Totem forest vs harbeth SHL5 (not plus)

have a pair of forest which i do like driven by a drCAPPED supernait1

always have wanted a three way and always wanted to try the harbeths but i hear they don’t do as well with rock music (if that’s really a thing) as with vocal and acoustic instruments and also need a lot of power

Harbeth SHL5 non-Plus has boomy, excessive uncontrolled bass which I found undesirable. Ironically I lived with the pair for 7 years.

SHL5 Plus plays much cleaner in the bass and overall more refined and smoother at the top. The Plus is an improved model, no doubt about it. After experiencing the SHL5 Plus, the non-Plus sounds flawed. The SHL5 non-Plus is still enjoyable nonetheless, just higher levels of colouration.

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I have Forest Signatures and play mostly rock, with a SN2. They are staying.

Do you the HiCAP on the SN1? What is missing with your system? The Forest will respond well to system improvements I think.

I currently have Super HL 5 Plus, but I have used various iterations of Harbeths HLs over the years with amplifiers like A&R Cambridge A60, Nait 3, NAP 140, 250.1 and now 300 DR and I loved every minute.
Based on my experience they are good enough to show any upgrade in amplification, but they don’t need 500s to be enjoyable. I know that many use them with 25 watt tube amps.

I personally listen to all sorts of music with the Harbeths, but yes, what they do better than almost any other brand IMO is reproducing voices and acoustic instruments. Since I listen primarily to classical and jazz, that makes them hard to beat for me. As for rock and dance music, the HL5’s main limitation is that they don’t have much of the “physical” bass impact that many people like.


thanks, claude
i listen to nearly zero jazz as i can’t afford to collect the vinyl so maybe i’ll keep looking past the harbeth though i’ve wanted to try for them years, i am very happy with the forrests

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