Harbeth 40.1 vs Sonus Faber Olympia III


I have narrowed down my choices to these two speakers.  I am looking in the used market.  Strengths/negatives of each.  My listening room is 16'x24' with 9' ceilings.  Suspended floor with carpeting.
  I have to travel a good distance to hear either of these.
mckinneymike
I owned the 40.1's about 8 years ago and foolishly sold them to try something "different".   Now I'm on my second pair of 40.1's after learning my lesson.   Your room is similar to mine, so you should have no problems.  They sound great with solid state or tubes amps, but I prefer tube amps.  What amp will you be using?
+1 Harbeth 40.1 - no contest.
My dealer just got a pair of 40.1s in on trade. Feel free to PM me and will give you his info if you are interested.  Best of luck with whatever you decide to get.. they are both fantastic speakers.  The nice thing about the Harbeths is you can use lower power or higher power amplification.  In my experience as a former Olympica III owner, they need at least 70 high quality watts to drive well.  I had a Primaluna HP Integrated with the Olympicas and they drove them well.  I wouldn't go any lower though.  The Harbeths are much more versatile with amplification.  
I agree with djfst that the 40.1’s don’t need a lot of power. I’ve driven mine with as little as 32 wpc tube amp (VAC 30/30). You ARC Ref 75 SE will be fine.  I'm currently using a Music Reference RM9 MK2 EL34 based tube amp rated at 125 wpc.  

I heard both speaker there is no competition at all the Harbeth is much better than the Sonus .
There's a like new pair of 40.1's listed for only $6,900.   That's a steal.   You'd be hard pressed to find a better full range speaker for that price.

Harbeths all the way. Wonderful speakers.
A speaker preference is personal. Having heard both, I’d personally go with the SF.  The Harbeth is not “a much better speaker” -  it is a different speaker and they both have their strengths.   FWIW, I own neither right now but the SF O3 is on my list, along with the Serafina’s,  KEF Ref 5s, and Vienna Acoustics.  I’ve got some room challenges that I’m taking into consideration. I’ve listened to Harbeth a number of times compared to other speakers and while yes, they have a nice midrange and pretty sweet treble, they weren’t the most satisfying to me at their price range.  I will also say this - I have to live with and look at a speaker as part of my living space as I don’t have a dedicated room.  In that regard, the Harbeth’s are at a very serious disadvantage to SF.  
“much better” and “no contest” descriptors are frankly just not helpful

your preferences are just that, preferences, nothing more 

describing what you hear, explaining sonic differences, clarifying and comparing can help others understand and maybe help lead them to make informed choices; the ‘why’ of your preference is what matters, not simply the preference 

that said, my preferences in speakers now include aesthetics AND sonic presentation; as a result the SF brand is really tough to beat (IMHO !), they look and sound fantastic (Olympica lll)

I’d very much like to listen to a pair of Harbeth speakers but based on looks alone they would never find their way into my living room, I much prefer the looks of the SF product 

I’m very much interested in the sonic differences between the 40.1s and the Olympica lll’s, only because both are very popular and learning more about the hobby makes it more fun, not because I’m considering a change 

this I know; without sufficient power and room to breathe, it’s just not realistic to think you’ve heard what the Oly lll’s are capable of; 150 Pass Labs watts were not enough in my experience, once I upgraded to the X250.8 the SF’s literally came alive 

I had an opportunity recently to demo the Sopra 2’s which are often included in lists of considered speakers in the price range; couldn’t live with them.  Aesthetically no comparison vs the SF product, and far too bright sonically, IMHO! The Oly lll’s are coherent, smooth, dynamic, detailed, and cast such a huge soundscape they just captivate me.  A comparison with the 40.1’s would be interesting.  


I've heard Olympica II's at one store, and H 40.2's at another.  The SF was a modern, competent speaker, that didn't really distinguish itself from half a dozen other similarly priced makes/models.  The Harbeth is something very special; lots of people like them greatly, some don't.  I'm with the majority opinion in this thread, but as always, YMMV.
Again: why?   Details please! 
I have had 40.1's in my room for the past two years.  I love them more than any other speaker I have heard.  But, yes, it's always personal preference.  I find them to be the most natural sounding speakers I have heard, but they are not dramatic in their presentation, so some folks might not like them.  They sound best with classical, jazz and acoustic based rock.  Loud rock with kick drums and heavy bass are not the best on the Harbeths, but still listenable.  
Also, contrary to what some will say, amplification choice is really important to get the most from them.  I love tubes, but now I am using a Lyngdorf TDAI-3400 with them and I believe this is the best I have heard these speakers sound.  200W/channel into 8 ohms is an adequate amount of power to provide the right amount of finesse and slam, at least in my experience.  My room is not as big as yours, just so you know.  I had them in a bigger room this summer and thought they sounded even better than they do in my regular listening room, so you should do well with them in your room.  
I'm sorry I cannot directly compare them to the Sonus Faber speakers you are considering, but I have heard SFs at my local dealer and found them to sound wonderful.  They are also gorgeous to look at, which I understand to be important to some folks.  I would just be careful about disqualifying a speaker purely based on its looks, however.  I personally find the 40.1's lovely to look at, especially without the grills.  
Enjoy the hunt, and best of luck in your decision.
What are the Harbeth 40.1 and 40.2 differences ?
Inna - From what I've read, the 40.2 is more efficient and has tighter bass vs. it's predecessor.   The 40.1 is known to have issues with a bass hump.   Personally, I've owned the 40.1's for approx. 5 years and I like the bass as it is.

I agree with Snackeyp with his characterization of the Harbeth M-40.1 sound.  

If I were to compare the SF Olympia III and Harbeth M-40.1's to cars, I'd say the SF is more of an exciting performance car, whereas the 40.1's are a comfortable, relaxing cruiser that smooths over the bumps in the road.  I only heard the SF Olympia III's briefly at a fellow audiophiles home.   I thought they sounded very good.   A lot of detail, fast and slightly dry/crisp.  Definitely a well crafted speaker and beautiful to look at, but I think I could tire of the detail and crispness of the highs.
I’ve been using Harbeth for quite a few years. I heard the M40.2 at the launch at the London dealer, who’ve been a dealer since Harbeth started in 1977. The chap I deal with thinks the Focal Sopra 3 just edge the M40.2, but it really is taste. We agree the SHL5+ edge the Sopra 1 and are half the price. I have the 40th Anniversary version.