Harbeth P3ESR vs Fritz Rev 5 vs DeVore Gibbon 3XL

Ok, here's the deal.....

I'd like to assemble a secondary two channel music system in my small den. It is only 11.5 ft by 11.5 ft .....so not only is it very small, but also square! Also, because the room is so small, the speakers will have to be placed quite close to the wall that resides behind the back of the speaker. Yikes!

The music I'd like to listen to in this room would be vocals, violin/cello sonatas, piano, and anything acoustical in nature.

Tone and timbre are of paramount importance to me. I do not want to use a subwoofer.....hoping one would not be needed for the above listed music types.

There are no Fritz dealers, but he does allow an in home trial....very nice!
The closest DeVore dealer is several states away from me.
The closest Harbeth dealer is a 12 hour round trip car ride for me.

So, if anyone here has had any experience with the above mentioned speakers and could share any insight of how they may perform in my small and non-optimum room.....it would be greatly appreciated.
Here is an excellent review of the DeVore
This is the speaker I would recommend
Where are you located?
Go for the Harbeth.Also look at the Spendor 3/5. They both have sealed woofers. You can place them close to rear wall with no problems. The Spendors are a little more laid back but both speakers are made for the type of music you like. I think both those speakers will fit your taste.
No contest the Harbeths all the way-however I have not heard the Fritz

so by all means compare that brand.

Good Listening,

Hi Tom6897, I am located in Wisconsin.

Hi Yogiboy, thank you for your comments. I am seriously considering the little Harbeth. I think there is a good chance that it would work in my small room and if not, it seems to be popular enough that I could probably resell quite easily.

Hi Arh, Thank you for the link in regards to the DeVore's. It was this review that had gotten me interested in the DeVore 3XL's. Have you heard them yourself? These are rear ported speakers.....any idea on how close they can be placed to the wall that is behind them?

DeVore has a great reputation, they are unique looking, and I'm would imagine that they sound splendid....I'm just concerned on whether or not they would work well in my small room being close to the wall that is behind them.

If you have the time and do not need the speakers right now, I would like to suggest that you go to AXPONA in Chicago, IL. March 8-10 and visit/listen/meet many of the manufacturers who will be there to demo there wares. I plan on attending to do the same! Good Luck!
I have the Fritz Rev 5 and love them. Fritz is a great guy to deal with and he is very generous with his home trial offer. I had a set for a month before I purchase mine. Fritz and I had several conversations about which of his speakers would be appropriate and possible upgrades. He didn’t even attempt to up sell when I inquired about the Rev 7 (refer to the review in Part Time Audiophile). I initially had the speakers in a room about the same size as yours and for me the bass was a little overwhelming. Although the speakers are non-fatiguing, the bass on certain tracks was just too much (for me). FYI- I listen mostly to jazz. For a temporary solution I took some foam I had lying around and plugged the ports and the problem was solved. Soon after I picked up a DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 and a nasty peak was eliminated. I'm now in a larger room (16.5x12) and consider myself off the speaker merry-go-round for some time to come. One last point about Fritz. On New Years Eve he called me to wish me a happy new year and to make sure I was satisfied with the speakers. That was four months after I purchased the speakers.

Gvien your choices, I don't think you cold make a bad decision. Good Luck!

What do you plan to power the speakers with? It does make a difference, although your choices are very amp friendly
Hello Tom6897,

That is a wonderful suggestion! I am in no rush as I have my reference system that I enjoy immensely and I do want to make sure that I choose the right speaker for this difficult room. With any luck, some of my choices will be represented there.

Many years ago, I attended the Stereophile show in Chicago and had a blast. Met several nice people, heard a lot of different systems, took in some live music, but a ton of vinyl..... Just a fantastic weekend overall.
Hello Team212,

Thank you for your post. Have you heard the DeVore 3XL's? If so, how do they compare or differ from that of the Harbeth P3ESR?

Are you currently using Harbeths? If so, which model?
Hello Mightyburner,

Thank you for your post. Yes, Fritz does seem like a really great guy. We have been emailing back and forth a few times.

When you mentioned that the bass seemed a little overwhelming.....that is a big concern of mine. With this room being so small and being square, it will be difficult to find a speaker to work well, I'm afraid.

I tried stuffing the ports of my vintage Tannoys when I had them in this room. I felt that it changed the sound too much in a negative way. It simply didn't sound "right". Did you notice anything when you stuffed the ports on your REV 5's?

I suppose I could look into digital room correction. I have never done so before and so this would be completely new to me.

I appreciate your response !
Hello R_burke,

For this room, I am planning on using a custom tube amp that utilizes a pair of German EL84's per channel, with a very robust power supply that will give me a very fast, dynamic, yet full bodied 15 watts in push/pull.

Both Fritz and a dealer for the DeVore 3XL thought that this amp would work well with there speakers. I know that the sensitivity of the Harbeths are on the low side, but it's been said that they are a pretty easy load.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this though.
So on paper your best bet spec wise is the DeVore, but I haven't heard it, so can't speak to voicing of the speaker, but speaker choice is more than just specs. I have a similar amp, Manley Mahi and in triode it is ~18W. I prefer the voicing of the Fritz over the Harbeth because I think it is more lively, I personally find the Harbeth somewhat sterile, others would applaud this as neutral.
Hi NR,

Iv'e owned only the Harbeth Ls3/5a's-- they are a terrific speaker

however the 40 I've heard at THE SHOW with DNM electronics and cabling

which was sublime.

I've listened at length to the DeVores at CES-( and in the NFS room at THE SHOW)-they

are a fine speaker would also serve you well no doubt.

On the above occasions both were auditioned with my own test Disc.

I am however in the Harbeth Camp if I had to choose for the warmth and musicality of the Performance.

Sorry I cannot comment on Fritz so over to you on that

Good Listening

In a 13 by 11 x 8 over the course of a few months
I brought home many pairs of mini and mediem box speakers hooked up to small EL 34 Tube amps.
Some were sealed, some ported, front, back etc
After many hours of trying to no avail
to make Johnny Cash sound like himself & enjoy all types of music I popped in a pair of Vandersteen 1 Cs
tilted back leveled on weighted bases it hit me like a brick.
Why didnt I just try these in the first place.
Some folks worry so much of what they read they never try...
Bass is the foundation of the music. without it there is no music.
JohnnyR Vandersteen dealer 20 years
No regrets,
I don't have any direct experience with any of the three you listed either but all three (including tracking down an older pair of Proac 1sc which I have owned before) were ones I was looking at as well as den speaker for a den 13' by 13'. I had pretty much settled on the p3esr it having been the only Harbeth model I have yet to own at one point minus the 30.1 in the current lineup, having 40.1 in my main rig for the past 4 years.
Last minute I became intrigued by all the accolades the Kef ls50 was getting overseas and had someone I trusted tell me I just had to give them a listen. I bought them without hearing them and have been extremely pleased, so much so I posted my first thread in several years a few weeks back on them.

Like the Devore they are rear ported. Kef provides a foam plug with an inner plug that can be removed for a partial tune of the port as well. I have mine mounted high in a built in bookshelf (big no no) that I treated acoustically a little and they sound stellar. I have the port half plugged. They are drop dead on vocals, acoustic woods and strings, and maybe the best piano I have yet heard, they are that solid. I drive them with 20 Accuphase watts and Prism and vinyl front end.
They should be on your list. inexpensive too. Easy to try and resell if they did not do it for you but I have a feeling I know the sound you are after and these have it in spades.
Check out the Spendor 3/5'R,it is outstanding and will fit the bill on what you are looking for.
sorry No Regrets, forgot we had conversed on the other thread:)
+1 on the AXPONA suggestion. And perhaps you could hit other Hifi sellers in Chicago, like Decibel who sells Harbeth.
I've owned 4 different models of Harbeths and the P3ESR is my favorite. It is magical. But if you like a big sound and a decent effort at bass, it might not be the best choice.
Donvito, could you please elaborate on the Spendor 3/5R. It is not much mentioned and less favored than than the Harbeth P3; the price, however, is much more reasonable.
And if you are thinking BBC monitor tradition, I'd check out the KEF LS50s. Some reviews seem to suggest that they better the Harbeth P3ESR. Check out reviews by Stereophile and Steve Guttenberg (his speaker of the year).

I have a pair on the way. Very excited...
Hi Drubin,

Thank you for your response.

What is it about the P3ESR that makes it your favorite of the other Harbeths you have owned?

What makes the little one so magical...more so than the others?

Do you have an opinion on how the P3ESR or any of the other Harbeths would work in my small den of 11.5ft by 11.5 ft?

Also, most importantly......do you feel that the P3ESR miniaturizes the sound of instruments compared to the other Harbeth models?

Sorry for all the questions, but it seems as though you may have much experience with the Harbeth line.

Any thoughts you could share with me would be greatly appreciated.
Alexander 717,I have owned both Spendors and Harbeths. Both are great little speakers.The Spendors are a little laid back compared to the Harbeths.The Spendor was on Sterophiles recommended list for years. You can google them for reviews and info.
please post your impressions after a little break-in. I think when it comes to the LS50 the typical hang ups come in to play full force: looks, cost, can't be that good. Thats the impression I got from the thread I started, equal resistance and intrigue
No_regrets -- I've just not had a lot of success with Harbeth in my room. They always sound great to me at shows but somehow disappointing at home. I'm stuck in a purgatory of wanting their rich warmth and also wanting clarity, edge definition and transparency to the source. I completely understand the people that scratch their heads about Harbeths (see the 10Audio review) and I also completely understand those who love them.

The P3ESR's are not my primary speaker, which is a much larger Dunlavy, but I bought them because I kept hear such great things about them from sources I trust. This is the first of the latest-generation Harbeths I have owned and it may be that the magic is a result of Alan Shaw's most recent crossover efforts.He would probably deny that, I don't know. I also tend to like sealed boxes and this is the only such Harbeth, though I did once have the earlier version of this model. (But this one has the RADIAL driver, which is key.) In the midrage, they just serve up a tactile "humanity" that really floats my boat. No guarantee it will do the same for you.

Should work fine in your small room although I don't know what issues your room's square dimension might introduce. In my room (17 x 23) they do present a comparatively miniature perspective, but (1) I have not optimized their placement at all and (2) I'm fine with that anyway. I think the other Harbeth models go bigger in this respect (from memory), but as I say, these are my favorites.

Where are you located?

Sorry, I see you already indicated where you are. How far is Bloomington, IN?
Hello Drubin,

Thank you again for your reply. I don't know if you had noticed in my system link, but my reference speakers are Dunlavy SCIV Signatures (used in my larger dedicated room). It seems as though we may have similar tastes in sound reproduction. Which Dunlavys are you using?

Do you find that you prefer the midrange of the P3ESR to that of your Dunlavys?

I'm about 7.5 hours each way to Bloomington, IN.
Drubin, I'm sorry...I forgot to ask. Have you had an opportunity to hear the new 30.1 yet? If so, how do you feel it compares to the P3ESR?
I have not heard the 30.1 but I plan to. Once I heard the little guys, I was instantly curious to hear the new, bigger ones. Pricey.

I have Dunlavy SC-III.A, which is the final incarnation of the Aletha-Athena-Cantata series with the downward-firing woofer. The Harbeth midrage is different and better in some ways -- a bit more pure, perhaps more neutral -- but I love them both. I switch off between the two just for the change of pace and perspective, and enjoy them both immensely.
Thanks Drubin! I know what you mean when you say Pricey. Ouch! But the way I look at it is this. If it is a speaker that you will truly enjoy, then the price will only hurt once....the initial outlay. But if you settle for something that you won't quite enjoy as much because it costs less, then it will hurt often....everytime you wish you would have sprung for what you truly wanted.

The speakers that I enjoy, I tend to keep for many, many years and enjoy them immensely. So when you amortize the price/enjoyment over all those years it really doesn't seem so bad. (I know, I have a problem lol, and I am just trying to justify the purchase, right?)