Harbeth Owners - I Need Some Help

Just got a pair of Compact 7ES-2s and have these questions:

1) Grills on or off? I know Harbeth says to leave them on - what's been your experience?

2) Stands - what are you using and what do you like?

3) Am I wrong or are these speakers not really height sensitive? I mean, adjusting 2-3 up or down in stand height may not make a great difference. Is this your experience?

Thanks, A'goners.
Grills on. I'm using custom made Target 19" stands--with the spikes it raised the speaker 20" from the floor. I had the top plate cut so it would fit just inside the dimensions of the speaker. They look great and work very well. Sound Anchor can do something similar, though the Targets give a more finished appearance. Speakers mated to the stands with little squares of sorbothane. One thing about the Harbeth's I've found to be true is that they are not really picky about stands, electronics, etc. You can get better sound than 90% of what is out there with very little effort. Don't obsess, just put some clean solid state power behind them (min 100wpc) and let them sing.
I think they are somewhat height sensitive, as most speakers are. The treble balance and depth perspective change some with height, so it's worth experimenting. But 20" seems to be the near-universal recommendation for the 7ES.

The Skylan stands from Canada have gained some popularity for Harbeths and are what I'm thinking of getting.
I use the Skylan 20" 4 post stands and I have them filled with sand. Each stand takes 50lbs. I also keep the grills on.
Thanks for the info, guys. I'm checking out Sound Anchor since they have that "open" top plate design which someone told me is best for Harbeths because of the lossy cabinets. Supposedly allows them to flex more properly but we may be getting into some minute actions that don't mean a thing. Why are these Sound Anchors so expensive - I mean why are they $600.00+ for the four post versions? I'm currently checking the Skylans which are substantially less expensive but their website doesn't give much info; dimensions, etc.
Skylan customizes their stands and they have one specifically for your model Harbeth. The tops are not open, however, and I don't have an opinion on that. Some people will tell you not to use a rigid stand with the Harbeth, their thinking apparently being that a lossy cabinet needs a lossy stand. I don't think one follows from the other, however. Give Skylan a call. Noel is a hoot to talk to.
I know what're you're saying, Drubin. I try to calculate the physics between a lossy cabinet and rigid, sand filled stand (with flat plate top), or one "Linn style" with an open top like the Epos which is not sand fillable and I just get confused. On the other hand we have Sound Anchor with an open top but pre-filled solid posts. If I could find the Harbeth users website I'd check that out.

By the way, I'm using them in a small (11 x 13 x 8) plaster room and have already used my 9wt 300B Air Tight amp and 100wt SS Muse model 100. The Air Tight, at moderate volumes, produces a far more involving and musical experience; the Muse is rather bland and colorless in comparison. Any suggestions for a more powerful tube or more musical SS "driver".
Harbeth Users Group: http://www.smartgroups.com/groups/harbethspeakers You may find this group to be a bit "un-audiophile" in some respects (cables don't matter, etc.), but it's less hostile than it was just a few weeks ago when a certain well-known reviewer was a daily fixture.

I expect that Dodgealum is correct that the Harbeths are less sensitive to ancillary components than many other speakers. (I don't know if this is an indictment of the speaker or not.) But they still respond, and some people do like them with tubes. As with everything, you will want to experiment. I've only used my Rowland amps with them (so my comment above about sensitivity to other components is based more on intuition than experience), but would love to try something else to see how they respond. Keep us posted.

Dan--most assuredly not an indictment of the speaker. I think it speaks to the essential musicality of the design. I'm not sure that I would classify any speaker as great (or even acceptable) that only "worked" with the right combination of select cables, amps, etc. For the most part these speakers simply do not "work" -- period. Their owners then spend countless dollars and hours they could be enjoying music trying to find just the right combination of esoteric components to obtain a sound that they convince themselves (for a time) works. I cannot tell you how many speakers I have heard over the past year and a half that simply don't sound "right" and never will regardless of what you put in front of them. I can still remember the moment I first heard the Harbeth's--over five years ago. I knew I was going to buy them after the first minute of the first song I heard. Additional listening was only conducted to satisfy the analytical side of my head. I say better to start with a speakers that gets the essentials right and then build a system around them that complements and enhances their performance. Why do you think so many other "world class" models from long established and esoteric brand names show up regularly on the Audiogon and scaring up a pair of Harbeth's is pretty tough to do? I think their are so few speakers that sound right through the critical midband and therefore people tire of whatever coloration exists that distances them from the music. I don't mean to sound like a Harbeth zealot--I will insert the customary caveat that these impressions are entirely subjective and will admit also that there are a few other good designs out there. However, after a determined effort and countless demos I can say with a high degree of certainty that there are precious few speakers that sound anywhere near as real as the Harbeth's and you will need to spend at least 5K (or more) to own them. They are the best value in audio today for music lovers who do not want to ride the equipment merry go round.

On the subject of stands--I think you can make a good case for open style stands that do not interfere with the intended vibration of the lossy cabinet. Whether you can hear the difference between those and a pair of stands with a fixed top plate I'm not sure. The top and bottom panels of the speakers are the smallest of the lot and therefore probably flex much less than the others and therefore may contribute little to the sound. The Sound Anchors seem to give you the best of all worlds--open top plate but a heavy and rigid anchoring of the speaker. I just happen to think they look like bupkiss.
Your points are well taken, Mark. There is no question that the Harbeth is right and musical in an essential way. As I survey the landscape of our hobby, it is also clear that we get conflicting messages about how desirable this is. I have read many, many enthusiastic speaker reviews that proclaim, as if it’s a good thing, that this or that speaker “will reveal everything upstream and if you don’t have the best ancillary components, you will suffer the consequences.” A reviewer might say, “As a reviewer, these speakers are a great ‘tool’ for me, but if I were ‘just’ a music lover, I might choose something else.” Then they stick it in Class A and audiophiles yearn to own it. I’ll project my own struggles here and suggest that many of us in this hobby want to wear both hats. We don’t want to be denied hearing those differences between upstream components (this is not the J. Gordon Holt definition of transparency, but it is certainly a valid use of the term), but on the other hand, we’d sure like to just enjoy the music.

When I owned ProAc Response 2.5’s, I kept trying to get greater clarity out of them: I *wanted* to better hear what was going on upstream. When a friend loaned me his Thiel 1.6’s, I realized that the ProAcs were obfuscating too much of the playback chain. As much as I loved their musicality, my jones for “the hobby” was being choked. So Thiels it was, and now, two years later, I also have Harbeths in the house. In case it isn’t obvious, this boy clearly doesn’t know WHAT he wants.

I think the speaker you are now leaning towards as your Harbeth replacement will move you a little more in the direction of reviewer’s tool (though not too much). I’ll be curious to see how that goes for you. I expect you’ll find it exciting and exhilarating at first. Later on, you may find you’ve opened Pandora’s box. Then you can join the Church of Audio Angst that tithes so much salary from so many of us. :-)
Dan, I think much of what you say is true--and I will take it as a warning. When folks refer to any component as a good "reviewers tool" it raises in my mind the "great divide" that seems to exist within the community--between those that are into music and those that are into gear. The folks into music see the gear as a means to an ends. For folks into gear the equipment is an ends in itself. What you point up is the degree to which both reside within all of us. Though I consider myself one of the former, I will freely admit that at times a certain obsession with the gear itself begins to crowd out the music lover in me. I try to protect against this because, for the most part, I perceive those who are into the gear as perpetually unsatisfied, in debt and in conflict with their wives (if they have one). As I move forward in my pursuit of speakers to replace the Harbeth's I'm gonna try real hard to find something that retains their musicality but adds deeper bass and better looks. I may never get there but one lives in hope.
I'm rooting for you!
When my wife first saw the C7s she said, "oh my God, they're beautiful!" This is with the grills removed which is how I'm listening.
I'm using Monitor 30's with 24" sand-filled Skylan stands. Absolutely perfect. The consensus -- and this is coming from the designer -- is that an inert stand is best.

Noel recommends topping off two diagonally-oppossed posts and 5-6" in the other two. I followed his advice and haven't experimented again; it all sounds very right.
After speaking at length with Noel at Skylan Manufacturing I ordered a pair of 21" four post stands (my sofa is a bit higher than average but, again, I don't hear a difference with 1-2" height changes) and have found them superb. I had them put together in 10 minutes and used 'em without sand for a couple weeks. Filled with play sand they grip the floor better and the music sounds more solid and real, and they look quite nice - a little more of a 'finished' look than the Sound Anchors and a lot less expensive.

With the Skylans I now have the grills in place and like the look much better than naked. Kind of dressy and classy looking.

Noel also followed up after the sale with a phone call to make sure I had no problems with set up, etc. Skylan is another quality high end company that seems to be in it for the passion. I've had really good luck throughout the years being fortunate to deal with companies like Noel's, conrad-johnson, ModWright, Cary, Joule Electra, Merlin (even though I sold those speakers), Perp Tech, etc.