Naim Unitilite with Harbeth P3esr,not happy with the sound

Hi,it’s my first time on here and I would like some help if possible please.
I like having the simplicity of a one-box Naim unit,but I’m not impressed with the sound of the Naim/Harbeth combo I’m using.Sometimes it sounds good with jazz recordings,and with some rock recordings or old jazz stuff,the sound is flat,with little to no bass.But I’m not sure which to keep;the Naim amp or the Harbeth speakers,and work around one of them.I believe one of them has to go.But the question is,which one?Do I get a pair of Kef R300 or Focal Aria 906 for the Naim?Or do I get an integrated amp like a Croft or Sonneteer for the Harbeth?I stream with Tidal in a 12x15 living room,and mainly listen to jazz,and some classic rock,at low to medium levels.

Looking for a warm,non fatiguing,transparent,and good bass sound that will sound good with all/most recordings.Budget is around $2000.
Thank you.

1 Like

Well, the Harbeths are notably warm, non-fatiguing and transparent. They also have pretty good bass quality as far as they go. But if by “good bass” you mean deep bass, forget it.

1 Like

Ok so hears a few questions. How many hours on the Harbeths, same question for Uni? What speaker cables, How are the Harbeths set up, stands, distance from back wall. Tell us how you arrived at this setup, just a bit more history

2 Likes

In a room that size, that pair should be adequate. Might one of the speakers be wired with +/- reversed?

Harbeth’s are an easy load but not terribly efficient. 12x15’ is a decent sized room, P3 may not fill the room Harbeths tend to be mellow sounding not sure if 50 watt Naim isn’t too much mellow. Again how many hours on this setup?

I have the Harbeth Super HL5 Plus and a friend has the P3ESR (and 40.1). I don’t know how good is the Unitilite but I tried the Nait XS with the Harbeth SHL5+ and the sound quality was mediocre to underwhelming. 202/200 much better with the Harbeth.

Perhaps those who have experience with the Unitilite and larger Naim amps can comment.

My friend uses LFD Zero Mk3, Exposure 2010 with P3ESR, 32.5/135 with 40.1. Sonneteer Orton is rather good but when compared to the 282/HCDR/250DR, the latter pulls ahead in PRaT and dynamics. The Sonneteer Orton or its smaller sibling (forgotten the model) will likely sound better than the Unitilite if the Unitilite sounds inferior to the Nait XS.

I started out with a lite connected to Monitor Audio Silver RX2’s with 4 metre QED silver anniversary. After a while I did find that setup tiring to listen to and looked into adding a nap150 which I demo’d at my local dealer where I’d bought all my kit from. However, they’d just refurbished their listening room with a very plush carpet which sucked all the bass out of the music. It just wasn’t there anymore, quite weird really. However, I couldn’t really discern much of an improvement in sq overall so decided to start again with my current uniti 2 which I feel greatly improved all aspects

Hi bobby,

My system is ND5 XS / NAC 152 XS / NAP 155 XS and the Harbeth’s, comments from various listeners on my system have all been very positive. So as others have said, perhaps you need to bring some more juice to the table or change the speakers, trial and error on the speakers front. I trialled 4 different types before settling on the Harbeths.

I heard the Harbeth P3esr’s in December powered with a Belles Reference 150Av2 amp, and they were mind blowing for their size/price. I would say you need more power, the Belles is 125 into 8 ohms, and doubles into 4 Ohm.

I’d consider Marantz PM8006 (warm and musical sound, Japanese made), Exposure 3010S2 or Roksan K3 power amps. All should have enough juice to drive your Harbeth’s.

Spend the rest of your budget on Chord Qutest or Mojo + Poly for best quality DAC.

Consider also Naim NAP150 + V1

I have Harbeth P3ESR and the web site says they are easy to drive, MMM.

My great grumble has been with the amount of Naim boxes and have P3ESR and NAP 200/NAC 202 HiCap and NAPC as well as a Stageline. Decided to go in and audition a Supernait 3 yesterday , the dealer warned against the combination but I took in the speakers.

It was a match made in hell , the speakers need a lot of current and it was like paint drying , the dealer switched to a Rega Aethos and it was a complete transformation . If that was what happened with a Supernait 3 (I was amazed) I suspect your Unitilite may struggle.

I think you may need more sympathetic speakers . I like the Harbeths, I have been a Naim user for 30 years (ish) but they may need more whoompf.

The comments from NO Quarter and Halloween Man seem to be very much in line with my own experiences. Interesting that Harbeth exhibited the P3ESR at Bristol using a mid range Yamaha - which I suspect would have been built for the American market and have more power at the expense of finesse.

I think this is down to synergy

2 Likes

Wow, I’d have thought SN3 would drive the small Harbeth’s no problem. Surely something wrong there?

Yes, the Supernait just couldn’t get in it’s tracks, very surprised as my original desire had been for Nait XS 3

I have already commented on several threads, the SN3 is a magnificent amplifier, but with a much more limited headroom than the SN2, and does not get along well with difficult loads (4-6 Ohms), and less if they’re also with low sensitivity (P3ESR=83.5dB/1W/1m). Not even the Rega Aethos is prepared for that impedance during prolonged listening at medium-high volume, as the manufacturer already warns on its website that “Continued use of high level at 6 Ohms can cause the housing to exceed 40ºC above the ambient temperature and activate thermal shutdown.”.

Very pleased you got sorted . i love the p3esr , even more than my shl5plus . i tried the sugden a21se with the p3 but its wasnt brilliant . actually i tried it with my old arcam a75 [ with valve dac] and it really sang . fantastic organic sound. just shows yoiu don`t have to spend mega bucks to get a good sound

1 Like

Stereophile do some measurements on P3ESR, that include how easy they are to drive:

and here

2 Likes

I live in a terraced house and never drive my equipment loud . So should be ok , but am checking.

Ye Gods, how can such a small speaker be so difficult ?

1 Like

83.5 dB that’s super low. So you’ve got 50 watts in a medium sized room. IMO the unti would be great in a smallish office with more efficient speakers. The only one box solutions I can thing of with lots of Grunt are Devialet, Hegel, Primare, and there’s a new Plinius.

1 Like

I bought both the Naim and Harbeth second hand and they both must have a few hundred hours on them.Distance from the back wall is almost 2 feet and just over 2 feet from the side walls,with a slight toe-in.I believe this was the best sound for my room but the bass is sometimes very weak,depending on the recordings it seems.But I wish the sound can be more consistent.That’s my problem;I wish the sound was more forgiving in terms of mediocre recordings.Also,I use Naim naca5 speaker cables.But,they are bi-wire cables connected to non bi-wire speakers.Can that be a problem?

What do you mean by biwire cables?