Yes. You are correct.
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About a year and a half ago, I spent almost two hours with the Treos trying to figure out what was wrong with my ears or the amp, or the front end, or the cabling, or the speaker rake angle. I even used a bubble level to make sure the speakers were verticle and my head was flat. I swapped in another brand speaker and was able to establish that there was nothing wrong with my ears, the amp, the front end, the cabling or the speaker rake angle. Didn't have to check if my head was flat.
Take what I just wrote with a grain of salt. Vandy fanatics will blame my hearing, the amp, the front end, the cabling, the speaker rake angle, flat head and low brow, and so forth.
Unfortunately, no Harberths to compare. Real audiophiles have no regard for the other speaker brand, so no point even mentioning it.
Forget what I just wrote. It can't be right.
I have only heard the quatros and 30.1 at RMAF. Given the obvious bandwidth difference and lack of time listening not a great comparison, but I'll throw it out there. In that demo the quatros were great except for a lower midrange suckout that made them sound dry. My take is that they were otherwise neutral sounding. I agree not spectacular, but "spectacular" at that price point is probably not going to end well.
Super pleasant, Harbeth is warmer, and I want to remember more rolled off. It is more casual in sound and setup than Vandersteen. Given the upcharge to purchase in the States (there was a thread on this) as much as I do like Harbeth, its not a very good value and I personally would not consider it to carry my main system.
"Take what I just wrote with a grain of salt. Vandy fanatics will blame my hearing, the amp, the front end, the cabling, the speaker rake angle, flat head and low brow, and so forth."
I'm a Vandy fanatic myself. You left out one possibility, and that is you just may not have liked the Treo's. That's the way it goes. Except for Bose, I can't name 1 speaker brand that all audiophiles agree that they like.
Have not heard the vandersteens but have heard the harbeths, and depending on
your listening preferences (hard rock, jazz, classical?) the harbeths are outstanding, but if loud and punchy is something you require, I would avoid them. However if a quad electrostatic is the type of speaker you appreciate, the Harbeths are the best choice. I think they are an incredible speaker and would satisfy most music lovers.
You're very kind Zd .... I think speakers are the hardest part of our hobby to get right -- a personal and subjective choice at best. Flipping an amp or pre or a TT can be challenging, but heck, the stuff comes in a box. Most of the time 50 pounds or less. In with the new ... out with the old.
Speakers are balky beasts. Aahhh. I would love to audition 3 or 4 other brands that are on my bucket list. I'm just not inclined to run around to different B&M stores to audition speakers. Also, I think it's really bad form to take up a salesperson's time if I intend to buy preowned anyway.