Spendor SP3/1R2

Classic 1970s styling distinguishes this relatively large model from the pack

Spendor was founded by an ex-member of the BBC’s Research Department more than forty years ago, primarily to make broadcast monitor loudspeakers, but that original – and with hindsight very radical – design soon became just as much of a favourite amongst hi-fi cognoscenti.

So much so that, despite changes in ownership and the development of numerous models that look better suited to domestic environments, those original monitors remain the inspiration behind Spendor’s Classic R2 range of traditionally styled models.

The five models in the Classic R2 range are all standmounts with ‘picture frame’ front baffle edges around inset grilles. They cover a wide range of enclosure and driver sizes, but all feature Spendor’s traditional approach to enclosure construction, using relatively thin but well-damped panels, albeit now executed in MDF, rather than birch ply.

First reviewed in Hi-Fi Choice some three years ago (HFC 317), this compact two-way SP3/1R2 is just one step above the bottom rung. Some might find the presentation somewhat old-fashioned; others will find its classically traditional appearance very attractive. It’s discreet, commendably restrained, and nicely finished on all six faces in an understated real-cherry veneer (with black ash or dark walnut alternatives).

The SP3/1R2’s enclosure is roughly 16 litres, reflex-loaded by a generous rear port. It has a 180mm Spendor bass/mid drive unit with a 120mm ep38 polymer cone, a wide surround, a high excursion motor and a powerful magnet. Perhaps significantly, it operates up to a relatively high 3.7kHz. Above that point the signal is handled by an unusual and fairly new tweeter design that Spendor (and others) use in a number of models. It’s a 22mm affair with a ‘proper’ surround and a small 19mm dome. Twin terminal pairs are fitted straight through the enclosure, feeding the drivers via heavy gauge wiring, with high-quality crossover components and careful layout.

SOUND QUALITY

The SP3/1R2 did quite well with our panelists, however, its performance wasn’t quite as good as we had expected, given its size and our very positive previous experiences with this model.

The reason is probably due to a degree of coloration associated with the peak around 1.6kHz that we found during the measurement programme, and which wasn’t present on the samples we tested some three years previously. This might only be a small anomaly, but it does stand proud of the response as a whole and is bang in the zone where the ear is most sensitive, so there’s some justification for assuming that it may well have been responsible for a mild degree of midrange nasal coloration on voices that the listeners noted.

LIKE: Nice coherence and transparency with good stereo imaging
DISLIKE: Price is significantly higher than the group average
WE SAY: Balance is beautifully judged and sound is essentially coheren

DETAILS

Origin: UK
Type: Standmount loudspeaker
Weight: 9.5kg
Dimensions:
(WxHxD)    220x400x280mm
features:
• Traditional ‘classic’ styling
• Reflex-loaded via rear port
• High-quality veneer finish
• 180mm bass/mid driver has polymer cone
• Tweeter has wide surround and small dome
Distributor:
Spendor Audio Systems
Telephone: 01323 843474
WEBSITE: spendoraudio.com