Your tube amp related Harbeth experience.

Please share your experience (good or bad), with any model Harbeth when driven with tubes. I have C'7's, and have just moved on from Class A solid state. Again, if you ended up with solid state, your experience still qualifies, as long as your journey had tube amps in the picture. I should mention that while my plan is to go integrated, I would still like to hear any experience with tube amps, even if it was a stand alone tube amp. Please let's not go in the Alan Shaw (HUG) direction here. Anyone involved likely knows the deal there. That's not for this thread. Just personal experience with a dealer, a friends system, buying used, or the like...


The best tube amps I’ve used over the 10+ years I’ve owned Harbeth’s are as follows (not in order of preference):

  • McIntosh MC275 MKV (75-90 WPC) with 40.1’s
  • VAC 70/70 Signature (68 WPC) with 40.1’s and SHL5’s
  • Music Reference RM9 MK2 (125 wpc) with 40.1’s and 40.2 Anniversaries

Other tube amps owned/used with Harbeth, but not recommended based upon my experience:

  • McIntosh MA2275 integrated with 40.1’s (too soft, totally lacking dynamics... very disappointing... awful pairing)
  • VAC PHI 200 with 40.1’s (excellent bass, but lacking transparency, detail and air)
  • VAC 30/30 with 40.1’s (excellent midrange at low to moderate volume, but lacked power @ only 32 WPC... but a great amp with a higher efficiency speaker).

The only solid state amp I liked was a Plinius SA-102 paired with an Aesthetix Calypso preamp, driving 40.1’s.

i have paired the following tube amps over the years with the c7, super 5 and mon 40

cj prem 11a

ram modjeski rm10

vac ren 30-30

primaluna dialogue hp prem

linear tube audio zotl40 ref

audio research vt60, vt50, vt100-2, ref 75, ref 110

only in the case of the higher arc tube amps and the lta did i feel the sound quality was to my liking... in most cases i felt the bass to be too muddy, mid bass too plump and slow, and highs need more definition

i found happiness moving to high grade solid state amps, such as class a models from pass, belles, and hegel amps (not class a), along with the agd audions most recently... primare odyssey and naim units were also good, but not as good...

my taste, my system, my experiences and findings, hope that helps

I could definitely see old CJ Premier being too soft. This would likely hold true with other classic sounding tube gear...It’s been decades since I have owned CJ. I’m trying to reassemble a second system, from which the C’7’s and budget pair of Mogami speaker cables are the only thing I held on to. My budget is $2500-$5000, but I will be trying to do this in the $2500 range.. BEK Hi-fi has some interesting choices, and they are drivable from my home. Those of interest would be Audio Hungary, and perhaps Sugden. I will say I’m concerned that tubes and C7’s may not be happening synergy wise. If I do venture out to hear (and enjoy) a low-mid budget system with another speaker,  I will simply move on from Harbeth. I’m speaking of something like a Vandersteen 1 or 2, where 60-100 tube WPC is plenty. I’m simply using Vandersteen as an example. Thank you for the zotl 40 ref, Mac 275, and the other suggestions. I should ad I have Ton Trager stands, and even though I have an open mind, I would like to see the C7's work. 


i was just reporting my own experiences, as you asked, those were not recommendations

within your budget and as an actual recommendation, i would recommend a modest hegel integrated (h90, 95, 160 and so on) as an outstanding mate for harbeth c7’s - outstanding bass control/prat, uber clean treble that accentuates great imaging, and pure midrange that takes advantage of the c7’s greatest strength... if you want some tubey goodness, run an mhdt nos r2r tube dac upstream

Appreciate that jjss. I've been doing some You Tube homework on Dac's. I'm sure you are aware of the ladder (R2R) type Dac's and how they generally differ sonically versus standard chip DAC'S. I'm extremely out of touch with Dac's, so I won't push my luck and try to comment here. Hegel...? Guess I should be open minded...they are certainly easy to find used. No offense to anyone that has offered their generous thoughts so far, but I just have to ask....Is there anyone who feels I am setting myself up for a merry-go-round ride with tubes and the C'7's. Sorry to be repetitive, but please don't forget, $5K Max retail.