Harbeth sound with high wife acceptance factor?

I fell in love today with the Harbeth C7s.

Unfortunately, my wife did not.

She doesn't like speakers on stands, she doesn't like big speakers. But she did like the sound ;-)

Any suggestions for a small floorstander with Harbeth sound and better looks? We listened to the Dali Mentor 6 - the looks were great, the sounds was good, but it was just not as musical as the Harbeth.

Budget is around $3,000 - any suggestions?
ditch the wife and buy your speakers of choice.
Check out the Spendor line of speakers!
Buy the Harbeth C7's, she'll adapt. My wife also has her acceptance factors, and for years I tried the best I could to stay within her guidelines. Then one day I said "screw it", I wanted something that wasn't approved, bought it, listened to her whine for a week or two, and then life moves on.

We're still married, life goes on as normal, she just finds something else to complain about. That's women....if they ain't complaining...they ain't breathing. LOL!!
Other British speakers? Spendir? Linn? Or get custom stands fabricated to make the Harbeths look like a small floor stander?
Lol Stereo5 and Jmc! Too funny.

CT, if the two of you love the Harbeths, GET THEM!! Like Gsm said, just put them on some good looking stands...

I just don't think your wife likes speakers, period, lol. "She doesn't like speakers on stands, she doesn't like big speakers"... well what other kinds are there?? Just kidding by the way :-)

Can the two of you look at some Totems? I recently auditioned some Arros for 3 hours and they changed my whole take on what I'm trying to get out of my system.

Anyhow, good luck!
Check out Devores Orangatan - as beautiful looking as they sound!
How about a pair of Vandersteen 3's. I can't imagine anyone not liking the way those look.
OK the custom stand idea is simply brilliant!

While I can sympathize with the respondants who felt that musical fidelity takes precedence to marital fidelity, I must humbly disagree ;-)

I will check with my dealer and see if he can help with this. Other forums recommend Skylan stands, so I will try them first.

Thank you!
I had the Harbeth Compact 7's. My wife kind of went along. I later went to the m30.1; smaller speaker and better sound. I used Skylan stands with both pairs. I heartily agree that marital fidelity is far more important. Perhaps if she picked the speaker's finish and stands she would be more inclined to go along.
If you want a smaller speaker with the Harbeth sound, did you check out the P3ESR? Not quite as much bass at the C7s, but they are pretty amazing speakers in their own right.

As for stands, the best sounding and looking stands for Harbeth IMO are the Foundation stands from the UK. They're made specifically for Harbeth speakers.

I have a pair of C7s, which will likely be my last speakers unless I come into money and move up the Harbeth line. Luckily my wife loves them too.
@Valinar - I am going to try your sneaky play. I think the M30.1 will be the right size and let her pick out finish and Skylan stands. I will let you know how it goes!

@Zd542 - the Vandersteens look beautiful but we have a small city house so need something smaller, like 40"h x 12"w x 12"d

@Pops - I will check out the Devore's I have heard good things about them

Thank you Adiogon community - you responded warmly to a newbie question, even better, you made me laugh!
Interesting because I just bought C7s because my wife liked the looks so much better than the SF Cremona Auditor. I was fine with it because the C7s are so much easier to drive. I put mine on Foundation stands and I move them in and out of the listening area so they aren't the focal point of the room, even though they are quite beautiful. Our place is super modern so the Eucalyptus is perfect. Was it the Sound Anchor stands that you were trying to sell to her? If so, take a look at the Foundation stands. they are gorgeous and minimal and in my room better sounding than the Sound Anchor.
The price difference between the C7 and 30.1 is substantial. I'm a C7es3 owner and I love them but the new 30.1 is a deal breaker. I'm not sure how I'll buy the 30.1 without my wife literally killing me but I'll try.

I guess I don't get the difference as far as looks. The 30.1 is smaller but other than that they look the same. The size difference is so small it baffles my mind that it would be a consideration.

The 30.1 may be the best speaker I've ever heard, and I was not planning on staying with the brand after the C7. I believe the new 30.1 is going to be a speaker that's considered a bargain and also one of the best ever at any cost
I am a Harbethophile, so sympathetic to your plight. In addition to Spendor, I would also look at ProAc's smaller floor standers. Also, at a much lower price point than the C7, the Quad 21L2's might work for you, generally very high WAF, and apealing sound. The Harbeth 30.1's are my ultimate target for living room system upgrade, but they are about 2x the cost of the C7. Nice trade if you can swing it.


I think you will both love these Vandersteen Treo"s
42.5 tall 10 deep 6 inches wide at top 10 bottom wide
I am a Vandy dealer for over 20 years


Maybe we should start with the root of the problem... It's not good for your Wife to be getting high ;-)

Lol, oh my gosh, I kill myself!

There was a pair of Celestion Kingstons here for sale a few weeks back and they look pretty dang nice and got great reviews also...
How about the Ohm 5's that are listed at 2900.00 in burl finish;I have not heard these but reviews and owners here love them and that finish looks very nice to me.
Another speaker that may pass the waf test would be Merlin.
What power is going to be driving the speaker?
SOmeone should pick up those OHMs ASAP assuming the offer is legit(Don't know the seller) if they can be had for under $3000. I would if a could use another pair (I already have three pair of OHMs).

I use the same speakers ( Walsh 5 series III) (with different cabinets, ie the vintage pyramidal refurbished ones, not the new ones like the ones on sale with the higher end wood and finish) as my reference. Set them up right in most any room that can accommodate them (not small or light) and you'll likely be set for a long, long time.

Not particularly tube amp friendly though, if that is an issue, but add a tube or two upstream in source and/or pre-amp and you are golden there.

I have never heard Harbeths, but from what I read, the OHMs are probably not far off in terms of tonality from Harbeth. VEry neutral, tending towards slightly warm in some cases, but never hot, cold or analytical.

My wife has never complained about the OHMs but has with many others, especially in her spaces. They are not small or light but have a very small footprint for the amount of sound delivered and with hoods are are very non-obtrusive. PLus they can go reasonable close to even untreated walls, especially for Omnis.

If speakers must go very close to the wall, wall treatments might enable but normally there are probably better choices out there in that price range.
And the answer is...

… drum roll please …

[Skip to the bottom to get the final answer, otherwise, read on!]

Thank you again to this forum for your advice, insight and good-natured (I hope) advice to seek other marital accomodations ;-)

The final, winner take all match was the Harbeth 30.1 vs the Devore Gibbon 88 floorstanders in ebony. Both beautiful, both with high Wife Acceptance factors.

Full system:
1. Harbeth 30.1/Hegel H80 integrated amplifier/DNM speaker wires/Macbook air lossless compression
2. Devore Gibbon 88/Hegel H80 integrated amplifier/DNM speaker wires/Macbook air lossless compression

The play list included
Jennifer Warnes - Bird on a Wire
Yo yo Ma/Emmanuel Axe - Beethoven Piano & Cello Concerto #1
Emmylou Harris - Spanish Dancer
David Francy - The Waking Hour

Up first were the Harbeth 30.1. They did *everything* well. It's like wearing rose colored glasses: first they make you smile, then the world smiles with you. Truly, I could find no faults.

Next up were the Devore Gibbon 88s with only 20 hours of playing time on them. My first impression was "bright", "harsh". After the Harbeths, they took some adjustment. Then I started to listen more closely.

Jennifer Warnes sounded somehow more persuasive on "Bird on a Wire". I let the CD roll on to "Joan of Arc" - the sonics had more punch, Jennifer was even more devastatingly plaintive and Leonard Cohen sounded even more seedy. Ok now I'm starting to get interested. Score: 1 Devore, 0 Harbeth.

I put on the Yo yo Ma/Emanuel Ax Beethoven concerto. I'll be darned it was a toss up. Ma's cello was more majestic on the Devore's, while the higher level of detail made Ax's piano more plinky. As a pianist, I totally sympathize with the difficulty of deciding whether the piano is fundamentally a melodic or percussive instrument. Let's call that one a draw. Score: 1.5 Devore, 0.5 Harbeth.

Next up is Emmylou Harris singing Spanish Dancer by Patty Scialfa on her album with Rodney Crowell. I will gladly wait while you run not walk to buy her album with Rodney and more importantly the Patty Scialfa Rumble Doll album (better album, worse acoustics - ain't that the way the world goes).

I'm sorry but this is where I lose all pretense of objectively. You have to understand that to me there is Emmylou up on top of the mountain and all other musicians are clustered around the lower peaks.

The Devores - for all their harsh brightness and only 20 hours of breaking in and my firm although completely unfounded belief that they will mellow over time - I'm sorry but the Devore's totally kicked butt here.

I have heard Emmylou in concert at least 10 times. She has a very weird voice that I could very much understand a speaker having trouble with.

On the Harbeths, she sounded beautiful.

On the Devores, she sounded like Emmylou. The whole point of Emmylou is that she is not *just* beautiful, she is beautiful despite all the pain and disappointment that she is expressing in her songs. That is what the Devores were able to tell me that no other speaker expressed equally well.

Friday morning at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival in San Francisco, Emmylou Harris does a sound check on the Banjo stage at 9am. That is the Emmylou I heard through the Devore Gibbon 88 speakers.

That is an incredible thing to hear reproduced.

That is why I bought the Devores.

Thank you all for helping me on this journey, and may all your audiophile searches be equally fruitful.

ps. yes I owe you pictures. My dealer says John Devore is at CES 2014 right now. In a month or so, I will post my pictures to prove it really happened ;-)
If you are in the Bay Area and want to audition Devore or Harbeth speakers, I recommend Tim at Tone of Music:


Along the way, I also listened to Kef LS50 and Dali Mentor 6 speakers at Audiovision:


I thought the Kef speakers were incredible. For rock music they were perfect. If I hadn't heard the Harbeths first, I might have bought them. They just weren't as musical for acoustic recordings.

The Dali's had a very high wife acceptance factor. It helped that she was with me and made very clear her preference.

The problem with the Dali's is that I woke up at 2am in a cold sweat thinking about how they had completely flattened Jennifer Warnes' voice, turning into a mere pop tart of a thing rather than a thing of flesh and blood. Everything else they handled with aplomb. Who cares - I live for women vocalists.
This is a funny thread, I have never allowed a wife or any woman for that matter to approve what I buy in audio, If they ever tried that, its, don't let the door hit you in the hind-side, LOl!, I have never had a woman tell me what she approves of in audio, other than, If she likes the sound or not, wow!, I feel bad for all of you!
Mapman thanks for adding to my suggestion as I have been thinking of them for myself.
I do normally run tubes but I have a pair of jeff roland model 6 monoblocks;any idea how those may match with the ohm's?
Great report, Ctkeene.
Good choice, thanks for the update.

Nos substitute for listening. All were good options. Have only heard great things about Devore.

Rleff, I think the Rowland amp is a very good match for OHM as well as many others.
We are fortunate enough that our house is large enough for all 4 of us (me, wife two kids) and even the dog to have their own private turf in addition to common areas.

My wife has no input into what I buy or put in my turf.

I have speakers in her turf though as well, as well in a couple areas of common turf. In those, I have to be a bit more compromising. :^)
@ mapman, Hi, I to have a man-cave, My wife helps buy whatever I want in audio, she loves music, she does voice her opinion on the sound, I like that thou, females do hear differently than a man, so when I am tunning a system, a compromise happens often, works very well toward the end result, I found men hear bass better, and the females hear the highs better, now this is just my opinion, they may be differnt opinions out there since every-one as a whole hears differently.
CTkeene - good that you finally settled down with the Devores. For what it's worth, I own both Harbeth and Dalis(SHL5 and Mentor Menuets). The Dali's midrange is no where near the Harbeth and sounded unnatural next to it.
A shop owner once told me she stopped selling Harbeth's because they were UGLY speakers and a "girlfriend repeller" (no joke). Since I like girls, I decided to heed her advice and go with something else.

Some of the best "advice" a boutique owner ever imposed on me.
I was the happy owner of a pair of C7s for many years--great speakers. The only other speaker that I have heard that is as "right" sounding are the Daedalus. I would suggest you take a look at the Athena's--a moderately sized floor stander that is beautiful to look at. If you like the Harbeth sound, then you will like the Daedalus sound even better. And the WAF could not be higher, unless you are looking for something with very modern styling.
Do you have a partnership with your wife, or is it a dictatorship with her the dictator?

I mean, a problem with a speaker that small?

What percentage of the home is decided by her choice of furniture, drapes, and other decor decided by her? Do you contribute to the family finances, or do your share of the work at home if she is the main breadwinner?

Gather big photos of Wilson Alexandria, Edgarhorns, Martin Logan CLX, the biggest Magnepan, Tannoy Westminsters, Classic Audio Technology, and the Harbeths. Tell her that this is the list of speakers acceptable to you and she can make the choice.
That girls don't like the Harbeth look simply isn't true. Both my girlfriend and her friends like the look of my two Harbeths, the small "cute" P3ESR and the bigger 30.1. They do not look like cheap plastic stuff that most people have in their homes, it's real craftmanship, timeless and classic. The sound is very good too, soft and natural.
Keith, Not to rub salt in your wounds, but apparently your "ex" approved of your system a little too much :)
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First thoughts are to get any decent speaker and trow a rug over them - that will dull down the sound to resemble Harbeth.
Dont know the value over your way - would recommend a dual cone Tannoy Stirling perhaps?
In my experiences gloss piano white speakers were the most accepted by the female persuasion. But I guess luckily mine never gives me a hard time no matter what stacks up in the living room.

I might be ok with going without for a while if it meant Harbeth sound. From time to time Harbeth's get accused of being ugly, I dont share those sentiments at all.   
So Dasha, do you remember the amp and source used with the Harbeths you listened to that brought you to your conclusion about their sound?

Most recently played my P3esr with a Tsd-15 fitted Well Tempered Amadeus, in to a Croft phono integrated. Step was Auditorium 23.
Lively, yet nicely balanced, involving sound. Couldn't imagine doing much better in that price range.
I had C7s for many years--loved them. Wanted something larger and floorstanding that sounded as good through the mids and elsewhere if possible. I looked for two years, heard dozens of speakers. None had the Harbeth magic I was seeking until....I found Daedalus. And your wife will love the way they look. And you will love the way they sound. And they are a little more money than you want to spend so maybe you will need to find a pair used....and even then you will need to stretch your budget some...but it will be worth it!