HARBETH: P3ESR vs Proac Tablette Anniversary?

I thought I’d post this mini review I was asked to do on another forum about a comparison of these two competing mini monitors, I know some members here will be interested. I own both so I have no axe to grind when making these comparisons, each has its own virtues and problems.

The Proac’s have a more extended treble that’s a little dry and a quiet forward, the Tablette’s throw loads of detail at you whether your want it or not. Harbeth’s highs are sweeter and much more refined, it sounds very balanced with the rest of the speaker and they tread a perfect line between levels of fine detail and finesse. Listening to “Delphia” from the Freddie Hubbard album Red Clay, Joe Henderson adds Flute accompaniment during the introduction, with the Tablette’s it was obvious that we were hearing a flute and it was clearly etched in space. The P3ESR felt more like an organic part of the mix but it took a few seconds of careful listening to register what kind of wind instrument I was hearing, this was a surprise. The Harbeth’s trumped this with a close to perfectly weighted and shaped notes leaving Ron Carters electric bass; by comparison the Tablette’s bass sounded a little blurred.

Midrange is what these speakers are all about and in this department it’s the Harbeth’s that sound the most natural to me. Female voices clearly stand out from the rest of the mix and all the nuances and inflection in the voice are delightfully teased out, again it’s a slightly sweeter sound. The Proac’s make female voices actually project slightly forward from the mix, but it’s a slightly more edgy sound, which worked fine with Tory Amos but I’m not sure how well it would sit with someone like Diana Krall for instance (sorry I couldn’t tell you, I don’t own any). On classical the P3ESR are without peer, string instruments have both the correct amount of bite and warmth and despite their small size give enough weight and scale to satisfy the illusion of being at a concert hall. This is the one music genre that I didn’t really feel the Tablette’s worked, violins in particular seemed to sound a semitone higher and there seemed too little body or weight to them. On chamber music they faired better being very lucid and detailed, allowing you to hear all the little creaks from chairs, movement and breathing.

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