Harbeth are a relatively small manufacturer, even in my home country of the UK, with relatively few dealers. I wouldn't read too much into the number of dealers carrying a particular company: Bose has loads of dealers, as do JVC, Pioneer etc etc.
I have never heard anyone say a bad thing about any of their speakers from their HLP3 through the monitor 40 .... all you hear are superlatives. Whenever Harbeths are compared to Spendors the harbeths ALWAYS win.
I must admit that the 40s are well out of my price range, and I have never heard them, but I thought I'd share my opinions ... hope you don't mind.
As for taking a while to sell I'd make the same observation of Epos and KEF ... neither seem to sell well used in the US, but both make great speakers IMHO.
They are great, indeed. the 40s are fairly big, personally I like the 30s and Super HL5 better (space-wise.). Harbeth recently changed US distributors, so availability was spotty until now. They made their re-entrance at this most recent CES, I was helping them out and have to say the sound was better than I would have thought possible in a hotel room. Fidelis in NH is the new distributor, I think they have maybe a dozen dealers or so? Check with Walter Swanbon if you want a pair: firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-894-1306.
They sound way better than they look like they have a right to.... what with big boxes, not slim baffles, pro-style construction, etc. They are worth a listen, for sure.
Just bought a pair of Monitors 40 and they are amazing! I have them on 12 inch sound anchors in a large room and sound absolutely gorgeous.
I had Spendors for a long time that I loved but these are a class above.
would those of you who own the Harbeth 40's care to share your amp and preamp choices with us. That would be very helpful because I am seriously considering getting a pair and would love to start thinking about amplification. Thanks in advance for you help.
America, did you ever get M40's?
I don't know that I have ever posted here at audiogon, but I post occasionally on Audio Asylum. I Recently Purchased a Pair of Vandersteen 5A's, but Harbeth monitor 40's were my second choice and I researched them as thoroughly as I could.
I would strongly recommend reading the harbeth users group at smartgroups.com. Alan Shaw, Robert Greene and other knowledgeable people post there pretty regularly.
The harbeth monitor 40's are not as "dramatic" as many other top speakers, they don't have amazing imaging, there is no extra energy in the upper midrange to make them sound "alive", and they need some room. They have a full mid-bass (many speakers have a little trough around 200-300 hertz) which makes them sound warmer than most speakers. They have a wonderful midrange and an excellent transition between the midrange and the tweeter. It's as good as a conventional speaker gets. Also, they do not have the traditional BBC "dip" - Alan Shaw verified this on these users group a couple weeks ago. Alan Shaw also said something a while ago on the users group which I think sums up his design philosophy best: real sound is distant and clear (paraphrased by me). In other words, if you go hear a live orchestra and close your eyes the sound will be distant and clear. That's the way the monitor 40's sound. Bob Neill described monitor 40's as "patrician" and I would agree. The 30's, while also very good speakers, are more forward with a more "audiophile" sound.
The monitor 40's work best with powerful solid-state implication. You don't need to spend big bucks on an amplifier either, something like a Marsh for $2,000 or a used Pass Labs x250 will make them sing. They were not designed for tubes and they are not especially efficient.
I think they are great speakers and only marginally preferred the Vandersteen 5a's. Certainly the Vandersteen's are not 2x as good.
Hi Paul, welcome to A-gon and for a great reply; I hope you can contribute more.
Harbeth has a great reputation in the UK and a growing one in the US. One reason they don't sell quickly in the US is that, although many of us have heard of them, fewer of us have actually heard them. In "shootouts" with other similarly constructed and priced speakers (e.g., Spendor), it is true (as mentioned above) that the Harbeths more than hold their own. I'd love to audition a pair of these myself.
Paullb- how big a room are your M40s in, and what
type of stands you're using?
Thanks for the smartgroups.com info.
I did not purchase the harbeth monitor 40's, so I don't have them in my room, but I wouldn't want them any closer than 4 ft. from the side walls. There is also an issue with the floor and the 12 in. woofer. I believe the tweeter should be at ear height, but I am not positive. I know there are a number of threads about this on the harbeth forum. Lots of people recommend sound anchor stands.
Another interesting thing to note, space wise, is that the Harbeths work very well in the near field, so you don't need much space between you and the speakers if you don't mind near field listening. You can point the speakers directly at you with no problems.
It's great to see harbeth getting some attention. By the way, Sam Telling reviews the HL5's in December's Stereophile. A good review I am told.
Paullb- thanks for the info. I'll try and learn to read
the posts. Enjoy your V5As.
Paul, i understand why you went with Vandersteen 5's. For the money you are getting a "LOT" of a speaker in comparison with that Harbeth -H. aren't small by any stretch-. However, my feeling is that between Vandersteen 5's powered-sub and the rest, isn't such seamless integration. Despite the great reviews, i might observe and hear better, or the reviewer's are lying through their teeth. My opinion is that Harbeth Studio 40 are finest monitors, and one of the finest loudspeakers period.
You are one lucky person. Which Spendors did you replace with the 40's?