Can Harbeths Perform Well In Nearfield Listening?

A good friend who loves music, and who would otherwise qualify as an audiophile, but is not nearly as interested in actual audio equipment itself. He rely's on me to advise him with such purchases.

He has a particular fondness for the classic British/BBC sound in speakers, and recently was visiting a relative in Boston who had the Harbeth Super SHL-5 speakers and loved them. However, these were auditioned in a significantly larger room than he has available to him at home.

His wife has long since relegated him and his audio system to a 10x10 spare bedroom, to be fair, somewhat out of necessity given his house layout and circumstances. Given all of that, he does his listening in a nearfield environment,and sits six feet from his speaker position.
The only possible speaker placement is against a wall several feet from any corner.

Is it possible for the SHL-5's to truly work well in this situation, or, if not, the Compact 7 ES-3's? I would personally not have thought so, but then I discovered the comment below in the archives where the much larger M40's were apparently magical in such a space:

"05-17-08: Jeffkonicek
I had the opportunity to hear the Harbeth M40s at a true nearfield, (about three feet away, and 5 feet apart) in an acoustically treated room. Matching REL Stadium 111's, tube amplification, state of the art turntable ( sorry, I don't recollect more specifics ). Let me just say it was a transformative aural experience. As big as they were, when I closed my eyes those M40s just disappeared! I could almost reach out and touch the musicians as they played. Startlingly real 3D sound stage."

Before you go in that direction, the P3ESR's simply won't cut it for his needs. He requires significant bass, and while lovely little speakers intended for small rooms, they cannot deliver what he demands in that area.

I've heard most of the significant Harbeth speakers, but never in a small room or nearfield, and so, could use any expertise, thoughts or recommendations you can offer. Thanks.
What about the small monitors (P3ESRs) and a subwoofer for the prodigious bass he requires?
Synergy also plays a huge factor but room acoustics may be the primary reason the system components sound greate nearfield.
I would get a closed or front ported monitor with a subwoofer. That room should be aweful for a ported or very bass heavy speaker. I would want to control the bass with a subwoofer. Room treatment will be needed as well.
For 10 X 10 feet P3ESR's would be fine. The Compact 7's better. P3's best placed at minimum one and a half feet from wall boundries. Compact 7's bass good in that space (and bit larger rooms as well) while the P3's are best to augment with sub. Does your friend have acoustic treatments in that 10 x 10 listening space? Spending a little there and careful setup will yield big dividends.
Listening to the M40s three feet away is stretching it. Not impossible but just not optimized. Large full range speakers perform best in mid or far-field configurations in large spaces.

In a 10'x 10' room, yes to the Compact 7ES-3, no to the SHL-5. You will need some treatments in that small room or the sound will be in a huge mess. If the P3ESR, one can probably get away with treating the room.

Placement is critical with the Harbeths as they usually sound best when placed away from wall boundaries. Close placement to walls will usually yield less than desirable effects unless one doesn't listen to music at high volume levels.
Harbeth's sound very good from a few feet away, but 10 x 10? That's not a room, it's a jail cell. I suggest your friend look into a good set of headphones. It is possible to get good sound in a small room, but very few are willing to accept the compromises, ie, not being able to play Led Zep at concert-hall volume and the like.
Jeff Day, the reviewer, keeps his SHL5's in a 11′ L x 12′ W x 9′ H room:

I'd imagine your friend's problems are compounded by the fact that his room is actually smaller AND perfectly square, but the issues shouldn't be insurmountable...assuming there's not actually a bed in this spare bedroom.

Your friend might contact the nearest Harbeth dealer and see if the dealer can come by with both the C7s and SHL5's to audition in the space. Or, at the very least, get the dealer's input.

If the Harbeths won't work for him, he might switch gears and look into a speaker actually designed to be placed against a wall.

And if he can't get any speakers to work to his satisfaction, headphones are definitely not a bad option.
The SHL5s will not be optimized in a 10' x 10' space. The performance will be severely compromised even if the room is treated. It may be more worthwhile to ascertain whether the C7s will sound good in the room(rather than the SHL5s fitting that space) as some may even consider the C7ES3 to be too large for a 10' x 10' space, the P3ESR being the perfect speaker for this room size.

In Jeff's 11' x 12' room, the listener will be sitting quite close to the speakers without much(or any) space between the listening chair and the back wall. The presentation will be very different when compared to a setup that is in a significantly larger room. Listening preferences and patterns will dictate which environment will produce better results. Having said that, the general rule of thumb is to consider small speakers for small rooms, big speakers for big rooms. Small speakers can still sound good in big rooms with proper setting up, but performance of large speakers will usually be compromised in small rooms. More problems with the latter, and more effort is required to address them.

When Jeff Day reviewed the Leben CS600, the SHL5s were in a large living room(link below).

Due to the nature of his job, a lot of equipment and speakers have gone in and out of the room. He has probably kept the Harbeths(and the Leben) and used them in smaller room since he can't bear to part with these wonderful music makers. I noticed the Leben/Harbeth review was done in February 2007, and the same system is still in use until 2011, or current. Living with the same system for more than 4 years, certainly uncommon for a hifi reviewer.

If all else fails, the headphone recommendation may come in handy.
Well, Ryder actually owns and lives with the SHL5 so I'd take his word for it.

Really, if it were me and I needed to have a Harbeth in that space, I'd go with the PS3R and would not worry about a sub.

And I'd probably also look into speakers intended for placement against the wall or ones that would do well in corners.
Harbeths are one of the best at performing in the near field - that's often how they're used...

The P3's will work the best in a room that small - anything else will be too big IMO. If he has a fondness for the BBC sound - then the P3's will suffice...
Agreed. Your friend wants everything in the candy shop. In his size room, the 3's are the choice. The 7's are more forward sounding, if he turns it up I for one wouldn't want to be sitting that close. If he went with the 5's or 40's, it'd be him , his chair, and the speakers. It actually could work, if he doesn't mind being squeezed in there. Those speakers are designed and tweaked in an 11x11 room. And I know of some British folks who use the 40's in just that size room...
Tell him to buck up and go for it...depending on his gear he should be very happy.