Where did you go after Harbeth?

Hi everyone,

The question above says it all. Where did you go after Harbeth? I'd like to know what you were looking to improve in the sound you had with Harbeth and which speaker allow you to do so.

Daedalus DA-1.1's. I loved my Compact 7's and spent two years looking for a speaker that was as true and natural in the midrange and non-fatiguing as the Harbeths but had a bigger, more dynamic and "quicker" sound. Daedalus did that like no other speaker I auditioned. I would encourage you to add them to your list.
I always enjoyed my Harbeths because they were easy to listen to. What they cannot do, however, is ever make you forget that you are listening to recorded music. For this, a horn system with SET amplification is a must. There are dynamics, and air movement, that can only be achieved with a horn with a compression driver behind it, and a large woofer below it. Everything else, (including my Harbeths) are just not in the same league.
I'd recommend the Penaudio Cenya which is what several of our clients, former Harbeth owners, have embraced without an ounce of regret.
I very easily moved on from the Harbeth 40.1's ....I NEVER looked back
Tannoy 15" Dual Concentric with 300B SET amp, e.g., Art Audio Jota or Wavelength Audio Triton Signature. The large Tannoys have a doped-paper 15" driver which sounds better than plastic driver in many smaller Tannoys. For the best of the best, look for a large Tannoy DC.
It's interesting to hear from you guys. On my side, I'm pretty happy with my Harbeth SHL5 but I'm thinking of a speaker that can be powered by SET (300B, 2A3, 845, 211, etc.). So it must be more sensitive. For sure, I want to keep the sound as natural and non-fatiguing as possible and like the Harbeth, I want an excellent balance, even at low volume.

To Hornsystem, may I ask you if you are refering to a specific horn model? I have not heard many horn speakers in my like. A good friend of mine have a pair of Klipsch Cornwall II amplified with Bottlehead 2A3 and it's not very much in my taste. I found the music very colored vs. the Harbeth.

Hi Garebear,

Which speaker allows you to "...NEVER looked back..." and what does it bring to you that the M40.1 didn't?

To Seattlehifi:

Regarding your "...former Harbeth owners...", from which Harbeth speaker do they move to the Penaudio Cenya. Because I took a look at the design of the Cenya and it reminds me of the Harbeth P3ESR and the woofer seem to be like the Joseph Audio one.

Sebastien, you've replaced your gear more than anyone I'm familiar with. I thought about suggesting that you spend a lot of time on your decision but I enjoy following you through your journey to your final destination, if there is one. You've owned some gear that I would love to own, such as your time with Luxman. I think your next step should be massive mono blocks. I don't think you'd be happy with flea watt amps and sensitive speakers. You might want to look into Pass Labs and go that route. My personal opinion would be to build a relationship with some local shops in your area.Good luck and let us know.
A pair of Vapor Audio Cirrus replaced my Harbeth SHL5's (and Focal Micro Utopia Be). The Cirrus is more refined than the Harbeth, while also more resolving than the Focal. That's the perfect combination in my mind.
Hi Don,

Good to hear from you. I must tell you that I'm more in an exploration route because I don't know much in audio. The best thing for me would be to be able to listen to as many components as I can in my home and then decide which way to go.

As a young audiophile, I want to explore, discover and make myself and idea or many ideas of what's possible to achieve with the sound at home.

I took the plunge in transistor class A for a while with the Luxman L-590AII and then, some circumstances obliged me to sell it and I went back to tube with a real pleasure.

Few years ago, I had a pair of Audio Physic Virgo III because I liked their soundstage, then I was on the way to discover British sound, with Harbeth which I still really appreciated.

Now, I just feel that high efficiency speakers with a SET tube amplifier is a way to explore. In my opinion, the day I will need a heavy pair of mono-blocks, I should change my speakers to get something more efficient. Plus, I usually listen at low level and my room is not quite big (18'x 24').

In the end, the question I asked above was in my mind for a while. While it looks like so many people will died with their Harbeth, we know less about those who passed thru and went to another audio route.

Daedalus are high sensitivity designs (i.e. 97db) and a number of owners are using them with low power SET amplification. Just so you know...
To Dodgealum,

I took a look a Daedalus website and these speakers are now on my "To hear" list. Plus, the designer seems to have a true love for acoustic instruments, same as me, and he built them in hardwood which I found an excellent idea. It's been many years now since I'm wondering why we often pay expensive speakers made in cheap MDF...

Well, thanks for the link. That's a new discovery for me. Then, I'll have to listen to them.

In my opinion, a pair of Penaudio Cenya driven by a well engineered (not over driving the tubes) 300b design (such as the Nagra 300i) is a hard to beat combo. The Cenya is not outclassed by the Nagra and together they have that synergy that audiophiles spend countless years in search of but rarely find.

Disclaimer - Yes, the Nagra 300b has won numerous design, engineering, and best of show awards and as such is not inexpensive...but neither is Pass Labs (recommended above). However, it is a component that you can pass on to one of your sons or daughters from which they can pass on to one of their children. It's not an item that you would likely tire of or wish to flip. It was engineered from the ground up (unlike most products which are just modifications of existing manufacturer designs) because Nagra wanted to see what they could do with the 300b tube - considered by many to be one of the most musical.

Burt - Seattle Hi-Fi
As I realized, there is not a lot of people on the forum who move from Harbeth to another brand of speaker. I guess that many stay with Harbeth.


That is a logical conclusion and SHOULD be correct given the sheer musicality of every Harbeth design BUT I do see quite a few pairs for sale here on the A'gon so some folks must be moving on to other brands (though some may be moving up in the Harbeth line). Honestly, I probably would not have sold my Compact 7's had I not moved into a much larger listening space. In fact, I even tried running my C7's with a sub (Rel Stadium III) which initially satisfied but over the long run I yearned for the coherence of an integrated design rather than separate subwoofer. I will say however that as good as the Harbeth's are the one area where they do not keep up with other designs is in delivering the speed, weight and dynamics found in good rock (and other) recordings. If you listen exclusively to chamber music, female vocals, acoustic music and the like I could see living with a pair of Harbeth's till the end of time. However, if your tastes are more diverse and run toward rock, large symphonic works, big band, etc. then a speaker that can reproduce the scale and dynamics of those genres might be preferred. The trouble is finding one that does the midrange as well as the Harbeth's and can play the smaller scale and acoustic material with delicacy and tonal accuracy. I have found that many larger designs (some very expensive) are colored in various ways or are overly lean, bright, etched etc. That is why it took me two years to find a full range speaker to replace my Compact 7's. I would always return to my Harbeth's after a demo or show and feel that (within their range) my Harbeth's sounded much better than the speaker I had just auditioned. This would happen over and over again--the Harbeth's would be bested in a few specific areas but their overall musicality simply could not be beat. Then I discoverd Daedalus and realized that I really could have it all--warmth, musicality, delicacy, tonal accuracy, dynamics, detail, no fatigue, etc. For me, Daedalus was the answer and I could finally let my C7's go without an ounce of regret.
Hi Sébastien,

Count me as one of those that moved up the Harbeth line rather than to a different brand. I recently replaced a pair of Compact 7s with SHL5s. I'm getting great sound from a pair of Cary 805Cs. That might be one route to consider if you want single ended triode sound with your moderately sensitive Harbeths. Good luck!
Hi Dodgealum,

It's surprising how I recognized myself in your talking when you say:

" I would always return to my Harbeth's after a demo or show and feel that (within their range) my Harbeth's sounded much better than the speaker I had just auditioned."

Plus, it's very exciting when you mention the qualities that the Daedalus offer you and the ones they share with the Harbeth which seem as important for me and for you.

The fact is that I want to try a speaker that can be powered by almost any SET. I'm even thinking about a 2W/channel 2A3 design for exemple. I'm wondering if the Athena, which is the one I consider, will have enough high efficiency.

Hi Jeffreyds,

That's another option to stay with my SHL5 and try some SET amplifier with it. As I'm often on the Harbeth User Group, I know that some people use their Harbeth with SET with good results.

On my side, the lowest wattage I tried with my SHL5 was a 8W/channel transistor class A "The Zen". Surprisingly, it offers an incredibly well controlled bass. But when I want to crank the volume, it quickly miss gaz.

To Dodgealum,

Regarding what you said:

"If you listen exclusively to chamber music, female vocals, acoustic music and the like I could see living with a pair of Harbeth's till the end of time. However, if your tastes are more diverse and run toward rock, large symphonic works, big band, etc. then a speaker that can reproduce the scale and dynamics of those genres might be preferred."

I forgot to tell you that I mainly listen to small jazz ensemble, folk, post-rock, a little bit of new-wave, hip-hop and classical. All of which at low volume 80% of the time.

Hi Sébastien,

It's not surprising that the SHL5s quickly run out of steam with only 8 watts. The Cary 805Cs are rated for 50 watts. Also, there are other manufacturers of 845-based SET amps that put out more than the typical single-watt ratings of 300b, 2A3, 45, etc. Art Audio and deHavilland come to mind.

Also, I owned a pair of Zu Druid Mk4s for a short time that I recall having a somewhat similar sound to the Harbeths. I can't whole-heartedly recommend them because that was a long time ago, and I could never get them to properly integrate into my room with my equipment. Just an additional path for you to consider.
In my own experience, the ingredients to "the sound", meaning ultimate, lifelike reproduction consist of the following ingredients:

a 15 inch or larger woofer in a bass cabinet
a compression driver behind a decently large horn, crossed at around 500 Hz
a SET amplifier running the show

Sebastien1, if you happen to reside in the DC / Maryland area, I would be happy to have you listen to a proper horn setup with this configuration. It is "the sound".
I don't think an SET amp will properly drive your SHL5's. I found that my C7's liked power and sounded best with at least a solid 100 wpc amplifier. Though I never tried a SET or low power tube amp I have doubts about this pairing given my experience.
Hi Hornsystem,

I have some friends on a French forum specialized in tubes and high efficiency speakers (elektor.fr/forum) where many users also described this set-up to be the best.

On my side, I want to try SET and of this, I'm sure I'll need a high efficiency speaker.

Unfortunately, I live Montreal, Canada. So, I'm a little bit far away from D.C.


For your information, Another Horn move up. I am moving from HL5S to Cessaro Chopin... Well, still waiting for it's arrivial and still keeping the HL5s.
I replaced my Harbeth SHL5s with Lahave Mela monitors, which are much more resolving but, like the Harbeths, have a natural non-fatiguing sound, but with a much more live, you-are-there quality, and just a lot more joy.
Much better than Joseph Pulsars (that I almost bought).
Hornsystem, I live in Md and would be interested in hearing your setup. What you described is somewhat similar to my speakers which use a Jensen 15" crossed over at 1200Hz to an Altec/Western Electric horn with Altec 802-8G driver. More details on my system page. It seems I am always swapping between these and my Spendors. Each has its strengths and my preference mostly depends on the music I am listening to at the time. I can be reached by email through Audio Asylum since I gather Audiogon no longer allows member to member contacts.
Rgs92, I may just try those Lahave Mela's as soon as I can sell my Vapor Audio Cirrus speakers. These will be a hard sell though.
Anyone went to Living Voice IBX/OBX R2 or RW after Harbeth?

Replaced SHL5's with Clearwave Symphonia 72R's. I greatly enjoyed my Harbeth's, but the 72R's resolve better, as others have experienced, and the midrange was recessed in the 5's comparably.

Did you sell your Vapor
I went with the Coincident Pure Reference speakers and Frankenstien II, 300b Set monoblock amps after my 40.1 Harbeth/Cary 120S system. The high efficient Pure Reference speakers from Coincident are the best I have ever heard paired with the Frankenstiens.