Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers By

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Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers by Bob nt/0302/harbeth30.htmMarch 2002Having Fun With TheHarbeth Monitor 30 LoudspeakersReview by Bob NeillClick here to e-mail reviewerAt the time I write this (early February), I expect itis the first of what will doubtless be several reviewsof this sibling of the slightly larger Compact 7 and ofthe considerably larger Monitor 40. Both the Monitor30 and 40 were designed to be professionalmonitors and entered the world in much plainer garbthan the handsome wood veneers they now wear intheir role as domestic speakers. The Compact 7 wasdesigned specifically for domestic use. What hasbrought the 40 and now the 30 into the domesticworld alongside the 7 has been a growing populardemand for professional monitor level performance.There are several different interests in the 30, all ofwhich I will attempt to meet here. This will doubtlessintroduce some redundancies but I will keep athesaurus handy to make them less obvious. Thechief interest is in whether the 30 offers a newdefinitive choice for the best moderatesize/moderate cost monitor for those who prefer the British BBC monitor take on musicpresentation. To wit: how specifically does the 30 fare in competition with the Compact 7and Spendor SP 1/2? Another interest is in how the 30 differs from the 40: that is, howmuch of a compromise does it represent and does its considerably smaller size offer anycompensating sonic advantages.That the British monitor take on music presentation might not be everyone's standard isa view I find hard to fathom, but Barry from the backwoods of Ontario with his somewhatmore sensuous French speakers insists there is more in the universe than what I know.He has urged me to introduce this review with a summary description of what I think thisUK take is, a task I find similar to having to describe nature, but I will try.They tend to be smallish, feature "lossy" cabinets, are generally flat through the criticalportion of the midrange enabling them to maximize accuracy of tonality and timbre, offernot a whole lot of action under 40Hz, and come with a very gradual taper of the highend, resulting in a 'natural' rather than zippy or expressive overall presentation. How'sthat for a sexy speaker? They are designed to present what's on the recordingaccurately but with some consideration for how music actually sounds in a concert or jazzhall. While this can result in slightly different voices among different designers - or evenwithin a single line of speakers - the differences tend to be those of degree, not kind.You get the feeling after listening to a variety of them that they all have the samegeneral ideal in sight. British monitors tend not to grab their listeners but to please andsatisfy them, especially those familiar with the sound of real instruments played in a liveenvironment. They wear extremely well over time and tend not to be traded in or soldvery often. There is some guy on Audio Review who reports that he has a photograph ofhis Spendor SP 100's on his desk at work. Sick, but I understand.The BasicsThe Harbeth Monitor 30 is approximately 18" x 11" x 11.25" (HxWxD), a size determinedby its original mission, which was to be a "drop in" for the BBC LS 5/9. This means it is alittle less than 20% smaller in overall volume than the Compact 7, which was designedwith no such 'restrictions.' The other basic difference between these two speakers is thatwhereas both speakers use the same 8-inch (200 mm) RADIAL midrange/woofer, the 30uses the SEAS 1-inch (25 mm) soft-dome Excell tweeter used in the Monitor 40, whereasthe 7 uses a SEAS magnesium-alloy dome tweeter of the same dimension.The Monitor 30 is 8 ohms/85 dB, the Compact 7 is 8 ohms/88db. The Monitor 30 retailsin the United States for 3,189, 720 more than the 7. Both speakers are comfortableon Sound Anchor stands. (Use Blue Tak as a speaker/stand interface.) Experiments sofar suggest that the 7 is best on a 20-24-inch stand, the 30 (whose tweeter is mountedlower in the cabinet) on a 25-28 inch stand. Both speakers are bi-wireable, though ingeneral, designer Alan Shaw is skeptical of bi-wiring. He does not deny that it changesthe sound, just not for the better. I do not have bi-wired Valhalla. The Blue Circle BC 92,which I will be using later on in the audition when I move the 30's into a smaller roomwith more modest equipment, is bi-wired, but I have nothing to compare its performancewith, so let us trust the designer on this one. The main part of the review will be carriedout on my existing system, which I know well, in our 5,000 cubic foot living room, whichhas proven to be a fine environment acoustically.1 van 710/29/07 3:23 PM

Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers by Bob nt/0302/harbeth30.htmSystem DetailsFront End: Naim CDSII player, Electraglide Reference Triglide ac cord, Nordost Vallhallainterconnect, RCA/XLR.Electronics: Blue Circle AG3000 line preamp - tubed, balaced, same Electraglide accord, Nordost Valhalla interconnect, XLR/XLR. Blue Circle AG 8000 monoblocks - hybrid,150 watts, balanced, high biased A/B. Electraglide Fat Boy Gold ac cords, Valhallaspeaker cable.Room: 18 x 28 x 11 feet. The ceiling slopes from 11 feet at speaker end to 8 feet at theother. The floor is wood over slab, with 8 x 10 area rug in front of loudspeakers. The wallon listener's left is brick, 5 feet from speaker; the wall on right is books, 5 feet fromspeaker. The rear wall is glass, 3.5 feet behind speakers. The loudspeakers are 8.5 feetapart aimed directly at the listening position, which is 8.5 feet away.Sounding OutOkay, what does the 30 sound like and how does it stack up considered as nominee forthe definitive moderate-sized domestic monitor? It is forward - sometimes tending topiquant, exciting, detailed, captivating, clear, open, airy, spatially dimensional, fast,intimate, smooth, tactile, dynamic, firm, and authoritative. Its presentation is exceptionallywell balanced. It is often quite beautiful, though not beguiling; there is no sense ofsweetening, but its presentation is utterly engaging - if you like music in particular ratherthan in general. Like all good smaller loudspeakers - and it looks Lilliputian next to myMonitor 40's - it images quite well, especially front to back and generates a notablesense of spatial immediacy and palpability. I listened to the 30 with a wide variety ofmusic - 60's jazz reissues, rocker Tom Petty, baroque chamber music on 'authentic'instruments, symphonic and choral music - and never had the sense that anything wasmissing. This was not the case, of course. Deep bass was missing as well as a gooddeal of the hall ambience that deep bass makes possible. But the speaker succeeds soconvincingly in making its own case for what it does that these absences did not come tomind until I called them up.I consider this the ultimate tribute to asmall speaker and also something veryrare. (Even the well-loved SP 1/2's makeyou aware, especially with orchestralmusic, that something is missing on thebottom.) I had this same 'self-sufficient'experience with the Compact 7, which tellsme that, like the 7, the 30 is so clear andaccurate in the bass that you tend not tonotice its relative lack of depth. Both the 7and 30 seem to go far deeper than theymeasure, which, for the 7, I'm told isaround 5-6 dB down at 46Hz, and thisfeels right for the 30 as well, though it'shard to tell with its different overallbalance. This remarkably fine bassresponse has got to be laid at the feet ofthe RADIAL driver, which is demonstrablysuperior to polypropylene in renderingdetail.The Monitor 30's are noticeably less laidback than both the Compact 7's and theMonitor 40's. Their overall balance,however, again, feels perfect, so you never get the sense you are listening to a bassthin or mid-range dominant loudspeaker. They are the most 'natural' and realisticsounding loudspeakers I've ever heard in this size and in this price range.Listening SamplesRubbra - Symphony #3 [Chandos 9944] String basses clear and tactile. The clarity in thebass compensates 'ingeniously' for the relative lack of weight in an overall balance thatfeels absolutely right.Gubaidulina "St. John Passion" Hanssler [#98405]. With the 30's, the bass singing inthe cathedral is truly fine but he isn't quite in a cathedral. With the 40's, his voice comesout of a deeper and spatially ambient background. More moving, to me. Less immediatebut more moving, finally."Viaggio Musicale," Il Guardino Armonico [Teldec 82536]. One of my favorite recentacquisitions of this spirited Italian 'authentic' instrument group. One of the instrumentsthey use is a precursor of the bassoon called a "dulcianna." Its barking bass impact andclarity were made for this speaker. Exciting and satisfying.Wayne Shorter, Soothsayer [Blue Note 84443]. Here the forward thrust coupled with thesmoothness of the 30's combine to pay huge dividends. Sassy good. The world is full ofspeakers that have up-front presentations; it is virtually empty of those that coupleforward focus with smoothness to make it thrilling rather than abusive.Kanchelli, Magnum Ignotum [ECM 462713] When I hear a cello, I want to hear the rosiny2 van 710/29/07 3:23 PM

Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers by Bob nt/0302/harbeth30.htmbow and the instrument's wood body. A cello played (and reproduced) right doesn't justsooth with warmth, it also gets up into your sinuses and makes your brain's pleasurecenters vibrate. The 30's let Rostropovich do this exquisitely. And when the cellos in theorchestra double him, it's not a hum but a thrum. This is why we assemble accuratesystems. This is what we pay the big bucks for.Bach, Cantatas Vol 9, Koopman [ERATO 27315] Violins and voices ring clear andsmooth. Lower strings are clear and present, if not quite foundational. The basses arenot missing, just not as big a deal as the bassists would like. With a large chorus, the30's 'small speaker' ability to spread the sound out and extend it to the rear is especiallynoticeable. And the 30's gradual sloping high end (also a characteristic of the 40's)keeps everything beautiful rather than unnaturally piercing.Bruckner, Symphony No. 8, Gunter Wand [RCA 60364] The presentation on thisrecording makes up in space for what it lacks in ultimate sonic depth. Wonderfullypresent and surprisingly monumental for a small speaker. Would I rather hear Brucknerthrough the 40's? Of course. Anyone with the space and money would prefer 40's forBruckner. But this is not the point. The 30's can get you most of the clarity and detailand enough of the size and weight to make you very happy. I live with Monitor 40's andfind the 30's quite satisfying and very exciting. What they do they do so well they seldombring the 40's to mind.Small loudspeakers succeed, when they do, by lowering our expectations and thenexceeding them. I had high expectations for the Monitor 30's until I saw them - saw howsmall they were. At that point, my expectations sagged and, of course Alan Shaw hadme. From the first note. When they said "hello." (Sorry.) Only two speakers I have everheard have taken me that early in the game: SP1/2's and now the 30's though each in avery different way. The 40's, which I have grown to believe are the best domesticspeakers available for less than mortgage money, took longer. I had to get the standheight (12-inch woofers are a challenge) and listening position right and then had to getthem associated with Blue Circle hybrid AG8000's, which to be fair, the M30's started outwith. And even then, the 40's sneak up on you. The 30's lay their virtues on the tableand, unless your taste is very far from mine, win you over immediately. Their modestshortcomings of scale and ultimate smoothness, compared with the 40's, appear later,when you're essentially beyond caring.Monitor 30's and Compact 7'sAre the 30's better than the 7's? As I've said elsewhere, the Compact 7 is an extremelygood speaker. Three of my web friends who own them tell me they are "married for life."(Who but Harbeth, Spendor, and Quad owners would say that?) The 7 goes up againstits better known rival, the Spendor SP 1/2, in the market on a regular basis and wins itsfair share of the matches. I have no idea what the numbers might be but now that theHarbeth name is beginning to get around I am told they are doing very well, thank youvery much. They compete well because they offer a distinctive alternative to one of themost charming and beguiling loudspeakers in the history of audio. When they win, theywin on the appeal of the uncanny Harbeth accuracy and honesty through the heart ofthe midrange, where their RADIAL mid/woofer driver dares to tell the entire musical truthand - surprise - truth of timbre and tonality ends up winning friends without additives - or,as it turns out, subtractives. I have come to believe that in terms of absolute sound theCompact 7 is a better speaker than the SP ½. This personal judgment aside, it clearlyhas different virtues than its rival and it is a fascinating business to sort them out. Moreon that comparison later. And a great deal more on the Spendors in their own reviewalso included this month.My only reservation about the Compact 7 when I heard it for the first time a year or soago in this same room - and it is not one that stuck its head out - was a trace of drynessthrough the upper mids. Not everyone hears this, so I allowed at the time that it might beto some extent conditioned by adjacent equipment. I also speculated it might be abyproduct of the 7's designed in 'BBC curve' -/ 1.5 dB swing in the upper midrange - anartifact engineered into some small speakers to make them more suitable for a domesticenvironment where early reflections of the higher instruments from typically nearby wallsand an 8 foot ceiling can raise havoc. (Neither the SP ½'s nor the Monitor 30 uses thiscurve.) And then, as I said earlier, there is the difference in tweeters. To repeat, whileboth the 30's and 7 used the identical RADIAL mid/woofer, their tweeters are not thesame. Both the 30 and 40 use the superb soft-dome SEAS Excell, whereas the 7 usesa SEAS magnesium-alloy dome driver. Now that I have heard both speakershead-to-head, I think the difference is tweeters is probably not involved in this matter,though I do think the soft-dome adds a measure of refinement and finish to the highend.Okay, what do I hear this time around? I hear a wonderfully robust and slightly warmpresentation. On a 1961 Art Blakey' Buhaina's Delight [Blue Note 84104], on the 7's Ihear rich and crisp Freddy Hubbard on trumpet and Curtis Fuller on trombone, apercussive Cedar Walton on piano, a strong throbbing Jymei Merritt on bass, and asmooth, warm but clear Wayne Shorter on sax. Overall, I hear great energy, greatdynamics. On the 30's, everything is a bit more open and all of the instruments have alittle more light on them. On Tom Petty's Full Moon Fever [MCA 6253] on the 7's Pettyhimself is less forward than he is on the 30's, held back a little, a trifle boxed in. There'sthe trace of dryness. On the 30's he's clearer and the whole presentation has moresnap. The upper mids seem a little less smooth on the 7's but the slightly laid backpresentation almost neutralizes that. I notice that the perspective of the 7's actuallyseems closer to that of the 40's than of the 30's.With choral music, the 7's have great coherence and a wonderful firmness to theirpresentation - the latter a characteristic that distinguishes them from the Spendor SP3 van 710/29/07 3:23 PM

Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers by Bob nt/0302/harbeth30.htm1/2's, by the way. The 30's are more open so that the strings accompanying the chorussing a little more and individual choral voices are distinguished a little more clearly. The30's are notably airier. A baritone in the middle ground has a spot on him with the 30'sand the tympanis have more snap. With the 7's, the light goes down a bit and details areless pointed. But they are there.On Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord, Huggett/Koopmanl [Phillips 410401], withthe 30's the eighteenth century violin is very present. Both violin and harpsichord havetheir natural cutting edges clearly defined, insisting on their different voices. With the 7's,everything is warmer. The violin has less piquancy and the harpsichord is less insistent. Iexpect all but true early music fans would prefer the 7's on this one. On this recordingand several like it, the 7's warmth feels very natural.I like the Compact 7's much better this time around - though my ancillary equipment hasimproved since the first go-round. I think it represents a clear and useful alternative tothe Monitor 30's. And Backwoods Barry, who had them for several months, tells me, thatwhen I hear them in a smaller room, which is their intended milieu, this opinion will getstronger.For more on the Compact 7's, check the Harbeth website, where both Martin Collums'and Robert Greene's reviews are archived. Greene's review of the Monitor 40 review isthere as well.Monitor 30's and Monitor 40'sThese two loudspeakers offer very different presentations, considering that they sharethe same RADIAL and SEAS drivers. (The 40 also has a 12-inch paper-based woofer.)The Monitor 40 is notably less forward and, predictably, its scale is larger. Music seemsto exist in a larger and deeper space and has more ambience, warmth, and beauty.There is considerably more overall ease to the presentation and more of a sense ofvenue. Again, with the 30 you feel you are closer to the performers; music tends to feelmore intimate and more conspicuously detailed. You have the sense you are hearingthem before the music begins to take on the characteristic of the performance space.With the 30's, you are aware of background, of performers playing behind those in theforeground, and there is a little more air than with the 40's that, like most large speakers,have some trouble getting out of their own way. But with the 30's, you are not as muchaware of a venue. Jean-Marie Reynaud says the same thing is true when he compareshis Offrandes with their larger siblings, the Grand Operas. This is clearly a primary effectof the presence of greater bass response, both altering the overall balance andadmitting the ambient information on which the expression of performing spacedepends.The 40's ease is a quality that Monitor 40 owners much admire and that some of itscritics object to. Monitor 40's become more expressive when you crank them up a bit butat moderate to low volumes, they are characteristically restrained. Compared head tohead with the 40's, the 30's are somewhat less beautiful and refined than they seemwithout a 40 to compare them with. Music is considerably more intense coming from the30. Occasionally, there is a hint of strain and congestion when a lot of instruments arefighting to get through, but this is something I only really noticed in contrast to the 40.This is presumably the direct result of the RADIAL driver's having to deal with more bassinformation than it does in the 40 where, as I say, there is a 12-inch woofer to take overbelow 200Hz.In my judgment, the Monitor 40's are "better" speakers than their little brothers, but I cansee how the preference might go to the 30's with those who value intensity, prominentdetail, and immediacy above all else. Were I assembling a smaller system for my currentlistening room, the 30's would be the speakers of choice. I prefer what I take to be their'absolute sound' to that of the Compact 7's. But while the 30s' brilliance can make usforget for a while that there is more to music than they can imagine, returning to the 40's,for this listener, is a dramatic reminder that 12-inch woofers and large cabinets are notfor nothing. The music gets bigger, fuller, richer; the air gets thicker - and all this withoutlosing a trace of the detail, though it is less prominent. Initially, they sound warmer thanthe 30's - and they are - by virtue of having more bass that gets the bottom of theinstruments and also enables them to reveal more room, more reverberant space. Butfinally the warmth ceases to be warmth and simply becomes reality. And the 30'spresentation, in the mind - at least mine - becomes the brilliant compromise it must be.Monitor 30's and Spendor SP 1/2'sEnter the indomitable Spendor, wishing to reclaim its place in my heart. As I said above,the Spendor gets its own separate review this month, but I can't resist making thecomparison with the Harbeths while the latter have the stage. First a few facts. They are40% larger than the M30's - and most of this is in height. They are 25 inches highcompared with the M30's 18 inches. They are three-ways. Their woofers and midrangedrivers are made in-house; the tweeters are Scanspeaks.The last time I heard the SP 1/2 was nearly two years ago and I will confess that on firstlistening it literally stole my heart. Everything I threw at it came back lyrical. Not so muchcolored - Greene assures us in his excellent TAS review that they measurecommendably flat through the critical midrange. Lyrical. Very pleasing, somewhatsoftened and idealized. On orchestral music, they lacked some foundation but theiroverall appeal was such that once I noted that, I moved on to what they did so well.Which was to charm. I found them utterly charming.That was then and this is now. I have wanted to revisit these speakers ever since andfinally persuaded US Spendor importer QS&D to give me an opportunity. When I4 van 710/29/07 3:23 PM

Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers by Bob nt/0302/harbeth30.htmreviewed them for a discussion board a while back, based on my experience of that firstaudition, I did not find them superior to the Compact 7's but liked them a bit more.Nonetheless, I tried not to let that show through the review because it felt irrelevant. Ifound the two speakers' differences more interesting than my opinion about thosedifferences. This time around, having come to know and love Harbeth's flagship, myintent was to look a little more closely into this matter of charm.This time around, I found the SP 1/2's charm intact but I was more aware of thetrade-offs. Compared with the M30's, they are considerably less open: the top end isrolled off more dramatically than the natural roll off of the Harbeths. Compared with the30's and 7's, they are less bold and their bass foundation is even more conspicuouslyweak. With the Spendors, you are focused almost exclusively on their justly legendarymidrange, which in a large room is palpable, alluring, and solicitous. On classical musiceverything is so delicious you can cut it with a dessert fork. On rock and jazz, however,they are surprisingly punchy - less so than the 7's, maybe more so than the 30's. Themidrange focus can sometimes make everything feel a bit closed in, especially incontrast with the more forward, more open M30's with their wonderfully refined high end.As Herb Reichert reported, in his generally enthusiastic Listener review, they can get alittle "stuffy" and "shut down." The Spendors are airier, softer, and bloomier on classicalmusic than either of the Harbeths. They are less dramatic and incisive on jazz. They areclearly yin to the Harbeths' yang, Aerial's loudspeakers rather than Caliban's "blue-eyed" as Reichert says.I would say that the most conspicuous difference between the Spendors and bothHarbeths on this hearing is that the Spendors have more of a personality of their own tobring to the music than the Harbeths. The Harbeths tend to let the personality of therecordings play the central role. This is a bit of a cliché in this field, but some cliches aretrue - all of them were originally. Spendors tend to kiss everything that passes throughthem. This is not always an intrusive or even all that conspicuous an interposition. It is,as I say, charming. And it is clearly a charm that wears well, witness the hoards ofSpendor faithful. But it does, in contrast with both the M30's and 7's, rob music of someof its natural force and individual voice. It tames rather than releases the music. Itbeguiles rather than excites. I will go much further into this matter in the review of the SP1/2's. Some of their charm clearly has to do with the polypropylene that their drivers aremade of, a material, which both its admirers and detractors will concede, provides a bit of'polypropylene bounce;' and which Harbeth's Alan Shaw says "eats detail."Into the Smaller RoomNobody but nobody is going to be driving Monitor 30's (or Compact 7's or SP 1/2's) with 26,000 worth of electronics - and all that Valhalla - in a 5,000 cubic foot room. Fairenough. If the primary goal here is not only to hear and describe what the M30's 'really'sound like, a secondary goal is to begin the speculative process of building a 'modest'music system for "normal" circumstances, so let's introduce some compromises. I'll try tokeep this short. We are running a little long here.Let us move into our 12 x 24 x 8 foot bedroom and we will try some real-worldelectronics. I have been told and have come to believe that the French companyAudiomat is very likely making some of the best reasonably priced integrated amps in theworld. I have heard the 2,300 Arpege and liked it a lot driving Triangle Venti's in Barry'ssystem. Since then (last summer) I have been badgering Pascal Ravage of NorthAmerican Audiomat importer Mutine Audio of Quebec, to send me the top-of-the-line andmore robust Solfege ( 4,350) to try out as the centerpiece of a moderate priced andsmaller scale system - with loudspeakers a little harder to drive than the efficient Ventis.The Solfege uses 6550's rather than the Arpege's EL 34's has a larger power supplyand, as Mutine makes clear on their website description, is less forgiving than itsstablemate. The Solfege is getting its own review next month, but so long as I am tryingto provide a real-world impression of the Monitor 30 loudspeakers here, I will offer apreview of how they sound with a Solfege. (Also with the Compact 7's and SP 1/2's.)Again, room is 12 x 24 x 8 feet. Wall to wall carpet over slab. No wood, sorry about that.Speakers are around 3 feet from the side walls, 42 inches from the wall behind themwhich is glass from waist level on up but drapes are drawn about half-way in front ofthem. They are 6-7 feet apart. Bookshelves on the listener's left, standard dry wall onthe right, with a largish oil painting about where the first reflection hits. Speakers aimeddirectly at listener to reduce side reflections. Ceiling is rough plastered dry wall. NaimCDSII/Electraglide AC cord. Valhalla IC. Solfege/stock power cord. Blue Circle 92speaker cable/bi-wired. Monitor 30's and Compact 7's on 28" rock solid proprietarystands - a tad too high but I can adjust the listening position for an audition. SP 1/2's on15-inch Sound Anchors. Listener is about 7 feet away.As you know, it is a very different experience listening in a smallish room, especially afully carpeted one. Everything feels more intimate, less spacious. I do not like it, neverhave. Interestingly, I discovered immediately that the smaller dimensions of my bedroomplayed to the coherence and warmer balance of the Compact 7's. On a wide variety ofmusic, essentially the same stuff I used to audition in my larger room, the Monitor 30'swere more open, more complex, giving the sense that more information was comingthrough; but this could sometimes be a little overwhelming. The same music comingthrough the 7's was more engaging than through the 30's. Firmer, more emotional, andactually the sound stage depth appears deeper, especially on orchestral music. Theslight boxed-in effect I heard on voices was diminished to the point where I had to listenfor it. There seemed to be an increased sense of smoothness to the 7's in the smallerroom. I know the Solfege was a factor here, but after a while, switching the speakers inand out, I do not think it favored one over the other. It is ever so slightly warmer than myAG's, but otherwise it seems like a very neutral amp. I had tried the Solfege the nightbefore on the Monitor 40's and from that less than ideal experience developed a sensethat it might be plumby and hazey. Not at all with the smaller speakers.Monitor 40's are a hard load for a small tube amp, even Class A. With the smaller5 van 710/29/07 3:23 PM

Having Fun With The Harbeth Monitor 30 Loudspeakers by Bob nt/0302/harbeth30.htmHarbeths, it seemed admirable. A good match with either. My bedroom is not set up sothat I could try the speakers on the long wall. This might have eased the 30'spresentation a bit, but the close ceiling would still be there. The Spendors, surprisingly,did not fare so well in the smaller room. The closer boundaries did not add fullness orreinforce the bass as I expected. And some of their midrange magic disappeared.Perhaps they need a little more lively acoustic space to thrive. At any rate, the Compact7 emerged as the champion of moderate sized, heavily damped listening quarters.ConclusionsThis has gone on long enough. In a large room, if I could not afford the Monitor 40's anda proper amp to drive them, the Compact 30's would be my choice for the 'definitive'small British monitor. Their boldness and clarity coupled with exemplary smoothnessmakes them a clear choice to my ears. In a smaller room, well let's just say I nowunderstand my many Compact 7 owner friends' enthusiasm for these speakers. In asmall room, they do indeed come alive. They appear to have been brilliantly engineeredfor the normal domestic listening environment.The NumbersThese numbers should probably be read in conjuncti

2 van 7 10/29/07 3:23 PM around System Details Front End: Naim CDSII player, Electraglide Reference Triglide ac cord, Nordost Vallhalla interconnect, RCA/XLR. Electronics: Blue Circle AG3000 line preamp - tubed, balaced, same Electraglide ac cord, Nordost Valhalla interconnect, XLR/XLR. Blue Circle AG 8000 monoblocks - hybrid,