Harbeth 30.1 ? The Ultimate Speaker under $5K ?

I have been on a mission lately to find the best speakers within my budget - under $5K ...I am definitely an audio freak and my sound engineer in LA told me we went to a HiFi convention of sorts in Newport and heard every high end boutique speaker there is and hands down the Harbeth 30.1 was the best...thought it was a live band as he turned the corner into room ! 

Local hiFi high end shops always push whatever they deal....guy near me recommends Paradigm Prestige 95s but the seem more for home theatre use...here's my profile: 

I listen MOSTLY to LPs (stream on occasion with Audioengine B1)
Marantz PM-11S1 Mono Block Amp
Sony STR-V7 Amp
Technics SL-15 
1 SVS SB1000 Sub (if necessary) 
My listening room : is approximately 15 feet from Hifi to sitting position, wood floors , pitched ceiling about 10-15 feet in spots ...entire room approx 30 feet across . I consider it a VERY live, reflective space. 

I am a drummer so I love fat , tight kick drum. Rock i.e.: Rush , Prince, old 70s / 80s fusion/Jazz  
I listen to all different volume levels, sometimes low, sometimes I turn up music very loud and crappy speakers always seem to lose definition at high volume . 

I currently have some NHTs 2.3 & Infinity IL60s for surround....

Is the Harbeth 30.1 too small of a speaker for my spot?  what do you guys recommend! Thank You !
It's not so much your room size I'd be concerned with but the 15' listening distance. If you play your music loud (as heard from your seating position) you're likely to strain speakers of that size and power handling.

Whether they're the best speakers under $5K is totally dependent on your personal preferences, not any pro review or marketing hype. I found them to be underwhelming and tonally inaccurate - somehow they managed to make plastic and fabric diaphragms sound like metal. That's how I hear them anyway. 

I would look into a used pair of Devore O/93s or new Tannoy Eatons.

For fast and tight kickdrums, nothing I've heard at that price will beat Klipsch Cornwall IIIs. They can handle rock, classical and jazz with equal aplomb. Surprisingly, they're just as "warm" if not more so, than the Harbeths I've heard. They'll fill your space with rock concert SPLs if needed, but sound just as good at background levels.

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Give Gene Rubin a call. He will answer any question you have about Harbeth speakers. He will steer you in the right direction. I have purchased many Harbeths from him!

Here is a review on them!

I definitely need to demo the Klipsch Cornwall lll's , That speaker seems like my style and the brand has been on my radar since the 80s ....anyone like to chime in on Klipsch Cornwalls ? 
Agree with concerns about room size and distance from speakers to listening position. Your room dimensions, construction etc. suggest that a home audition is mandatory. Your room will likely present significant challenges in putting together a satisfying system. How you address these challenges (treatments, equalization, furnishings, speaker selection, etc) will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. The Harbeth's are great but they are not miracle speakers. I would not consider putting the 30.1s in a room any larger than 20 X 25 X 9. Maybe a used pair of Monitor 40s can be had within your budget. A much better choice for a large room.
You need big speakers that can play loud with authority. That’s a pretty cavernous room. 

Used ATC 100A but you need to be lucky to find a pair for that price. At least you are in LA so they are easier to find there.


I am a drummer so I love fat , tight kick drum. Rock i.e.: Rush , Prince, old 70s / 80s fusion/Jazz

Like another poster, this immediately made me think you are an ideal customer for the Devore 0/93 speakers (which I’ve been auditioning).They have a big fat, but controlled, punchy bass. Their sound is bigger and richer than most speakers, and their top end captures the tone of drum cymbals with particular accuracy. Having auditioned a great many speakers in the past couple years, no speaker has recreated drums as believably to my ears, or has made whatever the drummer is doing so pertinent in a song, as the Devore 0/93 (and 0/96) speakers.

They are very harbeth-like in sound, but more dynamic and expressive and can do BIG SOUND. The blew me away playing Rush (I’m a Rush fan).

You’d have to find them second hand, though, to have any hope to be within your budget.

That said, if you really like the Harbeth speakers, you might consider their C7ES-3. It’s a bit larger than the 30s, with lower richer bass, and so it will do drums even better than the 30s in terms of impact and depth. They give up a bit of refinement to the 30s, but they still have that gorgeous Harbeth midrange. (I’d suggest even the Harbeth Super HL5 plus, which combines the best of the 30s and the C7ES-3, with even more extended and accurate high frequencies, but that may be moving out of your budget).

I’ve Heard Harbeth sound the most like real with instruments and Klipsch will excite but aren’t as true . Harbeth rep was pushing the Super Sh5+ for my room ...price is steep ..

I’m worried about spending big $ and not being satisfied . As Dodgealum pointed out my room is not treated and large / reflective . I need something that is clear and true , yet can fill a big living room . I definitely would be disappointed with an “excuse me” speaker 😂
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I could mount the speakers left/right of couch I suppose...run cables on ceiling or run underneath house, kind of a hassle :) 
I’ve Heard Harbeth sound the most like real with instruments and Klipsch will excite but aren’t as true
That’s the problem with relying on opinions of others. Everyone hears differently. Harbeths are good but I had the opposite experience in which Klispch Heresy 3s had greater tonal accuracy, to my ears anyway. Harbeth has a strong fan base and potent marketing, but they’re hardly the only competent player. Personally, I think most of the other BBC lineage brands: Graham, Stirling Broadcast and Spendor produce more accurate tone. I can’t exactly claim I’m a musician but my daughter is and I have guitars, a cello and viola at home. If you want a crazy accurate speaker in terms of tonal accuracy, you’d be hard pressed to beat the Stirling Broadcast LS3/6s at any price. They’re priced right at $5K. Unfortunately, they also are too small for your space.

The Devores will load your room. The Vandys 3As might be good as well, but like the BBC derivatives - they’re not really designed for high SPLs -- nor are they best for rock. For EDM and Rock, you want hard-hitting, kick in the chest bass. You won’t get it with the British monitors, or planars, or electrostats. You want a large-cone-surface speaker with high power handling.
I always gravitate towards : big room >  larger speakers and more of them , so: 

Klipsch Cornwall III
Devore 0/93 
Dunlavy SC-V (although these might end my relationship, gf killers)

any other big , authoritative speakers? 
Dunlavy don’t play super loud and are preferred by classical listeners not rock. They aren’t fast and punchy but have lovely tone. Dunlavy have a narrow listening sweetspot which is ill suited to your large room. Also, as you are a drummer I think Dunlavy will fall a bit short of your needs in the sound reproduction of drums.


Devore O/93 have a rather scooped mid range as do all speakers with a 10” woofer expected to cover the mid range.

Of your list that leaves only the Cornwall - a classic rock speaker and your best choice of the three.

Hi Tommy,

Never heard Devore or Klipsch speakers. Would be very interesting. Harbeths I tested some. May buy the p3esr some day. Very beautiful for some music but under model 40 I think not made for playing especially loud. My main systems are ATC 150ASL (a legend) and Tannoy DC10A combined with two SVS SB-16 subs. So I'm able to "feel" the music when I want to. My secondary more intimate system is Lipinski L707 or Tannoy DC8 combined with two ATC C1 subs. 
My opinion is that for all music and especially rock you need to start in the bottom, that is to have two subs that can play with high resolution (low distortion) at high spl levels. Then to compare these subs with a good monitor. Most big speakers (except for large ATC) are not good enough in the bass (they just sound bass without definition and with lots of distortion). I'm not sure your SVS can play as loud as you want. But if it can then buy another. Rythmik is another good choise. You must have at least two subs for good bass. Then cobine these with good monitors that doesn't play to much bass on their own. I can happily recommend a used pair Tannoy DC8. It has the dual concentric speaker which can play very loud with very high definition and also presents a very fine sound landscape with superb imaging.
You can also try used active monitors. Favourites of mine are the JBL LSR 4326P or 4328P, which also have inbuilt room eq and dac, so you only need a streamer to listen to digital music (Tidal). Forget your LP's... :-)
Buying used your budget will easily be suffcient. Good Luck!!
@prof and @biscorbit: The Compact 7's ARE great--I owned a pair for many years. The question is whether they are the right speaker given the OPs room and listening preferences. To this I say probably not. 
I saw someone reluctantly say and and I'll go back to it - the Tekton Double Impacts.  

Harbeth are NOT loud rock speakers, especially in a large room.  You want a large speaker with some cone surface to work with, and the efficiency of the DI will do you well too.

I am building a set of Klang & Ton NADA speakers with Lee Taylor cabinets . I will comment after they are complete and broken in

Where can I demo the Tekton's in Northern CA ? Same with Klipsch Cornwall III , no one has them ...? Have to order and pay a huge return shipping if not satisfied :( 
thanks for all your help everyone 
"It's Heresy man." I’m a kick drum tone freak to the extent that I’ve required therapy for this from time to time, and my band opened for Led Zeppelin in early ’69, a thing that takes years to recover from if you’re a Bonham fan. I’ve also jammed with Mitch Mitchell (in town for a Hendrix show also in ’69) which made most other drummers seem...well...inadequate). In any case, after decades of being a kick drum aficionado (and working as a musician and sound engineer), my recently acquired Heresy IIIs seem to provide a surprisingly great sounding kick drum experience. You do need a sub or two with these speakers as they’re very accurate down to only 58hz or so, and 2 RELs are in service for that task in my rig. Also, recent recordings of Julian Lage with Kenny Wollesen (mixed a show of theirs a couple of years ago) provides some kick therapy. Jim Campilongo's band...oh yeah...uh huh...
Wolf _garcia , we are cut from the same mold my man  ...kick drum therapy :) Im the same.. who was your band ? I play with Brad Gillis (Ozzy/Night Ranger, Patty Smyth and Hardline (Neal Schon’s old band)

I’ll scope the Hersey’s ..here’s my thing though , why not just get the Cornwall III’s ? Bigger , more speaker ! More kick! ...hard to find a pair in northern CA to demo :(

Ask your recording engineer friend if he's heard of JBL 4319 monitors and cut at least 5' from the distance you listen at. I've heard the Harbeth 30.1 and they are very nice sounding but just a bit too smooth in the base for my taste. The JBLs sound leaner, at first, but you get tons of detail and texture. Just a thought.

All the best,
Nonoise - my sound engineer is THE most opinionated , jaded guy on the planet, he hates JBL .... :) I have a pair of old LX55’s in my studio right now , they actually sound pretty good for less expensive speakers...a little hyped in the high end ...those 4319’s look pretty cool , thanks!
They lack the initial impression of what Harbeth and Devore market but the Ryan R630 are the $5k speakers that made me look inward to seriously consider if being more ambitious was really worth the extra expense. They are ridiculously well balanced in sound and design with realistic vocals.
Wait a minute! There's an opinionated, jaded sound engineer out there giving advice? Who would of thought!  😄
exactly ! If he wasn't the best sound guy on the planet I'd divorce his opinions ! 
You should address your room before you consider what speaker to buy. None will perform as intended in such a lively space.

Treat your room first. But when you do, klipsch speakers are a good choice.

The key to your situation is your amplifier- the Marantz PM11S1 dual mono design is a superbly robust, smooth muscular amplifier that will bring the Harbeths alive in your room. I would recommend the C7ES3 vs. the 30.1 because they do have a bigger sound.
Locate them away from the back wall at least 2 feet- if you can go to 4 feet that would be ideal and they will really slam the bass.  
I have owned the C7s for a couple years now and they define the idea of detail yet no fatigue.  They have a natural sound that manages to eliminate the edginess that many speakers have.  Nearly all of my recordings sound great and if you venture into the Klipsch / Zu realm you will find that not to be true.
Again, with your amp and proper placement of the speakers on quality filled stands then you will be extremely happy with the sound of Harbeths.
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Call or E-mail Ty Lashbrook of Tyler Acoustics.
He's one of the good guys in the industry.
He will take the time to talk about your wants and needs.

  601 E 14th Street
Owensboro, KY 42303
Phone (270) 691-9500
Fax (270) 691-9600
[email protected]
My band was an utterly obscure blues band in Honolulu called "Cauldren" that was around for less than a year. I was part of a small group of musicians that did the endless bar band gigs in Hawaii for many years. 6 night a week...but fun. Also, the Cornwalls are too big for my tastes and my subs more than make up for the Heresy's 58 hz bass rolloff. The short stature of the Heresy IIIs makes them somewhat esthetically unobtrusive relative to the large sound they put out...I like that.
I can't believe more of you "seasoned" audiophile aren't calling out the OPs very questionable room instead of randomly suggesting speakers.

Wolf - awesome ...Cauldren...nice.....I remember there was a club in Honolulu called "The Wave" right??

Its so interesting how some people just dog Klipsch and others love them?! ....to each his own right? I have always been successful using my ears instead of reading manuals and specs ....its just difficult to find all these great speakers anywhere to audition ...so I appreciate all of you people chiming in. 

Very cool video about the Harbeth guy Alan on youtube....he’s thorough , love the work ethic ...no stones unturned...
For some kick drum therapy :-) may i suggest
Janis Ian "Guess you had to be there" from "Breaking Silence". An audiophile recording. Play at moderate level. Shows a simple cd is enough for very high quality if you have the technical skill and the recording company wishes to make a statement! Other fenomenal audiophile recordings on simple cd:
Terry Evans "Blues for thought" - loud
Aaron Neville "Warm your heart" - moderate.

Sorry to say, I don't play anything. However I would say the kick-drum, the bass (acoustic or electric or bass tuba (read Hans Theessink) are the single most important instruments. Together with the voice. The rest is just the icing on the cake :-) So why are these so often hidden in the recording, especially the kick-drum? Another thing, would you say that the Klipsch speakers are voiced in a way that highlights the kick-drum? Do they move the air? 
I worked  at "Wave Waikiki" off and on with various bands for years, and it was by far the best place to play, with amazing sound...they had early Mark Levinson amps for the bass bins (!). I listen to a lot of modern (and not so modern) jazz dudes, with astonishing drumming...Bill Stewart is a fave...Kenny Wollesen...and many (many) others. I've recently been enjoying some amazing drum tone (and chops) from Tom Rainey on a recent Nels Cline/Julian Lage album (Nels Cline 4). That's a crazy good album...
I have an appointment tomorrow to demo : 
Harbeth 30.1 
Harbeth SHL5+ 

I'll give my review after ! 
I have a recording studio that is completely treated.  I don't know other than curtains , I don't really want to hang bass traps / acoustic panels in my living room ....have to investigate aesthetically pleasing panels . 
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Good fullsize speakers are often extremely overpriced. Buy used or as I suggested two good subs combined with monitors that doesn't play too much bass on their own (for integration purposes). Important they can play really loud without any stress, which most modern speakers can't. Lots of real furniture - thick carpets, curtains, bookshelves, leather sofas and other garbage. If possible use a room that is far from quadratic. Finalize with a room eq system like Antinode 2.0 or Lyngdorf RP-1 or Dirac. Especially for acoustic music or low listening (for loud rock listening - doesn't matter much....). Those eq systems works mostly great in the lower frequencies.
Easy :-)
Look forward to read your impression of the Harbeth's. Play them loud and see what happens. They are built to add to the music, which I think work great for some but not all music.
Yes - do test the Harbeth’s loud to see if they can hold together or if the balance falls apart and dullness sets in.
That’s the plan , yes never intended to buy new. I usually let someone else drive the Ferrari off the lot and I find new / used.

Yes on the loud , that’s my #1 question and my current issue w all of my previous speakers , they fall apart at loud levels . I’m going to see what else he has too ....thanks for tips on treatment , god I hate carpet ...my guy told me “don’t go crazy , start with a few panels in key places “ we are going to access room . 
Thanks gosta
There's also a whole world of active studio monitors out there if you're not buying for the looks. A midfield monitor can play loud without breaking up. Take ATC, Neumann, Focal, JBL, PMC etc etc. I like them, but they are built to play flat so might not always be so exciting and are very revealing for bad recordings. But for good recordings....:-) Suppose you knows all about this.