Amplifier for Harbeth 40.2


I have Harebeth 40.2 speakers and looking for thoughts on amplification for them.

Currently I use the pass labs int-250 and like it but feel could be improved upon.

One recommendation was given by dealer was to go to separates and pass labs 350.8.  That would improve bass further but not sure would improve midrange where previous VAC integrated had advtg over Pass.

Another recommendation was Luxman 900u amp.  This probably gives me midrange improvement but seems less powered than pass pas int 250 and def far less than 350.8.


first all no have experience on 40.2 but have C7 and now M30.1.
Me also Pass lover and own several amp/pre including INT-150.
in my experience move to tube amp bring more plus/magic to the midrange what harbeth famous for !
when switching to SS to tube I can clearly find that SS win in bass control /quality but I’m fans of female singer so that not I’m after or looking for .
also note that harbeth love power so my tube amp have 80w ,never try tube amp below 50w.
hope this help.

I would try both Gryphon and Ypsilon integrateds and would go with tube separates if I insisted on tubes. I believe that no tube integrated would cut it. No, I didn't hear what I suggested to try.
Upgraded to synergistic research Galileo UEF speaker cables and has added more punch and more feeling to music seems like the solution for my system
You might want to add Synergistic or another brand power cord for your Pass.
 My new Mac MC462 works wonders with the 40.2‘s. 
It s the best amp I’ve ever heard with these speakers ( I previously owned the PS audio BHK 250 and the pass labs 250.8 ) and it is best app I have heard. Period
The MC 462 is one of three or four new generation power amps from McIntosh that feature several updates (including increased filter capacity) which  increases  clarity, dynamic range and bass control (among other things) which is very apparent when listening through the 40.2’s.(Check the mcontosh website)
 I think you would be hard-pressed to find anything better for the 40.2s under 20k
You might want to read the RMAF show reports on new Vinnie Rossi amps driving precisely a pair of 40.2's.
Look into the Digital Amplifier Company's (DAC) amp selection. I have had many different class A (Pass, ATC), A/B(too many to mention), and class D amps over the years. DAC's amps have a grain-less sweet clean tone, perfect bass reproduction, and all the power you will need! Plus you get 30 days to try them with a no hassle return policy!
I heard the 40.2 driven by Vinnie Rossi's newest design amps at Axpona 2018. Wow! I also heard the SHL 5+ 40th anniversary speakers driven by the LIO integrated at Axpona 2017. Based on what I heard I bought a pair of the SHL5+. As impressive as the Lio integrated sounded, Mr. Rossi's newest creation is a clear step beyond. He is a true gentleman and very personable. If you are so inclined I'm sure you could call him for more info.
I also heard (twice) the VR/40.2 combo at RMAF. Drop dead. My second favorite room of the weekend (same VR w/Spatial was my fave). If I had $30k to drop on electronics, I would get the VR in a heartbeat.

I have heard the Lio with the 40.2s as well. Much less expensive and sounds great. It is quite low power, however, and I think would limit you to near filed set up.

I would put the Ayre ax-5/20 on your list. Plenty of power, ultra-low noise floor, and very musical. 
I am sure the luxman sound great but preamp mono combo north of 30K to replace integrated costing me 10K is too steep 
I run the Harbeth HL5+ with a Vinnie Rossi LIO DHT, the sound is pretty amazing. 

Air Tight is also a perfect match for Harbeth speakers. 

Any of the Audio Research amps are great. I heard the 40.2 anniversary pair with the top MSB amps and digital. All were run with Audioquest Dragon and Hurricane cords (best I’ve heard and I"ve heard Elrod and Enklein). Just the best I’ve ever heard a pair of Harbeth’s sound in my life. Where do you live?  
Hi...thanks for additional pretty content now would consider the gryphon integrated otherwise am content...this is second system in living room main sys has dartzeel separates that are my fav...
Hi...update time I added a pair of REL S5/SHO subwoofers and now have all the bottom grip I wanted...........the REL are conservatively set at a low crossover so no midrange overlap....

I am quite happy however I have been offered a ten day trial on pass x260.8 separates and am toying with the idea.....

the advantage of the monoblocks is far more class A power 34W versus 15W and so a bit fuller and warmer sounding which might be the icing on the cake for me......

anybody think I should not bother to try it?
I think the Pass 260.8 will be overkill, especially when running dual subs.  If looking for more class A power, go with Pass XA series amp... the XA 60.5 (or 60.8) should be adequate for 40.2's.

I'm using a vintage 125 wpc Music Reference RM9 MK2 tube amp with EL34's with 40.1's and it gives me more than enough power.
@radioheadokplayer @karmapolice Is the Harbeth 40.2 the perfect speaker for Radiohead lovers? I'm a hardcore fan and would love to hear your impression on how Harbeth handles Radiohead with the various amps that you've been trying.
I have 40.1's and have used them with two amps.  First was a Primaluna Dialogue Premium HP integrated.  This amp was magical with them, but upgrade-itus got the best of me and I now run a Lyngdorf TDAI-3170 integrated with them.  The Lyngdorf is the best I have heard.  You should definitely look into this wonderful amp.  I mainly listen to analog through it and it's just awesome.  It's room correction is the difference.  It also has an excellent DAC built in that is pretty great.    
Also, I'm a huge Radiohead fan and have all of their recordings on vinyl.  The Harbeth speakers are an excellent match for their music.  Radiohead have pretty good dynamic range and excellent sonics in their recordings.  Harbeth speakers are meant to present the music as it was recorded, and I will attest to this in my experience.  OKNOTOK on vinyl is one of my reference recordings.  I often play the MQA version of this on Tidal for comparison.  Both sound wonderful.  

Harbeth 40.2 needed a lot of amp power and REL subwoofers to truly shine for rock music in my room ....

I found my previous VAC 85 watt tube integrated nailed the ballads and some but not all Radiohead music well....

Depending on your room the subwoofer might not be needed but would recommend at least a powerful solid state amp....
Recently heard Luxman and Harbeth at a show and it was love at first listen......

which luxman and harbeth...what music?  

I am a little surprised that an integrated luxman amp or even a stereo luxman has enough power to optimize the 40.2 for all types of music sure excellent for some types of music.....on the other hand no doubt if run the luxman as mono amps would be an amazing but pricey combo
Luxman's, including the integrated amps, are considered very very good with Harbeth speakers.

I have to say though, it's not even close to my ears regarding Pass. I love my Luxman, and couldn't live with Pass.

Point is, this isn't something you should debate online. Go listen for yourself, I am sure you'll find yourself clearly drawn to one or the other.


I initiated this discussion specifically regarding the harbeth 40.2 speakers is helpful when people are specific...

Its less helpful if people just post that they like harbeth and luxman but fail to mention which harbeth and which luxman

I get some people always like luxman just like some prefer pass.....

Most helpful is for people who have actually heard the 40.2 with different amps....

So far have heard thumbs up for mono amps from mcintosh and luxman and Vinnie Lio....

I have not heard anyone with 40.2 not 40.1 recommend non mono amps...

40.2 need a lot of power and doubt most stereo amps can play all kinds of music loud with 40.2...

Obviously everyone has their own opinion and need try for themself but good to get other people down same road give their two cents...

I recently did audition myself the pass monoblock 260.8 and they trounce the pass integrated (makes sense more power beefier power supply...separate preamp)

I bought the 260.8 and dont see any other high powered amps same price range 10K to audition....

Not interested in a moderate power stereo agree probably perfect for much smaller Harbeth SHL5

I dont disagree however that luxman top of line monoblocks costing 40K...maybe dealer gives at best for 25K [still 15K more than Pass mono] might be better or the new Vinnie monoblocks might be good alternative but still pricier and way less power than pass

As I posted earlier, if you listen to them with the top of the line MSB electronics using the top AQ cords and cables and you have a system (expensive) that sounds really great.
A whole lot of people have heard 40.2's at audio shows being driven by Vinnie Rossi L2 monoblocks, which are rated at 75/140 (8/4). All kinds of music used for demos. Many many plaudits and nary a criticism.  That should put pay once and for all to the myth that the 40.2's need almost infinite power to sound their best.
I have not heard the L2 monoblock with vinnie preamp with 40.2 but its more expensive than the pass 260.8 monoblock and pass preamp combo (pass have steep discount off MSRP) and possess less power......

Furthermore, I am not sure whether people at shows listening to analog as well as digital...if analog often they use a super pricey TT

As to contention wide range of music played with the combo that might have been so But my experience at audio shows is manufacturers play audiophile music or at least album that make their equipment sound best....most attendees bring well recorded music...

At home I play music that range from well recorded to average sounding to poorly recorded to ones decently recorded but too much bass or treble....

It is probably a great choice but not sure the better choice.....

All else being equal I would go with the more powerful monoblock amp
But many roads to rome
Only one road leads to Rome and that is always mono blocks, whatever the brand.
People telling me pass 260.8 monoblocks overkill but damn soundwise great makes me kinda curious about the 600.8....
Strikes me that one perhaps unusual feature of the Harbeth's is how they respond to lots of amps of different wattage.  I'm sure they'd sound great with 600.8's; personally, I'd be much more curious to hear them mated with a XA25.
Owning 3 different pairs of Harbeth speakers, if I were to "win" a pair of 40s, I would go solid state. The HL5s remained pretty dark with up to 70 watts of EAR  tube power. But when there is that Benchmark Amp out there now, no excuses are left.
I've heard them with Rossi amps and they sounded great.  I enjoy them a lot.  I still like Vandy's better, but would easily live with Harbeth's and a glass of wine and be very happy. 
The Vinnie Rossi seems to come up again and again pretty sure they are 75-100 watts I'm running an LFD NCSE on my 40.2's which is 75 a channel and it's an excellent pairing as well.

More power can't hurt but you might want to try a few amps out and see what works for you - from what I understand it's not just about power or type of amplification with Harbeth so there may be some trial and error involved to determine what works best for you.

Sounds like you're willing to shell out a few bucks here might be worth finding a dealer who has a variety of options that you can try out - you'll know it when you hear it for sure...
I really think you should listen, and for my ears the Luxman integrateds are better than the Pass, which always seem lean to my  ears.

However!! Your own preference is what matters. :)
I heard them at Suncoast Audio with the top of the like MSB Select electronics/DAC and it was beautiful.  I was amazed at what they could do.  The love a lot of power as long as your amp is a good match for them.  I've found Harbeth's to be very forgiving, but will open up and sing with only a few top amps, both tube and SS.  Heard them at Walters in NH too with a couple of amps (Pass was one, but I forget which models and I forget which was the other company, sorry) and it sounded excellent, but not like it did with the north of 100k worth of MSB gear. 

40.2s need POWER! I use them with with Simaudio 400M at my large place but the new Hegel H590 and Gryphon Diablo 300 will be very good choice. I would stay away from Pass Labs for Harbeths - both companies have rather warm sound signature that can just be too much. 

The amplification for 40.2s does not need to cost a fortune to perform very well. 
You can go less expensive on the amps, but NOT the preamp.  They do have more detail than many give them credit for and therefore need a top preamp.
I’m confused when you say that the Luxman “seems less powered”
i believe the M900u is 1,200 watts per ch.
After further review I see that would be at 1 ohm, which I think would put you around maybe 300 watts at 4 ohms. More or less...

My Harbeth 40.2 is connected to my VAC Sigma 160i SE(85 Watts/channel with Brimar and Tung sol (both NOS) input tubes and Golden Lion output tubes) and I absolutely love what I hear. I also have a RelT7i for the super low end(crossover set to 60Hz and below) and the combo sounds very good. I'm sure there are higher power amps which sound better but 'better' is a very subjective term.  The low volume detail from this combo is just magical. I mostly listen to pop/ jazz/blues and love female vocals and Indian classical. 

The harbeth is special...while I no longer own 40.2 I so have in bedroom a 7es3-xd that I enjoy alot running it with a 18 watt set amp ....yes conventional  wisdom is solid state but my benchmark dac and preamp 

Keep system rather detailed yet wonderful midrange 


As I’ve noted in other threads re Harbeths... the Hegel H590 is among the best amps with Harbeths and, as others have noted, Harbeth typically shows their speakers with Hegel amps. I use the H590 to drive my 30.1’s and 40.2’s, which makes them sound just like the demos in the YouTube videos - as good as it gets.

Though I would note that I recently tried the AR 5SE Preamp and 150SE amp - and they drove the Harbeths as well as the H590, and perhaps a bit better, since they add the air and tone of Class A tube amps - very life-like with great resolution and transparency.

Either setup is great with the Harbeths.