What comes after Harbeth 30.1s?

A few weeks ago, I created a post where I was asking for advice to help a family friend create a home office system on a $6-7K budget. He ended up buying a VTL I-85 integrated amp which he really loves. After searching for speakers, he really liked my Harbeth M30.1s. He eventually bought my speakers but was going to pay in October. Unfortunately, he has had some unexpected expenses and won’t be able to pay me. So the speakers will be back in my possession next weekend.

The problem is that during this time, I started researching my next set of speakers. Of course, a safe bet was to stick with what I know and buy another pair of 30.1s whenever they pop up in the used market. Now that I will be getting them back, I’m still wrestling with the idea whether I should try something different. At this time, I’m only looking to buy used and not spend much more than what I can sell the 30.1s for. And to be honest, I will only be switching for the sake of trying a new flavor. I really like the 30.1s and something tells me that I might come to regret the decision. This speaker does pretty much everything right for my tastes and music preferences. Okay, if you put a gun to my head and force to me to share just one thing I wish was better, it would be a more airy presentation and little bit more open on the top. But otherwise, it’s hard to find fault with this speaker.

My room is 12 x 13 with almost 20 foot ceilings. Just like my friend, I’m limited on positioning options -- I can only pull out the speakers from the front wall by a foot at most. Another restriction (spousal commandment) is that I have to sell the 30.1s first to obtain the funds for the next purchase. So I won’t be able to buy something else, compare, and resell the one I don’t like as much. Secondly, I only want to buy used and well-known brands. The idea is that whenever the next upgrade itch strikes, I should be able to sell the speakers without losing more than 10-15%. And the final (whew!) restriction is that I have to be able to drive them with a tube integrated amp. I’m planning to buy a Qualiton a20i next month. This is the smaller brother for a50i which I also own.

So what do you guys think? Is this an ill-conceived, wrong-headed idea? Feel free to talk me out of it :)

If not, I would love to hear from people who have moved from 30.1s to another speaker in similar (or lesser) price range and are happy with their decision. An obvious next step is to move up to 30.2, but I’m not sure if it’s worth paying an extra $1000 or so. Or maybe it is that much better? C7ES3 is another option, but I fear it might be a little too much on the warm/lush side with difficult to tame bass especially when placed so close to the wall.

Another speaker I would love to try is the Fritz Carrera BE, but again I don’t want to buy new and I don’t see them in the used market that often. I know they have a 30-day return policy but that’s not the point. Knowing myself, I would probably end up selling them after a year or two, and don’t want to take the depreciation hit.

Proac Response D2 is another option, but I fear that it might be too forward for my taste, especially in a smaller room. If someone owns one and disagree, please chime in :)

Thanks in advance for your valuable advice!


@jjss49 The more I read your impressions of the Harbeth M40s, the more I feel that this should be my endgame speaker. By endgame, I don't mean the last speaker but one that you buy once and never sell.This is indeed high praise from someone who's been around and knows that they're talking about. Thanks for sharing!

@arafiq ,

[please excuse my poor english]

- Dito

- Spendor S100R² (now "Classic 100", €11300/pair) could be considered, but, again, I think a M30.2 Anniversary, 2nd hand, is a better option given your context. Additionnally, the M30.2 are very linear (and deliver a little bit more energy in the treble than the M30.1 that I owned too). My current M30.2 Ann. retains all the musical virtues of the M30.1, but delivers more details and sound more "right".

- Spendor Classic 100 Stereophile measurements (will deliver more bass, but is less linear)



- Harbeth M30.2 Anniversary Stereophile measurements (will deliver less bass, but is more linear)


@arafiq I had a big speaker, Thiel CS3.7’s, in my 12x11x9 office for close to 2 years. It was a fun challenge to make them work in this space. I used various combinations of the following to make it work,

GIK | Convolution filter on ROON | Rearranged furniture | A bookshelf with books behind speakers | Luck

It sounded good but constrained somewhat by the room. Though, I was enjoying it.

Two weeks ago, I moved the Thiel CS3.7’s to my Livingroom since it was finally safe from my son’s destruction to do so. The speakers sounded so much better in this larger space. I actually sold the speakers a few days later because I knew I could get my end game speaker in there since the Thiels worked well. I sold it in 1 day after putting up ad.

I then put my 10-year-old KEF LS50’s + KEF KC62 sub into the small room. This room is treated with GIK panels. The sound was so much better than the Thiels in the office. Conversely, the Thiels was way better than the LS50 + KC62 in the larger Livingroom.

My takeaway was that you can make almost any speaker work in a small room but there is a penalty. With a smaller speaker in the same space there seems to be much less of a penalty. I am getting much greater enjoyment with the smaller speaker in this space. The LS50 does not seem constrained by the room, it seems to fill the room perfectly. I am not recommending the LS50, just a small speaker.

BTW - the Thiel and KEF drivers are similar in that the tweeter and midrange are in one driver unit. So, the dispersion should be similar (but different results in the same room).


I am not sure if it was you that I said this too before, but another choice that is better than the 2 examples that I have mentioned in this post, is the new RAAL SR1a earphones with the RAAL VM-1a tube headphone amp. This is good as anything I have heard, anywhere. It also eliminates the room from the equation. I am listening to it as I write this, and this is end game sound.