. Beautifully integrated, natural and draw no attention to themselves. The tweeter and crossover region are really well behaved and even, they are just a superbly balanced little speaker and certainly capable of more volume than anything with a B110 in it - the Spendor has a larger bass unit by a couple of cm and at this size any additional makes quite a difference to moving area. FWIW and based on several past auditions but no direct A Bs my hunch is I prefer the S3/5R to the P3ESR, which is amazing given the price discrepancy (especially second habd), though my views on metal dome tweeters are no huge secret. There is no doubt the S3/5R are a genuine bargain at the £500 or so they go for second hand in nice condition. That’s what I paid for my mint boxed cherry pair via pfm anyway.

    I have a feeling if you stuck them on the end of something like a Sugden Masterclass, Accuphase, Luxman, Conrad Johnson or similar ‘big’ amp they could be all one could possibly want in a smallish room or nearfield scenario. I’m just not convinced they quite fit the vintage valve amp setting as well as the JR149 or LS3/5A even though they do work a lot better than most small modern speakers would. As with any decent speaker of any size no kit would be ‘too good’ for them. They’ll scale for sure.
     
    Panderos and Tryant like this.
  4. Nagraboy

    Nagraboy pfm Member

    I had the S3/5R for a few months before I went back to P3ESR in late 2015. Bit long ago to recall precise thoughts, but I just felt the P3 was an all round step-up from the S3/5R, although the Spendors are a super bargain considering their performance for the price. I thought they were really good. I do remember one early track I played which showed the Harbeths as better and that was the first track on the In A Silent Way Complete Sessions. The slow track with a great entrance from Wayne Shorter. Tony will know it, I’m sure. My partner and I just smiled and agreed the P3ESR was showing us quite a bit more.
     
    Panderos likes this.
  5. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    Oh yes, superb stuff!
     
    Nagraboy likes this.
  6. ryder

    ryder pfm Member

    Oh my. I have lost track of the Harbeth pricing since my last purchase several years ago. I do recall the P3ESR having an RRP of below £1,500 in 2010 or 2011 if my memory does not fail me. It's now £2,495?

    I share the same sentiment as others here who will only consider small mini-monitors with 5" drivers if the price is around £1,500 or lower. There are many other good alternatives in this small mini-monitor market which include Proac Tablette 10 Signature and KEF LS50 Meta to name a few. Also, the original P3ESR on the used market if the XD is seen to be too expensive.
     
  7. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    To my mind you do have to factor country of origin into the price, e.g. a UK hand build product such as a Falcon or Harbeth can’t be expected to compete with the cheap labour and poor environmental conditions of a China-made Kef. I have huge respect for the design of the Kef, it is genuinely radical and innovative (I very much liked the original LS50 and the new one allegedly improves on it), but I just don’t like buying Chinese hi-fi for political reasons (communist dictatorship, poor wages and labour conditions, poor environmental standards etc). I have no option with IT kit as there is no alternative, but with audio there is and I’ll take it at every opportunity even if it means paying more.

    PS I assume ProAc are still UK-made, and if so that makes the Tablette a bargain, not that I’ve heard this version yet. I’ve 50 Sigs and Ref 8 Sigs and both were really nice speakers. I always like little ProAcs. Big ones less so.
     
  8. Snufkin

    Snufkin pfm Member

    I am absolutely with you on avoiding Chinese made stuff if possible but I would add deskilling and deindustrializing of our own country (and the West in general) to your list of ‘crimes’ associated with our insatiable passion for their output.

    As far as Harbeth are concerned, I like their products a lot although have none at the moment. I have met AS a few times and he was very personable as well as being open about his business. Back in 2006 he was selling approximately 80% of his products in Asia, and by then China was already a very important market for him. It was Alan who pointed out to me that if only 1% of a population as large as China’s was extremely wealthy, that represents a large number of potential customers. His business does seem to depend in part on the BBC heritage which he has cultivated, preserved and developed. Like many UK audio business’s his enterprise was tiny (and probably still is) and he only seemed to employ a few people but on a positive note his price hikes are helping to bring some currency back from China.
     
    kabayiri and Tony L like this.
  9. Dougal

    Dougal pfm Member

    ... and maybe help with hiring Spendor's Terry Miles:

    https://harbeth.co.uk/terry-miles-joins-the-harbeth-team-blog/
     
  10. kabayiri

    kabayiri pfm Member

    I'm pretty sure that I read somewhere, that China now has the largest middle class in the world. It was one of their stated goals at the start of the 70 year plan back in the late 70s.

    They also love anything with brand heritage; you can see people queueing outside the designer clothes stores, for example.

    AS could not afford to ignore such a market.
     
  11. EPear

    EPear pfm Member

    correct, and this where they belong may be - where one can sell the BBC heritage story and pretend to represent it (!) with far from the best sounding or even honest, but well overpriced speakers.
     
    Darren L likes this.
  12. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    You forgot China's human rights record. But there seem to be some companies that are genuinely trying to improve standards in China. We may also one day discover that the Chinese have done more to slow down global warming than the West. Do you have qualms about buying US products?
     
  13. kabayiri

    kabayiri pfm Member

    Jordan Peterson postulates that people do not become interested in social factors like global warming until their average GDP per capita reaches $5K per annum.
    China can probably sell that concept to it's people now.

    India might be a tougher nut to crack. They are committed to new coal fired plants until 2030 earliest. Two of the most common desires for the average Indian citizen are personal car transport and aircon. Both of these make significant power demands.
     
  14. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    I didn’t at all, I only forgot to list it! Comes with the territory of ‘communist dictatorship’, or for that matter any other dictatorship, e.g. Russia, Saudi, Iran etc etc. Anywhere that imprisons or kills its population for political opposition, religion, ‘thought crimes’ etc should be avoided IMHO. Obviously I live in a country that openly sells weapons to states with vile records of human rights abuse so as a nation we have very little moral high ground.

    It is also an awkward thing to judge/boycott anywhere as whilst I detest what the Chinese state is and how it behaves from all manner of perspectives (e.g. copyright/intellectual property is another) there are countless good people there and the folk actually knocking out LS50s or iPads are likely fine and very grateful to have even that low paying job. I just never know the answer to this one, e.g. who did the most to overthrow the brutal racist apartheid in South Africa; millions like me signing petitions, playing irrelevant gigs in student unions, refusing to buy oranges etc, or Paul Simon breaking protocol and employing South African musicians and bringing their art to a global platform? My bet now is the latter, though it was not viewed that way at the time.
     
    maccar likes this.
  15. Tryant

    Tryant pfm Member

    C
    Coal is the problem in China and India. On a per capita basis, Americans emit over three times as much CO2 as the Chinese. India is still very low (World Bank's latest figures).
     
  16. kabayiri

    kabayiri pfm Member

    A relative used to head up a company which commissioned gas fired reactors. At one point, China were firing up 3 new stations every week ! They may be behind the USA, but the energy demands are clearly on the rise.
     
  17. dzeikei

    dzeikei pfm Member

    At least these manufacturing jobs are still kept in the UK. Not too many brands can do that anymore. I agree Harbeth is getting a bit too expensive considering the prices a few years back but that's the way it goes nowadays. I suspect the company will be just fine as there's so much demand all over the world for their speakers anyway.
     
    maccar likes this.
  18. Yank

    Yank Bulbous Also Tapered

    Someone pointed out that China has more honor students than the US has students.
     
  19. Darren L

    Darren L pfm Member

    Yes it's good that a British manufacturer can still manufacture products in the UK though Rega, Nottingham Analogue and Michell all still manufacture in the UK without extortionate price increases
     
  20. Yank

    Yank Bulbous Also Tapered

    They give their countrymen a break, but stick it to the rest of the world.
     

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