by Rafe Arnott
Loudspeakers Under $5,000
Harbeth P3ESR – $2,100
Having lived with the diminutive Harbeth P3s for some time, I can tell you they have few peers in any price range for their ability to represent spatial imaging of the sound stage from recording to recording. They don’t go deep (rated at 20 KHz – 75 Hz), but the bass that is there is tuneful, and true in tone. What they do do is excel incredibly well in the midrange and treble – those areas where the bulk of instruments and the human voice spend most of their time. Through the beautiful little P3s the world of acoustic, folk, and jazz takes on an entirely new meaning for those looking to hear more deeply into the recorded moment, and do a little time-traveling. These are one of the very best transducers under $5,000 with which to start a true audiophile, and music-loving journey.
Shindo Latour Field-Coil – $67,000
I’ve been dying to hear the big Shindo Latour Field-Coil loudspeakers for years, but they are as rare as hen’s teeth (so the old saying goes) and it wasn’t until a month ago that I had the opportunity to spend time with these gorgeous transducers that were fronting a full Shindo system. Without a doubt, one of the most beautiful designs I’ve encountered in my years as a hi-fi reviewer, and writer, the Latour sound is achingly human, present and organic in it’s reproduction. The speed of the low-mass, field-coil powered drivers used is breathtaking and makes every other long-throw driver speaker design being used sound damningly slow and artificial in many aspects by comparison. Rated at 30Hz – 20KHz, they are just short of full range but on the numerous LPs I heard through them in listening sessions I was a part of, I never once felt that lower frequencies were lacking. In fact, I was usually sitting there shaking my head because I couldn’t get over how alive every recorded performance was playing back through this system. The sheer palpable and innate human presence that these speakers projected has to be experienced to truly understand or appreciate.