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I made the change from C7es3 t0 M30.1 and for me the change was a significant upgrade. I posted my thoughts at the Harbeth forums in this thread. - which you may have already seen(?).
In a nutshell these are my thoughts. The C7es3 is a very good speaker in its own right, but the M30.1 is simply better. The 30.1 offers much more refinement, delicacy and purity in the treble ranges. This is immediately obvious.
Perhaps partly due to the tweeter used, the 30.1 plays with less strain on loud passages and sounds more dynamic. It also sounds tauter and faster on the bottom - more startle factor - and truer and more authentic through the midrange. There is greater tonal density and solidity to images. It presents a more exact and spacious soundstage.
Most importantly it sounds more like real music to me.
Whether the attributes of the 30.1 are worth the cost is a decision only the potential purchaser can make. I'm aware that the 30.1 is quite expensive in the US and there are many choices at its price point. Listen for yourself and then decide.
It would be helpful to know what aspects of the C7 you find lacking or would like to improve upon. I owned the C7 for many years and have heard the 30.1's. Relatively speaking, they are very similar sounding speakers (though I agree with the distinctions made by Tobes if not the degree of difference he describes). I would say if you like the C7 then you like the Harbeth sound so look to move up the line rather than laterally--M40.1 or SHL-5 depending on your room. If you like aspects of the Harbeth sound (i.e. great midrange, vocal reproduction) but want more (i.e. dynamics, resolution, treble extension, imaging, etc.) then see what else is out there that might strike your fancy. To me, going from the C7 to the 30.1 doesn't really get you all that much for your money (unless you can find a used pair a few years from now when the excitement has quieted down). Just my two cents....
Sorry, I've never heard the HL5 so can't offer an opinion.
Not much of an upgrade? That may be your assessment, but its not mine. The differences between these two designs is NOT subtle.
FWIW, the price of the changeover here in Australia, while not insignificant, is not nearly as great as in the US market.
The es3 is a wonderful sounding speaker - and one that is long term satisfying - but the 30.1 is simply a more accomplished and authentic sounding design (IMO).
In a nutshell these are my thoughts. The C7es3 is a very good speaker in its own right, but the M30.1 is simply better. The 30.1 offers much more refinement, delicacy and purity in the treble ranges. This is immediately obvious.Tobes, do you find the M30.1 to be more extended in the treble when compared to the C7ES3? I have listened to the M30 and found the treble to be less extended when compared to the C7ES3 and SHL5. The treble in the M30 sounded as if it is rolled off when compared to the C7ES3 and SHL5 which sounds airier and more open.
I am aware that the tweeter in the M30 / M30.1 is higher in quality than the C7ES3 and SHL5 Plus. This gives the treble a higher level of refinement(in the M30) but it seems to lack airiness or extension when compared to the C7ES3 and SHL5. I read the M30.1 is more open than the M30 and hope that the treble in the M30.1 is airier and more extended than its predecessor. Would appreciate some thoughts on this matter.