Vandersteen 3a signature vs Harbeth 30.2 anniversary


Title pretty much sums it up.
I am looking for informed opinions from members who have experience with both of these.
I have the 3a’s and recently heard the Harbeth and am looking for others feedback.
thank you.
zimick
If you like the 3a's, you should look at the Treo's, as well. 
I only mention it because they are in the same price range as the Harbeth's (new).
I owned the 3a sig's before the Treo and can attest to their sounding much better than the 3a sig's.
B
I did spend an afternoon with the Treo’s last year and they have their strengths.
Just looking for someone with experience with both.
I have the 3a’s and recently heard the Harbeth and am looking for others feedback.
What did you think compared to your 3as?


I have 3a sigs, also 2 harbeth models, c7 and shl5 (i have heard the mon 30 plenty but not in my own system, i never liked it enough to own it relative to other harbeth models)

vandy 3a sigs have fuller bass, larger presentation slightly recessed midrange, smooth sophisticated highs (with good solid state amplfiication, which is what is required) - overall a very balanced, imminently listenable full range speaker with no weaknesses but also no towering strengths

mon 30’s have sweet highs and a more prominent luscious full bodied midrange, decent mid bass, but weak true bass... mon 30’s in a full range set up definitely need support from subs imo... their lossy cabinet design and driver quality give a more ’hear through’ tactile midrange than the vandy’s (which have a nice midrange but somewhat less articulate), that is their main strength

both speakers have a sweet slightly rounded off quality to how they play music... not very ’alive’ nor highly impactful 'fast' speakers but that is also what makes them so easy to live with and be happy with, they subtly smooth out bad edgy recordings, they impart no listening fatigue, yet they are transparent and tonally true enough to let well recorded music come through in all its glory
Jjss49- 
thank you for the input!
valuable.
I agree w the 3a description which makes me trust your Harbeth input.
Biggest immediate notices for me was the midrange strength and the bottom weakness as well as the feeling that they would never fatigue my ears.
I don’t demand super strong bottom end but I feel I would miss it a bit w the 30.2’s.
I love vocals, outtakes, demos and stripped down stuff I can feel like I’m at live as well as jazz at times. Since I posted earlier I did some lurking and now would like to hear some 40.2’s which are not super crazy used.
I really like my 3a’s, just thinking there might be more out there for not a ton more money.... one can always hope!
I would keep the 3A speakers unless you wanted to spring for the Harbeth 40 series. 
i would agree with stereo5... the mon 30's imo are not an upgrade from the vandy's

the mon 40's would be, but make sure the form factor (HUGE ass box) and bass loading are compatible with your room and aethestic needs
I have owned a few Harbeth's, 40's, SHL5 and SHL5+ and a few Vandersteen's, 3A's, 5's, Quatro's (cloth) and currently Treo CT's. Like jjss49 I never warmed up to the M30's. I have moved back and forth between these two brands for the last 30 years as I have moved back and forth to Italy and had to sell my system each time. I ran my 3A's and 5's with Quicksilver V4's and a PSE HL-1 preamp and found the midrange to be a particular strength. I always liked the 3's with tubes better than SS. YMMV and only you will know what you prefer. 

My decision to move back to Vandersteen was due to the fact that all of the updates to the Harbeth's  created more accurate speakers that became less enjoyable to listen to. With each update of the Harbeth's I found I was not as engaged with the music and listened to my system less often. Just my opinion. The Harbeth's still are the best speakers I have heard for low volume listening. I haven't heard the latest Monitor 40.3 XD but I will admit that I miss the original 40's as they were extremely musical and involving. Also, I know that many Harbeth owners use tubes to power them. I tried multiple tube amplifiers with the various Harbeth's I have owned and they never sounded right to me. IMHO you need a SS amp to hear what the Harbeth's are capable of. I always used a tube preamp though. Now I have moved on to a hybrid integrated, the Aesthetix Mimas which sounded great with my SHL5+'s. 

Moving on from the 3A's I think the Treo CT's would be a better choice than going to the M30's. Depending on your room size either the C7's, the SHL5 or Monitor 40 if you go with Harbeth's. One other thing to consider is to add a pair of subs to the 3A's if you have the room. Somehow the subs will improve the overall performance of the 3A's.

I might suggest reaching out to JohnnyR at the Audio Connection in Verona, NJ who is a dealer for both and who sold me all of the above mentioned speakers. He can offer some insight on both speakers. Good Luck!


Joey54,
great feedback/ viewpoint. Thank you- and thanks to others input as well.
I truly am happy with the 3a’s for most of my listening and I rarely get the “ looking for something “ itch but the genesis of this was spending an afternoon with JohnnyR last winter to listen to some TreoCT’s as I was thinking about them.
I liked them but ,and maybe it was just the day, i just didn’t get the amount of improvement I was imagining...? That being said I am pretty sure I could have loaded up a pair and easily enjoyed them.
JohnnyR took me over to the other building to show me the eucalyptus finish ( wow) and when there played me a few tunes on a set of Harbeth 30’s, not sure what version that he had on consignment.
I quite liked them, very classic box speaker sound that I instantly knew I could listen to all day and be pleased. To be truthful we only listened for a few songs so I have to balance that impression with the, in my experience, often initial impact of something being a bit different that gives it a touch of special.
That listen and the general Harbeth fanboy aura is what got me thinking about trying some.
Really just got back on this thought train yesterday and part of me has already figured that the move would be to the 40’s as that is a definite up versus a bit lateral as I currently quite like the 3a’s.
One of the issues I have, as most of us do in some level, is that I don’t have wads of cash to try something and then swap other components to get it optimized. I probably could commit to a used pair of last gen 40’s but wouldn’t be able to “ tune” them with switching other items.
I have a Benchmark amp so your input about SS being good for you with Harbeths is good to hear. Adding a sub is also on my potential, or bi- amping , both would be not scary moves into the unknown.
Next step is to try and hear some 40’s and perhaps 30’s.
jjss49 makes a good point about big box aesthetic... but I had some huge ads boxes at one point and survived... lol
thanks again for feedback.
I think the Harbeth's you heard were my SHL5+'s in eucalyptus that JohnnyR sold for me so I could buy the Treo CT's. As far as I know they are the only Harbeth's John has had on display in quite a while.

When you heard the Treo's did he have the Aesthetix Mimas or the Belles integrated amp powering them? I can tell you that the Mimas sounds dramatically better than the Belles though, at their price points, the Belles amps are hard to beat.

From what I can find the pricing on the Harbeth M40's is somewhere around $10K used though you might find some a bit cheaper. I might suggest that you look into the Vandersteen Quatro CT's as well. They can be found occasionally in the $10-$12K range like the M40's. IMHO they are the sweet spot in the Vandersteen line.
@OP,
If you are working with Johnny, then you are in good hands already.
I didn't know he carried Harbeth. I'll go for a demo next time.

And, if you are open to adding a sub, then as @joey54 said, the Quatro's are probably the 'sweet spot'. I wonder if Johnny can add subs to the Treo's in the demo room? Those little VLR's with a Sub 3 really kick a** with the Belles Aria integrated and the William Tell cables. 
Bob
If you can find a used pair of 40.1 or 40.2 you should be all set.  The 40.1's wouldn't be all that expensive.  Don't forget either about the Spendor SP100 series--like the Harbeth 40's, there are differences between the different iterations.
John has a Sub3 hooked up to the Treo's now.
You may be better off with the M30.1, versus later models, should you remain interested in the smaller Harbeth monitors but seek the classic British midrange magic.  Spendor 2/3 or larger, along with corresponding Graham monitors and floor standers also might suit your interests.  Good luck and happy listening. 
All, responses have been great and helpful. Nice to have the information.Definitely have some listening to do based on suggestions.
The Harbeth importer is is southern NH so I can see some time there having a listen and will try to get back to JohnnyR to revisit the Treo’s and subbed 3’s.
The used Quatro was previously on my radar after last years Treo listen based on some of the same logic I’m sliding into with the Harbeths that a bigger step up will be more of a definite than something that is a bit lateral or logically the next step. I did lurk a bit looking for used Quatros last year but they seemed pretty scarce versus me being a bit surprised at looking for used Harbeths yesterday and finding several that seemed to be solid.
Work, the good kind, to do here. Should be a fun and interesting journey.
@joey54 ,
I was there when Johnny hooked up the William Tell's, with Ctsooner.
For some reason, he couldn't hook up the Sub 3, but streamed Qobuz through an Aurender (I think), into a Ayre Codex, into a Belles Aria Integrated. I forget the original cables (Rocket 88?), but the difference was striking. Even without a sub, the VLR's sounded like a floorstander.
Johnny cued up Yello's 'Oh Yeah'. It was so engaging, that I still get shivers thinking about it.
Bob
don’t discount the carbon tweeter in the Treo, I live w both the 7’s and Treo and it’s amazing sonic value....
i have heard many excellent Harbeth setups, quite musical.
yes, you have fun work as you say to do...
Johnny R the best.
have fun...
also try the Vandy owners forum on the Vandy site, many there own other speakers as well....