About a year ago I decided to upgrade my KEF Reference loudspeakers; whilst they still sound very good indeed, drive-unit technology has moved on. However choosing a set of speakers which would offer many years of listening pleasure, is not easy choice especially here in South Africa as one has to locate a brand which has a venerable reputation not only for sound quality, but also offers longevity and of course, availability of spares and after sales service. After hearing one of the smaller stand-mounted Spendor loudspeakers - and on the basis of Jeandrés’ advice and positive reviews in the British and American press - I chose the Spendor Classic Series, the SP100R2. After chatting with Jeandré, I actually decided to go ahead and purchase without even hearing them (hair-raising at the time – but after delivery, certainly worth it!).
Although I am fortunate to have my own listening room, it’s pretty small and when the Spendors arrived they landed up being placed slightly under eight feet part which is probably not ideal. Furthermore, they look somewhat ‘boxy’ in appearance, eschewing the usual narrow baffled, domestically pleasing designs prevalent in today’s market (my KEF 105/3s have narrower baffles with two 20 cm bass woofers, whereas the Spendors make use of a single 30cm woofer). Despite the KEF’S modifications (I rewired them internally with ten metres of silver wire) the Spendors are clearly superior in every way and I was stunned at their overall performance; especially in the light of the fact that that their broad baffle design seemed initially to negate the possibility of such an exceptional, deep sound stage. Their build quality is that of hand-made furniture and the Spendors offer a superlative, seamless presentation with the most delicate and refined midrange and top end I have ever heard – they have not only transformed my system but have transformed my perception of recorded music. The transparency and midrange clarity is superior to other more expensive, other high-end speakers I have heard, including the Meridian DSP 8000, Cello Loudspeakers, Martin Logan electrostatics, the Avant Garde Trios (a large horn design) and the B&W 800. Yet having said this, the Spendors are the opposite of being cold and clinical: instead they are exceptionally smooth and musical with a wonderfully open and musical midrange.
Another unexpected surprise was the bass: far superior to the KEF (a floor-stander with a much larger cabinet). Interestingly, in this regard we are not only looking at deeper bass, but lower registers with more accurate pitch and timing, as well as superior texture and colour as compared to the KEF’s. I was also taken by the fact that the Spendors have a benign impedance curve and are thus easy to drive; partnering very effectively with my 18 watt per channel valve amplification.
While the SP100R2 is without question, the finest loudspeaker I have heard in thirty years of being an audiophile, I nevertheless suspect that most loudspeakers ultimately are voiced in such a manner that they manifest a particular suitability for certain types of musical program – and whilst unquestionably the SP100R2 is superb with all types of music – they are especially magical with jazz, classical and light pop. In saying this, however, again it also needs to be said that my experience with the Spendors is very much based on my partnering ancillary equipment, namely low powered valve amplification and I am certain they will sound a great deal more dynamic with more powerful, solid state amplifiers and Spendor themselves in an e mail, have confirmed that this is indeed the case.
Mark Norman - August 2015
Thank you for the follow up.
Yes, I'm in heaven.
These are the most amazing pair of speakers (Spendor A5's) I have ever owned.
Andre Hough - February 2012
Some feedback on the SA1s.
They took a good 3-4 weeks to settle in -- sound seemed to me to change over that period. They now sound more integrated, with a wider/deeper soundstage, and less like speaker boxes compared to when new.
Really enjoying them, and their musicality. I find they get out of the way of the music -- they're not 'in your face' speakers at all.
Definitely to my taste.
Kezia Crawford - November 2010
Soos versoek. Hoop Afrikaans is ok.
Ek was aanvanklik skepties oor die Spendor A5's , aangesien ek bloot 'n klomp "reviews" gelees het en nog nie regtig van die naam Spendor gehoor het nie. Ek glo dit is baie belangrik om nie altyd te glo wat 'n mens lees nie en het dus op grond van 'n goeie gevoel die A5's bestel. Dit is ook nodig om te noem dat ek beindruk was met die spoed waarteen ek die luidsprekers ontvang het. Ek kan nogal moeilik raak as dinge belowe word en dit gebeur nie. Baie dankie daarvoor.
My eerste indrukke was dat die A5's maar redelik klein is alhoewel dit nooit 'n probleem geskep het nie. Die bou kwaliteit is absoluut puik en die soliditeit spreek vanself. Ek besit B&W 805's luidsprekers en die Spendor is in dieselfde klas in terme van bou kwaliteit. Ek wil ook maar net gou noem dat ek nie 'n kenner op die gebied is nie, maar ek kan kwaliteit waardeer as ek dit sien. Die "spikes" wat hulle saam gee is ook myle beter as bv. die van B&W. Geen gesukkel om die goed te verstel en vas te draai nie. Ek was baie beindruk met die eerste luister na hulle en het dadelik besef dat daar groot potensiaal bestaan. My gevoel was dat die grootte absoluut nie meer n "issue" was nie. Wat opvallend was, was die feit dat ek meer detail kon hoor en terwyl ek op my rekenaar gesit en werk het, het ek elke nou en dan gedink dat ek nooit voorheen die detail in 'n liedjie gehoor het nie en so het dit gegaan cd na cd. Die bass wat hierdie luidsprekers gee is fenomenaal. Dit is beheerd en gee genoeg "oemf" om meeste mense gelukkig te hou.Ek het eintlik 'n B&W "subwoofer" dieselfde dag gekoop en die naweek saam met die hele sisteem gekoppel. Dit het net 'n uur geneem en toe besluit ek dat dit absoluut 'n mors van geld is."Sub" nou terug by agente!
Miskien is dit net nodig om te noem dat ek 'n Marantz PM15 S1 "reference" versterker gebruik en was ook aanvanklik skepties oor die vermoe van die 90w per kanaal. Ek verseker jou daar is geen probleem met die kombinasie nie. Sou miskien net aanbeveel dat 'n mens nie minder as die 90w gebruik nie, tensy die versterker 'n vol klas A is. Ek glo dat daar nog heelwat verbetering gaan wees soos wat die A5's los raak. As daar iemand is wat wil kom luister, laat my gerus weet. Ek is net bang dit raak n heelnag storie......
Gerhard - September 2009
Music is an emotive thing and for some of us, how we listen to music can be almost as important as the content of the music itself. For those of us who wish to improve their sound, the market for mid to high end audio equipment can be somewhat bewildering. With this in mind, I have left my system upgrade for years, not wanting to pass through the minefield of products, until I listened to Spendor’s S5es in London last year.
While casually being a tourist, I wandered into a high-end audio shop on Tottenham Court Road and just for curiosity asked what their sales staff would recommend for an upgrade of my system. I told them that I had a Meridian transport and DAC, Audiolab amp and Roger’s speakers, with Van Den Hul magnum hybrid speaker cables and audioquest interconnects. Unanimously the staff pointed me toward the S5es and although I said I wasn’t really in the market for an upgrade quite yet, they set the speakers up with 2 high-end systems and allowed me to listen at my pleasure. I was most impressed, to say the least.
On arriving back in Cape Town I phoned the SA distributors (AV Cables) and ordered a pair of S5es. This was very unusual for me, as I usually extensively test any upgrades with my existing components (it took me months to choose speaker cable), but after the exuberant recommendation of the shop staff in London and having listened to the speakers as part of a couple of systems I decided that I would risk a purchase “unseen”. Luckily, in a nutshell, the speakers are fantastic.
The first thing that stood out, or did not as the case may be, is their size. They are surprisingly compact for a speaker that gives out such a big sound and they elegantly fit into our living room. My wife generally hates the intrusiveness of speakers, but said that the SE5es (in cherry) looked fairly nice. A compliment indeed from someone who has asked me on many occasions why speakers are so unbelievably ugly. The second remark from my wife astounded me. She said that she really enjoyed the new sound of the Hi-Fi, which is a remarkable step forward for someone who professes not to know the difference in sound from a cheap portable radio and our Meridian based system.
After a period of burning in, I sat down and listed to CDs that I have not bothered to fish out from my collection for years. This was prompted by the revelation that I had rediscovered my favourite music with the S5es and wondered if the upgrade could also “upgrade” all of my music. The detail, spatial imaging and portrayal of music in the S5es is fantastic. I listen to almost anything; rock (Stones, Clapton, Led Zeppelin and Floyd to Linkin Park, Muse, Dave Matthews), pop (Beatles to Coldplay), female vocalists (Dido, Tori Amos and Alanis Morissette) male vocals (Michael Bublé, Sting, Peter Gabriel), reggae (Aswad to Marley) and blues (John Lee Hooker to Robert Cray). Classics range from orchestral (Mahler, Beethoven, DS, Dvorak) to choral (Handel, Mozart), chamber music (Schubert, Haydn) and opera (Puccini, Rossini, Verdi). Without exception I have found that the S5es have enhanced my listening experience exponentially. Compared to my old, but still good, Roger’s speakers, the sound is fuller, more detailed and sophisticated. That’s not to say that this detracts from, or tones down, driving base and drums on heavier rock tracks. The S5es give out a surprisingly big sound for their size, which is tight and detailed. Reducing the pace to Clapton’s Unplugged, or Steve Newman / Toni Cox’s About Time means that the balanced mid-range brings you to feel that you are really in the audience. Vocals are real and controlled and for the first time, the rendition of Tchaikovsky’s strings made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. An odd experience.
Undoubtedly there are comparable or even, dare I say it, slightly better speakers on the market, but I can not imagine that these are either of a comparable price or readily available to SA consumers. AV cables gave an exemplary service supplying me with the S5es, with regular communication, letting me know when the speakers would arrive, and a great after-sales follow-up. Upgrading to the S5es has been something of a revelation and they are undoubtedly one of the best purchases I have ever made. Surprisingly my wife agrees.
Dr WF Ferris, June 2006
The first thing that impressed me about this speaker (S5e) was the large, spacious soundstage. The mid-range is open with little colouration. The treble is detailed, extended and smooth. Bass from the 5 inch drivers extend far as possible and is well controlled and tight. The dynamic range is very good for a speaker of this size. The cabinets are solid, beautifully veneered and are fitted with top class bi wirable binding posts. Overall this is a very good speaker.
Alan Doyle, September 2005