Harbeth HL5 vs M30

Ok boys, I can't audition either one...no dealer in site. I have owned compact 7es3, so I know the harbeth sound and I want it back, but with more resolution. I have read countless reviews, but I want your thoughts. Yeah I know, use the Harbeth user forum...not a member, this is easier. I will be using a big SS amp in a 23x28
basement with 9' ceilings. The size of the M30 would be nice, but if the HL5 is the sweet spot, as some suggest, I will make them work. Thanks,Mike
Your room is large enough for almost anything.The difference in speaker size is not that great. The HL5 should have more bass than the M30. The M30 with a high quality sub (REL?) would be a better comparison, and might beat out the HL5.
I preferred the SHL5 when i bought mine. To me they were a little warmer, and had better bass. I use mine in a 15X20X8 room w/REL sub. Cant go wrong with either, but i think in your room I would go with the bigger speaker. Audio Note has a speaker in the same price range that is also very nice. If you can get it in the corners thats another option that will give you deeper bass than the Harbeths and sound pretty close. Plus they jam with 10 watts.
Bite the bullet,shell out the cash for the 40.1 and never look back!!!
You will not get more resolution with either the SHL5 or Monitor 30. If that is your goal move to another brand. If you want the Harbeth sound with somewhat fuller bass then the SHL5. If you want the Harbeth sound in a slightly more forward presentation then the M30.
What SS amp are you using?

SHL5 with a REL.

Audio Note AN-E SPe HE as Tom suggested.
Agreed with the 'you will get no better resolution'. Fuller sound with the 5's. Or change your gear.
Thankyou for the responses. Maybe I should have worded the question different. I would like to get the M30's because of their size and the soft dome tweeter. I should ask if that's a mistake vs the hl5. Some say that the hl5 is the sweet spot in the Harbeth line. I don't like metal tweeters,and the size is a little bit of a challenge. I have also been told that they are more "aggressive sounding" then the 30's. I read it both ways ( to each his own). I do not want to use a sub. Thanks Mike
I've owned both and I would never say the HL5 is more agressive than the M30. They bear a strong sonic similarity. The M30 was build as a BBC drop in, so the cabinet size was fixed from the start. The HL5 allowed the company to build what they wanted without the constraint of a pre-set box. The HL5 is more forgiving of lower-end electronics IMO and throws a bigger soundstage, although the M30, as a true monitor, is somewhat more precise. They are both great speakers, but I would go for the HL5 if your room was on the larger side. BTW, I belive all Harbeths use metal tweeters, although the M30 uses a "better, more expensive" one. It's not about the tweeter material, it's how its utilized in the design that makes a tweeter harsh or spitty. Harbeth crosses the HL5 over at about 4K, MUCH higher than the usual 2.5K or so many designers use. This keeps the low-end grunge out of the tweeters, which the designer believes can cause problems. Anyway, that's my opinion.
Having heard the M30 extensively and owned the SHL5s, I would go for the SHL5s.
The M30 as many stated is more of a monitor speaker with a flatter frequency response.
the SHL5s are more musical to my ears.
hi,if you listen to alot of classical or rock music,then i would say HL5.Other than that i would have to go with the M30
My musical tastes lean toward "little girl w/guitar" music, some Dire Straits, but mostly female vocal. Once in awhile a Stevie Ray or even ac/dc finds it way into the cdp, but that's only for moments, not hrs.
If you are seeking higher resolution with great musicality, I would try to audition a Merlin TSM. Otherwise, I vote for the HL5 as well.

I don't care for Merlin or anything on the bright side. MHO!!!
If you can't audition, trying to buy a speaker on other people's opinions can be dicey. There are a number of reviews and opinions about how the speakers sound to other people. If they don't give you the confidence to take a plunge, I can think of two options.

If you're going to buy new speakers, contact a Harbeth dealer who appears to carry the full line and see if you can have either the M30 or the SHL5 sent on approval for an in-home demo. If the model you order doesn't work for you, you can return it and try the other. OTOH, if you're planning to buy used, buy either model and see how you like it. If you are not satisfied, you can resell it here on Audiogon probably without any substantial loss.

I own the M30's myself. I play a lot of small group and solo jazz, female vocals of all sorts, and small group and solo classical. I really enjoy the speakers.

Good luck.
Mike, that really is a matter is system integration, but bright electronics will sound bright on Merlins, they play what is fed them, I've never heard them sound bright with tube equipment. That is the plus and minus of highly resolving gear, no place to hide. I do love the sound of the Harbeth's I have heard, and they do appear to be more easily matched to a wide range of amplification compared with the Merlins. Which is better? I actualy like them both.
Just for point of reference I heard the Merlins with Dehavilland gear...they are just not my thing. Jim, I have talked to 3 dealers, basically getting different answers from each. If I had to tally up votes from dealers/ agoner's/reviewers, it seems like it's heavily in favor of HL5. I would prefer the M30's because of their size and soft dome tweeter, but I also do not want a speaker that is analytical sounding or strongly lacking or off putting in some area that would compromise musical enjoyment. All of the reviews I have read about the HL5 Loved it. In 2 of the M30 reviews they REALLY disliked that speaker. They wrote about all the things that make me think the M30 could be a mistake, even though that is the speaker I would prefer to get. I have noticed that the resale on M30's is not that great....leading me to believe its not that desirable. While the HL5 holds its value very well..yet I understand it's probably a more versatile speaker than the M30. Mike
Mike, which version of the 7's did you own? the most current model?

It says above, it was the most current model.
I guess it's just typical of this "hobby" everyone has a different opinion, even on a topic this narrow.
I have read countless threads and reviews, talked to 4 different dealers and everyone has a different opinion. Two of the 4 dealers thought the M30 was the best and thought the hl5 was aggressive and not as good of speaker. Two of them thought that the hl5 was the clear winner of the 2 speakers. If all makes my head hurt. I might as well flip a coin.....very interesting to me. Thanks to all that responded, that's the cool thing about this site at least folks try to help. Thanks Mike
You don't need to crack your head too much or flip a coin in choosing the right speaker. It depends on the music that you listen to. To quote earlier responses:-

05-02-10: Dmastri
hi,if you listen to alot of classical or rock music,then i would say HL5.Other than that i would have to go with the M30
05-03-10: Jimcrane
I own the M30's myself. I play a lot of small group and solo jazz, female vocals of all sorts, and small group and solo classical. I really enjoy the speakers.
Since you listen to mostly female vocals the M30 will be a good choice. However, Dire Straits may sound better on the SHL5s. I listen to everything from jazz and classical to pop and rock and the SHL5s are a better choice.

I am listening to U2's Achtung Baby now and the SHL5s can definitely rock(only with the appropriate amplification). Electric guitars and transients in rock music will be more subdued on the M30's which possess less air compared to the SHL5s.

However, keep in mind the SHL5s will not give you more resolution than the C7ES3s that you have previously owned. Upfront and dynamic amps will get you closer to what you seek with the Harbeth.

Good luck.