Can the Harbeth 40.1's boggie ?????

I am not looking for ear shattering volume - but everything I have read ( and no, where I live I cannot listen to them )but I am considering them. But, can they play some rock and roll and get out of their own way ???? Reviewers and owners have noted that they sound great at low volume levels - and they have an '' organic natural sound '' - that's great but can they play Lynard Skynard, some Allman Brothers and god forbid some Grateful Dead that well - like they advertise -sounds like real music ??? I also listen to Eva Cassidy, The Eagles, Jackson Browne, Pat Methany, JJ Cale and most of all The Beatles ....and why do see so many of them for sale ??? Ummmmm.....
I think the word your looking for is Boogie!! I heard these fine speakers powered by Audio Research equipment at a dealer and yes,the boogie factor was indeed high.
The answer is yes,yes,YES!I auditioned about six of my favorite CDs with them, including Live Cream, and other rowdy stuff, and for sure they are bold as you please with rock. Very special, and I wish I owned them.
I listen to some of everything you have on your list and they sound great. This is s good time to buy used, take advantage of it, They dont always come up in bunches like they are now.
Consider the economy and the protracted recession which may be
pushing some people to sell items they would not have during the good times. Audition any gear thoroughly before buying. Disclaimer: Love my Harbeth's more than any speaker I've owned and I say that with the tube and SS gear I've used them with. Listen mostly to classical, Jazz, vocals, and solo acoustic. If the bulk of my listening was to rock, R&B, blues, etc. I would probably have bought another brand of speaker.
Airegin, which harbeths are you using? My findings with the 40.1s and R&B, Soul, and blues are that they really shine with this type of music.
I have the Eucalyptus SHL5's. Spent time with the 40 and 40.1's. Besides the HL5's I also have a pair of the Compact 7 ES-3 Anniversary sets in (very light blond color) Maple. If you're going to rock Tom, the extra bass of the 40.1's is a good thing. You have read Alan Shaw's posts on the Harbeth users group - right? He's is one the most non-BS people in the speaker biz. See if you can buy used from a 40.1 seller who also has the correct stands to match.
Airegin - what are saying as I am not in a position to read what Allan Shaw has said about the 40.1's.....please let us / me know
Here's a url fyi:
.....okay, would like to use this opportunity to follow up on my original post. I have now owned the Harbeth 40.1's for a month and they were bought demo so they were broken in. I asked if these speakers can '' boogie'' and without any hesitation I can now say ...NO. They do have their moments but are few and far between but for the most part I find them very un-involving, flat and I guess just plain....blahhhhhhh. I bought them with only a quick listen and also used reviews and also the great members here on Audiogon. My electronics are top of the line Classe' Delta series, Esoteric P-05 and D-05 and all Pursit Audio 2Oth Anniversary Cables ...all equipment is on HRS Platforms and the room has been ASC treated......I guess they are now like a pregnant girlfiend. They are mine for awhile as I have three more big monthly payments to make on them. I should have kept my old 2-way Avalon Eclipse's that were 12 years old as they can run circles around the Harbeth's.....big mistake and like the proverbial pregnant girlfriend - I'm stuck with them for now
Yes it seems that Harbeth designs vary a lot from model to model and the 40.1 is not the star in their line up - I'd say the Compact 7ES-3 is their best at the moment.
It's a hit and miss thing when it comes to choosing the right speakers based on reviews and advice on the forums. Sorry to hear that the 40.1's did not work out for you. One point to note is the Classe are smooth amps. I don't know about the Delta series but having owned the CAP-100 and listened to the Classe separates I have a general idea of how Classe sounds like. When matched with the equally warm and smooth Harbeth it can be too much of a good thing -smooth, flat, uninvolving and lacking in dynamics. An amp change will improve things, and the real question is whether the degree of improvement is significant enough to transform the whole presentation of the 40.1s, or the difference is subtle at best. That only the listener can answer for himself.

If you want the Harbeths to rock and boogie, Naim amps will provide that edge, and I have tried half a dozen amps. If the 40.1's still fail to rock and boogie with the Naims then the Harbeths are not the speaker for you and remain as a pregnant girlfriend.

A friend of mine, a 40.1 owner who tried a plethora of amps on the speakers(Leben CS600, LFD LEIII, Pathos Logos, Rega Elicit, Sansui, Hungarian-made tube amp and a couple more) also had the same predicament. He couldn't enjoy his music from the 40.1's with these amps as music lacked sparkle and life. He now owns the Naim 32.5 with Avondale boards and 135 amps and is now keeping the speakers. Having said that there also few Harbeth users who changed to other speakers despite using Naim amps on them.

If you want to salvage the 40.1s you might want to consider the Naims. Judging from your response above I think it is a safer bet that you sell them. The 40.1's will not sound like your previous Avalon Eclipse even when driven by the Naim.

Shadorne made a good point. The Compact 7ES3 may be the most successful speaker in the Harbeth line that is quite versatile across a wide genre of music.
Kudos to you Garebear for admitting your mistake. Far too many people try to talk themsevles into a product that they don't really like down deep. Denial for sure. But you have accepted that they may not be your cup o'tea in a public forum. Admirable....

In the wrong room, the M40 can be a bit uninvolving. This speakers needs a good space around them so it would be more free flowing.
......the room is 14' x 28' with 7 1/2' celings...and treated by ASC
Is the 14' the width ? that is not enough spread.
Ideally, the m40s should be 9 feet-10 feet apart with some room left on each sides of the speakers.
Thanks Nolitan.....well I'm close - but there is still something very uninvolving about them.
IMO, you would be better of with vintage speakers given the list of artist you listen to..Tannoys/JBLs/Altecs rather than Harbeths..Cheaper as well..Avalons over Harbeths /no brainer again my opinion
I guess it depends on the sound that you want. Missioncoonery made a good point on vintage speakers. FWIW my friend who owns the 40.1 actually has another pair of Altec Lansing Valencia in a 2nd system. He got the Altecs so that he can have the best of both worlds. The Altecs gave him the raw, forward and live sound but severely lacked the detail and refinement of the Harbeths. The Altecs were also brighter in comparison and tonality were not as accurate as the Harbeth. The Harbeths gave him the smooth, composed and refined sound but lacked the big and life like presentation of the Altecs. One cannot have everything in one package that does it all. 53, I don't need the SPL levels of a rock concert in my home. The Tannoy's are a very reputable company and make great speakers. The Harbeth's are not a bad speaker...I guess that I just expected more for the cost, the reveiws and the hype associated with them. Art Dudley loved them.....
Ive never understood the Harbeth following but thats just me.I ran old Tannoys and late 50s JBL 3 ways with tube gear for a long time.Both seem to be real nice for 70s/80s rock even if you dont run them full bore.Not the greatest if detail detail is your thing but 1/2 what the Harbeth 40 series cost..and resell is always great.Lets face it Allman bros/Lynard and the like will never sound "audiophile".
I have to agree with Missioncoonery... never been a fan of the Harbeths (albeit, I've only heard them in shops, not in my own home).

And Shakey makes a good point, as well; nice to see Garebear voice his true thoughts after an expensive purchase as such.

...not that my post says anything much... just thought i'd chime in.

I asked if these speakers can '' boogie'' and without any hesitation I can now say ...NO.

Just goes to prove that one needs to hear things in their room with their other equipment to get a true representation .Sorry they didn't work out for you.The search continues!!
I think the problem are the Purist cables. I've always found them to be on the laid back and dark side, exactly the wrong thing for harbeths. Before you sell them I'd try borrowing some cables from The Cable Company. I'd try kimber,xlo, nordost,audience anything fast and open.
Oh and I'd also pull all the ASC stuff. You may have the room over damped.
No, Harbeth monitor 40.1s cannot boogie. Read Bob Neill's comments about them. He got tired of them and moved on because they never could lose their stiff upper lip.
Again, Erikminer made some valid observations. Although the Harbeth will not rock like some other speakers, Classe + Purist + "Harbeth" + Overdamped room can be a recipe for disaster if one seeks thrill and excitement. If using ASC absorption panels on 1st reflection points or anywhere else, may I suggest taking them out(and replace them with diffusion if you have some). In my room I always prefer diffusion than absorption as the latter kills life and dynamics in music especially with the Harbeth.

Something to think about to alleviate the current situation.
If you remove the Harbeth issue and restate the OP in a generic form it becomes "why doesn't my high dollar, audiophile approved system sound good on classic rock recordings?" In its many forms this is one of the more popular posts on Audiogon. What's happening is that your high end system is really showing you what the classic rock recordings sound like and you're finding that you don't like that sound. It's accurate, but not that enjoyable to listen to. High end systems are really about finesse and refinement. Some can go loud and have great rhythmic qualities, but they don't do raunchy very well. It's the nature of the beast. The fact of the matter is if you're listening to classic rock you're better off having a pair of double Advents matched with a large 70s Marantz or Pioneer receiver in an acoustically untreated room. Yes, old is the new new.
What Onhwy61 said.

Many days I miss my Rogers Sound Lab RSL3600 monitors with a c.1990 Kenwood integrated amplifier.

Rock on.
...thank you for all of your responses. However, we are at a slippery slope in thinking that the best equipment for the 50% of the music I play needs to come from the era that this music was conceived. Does that mean I should have a Victrola for my older Big Band Music....I think not. I guess what was I was looking for by using those particular bands as an example, was can these speakers get out of their way ?...the answer is No. I wish that I could have listened to them more, but what dealer has a pair of Harbeth 40.1s hanging around to loan out - and believe me they are big and heavy. I am not about to at 53, scleep these things around.....switching cables is out as it took me about three years to put the Purist together and pay for them ..The 20th Anniversary's are not dark by any means but are more nuetral and natural sounding and did you look at the price of the 20th Anniversary's .....they are not cheap and once again getting too old to take a loss and start over. Moving the ASC's around does make the most the room could be over-damped as the Avalon's were soo fast - and ariculate. Now, the Harbeth 40.1's are detailed and quick ''in their own way ''.....they are a good speaker - they are just different. Maybe Paullb said it the best - they are British and they do emote that stiff upper lip in the way they present their music.....they to me are an enigma at this point in time. Now for a spot of tea...thanks again everyone.
I suggest attending CES/T.H.E Show in January. Yes, it can be a pain: to get the time off work, to pay the cost of a plane ticket, to pay for lunch and dinner, and to possible have to pay for a hotel if you can't make it a day trip.

However, the opportunity to hear a vast number of speakers (bring your own music...non-audiophile approved is even better) is worth the expense and the time. The cost is considerably less than the potential hit taken upon resale of less-than-satisfactory speakers.

When shopping for speakers, considering the severe limitation of hearing them locally, the value of attending an audio show cannot be overstated.

Garebear... sorry the 40.1's are not working out for you. I've had mine for about 20 months and I love them. Suggest you experiment a bit more before giving up on them. I like them best with Mac tube gear... McIntosh MC 275 MKV with NOS Telefunken 12AX & AT7's to be specific. Seems that this is a speaker that some love and some hate... really boils down to personal preference I suppose.
Garebear, let me extrapolate on what I said above.

We're the same age and I suspect we have been audiophiles for most of our adult lives. I've come to the conclusion that for all practical purposes a single system cannot really do justice to all types of music. Specifically, I came to this conclusion after years of trying to get the classic Motown recordings to sound good. It was further reinforced when I started to get into 1920-30s recordings of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Patton and others. Rather than keep pouring money into a single system and trying to perfect the sound, I decided that I would get better results if I went with multiple systems. In practice I've been able to get better musical enjoyment and spend substantially less dollars by pursuing this strategy.

If you look at my system page compare the Upstairs Loft to the Basement system. The Basement system was my first attempt at going for a different sound. The Spendors are very similar to your Harbeth. It's a more relaxed sound than the Rowland/Gradient combo Upstairs. The third system is what really opened my eyes. It's a pair of EPIs (similar to Advents) and Sony electronics. They cost next to nothing, but on classic rock they are simply more enjoyable than either of the other two systems. Of the three systems one can make me get up and dance (well at least try) while the other two systems sound really good when I'm sitting in the sweet spot.

Maybe it's possible to spend some ungodly amount of money and time to put together a single system that does it all. My experience doesn't bear that out.

BTW, my 1920-30 recordings sound best on the higher resolution Rowland/Gradient system. Some of them are actually very good recordings.
IME the soft dome tweeters sound easy on the ears, but they don't boogie. The metal dome tweeters have come a long way, and the newest Beryllium tweeters don't sound harsh like older Aluminum and Titanium tweeters. They completely get out of their way in the music while providing fast and articulate sound. IMHO.
Garbear: it's really a matter of system synergy. You system was setup to sound good with the equipment you have. The harbeths are not optimized to the rest of the room and gear. The purists are great cables bit not with the harbeths. You proved that. Want to try a cheap experiment... buy some radio shack 14 gauge speaker wire try it.. I think you'll be surprised. .
Garbear, I tend to agree with Onhwy61. Its hard to get the ideal sound from one system on all genre's and I run 4 systems, mind you with budget equipment. Perhaps a set of Wilson Audio speakers might whn well matched.

I own a 40.1 and they do have endearing qualities but sadly they do not rock. A change out on cables and equipment helps but still.....not quite there. Very noticeable when you listen to a drum kit playing through them, a tad slower than i'd like them to be.

Alan Shaw said once they dont rock but I am not sure whether he means they cant develop the required spls or they are just not cut out to deliver the ideal rock sound.I think the latter. Drop him a line at the Harbeth user forum. I am told he used to be a bit of a rocker himself!!!

If you do find the equipment which can deliver a healthy boost of steroids to the 40.1,please do share. I'd be keen to know.
My music tastes and system are quite different from what I enjoyed in the 60's & 70's when I had a full head of hair but an empty appreciation of better music.
Airegin...good point made. However, my systems have chnaged as well but the pursuit of trying to re-create the artist's emotional performance has never changed. I agree that some of the music I listen to now is different from what I listened to 25 years ago.....better, that would be subjective and only up to the listener. I have now had the Harbeth 40.1's for almost 2 months now.....and your ears do adjust to the changes that you make in your system. I will say it again....they are different and they can play beautiful music that is one thing for sure.
I'm a Harbeth dealer so take my opinion for what its worth. Yes they can boogie but you need some serious power to do so. Took a long time to figure this out. They also need very very careful room placement. Strangely they are picky unlike any other Harbeth speakerss. Even small movements will change the sound and bass characteristics. When set up right, nothing sounds better. They are simply steallar and will do 20hz in a room. No comparison to lesser Harbeths. They have an effortlesness, transparency and resolution the others do not have. Side by side it's painfully obvious as fantastic as the HL5 is.
Hi I am the New Zealand Harbeth distributor and I have to agree with Dkasab, the Monitor 40.1 is a incredible speaker and when set up properly sounds incredible.

I play all types of music but not a big fan of 60/70s/80s Rock recordings as most has no bass for my tastes and sounds loud thin and just badly mastered.

I play a lot of Reggae / Roots & Dub music, the Harbeth Monitor 40.1 really portray a live like playback with natural bass tone, I also play a lot of male & female vocals and I find the Monitor 40.1 also excel here as well.

Garebear I think you will find with time and room placement experimentation you will appreciate what the Monitor 40.1 speakers can do.

There is a very good report on the Harbeth UK Forum at the moment of a Harbeth 40.1 speaker owner and amplifiers he has used with his Harbeths.

"As a user of the M40.1 for more than one year now, i can confirm that timbre and vocals are fabulous ... but that's not all: somehow they sound very clear , crisp, effortless, coherent while being very communicative at the same time. Very good timing and flow. Bass is deep, fast, tight, yet not overdamped. Cannot understand Jeff day's comments.. i guess it's all down to correct placement, which should not be taken lightly or for granted by even a professional reviewer. Each time i thought there could be a slight margin for improvement, it was down to the recording, or some minor tweaking (toe in, minute placement, rake ...). Never made complex musical lines and musicians's intentions as much sense as through these speakers .... in think i now "get" Coltrane at last.

I tried many electronics ( Naim, LFD, Rega osiris and elicit, YBA, Prima Luna, Audiomat, Manley, Unison, Accuphase ...) with them, and maybe i was lucky because the sound was always at least very good. However, best and incredible results were with LFD (any one of their different integrateds was great) and with Audiomat Opera, wich was very slightly better still, but very similar sound. For convenience (no power valves) i bought the LFD NCSE and use it with EAR acute with nos valves.

The system defenitely betters my full YBA1 + Spendor S-100, and also the YBA1 + Sonus Faber Amati i had tried.... thought also it bettered, but still in a very similar style, a valve mac intosh + Quad 2905 system i tried in the same room ...."

Cheers Jason.
NCSE with SHL5's and C7's - wonderful combination. Have heard 40.1's but thought too much cost for perceived improvement over SHL5's. Found SHL5's and C7's to be best buys in Harbeth line-up. The new babies in the line-up are a killer desktop speaker with a price to match.
I see that they are now listed for sale. What finally made you give up on the Harbeths?

02-13-11: Onhwy61
I see that they are now listed for sale. What finally made you give up on the Harbeths?
Maybe they don't boggie?
TVAD - that's '' boogie '' as you so nicely poined out.
Hey, I got Garebear's speakers. Can you believe that?
I drive them with an ARC Ref 110. Boy they do bogie - oops - boogie. I'm liking them a lot. Lots of articulate bass. They do bass better than my Vandersteen 5's.
I do find room placement makes a big difference with the bass, however. It's the physics of it - can't be avoided.
As for the mids - well there you have the magic.
....thanks Mike and as we discussed, you have the room for the Harbeth 40.1's.....they are truly something special. I ended up after extensive evalution, with the Sonus Faber Cremona M's in maple.....I found them to be more tonally coherent, very musical and they seem fit in my room much better. They also seem to mate well with my current equipment, cables and musical tastes....see it all worked out and now to pay Audiogon there portion of the sale.....TVAD - seeing how you must have allot of time - please check for any spelling %rrors and let me know !!!!
The Cremona M's must be very special to replace the 40.1s, and congrats on that! As far as errors go, you used there instead of their.
From what I gather the Cremona M's and older Sonus Faber designs do not sound alike. The lush, warm and romantic sound of the older Cremona has been replaced by a leaner, forward and more dynamic sound of the Cremona M's. I wager the Cremona M's will certainly have the ability to boogie a whole lot better than the older SF models. I've owned and listened to some older Sonus Fabers and they are thick-sounding and rolled-off in the highs.
......the Sonus Faber Cremona M's to me, are more tonally correct. The Harbeth's mid range is very good but I found the upper range ( tweeter ) not involving at all and at times, to me, lacked any sort of detail. It was like the speaker has been dampened for a lack of any better word. Again, not to start any arguments, it is a terrific speaker, however, I tend to enjoy a more open, dynamic sound. I realized when I purchased the Harbeth's what I was getting into from a sonic standpoint, but because of my room, they just were not a good fit. The Sonus Faber Cremona M's are not dark in any way and even after only 30 hours are really starting to open up.
I had the Cremona before the M and did find it a tad dark and requiring some considerable current to control the bass drivers otherwise bass came out one note and lumpy. The M is a considerable improvement.

I sold the Cremona and it was a toss between the Cremona M or the 40.1. I bought the 40.1 and for a while I wasnt quite sure whether it could boogie. In a state of denial? another boo boo.... in boogie? Hats off to you Garebear for being incisive in your decision.

After these long months and much experimentation with different equipment, my conclusion is it doesnt boogie but will allow you a jig with the right equipment.

I am inclined to agree that the tweeter may be abit tame to allow it the "speed" to boogie but thats my view.

I really shouldnt be suprised with my conclusion as some of the boys on the Harbeth site including Alan Shaw the designer are now having a go at defining fast and slow speakers and PRaT. Of course the conclusion is, its all a figment of an over analytical approach to music or a neurosis as suggested in the past.
Of course, everything about Harbeth must sound good on the Harbeth forum. There is no room for negative thoughts or criticism as they practice active moderation.

As much as I love the Harbeth sound, let's admit it. They do not have the most extended highs and some of the detail in the high frequencies are smoothed out. This largely contributed to the low listening fatigue of Harbeth speakers but took away some of the edge and excitement. It largely depends on the genre of music one is listening to.

The lossy thin-walled cabinet of the Harbeth is designed to resonate along with the music whilst most speaker manufacturers try to make their speakers as inert as possible to minimize unwanted cabinet resonance. Cabinet vibrations are some sort of a coloration but Harbeth promote this philosophy which is the archetype of the BBC heritage.

As for fast vs slow. It is interesting some may express the inappropriate use of these terms in describing sound or speakers on the Harbeth forum since in their mind they do not mean anything. Again, when someone states that the speaker(or music) is fast or slow, it will relate to the ability of the speaker or system to highlight or reproduce the transient attack and dynamic swings in music. I believe most criticism on Harbeth is they fall short in rock or dynamic music, sounding slow when compared to dynamic speakers due to their inherent design characteristics. The bass will not be as quick, tight or agile with the cabinet vibrations. For music with lots of thumping bass lines, the Harbeth may exhibit some bass boom as the bass plods along with the music, due to resonance build-up within the cabinet. Coupled with the smoothed out treble, this may have given the impression that the Harbeths sound slow or can't boogie to some people.

The 40.1s are IMO the most polite speaker in the Harbeth line, followed by the SHL5. The C7ES3s are the most dynamic(in other words, quickest and has the best speed) owing much to the smaller box apart from the 2nd generation Radial driver, hence the highest boogie factor.