Harbeth M40.1 vs. KEF 205/2 vs. Spendor SP100R2

Three UK built speakers that offer near state of the art sound and are "relatively" affordable to many of us on Audiogon. My experience with the 3 models is limited so your opinions will be interesting and valued. My most recent demo was the Harbeth 40.1. My opinion was left incomplete due to the amp driving it. A Luxman 505u was used to drive the big Harbeth making them a little slow and soft. IMO more power and refinement is needed for the 40.1 The KEF I heard was the original 205 with the super tweeter. Let me just say it is one of the best box speakers i've heard. Maybe it was the magical synergy of the MAC 352 amp or the unknown(can't recall)cables? From what i've read the current 205/2 is not as amp or cable sensitive. I've heard several Spendor speakers but NOT the 100R2. What impressed me most with the various Spendor models was the "Quad" like tonality without the excessive warmth of some other British speakers. I would like to hear your comments regarding these iconic loudspeakers. As always I appreciate your comments.
Hello Dayglow - and we are on the same journey as I too am looking for a new set of speakers. I had the original Avalon Eclipse speakers for almost 12 years and I would have kept them except for the fact the tweeters were no longer being made. I had no need for large door stops if they ever went on me. I had the Harbeth 40.1's for about 6 months - great speaker but they just did not seem to me to be very engaging and I just always felt that something was '' choking '' the music from fully coming out of those big boxes.....the excuse I got was that my room too small......Hmmmmm I have listened to the Spendor S100's which was awile ago and they were very musical but again lackd at sort of dymanics. Now the Kef 205/2 have not heard them .....but form people who own them they love them. 90db sensitivity with an 8 ohm load .....easy to drive. On my short list. Also I will look and listen to the Avalon Ascendents which are also in this price range......what about the ProAc D 40-r's and Vienna Acoustics has new which I think is called the ; Beethovan Imperial Grand. There there is the 2 way Magico S-1 also for about $12,000. So help me here as well as all of these speakers are in the same price range.
Hi Garebear,
If you are in that price range, my suggestion would be to also consider Devore Orangutan 0/96 (or 0/93 if you want to stay around $8000). These speakers have fantastic dynamics and are drop dead gorgeous to look at. Either of them is worth an audition.
Garebear-Going from an Avalon to Harbeth must have been an adjustment! Did you feel you had the right amp synergy with the 40.1? The current Spendor 100R2 has won a "speaker of the year" award in Japan. The award might not mean much but i'm sure the current speaker is a solid improvement over the original SP100. Not so sure the KEF 205/2 is that easy to drive. Both the VA Imperial and ProAc D40R look interesting.
Hello Dayglow......I had a Classe' CA 2300 which ws a 300 watt amp but it just didn't open up it always seemed that something was holding it back. The Spendor's may have changed as I think the new interation is the SP100R2, The KEF's I would think would be easy to drive at a 90db sensivity level at 8 ohm's ...let me know. I have listened to the Avalon Ascendents which is at their lower level of their line but still incorporates the Avalon sound. Not a fan huh ????........the Vienna's are new speaker and I expect that we will hear more after CES ....price is about $12,000 and Vienna does make some nice stuff. Then there is the ProAC D40-r's .....had ProAC years ago and they seems to have fadded over here in the US ....still ncie stuff but many feel way over priced for what you get. I did listen to the Wilseon Benesch's ACT used at the same price - nice speaker , UK made but they have pulled out of the US so to support ....not for that kind of money. So, my room ( finished basement, temperature controlled ) is 11' feet wide , 20' deep with 7 ' ceilings. All Esoteric equipment now ....and the amp is the A03 class A 50 watt beast. Let m eknow what you have found out as we are both looking at the same stuff.... ohhh ...the Magico's sound nice but $12,000 for a two way ?????
....note ; '' the Harebteh's didn't open up not the amp '' Damm thing is I wanted to like the Harbeth's ! I wonder how they would sound with my new Esoteric amp ????? See my previous thread here on Audiogon on the Harbeth's. They are still an option but leaning towards the KEF's 205/2
s or the Avalon's ....two different sound and yes you are right goijg form the Avalon's to the Harbeth's might have been too much of a shock
Were the 40.1's fully broke in? Some speakers need over 500 hours to be completely broke in. I believe the KEF 205/2 is in the 6th year of production, watch for closeout prices. Can the KEF 205/3 be to far off? Other speakers on my watch list...ATC SCM 40v2-Audio Physics Virgo 25-Elac FS249be-Focus Audio FP90se-JBL S3900-Marten Django L and the Thiel CS 2.7. The ATC is clearly the best bargain of the group retailing at $6k!
Are you sure it was the Harbeth that made the sound seem slow? I ask because I have had 3 different Classe model amps and all of them were dark and thick sounding, slow if you will. It could have been the amp/speakers match, not the speakers itself.
I know you have been on a journey for a few years now
and see Stereo5 is stumped by your comments drawing straws and the break in blame game etc.
and your own comments
""I just always felt that something was '' choking '' the music from fully coming out of those big boxes.....the excuse I got was that my room too small.....""

2 things I would take a look at first
You have a room that almost divides by 2
11' feet wide , 20' deep with 7 ' ceilings.
Why not take a look at what the room is doing
in the bass area.
If you take a piece of notebook paper and write
1 thru 11 vertically on the left side of paper
then 1 to 11 vertically on the right side.
You can download the bass warble tones from the sight below see your results.
Track 1 thru 11 is your left ch
Track 16 thru 25 is your Right ch
You will also need an SPL meter set to c Weighted and slow and compare your left and right channels for room variations and anomalies.
anyone else who would also like to join in feel free to
share your results.
Please take note to keep the volume down and you will want to have 2/3s of these tones reach 75 db as an average.
Best JohnnyR Audioconnection Dealer
Good morning members......the Classe CA 2300 was not dark in any means and was in fact a very fast sounding amp. This model and the CA 2200 was under a new design group at Classe......the room is acoustically treated by ASC. I liked the speakers- I just don't think that they fit in that room well. They were fully broken in .....and yes journey does continue and that's why was interested in this post
It would be very helpful and interesting if current/former owners could state the strengths and weaknesses of these 3 iconic speakers. I know your out there, please share your thoughts!
Dayglow, I have experienced the ATC SCM40s. They're an excellent speaker. The distributor demonstrated them to us in the LVAC (Las Vegas Audio Club.) It was very rewarding.

I also have heard them at the recent CES. They were just as good.

The JBLs are cool too. I have the model one step above those, the S4700s. The S3900s are very close at a cheaper price.
I'd very strongly suggest an audition of the ProAc D40R http://www.whathifi.com/review/proac-response-d40r
Dave72-Thx for the insight! Did the new ATC 40v2 have a slightly more "relaxed"(less worklike) character then the previous model? From what i've heard on Youtube(I know)the JBL S3900 seems very amp sensitive in the bass region regarding bass tightness, is this also true with the S4700?
Finally was Marten at the CES, and did you get a chance to hear the Django models?
You're welcome Dayglow! Basically, the new SCM40 is both rich and transparent. It's not as dry as previous ATCs. Yes, for the S4700, I recommend an amp with a high damping factor regardless of wpc. You can definitely run the speakers with a lower powered amp because of the high sensitivity, but if it has a low damping factor, you'll have mushy bass.

I didn't get a chance to see or hear Marten! Sorry!