Big comparison topic B&W vs Focal vs Harbeth vs ATC vs ProAc vs PMC vs KEF vs Audio Physic vs Tannoy vs Sonus Fabere

arthurmorgan

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Nov 1, 2021
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Hello everybody. I think this topic will be interesting because my goal is to gather all speakers unique sound characteristics in one place.Please express your opinion without any hesitation and no judgments and no fight!

I live in third world country and I have no place to hear (most of) these speakers. I wouldn't buy them without audition of course, I am just curious what are the differences between them and their unique characteristics.I would like to hear YOUR PERSONAL OPINION and without any judgement. Please describe them as you wish. For example I heard B&W is on the brighter side adn open and forward, Harbeth should be warmer, Sonus Faber dark...
I repeat, I would like to hear your personal opinion.

B&W 800 series (D3, D4)

Focal (Utopia, Sopra, Kanta)

Harbeth

ATC (Classic series)

ProAc (Response, K Series)

PMC

Kef (Blade, Reference)

Audio Physic

Tannoy

Sonus Fabere
 

arthurmorgan

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Nov 1, 2021
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Paid reviews in magazines are available but I don't trust them, but when you google it you won't find any information on forums. Usually people post graphs and charts and then argue about it and there is no way you can hear somebody's opinion and description of gear. And that is what I am interested in, I would like to hear how people describe (how they perceive) it?

For some of these brands I mentioned, there is a lot of topics available, but for many of them I can't find it. And especially when it comes to comparing.

I assumed most of the people here are living in well developed countries and must have heard most of them.
 
D

Deleted member 196480

Guest
A loudspeaker can only produce what is sent to it. RUBBISH IN, RUBBISH OUT.
 
Paid reviews in magazines are available but I don't trust them, but when you google it you won't find any information on forums. Usually people post graphs and charts and then argue about it and there is no way you can hear somebody's opinion and description of gear. And that is what I am interested in, I would like to hear how people describe (how they perceive) it?

For some of these brands I mentioned, there is a lot of topics available, but for many of them I can't find it. And especially when it comes to comparing.

I assumed most of the people here are living in well developed countries and must have heard most of them.
Unfortunately even in so called well developed countries many will not have actually auditioned many on that list especially those in the higher price bracket.
I am also not sure what you mean by paid reviews in magazines, you think the likes of WHF are actually paid to review an item of equipment??
 

arthurmorgan

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Nov 1, 2021
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When I was buying my first entry level bookshelf loudspeakers Wharfedale Diamond 11.0 I read all possible reviews online. They were all so positive and affirmative and then I bought it without audition because I though what the hell, what can I expect for 150 euros range or 125 pounds (can't remember anymore). And then when I played the first song, man, I didn't know what happened. They were so laidback, so recessed, singer was singing from a tunnel or a barrel and as much as I turn the volume up it's just muted and muffled. I though it must be defective unit so I went to the store and listened to it right there... nothing was wrong with my speakers, it was their nature. And now I got into this world, I have plans for decent stereo system and I would like to know is it worth to spend 20-30k for speakers and what is the difference between 30k and 10k loudspeaker. But it seems people can't tell, I assume because differences are subtle, and I just wanted to talk about it a little bit here. But now I see this kind of posts is not welcomed here.

And yes. I do think magazines and reviewers are paid to talk affirmatively and positively about gear and to keep silent about flaws or to alleviate them using euphemisms.
 
Your post is most welcome, I just wondered if you could expand on why you asked it and what you hoped would come out of it that would be useful to you on your hifi journey,
your later post has done just that.
 

Dom

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Aug 6, 2011
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Its fine, talk about expensive speakers if you want. (y)

I listened to £75k Naim and PMC combo. The Bass was very deep, vocals were clear and the treble was never shrill.

I have heard £3k speakers that had astonishing treble, think very black background.

I have heard £16k Focal Sopra speakers that just glowed with sound that were utterly gorgeous to listen too.

Hope that covers some of your interest. ;)
 
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arthurmorgan

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Its fine, talk about expensive speakers if you want. (y)

I listened to £75k Naim and PMC combo. The Bass was very deep, vocals were clear and the treble was never shrill.

I have heard £3k speakers that had astonishing treble, think very black background.

I have heard £16k Focal Sopra speakers that just glowed with sound that were utterly gorgeous to listen to.

Hope that covers some of your interest. ;)

What speakers for 3k? With what amp (and preamp)? I like treble, you got me there with your description.

Compared to that system, would you say Sopra or PMC is worth 5-10 times more? We all know it is about marginal gains, so I wonder if that marginal gain is worth 5-10-20k more. I know that is subjective matter, but I got deep into headphones world. And I realised that everything with the price tag over 300-400 euros is almost the same. I say almost, there are differences between few brands (Grado VS others) but usually differences are really subtle and in my opinion 1500 euros Focal Clear is not worth the extra money over Senn HD650 for example. That is my opinion and of course If I am rich I would buy Clear without thinking. And now I don't know is it the same case with loudspeakers.
 

Dom

Well-known member
Aug 6, 2011
1,197
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19,570
What speakers for 3k? With what amp (and preamp)? I like treble, you got me there with your description.

Compared to that system, would you say Sopra or PMC is worth 5-10 times more? We all know it is about marginal gains, so I wonder if that marginal gain is worth 5-10-20k more. I know that is subjective matter, but I got deep into headphones world. And I realised that everything with the price tag over 300-400 euros is almost the same. I say almost, there are differences between few brands (Grado VS others) but usually differences are really subtle and in my opinion 1500 euros Focal Clear is not worth the extra money over Senn HD650 for example. That is my opinion and of course If I am rich I would buy Clear without thinking. And now I don't know is it the same case with loudspeakers.
Not sure what the speakers were, sorry. The amp was Naim.

Your exactly right the more you spend the less you get, but that extra %10 or %20 or even %50 does mean somthing.
The Focal Sopra were simply amazing to listen too, but I love my dynaudio's too.

I'm guessing the more you spend the longer you will listen to them.:unsure: less fatigue? Its an interesting topic and thanks for posting.
 
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Surly Sid

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Feb 6, 2020
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Hello everybody. I think this topic will be interesting because my goal is to gather all speakers unique sound characteristics in one place.Please express your opinion without any hesitation and no judgments and no fight!

I live in third world country and I have no place to hear (most of) these speakers. I wouldn't buy them without audition of course, I am just curious what are the differences between them and their unique characteristics.I would like to hear YOUR PERSONAL OPINION and without any judgement. Please describe them as you wish. For example I heard B&W is on the brighter side adn open and forward, Harbeth should be warmer, Sonus Faber dark...
I repeat, I would like to hear your personal opinion.

B&W 800 series (D3, D4) Never heard them. Did hear the CM series a few years ago. Sounded veiled and muddy.

Focal (Utopia, Sopra, Kanta) Very lively and detailed. Impresses in the first few minutes. Long term, can be fatiguing for some people.

Harbeth The perfect speaker in my opinion. I now have the C7es3-XD and they are with me for life.

ATC (Classic series) I heard the SCM-19. Really boring and not engaging.

ProAc (Response, K Series) I never heard them.

PMC I never heard them.

Kef (Blade, Reference) MY KEF experience is with the LS50. WAY OVERRATED!

Audio Physic Good but pricey for what they give you.

Tannoy I never heard them.

Sonus Faber I used to Own Venere 2 and my brother owns Toy Towers. Two very different speakers. The newer models are more lively than the ones of old. I would not call them dark. I have also heard the Aida. Absolutely awesome speaker!
 
Hello everybody. I think this topic will be interesting because my goal is to gather all speakers unique sound characteristics in one place.Please express your opinion without any hesitation and no judgments and no fight!

I live in third world country and I have no place to hear (most of) these speakers. I wouldn't buy them without audition of course, I am just curious what are the differences between them and their unique characteristics.I would like to hear YOUR PERSONAL OPINION and without any judgement. Please describe them as you wish. For example I heard B&W is on the brighter side adn open and forward, Harbeth should be warmer, Sonus Faber dark...
I repeat, I would like to hear your personal opinion.

B&W 800 series (D3, D4)

Focal (Utopia, Sopra, Kanta)

Harbeth

ATC (Classic series)

ProAc (Response, K Series)

PMC

Kef (Blade, Reference)

Audio Physic

Tannoy

Sonus Fabere
Are your amp choices as wide sweeping? I'm not being clever but every speaker brand will have it's own character, and they'll only sound as good or as bad as the amplification.
With hi-fi there needs to be good synergy regardless of brands. Some of the less revered brands often sound as good as the so-called 'top of the tree' models
 
When I was buying my first entry level bookshelf loudspeakers Wharfedale Diamond 11.0 I read all possible reviews online. They were all so positive and affirmative and then I bought it without audition because I though what the hell, what can I expect for 150 euros range or 125 pounds (can't remember anymore). And then when I played the first song, man, I didn't know what happened. They were so laidback, so recessed, singer was singing from a tunnel or a barrel and as much as I turn the volume up it's just muted and muffled. I though it must be defective unit so I went to the store and listened to it right there... nothing was wrong with my speakers, it was their nature. And now I got into this world, I have plans for decent stereo system and I would like to know is it worth to spend 20-30k for speakers and what is the difference between 30k and 10k loudspeaker. But it seems people can't tell, I assume because differences are subtle, and I just wanted to talk about it a little bit here. But now I see this kind of posts is not welcomed here.

And yes. I do think magazines and reviewers are paid to talk affirmatively and positively about gear and to keep silent about flaws or to alleviate them using euphemisms.
That was my point in the previous post. IMO speakers make the biggest single difference, but it does depend on the amplifier (tonal qualities, whether it has enough power or clean current to make the most of the speakers blah blah blah...).

Then again you can just buy a speaker and match the amp up. Whatever way you choose to do it there needs to be that yin and yang between the two.
 

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
341
208
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Wow..that’s a pretty high end list and I doubt most folks here have even seen never mind heard most of your list…I like pmc myself but I haven’t heard everything.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
…I have plans for decent stereo system and I would like to know is it worth to spend 20-30k for speakers and what is the difference between 30k and 10k loudspeaker. But it seems people can't tell, I assume because differences are subtle, and I just wanted to talk about it a little bit here.
If we are taking GBP prices, then I personally struggle to see the need to spend more than £10,000 on speakers unless you’ve extremely sophisticated tastes, a large room and the money for equally fine source components.

I have heard a few high end speakers in the last six or so years, including Wilson Audio Sabrina and Alexxa, Gamut RS5i, ATC SCM100A, Kii Three/BXT actives, Dutch&Dutch 8C, German Physik Borderland IV, Dynaudio Evidence Platinum, small MBLs, KEF Blade, and new Quads, amongst others. The trouble is they were all in different locations, and each had strengths and weaknesses. (I have also heard the big B&W 800 at Abbey Road; Focal Utopias at shows - too glaring; various older Sonus Fabers - beautiful; only the Harbeths below £5k - very natural; ProAc Response D38R - nice but a bit overpowering; PMC too costly and a bit boom and tizz; Audio Physic and Tannoy - not recently. )

Of those above I’d most likely choose the ATC or Wilson at home, if I had the money. If I had to put the system anywhere blind I’d choose the Kii or D&D, as their DSP is amazing for adjustability.

Under £10k I’d be happy with the active version of my current ATC SCM40 which list at £7,400.

Lastly, in my opinion, characteristics often diverge more as you get towards and beyond £10k, as each designer relentlessly pursues their goal, often at the cost of others. KEF and ATC are amongst those whose engineering led approach keeps these extreme in a better balance, imo.
 
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arthurmorgan

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Nov 1, 2021
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@Surly Sid My wish is to hear Harbeth, based on youtube videos I think it is endgame for me, but I would need to hear it in person. What is your amp of choice with Harbeth? And did you hear 30 (30xd, 30.2, 30.1)? How big is your room?
Do you remember what amp was used with ATC?


You're not in charge of your third world country by any chance are you?
Haha, wish I am...


Are your amp choices as wide sweeping? I'm not being clever but every speaker brand will have it's own character, and they'll only sound as good or as bad as the amplification.
With hi-fi there needs to be good synergy regardless of brands. Some of the less revered brands often sound as good as the so-called 'top of the tree' models
Yes I am aware of that, and that is why I am looking for speakers unique character, to see what is special about each of them separately of the rest of the gear.


Wow..that’s a pretty high end list and I doubt most folks here have even seen never mind heard most of your list…I like pmc myself but I haven’t heard everything.
Do you own pmc 21? How would you describe them? Are they warmer and more laid back; or open, forward, clear?


If we are taking GBP prices, then I personally struggle to see the need to spend more than £10,000 on speakers unless you’ve extremely sophisticated tastes, a large room and the money for equally fine source components.

I have heard a few high end speakers in the last six or so years, including Wilson Audio Sabrina and Alexxa, Gamut RS7i, ATC SCM100A, Kii BXT actives, Dutch&Dutch 8C, German Physik Borderland IV, small MBLs, KEF Blade, and new Quads, amongst others. The trouble is they were all in different locations, and each had strengths and weaknesses. (I have also heard the big B&W 800 at Abbey Road; Focal Utopias at shows - too glaring; various older Sonus Fabers - beautiful; only the Harbeths below £5k - very natural; ProAc Response D38R - nice but a bit overpowering; PMC too costly and a bit boom and tizz; Audio Physic and Tannoy - not recently. )

Of those above I’d most likely choose the ATC or Wilson at home, if I had the money. If I had to put the system anywhere blind I’d choose the Kii or D&D, as their DSP is amazing for adjustability.

Under £10k I’d be happy with the active version of my current ATC SCM40 which list at £7,800.

Lastly, in my opinion, characteristics often diverge more as you get towards and beyond £10k, as each designer relentlessly pursues their goal, often at the cost of others. KEF and ATC are amongst those whose engineering led approach keeps these extreme in a better balance, imo.
I wish I had half of your listening experience. What is the difference between your SCM40 and SCM100? They are more powerful, better soundstage, better clarity, imaging, dynamics... ?
 

nopiano

Well-known member
I wish I had half of your listening experience. What is the difference between your SCM40 and SCM100? They are more powerful, better soundstage, better clarity, imaging, dynamics... ?
Well they are more than twice the size for a start. (The numbers are litres of internal volume). Mine are from the modestly named Entry series. The 50/100/150 are in the Classic range. Mine are rounded cabinets and more domestic looking. The Classic are rectangular boxes with nice veneer, but more studio descended.

All those factors you list you get more of in the100. Technically, the Classic have even higher quality mid and tweeter designs, named S or SL. However, ATC have a pretty consistent family sound, so really you get more of the same. The 100 can fill a small concert hall with sound - they have a big dynamic headroom. I don’t need to do that!
 

Florestander

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May 8, 2021
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I have auditioned Focal Kanta N2 and PMC twentyfive speakers with a musical fidelity M6 and Bluesound streaming. I have difficulty choosing a paring that I prefer I have been recommended to try ATC SCM40's with this same set up and am awaiting an audition slot, but I m anticipating a 'reference' sound, much as I heard from the PMC's. At this price level sound reproduction is generally very good - you would really need to audition and find something you like before spending such a large budget - It is unfortunate that you cannot access dealers to do so where you are, but the truth of the matter is that we all have our preferences and can all hear different nuances in sound, due to our personal characteristics, room size, acoustics and placement of gear. I cannot help feeling that you may ultimately be disappointed when listening to somebody else's preference, - i f that is what you opt to do. Good luck though.
 

skinnypuppy71

Well-known member
Aug 10, 2021
341
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2,270
Do you own pmc 21? How would you describe them? Are they warmer and more laid back; or open, forward, clear?
I’d say the little pmc’s are slightly on the lean side of neutral with excellent clarity and timing. Ok the bass won’t shake the room but that transmission line exceeds what you'd expect from a cabinet of it’s size and that bass stop’s and starts on a dime.lol…also with every amplifier and source update ,they have shown a lift in performance also, Someone on the Naim forum was using them in a office system with a 500 series amplifier and was in the highest praise of the little boxes of joy.
 

Surly Sid

Well-known member
Feb 6, 2020
274
113
2,070
@Surly Sid My wish is to hear Harbeth, based on youtube videos I think it is endgame for me, but I would need to hear it in person. What is your amp of choice with Harbeth? And did you hear 30 (30xd, 30.2, 30.1)? How big is your room?
Do you remember what amp was used with ATC?

I use a Naim Supernait 2 with my Harbeths. I also used the Supernait 2 to listen to the ATCs. The problem isn't the amp.
I did hear the Harbeth 30.1. It is a very refined and natural sounding speaker. You can't go wrong with the 30.2 XD or the C7es3-XD. I have seen the mighty 40.3 XD at my dealer, but have not heard it.

My room is 10 by 15 feet.
 
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