Acoustic Zen Adagio vs. Harbeth S-HL5

Can anyone give me some insight into these speakers? The Harbeths are about $1500 more so I would like to know if they are worth the extra money.
What are you using for an amp? Harbeth's need more power than the AZ. I have had Adagio and Harbeth compact7, can't comment on the hl5. I think the Adagio is a really great speaker especially with tubes, but may sound a little cold with SS..IMHO. The Harbeth will work with tubes, but I think are a better match with SS.
Not having any experience with the HL5, I can't give you anymore thoughts. The Adagio bests the Compact7 IMHO. Mike
they are different speakers;

The main strenght of Harbeth is its musicality;and you really do not have to worry much about speaker cables,resonance control and tweaking.....and it is very easy to match as far as amplifiers are concerned.

The Adagio on the other hand is not a finish product.You need to tweak it well to get it singing in its full glory;and the better your electronics the better it will sound.

So if you are looking for something to give you a musical bliss without worrying much about tweaking,go with Harbeth....I have never met anyone who regret buying a Harbeth[...and I have met plenty]The same can't be say about the Adagio especially on the background of the glowing reviews it received

BTW ,I own a tweaked up Adagio in my 3rd system
I agree, the Harbeth SHL5 is not particularly fussy to sound good. For me they worked best with SS amps (Audiosector Patek 40w/ch) and solid core speaker cables (DNM Reson cables). Like most speakers they do need some care with choice of stands and room positioning for a well balanced bass response. But once dialed in, they offer a very pleasing (non-clinical) sound in either a medium or large room. The construction of the speaker and its veneer finish are excellent.


I assume the question is for me,but I do not understand it.

kindly elaborate andI would be happy to answer..;)

I have a Kharma 3.2 in my referance system,and if you have listened to a Kharma before,you will realize that all Kharma has certain characteristic;Transparency like crystals ,details like a microscope and a soundstage that is wide and high that goes all the way to heavens.....

with this in mind ,I found the stock Adagio to be very far behind fr the Kharma and it boils down to its Archilles heel;poor resonance control.In short,If you need to get the Adagio singing control its resonance .These were the things I Did:

1.Changing the stock spikes to the Finite Elemente Cerabase- it make a Huge Difference!!!the biggest difference no doubt.. Every adagio owner should do this IMO.

2.Putting the speakers on Finite Elemente Pagode MR platforms.

3.Using huge amount of Acoustic Revive and Audio Replas Crystals at where the screws are{the screws are quite poor quality SS not Brass and they have a lot of ringing IMO] .....and at different places on the cabinets.This add to the transparency...

I also found that the speaker connectors are of very poor quality and changed that to the WBT top of the line connectors...

there are a few other things that I did that I feel add on to the performance......Feel free to e-mail me if you need more info
Fafafion, did your Adagios come with the extended bases or without? Was wondering if your cerabase tweak applied to the more recent version of the speaker that has a black base.
Thank you for the in-depth description Fafafion. I do have some experience with the Karma 150 amps. I really love the Adagios, especially with my Gamut D200 amp.
I have the Adagios. Yesterday I started a thread in "miscellaneous" on my system. The thread is still in the "new thread" section. I would appreciate your input if you have experience with these speakers. (or even if you dont)

Fafafion, I have read your post before about the cerabases. What kind of floor do you have? Those cerabases cost as much as a used set of Adagios. I have been looking at some bases from Herbies which are only a fraction of the price of the cerabases. I havent tried them though. I did, however, take a look at my spikes after reading your posts. My spikes were loose. Tightening them and placing them on the provided discs did seem to tighten the sound quite a bit so I understand where you are coming from. I am cautious of spending thousands of dollars on tweaks. I still can't get over that hurdle.

Harbeth. I heard the Harbeths at RMAF last fall and loved them. I had never even heard of Harbeth at the time. I've only been in this hobby for 3 years. I was walking by the Harbeth room and was reeled in by the sound of the little P3esr speakers. They were sitting on stands next to the HLs5s and I had no idea that it was the little ones playing. The next day I went back and listened to the SHL5s I was blown away. I dont know why the sound moved me, but it was one of the best rooms I heard in the entire show. It sounded so good that I drove 12 hours round trip to go to the distributors house to hear them again. He had them in a very large open room with vaulted ceilings. This time they sounded a little thin although the staging was incredible. I was seriously considering buying them on the spot to replace my adagios. I came to my senses and decided to give my Adagios more time and tweaks. Sometimes I listen to music on my Adagios that seems as good as it could get. All that said, I would love to drop a pair of SHL5s In my living room to see what they sounded like. I'm guessing that I would be totally satisfied with the sound. I have no idea how the two speaker would sound side by side. You usually have to give up something to get something.

I hope I havent confused you more. I had to answer this post since I really like these two speakers. I would definitely try to listen to both of them. I'm sure you have already been to the Harbeth owners group. Keep in mind that most people love the gear they have.
Like I said before,the Adagio is not a finished product;But tweak them well ,and you will be rewarded accordingly.

If you think the cerabase is too expansive ,a cheaper alternative is to put them on the TAOC board.These are quite cheap in asia,thogh I do not know how much they cost in the US.With the TAOC board,the details just come through,bass becomes much more pronounced but the high can be somewhat thin..

The other Cera range footer from Finite Elemente are quite good too though not in the same league as the Cerabase.I have the speakers In my Library system;a simple system that consists of dcs puccini-Neodio 150 intergrated -and Argento cablings.The floorings are Solid Burmese Teakwood with a Large persian silk carpets just in fropnt of the speakers