I listened for 3 days at my home to the new version of the Harbeth Compact 7es3 XD (“extended definition”) compared to my standard Compact 7es3, and I must say that a good opening work has been done in the medium-high range and above all of sharpness and resolution in the high range.
To get them, the hifi shop would accept mine back as exchange (bought from them almost 5 years ago) plus half the price of the new ones, which is € 2,000.
In light of that, do you considera reasonable and sensible to buy the new version of a model you already own?
or better, if anything, to change the model, if I intend to take the speakers?
or (see my being in profile) better to improve something else in my system? For example, @hungryhalibut suggested a better cd transport …
Even if I think my system is somewhat balanced in terms of overall quality and cost of each component.
If you like the sound of the Compact 7’s and the XD version enhances your listening experience further, in an already balanced system, then go for it. If you don’t do it now that you have heard them, it will probably be niggling away at you despite you changing your CD transport.
You have all the time in the world to ponder upgrading the boxes.
Harbeths has become rapidly very much expensive, they hardly get cheaper so your decision only.
I hope they have fixed" the slow bas notes/over-politeness, many of their older versions had.
OTOH source first.
As others have mentioned, nobody can answer the question better than yourself since you have compared both speakers in your room. I was in an almost similar position 4 years ago when I compared the Harbeth SHL5 (which I own during that time) with the new replacement model SHL5+ at my dealer’s showroom. We first listened to the SHL5 before switching to the SHL5+. I put in my CD and played one familiar track. Within 30 seconds I knew the + would be going home with me. I suspect it wouldn’t be too difficult for you to decide if the C7ES3 XD will be the one for you.
FWIW there are several C7ES3 users who felt that the C7ES3 XD is an overall more engaging speaker than the older model. Same traits were described, the XD was said to have better clarity and sound more open in the mids and highs. The standard model was said to sound warmer and a tad dull.
Reflecting further, I’d suggest that before going for more of the same, it may be worth trying something else. Now - I’ve never heard them but it may be worth trying the ProAc D2R. A bit cheaper and a bit smaller than the Harbeth. By all accounts they are a very engaging speaker. I’d never heard ProAcs until getting my Tablette 10 Signatures, and it turned out that they are great speakers, very natural and hugely engaging. So if the D2R is like the Tablette but better, it would be well worth a listen.
I’d support HH. As someone has mentioned, prices of Harbeth speakers have escalated to a pretty high level. Now, I know this is very personal but I’d still say it. The price of Harbeth speakers used to be much lower, and at the current XD prices I personally think they have lost the edge. If they sound great to you and are still seen as great value, good for you! At similar price range or lower, it will be wise to consider other options. There will be something out there which sounds better at the same(or lower) price bracket.
I just “moved on” from Harbeth M30.1 to a pair of Dynaudio speakers. I felt the Harbeth did some things amazingly well, but there were just too many things that ultimately left me wanting “more”. Since you’ve lived with them for several years, you already know their strengths and weaknesses. Comparing the new to the old makes sense but instead of concentrating on the strengths (mid-range and vocals) which may have improved, but probably first attracted you to the brand, try to concentrate more on any “weaknesses” you may have found with the originals and see if the newer version addresses those concerns. Improving on their strengths may or may not be enough to warrant a change, it’s up to you to decide.
I think every reply here is really solid. I agree if you enjoy the Harbeth sound, then the new XD may be worth the purchase. HH and others recommended the ProAcs, which were what I was going to purchase after I sold my 7ES3s (the D20R). ProAcs have always been a favorite speaker of mine; Harbeths, too. It’s just they’re totally different presentations. I don’t think you can get much different. They both have immense strengths in what they do. It just really depends on what you’re ultimately after in a transducer.
Oddly enough, I went for something different, as everything I read regardless of equipment differences and rooms seemed to garner very identical accolades and happened to be what I was looking for in a speaker. So I went all-in and I got lucky.
I’ll always have fond memories of the 7ES3. It is a wonderful design and does a lot of things well. It just didn’t do bass where I needed it to, not without dual subwoofers in my new room, so I had to move on. I wanted to simplify, not add complexity. For many the Harbeths are all the speaker anyone needs. I’ve never compared the original to the XD, but I have read about their improvements. If they’ve addressed what you perceive to have been lacking in some way, then it could very well be beyond a modest change for the better where it counts for you. Sometimes that’s simply worth the price differential. However, I cannot dismiss the fact that has been pointed out how Harbeth has somehow reached a price-to-performance conundrum that, for me, might not justify the juice being worth the squeeze for this particular brand anymore. They’ve managed to squeeze themselves into some pretty tough competition that optionally I’d certainly want to investigate. That’s me. I certainly don’t wish to speak to your intentions and preferences here. So many choices, so little time…
I’m not really ‘recommending’ ProAcs, simply saying that they may be worth a try before plumping for the updated version of the Harbeth. I’ve never heard any ProAc other than my Tablette. I’ve never heard a Harbeth for that matter. When I had my SL2s I was convinced they’d be with me for ever and that they possessed communicative qualities that were pretty much unmatchable. I tried the T10s, expecting that they’d be dismissed in short order, but it turned out that they work beautifully. Hence the suggestion to try a few alternatives before taking the simple route and just getting more of the same.
As listening to the XDs has shaken your satisfaction with the 7es3 I would add complexity to your life. Rather than ‘settle’ for the immediate solution in front of you, IF you have the time, I would listen to what is available on the market today. You will probably have to spend some money on shipping but at the end of the process you will know that what you selected is to your tastes, which may change through the process.