These masterpieces don't get their due respect. But I must first digress to explain why I think so.
20 years ago, when transitioning from music to law as a career, I cruised New York City in search of the best speakers on my budget, and ended up with a pair of Preludes. Since then,I've also owned S-20, S-100, and SP1-2/e, depending on my room. For 4 years I had some ATC 20's, and have also had the Harbeth Compact 7ES2 and Quad 63 in my current home. I've also hooked up a half-
dozen friends and family with various Spendors. So, yeah, you could say I'm a fan...
One thing I've come to realize is that the room interface is critical. Those ATC's were great, but even with a subwoofer (REL), they just couldn't move enough air easily in my largish room - they could go plenty loud, but would sound kind of "nervous" in that mode,
as if a small amount of air was being pushed quickly, instead of a larger volume of air moving at a more ppropriate rate. On the other hand, my room has some funky acoustics, which is why I'd had to sell my S-100's when I'd first moved in - they excited some nasty resonances, although the room now works better due to fuller furnshing and some structural work. In any event, I shifted from
the ATC to the SP1-2/e in the hope that the larger woofer and box would lend more weight. It worked to some degree, but I felt those speakers didn't have the mid-range magic of other Spendors I've heard
Hence a dalliance with Harbeth Compact 7ES2, and the pleasure of having some Quad '63's in the house for a while. That particular Harbeth model is selling like hotcakes, and I found it pretty interesting - a more lively presentation than Spendors I have known, articulate and nicely balanced.
But then, a recent lightbulb moment. A year ago I'd hooked my Dad up with an old pair of SP2/2's, and when visting him thought they sounded really marvelous (he uses an old NAD receiver, but has a
living room with exceptional acoustics for playback). With a mob of family coming over to my house for this past Christmas week, I didn't want to have the Quads flanking the tree, cramping folks' style and inviting mayhem by the kids. I lucked into a cheap pair of 2/2's, and
decided to put them up for the Holiday.
Result? Bliss. I think the 2/2 is an incredible package, as it can handle more modern music in a way that sometimes seems difficult for the BC-1 or SP-1, but also has an open and friendly mid-range. So I sold the Harbeths - a more expensive and accomplished speaker, but in some ways not as pleasing to me.
The thing that brought me back to the Spendors was the realization that while with the Harbeths I had more of those moments where a particular sound might grab attention due to fidelity to the sound of a real instrument in space, via the 2/2 I was more inclined to take in musical phrases, or appreciate musical development over a longer piece. I've read that some photographers prefer Leica optics to Nikon because the Nikon might provide more detail, but the Leica gets
the whole photo over in a more communicative manner. I think this analogy holds true in comparing the better Spendors with other speakers. Those Harbeths (and the Quads) provide more detail, but I'm not sure that's the point when listening to music. I've
concluded the Spendors somehow present at a level of particularity that simply facilitates my musical comprehension.
Then, the next step, in surprisingly rapid order. A pair of 7/1's shows up locally. Spared the hassle and cost of shipping, I can't resist.
And I think I now have the right speaker for my house,after 8.5 years! First clue - I can play louder than with any other speaker, as the 7/1 easily moves lots of air but does not excite funny
resonances. I was blown away by the sound of a Batucada (Brazilian samba drums) section - I never expected to have the real feel of that kind of music in my home. Of course, like any Spendor, they sound great at low volume ... but I expected that; OTOH, the high-volume
thing was a revelation. I don't know how to explain this - the angled speakers? The mass of the front baffle? But there is no question that this speaker succeeds in my room where the S-100 and 1-2/e could not.
Yes, as compared with Harbeth and Quad I sacrifice some obvious detail and an occasional audiophile thrill, but whenever I start listening for detail, it's always there. And I'm rarely losing the forest for the trees, as my focus seems often to be pitched at a level that really concentrates on music rather than audio ephemera. And I have that lovely sense of mass when crescendos occur, particularly in the orchestral cellos and bass.
I could not recommned these highly enough for most users. Maybe the 9/1 is better, maybe not - in my room, likely to boom like the S-100 did, and probably not as fast or articulate in the bass. With my little REL sub, I seem to be doing fine.
Since I have a close relationship with the owners of "high end" stores, I have spent HOURS with products in stores, and DAYS with the best of those products in my own home. I often have the option of taking home the floor demo products for the weekend to hear how they sound on my system. This has given me the oppertunity experiance many products over extended periods of time.
What I have found is that most products that are "impressive" at first, tend to be "too much" once you own them. Also, that physics itself dictates many things. For example, there is only so much bass that can be gotten from a small driver, large drivers and large cabinets cause reflections in a room that tend to give a poor image, and drivers that are too fast tend to be too loose.
I find that the Spendor 7/1 has a nice balance between bass and image, dynamics and accuracy, detail and smoothness, and best of all, price and quality. Their "laid back" sound smooths over the flaws in bad recordings and less refined electronics, but this also hides some of the detail on the best of recordings and the most refined of systems. Until you are dealing with GOOD systems that are OVER $15,000 you would only be fooling yourself to believe that you are really "missiing" ANYTHING.
These are far from the best speakers I've ever heard, and I doubt that they will be the last pair I own. So far, though I find MANY speaker that have impressive characteristics in the $3K to $5K price range, the only ones that I find that are CLEARLY better that the Spendor 7/1's (for accoustic music) are more in the $5K to $10K price range.
These came to me after I had pretty much disregarded them a while back. I was looking for another pair of SP-2/3's or some SP-1/2's when I saw these at a fair price and thought I should give them another listen. Am I glad I did. The first time I had these in my home I believe that they were dealer demos and possibly not yet broken in. Subsequently, the speakers seemed a bit bright, with a nice soundstage but seeming to lack the sweetness that I've heard in Spendors other models. Let me say that these do not lack that sweetness nor do they sound bright. What they do sound like is simply marvelous. With better imaging, much better soundstage, and their glorious midrange they actually are more competetive with the SP-100's than comparing them to the Sp-1's or SP-2/3's. Their bass is tight, fairly deep and when called on can be very dynamic. Their midrange is simply natural, open, fluid, and alive. The high end is smooth, possibly not as extended as some metal domes I've heard (but close) but more importantly so beautifully integrated with the mids that the transtion is nearly seamless....terrific. The imaging is much better than the SP-100's, better han the SP-2/3's and also the SP-1's. It's really a strength whereas I've always thought it was good on Spendors past. Their image can extend above the speakers when the material calls for it, projects beautifully in the depth plane and also in front of the speakers when the source material does. The width is also excellent. Way beyond the speakers themselves and reaches the back edges as well as the front. In short, these somewhat surprised me. I had heard they were worth a second look and were they ever! Their price right now on the used market seems almost like a steal to me, they are that good. If you are looking into the british speaker market, especially the Spendor line, give these a listen....they are a delightful spaeker and capable of bringing that Spendor magic into your home with an ease and naturalness that may floor you. It did me.
I have really enjoyed the Spendor 7/1's. Great recordings sound incredible, especially tight jazz and vocals with soul. I have not found a musical piece that is too fast for the mid range or tweeter. Both sound effortless from the 7/1's. They have a bass port, which is a poor replacement for real bass. A sub is required. My sub is set to pick up at the highest frequency in its range. The rosewood cabinets are truely beautiful. I have never seen nicer cabinets, at any price.
Equipment: Spendor 7/1's Hafler 9300 Amps (mono amp'd) Audio Alchemy Pre-Amp Cal Audio Labs CD-Transport Audio Alchemy DAC and Jitter Filter Genesis Sub-Woofer Tice Elite Power Conditioning MIT Interconnects MIT Mid-Range Speaker Cables Kimber Tweeter Cables
Very natural sounding and efficient speaker. Detail is natural rather than in-your-face. Does not plum the depth of bass. You can thoroughly enjoy natural sounding music with these speakers, and they image better than the Spendor box speakers. Overall a slightly warm, ripe sound.
Hands down recommended for classical, jazz, voice. Stunning reproduction for these types of music.
Try before you buy: rock & roll, large scale orchestra
I could live with these forever. But I'm a trading audiophile, nothing lasts in my house more than a year. It's the fun of the hobby. I've since owned Proac 2.5 and Spendor 1/2. The 7/1 holds it's own.