Hard to say,two totally different type speakers.For "overall" I would give the edge to the Harbeths just because I think they could be used in more situations than the Maggies.Both are fine sounding speakers.My opinion,others may differ.
Gee one is $5k the other $1.8k - Sound Apples and Oranges
what amp you use and room thay are in will determine which is better for you. they are about equal in performance.
I lean toward the Maggie but then I think Harbeth are a bit overrated...
Seems like a really tough question to answer. They really are very different.
If you want low level listening the Harbeths!
Maggies, I just like them better. But I do like the Harbeths a lot. I think they are expensive but very good. I actually liked the Paradigm Signatures at a dealer, compared to the Harbeth's at about 2/5 the price.
Develyn50, have you heard either? How did you come to these two for comparison?
I own the Magnepan's and have been interested in the Harbeth's. I have not heard them as I have no dealer close by.
Higher price doesn't always mean better speakers. I think Magnepan's aren't $5,000 because they don't have the expense of the cabinets. If Maggies came in high quality wood cabinets they just might cost $5,000.
I moved from Maggie 1.6 to Reynaud Trente and preferred the Reynaud's. I did not miss the open quality the Maggie has as much as some think you will (though that is a very nice thing about the Maggie speaker).
The bottom line for me is the Maggie needs lots of room and very good amplifiers to sound their best so part of my decision was based on these factors.
Philjolet makes an excellent point. Maggies as a speaker are relatively cheap, but if you factor in that you need very high quality amplification with them, they are proably about the same price as similarly priced speaker/amp set ups.
I compared the HL5 to the 3.6R recently when I was shopping for new speakers. I ended up with the HL5 and I'm very happy after 9 months of ownership. Both are very good speakers but I like the balance of the Harbeths just a little better.
I don't understand why a lot of folks think the 1.6's need expensive and high powered gear to sound good.I have heard them with very affordable,reasonably powered gear,both SS and tubed and they sounded great. I will agree that the larger(more expensive!) Maggies benefit from higher end gear.
I've owned the 1.6's and the more juice I gave them the better they sang, no question. They would not play loudly, whichout nasty clipping on almost any tube amp I threw at them. SS and highpowered. If you go the ARC or
Bigger Rogue tube amps that's prob fine. But McIntosh and Cary really counldn't drive them. I think 300w into 4ohm is the min you can start with. Innersound ESL amp was the best I ever heard with the 1.6qr's. I took that amp to the 3.6r's when I moved up without a hitch at all.
Tpreaves I had the 1.6 with a cheaper Musical Fidelity amp and it sounded pretty good but I guess the point I was making is that they need more power than most speakers and that power comes at a price.
Part of it for me is that I like tube amps and could not afford enough power to play the speakers at lifelike volumes. I tried Rogue M120 and it was not even close to enough power - for my tastes...
The reason I asked how you got to this choice is that they are so different. I've noticed that most folks that love Maggies find it very difficult to switch to a box speaker, ther render space so differently. Which is not to say the Maggies are better, they are what they are and some people get hooked on how they project sound. That being said, I think the the Harbeth speakers are really accurate at getting timbre right and if that is a priority I would choose them for that reason. I think it is really hard to say which is better overall as they are strikingly different in what they do. If you love your Maggies, I would proabably get a bigger version for my next move.
>>Which speaker is the best overall performer?
Depends on what "your" overall preferences are. For me, it has been the Maggies for the last 10 yrs. I haven't found another speaker that does the human voice so well, that is, until about a year ago when I got a pair of custom 2 ways. They do voices extremely well and are 10db+ more efficient so the dynamics are noticably better. So it's back to preferences. The Maggies are still special to me so I use both sets in my listening room.
Pubul57, exactly, I fell for the maggie sound over 2 decades ago. When I replaced my MG1s, it was natural to take a pair of the 1.6s home.
Never heard the Harbeths, but the Paradigms I heard did impress but at a price higher than the maggies.
I think the most fair comparison would be between the Magnepan 1.6's and the Harbeth P3ES-2's, as they are in the same price range. I just so happen to own both of them for different setups in my home. I love each set for different reasons. The Harbeths have better balance overall, work well in most areas, and are compact. The Magnepans cast a huge soundscape, have wonderful timbre, and perform excellently with most music. The Magnepans have somewhat lackluster bass performance in comparison to the Harbeths, need much, much more room to place properly, and are quite large. The Harbeths sound somewhat confined in comparison to the Magnepans, lack some of the air of the Magnepans, but they perform equally in terms of tonality and timbre.
I guess it does come down to what you have to power these speakers with and their intended application. The Audio Research VS110 / SP16 combined with a set of MMG's and a Martin Logan Grotto i turned out to be one of the best setups I have ever heard. Then again, the McIntosh MC252 / C220 combined with Harbeth P3's turned out to be the best near-field system I have heard. Both were in small rooms. The VS110 /SP16 with the MG1.6QR's sounded a little weak in my large room, and improved a little with the MC252 / C220 combo. They really came alive when I hooked up a MC352 instead of the MC252. Magnepans really do need the grip of a powerful amplifier to perform well.
All in all, if you have a small room, go with the Harbeths, they will charge the room somewhat better then the Magnepan 1.6's, will give you more room to place with placement, and will be easier to pair with amplification. If you have the space and the amplifier, go with the Magnepan's as you will get s lot of performance for your money, although strongly consider purchasing a good subwoofer to fill out the bottom end.
i lived with maggies for quite some time and now harbeths. Definitely harbeths for me.
Nolitan - Do you mind me asking which models you were using?