I have Harbeth C7ES3s and have auditioned them against the 30.1s as a possible upgrade. I kept the C7s. I also have the big Spendors, Spendor S100s and SP100s (as well as Salks, Vapors and Selahs .... yes, we are still married). If I didn't already own the big Spendors would I have upgraded to the 30.1s? I'm not sure, probably not.
The Harbeths and the Spendors are the easiest to drive of all of the above. And even though both Alan Shaw (Harbeth) and Spencer Spendor do not like using tube amps with their speakers, I have found that not to be the case.
The Canucks seem to strongly favor Naim amps with their Spendors and Harbeths. Your Brystons should serve you well. Presently, I'm driving the big Spendors with McIntosh C32 and MC 2125 and the Harbeth with NAD C372, but I'll switch things around a bit in a few months, just for grins. For reference purposes, see My Amps below.
Regarding a possible Harbeth upgrade, below is Alan Shaw's response on another site:
Originally posted by Pencey View Post
...The differences between the C7's and 30.1 are small, not large as some speakers sellers in the US suggest. Buy more music, smell the flowers more - and beware the audio show, audio press hype here in the states as it's geared to temp you to spend again..."
As the designer, I have to agree. As you know, our new product launch cycle averages at about 7 years. I suspect that what we are seeing is the comments of third-parties who, after years of exposure to mediocre sound, suddenly experience the fresh open sound of Harbeth again when our slot comes around again. Possibly any Harbeth would give the same jolt and be the latest and greatest - compared with the utter sameness that permeates the hi-fi speaker market.
As with all marketing — and we definitely are not grumbling! — what matters is perception not necessarily reality. If you want to believe that I have worked some special magic into the M30.1 that I couldn't into the C7ES3, great! Perhaps I have. It is true that taking the fifteen year old M30 as a starting point and thoroughly reappraising all my carefully recorded design notes, every twist and turn of that original design journey, my respect for the original design grew. Hunting for areas I could (and did) improve (by degree) I had to completely analyse the performance of the bass unit in that size cabinet to be sure it is best optimised for the task. That necessitated a (ridiculous?) amount of software modelling of the bass unit/box (all new skills I had to learn) just to say, truthfully, that the M30.1 is as good as it can be at this time. And our good friends as SEAS came up trumps with an ever smoother version of their tweeter by careful re-engineering, which taken together led to a completely redesigned (and again, thoroughly software modelled) crossover network.
If that translates into consumer confidence and listening satisfaction, that's very gratifying for us. It is absolutely factual to say that the M30.1 is a comprehensively validated design, building upon a long success story with the M30 and using the very latest engineering software tools to be sure of that.
As always, I treat my job very seriously and I don't care how hard or long the design journey; I stop only when I reach the ultimate destination.
Alan A. Shaw
Harbeth Audio UK
NAD Masters Series M2 Digital Integrated Amplifier, direct digital amplifier, 2 X 250W Continuous Power at 8 and 4 Ohms
NAD C372, At 150-watts per-channel
NAD D 3020 digital amp 30 watts x 2 into 8 ohms (20-20,000 Hz)
Art Audio Quintet, 25 watt pentode, 15 watt triode.
Audio Mirror PP1 Preamp
Van Alstine AVA Fet Valve 550 Ultra, 250W into 8 and double into 4 ohms.
AVA Vision SL solid state pre
Odyssey Kizmet/Khartago mono blocks, 180 w per channel
Rogue Perseus preamplifier
Cary CAD-280SA V12 Tube Amplifier- 50w per channel in triode, 100w in ul
Cary SLP 98 F1 tube PREAMPLIFIER
Cary SLA 70 tube AMPLIFIER, 35w per channel
Kenwood 8004 (what a great SS integrated amp!)
McIntosh c32 pre
McIntosh MC2125 120 watts per channel