Harbeth P3 vs KEF LS50W

About to pull the trigger on ls50w but I'm also interested in a used pair of Harbeth 3 or maybe 7.. How would you compare them with ls50w?

I don't have any amp for the moment but if I decide and find the Harbeths, I would maybe look for a used LFD zero.. I live in an apartment, the living room is about 5 x 3.5m.

How does the ls50w sound with low volume playing?

Please give me all the details about these speakers!
I’ve never listened to the Kef,so I can’t comment on it. I own the P3 and have owned the 7. The p3 will work better in your size room. Here is a nice review on the P3. BTW, I have owned many LS3/5A type of speakers and the Harbeth is my favorite!

Thanks for reply.

The P3 sounds to be a real gem!

I Hope anyone else can chime in on comparison with ls50w as well..

Thank you so much for the mini review, very nice to read! It seems really that both speakers does a really good job.

My question though, was  ti compare the active version of the KEF speaker ls50W to the P3. I have an opertunity to listen to the KEFs soon, but the Harbeth is to long travel for me...
From other reviews I've read people who've heard both prefer the active version  if you do decide to go active check into the Airpulse model 1  as well.  I've been meaning to do a follow up review on these as I've owned them now for a little over a month but and these are just excellent all around speakers,,especially at their price point - over 1k less than the LS 50' with a 60 day money back guarantee and would imagine very close sonically as well.
I finally decided to go with a pair of used Harbeth P3esr.. Sound wise perhaps the Kef speakers is better for me, in my room etc, but I really am attracted towards the Harbeths, the design appeal to me, the KEFs colors I don't like at all. Of course sound comes first but the P3 I think isn't a bad speaker of all reviews I read and have experience with 30.1.

I also was thinking IF I do want to go with something different later on, I think I don't loose that much money on Harbeths.

Now I have to find a good amp to them and possible a DAC as well..
I noticed Rega has released an updated version of the Brio-r amp. Have you listened to it yet?

If you're going to do analog, I think the Croft is a nice choice for the P3.
Good choice!  I have had both the P3s and the KEF LS50 and far preferred the Harbeths.  Different sounds for sure, and I can see others preferring the KEF.  Any of the British integrated amps would be excellent with the Harbeths.
@fjn04 makes a great recommendation with Croft.  The Croft Phono Integrated would be a wonderful match (if you are ok with a volume control for each channel and no remote).  Many people like the Brio, but I can't comment on that as I haven't heard it.  Naim is always a good pairing with Harbeths - the 5i, 5i-2, or 5si (current model).  Exposure is another fine British brand that sometimes gets overlooked.

You're going to have a blast with the P3s.
Best, Scott   
Thank you Scott! I haven't started my analog journey yet but I'm more and more tempted to try that route.

For now I'm after an SS with a tube like character.. I've read many good things about LFD and Harbeth. I'm looking for a used one in Europe region. Is it big difference between Mk III, IV, V?
I'll look for naim too. Alsi rega, maybe elex-r and elicit-r could be a fine match? 

How about minimum power of the amp, should it be 50W at least or more than that? I see that P3 have pretty low sensitivity..

With respect to power - the P3s are lower sensitivity but a pretty easy load for the amp.  My room is about the same size as yours and I'm in an apartment where I have to consider my neighbors.  50 watts from the Naim 5i-2 and Simaudio i-1 were more than enough for me.  Yes, more power will get you slightly better dynamics and a bit more volume, but the P3s aren't really made for extreme high volumes.  

Here are my thoughts on the amps I've heard:

1.  If you're looking for a tube-like character, then LFD is a great choice.  It's more expensive than the others I mentioned, although I'm not sure about the pricing in Europe.  I've heard the Mistral and the IV, and both were excellent. I actually preferred the Mistral with the P3s.  Seemed like the IV was a bit bass light, but that could have just been system synergy.
2.  Croft is great because it's got a tube pre and Mosfet power section.  Rather than the Phono integrated, I'd recommend their Micro 25 preamp.  It's got a fantastic build-in phono.  It's not too expensive, so you could go with separates.  And the Phono Integrates is a nice all-in-one solution.  Downsides - no remote.

3.  In the Rega range I briefly owned the Elicit (not -R), and it was nice but I found it a little forward and tonally lean compared to the other British brands. Reviews suggest the Elex-R and Elicit-R are similar sounding.  The reviews also say the Brio-R has less of that leanness and had a decent phono amp.  It also pairs well w/Harbeth.  Used, the previous Brio-R model is very affordable.

4.  Exposure:  I've owned the 2010s2.  It was a very nice, refined sounding amp.  I don't know if I'd say it's tube-like, but it certainly didn't have the typical solid state sound, either.  It's 75ish wpc, so you'd get slightly more power.  The 3010 series is over 100 wpc, and the current 3010s2d is getting very good reviews.

5.  Naim + Harbeth is a very traditional pairing.  I have owned the 5i-2 and the XS, and I preferred the 5i-2 in my setup.  Both have a very engaging presentation.  The treble is a touch smoothed/rolled off, and I loved it.  I tend to bristle at any added sibilance or brightness, and I could just relax into the music.  I'd highly recommend their speaker cables NAC-A5 - cheap and a great match (obviously) with Naim.  Some older models of Naim require these cables due to the electrical characteristics of the amps, but recent models don't have this restriction.  And older models may only have DIN connectors.  The Supernait 2 is apparently a fantastic integrated, but you pay for it.  

Anyway, as you can see, although I'm from the US I'm big fan of the British sound.  I think you're in for quite a treat when you find the right pairing.  

Best, Scott
Very nice suggests, thanks. I actually got a great deal on a two years old Rega brio-r, hope it will match up good. There are many positive reviews on that amp.

But I gotta tell you, I'm really curious of the sound from LFD with Harbeths, but will have to wait a bit until I've saved some more coin! Is mistral an older amp? Have you had any chance to hear Harbeths with Mk III or V?

Lastly I'll need a DAC.. Looking for a used Rega dac or Ifi Micro Idac, do you have any suggestions there?

With respect to the LFD- yes, the Mistral is an earlier amp, which had a phono section.  I tried both the Mistral and the Mk. V in my system at different times.  I slightly preferred the Mistral, because the Mk.V seemed to have less bass response.  However, I discovered later that it was an issue with the phono amp I was using with the MK.V, so it wasn't the amps fault.  Knowing that now, I'd recommend the MK.V if you can find one used at a decent price (not easy to do).

I think the Brio-R will be a great match - many, many people seem to like the Brio-R with the P3s.  I don't listen to digital too much recently, but from reviews over the years I have gathered that the Rega DAC is one of the most analog-sounding DACs you can get.  The newer version (Dac-r)has can take higher sampling rates, so that fact alone would probably steer me towards the newer model. However, the previous model was very well reviewed and should be available used at a very reasonable price.  It should be a fine match with the Brio-r.

Keep us posted on how the Brio-r sounds with the P3s.  

Best, Scott
I have the p3esr and the kef ls50
the p3esr are in another league imo. dont know about the kef ls50W
I haven't found any Rega Dac for a good price yet.. I read that the -r model does include remote and has higher bit rate through USB, other than that the sound is the same. Can you confirm that, and help me understand what cables I need to connect my MacBook and amp.

Is it RCA from amp to DAC and USB, optical etc from DAC to MacBook.

Since I don't have a DAC for now and would like to connect the amp to MacBook, what cable do I need?

I ordered Qed 79 speaker cables as I read much on HUG about them and Harbeth. But I don't have a clue about the other cables, decent brand/model to start with..

I haven’t found any Rega Dac for a good price yet.. I read that the -r model does include remote and has higher bit rate through USB, other than that the sound is the same as the former model. Can you confirm that, and help me understand what cables I need to connect my MacBook and amp? My mac is a 2008 year model.

Is it RCA from amp to DAC and USB, optical etc from DAC to MacBook?

Since I don’t have a DAC for now and would like to connect the amp to MacBook, what cable do I need?

I ordered Qed 79 speaker cables as I read much on HUG about them and Harbeth. But I don’t have a clue about the other cables, decent brand/model to start with..


I owned a pair of Harbeth P3ESR amplified by Exposure 2010s2. I moved to KEF LS50 Wireless after one month of owning both, comparing.
Now, nothing touches vocals and small scale acoustic instruments on the Harbeth at low to moderate volume. Nothing that I've heard anyway.
If you listen to low-medium volume late at night to jazz, vocals, acoustic, folk, etc, Harbeth is the way to go.
The problem for me is I don't just listen to that, I like from time to time to up the volume and throw in other music genres.
The active KEFs get to about 90-95% of Harbeth's strengths with added scale, authority, bass, everything. When pushed to higher volumes the P3s start to compress, they are not a dynamic speaker. Not so with KEFs, these speakers maintain the low volume magic and "scale up" with added volume. What these things do with music is amazing.
To get to KEF's level of performance you will have to spend an obscene amount of money on separate components.
Not to mention I sold my dac, amplifier and streamer.
I wish the LS50 wireless would work for me.  But since I listen primarily to analog, the last thing I want to do is pass the phono signal through a DAC.  It's too bad there isn't an analog pass through or something like that to allow you to skip the DAC altogether. 
I just sold my Audience the One as my desktop speakers because i found them fatiguing especially with modern pop music-I listen to a wide variety of music, from EDM to classical, I am looking for a relaxing non fatiguing but still detailed and musical- I am planning to run with a sub- I am debating between the Harbeths or the LS-50 wireless- I am leaning for the KEFs but concerned with long term reliability - although I know KEf is a well established company 
For my office system I am using the P3ESRs with Rega equipment; Brio (newer version), DAC-R, Apollo (newer version).  For my office (14 x 14 x 8) it is perfect but I have not really turned the volume up very loud.  At the levels I listen to the sound is very clean and without any digital glare.  The Rega Brio and Harbeths go well together.