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  1. #1
    Wammer
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    From Harbeth to Proac

    A couple of days ago I bought a nr mint pair of Proac 1.5s (dating from 2001) and they are sounding great. I have come from having owned Harbeth speakers so thought you might be interested in a brief comparison of sorts.

    A couple of years ago I had my dream speakers, Harbeth SHL5's. When I heard them at a dealers I fell in love with their big, open, natural presentation and winning way with voices and piano especially. Anyway I bought a pair initially driven by LFD Zero LE III (sweet and punchy but a little light weight), then Luxman 505U (great amp, but eventually found treble a bit hard for classical) and finally LFD NCSE (love it and still have it). The SHL5 is just a fantastic speaker but space restrictions meant that I had to regrettably downsize. The obvious choice was Harbeth P3ESR and I had a pair for a few months. Their midrange is really quite beautiful but in comparison the treble was just so so (to my ears - others seem to love it) and moving from the SHL5 the change in sweetness and extension in the treble was obvious. I also found the bass at times a bit tubby. Anyway, I sold the P3ESR's, which I thought I would never do.

    So, and now I am getting back to the point of this post, I needed new speakers again but was short of funds so as a stop gap I bought a pair of new, end of line, Proac Response Satellites (I think these are basically the Hexas in new cabinets). Overall I have preferred them to the P3ESRs (they actually have very similar specs on paper) - no they don't quite have the same midrange magic, but they are sweeter on top and seem more balanced overall.

    With my positive experience of the Proac Satellites I took a punt on a pair of Response 1.5s that came up at a good price. I have been playing them fairly continually for a couple of days and am very happy with the sound. What I like about them is that they are very balanced and play all genres equally well. I read a review somewhere that compared Harbeth 7es3's to Proac D25's and the presentations of the speakers was described as being quite different. Though my 1.5's couldn't be mistaken for SHL5's they are not so completely different as online discussions would have led me to expect. So perhaps these 1.5's are a touch warmer than the D15s and D18s that replaced them? What they share with the SHL5's is a low fatigue, listen-all-day quality. They are working well in a small to medium sized room quite close to back wall. So that's enough ramble. To summarise I think these are a very good value used buy given that its current successor is now priced over 2000.

  2. #2
    Moderator myrman's Avatar
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    I always liked the Response range. I've had the D15, 2.5s and D25s. If you move further up the range you will need more space around them. The 2.5s and D25 just put out too much bass for my room which is a real shame because I loved the sound. I don't know your amp but the LFD power amps I have heard have been very impressive.

  3. #3
    Super Wammer AlanB's Avatar
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    Although I'm now firmly in the Harbeth camp I agree with you with the regard to the older Proac's.
    I had the Tablette's, 1SC's, 1.5 and 2.5. The 1.5 was a cracking speaker and in my room better than the 2.5 which had a too powerful bottom end for me.
    Before purchasing my current Harbeth 7ES-3's I auditioned the new Response 1.5. Not in the same league. I was very disappointed. Maybe Proac have lost their way.
    I've heard from a dealer that the new Proac's aren't as good.
    Lavardin IS Reference, MacMini/J River/Buffalo Linkstation Live NAS, Naim Dac V, Revel M105's. Cabling - MIT Shotgun S3.3 i/c & s/c, MIT StyleLink Plus USB , Naim power cables, Isotek Evo 3 power block/Cable

  4. #4
    Wammer
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    The more I listen to these 1.5's the more impressed I am. They give away very little to the Harbeths on vocals and have a lovely sweet extended treble. They also have an addictive quality I had only experienced before with the SHL5s. I think they were replaced by the D15's in around 2001ish. At some point I think they switched from Seas to Volf drivers, which I guess could account for a slight change in sonics, though someone can correct me if I am wrong on that.

  5. #5
    Wammer Tarzan's Avatar
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    l had Response 1s, Reponse 2S some of the most musical and coherent speakers l have heard, wished l had kept my Response 2S, but now have Harbs- but the D2 does look interesting.............
    "She wore! She wore"!

  6. #6
    Super Wammer mmar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarzan View Post
    l had Response 1s, Reponse 2S some of the most musical and coherent speakers l have heard, wished l had kept my Response 2S, but now have Harbs- but the D2 does look interesting.............
    agree owned the 2s also fantastic speakers but rarely come up !
    its all about the music but box swapping is so much fun

  7. #7
    Super Wammer khapahk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanB View Post
    Although I'm now firmly in the Harbeth camp I agree with you with the regard to the older Proac's.
    I had the Tablette's, 1SC's, 1.5 and 2.5. The 1.5 was a cracking speaker and in my room better than the 2.5 which had a too powerful bottom end for me.
    Before purchasing my current Harbeth 7ES-3's I auditioned the new Response 1.5. Not in the same league. I was very disappointed. Maybe Proac have lost their way.
    I've heard from a dealer that the new Proac's aren't as good.
    The same comment was made to me by a dealer a few months ago and he has been firmly in the ProAc camp for a number of years. He felt that driver changes were behind it, which would back up Tozen's observation above.

    I've a pair of Studio 140 Mk1 which are in a lesser range than the Response models but I like the sound a lot.

    k
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  8. #8
    Wammer zygote23's Avatar
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    I have the studio 140 Mk 1 and I think they would be the last thing I would change in my system. They never cease to astound me lol.
    Music up for grabs at My Discogs Open to offers from wammers on everything! (Except for Johnniebaby cos the artist wouldn't benefit )

  9. #9
    Wammer
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    Tozen - how do you have your Proacs setup in your room? I recently picked up a pair of 1.5s to put on the end of my Sugden A21a MK2 but just can't seem to get them to sound right. By comparison, my old Harbeth HL IIs sound far more open and less directional.

  10. #10
    Wammer
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    I have them set up in a small room against the long wall, about 8 feet apart and only 7 inches from the rear wall. There is no bass boom, which may be because the LFD NCSE has really tight bass control. I have them toed in, but can still see some of the insides of the cabinets. I have experimented with the offset tweeters and have actually ended up with the tweeters on the outsides (against usual Proac practice). I have stuck with my single wire cable and am using the standard speaker binding posts, but am connecting to the treble rather than mid/bass as it seems a bit more open-sounding that way. The sweet spot, whether a function of the speakers or the way I have them set up, is narrower than I enjoyed with both pairs of Harbeths.
    Last edited by Tozen; 08-08-2011 at 09:07 PM.

  11. #11
    Wammer
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    Thanks Tozen. How far do you have the speakers from the side walls? I'll try switching the tweeter placement and see if that makes a difference. Right now I definitely prefer my Harbeths but hope with some fine tuning re: placement, I'll close the performance gap with the Proacs - they certainly look better!

  12. #12
    Wammer
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    One is about 1 foot from side wall, the other about 2 feet. I agree about the looks - not only are they very compact but beautifully veneered. I would have thought your Sugden would have worked well with them but may be that they open up with an amp with welly. I think it is a strength of the Harbeths that they open up with low powered amps at low volumes.

  13. #13
    Wammer
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    go back to your harbeths,

    you know it makes [ sounds] sense.

  14. #14
    Wammer wiicrackpot's Avatar
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    ^^^ good advice.
    Frank. . . . made me do it

  15. #15
    Wammer
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    Quote Originally Posted by deggie View Post
    go back to your harbeths
    .
    They are no longer 'my' Harbeths, and actually never been more content with what I'm hearing. But glad you loving your Harbeths

  16. #16
    Wammer
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    Thanks Tozen - I ended up moving my Sugden and Proacs to a different listening area and everything works beautifully now. Kept the Harbeths in my family room and swapped in an LFD Mistral amp and all is joy in that system as well.

    Cheers.

  17. #17
    Wammer
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    Thats great Mark. So do you think the main issue is room size? Are the 1.5s working better for you in a smaller space?

  18. #18
    Wammer
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    Not a question of room size but rather that of room layout. In my living room, the Proacs always seemed shut in and did not disappear the way I had assumed they would. I put this down to placement limitations and room reflections. Upstairs in my loft area, there are not any problems with early room reflections so the speakers sound very open and disappear - there is only the music to enjoy.

  19. #19
    Wammer
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    That's how I feel about mine at the moment, I am just enjoying the music

  20. #20
    A happy little vegemite.. tricka's Avatar
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    Congratulations Tozen, lovely system and thanks for sharing. Cheers Andrew
    Thanks for sharing.....

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