The HL5 is an excellent speaker, but if you can't afford the 40.1, don't listen to it. I have compared them on the same system, and the 40.1 trumps them in every way, and as I said, the HL5 is an excellent speaker.
22 responses Add your response
I've owned both the HL5s and the Monitor 30s and it really all depends with how they will click with your room. They both have a "family" sound - beautiful, natural vocals and sound good at moderate listening levels and at relatively close distances. IMO, the HL5s sound bigger, as the cabinets are bigger (makes sense)and the 30's a bit more precise, but not necessarily better. I would say that the HL5s are more tolerant of lesser associated equipment. Both are really great speakers. What is the rest of your system and what music do you mostly listen to?
The new 30.1 is an amazing speaker. Yes it is smaller than the C7es3 and costs quite a bit more than the c7 and even the super 5 but it is one amazing speaker. I'm not kidding when I say I lay awake at night thinking about how sweet it sounds. I would say imo that if you're room is the right size for it you should persue the 30.1. For my ears its the best they've ever produced hands down. They're going to sell a ton of these speakers once people start to hear them so of course used will come fast. Have a listen for yourself. I personally would choose the 30.1 over any of them. I own the C7es3 and have heard them all.
A note about "better" and the upgrade churn. Have owned several Harbeth models and have heard the entire line including the new 30.1. All models are well engineered broadcast monitors with family Harbeth sound. The difference is in scale and what matters most with all of them are room acoustics, correct stand height, and placement. Bear in mind with the internet it's become quite easy to start a little hype campaign with some strategically placed forum posts. Do yourself a financial favor audiophiles and read between the lines of some of these "over-the-top" forum reviews and keep in mind who is looking out for their income stream before you sell-off your already excellent Harbeth's at a third or more to buy another Harbeth that costs three times or more what you presently own.
The Harbeth's you have are the ones to keep unless listening room changes require more scale, or you just like spending money because you have enough of it that your kids and spouse won't suffer any needs denial because of it. As our friends in the UK usually pay more for North American manufactured audio components, so we pay more for their audio gear. I have two acquaintances in London area who own Harbeth's and we've had a good laugh at what I paid for my Harbeth's vs what they paid for theirs. I laughed at what one of them paid for a Pass Integrated. I have saved letters off internet forums from Harbeth/LFD retailer raving how fantastic C7's were, how fantastic LFD Mk III was, and lo and behold when newer NCSE and 30.1 appeared on market now the C7's and LFD Mk III are "fuzzy sounding" and/or "broken sounding" compared to the "much better" 30.1 and NCSE. My takeaway is keep your discretionary funds in your pocket and not in the pocket(s) of those paying for their spouses Botox treatments, kids college funds, restaurant dining, or whatever else it is that motivates audio sellers to make dubious claims. Like car dealerships, audio sales people are always ready to upgrade you to the new model.
Honeybee, the Super HL5's seem suited to your space. Do you use any acoustic treatments in your listening room? I've read of even the larger 40.1's being used in that size space, albeit with bass traps and other acoustic panels. Most focus on equipment and tweaks, but getting the speaker placement and room acoustics right IMO should be first priorities.
I own the SHL5s and have listened to the 40.1s multiple times. You have a large space(22' x 25') and both SHL5 and 40.1 will fit the space well. Most comments by Airegin have been spot-on.
Before you commit to the 40.1s, I feel it would be prudent to at least try them in your room if it's possible. As with most speakers, it's all about managing expectations, more so with large full-range designs that pump out considerably more bass. More bass usually equates to more problems, and more effort is required to control bass resonance unless one does not mind some coloration. Interaction between loudspeakers and the listening room is crucial in this context, more so with the 40.1s. The Harbeths don't go too deep in the bass but their warm and full sounding bass may present some problems in certain listening environments, (some "boominess" in some rooms), especially the larger 40.1s with an additional 12" bass driver. Ultimately it depends on the type of music that you listen to or how fussy of a listener you are. One will be able to live with the Harbeth without any room treatments if expectations are low.
I have owned both the SHL5 and 40.1, The midrange is more detailed with the 40.1, much more bass both in depth and fullness. Can be very hard to control depending on room and amplification. Treble seemed more extended in the shl5 but not better or more resolved. The SHL5s in the same room with the same gear produced a much nicer soundstage (IMO) filled the front wall from top to bottom side to side and wall to front of baffle. 40.1s throw a very high stage, wide but not as much depth. 40.1s are btter all around, but it depends on room. Bass can be an issue and hard to get it dialed in. In a year of owning the 40.1 I never felt the bass was equal to the rest of the freq. range. It is a harder speaker to setup than the shl5. If I was to go back to the harbeths in this same room I would go either the 30.1, or shl5 with my current pr. of JL audio subs before I would buy the 40.1s. Good luck with any purchase you make.
Honeybee i used to own the yamaha you have but i sold it and bought the Luxman 550 A II, certainly a huge improvement sonically and in every sense.
Yamaha was powerful but the sound never engaged me as very musical, i was able to have both at home and compare back and for, i also had the Cayin KT88 at that time, certainly the Luxman was that kind of amp that you will live forever forgetting about upgrades.
If you read the harbeth UK forums, many own the combo with the compact 7ES3 and they are very satisfy as I am, not thinking on upgrades for a while, maybe just my cartridge.
well known combinations.
Another popular combination on this side of the pond is Harbeth/Rogue Cronus or Cronus Magnum. Popular with me but also displayed at last years Montreal show. Ive been on the HUG and found a few more people with the combo. That being said your gear will work fine with Harbeth and what ever you do I hope you find yourself at peace with your system for a very long time without any upgrades.
Not sure if you have already made your purchase or not, but I have owned my pair of M30's for a year now, and have never grown out of them. They are so accurate at reproducing sound that they are a joy to listen to, and without the slightest hint of fatigue means I can listen for hours at a time. I have REL sub hooked up to bring the frequency response a bit deeper, so keep this in mind. Any speaker of this cabinet size will likely benefit from using a sub with them.
Cheers and best of luck.