My Harbeth C7ES-3 story...


I’ve been using Zu Omen DW’s for the past 2yrs and really enjoy them.

every time I go to RMAF I find myself enjoying the Harbeth and Spendor speakers, so I started researching them, stumbled upon the “bbc midrange magic” touted and everything thing I read pointed to something I thought I’d like.

my first step was to grab a pair of used Spendor S3/5’s. My thinking was if I enjoyed them I would then look for a bigger style. I was first looking at the Spendor A4 and A6R’s and as I kept reading I ran across the Harbeths. In particular the C7ES3 (Compact 7’s).

At this point I had researched like crazy and had my eye on a pair of used Spendor A6R’s. It was really hard to find used C7’s so I was leaning towards the Spendors.

I had a work trip coming up to Toronto and one day the week before as I’ve been scouring the audio marts a pair of C7’s popped up, and low and behold they were in Toronto!! 1 mile from the hotel I was staying. So I pinged the guy and we started talking. Told him I’ll be in town etc. so I setup a time to go over to his house. They were mint condition with original boxes, consecutive serials etc so I grabbed them! Best part the dollar is strong against Canadian so ended up getting them for 50% off new.

Another great part is the boxes are not too big and was able to check them in on the plane, so shipped them back with me for $60.

Got them home and now I have them setup on some Skylans.

my biggest fear was the low end was not going to be full enough but boy was I wrong. First impressions from just 1hr of listening... the Zu’s will be hitting the market. Everyone says the Zu’s are very forward which I was fine with and they have their place, but after hearing the magic sound of the Harbeths it suits my style better.

I’ll follow up with more impressions later.
D50601e6 898c 48e3 b896 95e16e2ea96ekray
Congrats that is-=-=
Thanks @wjt3 

These speakers have a great attribute of being able to disappear easily, and the micro detail I'm hearing is great. Even at low volumes they sound full and I can hear all the details clearly. 
Congratulations. What electronics are you using to drive them? A friend of mine has a pair and is driving them with a Pass labs 60 wpc integrated amplifier and they sound real nice. Very smooth and creamy especially when listening to jazz or instrumental music at moderate listening levels.
So after buying the Harbeths I thought I’d search for some amp synergy. Been reading up on a lot of the same culprits that keep popping up like Naim (not a fan of the looks so no go for me)

My current combo is a VTA SP9 pre that uses 4x Telefunken 12AX7’s into a Bob Latino ST120 with 6550’s. I was fairly happy with the combo but thought I’d try some solid state since the ST120 is rated around 40wpc in triode mode.

first amp I snagged a deal on was a Audiolab 8300a integrated. 75wpc in dual mono configuration. First off I think it’s a beautiful piece!! Clean/sleek/modern/silver. Love it.

First impression was very good. It handled bass better than my ST120. It was right clean and punchy. Dead quiet and a smooth non fatiguing sound. Since my ears had been use to my tube combo, I thought I’d take advantage of one of the many features of the 8300a. You can use it as a Pre or amp or integrated.

So I started by using my tube pre into the 8300a as an amp. First thing I noticed was there was just something more. There seem to be more “air” around and a more holographic soundstage. I’m attributing this to the awesome Telefunkens.

Next up I setup the 8300a as a pre and fed the ST120. This combo came across as more clinical and less dynamic for some reason. Bass was a little wooly.

so basically the Tube pre with 8300a as amp was the best combo surprisingly.

if I didn’t have the tube pre I would have been happy with the 8300a as an integrated, but tasting and knowing the depth the tube pre adds I can’t rid of it.

as beautiful as the 8300a is, I’m on to my next demo.....

Decided to go all in and bought a LFD MK IV SE and a Belles Aria used. 

Plan on having a shootout with these two over the weekend. 
Congratulations.  This hobby sure is fun, isn't it?
Having too much fun on this Merry-go-round

Can't wait to get off it for a while... hopefully soon
My money is on the Belles.  Let us know how the shootout goes and enjoy!
@gcknapp 

will do! Both are supposed to arrive by Saturday so if all goes well Sunday should be a great listening day
Based on a friend that has owned SHL5 Plus's, 30.2 and 40.1 my money is on the LFD.
The LFD Zero Mk4 is one of the few amps that will transform the Harbeth. You may experiment with speaker placement in the room to get more from the speakers.

The Compact 7ES3 is my 2nd favorite speaker in the Harbeth line. I prefer it to the M30.1.

Enjoy~
Ryder, which is yours first preference in Harbeth line
From all I’ve read the LFD definitely gets most of the votes but deep down I’m rooting for the Belles due to its welcome extra features like phono, bypass, remote

don't think I can go wrong at this point. 
Murgeshj, the Super HL5 Plus
I've more or less fallen in love with the 30.2s and am saving up to get them.  You mentioned Canada which was interesting as they seem to be getting the equivalent price to what you would pay in the U.K. as opposed to a pretty stiff mark up in the States.  For example, last I looked the 30.2s are $6,950 in the US and $6,400 CAD in Canada--at current rate $4,840 US!

The dealer I have heard the Harbeth's at uses tube amps (the Synthesis Titan 100 WPC) and they sound fabulous with that combo.  The mids are just incredible.

Have fun!
@badgerdmsYeah I wonder why US import is getting such jacked up pricing?

But the CAD to USD conversion is definitely in our (US) favor.

Never got to hear the 30.2's
@kray Congrats on your journey.  I have owned Harbeth 30s, 30.1s, P3ESRs and now 40.1s.  
I have much love for Harbeths.  I'm glad to hear you're enjoying them too.  They are not for everyone but in my opinion they are very hard to beat.  I hope to be able to buy a pair of 40.2 anniversary speakers in the near future.  Cheers!
First off, congrats on having such a fun time. The 7s are a great speaker.

For me though, they are bested by the 30.2s and SHL5+. I like either speaker quite a bit. But the 30.2 with a Line Magnetic 805 iA tube integrated, Gold Note two-box phono pre, Gold Note table with their MC cart and Nordost wire is pretty amazing. You mentioned midrange and this combo really plays midrange sublimely. Not saying there's no bass or top end, because they are very much there, but the midrange is just killer.
So got the LFD mk IV today. Let it warm up for a couple hours play. The Audiolab 8300a is a great value at $1300 new (even better used/open box price) but

the LFD definitely beats the 8300a. Just better dynamics from top to bottom. I always felt the top end extension wasn’t quite there on the 8300a. No issues there with the LFD.

Belles Aria supposed to arrive tomorrow. Sending back the 8300a so it will be a shootout just between the Aria and LFD.

LFD is so far a definite keeper. Can’t really find a fault in it yet. So it’s the one to beat.

this is all with the RME ADI-2 DAC. Interestingly I’ll have a Schiit Gungnir Multibit Gen5 DAC to test with in next couple days as well. Word is it’s soundstage is bigger than RME. If that’s true I’ll be a happy audiophool
trying to get some dedicated time in and going back and forth between the Belles and LFD, changing connections etc. 

it's been really diifficult to tell much of a difference between these two. I wanna say the LFD is just a small tad fuller sounding right now.. using some test tracks. 

Everything right now is Qobuz streaming over Ethernet to Microrendu via Roon. 

The build quality on both is good, but definite edge goes to LFD. It's solid as a rock. Kinda deceiving too via pictures it looks unassuming but feels high quality in person.

I'll have some more time during the week and weekend to test more... then Thurs I get the Schiit Gungnir MB DAC to compare to my RME.. fun times lots of stuff to test 
Good discussion. And timely for me as I’m in the market for new speakers too.  Looking at Harbeth, Spendor, and Magnepan 3.7s as well. One issue is that all of the speakers I’m looking at want to be three or four feet out into the listening space and that’s sometimes hard to achieve.

You mentioned Canada which was interesting as they seem to be getting the equivalent price to what you would pay in the U.K. as opposed to a pretty stiff mark up in the States. For example, last I looked the 30.2s are $6,950 in the US and $6,400 CAD in Canada--at current rate $4,840 US!


I wonder why US import is getting such jacked up pricing?

It’s the same with high-end Japanese amps: the US dealer prices are sky-high compared to overseas (Europe even). My guess is that the dollar remains strong and especially the US economy remains strong. This results in tremendous ’effective demand’ domestically which means that dealers can take profits.

Buying in Canada is tempting, though when you cross the border there can sometimes be dues to pay to the customs agent. You don’t want to be caught not declaring something.



Cant go wrong with either amp.  Using my Belles Aria with Vandersteen VLR speakers.  Bryston BDP-pi streamer and Mytek Liberty dac.  Audioquest GO-4 speaker cables and Audioquest interconnects.  Sound is spacious and accurate.
@gcknapp agree. Think it will come down to which one I feel more fond of just aesthetically etc. will have a more thorough listening session this weekend. 
@archguy yes the Harbeths sound great out in the room. I also want to test moving them closer to back wall just to experience the difference. But I prefer near field listening so after testing that I’m sure I’ll move them back into the room
Hi kray,
  This is Tea for One from AK. Imaging wise,how do the little Spendors fair against the Harbeths?
@rocray will test that and let you know. 
Haven’t hooked them up in a while with all the listening testing I’ve been doing with the Harbeths. 
Congrats!
I got some Harbeth P3ESR's this year and I'm totally smitten with them. The only speakers I'd replace these with would be the Compact 7s (or other larger Harbeth). Just magic sounding.

I'm powering them with a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II - 100w all Tube integrated. Luscious sounding.

@creativepart heard great things about the Rogue Cronus Magnum. Might have to audition that amp. 
Congrats Kray on the great deal and new speakers!  
I owned the ES3's for the better part of three years and really loved their sound.  Hauntingly magical with high powered tubes (my Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum II.  Soundstage, vocal clarity and realism and a very rich sweet presentation that runs that fine line between detail and forgiving like no other speakers can.  
With the right setup- sources, amplification, cables and room positioning they can deliver a sound that competes with any speaker regardless of price.  Enjoy them and your music!  
@avanti1960 thanks! Another Cronus magnum user. You guys are definitely tempting me :)
Any amp comparison updates? 
@rocray
The battle is so close with the LFD and Belles. Still testing out things with different tracks etc. still haven’t decided.
 But one decision I did make. The Gungnir is staying. RME is going up for sale. The RME is very clean accurate and transparent but the Gungnir has it beat in the “size” of the sound. And picks up a little more microdetail better. The soundstage seems bigger by a slight margin. It’s probably the Multibit/R2R sound I’m enjoying more. I’m trying to simplify everything in my system and the no frills approach of the Gungnir better suits my needs. The DSP and the plethora of other options in the RME are fantastic but not sure I’ll be using them. 
Thank to John Rutan at Audio Connection for the Belles Aria, Vandersteen and Audioquest recommendation. Great system synergy from very knowledgeable, patient dealer.
I had a pair of Vanderteens - 1Ci's - and John Rutan played the Belles Aria, I loved it, I bought it and I still marvel at this amp every time I hit the power button. I had speaker cable trepidation, but John advised some decent AQ's and I have no complaints at all. The Aria flies below the radar, but for those discerning types that seek it out, it's time well spent because it delivers the audio goods and is an outrageous value in my opinion. John Rutan was patient with me, too, and that is something that I won't forget in this world of crummy customer service.
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Nice speaker from harbeth line ,
Me too have it and was using high power tube amp like Primaluna and Air Tight (till now).
indeed I was also drawn by their magic sound😁.

Last amp I’ve decided to try out is the Rogue Cronus Magnum II

always loved tunes in my other systems so hopefully the 100wpc Cronus can feed the Harbeths well. 
You were using Prima Luna and Air Tight, but have found something better with C7's....? Can you offer more insight?  Thanks in advance. 
Had an LFD NCSE II driving Harbeth C7s for 2 years. Always needed a sub to get where I wanted it to go. The LFD had an issue one day and I took it to the best private stereo repair place in Chicago.

He opened it up and laughed out loud. 
It was like a heath Kit radio. I was shocked. 

I had an LFD III tyhen a IV then an NCSE.
Always thought good for classical and jazz but lacking for rok to Harbeths.

I have a Belles Soloist 1 driving Dyn S-40s and FOR ME it works.. Fuller more dynamic sound.
Heard the LFD and Harbeth combo lacked the drive for Harbeth before. This person actually suggested a lower priced integrated in favor of LFD for just that reason. The name is escaping me... a british line but not Naim. Also looking to pick up a pair of 7’s. I enjoyed my time with the P3’s, but I want to play in a larger room ( 23 X 12 X 8), and the 3’s got lost in there. I also hope my Croft lights up the 7’s a bit more than it did the 3’s. I would think with the 2.5 DB difference it should be better. As far as good for rock, that may be another question. Kray- interested to hear your findings with some healthy tubewatts running the C7’s. I hate to say this but I’d like to hear a Cary Sli-80 in to the 7’s...the older version with all tubed PS. Enjoy the ride!
@fjn04 i had no issue with full sound driving the C7’s with the LFD MK IV. I’ve heard from another friend that owned several LFD’S that the MK IV was the meatier of the amps he had. So much that he sold his NCSE and went back to the MK IV. 

Ive since found my fav amp with the C7’s. A Line Magnetic 518ia, 22wpc of class a SET. so much so I’m done with amps for a while, and moving on to trying out DACs. 

For your room size I also would not rule out the Rogue Cronus Magnum II. It was my second favorite and pushes out 100wpc with the KT120’s
Congratulations on finding the right integrated amp! 
Oh wow...that would be awesome if I could go low power tubes with my C7's. I should have mine in a few days. Good for you Kray. (-:
@fjn04 yep! The 22 SET watts of the 518 are perfect in my medium size room. I’m sure that Cary would be awesome 
Thanks- I should be picking mine up Thursday. I will chime back in with a full review, specs, and measurements. Just kidding, but back soon with some thoughts (-: