Harbeth M30.1+Luxman LX-380 & Audio Note AN-E/SPe Oto SE Sig


I recently auditioned Harbeth M30.1 & the new Luxman LX-380. The sound was heavenly. I also auditioned audio note AN-E/SPe , AN-J and Oto SE int. amp. The experience was very good too. It's a difficult choice to make and I am not able to make up my mind. Luxman LX-380 looks fabulous and is priced higher than Oto. For the AN system the cost is becoming more if I were to invest in SPx speaker wire. I am still thinking how to go about making a choice.  Also the AN dealer here is guiding me towards AN-E/SPe and not HE. He thinks the extra sensitivity is not worth the additional cost.

Does anyone here have any impressions about the above speaker/amp pairs? Would love to hear your opinions and suggestions. 

 Thanks!
writeface
Hi Writeface,
My primary criteria for selecting audio components is simple yet significant. The issue is ’naturalness of music presentation and emotional involvement or interaction with the music. I’ve found that the products that seem to pull you deeper into the music you enjoy are the superior one’s and will provide very long term satisfaction. Natural/organic character is vital, instruments and voices must be realistic.

Of the 2 audio systems you’ve mentioned which of them do you feel more effectively and deeply engages you into the listening experience? Which of the 2 seemed more as though you were in the presence of live Musicians? I’d without question would choose the one that fulfills that criteria. Which of these 2 choices had more of this type of quality?
Charles
I have the AN-J/lx's and have heard both the AN-E's the Harbeths. My dealer, Deja Vu Audio carries both brands. I am a fan of the AN sound and really love their speakers. I listened to the Harbeth 30.2's the newer model and thought they sounded fantastic. However they are much smaller than either the E or J and lack a certain amount of bass and richness as well as being less sensitive.

 One thing I will mention also my dealer specifically recommended to me the Lexus copper internal wire and paper rather than hemp drivers. Vu says the SPe  silver sounds too bright as internal wiring and that the hemp drivers sound drier and bass shy compared to the original paper cones.  As a tube and AN lover I know what choice I would make but your ears need to decide.

As usual Charles asks the right questions about your audition. Ponder them and perhaps go back for another listen. Have fun take your time and happy listening!
Of course that Luxman is gorgeous looking, but it is also underpowered. Alan Shaw, Harbeth’s owner and designer, recommends far bigger (solid state) amplifiers. See here for some discussion on the Harbeth User Group: http://www.harbeth.co.uk/usergroup/forum/subjective-soundings-your-views-on-audio/electronics-source...
There is a lot more information on that HUG site that would be very useful reading material, if you are using Harbeth speakers, but also if you are not.
In your case, you could save a small fortune and get much better sound by not falling for the lure of audiophile electronics, and buying Harbeth’s bigger Super HL5+, driven by beefy mainstream solid state electronics (and using ordinary cables). Your dealer may not make as much profit, but that is your gain.
1+ willemj! I own Snell E's and J's. These are the direct progenitors of the Audio Note E's and J's. They work best a bit out into the room - not in corners! Woofers are SEAS paper cones. They sound better and more dynamic with SS watts, rather than low power tube amps. The bigger HL-5's with high power SS amps would be a prudent choice budget-wise over the AN E's (which I think are really overpriced!).
Jond,
I’ve read comments from others who are familiar with the Audio Note speakers. It seems that they found the paper cone version more natural and musically engaging. My current speakers use Scanspeak paper cones and their great strength is very natural tone and presentation. High quality paper cones are difficult to beat for overall  sound. Jond Vu gave you good advice.
Charles
I think you should listen to the Harbeth SHL5 before making a decision.  For the life of me, I cannot understand why the Monitor 30s are so venerated.  I've owned both and, in my room at least, the SHL5s were fuller, bigger-sounding and generally more enjoyable for me.  Obviously, in a different room, the results may reverse themselves.  But at least give the SHL5s a listen.  
I think with speakers much depends on the match between the speaker and the room. The Harbeth M30.1 are their smallest more or less full range speaker and a great speaker for a small to medium size room. If your room is one size bigger do go for the Super HL5+, however.
Charles agreed and Vu has never steered me wrong. He never tries to sell me he lets me sell myself by giving good advice and letting me listen to great gear. I called him once about noise in my system, assuming a tube was going bad, he correctly diagnosed a short in one of my interconnects, over the phone! I feel blessed to live near the store and my system has steadily gotten better and better over the years. The AN-J's were the "final" piece in the puzzle I can live happily ever after now. Of course I won't probably. To the OP you really are in an enviable position sir all of the equipment you are listening to is topnotch it will be impossible to make a bad decision!
Hi jond,
Agree no bad choices between the 2 options listed. So much has to do with how one listens to music and what they most often listen to. I’ve heard Harbeth but only with solid state amplifiers, it’s a good quality speaker. For my needs and desires the Audio Note amplifier and speakers would be very difficult to resist. As we both know it depends on the individual listener’s taste. I’m sure writeface will figure out  which is best suited for him.
Charles
You should demo the 7es3.  I think you'd be surprised how great they are! 
The AN E speakers are wonderful but they do need corner placement to sound best or they tend to sound bass shy and thin. I’ve had AN E lx in my system for a little over a year with both an older Luxman L560 (50wpc class A) as well as an Otto se and both sound great but the Audio note speakers do like to be with tubes and good ones at that. As for sensitivity I’d always go for the higher sensitivity over the lower it opens more amplification possibilities. I’ve heard the harbeth various at he local dealer who also is an audio note dealer and they are a very different sound I’d suggest you listen to both. 
Agree AN (Audio Note)  and Harbeth present  2 different sonic characters and a listener will eventually lean toward one or the other. Regarding sensitivity I generally agree  that as sensitivity  increases, high quality lower power amplifiers come into play.  However first priority for me is to get the better overall sounding speaker.   Some feel the paper driver AN  beats the higher sensitivity hemp driver AN  in this comparison. 

Jond I know that you are thrilled with your AN speakers.  Do you utilize corner placement?
Charles 
Charles,
No I am unable to use corner placement due to the layout of my apartment. There is a photo on my system page showing the setup, it's fairly conventional. In fact Vu recently asked me to email him a pic of my setup for another customer who was looking to put J's in a similarly small room. Another note on sensitivity, I was looking at the K's for my small room and Vu suggested the J's as a better option for an apartment dweller. Higher sensitivity would provide more satisfying sound at lower volume versus the K's.
Cheers,
Jon
Jond ,
 I enjoyed viewing pictures of your system. Some say the AN speakers need corner placement for best sound. Your experience would seem to suggest that this may not necessarily be the case. I suspect Vu feels this way or he would have advised against getting these speakers for your apartment setting. By the way that Audio Note DAC  has quite the robust power supply. 
Charles 
Charles,
In Vu's Audio Note room they have the E's in the corners on the back wall and opposite on the front wall either J's or K's in a conventional setup. Glad you enjoyed the system pics I finally got around to taking a bunch of new photos. And yes AN DAC's tend to be designed from the front back, power supply first, then analog, then digital. One of the many reasons it sounds so good. Happy Friday hope you and everyone get a lot of listening done this weekend!
Jon
All, Thank you for your participation and suggestions. After thinking through and re-listening I am inclined to choose AN-E/SPe with Oto Phono SE amp. I plan to use this in my main listening area (18' X 22').
I will buy Harbeth system for a smaller room in my house later.
@writeface Good to hear and awesome you have the ability to get both systems you like down the road! Good luck and let us know how it all pans out!
Writeface, 
Congratulations on this acquisition and I believe that you'll be very happy with this decision. You re going to have beautiful music reproduction in your home.
Charles 
 
I think if I get rid of the Volti's ( refrigerators), and move the speakers to the corners, I think I could talk my wife into the Sogon. 


Congratulations Writeface! 

Thank you Jond, Charles1dad, and acman3.

I cannot afford both (AN & Harbeth) now but I hope to save enough to buy a smaller Harbeth system next year. The trouble is I love both sounds and want to be able to experience it in my house. Keeping fingers crossed.


Jond and Charles1dad,

I was able to hear the ANJ-L/x hemp speakers at AXPONA and they sounded great. No thinness, really good bass and they were  natural and musical. They were, however, placed close to the wall/corners.

I have a pair on order and they will be in an all Audio Note System.
I think the paper drivers are the right choice for Jond given your setup. Mine will be able to be placed in the corners
Hi Irish,
I haven’t heard the hemp driver AN speaker , just recalling what I’ve read from a few listeners. I don’t doubt your listening impressions at all. Congratulations on your new speakers and all Audio Note system.
Charles
Irish as with all things audio the only ears that matter are yours! I am sure you will love them at home even more than at Axpona! And all Audio Note is a great way to go congratulations indeed!
Cheers,
Jon
Charles and Jon,

Thanks. I have heard the paper drivers as well and they also sound great. Can't go wrong with either. If I was not able to place them close to the walls, I would most likely order the paper drivers first.

Cheers.
Irish,
I am sure the anticipation is tough my speakers took about 12 weeks to arrive and it was agony! Would love to hear your impressions when they arrive and also curious what AN gear are you running?
Cheers,
Jon
Irish,
I'm also looking forward to your early listening impressions and what Audio Note amplifier are you using?
Charles 
Jon and Charles

 TT2/ Arm Two
CD 3.1x
Oto Phono SE Signature
Lexus cables/interconnects


Irish,
Nice system! I have the DAC-3 Signature which came before the 3.1x so I know your digital sounds great, and I use Lexus speaker cables too! The Oto is supposed to be a sweet little amp and AN TT's are very musical looks like a well thought out  well sorted system. May I ask what speakers the J's are replacing?
Cheers,
Jon
The M30.1 probably sounds heavenly because it is driven by a tube amp (Luxman LX-380). I have only listened to the M30.1 at the end of a solid-state amp and although the speakers still sound great, it appears to me that they only sound good with specific music genres. In my mind the M30.1 is not as versatile as the Super HL5 Plus which is more of a balanced all-rounder to me. The M30.1 is particularly great for vocals, acoustic music and small ensemble jazz but falls short with larger ensemble music and pop/rock.

If the M30.1 sounds great with the Luxman, do stick with that combination. Tubes can sometimes give a little glow and illumination to the sound. The setup that I listened to sounded a little dull, though the same cannot be said with the Super HL5 Plus which sounded more open and vibrant than the M30.1 with the same (solid-state) amp.
The SHL5+ is a bigger speaker with more output at lower frequencies and greater dynamic headroom. Therefore it is the better of the two for symphonic repertoire etc. However, a very similar effect can be achieved by adding subwoofers to the M30.1
" Irish,
Nice system! I have the DAC-3 Signature which came before the 3.1x so I know your digital sounds great, and I use Lexus speaker cables too! The Oto is supposed to be a sweet little amp and AN TT's are very musical looks like a well thought out well sorted system. May I ask what speakers the J's are replacing?
Cheers,
Jon "

Jon,

They are replacing JM Reynaud Bliss Silvers which I run with Quicksilver Mid Monos
irish cool I've heard great things about JM Reynaud but never heard a pair. Sounds like you're in for a nice upgrade both amp and speakerwise!
Cheers,
Jon
Irish,
You have IMO a very nice and well thought out audio system.  I suspect you trust your ears which is the best path to follow.  No doubt that your system reproduces music beautifully. 
Charles