The P3's are great at any volume, I have the larger Harbeth 30.2's and play them softly most of the time, they still sound wonderful at low volume. Go back and have the dealer play music you like at a lower volume. One thing I did was buy an integrated (Luxman) with tone/loudness controls (bi-passable) to help at low volumes. Yes, an actual blasphemy for many audiophiles. But at low volumes it really helps me enjoy the music, and that's what counts.
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I have owned many small and larger speakers and I always go back to the P3. I have not listened to the newer XD. Ask your dealer if he will let you take a pair for an in home audition. You can find many on line reviews on the Harbeths. This guy likes them as much as I do!
Same with this guy!
Thanks all for responding. Looking forward to your suggestions. Room is 11 x 12. Budget is $15K. I love acoustic guitar, jazz and deep vocals (e.g. Nick Cave) mostly. I listen at lower levels. Oh, and I have Sennheiser HD800s w/ Sennheiser HDVD headphone amp but am not happy with the fatiguing highs so will swap those for perhaps the Focal Clears. @Deadhead- I'm looking at the Luxman L380. I also love vinyl and am finding the TTs are much pricier than I had hoped. Looking at the Luxman L-171.
The Harbeths sound great at low volumes. If you liked them, I wouldn’t look too much further. In general, you might focus on those British monitors - Harbeth P3, Spendor A1, Falcon LS3/5A, etc. They were made for the type of set up you have, and they do voices extremely well.
As an aside, I have owned both the Harbeth P3esr and the P3 Anniversary Model (same/similar to the XD), and I preferred the standard P3esr - a little warmer and more relaxing. Some might argue that the XD is more accurate, but I felt that the standard P3esr really connected me to the music better.
Have fun with your search!
That Luxman is a cool integrated, but obviously a touch pricey as it will take up basically half of your budget.
In addition to the Harbeths, Spendor Classic 3/1 would be fun with that size room and the Luxman.
That will leave you about $3500 for the turntable/cart and dac.
Rega P6 with the Ania cart would get in around $2000, so about $1500 for the dac then.
Wow. As for speakers, the most intriguing bookshelf speakers I have seen reviewed lately are the Buchardt A500 which are active speakers and can be adjusted for your room digitally. Also there are the new Dynaudio that Steve Gutenberg just reviewed that blew the Special 40’s away. As for DAC wow. I would need a budget for that one. Recommendations range from the Topping D90 MQA all the way to the Denafrips Terminator Plus. As for tube amps. I just got the Boyuurange A50 Mk3 integrated to play with. It’s a 300B tube amp. It will drive bookshelfs no problem. Sounds great and about $800. I love it and it’s a steal. If more $ you can aspire to a Decware tube integrated.
Love my P3s in small office, nearfield and listen at low volume mostly. My budget was a bit lower than yours. I use Cambridge audio CXA81, SMSL SU-9 DAC, and a single REL TZero for a little low end help. Also my brand new Sonore Microrendu just arrived, so going to see if that improves things since I am streaming directly from computer to DAC right now. Still, pretty happy with set up and the P3s would be the last thing I would try to upgrade.
Hello, I wold like to share my system that I I have m on my desktop (room is 3x4 m) that I use both for near field and normal listening: Yamaha rn803d ampli streamer, sound artist LS3/5a speakers, Rel T5/i subwoofer. Certainly not flamboyant but incredible sound quality especially from near field. All for abt 2000 E. If you want more information about these speakers check Zero Fidelity and NBT reviews on YouTube.
I’ll just throw out a combo of a DENAFRIPS Venus ll DAC, Raven Audio Blackhawk ll tube integrated, and Joseph Audio Prism or Pulsar speakers.
BTW, you might also consider Hifiman Arya headphones as they may come closest to matching your HD800’s soundstaging but with detailed yet natural sounding highs. FWIW, and best of luck on both endeavors.
Regarding your Sennheiser HD800S, I would start by trying a tube headphone amp. The Atom itself is not exactly the bees’ knees as a source. You know the story: trash in, trash out. If anything the Senns are very transparent and tell you that your source and amp are not up to scratch. If you are not ready to invest in the above I would just consider a lesser headphone - HD650 from the same company for instance.
Expensive, but you can find them much cheaper ex demo, the WA TuneTots are still my go to for small rooms, boundaries etc. Raidho also perform splendidly near field but they also cost top dollars.
All Harbeth’s sound good at low volume. I owned a few different models and I always had a good listening experience at all volumes.
You might also consider the Vandersteen VLR CT if you can audition them somewhere. It’s important to listen to any speaker you want to buy before you pull the trigger. Good Luck!
I think Harbeth is a good choice. When you mentioned near field, a coaxial speaker also came to mind. And last, I have the Fritz Carrera BE’s and they sound really good at low volumes. I have them paired to a Belles Aria and Schiit Gungir. I do quite a bit of listening late at night at very low volumes and the Carreras sound great. Very well balanced with regards to freq response from top to bottom.
I’ve heard a ton of speakers and for what you are describing, I’d say Harbeth or Fritz are 2 really good choices.
Oh, and the NAD M33 seems to be well received. The agon member that I bought my Belles from moved on to a luxman then the nad m33.
I can also recommend Monitor Audio Golds. I’d have to agree with “Another Bob”. He’s got a nice little rig too!
Seems like Audio Mirro Tubadour, and Denafrips are 2 companies to look into for dacs. Maybe check out the Raven tube amps as well.
If you do go tubes, any of the speakers that Fritz builds will work great as the have incredibly benign impedance curves.
I wanted to bring a few things to your attention:
If using close to the wall do sealed or front ported. Add a sub to get the rest of the bass and bloom you want. Also, you can listen at really low volumes because the sub has its own amp which means you can keep the volume low 55db or less and still get the full range of sound. Are you pulling them out into the room. If so then you can go with a rear ported speaker. You should still get the sub for low level listening. You have to match your speaker to the amp. A lot of good bookshelve speakers are 4 ohm. You need an amp that can drive it properly on my second system I have a really nice 100w amp pushing an insignia bookshelf speaker. It sounds amazing. With a 200w it sounds even better at low volume. Be careful, some of these 200w integrated amps don’t really get out a full sound till they get too loud. ML Is one. Ayre is awesome at all volume levels. Don’t be fooled by a 70wpc Ayre int. Amp. It’s like having 150w of power.
@labelman - the Super Alnico Monitor is probably the ideal model for your situation. The proprietary Alnico driver Omega has developed is something special - super quick, extremely rich tonally, detailed without being fatiguing, very "lifelike".
Louis at Omega is a great guy to work with and would be happy to talk to you about your situation and either recommend something from the product line or do something custom for you.
Harbeths are great speakers and it appears the P3 is a real gem according to many. With a cheap thousand dollar SVS SB-3000 you'd have full range with a sealed tight sub, and the ability on the fly (via remote) to adjust for a customized loudness setting for low level listening.
Otherwise I think you must have a loudness or bass level control unless low level bass is not desired. Bass drops off tremendously at lower levels, at least what is perceived audibly. I don't think the old loudness controls were designed for bass-heads; they facilitate more enjoyable low-level listening.
And if the budget is truly $15k I'd sure be shopping a lot more higher end bookshelf speakers as well. I know some who like 15k of electronics hooked to 2-4k speakers but that's pretty low bang for the audio buck IMO. Start to seriously blind audition electronics and see what you can really hear or identify. It's usually not much when compared to a loudspeaker upgrade will provide for your money. I think many of us forget what makes the single most difference audibly...
As mentioned, this is a great project so have a lot of fun and good luck!