Electronics for Harbeths -- $5-10K

I've been looking for an amp/preamp or integrated to pair with my mid-sized Harbeth speakers (86dB sensitivity, minimum 6ohm impedance, ~50Hz crossover to a powered sub).

I've dug deep into Pass Labs, ARC, Levinson, HiFi Rose, PrimaLuna, Ayre, MF's Nu-Vista line, Hegel, etc. -- the usual suspects. But I haven't found a perfect fit, b/c I have a few constraining requirements:

- weight not much over 40 pounds

- an HT Bypass input and at least 2 line-level outputs (for powered sub & headphone amp); no digital inputs required

- I love well-designed tube gear, but in this case, I'm restricted to SS

In terms of sound -- the most important factor, of course -- I rarely't exceed moderate listening levels in a smallish room (10 ft to seating position).  I do, however, enjoy a large, three-dimensional presentation & uncompressed dynamics, and sonics more like the sweet, tubelike house sound of ARC & Pass than the "analytic" superdetailed sound of Luxman or Levinson (both outstanding companies, but just not the right fit in this case).  One motivator is that after recently switching to more revealing Analysis Plus Silver Apex cables, I find I can no longer stand the sound of my last-gen Class D amps.

A Pass Labs XA25 amp + SP-12 pre combo comes pretty close, but doesn't have quite enough power. MF's new NuVista 800.2 would be perfect if it didn't weigh nearly 90 pounds. 

Then there's Ayre's new VX-8 amp, or EX-8 integrated, sound great on paper, but which I know almost nothing about, aside from specs & a Stereophile review.  Anybody own one of these?

I have no opportunity to demo any of this gear live -- disabled & don't get out much -- but if anybody would like to recount their first-hand experience finding a soulmate for Harbeth speakers, I'll be listening. 



I have Harbeth 30.2 and had a McIntosh integrated which in my opinion did not match well. I switched to a Luxman 590AXii class A and it’s a keeper. Close in sound to tubes, plenty of power (Luxman under rates their power.) I understand your comments about Luxman, but I myself do not find it too analytical with Harbeth speakers. I have occ copper speaker cables. 
I almost went with a Pass, but liked the Luxman a bit more. 

deadhead1000: You're the second person to tell me that Luxman Class A complements Harbeths C7 & 30.x models well.

Art Dudley recommended Harbeth when I was forced to sell my Quad ESL & Quad II Class A monoblocks.  He mentioned that, in his opinion, the Harbeth line was in many ways as close as dynamic-driver speakers got to the 1960s Quad "sound" and that I'd really appreciate his comments if I powered them with a Class A amp; and not necessarily tubes.  I didn't take him completely seriously at the time, but comments like yours now have me thinking.

Roxy54: No, I haven't looked at the Esoteric line at all.  Any particular model you're thinking of?  Have you heard a Harbeth/Esoteric combination yourself?


I would add Accuphase to the list.

Luxman or Accuphase should give you a synergistic match with your Harbeths.

Nice prices on my go-to integrated at Upscale Audio.


$4495 open box or $5495 new (on sale).

My favorite with Harbeth was Benchmark preamp and amp.  I’ve had Luxman separates as well as the 590AXII, Primaluna tubes, a class D amp from Nord, and I preferred the Benchmark.  

I know you said you want solid state, but given the sound qualities you’re looking for I immediately thought of a hybrid integrated amp and specifically the Unison Unico Due.  It’s only got a couple small tubes in the preamp section and is very low maintenance, and the amp section is high biased to provide some Class A-like sound qualities that I thought you’d also like as the Pass amp seemed to really appeal to you.  And obviously you have the opportunity to swap tubes to dial in the sound best to your liking.  It’s got plenty of power (100+100W RMS into 8 Ohms, 180+180W RMS into 4 Ohms, 290W+290W RMS into 2 Ohms) and at about 35 lbs. it comes in under your weight requirement.  It’s available from places like Sound Approach and The Music Room who offer a return policy if it doesn’t work out for some reason, which is nice and while not free is certainly a nice option to have.  Just another option to ponder FWIW, and best of luck in your search. 


... than the "analytic" superdetailed sound of Luxman ...

May I ask how you reached this conclusion? Is it based on what you've been hearing or did you try a specific Luxman model and found that to be the case?

Dudes the OP has a 40lb weight limit requirement.  

@cundare2 can you go tube preamp solid state amp?  

if so, try a Cary SLP 98 tube preamp with bypass and then a Bryston 3b3 power amp.  Each are under 40 lbs.  The Cary is super transparent with a spectacular atmospheric sound stage and fast life like dynamics.  

The new Brystons are super smooth and powerful, the 3b3 has 200 bona fide watts per channel.  It also has adjustable gain, the lower 23db setting a perfect match with the Cary.   I get excited thinking about how amazing this pairing would sound with your Harbeths!

Oh boy -- woke up this morning to find all these reeplies!  Thanks, everybody!!

Hope I don't miss anybody:

Jimmy: I'm up in the air re: Benchmark.  I hear so many good things about both models, but I still wonder: At that price point, could they possibly be in the same league as the $10K boxes I've been looking at? (And yes, you don't have to point out how ludicrous that question might be, but, you know...)

arafiq: my characterization of Luxman's house sound was culled  from many comments by Luxman owners on this & other online forums; plus hints garnered from remarks in published reviews from trusted authors.  As with almost every other component mentioned here, I have no way to hear anything first-hand since the only audio showroom in my state closed some years ago (a matter of continuing frustration for me).  But sure,  I'm certainly willing to be convinced otherwise if you have a different perspective based on live auditioning with speakers similar to mine.

soix: THx for the recommendation, but I am locked into solid-state.  You don't have to sell me on tubes -- I'm a tube roller from way back and when my hands used to be steady enough to hold a soldering iron (today, they shake so much I sometimes have trouble using a mouse), I loved building, refurbishing and modifying tube gear.  Unfortunately, tube electronics simply wouldn't fit my room configuration & physical constraints this time around.

dweller: You know, I haven't checked out BAT, but I will at your suggestion.  Have you heard the equipment described at your link with Harbeths?  Again, what I'm interested in is synergy -- not the "best" there is, but the best for my particular system.

avanti: Thanks for reading every line in my post!  You know, I have looked breifly at the Bryston cubed line, but never followed through for reasons that elude me right now.  Unfortunately, again, tubes are not an option, although I've certainly heard great things about the Cary preamp.  Maybe it's time for another look ath the Brystons, though.

One new candidate is Ayre Acoustics's Series 8 line. More on that in a separate posting.


One new candidate is Ayre Acoustics's Series 8 line. The new VX-8 power amp just got a great review in Stereophile, although the corresponding preamp may not be a great fit.

However, the updated EX-8 2.0 integrated looks pretty close to a perfect match, at least on paper.  The $8000 analog-only version (it'll sit behind an external DAC/streamer) weighs a mere 25 pounds, pumps out about 135wpc into 6ohms, has all the connectivity I need, including HT bypass & sub out) as well as unique features like the ability to disable individual outputs. 

That last function is especially important because the Harbeths will also be used as the FL & FR speakers when playing multichannel content.  That is, a multichannel source will be decoded by an existing A/V receiver that will forward the front-channel signals to the new amp.  This means -- think about it -- when playing stereo content from a turntable, Tidal, or SACD, the new amp will drive the sub.  The receiver wouldn't even be on.  But when playing surround sources, the sub will have to receive a multichannel-mixed LFE signal from the receiver & the new amp should not be sending a second signal simultaneously to the sub. (I have a powered MartinLogan sub that can autoswitch between any of three line-level or amplified input signals, but should never receive two inputs at the same time.)

So from a functionality standpoint, the Ayre is the only option I've found that can do everything I need.

What I don't know -- and yeah, this is the same old problem -- is whether the EX-8 2.0 is a good fit with the Harbeths sonically.  Stereophile's review of the original & 2.0 versions are pure raves -- praising even the built-in headphone amp, to my surprise -- but hey, so are half the reviews in the magazine. 

So although I've made progress finding a credible candidate re: functionality, I'm still at Square One re: sonics.

Maybe I need to start another thread with a title that specifically asks about the Ayre/Harbeth combo.  Unless any of the people here have tried that pairing themselves.

I have the HARBETH M30.2 XD standmounts with an ATC C1 Sub Mk2 Subwoofer.

My best-of-breed integrated amp to drive them is a REGA OSIRIS integrated amp that is a bona fide “soulmate” contender and no pretender, that satisfies your amp features .wish list .

highly recommended




OP, regarding the Benchmark, like everything it comes down to synergy and personal preferences.  Can the Benchmark compete with more expensive gear?  Absolutely.  But, it’s not pretty to look at if you want something that looks like Mac, Lux, or Accuphase!  That said, back to synergy, I found that the Harbeths have their own nice, warmish, round sound.  The Benchmarks are super neutral sounding, so you get what the speakers have to offer without any additional coloration.  The star of the pair is probably the preamp (LA4).  Very high resolution and lots of flexibility.  I prefer a neutral sound more than “tubey”, so that may be why I liked the Benchmark.  But overall I think the synergy is great between them and the Harbeths for the reason I mentioned,

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@cundare2  I posted my comment early this morning (couldn't sleep). My first post attempt stated my experience at an audio show where the Harbeth 7.3 was mated with a Plinius Class A SS amp. Sounded heavenly. This first iteration was deleted accidentally and the second one is what you see.

At any rate, you can't go wrong with BAT. 60-day return policy from Uncle Kevin at Upscale. I've owned this integrated twice and currently use a VK-33SE/VK-255SE combo. 

Thanks, dweller.  I hope to take a look at those BAT models tonight.

And Plinius, for that matter.

I'm finding that bel Canto's E1X integrated may be another contender.  So far, Ayre's EX-8 (can't they come up with more distinct model names?) looks like it'll be hard to beat, at least on paper.

No digital sources needed because you play nothing digital or you have a good DAC? 

As you likely know, Harbeth often drive their speakers at shows with Hegel amps and suggest SS amps to drive them.

I was not pleased with the sound of my 30.1’s or 40.2’s until I got the H590 to drive them, which does an excellant job of controlling their drivers, making them sound a lot like Quad ESL 57’s.  Sounds better with the H590 than with my ARC Ref 150SE.


>No digital sources needed because you play nothing digital or you have a good DAC? 

The latter.  And in generaly, I try to stay away from internal DACs bundled into other components.

bassdude: Whoa, you're speaking my language!  The H590 was definitely on my short list.  It's only real drawback is that it weighs 50 pounds, but that alone wouldn't be a dealbreaker.

And since the release of the H600,  used units abound.  Try to find a used Ayre 8 Series.  They do pop up, but are gone pretty quick.

If you’re considering the H590 you might consider the H390 as it’s a little lighter and still puts out 250Wpc, costs a lot less, and Soundstage found them to be sonically very similar.


Hope this helps. 

Final solution is starting to look like the Ayre EX-8. I’ve been doing a deep dive into so many options for over the last month. But now that the smoke is clearing it looks like this 24lb sliding Class A (sliding to AB, not D!) integrated checks every one of my boxes. How do they pump out so much power in a 3.5"-high box at such a light weight? And rReports of its synergy with Harbeths have been pretty consistent. I’m sure that some of the other products suggested in this discussion would be just as satisfying sonically, or might have similar connectivity & functionality, or might have a similar form factor. But the Ayre does it all, and even offers a 5-year transferable warranty and modular, upgradable design. What’s not to like?

soix, if I hadn’t discovered the EX-8, your H390 suggestion would have been my next stop. Given that the Ayre runs $8-11K, depending on configuration, that would have saved me more than enough for a few Happy Meals But I expect this to be my last amplifier, so I’m willing plunder my retirement nest egg this one time.

Hey, thanks again everybody for this lively, very informative discussion.You guys are great. And I love this hobby!

My next request for advice will be about which DAC/streamer to front-end the Ayre with. Watch this space!


I find it somewhat amusing that the OP is going to go with something that “looks good on paper” and ignoring recommendations from actual Harbeth owners. But whatever works for you man. Good luck!

I used an Ayre AX-7e and Ayre Codex DAC with my Harbeth SHL5+'s for many years. It was a fantastic match but was bettered by the EX-8 with the built -in DAC. I was just about to pull the trigger on it when Aesthetix released the Mimas integrated which I preferred over the Ayre. The Mimas weighs around 44lbs and is a Hybrid amplifier. It also costs around $10K. I tried some of the others mentioned in this thread and they were not to my liking. I subsequently sold my Harbeth's but I owned the Harbeth/Ayre combination for more than 5 years and they sound great together. Good Luck!

arafiq: I didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings. The biggest reason I went with Ayre is because SO MANY Harbeth owners recommended it as a perfect match sonically.. That recommendation came up again & again in postings here & elsewhere. (Right joey 54?)

The fact that the EX-8’s connectivity & functionality fit my requirements so perfectly is icing.

Do a search & you’ll see what I mean.

I’m sure you’ll be plenty happy with the Ayre.  Great stuff and can’t really go wrong. 

@cundare2 You're not hurting anyone's feelings. If you have already done your research and settled on Ayre then I'm sure it must be the right choice. At the end of the day, the only person you have to please is YOU. As soix mentioned, Ayre is a great company and makes really good products. Best of luck and enjoy the music!

Thanks arafiq!

You’re right -- I’ve done a huge amount of research b/c, frankly, even if this wasn’t a whale of a purchase, the uncertainty of buying sight unseen and sound unheard has me being obsessively cautious.  If I make a bad decision, it'll be burdensome to start over from scratch.

For the record, I did chase down every suggestion given to me in this discussion. Ayre & bel Canto were the only two that met my every non-sonic requirement (Hegel was pretty close, though). Having the chance to speak today with Adrien, presumably Charlie Hansens’ colleague and co-designer of the Series 8 models -- finally convinced me that I’d finally found the right fit.

I would try Sugden A21SE. My first choice would be the Luxman 590axii, although it's heavy, it's well worth it.  


You probably wouldn’t go wrong with the Ayre.

Were it me I would try the Swedish brand Moonriver, their Reference intergrated, it is an amp that was developed using BBC designed speakers and is said to be fantastic with Harbeth, Spendor and Graham Audio.

Good luck with your system matching.

I hope you have the Harbeths on Tonträger stands, because that’s the first thing to do with them. 

Sound Anchors, with Blu-tak. I think the trick with thin-walls is to do nothing that damps the cabinet resonances.

A pet peeve: A Harbeth rep said to be sure to isolate the speakers from the stands with the Blu-tak that came with the speakers. Doing so certainly did make a difference in sound quality. But it also discolored the cherry finish. Now I have yellow stains on the bottom of each cabinet. Not visible during normal usage, but still pretty annoying.

No one mentioned Hegel H190. you don't need more power than that amp has for the Harbeths. My Stirling LS3/6 are very happy with the combination.

$5K-$10K amplification is going to easily outclass your speakers such that the Harbeths become the new bottleneck. I understand why that would be hard to believe given all the hype surrounding this brand, but take the Harbeths along and compare them to nearly any $10K/pair speakers on $5K electronics and you’ll understand why I say this. The resolution required to justify most $5K^ amplification (especially in the bass and highs) just isn’t there. 

The aforementioned Hegel H190 integrated is the absolute max necessary for the mid-size Harbeths. I’d also look at the Yamaha A-S1200. 


One motivator is that after recently switching to more revealing Analysis Plus Silver Apex cables, I find I can no longer stand the sound of my last-gen Class D amps.

May I ask if the Silver Apex are speaker cables or interconnects? If it's the latter, you may want to try a used Acrolink 8N-A2080III instead of changing amps. This interconnect has a warm and liquid midrange with a tube-like glow in the highs, and it is said to match Class D or bright sounding amps well. Other alternatives include warmer sounding interconnects. 

By the way, I wouldn’t say Luxman amps are analytical sounding amps. They are generally considered to be warm but detailed particularly the L-590AXII that I currently own. I know warm and detail appear to be contradictory but that is what I experienced in my system. To me, the L-590AXII is fairly neutral but leans slightly to warm but the detail are all there. In other words, although the Luxman leans slightly to warmth, the clarity is good as the fine detail in music is still reproduced by the amp. An example of a warm amp which masks detail (poor clarity) is the Plinius SA-100Mk3.

FWIW the Luxman is sensitive to equipment support and cabling. It keeps giving when I upgraded the equipment rack and interconnects. I recently added a new balanced XLR interconnect and it sounds different in comparison to the previous XLR cable I was using for the past 3 years.

OP- your initial rejection of Hegel seemed odd since that is a fairly well known synergistic combo.  The optional DAC is very good also.  While some discussions say that the sonic uptick for the H590 over the H390 is minor and not worth it, the new H600 seems to have significant trickle down tech upgrade.

If you can’t listen before purchasing, Hegel is safest bet. However, you can still resell it if unsatisfied and try something else.

Maybe a KRELL k-300i integrated - iBias technology allowing the amp to deliver up to the first 90W in class-A—"without the excessive heat and power consumption of traditional Class-A designs,". Review here

GanFet amps have a tubelike warmth, but hard to find in an integrated (LSA may have one).  

OP - this is simply copied from another agoner post, I’ve not verified anything:


That is a bit unfair. Shaw (Alan - Harbeth speaker designer) has talked about why he likes Hegel:

My position on Hegel is abundantly clear. It is the only hifi amp I have ever measured in my lab that has what I consider to be a proper gain structure throughout.

In layman's language that means that with a 'hot' source pumping audio volts into the input channel it is practically impossible to clip or overload the input. That indicates to me a mature, pragmatic real-world approach to the circuit design in a market where far too many amps have input stage clipping evidenced by the ridiculously low setting of the volume control (typically 10 o'clock or lower) at which the output clips. Hence a hard, hard, grainy sound. Indeed, I'd suspect that the extreme sensitivity of the volume control (hardly on, really loud) is prima facie evidence of clipping.

I have been playing P3XD over the last days via one of my H390s and with the volume at about 60/99, I have lots of power reserve and a clean, loud, unclipped sound.

OP , I suggest go for a Hegel. If you are unsatisfied then report back later why. It would give us a sonic reference point to your tastes and we may be able to steer you towards a more pleasing options.  Other choices we have to guess what ”you” like and speaker synergy more uncertain.

kennyc: Your last suggestion, on its face, is a logical approach. But you’ve got to understand that I’m not gonna buy a $10,000+ component unless I’m convinced that I’m likely to keep it for a very long time -- not just as a "tryout." I’ve mentioned elsewhere that I’m no spring chicken and lugging around a 50-pound box doesn’t seem like my best solution when a 24lb alternative that has more flexible connectivity (at least for my specific application) and that the overwhelming majority of those with first-hand listening experience believe is superior overall sonically, sells for $1000 less.

I sense that you have an emotional attachment to Hegel, so please don’t take offense. I’m not denigrating Hegel’s products in any way. I understand that the H600 is a superb piece of gear. It’s just that I’m now gathering that the Ayre EX-8, as far as I can tell from out here, is probably a better fit for me.


PS -- I was aware of Shaw’s preference for Hegel products and that Hegel amps are used in some shows’ Harbeth booths. In fact, during the first weeks of my research, the H590 & H600 were at the top of my list. It’s not fair to state that I "initially rejected" Hegel. It’s more accurate to say that I initially embraced the H600.

The thing is, the Ayre Series 8 gear turned out to be an even better choice. I suggest you do a deep dive yourself. Charlie Hansen’s "diamond" output-stage designs are brilliant -- Class A/AB amps as light, compact, and efficient as a Class D, but with superb sound quality. And from what I’ve been told repeatedly, they boast great synergy with the entire Harbeth line.

As for Krell, I’ve heard so many mixed reports about the 300i, hardware and sound quality, that I’m staying away. The clincher was when one of my closest friends on the East Coast auditioned it at length and came away with the same negative comments that I’ve heard elsewhere.  I can't speak to the issue first-hand, but the impression I get is that the 300i fails to live up to Krell's long-held reputation for excellent build quality.


re: Luxman, I've never heard the new Lux gear.  When I refer to the Luxman sound as "analytical," I'm merely repeating what other, ostensibly unrelated, posters have told me.  I'm ready to be convinced otherwise, but, as I'm sure you can appreciate, I don't have much to work with other than what other people are telling me.  Again, no way for me to actually hear any of this gear before I buy.

Re: Silver Apex, your observations are exactly the opposite of mine.  The only time I rigorously A-B'd my SA cables was when I used them to replace wiring in my phono path.  They produced greater detail and a more holographic soundstage, sure, but they were less sweet and as far from tube-like as I can imagine. (Did I mention that I'm a vintage tube-roller going back 40 years? I know what tubes soudn like.) 

More to the point, one reason I'm upgrading my electronics now is because the Silver Apex's "analytic" character (sorry!) actually made the flaws of my $2000 Class D amps impossible to tolerate. 

I consider the difference between our experiences evidence  that the only way to know what a particular cable will sound like in your system is to put it in your system.  Cables are extraordinarily complex beasts and can interact with other components in the craziest ways.  That's why I NEVER recommend specific cables to friends. My approach has been to learn first-hand what each mfr's "house sound" is in your system and then stick with the brand that best matches the sonic personality you need.  Analysis Plus and Audioquest (strange bedfellow, I know) seem to work best for me -- at least on segments of my system that don't include Class D amplification!

helomech: "$5K-$10K amplification is going to easily outclass your speakers such that the Harbeths become the new bottleneck. I understand why that would be hard to believe given all the hype surrounding this brand, but take the Harbeths along and compare them to nearly any $10K/pair speakers on $5K electronics and you’ll understand why I say this. The resolution required to justify most $5K^ amplification (especially in the bass and highs) just isn’t there."

helomech: Hmmm... Don’t take this wrong, but your comments are at odds with those of every other person I’ve spoken to, as well as with my own first-hand experience. As I’ve mentioned, there’s no place within thousands of miles where I could "take my Harbeths." But more to the point, given that your opinion is incongruent with those of so many knowledgable, experienced persons -- from Hartley and Atkinson on down to buddies with Golden Ears (even the late Art Dudley personally recommended Harbeths to me when I was forced to sell my Quad ESLs) -- please let me know why I should take your conclusory opinions seriously without any details to back them up?

E.g., Are your comments based on first-hand direct comparisons?  If so, please be specific about source material, associated equipment, and room characteristics so others can put your observations in context. If you have something of value to offer, I would certainly give it consideration.

Thanks for your comments.


I was referring to the Acrolink 8N-A2080III having a warm and liquid midrange with a tube-like glow in the highs, not the Silver Apex which you currently own.  I don't have experience with the Silver Apex.

I consider the difference between our experiences evidence that the only way to know what a particular cable will sound like in your system is to put it in your system. Cables are extraordinarily complex beasts and can interact with other components in the craziest ways. That’s why I NEVER recommend specific cables to friends.

I agree with this. The only difference is I will recommend specific cables which I have experience with to people whereas you don’t do that. To me, cables are the same as other components such as amps or DACs. You will only know if it will work out for you once you have it in your system. The point I’m trying to convey is you may achieve your goal with a different cable rather than looking at changing amps.

Ah! So much for my reading comprehension!

Your recommendation is a good one, but I think regardless, an amp upgrade is long overdue. But you’re making me think that I might need to incorporate a cable re-evalution at the same time.

What’s interesting is the fact that the amps sound the worst when fed by 100% Silver Apex cables. Yes, there are a zillion other factors that make each signal path unique in its own way, but still...

One possibility is that the Silver Apex segments sound the most Class D-ish because they’re the most revealing. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to swap them all out, since some have singular connectors, like the tonearm cable.

Regardless, I would hate to give up those expensive cables. They’re so impressive, even mind-boggling, in terms of presentation and detail. No other upgrade that I’ve ever made in this system has done so much to promote a broad, truly 3-dimensional soundstage. After I inserted them into the system, I could not stop listening to vinyl. The endorphin rush -- the thing that keeps so many of us in this hobby -- was intense.

I just hope that swapping a $2000 amp for an $11,000 amp produces as dramatic an improvement.



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What model Harbeths are you using? I have owned many different Harbeths and they sing with tubes! If you are restricted to solid state LFD should fit the bill! Give Gene a call he has been selling Harbeths for many years !

Gene Rubin Audio

@yogiboy has a valid point.

LFD was my second choice after my REGA OSIRIS., so it is worth an audition 


Hah -- you’re talking to the right guy! Not sure if I mentioned in this thread that I’ve been a lifelong tube-roller. For thirty years, my go-to system was a beautiful pair of Quad ELSs that I restored, and a variety of tube amps that I either rebuilt myself (like my heavily moded Dynaco boxes) or sent to the factory for refurbishing (e.g., my 1950s Class A Quad 2 monoblocks). I still lust for modern tube designs from the likes of ARC & CJ.

However, I have some physical constraints and there are also configuration issues that limit this purchase to solid-state. And smaller, lighter SS at that. I’ve never had a good experience with Class D, and that’s one reason why I’ve settled on the Ayre integrated -- 130wpc, 24 pounds, 3.5" high, very flexible connectivity, highly praised Class A/AB sonics. This will be something new for me, but I’ve really done a ton of homework on the topic -- so my hopes are high.

I’ve been told by everyone from the late, great Art Dudley to the guy who designed the Ayre integrated, to even Harbeth support, that Ayre and Harbeth are a great combination.

But I can understand your recommendation, too. In fact, Art, shortly before he passed, told me that he considered the Harbeths to be more "Quad-like" (I think he was speaking in terms of coherency and voicing) than any other dynamic-driver system at anywhere near the same price. So driving speakers like these with a great tube amp would be pretty exciting.  Nonetheless, I'll be heading in a different direction this time, so, as they say, fingers crossed, teeth clenched, here we go.

To answer your question, I have the mid-sized Compact 7-ES3, rolled off to a powered sub at around 50 Hz. I went with that model b/c of its reputation for being the most successful model in the Harbeth line -- at least according to Alan Shaw himself. In my moderate-sized room, and with an external powered sub, I didn’t need the extra volume levels and bass extension of the larger models.


yogiboy & akg_ca:

I’m embarrassed to admit that LFD slipped through the cracks for me. I’m not familiar at all with their products. But since both of you praise the company so highly, I’ll defintely take a look.

As I mentioned above, I don’t have the ability to audition any gear in person before buying, but I already see a couple of lengthy reviews online.

Thanks for the heads-up.