Am I the only one who doesn’t love Harbeth P3esr?


I purchased a pair of P3’s a month ago based on their
uniformly rave reviews online. I have tried them with 
3 different amps, in two different rooms, and with and without a sub, and am just not overly impressed,
using a variety of music. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I expected more OMG moments.
They certainly aren’t bad. Very detailed. But to me they sound bright which I never expected. And I just can’t get them to sound really good.
I have other speakers I gravitate to for listening sessions- KEF LS 50 and Klipsch RP 600ms.

rambo21
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Maybe try the ProAc 10 Tablette or Signature version if you can demo them. I heard a shootout between the "plain" 10 and Harbeth and hands down the Proac was more to my liking. More detail, treble, airy highs. (Im not a fan of bass)
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Something is strangely wrong if the P3 sounds brighter than the LS50.
Obviously everyone hears differently, but I'm also surprised about the difference from the KEFs as well.  Have you tried lowering/raising the speakers a little to keep the tweeters on the same axis as you do with the KEFs and Klipschs?
Everyone can't like everything.
they need at least 200 hours for the bass response to mature.  the P3s are not a bright speaker by any means and can really rock with enough quality watts.  
Did you buy them new or used? 
What amps are you using?
Bought them new from Needle Doctor. Can’t return for refund since apparently Needle went out of business. I am using PS Audio monoblocks M 700’s.
Also tried with Prima Luna tube power amp

I have the 40th anniversary model and I use them with a a/d/s sub which is currently down. However without the sub the bass is surprisingly good in a 12x15 ft  room. I run a Rogue amp and preamp using nos Mullard signal tubes in both, and these speakers are not bright compared to my old Thiel SCS4. Running a sub with these speakers  allow there woofers to do what they do best which is midrange. Also keep the grills on that's how they were voiced. And give them time to break in... I love mine.
 




You haven't mentioned the listening angle.

Both toe-in and tilt-back can improve things.
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Hard to imagine them sounding bright. I use mine with a recapped vintage Accuphase integrated amp and fairly old Electrocompaniet CD player, with neutral to warmish results.

I also find them to be valuable in that my listening space is far from ideal, and yet they perform admirably. 
I am not a fan of the Harbeth P3esr either just not my cup of tea. Had Kef’s before and Pro Ac 10 Tabellete both to me sounded better. I know not comparing apple to apple but I currently own Klipsch RP 600f and they are my go to speakers.
I moved them  from 32 inches away from back wall to 16 inches from back wall with slight toe in.
Sound more natural. Maybe in my room, needs
reinforcement from wall to get more mid bass
response. Without that, maybe sound too bright 
Have maybe 60 hrs on them
Maybe need more run in
Maybe my ears just aren’t that discriminating 
When I bought my first pair of P3s they struck me as being a tad bright. I am now on my 3rd pair including the newer 40th anniversary model. There is something about them that just sounds right compared to the many other speakers that I have owned over the years. They just might grow on you like they did with me!
I don’t find it atypical to find a new pair of speakers goving an impression of brightness . Since you can’t return and 60 hrs IME is not long enough to make an objective impression, work on what you can, placement spacing, toe-in and talk to owners, plenty here and elsewhere. These are popular monitors and considered by some the best iteration of the LS3/5. At the end of the day you may not like them. Maybe your ears ARE that discriminating and they end up not being your cup of tea, there is no right or wrong only you’re engaged in the music or not.
Who says the Needle Doctor is out of business?

I suspect some kind of internet BS!
Facebook scuttlebutt seems to show something amiss over at Needle Doctor. If true, a big loss for audio community. 
@rambo21, it can be a little disconcerting when you start wondering whether it's the world or you that's wrong.

The Harbeth P3ESRs are almost the cornerstone of the loudspeaker world (at least when it comes to mini - monitors) in the same way that Relativity is the cornerstone of modern physics.

So if they really were seriously flawed where would that leave the rest?  I suspect they're real growers and you're ears are just beginning to relax and mature into their correct signature.

Good to see you're starting to get it. Would be great for us if you keep us updated as to how you get on with them, and also interesting for you given your first impressions.










I was just at a dealer listening to the big Harbeth 40.2 this morning off a very impressive CJ amp combo. Very nice! Actually awesome was the word I used.

I’m sure the P3esrs are very good for their size as well but like most entry level models in most lines these days they were...small and pricey.

I’d have to compare them to say Vanatoo Transparent 1 Encores which are similar size but also active with 4 built in amplifiers, DSP and 1/4 the price for essentially a complete system with similar size speakers. Just add a streaming device like any decent smartphone and you have sound that plays in the big leagues for a small fraction of the cost.

Old school passive speaker design versus latest and greatest bundled and integrated modern technology....who wins?

BTW its confirmed tariffs have had a significant effect on imported European audio product prices.
What height are they at? The tweeters should be at ear level. The designer recommends that you toe in so that the baffles are facing you. Try it. 

When I got my SHL5 Plus the dealer loaned me some stands while my custom stands were being made. The tweeters were above ear level and sounded brighter than when I heard them at a friend’s house. Once I got the correct stands and experimented a little with variations in tilt, things were much better.

My P3ESRs sound even better than the SHL5 Plus in some regards. They are super detailed but not bright. Revealing is a much better word. I love mine.
there is a company that does break in for guitar amp speakers
it takes them 40 hours of playing specific frequencies and testing.
 break in is critical for speakers .after 100 hours you can make a judgment.
the schiit loki (180$) or ifi itube2 (350$) can add bass without dsp or side effects. what preamp are you using? does it have tubes? if so ,late 60's blackburn mullards have the best bass .putting an ifi i purifier 3 before the dac (or jitterbug)also helps
tell us how it went
good luck
Try calling the Needle Doctor. I’ve called many times, only message is that this mailbox is full.
Also don’t answer Emails.
Someone on Facebook from Minnesota said they 
shut down.


I will keep you guys updated as to my 
progress with the P3s.
Thanks for the suggestions and help.
For a frame of reference, the other speakers I have at home currently are:
KEF LS50s
Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary 
Klipsch RP 600ms
Snell Type E iii
Totem Arros
Oh, boy. The rule is 150 hours minimum, on everything. After 60 hours... they are at the bottom of their performance. Patience. Give them a chance.
https://www.monoandstereo.com/2017/08/lessloss-c-marc-cables-review.html
You’ll find a burn in curve, a curve that can be applied to anything. Time can be different but min. 150 hours required. Can streach to 400 or 700-800 even in some cases, for some equipment.

60 hours....It’s a joke. I thought you are better educated. It’s a fu.. n joke.
The LS-50s are indeed the warmer speaker, especially if their tweeters are below ear height with little or zero toe-in. Their tweeters also have less metallic signature than the Harbeth aluminum IME. 

IDK that I'd consider the P3s bright once broke-in, but they do have a "cool" midrange tone that I hear in every Harbeth. Many consider this tone the ultimate in neutrality, my ears find it a bit cold. They'll never produce as much bass as a pair of run-in LS50s. 
The less bass (<120hz) these type of speakers produce, the better. If you want real bass you go for something else.
I have not had the pleasure to hear the P3's. I currently have a pair of Graham Chartwell LS3/5's,and before that,a pair of Spendor S3/5's. So I guess I've heard some speakers in the same ballpark.
  
  That being said,after 60 hours,they probably haven't completely settled in yet. However,if you don't care for the sound,you don't care for the sound. There is absolutely nothing wrong with not agreeing with everyone else's ears. They are your ears.  I sometimes can't understand why if some people love something,either you love it too,or you are doing something wrong. Bad set up,wrong amp,bad room. Why can't someone just not care for a product because it just doesn't sound good to them?
@rocray
Ain’t that the truth!
60 hours isn't enough.. The PS Audio amps are class D.. I suggest the Prima Luna's maybe a better match, or a Naim amp.. what speaker cables are you using?? tell us more about room etc..
Alan Shaw, who undoubtedly knows more about Harbeth speakers than anyone else on the planet, has stated that the only break in required is a short period for the flexing (my word) of the rubber surround of the mid bass driver.
  I like tripe. If you don't,you're using the wrong fork.
  
     
The P3s like every other Harbeth speaker develop more bass and a smoother high end as they accumulate hours.
As for the KEF LS50 comparison I owned them and could never get rid of the metallic sound quality although it did minimize. They definitely have more bass than the P3s but are significantly less transparent in the midrange.
The P3s have excellent bass with the right amplifier- don’t be afraid to give them plenty of power- and once run in have detailed and natural sounding treble.  
The midrange is the star though and at times can be startlingly real.  
A small sealed sub like an SVS SB1000 or SB2000 will make the bass a non-issue, assuming that they are in a relatively small room. I'm using the older SVS SB12 NSD with mine.
I've always found the P3-ESRs a little smooth (hardly bright).  However, everyone's taste is different.  If you've been living with a smooth, maybe recessed-sounding speaker for many years then, yes, I guess the could sound bright.  Give them several months to "run in" and, more importantly, your ears to "run-in" to them and you might feel differently.
Common mistake buying equipment based on reviews or audience it at dealers. Now you will have to adjust your ears to them and I’m not recommending listening other equipment nowhere else because when you come back you will hate them more or sell them who love their sound. Honestly I hate their sound too so you are not only one 
since they are close monitors they need to be used closer than 2.5mt. they also need to be placed very close to the back wall. not far more than 50cm. as a matter of fact they’re more like desktop speakers than bookshelf. falcon’s are a little bit forgiving on listening distance but more or less all ls3/5’s are need to be used inside 2.5mt. distance including original rogers. I listened them all (spendor, graham, rogers, harbeth, falcon) except shun mook. falcon sounds a little bit exotic but harbeth is the best among them. additionally finish is playing an important role on sound signature. I like the rosewood’s sound.
a good low powered English amplifier might help too or a Japanese el84 tube amplifier is even better.
Lots of very strong competition at their price point and they are very small compared to many so one better really take to what Harbeth tends to do uniquely I would expect.  That would be vocals, which is very important thing to do well. 
I have listened to the P3s and never found them to be bright al all. Maybe need more time for break in , or something else causing the brightness. Either way, I hope it works out for you. 
I didn’t like the LS3/5 despite all the rave reviews. Auditioned a few different version and none impressed. Thin, tiny and very small soundstage, IMO.

The only Harbeth I liked was the HL5, I think it was a Special Edition with better crossover components and wires inside.

You can audition PMC, they make very good speakers, and sounded natural to my ears.

home demoed a pair of P3-ESRs that we’re well broken in by the dealer, thinking they would be an upgrade to my Proac tablette anniversary editions.  Nope.  Driven with Primaluna EL34 tube amp, the soundstage size and depth was bigger and deeper on the proacs, as was the smoothness/warmth of female vocalists. Don’t really care about bass, so no comment from me there.  I have a small room and listed nearfield which may have something to do with it,  but just didn’t like the P3-ESRs as much at the proacs.