Harbeth Super HL5+ vs. Focal Kanta No.2

This is an extension of my Harbeth Super HL5+ vs. Spendor D7 discussion where I received numerous excellent responses. I am nearing 150 hours break in on my Harbeth Super HL5+ speakers which seem to be coming around. Early on in their break in they sounded nice but didn't have the upper mid & high end sizzle & snap I desire so I ordered a pair of Focal Kanta No.2 floorstanders. They will be arriving in about a week. 

This forum is for those who have either owned or have auditioned either or both speakers. Your impressions? What amp used with them. I am using a Conrad Johnson LP70s tube amp with their ET5 preamp. 
A good friend of mine went from the Harbeth to to the Kanta, so exactly what you are doing. I have spent time with both in his listening room. The Harbeths were nice and didn't do anything wrong, very pleasant sounding speakers, but not very engaging to my ears. The Kanta 2 is much more dynamic and involving. Even though they are not the speakers I would choose, I would say it's some of the best sound he's had in his room.


not a fan . they can often be fatiguing depending on recording.
i have found that speakers have a sliding scale that balances perceived excitement that comes at a price of less percentage of recordings that sound good.
this for me revealed itself in a big with recordings that include intentional compression and distortion, e.g. artists like spoon, arcade fire, sonic youth. a speaker like zu and focal to a lesser extent makes these recordings cringe worthy.
the other end of the spectrum are speakers that are too forgiving and lose midrange clarity and presence, e.g. 70’s big box two ways with big woofers and non dome tweeters as well as previous generations of BBC monitors.
break out your favorite and most sonically challenging recordings and see how they sound.
If you don’t like Classical music don’t buy Harbeth .
I imagine thats why you see so many for sale .

You like "sizzle" in your speaker's highs?

Most try to avoid that. 

FWIW, I auditioned the Focal Kanta 2 in my speaker search a while back.They did the forward-sounding brilliant highs thing Focal always does, and sounded quite clean.  But I found the sound artificial, and the integration of the midbass on down to be slighty disjointed - a super clear, clean high end down to the midrange that sat upon some muddiness below.


When I say sizzle I don't mean a sharpness of any kind although, yes, some recordings sound more sharply sibilant. Maybe I am using the wrong term but I want the recording to sound more alive than what the Harbeth's will do with certain recordings: sound a little too soft and laid back to me.

I've heard the Kanta 2 on Naim and Anthem amplification, and one other place, can't remember the amplification there.
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Did you ever take a listen to the D7's? Very dynamic and tight in the lows with clean treble on top.  
I decided to cancel the order for the Focal Kanta No. 2. I'm not sure in what direction I want to go. The Devore Fidelity Gibbon X (or other Devore models) looks interesting but the $$$$$. WOW!! May be tough to afford even a used mint pair!!
My Kanta No. 2's arrived last Friday, so I am one week into a long (100 hour) break-in.  Sorry to read about your cancellation.   For me, after years with the Piega P-10's which were too big for my listening room, I am pleasantly impressed at this stage as they break-in.  I'm currently over-powering them with Parasound JC-1's, but like the flexibility I now have to go to lower power via tube amps since they're so efficient.  They are definitely not too bright for my taste (Be tweeter has been tamed) and for a speaker of this size, the mid-bass and bass is remarkable. Build quality is exceptional too.  Good luck with your search. 
harbeths do better with high grade solid state amplification

tube amp softness and lack of damping factor does not ameliorate harbeth’s main weakness of lack of extension /slightly rounded off impact and transients compared to the best

upper focals have a whole different set of issues

net net i like harbeths better... with proper gear and system design