Speakers to Replace Harbeth P3ESRs

droodzilla

Wammer
Wammer
Sep 26, 2008
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AKA
Nigel
Of course, nothing will ever really replace my beautiful baby Harbs, but they are now sold for the greater good and it is time to move on.

I'm really enjoying the Elac BS203As I bought from Myrman a while back. Fabulous little things with great tuneful bass and, contrary to what you might expect from a ribbon tweeter, a wonderfully rounded, natural sound.

Still, I miss the traditional good looks of the Harbeths so I am scanning eBay and the forums for suitable alternatives. I am after small(ish) standmounts in classic wood finishes (oak, maple, good quality black ash at a pinch). Maximum budget is £500 but the cheaper the better and I wonder if there are some real bargains to be had among the older models. I'm thinking of brands like:

Spendor - The obvious choice. I know I really like the S3/5R2s and would love to pick up a pair of S3/5R2s in oak.

Quad - The 11L or 12L models (various incarnations). Seem to be very unpopular around here but are they really that bad?

Castle - The older, made in the UK models I guess (Durham 3, Richmond 3i) but again I wonder if the new Knight 1 (made in China) might be a real bargain.

Ruark - The Sabres have caught my eye; what's the going rate for a good secondhand pair and how would they compare with the Harbeths?

I hope you get the idea - cheap, traditional looks and an nice organic sound, in the BBC mini-monitor tradition. I listen mostly to small organic ensembles so the ability to rock out at high volumes is not essential.

Any thoughts about the above makes and models - or any other suggestions - much appreciated.

Thanks

Nigel

 

graham67

Wammer
Wammer
May 19, 2010
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Hi Nige,

If you like harbeth and BBC sound, one potential option is Rogers. They made such a lot of official BBC and BBC inspired speakers. Of course nowadays the BBC designated models are usually pretty expensive. So best to ignore LS 3/5A and LS 3/6, LS 5/9 etc.

However the less popular non BBC sanctioned models can be had for very sensible money. So for example models such as the LS2, LS4, LS6, LS7 often can be had for between 100-200.

Of course some people ask crazy prices even for the modest models, for example there is someone trying to sell a pair of LS6A2 on eBay for several times what they are worth.

However to show that bargains can still be found, here was an excellent condition pair of LS6a that went for less than £100 (190831141642). I mention this one as I personally know this was a genuine sale.

If these are too big, you can just pick a smaller model. They go all the way down to the diminutive LS1 monitor which can be had for trivial money.

At the other end of the size scale, and if you can squeeze them in, the Studio 1 is lovely. This was a spin off from the LS 3/6 program that also produced the virtually identical Spendor BC1 (and its still manufactured descendent the SP1). There is a pricey-ish set on eBay at the moment 221245734587. However VFM is all relative, as the current SP1/2R is a 4K proposition.

Having heard the Compact 7 and SHL5 which share a lot of the same DNA, i have to say that I prefer the original Rogers design. they are richer and slightly looser sounding without that slight hardness that Harbeths can exhibit in the upper mid and treble. However that could be just because they are over thirty years old and well run-in!!! They are also pretty room friendly and can be used in rooms that can give problems with other speakers.

Dave (la Toilette) is well versed on older Rogers so it might be worth having a chat with him.

- - - Updated - - -

Hehe, looks like Stu and I are thinking along similar lines!

 

Hummer

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Jan 24, 2013
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Birmingham
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I know they are a bit more than your budget but the KEF LS50 is a truly fabulous speaker. You ought to listen to a pair if you can as they are the best small speaker I have heard in the LS3/5A size and indeed they would see off quite a number of larger speakers too.

 

mmar

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Jun 16, 2008
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mick
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
the mark levinson red rose r3 s in the classifieds are up with the best monitors I've heard to date a little over budget but well worth a look and the extra a truly wonderfull little speakers !

 

bigjules

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Nov 23, 2012
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Julian
Agree with Hummer, the LS50s are very nice indeed. Also as an alternative, although unfortunately again a couple of hundred over budget, what about the Sonus Faber Minuetto? Gorgeous finish and a smooth, classy sound.

 

Tozen

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Jun 10, 2009
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Will
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
Hi Nigel, I went from the P3ESR to the System Audio Aura 1 (via some Proacs) and I am really delighted with them. In the context in which I am using them - small room, close to the wall - I prefer the Aura 1's. I would really encourage you to give them a go, esp. as they are within your budget. The Harbeths have a fantastic midrange but are pretty limited in every other way IMHO.

 

droodzilla

Wammer
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Sep 26, 2008
482
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33
Sheffield, UK
AKA
Nigel
Thanks for all the comments so far - keep 'em coming & feel free to PM me if you have stuff to sell! I'm about to dash out but a few quick replies to the suggestions so far before I go.

Rogers - not really on my radar as I assumed they were all stupidly expensive for their age. Thanks for the detailed information Graham. I'll look into these and see what might be within budget.

Yes, budget - unfortunately there is a budget. The sale of the Harbeths was to help fund a particular project (a major change of direction for me, in fact) so spending more than £500 is ruled out. I don't want the sacrifice of my baby Harbs to have been in vain!

KEF LS50 - I got over my initial dislike of their appearance and tried these a few months ago. I really wanted to like them but I found them dark and over-bassy in my room, although the bungs helped. A frustrating experience overall as I grew to love their uncompromising appearance but couldn't love their sound. I might give them another try in a year or two when they are easier to pick up secondhand. Amazement, it's interesting what you say about the R100s compared with the LS50s - would you care to elaborate?

Red Rose R3 - I'm afraid I just don't like the looks, sorry! I will be sharing my lounge with these speakers so discrete aesthetics is high on the list of priorities.

Leema Xero - Yes, definitely possible, especially as there is some BBC heritage in there somewhere, I believe. If a nice oaky pair came up one Bay for a decent price I might be tempted.

Sonus Faber - They always look so beautiful but I hardly ever see them in the lighter finishes I could live with. Plus, as you say they are over budget (see above). I will file these under: resist temptation!

SA Aura 1 - These look very interesting but I'm struggling to find a price or where they can be purchased in the UK. My room is small but the speakers will be about 30cm from the nearest surface. Do you think these would work in such a setting?

Lots to think about and still no one has put in a good word for the Quads!

Nigel

 

graham67

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May 19, 2010
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Sonus Faber - They always look so beautiful but I hardly ever see them in the lighter finishes I could live with. Plus, as you say they are over budget (see above). I will file these under: resist temptation!

Lots to think about and still no one has put in a good word for the Quads!

Nigel
Hi Nigel,

The Quad 11s are a bit of a step down compared to most of the other mentioned speakers. Nothing wrong with them of course but they are fundamentally a very nicely finished budget box. And if you hanker after the BBC sound, I dont think they will be your cup of tea.

Personally if you really like the Harbeth sound, you cant go really wrong if you stick to old fashioned square boxes from the like of Spendor, Rogers etc. If you ignore the voguey models, there are plenty of bargains still to be had if you are patient. Even worth checking s/h dealers as unlike some eBay chancers they are more likely to price the models according to their true worth.

 

Mole42

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May 26, 2013
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Bristol, England
AKA
Richard Smith
Thanks for all the comments so far - keep 'em coming & feel free to PM me if you have stuff to sell! I'm about to dash out but a few quick replies to the suggestions so far before I go.Rogers - not really on my radar as I assumed they were all stupidly expensive for their age. Thanks for the detailed information Graham. I'll look into these and see what might be within budget.

Yes, budget - unfortunately there is a budget. The sale of the Harbeths was to help fund a particular project (a major change of direction for me, in fact) so spending more than £500 is ruled out. I don't want the sacrifice of my baby Harbs to have been in vain!

Lots to think about and still no one has put in a good word for the Quads!

Nigel
My punt is for the wonderful Keesonic...... Always well under the price radar, these were, and are, some of the most natural-sounding speakers in the universe. The late Peter Keeley was a craftsman of sound.

I bought Kubs when they were current in the 70's, comparing them in a live studio to KEF and Rogers. I still have those, they are the speakers I use for my computer now. I also have a spare pair just in case.

I have a pair of KRFs which are much larger and tremendous. Play some Bach organ music from York Minster through them and prepare to be stunned! I also have some Rangers which are more subtle, more suited to Pink Floyd or opera.....

Richard

 

syep2001

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May 5, 2006
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Simon
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Hard to compare because I think they'll always be a drop in each area.

KEF R300 for me - good looks, the LS50 are ugly. That or a Spendor BC1.

Saying that I've always fancied a go on the 3/5R

 
G

Guest

Guest
Heybrook Sextets - they're around 250-400 GBP 2nd hand, and produce the most natural and neutral sound with a good wallop I've learnt to hear on the better part of speakers under 1k (pre-loved kit price), plus take no more space than a bookshelf model, and you can save on the stands...

 

Tozen

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Jun 10, 2009
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Will
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
SA Aura 1 - These look very interesting but I'm struggling to find a price or where they can be purchased in the UK. My room is small but the speakers will be about 30cm from the nearest surface. Do you think these would work in such a setting?

Nigel
I bought mine from Dale at Luxurie - great to deal with. There are a couple of other dealers. Distributor is Symmetry I think. Retail at £400. In my 15 years of playing with hifi most sound for £ I have enjoyed has been from System Audio and Sonneteer.

They are designed for near(ish) wall placement and to be used on bookshelf or surface top. They have a vibration dampening base integral to the design which also includes the (front) port. Very clever design.

 

droodzilla

Wammer
Wammer
Sep 26, 2008
482
4
33
Sheffield, UK
AKA
Nigel
I bought mine from Dale at Luxurie - great to deal with. There are a couple of other dealers. Distributor is Symmetry I think. Retail at £400. In my 15 years of playing with hifi most sound for £ I have enjoyed has been from System Audio and Sonneteer.They are designed for near(ish) wall placement and to be used on bookshelf or surface top. They have a vibration dampening base integral to the design which also includes the (front) port. Very clever design.
Thanks Will, I might well look into these and ideally demo them at home. Very nice design but I wonder if they will be too small and therefore bass-light 30-40 cm from the wall?

Among the other suggestions since my last post, Hoops knows I have a lot of respect for the small ATCs. The SCM7 is phenomenally good for its size with real attack and dynamics. The treble could be more refined - something I noticed when I had them playing solo piano music - but if I had to live with a pair of SCM7s for the rest of my life, I wouldn't feel hard done by.

Keesonic is a new name to me but they look interesting and seem to go for reasonable prices on eBay. And if the Kef R300s or R100s are an improvement (more controlled bass) on the LS50 they might be worth a try too.

I still find the idea of simple wooden boxes very appealing though so it's helpful to be reminded of the different brands that cater to this market - Heybrook, Rogers, Spendor, Chartwell. The Spendor S3xxx variants are still the front runners because I used to own the S3/5Rs and know they're super little speakers. On the other hand, a pair of mint Rogers LS1s went for under £100 on eBay yesterday so of they're anywhere near as good as the Spendors I could save a lot of cash (which is very important right now). Then again, I read online that the LS1s can sound rather bright, which puts me off them. And so it goes...

Meanwhile, the Elac BS203As continue to sound excellent so I'm not exactly in a desperate fix!

Any more suggestions?

Nigel

 
Jan 11, 2006
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Not sure if you know,but there are 2 type of ls1 for some reason.

The original;

images


and newer ones;

product_124422.jpg


 

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