Harbeth 30.2 or Falcon Gold Badge

I started my speaker search convinced I should was going to get the Falcon Gold Badges (Madrone 50th Anniversary) been waiting for over a month, which left me too much time to think about other options. Now considering the 30.2 XDs from Harbeth. 

I wanted to get some opinions from the experts here on which you would recommend. To give you an idea of my listening habits, it's mostly classic Jazz and Blues, acoustic music. I sit about 8 feet from speakers, have a Sugden Integrated, a Rega P10, Hana Red Cart. I am auditioning Phonos stages so thats undecided.


Let's hear it!! 



I have the 30.2s, although I cannot compare them with the Falcons, I can say I compared them with speakers up to $14k and still brought them. I listen to a lot of vocal, acoustic, blues and jazz, plus a very small amount of classical. I have posted elsewhere here that if you like very hard rock, you will be disappointed. 
I have a Rega p6, luxman integrated, and an Aurender. 
I did add a sub (JL audio) which although probably not necessary, did add to the fullness and blends so well it just sounds like all the bass is coming from the 30.2s. 
I’ve had that basic setup for about 2 years and listen to music every day for hours. 
my experience, hope it helps. 



Thanks for the feedback. I listen to alot of that same music so good to know you're enjoying them. I plan to add a KC62 sub to whatever smaller speaker I get. 

I’ve owned both brands. A true comparision for the Falcon LS3/5A would be the Harbeth P3ESR. I have owned every Harbeth minus the M40. I am now using the HL5 and it is my favorite larger Harbeth. I must say that the P3ESR is also an outstanding Harbeth if you want a smaller speaker! This is one of many reviews on the P3 that nails it!


No experience with Falcons but with classic jazz and blues and human voice reproduction, the Harbeth M30.2 is one of the best if not the best. I find human voice to sound more lifelike on the 30.2 than SHL5+, all pre XD models. I’m not sure if the tables are turned with the current XD models.

As Deadhead had suggested (which I agree), it’s hard rock or music with explosive dynamics where the Harbeth will be slightly lacking when compared to other modern speakers. The Harbeth will also not reproduce the nuance and fine detail in the music when compared to ultra-revealing speakers usually in the price range of more than $8k but they will mostly beat them all when it comes to reproducing vocals with organic warmth and richness.

My experience with the Harbeth spans from more than a decade ago with the SHL5 before I upgraded to SHL5 Plus midway through the ownership. I now own Marten Duke 2 and Graham LS5/9. 



Thanks Ryder, nice to hear from a long time owner. In all the years I've been in hifi I have not owned them or quite honestly given them a critical listen. My tastes have changed over the 25 years or so in hifi and these two speaker models seem to fit the sound profile I prefer most over the past 10 years or so. I always remember Harbeth in the past sounding almost too warm, so I like that they've reengineered them to sound like a more modern speaker. Should be a nice mix. 


Yeah I considered the P3, but all the listening I did (online) loved the Falcons a bit more..I am sure I'd be happy with either as both have stellar reputations. Ill check out the video


If you are set on getting the Falcons, last year I bought the Falcon Q7. They are sold factory direct from Falcon for well under 2 grand shipped, no tax or VAT is charged when shipped to USA. If you shoot Jerry Bloomfield (owner) an email he will give you the total price with the options that you want including the gold badge X over. You can get the kit or factory assembled.

I received them within one week after ordering them!!


I have heard both in the same location and it is an interesting comparison.  At somewhat modest listening levels, both are quite nice sounding.  The Falcon, more so than the Harbeth, is sort of faking deep bass by bumping up the response in the 80-100 hz region.  But, both still deliver plenty of bass for being small speakers.  I hear some upper midrange coloration in the Harbeth that comes off as a bit of a sibilant edge to some notes.  Overall, I actually like the Falcon more.  However, I did not listen at higher volume levels where the Harbeth probably has an advantage—physics cannot be denied, and there are more limitations on drivers and cabinets the size of the Falcons.  I have also heard the Harbeth P3ESR in the same location and liked its sound, but, the Falcon sounded better to me.



Thanks, this helps, sort of validates what I am thinking as well. I am going to probably buy both and listen for a while then keep which ever I like most. The Falcons were where I started this journey but somehow got convinced the Harbeths should be listened to as well. I just need to try both in my own space.

In the same size range as the Falcon, I also like the ProAc Tablette.  Played at reasonable volume levels this is a warm, rich, yet still nimble sounding speaker; like the other speakers mentioned, with sort of faked bass, but still very musically satisfying bass.  For a speaker more like the 30.2, I also like the ProAc D2.

I hope this doesn't complicate things, but these are all great sounding speakers.  They all like to be placed away from the back wall and also a bit away from the side walls.  If you need to place the speakers closer to the back and side walls, there is always the Audio Note line.  These are speakers which are so musically enjoyable one does not bother to go down an audio checklist.  Like all of the speakers mentioned, I've only heard them with tube amplification (the only kind the dealer sells).  Most of the customers coming into the shop, if they have a brand in mind, come looking for Harbeths.  A number of Harbeth shoppers actually end up getting Audio Note speakers after giving them a listen; the opposite--those looking for Audio Note, but ending up with Harbeth, is not that common.  

I don't think you will be disappointed with either the Falcon or Harbeth, but if you have the chance, try to hear ProAc and Audio Note speakers as well.

If the room is able to accommodate larger speakers, I would recommend going with the size of a 30.2 or equivalent Falcon / other speakers such as Proac D2 etc. The P3ESR or equivalent LS3/5a version is nice but they are limited in their range both scale and bass, thus making them sound slightly "incomplete". They fit into smaller rooms nicely though and that’s where they excel - small room with limited space, and nearfield listening. Just my opinion.

Although I haven’t listened to the Falcons, personally I’d try them over Harbeth 30.2. Just like Yogiboy, I’ve listened to all models in the Harbeth line including the 40.1 (not 40.2 though), all pre-XD models. They are surely nice but after experiencing the Graham which is another derivative of the BBC just like Spendor, Rogers, Falcon and Harbeth, I find that they offer something more unique. Or the Proac and Audio Note suggestions by Larryi. 

As usual, try them and see for yourself as everyone prefers different things.

Sounds like LarryI works at Deja Vu, a shop that focuses a lot of its business on Audio Note.  I owned the AN-Js for about three years, and now have a pair of 30.2s in-house.  I think they have pretty different sound signatures.  As LarryI intimated, they both sound better with tubes (they usually use Synthesis on the Harbeths).

I have always thought of the 30.2s as the "sweet spot" in the Harbeth line, so worth checking out if you have the chance to make an informed decision between the Harbeths and the Falcons. 

I got a set of 30.2s had them 3 weeks before I sold them. Most boring speaker I have ever listened to, to be fare I was likely underpowering them with my Sugden amp. I wouldn't have like them either way. 


Ended up with a pair of JM Reynauds and I love them. 

I almost bought a set of Falcons last summer, but ended up auditioning Spendor's 4/5 model, which is their current incarnation of the classic 3/5 design. I ended up getting the Spendors and have been very pleased.

I heard all these speakers at Deja Vu (I don’t work there).  I have heard JM Reynaud speakers a while ago and liked them a lot too.

My favorite speakers are high efficiency horn systems or systems using fullrange drivers as wide range drivers in multi-way systems.

For a point of reference, my other in-house speakers (in addition to Harbeth) are Volti Rivals, Fleetwood Deville SQs, and Studio Electric M4s.  If someone finds the 30.2s boring there is something else amiss in their system.


Safe to say you are referring to my post and safe to say you didn’t read it. No need to get defensive, every speaker you own isn’t necessarily for everyone else.

Nothing amiss since I plopped the JMRs and they sound glorious. I wouldn't be the first to accuse Harbeth of sounding boring. My system isn't a high watt A/B system, it's pure class A. So as I mentioned and you might have missed, they probably needed more power, though no other speaker I've owned including Wilsons sound as clamped as the Harbeths. 

I have Harbeth 30.2 Anniversary powered by Hegel H390 - to my ears, in my room - they are sublime: punchy, musical, engaging beyond words. They do something very few others do in my room - there is an airy ambient presence - almost like Maggie’s - very very “live” sounding. They don’t produce the slam of big floorstanders of course, nor are they analytical with detail, but as another said earlier, I too auditioned a lot - up to $20k - and chose the 30.2. 

The 30.2 XD are a step up in dynamics and scale from an LS3/5a speaker and are world class.  

The only caveat is that they might be a bit too smooth sounding with an overly smooth amplifier like a Luman.  I demoed them with the new Luxman L 507z and the sound was golden and euphonic and a touch too smooth overall.  

Good news is that the sound is still exceptional and can be made to pop simply by removing the grilles.  Recommended.  

I am going order a pair of Falcon Gold Badge’s. I don’t understand why Falcon recommends 24” stands when the tweeter being 8” off the bottom would place tweeter at only 32” off the floor. Most of our ears fall a sitting 35-36” off the floor. Anyone successfully using 27” stands with their LS35a? 

I’ve owned many LS3/5a type speakers including Harbeth, Spendor, Falcon and KEF. I found 28 inch stands my preference. BTW, if you get 24 inch stands you can always raise the height!


I need to correct what I said above.  I thought it was a Falcon vs. P3ESR comparison (similar size speakers).  The 30.2 is a different matter.  Yes, I still hear a sibilant edge to the 30.2, but, it is a more versatile speaker--it can play more demanding orchestral and choral music with more authority and a larger sense of scale than any of the smaller speakers.  I still think the Falcon is wonderful, but, I might be willing to live with the slight problems I hear with the 30.2 given how nice it sounds in all other respects.  If the larger 30.2 is in the picture, then something like a ProAc D2 should also be considered, and of course, I think any of the Audio Note spekers should be in the contest, particularly if space is a consideration because they are willing to hide in the corners while the others really want to be out in the open well away from the walls.