The Absolute Sound 40.2 review
It is very hard to defend an update of already very popular edition, especially when it comes to the speakers and incredibly pedantic audiophile auditorium. The fact of certain model success, as it was the case with superior Monitor 40.2, leaves very narrow space for discussion, simple point, most of the possible variations have already reached the maximum.
Bottom line, the key question expected to be answered here is, does the Anniversary edition justifies the price difference compared to the stock Monitor 40.2 and if so, how that has been achieved?
On one hand, there are couple of different perspectives that potentially make the new version extensively different than the stock 40.2 and at the same time, value for the budget upgrade.
From the design viewpoint, exotic or premium wood finishes and a badge on the back indicating Anniversary version give a speaker distinguish appearance. All this is tastefully supplemented by a metallic black-and-gold Anniversary badge on the front (curiously, behind the grille) and Harbeth-branded cotton bags that wrap the speakers.
There are few, probably even more important advancements of the interior. The latest WBT Nextgen binding posts; custom Harbeth internal wiring and Harbeth-branded, British-made, audiophile-grade poly-capacitors are enhancements that directly or in an ancillary way affect the sound and sonic performance of the speaker.
When common people listen to the stock 40.2 and Anniversary edition, they would not make any difference other than the appearance. However, when it comes to the point of critical listening, 3 main differences ought to be recognised. Firstly, the Anniversary sounds slightly smoother, the tweeter sounds fractionally and better integrated. Finally, the whole presentation sounds a bit, still critically easy recognisable, purer.
To sum up all this, the mentioned differences exist on an extremely finely graded scale of audibility and performance, regardless if the audience were audiophiles or non-audiophiles.
When it comes to the increased purity and accuracy, again, it is a matter of a shades and distinctions. All in all, the impression is that one is listening to a unit variation among samples of the same model; that is how close these 2 editions are. Nonetheless, more experienced ‘ears’ claim to hear slightly enriched transparency, coherence and more details in the Harbeth M40.2 Anniversary edition.
On the other hand ,in respect to both, 40.2 stock and Anniversary versions, the reviewer in ‘The Absolute Sound’ likes to say that “They never glare, they’re never fatiguing unless the source is, they’re always natural sounding yet highly detailed without ever being nasty, harsh or peaky…. They have proved so musically involving and rewarding day in, day out. The speakers are incapable of contributing any offensive sonic characteristic or colorations of their own presentation.”
To cut the long story short, all known attributes for the stock 40.2 are valid for Harbeth Monitor 40.2 Anniversary edition and in a few aspects, it is actually even a dash superior.