Harbeth - Compact 7 ES-2 used OR P3-ESR new ?

I can't decide which is best, both in terms of use and value.

Concerning Use:
The system will be setup in a small cubed room with less than ideal listening conditions. In all likelihood, the speakers will be close to the rear wall. In this case, I would think that the smaller P3-ESRs would be the best fit, but I've been told that the Compact 7s are a more capable monitor and one that performs well in tight spaces. I should also mention that I may be moving in a year, so I don't want to excessively limit myself based on room dimensions. I'm also not sure which speaker has the better technology - although the P3-ESR is new, the Compact 7 ES-2 is a model above. I would think that the Compact 7 ES-2 would excel in the lower frequencies, but I'm really not sure (I have yet to audition them).

Concerning value:
I can find a used pair of Compact 7 ES-2s with some minor cosmetic damage for about $700 less than a new pair of P3-ESRs. Naturally, the Compact 7s will be a better deal and retain greater resale value (not that I intend to sell them), but I don't want to buy the speaker if it doesn't align properly with my needs. That is, if the P3-ESR is the better fit, I would be happy to bite the bullet.

I would appreciate any/all feedback - especially from those with first-hand experience. Thanks!
I read your post and one line stuck out in my mind, "I don't want to excessively limit myself based on room dimensions." I personally have not heard these two spks. but I did own the P3-ES2's which I thought were very nice sounding spks. but overpriced. I personally would buy the used 7ES-2's.
I agree. The new P3's can produce great bass and volume, for their size. They're meant for small rooms.
The 7's can fill a bigger room and go lower.
There's no arguing with it. Alan Shaw explains this in great length( as is his usual) on the user forum.

And I also agree with Kotta, as much as I love the Harbeths, they are overpriced. On the other hand, (quoting the great LD) if you love their sound they're worth it.

I'd buy the 7's.
First of all, the Harbeths are not overpriced. The Dollar is loosing value. Even at poor exchange rates the Harbeths are a great value.
The HL5s were one of the top 5 sounds at RMAF. The P3s were comparable to Joseph Audios new monitors at 1/3 the price. That's value.
Have the 7es2, larger, richer, fuller and deeper sound than the 3s. The Harbeth midrange is hard to compete with a any price. The 7s integrated very well in a poor listening enviroment.
I saw your thread on the user forum. I wasn't surprised Alan pushed the new 3's, he being the supreme marketer.
If I remember right he earlier chose an older version of the 5's over the newer 7's, due to woofer size.

My contention was that a small speaker still sounds small.
I had the Kudos C-10's here for a while, more open and clearer than the Harbeths, but still, a small sounding speaker.

I love the Harbeth sound, I own a pair. I still consider, as do many of the British users over there even, that they are still over priced, i.e they have a decent veneer, not beautiful veneers that some in their price range have.
Value is what you make of it.

I was a little sad for you that you chose the 3's, only because if you move to a bigger room, which sounds like you'll eventually be doing, you'll need a bigger speaker.

Have fun regardless!
Thanks for the feedback.

Yes, I eventually decided on the P3-ESR. Here was my reasoning (do let me know if you agree):

1) Only the P3-ESR would work properly in my existing space. While it's important to plan for the future, one cannot disregard the present.

2) The P3-ESR came with full warranty coverage/dealer support, whereas the C7s came with none.

3) I listen to music at low to moderate volume levels (even in large rooms). I doubt I would make use of the extra oomph that the C7s provide.

4) I prefer an organic or natural presentation that is not bass heavy (which reflects the kind of music I listen to). Although the C7s would probably excel in the low-end, this isn't a major concern based on my music preference and listening habits.

5) I managed to squeak out a deal on the P3-ESRs (less than MSRP and no tax). This made the financial decision a bit easier to swallow.

6) I'm always moving (5 times in the past 6 years). I can't be certain where I'll end up, so I really value the versatility of a small speaker.

For the record, Alan's comments had absolutely no bearing on my decision. I expected him to push for the P3-ESRs... he won't make any profit on a used pair of speakers!

Now, please provide some reassurance that I made the correct decision! Seriously, though, let me know what you would have done in my situation.

Thanks again!
Seriously, trust your instincts, I think you did fine.
If you like the harbeth sound, you're gonna love em!
One thing Alan is right about, even on iffy stands they sound great, of course, that being said, the better the stand the better the sound. And of course, he'd disagree..
Do enjoy!
Concur with Chashas1. Most important is trust your instincts. I don't think you would go wrong with the P3ESR. This new design features the first 5" Radial driver from the smallest box in the Harbeth line which deviates from the older P3's and is something really special. One of my friends who uses the 40.1 in his main system bought this P3ESR for his study replacing the Totem Model 1. A very nice and musical speaker which sounded excellent on vocals and small ensemble music. Of course, do not expect deep bass from the tiny little box but for overall coherence and musicality there are not many small bookshelves that can rival the Harbeth at this price point. In fact, none even in the higher priced-bracket will sound like the Harbeth's midrange. The C7ES are a bit larger and do offer a *slightly* bigger scale and deeper bass but can't handle big sweeps of orchestra or large scale ensemble either. The P3ESR are small speakers indeed, but they are small little gems.

Finally, the P3ESR comes in beautiful rosewood, and I thought they looked absolutely gorgeous in the finish compared to the standard cherry finish found in the bigger models(if this can be of further reassurance to you). I reckon anyone who ends up with a Harbeth, small or big will find long-term satisfaction with the speaker.
Really? I actually prefer the cherry over the rosewood, but that's just me. I'm not really a fan of the darker veneers.

Quick question... given the diminutive size of these little speakers, are speaker stands really necessary? I mean, I know that a sturdy base will improve the sound quality, but wouldn't a stand also 'drawf' the speakers? I'm just wondering how silly it would look to have such tiny speakers resting on a 24" stand.

This is just a passing question. I'm buying speaker stands regardless as SQ trumps aesthetics in my books.

I am interested in a pair of the P3ESR's for nearfield use on my desktops at home and the office.

So I too hope you enjoy them and look forward to hearing further thoughts and opinions.

Are you using your Naim Nait amplifier to drive them?

Assuming I also move forward and give the Harbeths a try, I would also love to hear more opinons on the best amplifiers for the magical Harbeth midrange.

Hi Cwlondon,

Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for the P3ESRs to arrive (long story). I expect to have them within the next few weeks, so I will report back with my observations once I get the opportunity to listen at length.

To answer your question, I will be driving the P3ESRs with the Nait 5i-2 (60 WPC). In this instance, I think the spec sheets are misleading. The Nait 5i-2 has plenty of power, while the P3ESRs are easier to drive than the 83.5 sensitivity rating would suggest.

In terms of synergy, it really depends on your preferences/requirements. That being said, I would suggest either Naim, Sugden, or LFD as a start. Naturally, some models will pair better than others, so I suggest you research carefully and then audition potential candidates. You will have to decide for yourself which sound signature you prefer (and at what cost).

For Naim in particular, I suggest you visit the user forum. There you will find a wealth of information from a number of knowledgeable (and biased) gurus.

Good luck with your search!