you may not think so, but you're there. yes, there are some nice speakers on your list, and the spendors will have a bit more bass, but they are fussier than the m30's, as are the harbeth m40's. your speakers have that magic quality, thats hard to quantify.
Before you upgrade the M30s suggested you do your room acoustics if you havent done so. They make up 50% of your sound. Once you get the acoustics right, then you'll wonder what made you the itch to upgrade. M30 has potential provided they have adequate and proper room treatments in rooms they are played in.
If however your room is already very good , I'd probably consider the SHL5 as the next speaker up. The speakers you listed above are all very good but harbeth has that midrange magic.
Not that you necessarily need an upgrade, but I have to say that the next logical upgrade would be M40.
I always hear folks pooh-pooh the notion of adding a subwoofer to Harbeth speakers, but it seems to me to be a logical progression. Depending on the size of your room it could be that your amp is underpowered and biamping with a subwoofer would help in this area as well as add bass.
PeteK, You have been offered excellent suggestions already. I own both the M30 and M40, the M30 for approx. 3 years and the M40 just over a year now. The M40 is in a whole different league than its little brother in terms of scale and dynamics. You simply can't get that from any monitor. A full range speaker like the M40 offers that, however adding a sub to the M30 will make a huge difference. I run 2 Rel Storm III subs with the M30 and the combo is fantastic. You can run 1 sub and be happy. I wouldn't sell the M30 for any of the speakers you listed. If you like Harbeth, save your money for the M40.1 and get on the waiting list.
I'm about to sell my Gallo Reference 3.1's for a pair of Harbeth Compact 7ES-3's. The Gallo's are nice, but I find myself listening to the speaker's attention-grabbing characteristics rather than getting lost in the music.
The Harbeth 30 and the Cremona Auditors (and possibly the Silverline 17.5) are also on my upgrade short list. About the same cost if one shops carefully on the used market. Unfortunately, I live in rural northern California and would have to drive 150 miles to hear any of these. That makes me grateful for the expert opinions of fellow A-goners in these forums. However, the Laurel Pacific Audio web site has great information and reviews highlighting the differences between the various Harbeth speakers. As mentioned already, room size may be the key factor. And for my small room nearfield set up, the Monitor 30s would be my first choice. At the risk of poor A-gon forum etiquette, IF you do decide to upgrade, I would be interested in purchasing your 30's. In any event, It's pretty darned exciting, this quest for our personal sonic nirvanna, and I not only wish you well, I look forward to your next post.
What are the dimensions of your room? The Harbeth sound is special.
Once you have owned either Harbeth or Spendor, it becomes very hard to change brands. I hate to use the term- but they are musical. Heard many very linear boring speakers at the RMAF. Heard many people auditioning speakers with bird chirps and tap dancing. I really prefer music.
Have both the Harbeth 7es2 and the Spendor Sp100s. Have auditioned the Harbeth m30s many times.
The Harbeths will tend to bottom out under pressure while Spendors will hang in there. Have a slightly different sound, catering to slightly different tastes. The Harbeth has that recessed LS3/5a euphonic midrange while the Spendor is a little flatter.
Heard the M40s at the RMAF and they are superb. Definitely an upgrade over the SP100s in the bottom end and can also play loud.
AS I've stated the midrange is your preference area.
Have heard all the other speakers on your list and they are all a downgrade from what you have. Rel subs are a very good option also.
Thank you for your responses. I appreciate the opinions expressed, admittedly I had not seriously considered the influence of room acoustics.
I should clarify the dimensions of my modest living room as 11 feet by 17 feet. The Harbeths are at least 3 feet from the rear walls and about about 1 foot in.
The are not bi-wired as seems to be the general consensus on preference from other owners (and I believe Alan Shaw himself). For cabling I decided to use Cardas neutral references, not having experimented much there (just looking for a neutral cable with minimal sonic imprint).
Also, I tend not play music too loud, my wife often set the dB limits of the household (probably correctly so). Importantly, I find that the M30's sound equally as good at low levels. This is also an important consideration.
i own m30, avalon, quad esl.
most speakers on your list are lateral or downward moves. i used to own cremona auditor & thiel 2.4 and easily prefer the m30. the grass looks greener on the other side or the cabinets are fancier on other speakers
Try biamp or sub or better cables.
Sounds like the consensus is you have pretty good speakers and the M40s would be you next logical upgrade but I would discuss with Harbeth or you dealer whether you room is big enough to take advantage of the additonal bass capabilities of the M40, you could overload the room - but I'm no expert on that. With what you have, I would not make a move too quickly. Let us know what you do.
Oh, and obviously the Super HL5 is another worthy option with a bit more bass impact, and maybe even better in a room your size.
Does anyone have experience comparing and contrasting these two speakers? Will the M30s with a good subwoofer outperform the Super HL5? Thanks!
I don't know because I have not tried it with these speakers, but my view is that subwoofers rarely (ever) integrate well with "satellites", they tend to sound incoherent to me (I'm not making a defintive statement, just suggesting that this is often the case). Where it might work IMHO, is when used with satellites that don't really need a subwoofer; that is they go down to 30Hz or so on their own, with the subwoofer filling in at the very lowest frequencies. In this this setup you sometimes don't even know the subwoofer is on - among other things it is essentially non-directional. So just based on theory (practice may prove otherwise) I would think the HL5 will be better in terms of providing a coherent seamless sound -- I assume you don't mean better in terms of producing the lowest note.
I'v had a sub with my Harbeths (C7 es3) now since beginning of October. It has taken me a while to dial it in. I'v had to adjust volume, play with the crossover, lug it to different parts of the room and listen, listen and listen again. At one point I was about to give up--I could not get it right either too boomy or poor integration. Alas, with some patience, it came together and I really enjoy what I am hearing. It is amazing what 3 inches will do! Long suffering paid off--but it was fun long suffering
Good Luck and have fun!!