the fritz is more totemlike...the harbeth more like spendor. both are solid music makers.
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Do you have a local dealer that would let you listen to the Harbeth's? I own the Fritz Carbon 7s, and before that the Totem Arro's. I find the Carbon 7s to be far superior speaker to the Totem's.
Of course, you may find the Totem's more preferable. The Totem's are more analytical, where the Carbon 7s are smoother.
I own a pair of the Carbon 7s and I think they are fantastic. Fritz came over to my house and spent several hours listening and talking audio. He then delivered them and has followed up several times for my feedback. Great service. I also heard them at the CA Audio show and the room was basically untreated. The Carbon 7s sound much better in my room. Highly Recommended. I previously had the B&W 804s ($4500 new) and the Carbon 7s sound better IMO.
I have not heard the Harbeth-7es.I owned a pair of B&W tower speakers that cost $3500 new. As time went on I listened to less and less music because the sound quality was disappointing. I auditioned and purchased the Fritz Carbon 7 speakers. My wife and I now listen to music every day. This speaker is a great value.
I have owned Totem Totts, Spendor S3/5se and Fritz Carbon 7's. I had the good fortune to be able to A/B the Spendors and the Carbon 7's. The Spendor was accurate but "small" sounding and very location dependent. I was expecting that transparent "big room" sound-stage and did not always get it from the Spendors. The Carbon 7, on the other hand, sounded huge at the outset, and only improved with time. The sound-stage remained broad but focused even when I moved off axis. I was using an Audible Illusions M3B pre and a TAD-60 power. Workmanship was absolutely first rate on the Carbon 7's. VERY big sound in a small package. No gimmicks just thoughtful and intelligent design using the best drivers available. I cannot imagine Harbeth's bettering the performance of the Carbon 7's to the degree that would warrant their price differential.
Here's what I've gleaned from my time with em':
Harbeth's will have the advantage in terms of treble detail/extension along with better midrange clarity. If you want an expressive speaker that does a good job of capturing tone, this may be the way to go.
The Carbon 7's are fuller sounding and a bit more rolled off. Both speakers are colored, though the dynamics and bass prowess on the Carbon 7's surpass the Compact 7 ES 3's. The Carbon 7 sounds more full-range and is easier to listen to on crap recordings. If you want a speaker that won't discriminate too harshly against poor recordings, this is probably the route you should take.
As an aside: neither of them are the last word in bass accuracy (in terms of speed) or sound-staging. They also aren't built to be totally transparent speakers, which means they have a tonal color that imparts itself onto every recording. So long as you like the sound, this shouldn't be a problem. If you don't however, you could get tired from all of your music more or less sounding the same.
Well, thats all I got for now. Good luck!
If the midrange is hi priority on your list, the c7s are extremely difficult to beat!
It has a midrange that even some hi end speakers cannot compete with.
If you value naturalness, that is another vote for the C7s.
I've messed around with tons of speakers over 20 years & when it comes to the midrange, the harbeths are hard to beat.
However, if you want soundstaging, bass, imaging, extended highs and extended lows, definitely a lot of good candidates out there... that is not the forte of the harbeths.
Fritz brought over the C-7's and I thought they were really good. I also went and heard the Harbeths. I wish I had both speakers over here to compare. I will say that Fritz gives great service. The Harbeth dealer would never let me borrow the speakers to do a comparison. If you are reading this Fritz let me thank you again for bringing over the speakers.
I own a pair of the Carbon 7's. I've had them for over 2 years and really like them. I've never heard the Harbeth 7es. I'm considering upgrading in the Fritz line. I will be talking to Fritz soon.
The reason for the upgrade is because I was able to listen to the Jas Orior Grand floorstanders ($6500.00 retail) that I purchased from Quest for Sound. They were an improvement over the Carbon 7's in regards to improved air, imaging and faster in general. However, I returned them because I couldn't live with the ribbon tweeters which were to sharp & sibilant with most vocals. The Jas included the Accuton ceramic driver that Fritz uses in one of his mini-monitors. This ceramic driver really impressed me. In regards to Tulz43's comment Fritz now has a larger line of monitors since I last spoke to him so I'm hoping to find a replacement for the Carbon 7's but I will be spending a considerable amount more.
The New Carbon SE with the new lighter revelator woofer is very Good and the illuminater Tweeter is superb
Harbeth Xover is not in the same league. the fritz SE is NEW more musical and for sure better on top then there $40HBeth tweeter,granted the midrange on the Harbeth is excellent but using cheap Xover parts
takes away from the sonic purity. Fritz uses Clarity ESA capacitor in a very simple 1st order Xover Mundorf resistors and awg 14 air core inductors .Harbeth use nothing remotely as goodjust look inside.I stand by this statement 100% I have been in this field for many years .it is your money!! p.s This SE speaker is new and no formal reviews but several will be out soon.