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REVIEW: Spendor SP100 Speakers

Model: SP100
Category: Speakers
Suggested Retail Price: $4500
Description: Stand mounted 3 way box loudspeaker
Manufacturer URL: Spendor
Manufacturer URL: Spendor

Review by Don T (A) on April 17, 2007 at 10:28:27
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for the SP100

I paid $3000 for these speakers, slightly used, more than 5 years ago through Gene Rubin Audio. At the time the list price was $3500 and included in my price was a pair of dedicated Sound Anchor stands. The SP100s are a very large, 85 lb., stand mounted loudspeaker.

These replaced a pair of PSB Stratus Golds in my main system. I was overjoyed by the musicality of these speakers in comparisons with the Golds. I'm planning a review of the Status Golds next and instead of spending lots of time contrasting these speakers in a review I want to review each speaker on it's own merits and let interested readers decide based on their own preferences.

When I bought the Golds I had an Exposure XV and an Exposure XI/VII/XVIII combination on hand. I had been using the Exposure seperates with the Golds as the XV was slightly underpowered for my normal usage. The Exposure combo was not the most satisfying match with the Spendors as some midrange harshness revealled itself. This was interesting as I had recently used the Golds to compare the Exposure combo ($3500) to a Rowland integrated with phono section ($7000+) and called it a draw. The midrange harshness was not audible through the Golds.

I preferred the 35 watt XV when driving the SP100s. Soon I updated the XV to the ($5500 retail) 21RC/DR4 combo. Wow! The SP100s responded well and any issues I had with the less expensive (somewhat mismatched VI/VII/XVIII) combo were a thing of the past.

Overall I find the Spendor SP100s extremely sensitive to associated equipment. However they are easier to get to sound good than most speakers I've owned in the past. No not as easy as the Vandersteen 1B I owned for several months - but surely more rewarding if one takes the effort to find the "best" sounding system in which to drive them.

I don't think low power or warm sounding tube systems are the best choice - though I'm betting some listeners would like the way these speakers sound in this kind of set up. Nor did I like the sound of an older version Linn LP 12 - though others I know use such a deck with their SP100s. I also don't like the sound of older vintage tuners or the low priced Magnum Dynalab tuners with these speakers. If someone likes things warmish and brown then they will disagree with me.

IMO these speakers deserve at least medium power amplification capable of controlling their big woofers. They can tend to sound warmish and brown so sources that sound that way will accentuate that coloration. I think some people like that - I don't.

These speakers are called monitors and that's pretty much exactly how I view them. With musical and accurate components in front of them listening to music is a revelation. All kinds of music are well served by these speakers, rock, jazz and classical. Recording quality is clearly revealled however poor recordings don't illicit bad behaviors from the speakers (or the rest of my system). If I feel like listening to The Panasonics, Laura Nyro, an orchestra, big band, Led Zeppelin or whatever the speakers rise to the occasion.

For sure in my setup and my tastes bass articulation isn't of the highest importance. These speakers have awesome slam for say the Beastie Boys but they do lack deep bass. The highs are somewhat rolled off and they seem to project a somewhat laid back perspective. I don't believe studio pop is their strength but live rock and studio hard rock are to my tastes especially well done. If I had to venture a suggestion as to when they sound best (in comparison with other systems I've heard/owned) I'd have to say stuff that is less electronically processed. This includes garage rock, classical, big band jazz and lots of singer songwriter kinds of recordings (including old country and blues records). That being said all music and all recordings are very worthwhile.

With the Exposure gear driving these speakers fueled by my current sources it's as if I can hear the musicians think - a singers pause or change of voice reveals his/her intent, or the interaction between the players becomes clear. Talking about details with this system means hearing more artistic interaction/purpose, new rythyms and insight into the musical event never heard before. It doesn't mean becoming aware of hearing a bell or a whistle or string or vocal never heard before.

These speakers a rated to produced 91 db with a 1 watt input, can be tri-wired and have a 100 watt power handling capacity. My average listening level is between 70 and 80 db. With the ability to produce greater than 110 db. peaks awesome dynamicism is available at what I consider reasonable listening levels. A good compressed rock recording is sustainable at greater than 90 db (1 meter) average but in my listening space the room gets involved and it's just not worth it.

Product Weakness: Doesn't draw one in or captivate like some other systems. It's easy to get good sound from these speakers which may lead some owners to be satisfied with far less than these speakers are capable of. Not a specialist speaker - if one listens to one or two musical genres or recording qualities then I assume it would be easy to find speakers that are better suited for such purpose.
Product Strengths: Always musically rewarding! One can become very engaged with the music and the performers both emotionally and analytically.For me these speakers just about do it all. A great speaker for listening to a variety of music styles and recording qualities.

Associated Equipment for this Review:
Amplifier: Exposure Dual Regulated 4 80 wpc
Preamplifier (or None if Integrated): Exposure 21 RC
Sources (CDP/Turntable): Roksan Xerxes, Dynavector XX2, Expsosure XIII
Speakers: PSB Stratus Golds, Living Voice Audiotorium Avatarts
Cables/Interconnects: Exposure, Kimber 8TC
Music Used (Genre/Selections): Rock, pop, alternative, classical, big band/roaring 20s jazz
Room Size (LxWxH): 15 x 15 x 20
Room Comments/Treatments: none
Time Period/Length of Audition: 5 years
Other (Power Conditioner etc.): Sound Anchor stands
Type of Audition/Review: Product Owner
Your System (if other than home audition): see above

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Topic - REVIEW: Spendor SP100 Speakers - Don T 10:28:27 04/17/07 (7)

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