Harbeth SHL5 vs Dynaudio Special 25 vs...

Okey, which one or what speaker in this price range for musicality, tonal balance, full range, detail, soundstage.
Amplifier will be the Audia Flight 50 class A.
Thank you.
I have the Dyn 25's.
The imaging and soundstage of the Dyn's is amazing. The Dyn 25's are pretty
flat to 35Hz, which is pretty amazing for a moniter speaker.
The Dyn's are also very versatile as far as type of music. They have the extension and range for jazz or orchestral, but enough slam for rock.
They do require power, though.
I'm using a Belles tube pre-amp (21A) and the Belles 150A Reference amp with a Naim CDP.
I do question why you would choose you're amp before the speakers
This is pretty strange, I have the Dynaudio Spedial 25 and use the Belles 21A and reference 150A amp, though I primarily listen to my, also English, Nottingham Spacedeck. I have listened to the Harbeth as well and it is a wonderful speaker. Perhaps a bit more fullness and richness with the Dynaudio, the Harbeth maybe a little more midrange depth but to be honest I heard both in different environments and with different electronics. I also listen to the Harbeth M30 and perfered it's treble to the SHL5 though it did not have the range of the larger Harbeth. I think all are great speakers and will appeal to different people. I would strongly suggest trying to listen to them.
Hi, I have been using a Harbeth SHL5 for two months now and twice owned the same Special 25 (I sold it to my friend and when he put it up for sale I bought them again) They are both great speakers but I like the harbeths better wihtout a doubt. When I first got the Special 25 I was really amazed at the frequency range of the speaker: I had a Rel Stratta and I sold it right away and the treble was sparkling but not bright at all. The problem for me was that they are in your face, the bass was a little boomy (even thought I had the speakers two feet from the wall) and also they are "cold" speakers, by that I mean analitical and it made me tired after listening for a while. I used them first with a Musical Fidelity integrated, later with a Audio Research VS-55 and lsp-16 pre-amp and lastly with a Pathos One ll. My friend used a BAT tube pre-amp and a monster BAT 300 watts solid state. With all those combinations the Special 25 presented the same personality. I have a very long room and the more distance that I put between me and the Spcial 25 the better they sounded, the problem is that I wanted to seat 7 or 8 feet from the speaker and not across the room at 16 feet. From them I went to a Magnepan 1.6 and later to a De Capo I. Probably if I have had the time to work with the acoustics in my room I could have kept them

Two months ago my friend was selling his Zu Druids and he invited me to audition at his home but he wanted to show me his new SHL5 first. He was using a passive pre-amp and a Cary 805-C. Well, it was probably the first time that I can say that my jaw dropped, what a soundstage, Ana Caram was playing and her voice was floating right above the axis of the speakers, for me it was an eye opening moment. And I thought the Special 25 were very balanced speakers until then. After that I honestly didn't care for the Zus anymore but John gave me a sweet deal and I bought them without the audition. I took them home but I could not stop thinking about the Harbeths. A week later I called my friend again and I proposed to give him back his Zus, my amp in exchange for his Harbeths, some money, swap DACS, etc.. that kind of deal, He is like me and he loves to trade things for the sake of making a deal. Now I don`t feel good about it because he is missing his Harbeths very much and even thought I should do the honorable thing and reverse the deal, I am not returning this speakers and he is presently getting a new pair of SHL5s. I am using them with Naim's cheapest pre and amp. The sound is "golden" compared to the Special 25 "silver". It is warm and sparkling and the amount of bass is equal to the 25's but it is way tighter and no boom at all: I have them in the same spot that I had the Dynaudios but I tried them also very close to the back wall and the bass was very tight with absolutely not a hint of boominess. They define and detail as good but with more transparency and at the same time the sound is not in you face at all. I have listened for whole days and I can't get enought. The other thing about the SHL5 is that in big classical musical(Mahler) and small jazz trios(Monk) the instruments sound like if each one had his own amplification and space, there is no confusing instruments with this speaker. I never paid much atention to soundstage and depth and I can not recall how the 25 were in this regard but this is something that you will notice inmediately with the SHL5, when properly positioned, "image" suddenly for me is not an ethereal thought anymore but a concept as real as "bass" or "top end"

I don`t know anything about the Audia amps but in my room the contest is not even close and that`s coming from someone that really likes the Special 25.
Minotauro's response is why it is so important to listen to the speakers yourself. My Dynaudio's are not at all fatigueing. I have spent some nice quiet winter days in listening sessions from 6am to well past midnight spinning disk after disk and completely at bliss. The room also plays a huge part in this. The special 25 can be bass heavy or boomy when positioned poorly, I think most speakers can be but some are more forgiving than others. I find my 25's do best with limited side wall reinforcement, about 23" from back wall, I also reduce reflection on the back wall and opposite wall. But the bass is so nice, I can get down well below 35Hz I am sure and it is extremely tight. The key for me,I think, is that my side walls are several feet away and do not come into play. I think the 25 might be a bit more unforgiving of set up but this is only a guess.
All I can say is that the Harbeths are very special speakers. They have that rare combination of supreme musicality, incredibly natural tonality with excellent transparency as well. They image like a bandit for conventional box speakers and do other things spectularily well for their price range. I decided to become a dealer for Harbeth after all the positive things I heard and read, and everything is true. The Monitor 30's have that same Harbeth magic wilth a bit less full bottom but with a higher degree of resolution.
But where are the Harbeths in the photos? So they really have adequate bass extension and detail? Can you hear the double bass? Some people say they sound flat and laid back in the mid region.
Apopira, I haven't updated my system in two years. I was mixing and matching stuff a lot and I really did not have a steady system. What I have now is a cheap dvd player, hard drive+ Cal Labs Sigma ll DAC, Naim Nap 150 + Naim 112 and the Harbeths. I am builidng the system around the Harbeths. I am thinking for amplification on a Lavardin IT or a Leben 300 (the Naims are pretty good but I want to explore) and for cables maybe the Signal Siver Resolution.
Regarding the bass and mid range, I love strings and my two favorite instruments are the cello and the double bass, since I got the speakers I find myself listening even more to music that features these prominently. The sound is full bodied and I don`t need a sub.

Going back to compare the HL5 and the Special 25 they are probably closer than any two speakers that I have ever heard and I don`t think that you could go wrong regardless. But In my case and for my biases this is the best speaker that I`ve owned (and I am keeping them for good) with the Special 25 in second place.
Minotauro, I have not heard of the Leben but a quick internet search and I found them. WoW! what a beautiful amp. Have you listened to one? I would like to know where. If that amp sounds even close to how it looks the combination with the Harbeth should be magical. That is an amp I would really like to get a good listen to.
Hi Davt, I used one briefly. My friend has a pair of avantgarde unos and he bought the Leben and after a while gave it to me to sell it here(he doesn`t have a computer) at that time I had the De Capos I and listened for two weeks. I did not have the money available at that time and I sold it instead of buying it for myself and I regret it dearly. I think it was the first used Leben in Audiogon. The amp comes with NOS Mullar EL-84 and it is the finest amp that I`ve tried, also the nicest looking one, the sound is very sweet and detailed. They have a good review of it on 6moons but I honestly think that the amp sounds better than what transpires in the review. The Capos can be bright but the combination with the Leben was awsome, with this combo you can listen at very, very low levels and still get the whole musical presentation . I did not tried it with the Harbeths but I think that`s the direction that I will take.
I have a pair of SHL5 which I love it very much while playing the vocal, solo or piano. Regarding the bass, I am not so impressed (my previous speaker is Dunlavy SC-IV, the bass is better/powerful). I am not sure if this is position problem or how sensitive the speaker to the positioning or maybe because the AMP.

I am using DNA-1 deluxe as amp and I wonder what kind of AMP is good for SHL5? My budget will be 2-6,000 for the amp. Could you please share your experiences, thanks.
I also have SHL5 and I think, Wshuang, that you are simply not going to get bass from it at the level of your Dunlavys. You may be able to improve what you get from the Harbeths through positioning, stands, height, ans so forth, but they will never deliver the power and tautness of the large Dunlavys, nor will they go as deep. And I think most Harbeth owners will tell you that the speakers are less fussy about choice of amp than most high end speakers are.
Drubin, thanks for the response. I use sound anchor stand and just found out if I put the blue pad between the stand and the speaker, the sound seems open up a bit.
I once owned Special 25s and Condfidence C1s. I now own NHT Xds, which include an amp. I love Dynaudios, but the NHTs are in a different league altogether in every aspect.
I have a pair of SHL5 which I love it very much while playing the vocal, solo or piano. Regarding the bass, I am not so impressed (my previous speaker is Dunlavy SC-IV, the bass is better/powerful). I am not sure if this is position problem or how sensitive the speaker to the positioning or maybe because the AMP.

I am using DNA-1 deluxe as amp and I wonder what kind of AMP is good for SHL5? My budget will be 2-6,000 for the amp. Could you please share your experiences, thanks.


Your dna 1 is fine for the SHL5s. Its not a problem. Whatever amp you put in your SHL5 it just wont have the same bass as the bigger dunlavy. Just no way unless you put them in a small room. Even then the bass of the bigger Dunlavy will still be more weighty and taut compared to the harbeths.
However, the mids of the Harbeths may be better than your Dunlavys. No speaker is perfecct, its always a compromise.

You can always extend the bass of the SHL5 with a subwoofer.
I listened to the Dynaudio Confidence C1 and I think that is by far better thanHarbeth SHL5 and Dynaudio 25SE in every aspect. I don't know nothing about the NHT.

Wes Philips at Stereophile reviewed the Dynaudio Focus 140 ($1,800.00) and (if you read carefully) you can see he actually likes the 140s better than the 25s he owns. I've heard the 25s at a store and also thought them a bit clinical. Very resolved, though. I was told by the store owner they need and like lots of power.

I had Harbeth C7-2s and found them a bit thick and "pulled back", if you know what I mean.
Tom, what did you replace your Harbeths with?
I had Harbeth C7-2s and found them a bit thick and "pulled back", if you know what I mean.

" These can happen with the C7es2 if you drive them with warm sounding gears like tube gears or warm sounding s/s amps.

If you also put these close to the wall, they can sound that way as well.

Its best they have some free space in between to have a more free breathing sound?