HARBETH: Monitor 30.1 test review

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Harbeth Monitor 30.1 Loudspeaker

The Absolute Sound (Paul Seydor) writes

Alan Shaw’s Harbeth Monitor 30.1, which has been released in time to celebrate the company’s thirty- fifth anniversary as a manufacturer of high-quality loudspeakers, is the best compact two-way speaker system I have ever heard, regardless of type, cost, or complexity. By this I mean, of course, that it does a better job of doing the things that are most important to me when it comes to the reproduction of music in the home: tonal neutrality, timbral accuracy, cohesiveness, low distortion, and that elusive impression of vitality which makes recorded music come alive.

The speaker is an updated version of the Monitor 30, a studio monitor intended for professional applications where high accuracy in a not large enclosure is required. I say “not large” to indicate that the speaker is not a sub-compact, being three to four times the size of mini-monitors like the fabled LS3/5a or Harbeth’s own P3ES yet somewhat smaller than the standard two-cubic-feet of speakers like Spendor’s SP1/2 or Harbeth’s own Super HL5.

The size was in fact dictated a priori, part of the brief to develop a drop-in replacement for the BBC’s Rogers LS5/9, which became unavailable in the late nineties. As befits its monitor status, the 30.1 boasts high neutrality, superb resolution, and a matching of drivers with respect to coherence and sonic character that is equaled by only a .....

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