Amp choice for Harbeth (SHL5)

I recently purchased the SHL5s. I would like to know what kind of amp you are using with them. 

I am NOT looking for an integrated amp although I know LFD and few other integrated amps are recommended. The only reason is I recently purchased an passive pre.

In this short time having them, what I found out although SHL5 plays good with all the amps/different wattage I have tried (Class D & T, older SS Marantz), they are better with 100wpc plus amp. To me they want that reserved power. 

I would like to take these superp speakers to another level with "that" amp. 

I have never owned tube amps. I would like to try maybe the VAC PA100/100 (can't afford newer models) or something in this $1500 price range but not less than 80wpc in 8 ohms. I am little scared of using/dealing with tubes but don't want to hide anymore. 

Please share your amp suggestions with me. 


The vac would be a great choice and the shl5's need some pwr to play there best.

If you have never had a tube amp you might do some reading about them to learn at least the basics.Ask questions here on these threads.

Best of luck to you,

Thanks Kenny.

I also forgot to add.

I say tubes but also thinking they may make the already warmish Harbeths even warmer. Wouldn’t want too thick sound. I wonder if I make sense when I say this combination?

I say tubes because I am thinking they may add some more air to Harbeth sound. The airy sound is something I love.

I was asked why I am scared of tubes. People say the tubes need biasing, they get hot, you can’t/shouldn't leave them on all the time unlike other amps, etc. this kind of pushes me off. Seems too much hassle but I only go by with others say.
Playing with tube amp is fun ,only drawback me have is the heat ,on small room feel like heater on ,not comfy listening especially in summer time .
if you scare about self bias,some brand have auto biasing so no need to worry,like primaluna .
VAC is very good amp ,and you right about wattage,try some amps from 30 to 80 and feel right with my harbeth at 80 watt .
im using M30.1 ,little harder to drive then SHL.
but once you try tube with harbeth you'll amazed!!!

There is always a few rooms that stick out in my memory when I go to audio shows. One I remember from a few years back at CAF is the Vinnie Rossi room. He was using Harbeth SHL5+ speakers and it was incredible. I remember nothing else from that show but that one sticks in my head. I've never owned any Vinni Rossi gear either.

i would love to have a pair of those speakers so I could try them with my LTA tube gear.
When I owned the SHL5 I was originally using Quicksilver V-4 mono blocks (120 watts per channel) to run the them. As much as I loved the Quickie's with my Vandersteen's, I was not happy with the sound they made with the Harbeth's.

I ended up switching to a Primare 30.1 solid state integrated (100 watts per channel) with much better results. I have since moved to the SHL5+ and I am now using an Ayre AX-7e integrated. On paper not a great combo, 60 watts per channel, but in my system it's an amazing combination that brings out the best in the SHL5+'s. The Primare is still my backup. The SHL5+ is a very different speaker than the SHL5 so I recommend you try any amp that you can with them before you buy. 
I have not been able to find a tube amp that I like with any Harbeth I have tried. This is just my opinion and YMMV. Good Luck!
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At the LA audio show last weekend, the room with Harbeth SHL5+ driven by Naim amplification sounded great. Definitely on the euphonic warm side of life, but so smooth, great depth, imaging and layering. Probably not perfect in the technicalities, but I didn’t care. Truly a sound that just makes you enjoy the music.

Aside from that, I must say the Pranafidelity amp with the Class D Ncore modules in Steve Norber’s suite at the show was a winner. Although he was driving his own Pranafidelity speakers (which I liked better than the Harbeth), I can imagine the amp performing very well with Harbeths and producing a still smooth but more neutral final sound.

PS someone mentioned the Vinnie Rossi, and I heard that as well at the show.  Although the speakers in that suite were very meh, it was clear to me that the amp unit was very much worth a second listen.  
I am using Croft integrated phono with my Harbeth 7 and since last week with 30.1.Croft is hybrid design with 1 EC83 in pre section and 2 in phono.Love the result.
I tried many amps with my Harbeth SHL5s but found the Luxman 505ux to be a synergistic choice. 
I tried lots of amp/preamp and integrated with SHL5s. I listen almost entirely to classical music. I bought a Rogue RP1 tube preamp with a Channel Islands E-200S class D amp. The combination sounded better than many more expensive systems I tried, including all tube.
The best advice is to try some of the recommended amps to see which one will suit the SHL5s best in your system, to your ears. I can understand your remark of not wanting the SHL5s to sound any warmer as they do have a thick and warm sound. The SHL5s do sound a bit warm, thick and dull with most common solid-state amps but are capable of sounding lively and dynamic with few select amps. Some of the amps which are reported to bring the Harbeth to life are the Sonneteer Orton, Croft and LFD. I only have experience with the LFD. I now use higher-level Naim amplification with Chord cabling throughout (yes, the cabling also brought a relatively good improvement to the system).

In summary, what I think is if you can find the right amp for the SHL5s, the transformation can be an eye-opener. Music will just pour out from the speakers and sound very engaging, dynamic and full of life. (*a note is the source is also equally important)
I heard the Super HL5+ speakers in the Vinnie Rossi room at RMAF. They resembled my Quad ESLs, and I grasped where reviewer Paul Seydor was coming from when he wrote the same thing. From a 'stat lover, it is the highest praise possible. The setup included the giant-single-tube preamp module and the transformer volume control.

Different speakers, and out-of-budget amplification, but enthralling sound.

If you can find a dual-mode (ultralinear/triode), self-biasing PrimaLuna used within your budget, I daresay that one of the combinations of tubes/taps/modes should complement the Harbeths nicely, and should be fuss-free and reliable.
I have the SHL5+.  I initially had them set up with a Pass xa30.8.  It was wonderful.  I then (stupidly) tried a PrimaLuna Dialogue HP and it was awful.  I then tried a Bryston 4BSST2, it was good, but I longed for the Pass.  I now settled on a vintage Sony TA-N80ES.  I have it paried with a TA-E80ES pre and it really sounds great.  I won't be changing until something blows up.
Third for the Vinnie Rossie Lio.  Heard it on Harbeth 3 years in a row at AXPONA.  This year with the SHL5+.  
Tube linestage and capacitor store design isolates it from the AC grid.  Noise floor is unheard of and dynamics are incredible.  Stereophile class A.