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This review first appeared in the January 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the Harbeth M30.1 in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Harbeth. A companion review by Wojciech Pacula can be found here - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Sources: VPI Scout II with SME M2 12” or VPI JMW 9T arm and Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce or Zu Audio DL-103 cartridge and SAC Gamma Sym phonostage; Luxman D-05 SACD player; Logitech Touch, Readynas Duo NAS-Server, HP notebook, M2Tech Hiface, Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: Octave HP300 with MC phono module preamp; Electrocompaniet AW180 power amp; Denon PMA-2010AE integrated
Loudspeakers: Dynamikks Monitor 8.12, Thiel SCS4
Sundry accessories, cables and racks
Review component retail: starting at €3.150/pr

It must be part of British whimsy or crotchetiness to design one of the prettiest speaker baffles extant—if you love classically square-cornered furniture that is—then hide the fetching facade behind a most reluctant grill which can break off nails and bruise finger tips during your exasperated attempts at its removal. Huh? Folks, even if you do prefer that your freshly overhauled Harbeth 30.1 be listened to fully covered, I mean to have the final say on the matter since my eyes partake in the experience too. I'd like to also see this speaker lady. After protracted struggling I did finally manage. Oy!

It's going on 35 years now that Lindfield in West Sussex has been home to loudspeaker manufacture. Most will flash on BBC monitors when the name Harbeth is first uttered. That's perfectly sensible given that this firm produced those classics as did KEF, Rogers and Spendor. The British Broadcast Corporation in fact remains one of Harbeth's biggest clients. Even today's most current model sports a long tradition. It first saw the light of day in 1997 when it replaced the BBC's LS5/9 which itself had its start in the early 80s. Frivolously short fashion trending is not what these folks are into.

Harbeth boss Alan Shaw

In the good sense of traditional aren't merely the aesthetics. Certain acoustical principles from those early BBC days remain in place too like the composite mid/woofers or general enclosure style. The latter includes dimensional ratios which here amount to 460 x 277 x 285mm HxWxD and which are believed to be advantageous with regard to resonance control. It also—and just how cool is that?—explains why Harbeth has never made any floorstanders. Tradition asserts itself once more in the conviction that enclosure resonances shouldn't be completely killed off. Here it's more about divide 'n' conquer. For example the front and rear baffles aren't bonded with glue but simply screwed together.

This is said to break up the enclosure's main resonant frequency into multiple lower-amplitude elements which are more readily dealt with. The MDF casing is damped with bitumen plates and foam of which the new 30.1 contains a bit more than its predecessor. Refining the box was one of the goals of the model overhaul after all. New too are both drivers for this two-way. A Seas soft-dome tweeter with ferro-fluid cooling handles the treble whilst the mid/bass registers get the most current variant of the company's very own 20cm Radial cone. That's a patented plastic whose stiffness, resonant behavior and self-damping properties are claimed to be optimally balanced. Not only did Harbeth develop said driver, they build it in-house.