Harbeth UK is one of those brands. If you’re an audiophile, you already know them. If you like speakers, you’ve already heard them. If you’re a collector, you probably own (or have sold) at least one pair. They’re iconic.
They’re also hilariously good — which is probably the main reason for the above statements being reasonably accurate or true. They’re famous for their transparency and rich sound. Just thinking about it makes me wonder why I don’t currently have a pair in-house. That thought makes me sad.
The speakers that caught my eye most recently were the “little” Monitor 30.1, a relatively modest-sized (and not exorbitantly priced) monitor capable of some astonishing tonal colors — I’ve heard them with Vinnie Rossi’s gear several times and each time, resolved to
steal them acquire a pair.
Which brings me to the 40.2.
Yes, they’re new. They’re priced at just under $20k US. And I want a pair.
What’s new? Sensitivity has been increased to 86dB (from 85dB on the 40.1), the bass response has been extended to 35Hz from 38Hz (and is still 20kHz, on the top end, with the standard ±3dB hedge), the impedance made a bit easier to manage, and the cabinet is a touch deeper (almost an inch) than the outgoing model.
Successor to the BBC’s old LS5/8 monitor loudspeaker, Harbeth’s new incarnation launched at the Munich High End has improvements on all fronts over the 1970s’ two-way. Boasting engineering excellence for the digital era, it is a significant upgrade to the award-winning Monitor 40.1 model.
Such has been the runaway success of Harbeth’s Super HL5plus worldwide, that designer Alan Shaw took a close look at his M40.1, the BBC LS5/8 replacement. First made for the broadcaster in 1998, the Monitor 40 was a major leap forward in monitor loudspeaker design.
“The three-way Monitor 40 solved the inadequacies of that old BBC model, which attempted to force a 12-inch polypropylene bass unit to behave as a midrange as well.” says Harbeth’s Alan Shaw, “An idea doomed from the start; no wonder BBC engineers struggled with the LS5/8’s weird sonic balance.”