Newport 2012: Gene Rubin presents Harbeth, LFD, Palmer, MSB

Okay, seriously. Is there anyone out there who isn’t a Harbeth fan?

And if so, what’s wrong with you? Seriously. You’ve got issues.

Gene Rubin was on hand at Newport this year with a new Harbeth, the 30.1, offered at $6,500 and shown in a rather striking ebony veneer. I don’t have any experience with the much ballyhooed 40.1, but if the sound is better than the 30.1, then you should just get them. Because these 30.1s are great, and if those speakers are really better, then they may be the best things since sliced bread.

Gene Rubin has a winner on his hands here. A great sounding room and a refreshing break from the รผber-priced systems elsewhere at the show.

The new-to-me $6295 LFD NCSE 75 watt integrated amplifier, with matching $1,295 LFD Phono LE stage, provided the “middleware”. LFD is one of those hard-to-find brands, but Stereophile’s Sam Tellig raves about the sound. And based on what I heard here, yeah, “rave” makes sense. The aesthetic is really solid-looking, purposeful, but in the same almost menacing way that a Glock or a battleship is purposeful. It’s no-nonsense. Just-the-basics. But in a ready-for-nuclear-war kind of way — the LFD looks like a tank and could very probably be used to stop an anti-tank shell. I’m quite taken with it, actually. I wonder if I could wrangle me a demo? Hmmm.

Another new-to-me was the $7,500 Palmer 2.5 turntable with the $3,500 Audio Origami arm, here mounted with a ($1,995) Dynavector XX2 cartridge. I am really impressed with the clean lines on this turntable. The Origami is a beautiful little arm, very elegant, and the table has the Zen-thing down in a display of serious minimalism. You have to actually spin the platter to start it up! I think that’s cool.

Digital signals came from a $4k MSB Universal Media Transport and the killer $17k MSB Platinum Signature DACIV with outboard Signature power supply. This wasn’t playing while I was in the room.


  1. Sorry for what might seem to be pandering.

    I did forget to mention the importance of a store front (as in a physical dealer, rather than a “virtual” one) in looking for many of the more difficult to find brands. The importance of having someone to help cannot be overstated, unless there is a money back satisfaction guarantee and an online vendor and/or the potential buyer has some insight into their listening biases WRT reviews that are out there (and realistic expectations).

    As always, thanks PtA for great show coverage, even if can’t afford most of (if not all) the stuff that ends up in almost every show report.

    • Stew — It’s like porn. Its really not healthy to over indulge, but the urge to look is nearly overwhelming. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      And yes, you’re quite right about “affordability” — as always. I wish this stuff was less expensive. Or better still, I wish I had more money.

  2. hmm… a $40k+ system is somewhat affordable?

    Though if one gets to that point in a natural progression then obviously attainable.

    Look out for my soon to be announced $250-$600 “reference system” ๐Ÿ™‚

    I believe that much of the European stuff (most notably the budget hifi gear intended for the English market only) does not get enough coverage or is even available in North America. Spendor, Harbeth, LFD, etc. are tough to find in many Canadian cities (and I assume similarly in the U.S.), as well as much of the French and Scandinavian stuff. Better now with the Interweb, but still not always easily accessible.

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