As a former Compact 7 owner who has used those speakers in two different listening rooms (which were slightly smaller and significantly larger than yours) and heard the HL5's in several settings my advice would be to invest your funds in upgrades to other parts of your system. Both are fantastic speakers but I would say that the C7 is ideally suited to the size room you have. While the HL5 would probably work well in that space they would ideally like a little more room to breath. I don't know if the money spent on upgrading the speakers would be as well realized as an equivalent amount invested elsewhere in your system. I don't think you can go wrong either way but if it were me I'd upgrade what was feeding my C7's and stay with those.
I disagree. The 5's will easily fit in your room, they were, after all, designed in such a space--remember, British small rooms as opposed to most of our American big rooms.
The 5's are a larger box to stare at. Whether you prefer the sound of one over the other is a different kettle.
Both are great, lately I'm favoring the 5's. Trust your instincts, and ears!
A parallel thread is running here:
I think the thing you have to consider with the Harbeth's is that they are quite forgiving of room size, ancillary equipment and placement. HOWEVER, they are remarkable speakers that can really sing if you get them out into the room and away from the boundaries. This becomes more important as you move from their smaller to their larger models. If you read my initial post carefully I did not say the HL5's would not sound good in your room. Rather my point is that given the cost differential and the size of your listening room it is my opinion that you would be better served by keeping the C7's and investing the difference that you would have spent on the HL5's into other equipment upgrades. I don't claim to be an expert about a lot of things audio but I do know the Harbeth's pretty well and just wanted to clarify my prior submission.
I'd keep the 7es3 and look at upgrading the rest of your system, I've heard 7es3 with tubes and they sounded amazing. FWIW I recently owned, and sold a pair SHL5.. didn't really care for them, heresy I know but that's why we don't just have vanilla..
And I still disagree. The OP asked if they'd work in his room, and yes they would, quite nicely.
Sure, the 7's will show any improvements upstream, they're wonderful speakers. But so will the 5's, and the OP already stated he seems to prefer them.
Everything else mentioned has no regard for context.
You may want to post over on the Harbeth forum. Many users there and plenty with smaller rooms as they are largely from Europe or Asia.
When you listened to the SHL5 at Fidelis did you do a direct comparison to the 7es3? I ask because as you say you fell in love with the SHL5, but what you need to keep in mind is that you fell in love with them at Fidelis, in their room, with their gear.. Being as the 7es3 has the newer Radial 3 woofer and is a newer design if it was my coin I'd want to hear them head to head before I made the switch. At least you'd then know what it is you prefer about the SHL5 over the 7es3, or if it's their setup. And FWIW I don't think your room size is an issue at all. I used mine in a room 15' x19 and I never felt like the room was the problem.
I don't want to take this thread too far off topic but can someone explain to me how a smallish, table top sized speaker like the harbeth can be considered too big for any average size room like the one used by the OP?
Please don't take this as being disrespectful as that is not my intent here. I am someone who has full sized tower speakers with multiple 10" drivers per cabinet in a room slightly smaller then the OP room so I am having a hard time wrapping my head around a small speaker like this ever being considered too big.
By my reading nobody has said that the OP's room is too small for either speaker.
The 5's should work fine in your room, but listen to both in your room if possible. I listened to both in the same room, same components and music and determined which one I liked better for the type of music I listen to. Newer doesn't mean better. Some folks prefer the 7 and others the 5. No right or wrong answer here.
"By my reading nobody has said that the OP's room is too small for either speaker."
The room is not too small. Alan Shaw designed the SHL5 in a smaller room than what the OP has to work with.
OP, your room is no problem. Which will you like better? The room is not part of the answer to that - they will both function very well with your room. Are you asking something besides that? or you just wanted to know about the speaker/room interface?
I misread Dodgealum's post that I quoted. I thought he was saying the room was too small and clearly that wasn't the case.
Bring them home and compare them. I believe Fidelus has a home-audition policy where you can try-before-buy.