Something other than Harbeth SHL5

Don't get me wrong. I love my Harbeths, but they're all I've owned for a long time and it was Spendor before that. I've got the itch to try something new.

Budget around $8000 new.

Room size is 14.5 feet x 25 feet. Listening "area" is in one half the room.
Amplifier is Audio Hungary Qualiton A5i. Tube amp, 50 wpc
Primary source is FLAC and DSD files to PSAudio DirectStream Dac
Subwoofer is MJ Acoustics Reference 100 set at a roll-off of 34 Hz.

My musical tastes are classical, large-scale choral works, symphonies, along with solo piano, also organ (rumbling the floor). Some jazz, female voices, and a little opera, again female voices. I love good imaging, life-like sound, large soundstage, and the disappearance of the speakers. I like the feeling of being there, without going deaf. I feel like I have to play the SHL5s loud to make them come alive.  I'm very sensitive to upper frequencies going too harsh/bright.

I auditioned Audio Note AN-J in a studio and they blew me away in the way that they disappeared.  Detail, and soundstage were magnificent. However, I thought I heard a little graininess is the mid-range at one point.

I've also read a lot of reviews and did hear some samples on YouTube (I know, I know) of Audio Solutions Figaro M, and they did sound magical. They're simply not available in South Florida, so I will not be able to audition them. But there is definitely something going on with those speakers.

Has anyone heard all 3 or two out of 3 to give me some opinions? Thank you!

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Do you have the SHL5 or the SHL5 Plus? If the former, then maybe trying the plus version will bring you closer to your goal. I found a huge difference between the two. 

Now if you already have the Plus version, IMO, it’s hard to beat under $10k.



Love British bloodline speakers.  My wife’s speaker below run with Luxman 509X and appropriate front end.  They sit atop Sound Anchor Stan’s with Herbies Fat Dots.


Maybe Joseph Audio Pulsar's haven't heard them but have listened to their bigger brother the Perspectives which were amazing. I've read they are very similar except don't go as low but with your sub shouldn't be an issue. 

I feel like I have to play the SHL5s loud to make them come alive. I’m very sensitive to upper frequencies going too harsh/bright.

As what Arafiq mentioned. Older SHL5 is slightly spitty and harsh in the treble in comparison to SHL5 Plus. It may be worthwhile to try the SHL5+ without losing the smooth and warm midrange of the Harbeth. The Plus version sounds smoother at the top without the glare and grain in the treble, and the bass is hugely improved and slimmed down with improved definition and detail.

The Graham equivalent is another good alternative to the Harbeth with a rather similar sound signature but with slightly more open, expressive and nuanced delivery.

With human voice reproduction, there are not many modern speakers that can match British BBC speakers, in my limited experience.

Speakers are as we all know are very personal. And given your history of Spendor and Harbeth speakers it seems you need BBC type reproduction albeit with more dynamics. If I were you I'd be wary of going for non-BBC style speakers. There's a good chance if they at first appeal but are not BBC sound you'll end up being unhappy in the long run. Stick to looking at Spendor Classic, Harbeth, Graham, etc. speakers for auditioning.

I had the SHL5+ and liked them a lot but they didn't have the best dynamics and quickness.  

I picked the Spendor D7.2, 90 db efficiency and goes great with rune amps.  Deep and punchy bass, superb midrange and highs are amazing.  Imaging is right on the money but the dynamics, quickness and timing are really nice.  

Bass is special because of the bottom firing port that mimics a transmission line.  Mine measure to 25 hz in my room.  

stereo5 maybe cause the next/top of the line 40.2’s are $22K vs $8K for the HL5

I feel like I have to play the SHL5s loud to make them come alive.

I auditioned the 30.2 XD and the newest HL5s and went with the 30.2’s and 2 REL T/9x subs.

I feel the opposite - they don’t need to be played loud at all to sound really satisfying so perhaps audition the latest Harbeth's as someone else suggested and maybe the dealer would take yours in trade?

My suggestion for something completely different but still efficient enough for tube amplification is Daedalus Audio. You may have to look at used however.

Seems to me getting an upgraded Harbeth wouldn't fulfill the desire for something new. How about this: Find speakers that people are raving about that have significant return windows. Keep the Harbeths during the process. If you find the greener grass or new audio horizon, then you can sell the Harbeths.

Tannoy’s? Efficiency you are looking for, hand made in Scotland, certainly prestige especially GR level, not sure if you find a distribution demo them

I like the Tannoy thought. Or Fyne's new knock off line.

If you want something different a 15" dual concentric is

one option.

Or an MBL but new the little ones are $12k. Great sound though.

Joseph's Pulsar are a great speaker too.

By-the-by, I have just begun breaking in a pair of Super HL5 XDs. As I don't live in the sort of place where you can't play your stereo loud all day, it will some three months or so until I have a final verdict. As I said, I have literally just taken them out of the box, and I do not even have the stands yet, so they're just sitting on the carpet. As you'll imagine this does some curious things to the imaging: It sounds as if Sam Cooke is a Hobbit.

I had a pair of Harbeth C-7ES for many years and felt as you do—great speakers that needed to be goosed to achieve realistic dynamics. After a long search I ended up with Daedalus, which gave me the tonal realism of my C-7s but with better dynamics, speed, and extension at both ends. At $8k you will need to find a used pair and they don’t show up often but are worth the wait. Lou is very helpful and can advise on available upgrades should you feel it necessary down the road.

Here is the best advise any here can give you.


Call Mike O'Keefe at HiFi Direct in Hackensack NJ.  He has been in the industry 40 years and has heard and knows everyone.  We were just discussing this topic during the week.  He has a pair of monitors for around $3700 that were just amazing.  He will probably take on the line.  PLUS he knows how to set-up speakers so a half inch movement yields better sound.  He won't give you bad advice.  Tell him Peter sent you.  Hey is is only a phone call.

Happy Listening.

Might I suggest Mangepan 3.7i?  As with any speaker, proper setup is mandatory. For the type of music you describe, they are worth a listen.

I went from SHL5+ 40th Anniversary to Kef Reference 1. More neutral, huge soundstage, and great imaging. Detailed, but easy to listen to. Joseph Audio would also be a strong recommendation. The Pulsars are amazing.


be careful of going to a speaker smaller in scale compared to the SHL5.  

you would hate to lose something in the process.  



I very much agree with that.  With small stand mounteds, all I hear is speaker-in-a-shoebox.  LOL

You may want to pay a visit to Soundlux in south Florida if you haven't already.  They have the full Audio Note line of speakers.  I think they may have a pair of Fleetwood Devilles  in the store as well that you could audition.  I heard the Joseph audio at the Florida Audio Expo and thought they were great.  For the money, the Mofi speakers were hard to beat. They were playing them with a HiFI  Rose and sounded as good to my ears as many of the rooms with 10 times the price in equipment.  


I am planning to go there, but so far, nobody has responded to my email.



You might take a look at the Wilson-Benesch P 1.0. If you scroll down on the page you will see a cut away of the new tweeter which has evolved from previous designs and completely built in house...They make some fine speakers. 

As mentioned above a couple of times, the Joseph Pulsar could be a potential option if you would be ok with a stand mount (and they for sure do not sound like a speaker in a shoebox).

Another potential option you might want to check out is the new Revival Atalante 5.  It's quite good....




I auditioned as much as I could find and at least did research on every option suggested.  Although you can't tell much from it, I did try to listen to samples on YouTube (with headphones).  There definitely is a noticeable upgrade is SQ when you hit the $10,000 mark.

In the end, it turned out to be a combination of what I liked and what was in my price range.  I selected a 2-year old pair of Audio Solutions Figaro M floorstanding speakers.

Very pleased with my choice and with the folks at Audio Solutions!  The dealer who sold them to me is not an Audio Solutions Dealer so he really did not know the speakers well.  They really do make a recording feel like you are there.  They are crystal clear, never too bright, with a very wide soundstage and nice 3D imaging.  It was not inconsequential that I own the same amplifier that Audio Solutions uses in testing these speakers.  

Thanks to all who responded with such wonderful suggestions.  


Congratulations. I took a quick look at a couple reviews, they sound like great speakers. Tell us more when you have had them for a couple months.