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This review first appeared in the August 2013 issue of hi-end hifi magazine of Germany. You can also read this review of the
Spendor SP100R² in its original German version. We publish its English translation in a mutual syndication arrangement with the publishers. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of fairaudio or Spendor - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
:Laptop with foobar2000/J.River and Phonosophie DAC1, Fonel Simplicité player
Amplification: Fonel Emotion and Abacus Ampino integrated, Funk MTX Monitor V3b preamp, Audionet AMP monos
Loudspeakers: Thiel CS 3.7, Quadral Megan
Cables: Straight Wire Virtuoso,HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350
Power: Quantum-Powerchords, Hifi-Tuning Powercord Gold with IeGo termination, MF-Electronic power bar
USB: Wireworld Starlight
Rack: Lovan Classic II
Review component retail in Germany: €8.499/pr, €699 for stands provided by German importer

Classic stereotype. With as visually atypical a review subject as today, one always feels tempted to indulge deeply in clichés only to realize that despite appearances, hitting the mark that way ain't easy. British understatement? Whilst Spendor's SP100R² could seemingly care less for modern design sensibilities, its sheer size of 70 x 37 x 43cm does create a significant statement in the listening room. And true, the inhabitants of the Green Isle are said to be possessed of whimsy and these loaners do seem outright crotchety about fashion trends. But they also couldn't be more classical if they tried. The SP100 Revision 2 keeps cosmetic faith with its predecessors as do very few others. Genetic roots trace all the way back to 1973 and Spendor's BC3. There's built-in reluctance to stereotyping. We then best got on and focused on purely the facts. I asked Spendor's boss since 2001 about any deeper reasons for their unconventional dimensions. I'd recently wondered about a review which claimed how these particular proportions were sonically special. According to Philip Swift this form factor was fashionable in the 1970s and their Classic Series simply continues it. The only acoustic advantages he might claim for the broad baffle are higher distances between drivers and enclosure sides to minimize edge diffractions. To accommodate a 30cm woofer obviously requires adequate width.

Said woofer remains closely tied to the BC3's though it has seen continuous refinements across the intervening 40 years. It's still made in-house, in part even with original vintage equipment (interesting insight into Spendor production can be found in this factory tour by our German importer). Remaining is the now unconventional Bextrene membrane whose latest iteration benefits from added viscoelastic damping. Coupled to an anachronistically small-diameter voice coil this leads to "fulsome bass hardly achievable by other means". Or so Spendor believe. Of course forget about bookshelf placement. The big-box Spendor must be set up as any tower would. A proper stand like the €699 metal frame our domestic distributor made available is mandatory. The 18cm midrange with broad bandwidth of 550 to 5.000Hz too sees the light of day in the small southeastern UK township of Hailsham. Only the 22mm soft-dome tweeter bracketed by the two Brit cones is from elsewhere, namely Seas of Norway. The 18cm unit obviously plays center stage in this design not only because human hearing is most keen here. Classic English speaker constructions also enjoy a special reputation for a particular affinity with vocals.
It's little surprise that this midrange unit too would retain many vintage aspects though Swift was quick to claim significantly lower coloration and superior dynamics than earlier incarnations. Spendor's particular membrane polymer is partially related to Polypropylene but exhibits advantageous self damping and higher rigidity. Allied to a proper cone profile and an in-house developed phase-corrected drive system, this sums to "very linear wide bandwidth unusually free of breakup modes and associated resonance peaks". All in all the R² exceeds its predecessors with more linear coherent time-domain behavior and a sonically more neutral enclosure even though the old knuckle rap wasn't too dry if quite dark. As Philip Swift reminds us, already during the 60s the BBC had conducted research which showed how human hearing is particularly allergic to high-frequency enclosure resonance. Controlled low-amplitude activity in the lower bands however is perceived as pleasantly warm and full.

From this follows that high-mass thick-walled enclosures will tend to store HF energies which they release delayed in time to introduce blur or so Spendor's core belief states. Accordingly panel thickness with the SP100R² is all of 12mm whilst the baffle proper and corner elements grow to 25mm. Energy management of the box is also influenced by how individual panels and parts are joined and damped. The latter involves special viscoelastic liners but the low-mass concept does away with internal bracing altogether. The end result is a box which deliberately resonates at low frequencies but sheds these energies very quickly to make for a "clear and fresh" presentation. Aside from claimed acoustic merits, I should add that the at first rustic-seeming workmanship of the SP100R² turned out to be most accurate close up and even the delivered Walnut veneer was high class. In photos these speakers tend to look less than they do in person. One can't ever predict these things but 'live' my loaners elicited lovely compliments particularly from female visitors. Which now leads our subversive heartbreakers into the actual audition. In general I dislike seemingly constructed review drama where first sessions tank only to undergo miraculous transformations after various cable swaps, placement changes and plenty of suggestive imagination on part of the writer. But sometimes things really do go down that way. Then a hifi scribe can't avoid chronicling such a turn of events since your own audition is supposed to be all the easier for it.