Harbeth P3ESR or Monitor 30?

I’m leaning strongly towards a (used) Harbeth upgrade, and was focussed on the P3ESR until I noticed a pair of Monitor 30s available for around the same price.

My room is far from ideal. Hard floors, about 15'x18', with a further, narrower extension on one side of the longer dimension, and a small window bay on the other. The speakers are set up on one side of the 15' space, and I sit on the other.

I have done some searching and read a few opinions, but if anyone has experience with both, or any thoughtful opinion, I’d welcome your thoughts.


The plot thickens...

I am very close to making a decision, but have received some strong, contrary opinions on the Harbeth forum. Not that the P3 isn't held in very high regard – it is. But that the M30 is a better speaker overall, and that the advantages of the other are limited.

To complicate matters, I currently have a choice of either speaker at roughly the same cost.


You will certainly receive contradictory opinions since everyone's taste and listening preferences are not the same. I have listened to all Harbeth speakers in the line. My least favourite speaker is the M30. No doubt the tonal quality is very rich, but the overall sound is thick and shut-in. All the other speakers P3ESR, C7ES3 and SHL5s are airier than the M30.

If you like an airy and open sound, you are better served with the P3ESR. But if you can listen to both M30 and P3ESR, that is of course the best option.
Thanks ryder. I am close to making a decision, and will update extensively when finished.

I run the C7s and I personally love all of the Harbeth speakers.  You cannot go wrong with any of them.  The M30  however is a reference quality monitor closely linked back to the BBC LS5/9a.  I was also a huge fan of Rogers so quite familiar with that spec.  I personally prefer the M30 as it is more appropriate for a home setting.  The M30 is quite revealing and the bass is lacking at low listening volumes.  Resolution is very good - much higher than P3 or C7 but I liked the added warmth of the C7.  Now one way to fix the slight mudiness of the C7 is through cabling - I use a full loom of Nordost Blue Heaven and Purple Flare.  

So for the OP, if you are using high powered/high end amp and like the resolution ,get the M30 (and the custom stands). Otherwise the P3 is a superb mini for listening a reasonable levels (they don't play loud). 
Also, the P3s are not suited to all kinds to music. They do excel in some, but if you push them too much all you can hear is congestion. If I were you, like others said, I would go for the 30
I was looking to buy a pair of Harbeth speakers and decided to ask the manufacturers what they thought would work in my room.  Alan Shaw himself replied.  In the end he suggested the particular speakers I was looking at wouldn't work.  He did suggest a smaller model in the range that would work though.  These guys make great speakers and are passionate about sound - they lost a sale but gave me the right advice.  I thought that was brilliant.  So perhaps send an email to Harbeth if you haven't already.  Good luck and enjoy the music!