Compare/Contrast Spendor Classic vs. Harbeth speakers

I'm in the market to replace a 20+ year old pair of ProAc Response 1.5 floorstanders. I intend to go with monitors due to not wanting to deal with the weight/s of floorstanding speakers these days.


I have auditioned at a dealer the Dynaudio Contour 20i and Heritage Specials. Good sounding speakers: dynamic, good soundstage and imaging, and detailed. I could certainly live with the Dynaudios, but I'm keeping my options open right now.

Next up was Harbeth 30.2XD and Harbeth C7ES3 XD. The Harbeths have the midrange magic in spades, slightly less dynamic, and imaged well. The 30.2s ran out of bottom end what seemed like the 55-60Hz range. I want a bit more meat on the bones in the lower frequencies, at least down to 40-ish Hz with the mix of music I routinely listen to. The dealer did not have the SHL5 speakers available for demo, but may be too large for my 10x16 (speakers on long wall) space.

I am interested in hearing from members that have owned both Harbeth and Spendor Classic speakers. Unfortunately, the nearest Spendor dealer is over 3 hours away. I'm interested in the 2/3, 3/1, maybe 1/2 which might be large for my space. The speakers would be 2 to 2-1/2' from front wall, listening chair 7-8' from speakers against opposite wall. The room is treated, but not overly damped.

Any feedback from members that have owned both speaker brands would be appreciated. Thank you.


I've heard the 40.2 (dealer, show, own system) and the Classic 100.  I liked them both very much, just giving the nod to the Harbeth, but it was close.  The Classic 100 was in a very different room/system, and sounded a tad more forceful/energetic/muscular, but much more similar than different.  Over various iterations both Harbeth and Spendor Classic have been edging gradually towards a slightly more "modern" (i.e. less mellow) sound.  Both are very much worth auditioning, as is Graham, which is even more difficult to hear in the large tracts of the US.  Given the current pricing of Harbeths in the US, and the slight changes made to the XD, my recommendation is to look at gently used pairs going back one or two generations, as discussed in another recent thread.


Thanks for the input. You're definitely correct that is difficult to audition many brands these days. Dealers that carry ProAc, Stirling and Graham are well outside of my area.

Quoting myself from a few other threads:


Between my SP2/3R2 and my Harbeth M30.2 (now sold) I prefer the former. Warmer, more exuberant, joyful or friendly I would say, with better lit mids, nice highs, bigger sound and in most cases I prefer their acoustic timbres reproduction. The Harbeth's are more "serious", they wear a costume with an appropriate tie so to speak, have a bit of a bump around 100Hz and the classic BBC dip in the midrange, a very (objectively speaking, more) refined tweeter and their less extended bass is clearer, tighter and with good (better?) texture. I must admit that the M30.2 played the most astonishingly realistic string quartet I've ever heard, though, they are great with violin and cello. 


They  (the Spendor's) are amazing. The acoustic instruments are incredibly realistic - great tone and timbre. Piano is great, violin is great, acoustic guitar is astonishing. Very musical and inviting midrange. Low end is a bit slow, not particularly tight / punchy and starts gently rolling off around... 50 Hz? (just a guess) Quite (but not very) smooth and extended highs, good enough in my book.


My Spendor SP2/3R2 (older model, so used only - not sure, but might be slightly preferable to the current Classic Line) vs. HarbethM30.2 Anniversary: the later are quite neutral and the former are warmer. The Spendors are quite detailed in terms of timbre, harmonic, chromatic and textural detail, good fidelity here, but the contours / transients are not so precisely rendered, especially in the bass which is more diffuse. Very musical and fatigue free, though, adept at accurately reproducing acoustic instruments especially violin and guitar. The Spendors shine when partnered with a dynamic amp as they can be a bit sluggish otherwise, I like them a lot with my friend's Exposure 3010 integrated (older, mosfet based model).

I owned a pair of 1/2Es for several years and also auditioned several Harbeths at length. Between Spendor Classic and Harbeth I have a slight preference for Spendor; I just find them a bit more natural sounding. That said, I could easily live with either (Full disclosure, I have a set of Ohms these days.)

Great feedback and information, don q and misstl, thank you. Based on what I’ve read online and here on Audiogon, the Spendor 2/3 seem to be a happy middle between a C7, M30 and the SHL5 form factor, and the Spendor 1/2 and 3/1… more body and heft with a beautiful tonality and non-fatiguing sound. 

agree w @twoleftears

the current gen spendor classics are voiced with more treble energy than their equivalent harbeth counterparts

when i listen to my spendor sp100r2’s (precursor to the classic 100 designation, but same speaker) i need to use cabling etc to manage its slight treble edge if there are zero tubes in the chain, whereas there is no such concern with the harbeth mon 40.3 xd... but the mon 40 also presents music with a slightly ’fatter’ more full bodied midrange

even dialed in to my satisfaction, i find the spendors a little faster, more open sounding, compared to a warmer fuller presentation for the harbeth - a fine difference, a small gradation, but it's there

Thank you to everyone that contributed excellent feedback, which is all of you. In the end, I decided to go with the Dynaudio Contour 20i. With 70+ percent of my music listening being classic rock and blues, I opted for speakers that are more dynamic. The new esotar tweeter is no slouch, and jazz and voices sounded quite nice.