I would choose the Harbeth. I think they are more "musical".
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That is a bit of unfair as the price difference between these two speakers brand new is quite big.
Having heard both speakers, I'd say both are really really good speakers & its hard to go wrong with either one.
The harbeths are more forgiving, easy to drive & can sound good to really great with modest gears.
Dyns- you will have to work harder to make them sound good as these are kinda hard to drive & quite revealing.
personally, i'm more inclined toward the harbeths esp having used them for years and they are really very natural sounding.
Best if you can hear both as in the end, its what you hear that matters the most.
The C1 are probably best compared to the SHL5s harbeths. Which again between the two, I would choose the SHL5s. The harbeths has a certain midrange naturalness that is hard to acheive from other speakers. YMMV.
I own C-1's and have owned Harbeth 7 es III and SHL-5's. I have huge respect for both Harbeth models and have enjoyed both of them, though the metal tweeter in the 7 es at times can be metallic. The midrange, however, is sublime.
As noted by Nolitan, the Harbeths are more forgiving and sound quite good with modest gear and if your objective is to kick back and
listen to music without pushing the envelop, the Harbeth's are an excellent choice. The are indeed very musical and satisfying.
The C-1's are on another level in terms of bass energy, transparency, speed and high frequency sparkle. Like most really excellent speakers, they will take work to get it right, but the rewards can be hypnotic. In a small to medium size room, they can achieve a level of realism that is truly amazing for a speaker of its modest dimensions. If you are willing to invest the time and resources, they are among the elite monitors available.
With post such as this one it depends on the type of sound one is looking for..
As pointed out by Logenn, C1's for transparency, speed and high frequency extension. The Harbeth for midrange. In other words the C1's offer a cleaner kind of presentation while the C7's more organic. I'm not too sure about bass energy of the C1's being superior to the C7's though as as both of them are fairly close in the frequency spectrum reaching down to 46Hz and 44Hz respectively. I would think it's the bass character that differentiates between the two --the bass of the C1's being cleaner, taut and punchier while the C7's more rounded and diffused owing much to the "lossy" cabinet design.
One advantage of the Harbeth is one doesn't need to spend too much on electronics in getting the best out of them(flea-powered amps work fine due to the easy load) while the Dynaudios are a lot fussier and require some serious quality kit and quite a bit of current behind them to sing to their potential. Otherwise they would sound like crap.
Both are excellent speakers.
To be clear, yesterday, I did not intend to imply the Harbeth 5's or 7's have a better midrange than the C-1's. Ryder is in the right track by describing them as organic, I would say euphoric, which implies slight coloration, though immensely pleasing.
The C-1's on the other hand, are more neutral in this area and more revealing of the equiptment upstream. Although most people recommend C-1's with high power ss gear, I have had wonderful success with tube electronics, which add a blush of euphoria and warmth, while retaining their transparency and neutrality. Absolute Sound compared them to Wilson Watt Puppy 7's and preferred the C-1's in areas of voice. I have compared the C-1's in my home to Quad 989's with high power Audio Research electronics, and felt it was a horse race in the midrange, but the C-1's being vastly superior in the bass and high frequencies.
I don't believe you can raise the Harbeth's performance to a reference level monitor, as you can with the C-1's.
If you are willing to work on the system, IMO the C-1's offer more potential and a higher level of refinement.
On the other hand, the essential nature of the Harbeth's are so musical, that you can not go wrong with them and with a modicum of effort sound amazing.
Taters, what tube electronics do you have?
I haven't heard the Dynaudios, however I own the C7es3. Probably the reason that so few of them appear on the used market is because they are astoundingly good speakers. Some might quibble about certain characteristics about them but, in my mind, speakers that can bring this much joy to the listening experience are, at least to me, flawless.
I have owned the Dynaudio C-1s and Harbeth 7es2 (should be pretty similar to 7es3) and can recommend both wholeheartedly. The C1s throw a much much bigger soundstage, is faster, and is on the darker side of neutral. If you have a powerful amp and not worried about revealing components' flaws then this is the best in its class. The Harbeths are easier to match with upstream components and can sound wonderful even at low volumes. They are forgiving, and easier to position in a small room. Can't go wrong with either!
there is a certain midrange magic in the harbeth c7 or the SHL5s or the P3s that is hard to get in other speakers.
The lower midrange of the harbeth is something else.
You really should listen to these speakers at length to know what am talking about.
I have compared the C7s to other mega speakers and agree that the other speakers can do more bass, more highs, deeper and wider soundstage. But when it comes to the midrange, the harbeths are really something else.
good luck w/ your speaker hunting.
I own the C1 and have heard the 7ES and ES2 though on different but similar systems. They are voiced quite differently so it is not a direct compare, but from strictly a fidelity standpoint, I think the C1 performs at least a couple level above the 7ES2 in the areas of refinement, resolution, transparency, dynamics. As mentioned by others the C1 can sit comfortably in a reference level system. A fairer comparison is probably with the SHL5.
I've owned both, and both are excellent. I'm using the Harbeth now. The official Dyn stands that the C1s use are a pain to fill/unfill. Harbeth's are much easier--just bluetack to Sound Anchor/Skyland. I tried tubes with C1s--SS much better(Clayton)--SS just grabs and takes control--Dyns need that IMO. Also, with Harbeth, less than perfectly recorded CDs, LPs, still can sound good--not so with C1s. The C1s also need to be played louder than the Harbeth to sound right. I listen to mostly jazz from the '50s, '60s, '70s, and classical w/the Harbeth--it's tough to beat. Also running Rel Strata 3. My room is 15' x 20' x 8 which is a good size for either. The Harbeth sounds great w/grills. To get the best sound from C1s--grills off--WAF? Hope this helps.
Having to compare both speakers and considering the C1s cost almost double than the cost of the C7s, its quite a compliment.
One may say that the C7s are not in the same league as the C1s. Yes, the C1s has better refinement, better bass, better imaging, and other hi fi goodies. But the harbeth will more than make up for those deficiencies when it comes to naturalness and the midrange glory. Best part, the C7s are easy to place.... almost anything sounds really good with them.
I know of a few friends who have replaced their mega speakers with just the C7s and couldn't be happier.
Its not a do all, end all speaker, but the charm will get to you.
As mentioned earlier, it depends on the type of sound one prefers apart from WAF considerations(some thought the Harbeths look a tad ugly) and cost. As quoted by Nolitan, the Dynaudio C1s cost almost double the C7ESIIIs. One is not superior to another IMO. A member "Pdreher" went from the Dynaudio C4's to the Harbeth M40.1 and was pleased with the switch.
Both are excellent speakers albeit different sounding. Listening preferences will dictate which is a "better" speaker.
I have owned Harbeth 7 es III and had Dyna's in my house for 3 wks, only listened to them for 2. To me, Harbeth= music and Dynaudio = Hifi. Its to each his own. I also agree, that to make Dyna's sound their best it is going to take time/financial commitment that Harbeths do not require. They just play music, are they perfectly accurate...no. Music vs HiFi, your choice. I will own another pair of Harbeths!!
As a Dynaudio C1 owner I have been following this thread with interest. I may be moving in the near future to a house that has a smaller living room, which will necessitate placing the speakers to about 18" max from the rear wall (currently my C1's are 36" from rear wall). I have been more than a little curious about the Harbeth Compact 7es3. In the specifications listed on Harbeth's website, it says "overall response optimized for use away from walls".
For those who own or are familiar with the 7es3, what have you found to be the needed distance from the rear wall?