So my Harbeth experience has been the SHL5+ partnered with NAC 82/ olive SUPERCAP, NAP 300. Stands were ‘Something Solid XF. This was a very musical system. I adored the power and authority of the bass. Perhaps in hindsight it was a touch overblown in my small bedroom. However, I was simply blown away as this was my first truly high end system. I loved the 5s tone however I did notice that the driver integration was not perfect. This was somewhat mitigated by putting the grilles on. I later sold this setup for personal reasons, which I later regretted.
Having had such a blast with my last setup I started my next system with a gorgeous pair of ebony Harbeth 30.1s. I put them on custom designs stands this time. I thought the thicker metal frame would provide more solidity but I later discovered the metal was hollow inside, which I didn’t like. I went onto filling the stands with acoustic foam.
The 30.1s were partnered to a NAC 252, SUPERCAP and the power amp was initially a 250.2 and later a 250DR. What I remember very well of this setup was the smoothness of the treble and clarity of the vocals. There was more detail and speed than the shl5+ but it had a slightly smaller scale of sound and obviously bass response was not as well extended. Albeit more controlled for sure. Initially this was a big problem for me. Not so much the smaller scale of sound, but the bass response definitely lost a few octaves. I worked tirelessly trying to work around this with speaker placement, a subwoofer (did not integrate well at all) and eventually removing the speaker grilles. Then all of a sudden it actually felt like one day everything bed in just right. Perhaps the speakers had worn in, perhaps the amplifier, or maybe I got the speaker placement bang on. Either way I was very happy, as I now had the speed and clarity along with a satisfying amount of bass response. The 250DR is really what brought this setup to life. Adding the sparke of a sweet treble, definition in the bass and what I can only describe as more emotional content of the music. There was a moodiness to the music which was scintillating. I was convinced this was my final setup…
Once again, I was a complete muppet and sold everything except for the rack and source components.
Now with a clean slate, I considered moving to other brands, but truth be told nothing else appealed to me. I decided that I would continue with Naim as I don’t want to make an expensive mistake out of curiousity.
Now, after a brief stint with the Naim SL2s, I’ve arrived at anniversary 30.2s. NAC 552 DR and NAP 135s. This setup is just sublime. Once again, I’ve done a few bits of tweaking. This time, I much prefer the grilles on the speakers. The low end has cleaned up and the 135s with AMR fuses in the plugs and SNAICS left loose, give me the authority and speed in the bass that I adore. The 30.2s offer more detail than what I remember from the 1s and just sound sublime in every way that is important to me. They sound Live, emotional, energetic without a hint of harshness. Bass is exemplary for their size and the fit and finish has me smitten.
I could happily live with the monitor 30.1s or the SHL5+s. Both had enough to offer even when compared to the 30.2s.