As part of the ‘classic’ range, a lot of the 1970’s Spendor heritage has been preserved; witness the aforementioned 300mm bextrene woofer coupled to a 160mm polypropylene midrange and a version of the well established Scanspeak 2010 HF unit that’s been around for nigh on 25 years and its almost as if CD’s, metal domes and MDF never happened. The cabinet is still of the traditional thin wall construction; since the original BC1 this has been a bit of a Spendor thing, where a relatively light ply was ‘damped’ to avoid the energy storage associated with more conventional thick wood assembly that often led to a smeared quality in the midrange. The original layers of bitumous felt have been substituted for a more stable long-term rubber compound that is also more effective. The midrange driver has seen considerable refinement with the addition of a second magnet to tidy up response in and around the crossover regions, while the crossover itself has been redesigned with audiophile grade components, gold plated tracks and heavy gauge OFC wiring. Two deep, relatively small ports load the bass unit, situated either side of the HF unit and foam lined to reduce turbulence. For the review Spendor kindly supplied a pair of stands sourced from their German distributor, these elevate the not insubstantial SP100’s to a height where the listening axis is situated between the top-positioned mid unit and the tweeter. They also made placement a painless task, as I was able to push the speakers around on the carpet before attaching the spikes; a process I was expecting to be quite involved with a large, reflex loaded cabinet. In fact the Spendors were remarkably room tolerant with only minor shifts in the evenness of the bass output suggesting a well-tuned low-end alignment. Source equipment consisted of the Resolution Opus 21 and Audio Research Ref 7 CD players, with my Linn LP12/Ekos/Helikon for records. Amplification was Audio Research SP10 or LS17 pre-amps paired with a Naim Audio NAP300, Audio Research Ref 110, Almaro A50125 or Bryston 14B SST. Cabling was Nordost Valhalla throughout.
From the word go I was extremely comfortable listening to the SP100’s. OK, you’re probably thinking that this was a nice nostalgia trip back to the days when everything seemed less complicated and loudspeakers sounded warm, a bit flabby and rather vague. And I won’t deny that there was a little bit of nostalgia, and there was a very, very mild hint of character that did evoke the days before Dire Straits were invented. But as for the other negative traits that one used to associate with the generation, forget it. To begin with the Spendors possessed a snappy, tight and extremely rhythmic bottom end, with an attack and punch that could be quite ungentlemanly when required. Sluggish? Definitely not, and with the ability to go loud and deliver decent in-room extension to about 30 Hz, orchestral music had that great sense of authority and scale that makes it so believable, while well-recorded rock music with real drums was just awesome. So the midrange then, a bit syrupy and thick? No. Fresh from having been hit between the eyes by a snare drum and sawn off at the neck by Robert Fripp’s astringent guitar on the 12” single of David Bowie’s ‘Fashion’ I can report that things were very much up to speed in the midrange department, and I can’t honestly say that I was missing the top end extension of some rare and expensive tweeter diaphragm, as it sounded suitably sweet and open to me.