Best Tube/SS Amps for Harbeth 7ES-3

Hi, I just bought a pair of Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 - beautiful sounded speakers. Very natural and musical.

Now I need to get an integrated or Pre/Power combo to drive it. Budget is about $3-4K new or used. I read the 7ES-3 is easy to drive. Which amp works better with the 7ES - Tube or SS?

What amps do you use for your Harbeth 7ES? How much power output do I need to drive the 7ES to its full potential?

Would a 20 watt per channel tube amp drive the Harbeth?

Now that I've settled on the speakers, I can focus on getting the amps :)

I'm using an Audiomat Opera. 30wpc class A el34 based tube integrated. Simply magic with the C7's.

I also 'tested' the Harbeths with the little LFD mkIV integrated. Also a very nice match.

These speakers are relatively amp friendly, but different/and better amps as well as cables make a huge difference. They sound good with pretty much anything, but they can sound magical with better stuff up the chain.
From personal experience, I can say that I've especially liked my Harbeths when driven by Bel Canto amps, and by a Naim Nait 5i (though the Bel Canto is more refined and musical, at least to my ears.) Even a Rega Brio worked fine as a backup. I can't see why one would want to drive such accurate speakers with a low-powered tube amp -- that seems to me to be asking for trouble.

Alan Shaw, the designer of the Compact 7, looks very skeptically at the question of "best amps" for Harbeths. You can find his comments on the Harbeth user forum. For example, he has posted as follows: "The question of 'will this amp work with these speakers?' seems to have a life of its own. I just cannot fathom out why there is so much anxiety about grabbing any competent amp and hooking it up to your Harbeths and making great music. It seems to me that the fundamental essence of a good amp, well designed and working to original specification is that it must be relatively load-independent and the essence of a good, well designed speaker is that it must be amplifier-independent. So what's the anxiety about then? Who has planted the fear in the minds of an entire generation of hifi consumers that the amp/speaker interface is super-critical to the musical experience? With Harbeth it isn't."
That's funny stuff...
The difference is they can go from dull, boring, sleepy, to engaging, musical, and pleasure-giving... That's all.
I was driving my large Harbeth M-40.1's with a VAC Renaissance 30/30 MKIII, which I've just listed today. It would easily power you compact 7's and would sound phenomenal. I'm only selling it because I've moved up to the 30/30's bigger brother, the 70/70 Signature.

Also, go with tubes if you want to get the best sound out of your Harbeth's. I also had very good success with the McIntosh MC 275 MKV with upgraded tubes.
Don't bother about Alan Shaw's comments on the Harbeth forum if one believes that amplifiers will make a difference. In his mind all amps sound the same.

Tube vs SS - a matter of preference

Which amp - ditto above

How much power for the C7ES3 - this would depend on your listening levels. Manufacturer's minimum recommended is 25W. A good 20W tube amp will do fine unless one listens at head-banging levels.
For tube - Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum sounds amazing with the C7's and it's a very popular combo for hifi shops. This match was at the Montreal show this year and was well received. It was enough to sway me into buying the C7's a few months ago. I'm extremely happy and so is anyone who's heard it.
Thanks for the comments so far.

Anyone uses the Parasound JC2 pre-amp with the C7 ES? What amp to match with the JC2 for C7 ES?

You're going backwards... Speaker and amp first...
Quick survey of C7 users, using a variety of amps: Do you feel that Harbeths "rock". And if so, what amplification is best to help them along on that goal? Thanks...
7ES-3's strength IMO are smaller ensembles and voice, not large orchestral or rock music (I have found those who listen to mostly pop/rock prefer other brands of speakers). I have owned three different models of Harbeths and presently power my 7's with a LFD NCSE, but have had tube amps, line/power, and other integrated's (including Pass and Moon). If you find a used LFD Zero Mk III LE (even better with phono stage) to pair with the 7's (and you can live without a remote) I believe you'll be quite surprised at how good that combination is, and you can put the money you save into more (LP's/SACD/Redbook) source material.
"..and you can put the money you save into more (LP's/SACD/Redbook) source material."

or downloads (c;
11-20-11: Donjr
For tube - Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum sounds amazing with the C7's and it's a very popular combo for hifi shops.

I heard this combination at a dealer last week and I have to agree. I have no idea if you will like it or not.
I have heard them with Bel Canto and they sounded fantastic. I have been wondering how they would sound with McIntosh? That would be a classic looking system.
This is at the opposite: I asked to the man who made by hand the Leben integrated 300 what speakers he suggest to match his beauty integrated. He told me without any doubt and without any other: " I love the Harbeths Compact 7.".. I already bought them, they are coming
SS - Luxman 505u
Tube - Rogue cronus Magnum II

imo the Harbeths wake up and sound amazing with these 100 W amps.