The Spendor conundrum

Luxman Amplifiers India

shibashis

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2012
Messages
1,021
Points
83
Location
Kolkata
I love my Spendor A5, first thing's first and now that is out of the way.

There were some changes to my stereo set up at the beginning of 2021. I got the Spendor A5s used, I also added the RME ADI 2 as DAC. At the moment as you can see from my signature, the Spendors are being driven by Marantz PM8005. The Spendors initially sounded a bit dull, change of speaker cable sorted that out and right now they sound just right. I love how dynamic they sound, epic in moments, capable of inducing goosebumps.
Unfortunately we, the bespoke audiofiles are rarely to stay content for long. Disclaimer aside, I have had the feeling that these can do more, quite a bit more.
To be absolutely candid, I am not certain that I will be splashing cash but I want a possible discussion on it.
My Marantz can be used as a power amp, that got me thinking (never good I know)..., how good is it an idea to add a preamp to sample maybe a different sound signature? Being different is alright but then to stand truly out of the crowd you have to be outstanding, so just being different will not fly for long. I do not wish to spend and find that this was a lateral movement. What do you think of this idea of sampling a preamp? If so then some suggestions will be helpful.
I do feel Spendors need the grunt and authority to bring the very best out of it. Something that is a bit lively in nature, energetic to make it burst into a song and a dance.

Then, I went to read on the interweb. People talking about Naim and Spendor combo. Well, I would not say no to a Naim, who would in reality? But Naims are once in a lifetime buy, they are expensive. Nait 5i is only 50 Watts in power, is that a little too low for Spendors?
How about Rega or Musical Fidelity maybe. For me used gear has always been the right way forward, it is no different here either.
Budget is a miserly 1L.
 

sandeepmohan

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 17, 2009
Messages
845
Points
93
Location
Wellington
how good is it an idea to add a preamp to sample maybe a different sound signature?
I doubt if a pre amplifier would make much of a difference when the final drive still being handled by your Marantz.
You need to try a new Integrated or a pre power set up and not from the usual brands, as you are looking for something different. Something like Ayre.
Before you head down the road with buying anything, you need to try them out. Either carry your speakers to the dealer or have the dealer loan you an amplifier.
I can't comment on Rega or Musical Fidelity. Own a Rega turntable and thats something different.
There are so many good products out there that its hard to say what will work or not work with your particular set up. I can't stress on auditions more.
 

bloredude

Active Member
Joined
Jul 9, 2012
Messages
182
Points
43
Location
Bangaluru
If I were you, I'd start by identifying the areas of improvement.

It is my sincere advice to not add/upgrade components until you know what you are expecting from the move.
 

Fiftyfifty

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
882
Points
113
Location
Panaji, Goa
I use the Spendor Classic 100s with a Kinki Studio EX M1 integrated. My observations on the resultant sound are similar to yours. I've tried different amps with marginal effect on the openness that appears to be compromised in the speakers.

I believe there are a couple of factors to bear in mind:

1. The Spendors have a unique house sound that make them sound refined and laid back. They will not sound 'in your face' which may actually be desirable for certain genre of music.

2. They are very sensitive to placement and one can achieve a lot through experimenting with speaker placement + isolation + cables.

3. The damping factor of the speakers and the amp impact the sq significantly.

Having said that, I've auditioned more expensive and open sounding speakers and have often cringed at the sound. Therefore, though it's a trade off, I will stay with my Spendors -Kinki combo.

Cheers!
 

Fiftyfifty

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 11, 2016
Messages
882
Points
113
Location
Panaji, Goa
I do feel Spendors need the grunt and authority to bring the very best out of it. Something that is a bit lively in nature, energetic to make it burst into a song and a dance.
I wonder, and seek recommendations from FMs, on cables (power, ICS, SPK) that will add grunt and authority, maybe even some edgeiness..
 

sidvee

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
2,970
Points
113
Location
Hyderabad
How about Rega or Musical Fidelity maybe. For me used gear has always been the right way forward, it is no different here either.
Budget is a miserly 1L.
Do consider Cambridge audio also. Running my spendor's classic 3/5 with a Cambridge audio amp. Prior to the amp. I also used an entry level integrated. Both of them have excellent synergy with the 3/5.
Cheers,
Sid
 

arj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2008
Messages
3,940
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
I love my Spendor A5, first thing's first and now that is out of the way.

There were some changes to my stereo set up at the beginning of 2021. I got the Spendor A5s used, I also added the RME ADI 2 as DAC. At the moment as you can see from my signature, the Spendors are being driven by Marantz PM8005. The Spendors initially sounded a bit dull, change of speaker cable sorted that out and right now they sound just right. I love how dynamic they sound, epic in moments, capable of inducing goosebumps.
Unfortunately we, the bespoke audiofiles are rarely to stay content for long. Disclaimer aside, I have had the feeling that these can do more, quite a bit more.
To be absolutely candid, I am not certain that I will be splashing cash but I want a possible discussion on it.
My Marantz can be used as a power amp, that got me thinking (never good I know)..., how good is it an idea to add a preamp to sample maybe a different sound signature? Being different is alright but then to stand truly out of the crowd you have to be outstanding, so just being different will not fly for long. I do not wish to spend and find that this was a lateral movement. What do you think of this idea of sampling a preamp? If so then some suggestions will be helpful.
I do feel Spendors need the grunt and authority to bring the very best out of it. Something that is a bit lively in nature, energetic to make it burst into a song and a dance.

Then, I went to read on the interweb. People talking about Naim and Spendor combo. Well, I would not say no to a Naim, who would in reality? But Naims are once in a lifetime buy, they are expensive. Nait 5i is only 50 Watts in power, is that a little too low for Spendors?
How about Rega or Musical Fidelity maybe. For me used gear has always been the right way forward, it is no different here either.
Budget is a miserly 1L.
You will get a different sound signature with a different preamp. Eg you can get a tube preamp from Lyrita whose DHT is really well regarded and may be an improvement and not a lateral.

In terms of Power, you cannot ook at just the power but other areas like gain of an amplifier/ current etc as well and a Naim can drive most speakers as usually they do have higher gain.

They will definitely drive a spendor and my guess do a far better job than the Marantz. and I would anyday suggest that over MF or Rega.
 

square_wave

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2006
Messages
3,113
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
I have been in this situation in the past. A relatively expensive speaker that can do better but an amp that does not full justice to the speaker. I certainly think you can do much better than the PM8005. The Marantz sound is slightly laid back. Adding such an amp to a Spendor has the potential to make the system too laid back. Adding a bright cable may open it up a little bit but that will add some compromises too. Look at it long term. Eventually you will land up upgrading the amp. One option - Up the budget substantially and get a better integrated. Another option is pick up the best preamp you can find at 1L. Use it with the power amp in the Marantz for the time being. Eventually, when you have the budget, sell the Marantz and add a power amp.

My context :
It was a Nad integrated. The preamp was the weakest part. An acoustic portrait tube preamp sorted all that out. I was happy for about 2 years. Then I got myself an odyssey stratos power amp to go with the preamp. All this happened 12 years ago. So many more options now.
 

jai1611

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 2, 2009
Messages
1,245
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
One simple way to check if an amp with a noticeably different presentation would help is to experiment with tone controls. Will help you judge if a slightly elevated top end or bass would help. This would in turn help narrow the search.

If you find that the current Marantz presentation works well, then looking for a higher end amp with similar voicing would be worth considering

The other thing to experiment with is placement and, if addressing a specific problem, room treatment.

On amp options, adding a local Kolkata brand to the list - First Note Labs. They have a good 50w integrated.
 

Beast_of_burden

Active Member
Joined
Jun 14, 2011
Messages
283
Points
43
Location
Bangalore
You should try out a class A SS amplifier(it’s on my bucket list too) or an AB Amp biased into class A for the first few. The Spendors are special speakers. 50 watts is actually plenty. Try NAD, they have a certain approach. Based on reports, Naim too has a certain approach. Try a few variations.

Preamplifier can change the sound in significant ways, but my experience with Denon is that it works best with onboard preamplifier - your experience with the Marantz might be different.
 

panditji

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 6, 2006
Messages
1,966
Points
113
Location
Faridabad (suburb of Delhi)
Buy a used Naim 5i and hear for yourself... Its 50 watts is enough to drive the Spendors.. If you like it, you can sell your Marantz... I would advise against adding a pre amp if you have to use the Marantz...

As someone said above, the Spendors and Harbeths have their own signature sound which are less affected by the amplifier than other speakers... The Naim will make it a little bit more lively and the entry level integrated is enough...
 

jenson

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2010
Messages
556
Points
63
Location
Indore
Having seen them A5s, they are quite sleek... Would be worthwhile to carry them to local audio hifi shop and perhaps demo multiple amps...

More power will definitely add more heft.

At your range, as some have suggested here go for diy makes like discrete dynamics.. A pre and 200 watt amplifier for under 40k..
 

shibashis

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2012
Messages
1,021
Points
83
Location
Kolkata
I doubt if a pre amplifier would make much of a difference when the final drive still being handled by your Marantz.
You need to try a new Integrated or a pre power set up and not from the usual brands, as you are looking for something different. Something like Ayre.
Before you head down the road with buying anything, you need to try them out. Either carry your speakers to the dealer or have the dealer loan you an amplifier.
I can't comment on Rega or Musical Fidelity. Own a Rega turntable and thats something different.
There are so many good products out there that its hard to say what will work or not work with your particular set up. I can't stress on auditions more.
Well carrying the speakers would be ideal but that is not going to happen at the moment and Ayre equipment is way out of my budget.

If I were you, I'd start by identifying the areas of improvement.

It is my sincere advice to not add/upgrade components until you know what you are expecting from the move.
Sane advice, the kind that I provide people when they ask such questions but when it comes to your own set up, reason and logic somehow takes a backseat. Jokes aside, I know fully well what you mean.
This might be a little irrelevant but I think makes sense for me, I am a very emotional listener, as opposed to being an objective one. What I mean by that is as much as I get thrilled to locate the sax precisely 7 ft away at an angle of 53 degrees with respect to my listening position, I take more enjoyment being moved by the music itself (by extension the tonality is of great importance). What I mean by that is the overall presentation matters to me more, a proper amalgamation of everything put together. The scale, the story of the track or that performance or the history of the band/artist and if the vocalist had an out of body experience. Everything that can be had from that piece.

The gut feeling is I know these speakers have more to give. Kind of like stepping out to a leg spinner, within picosecond of the ball being released. It is a hunch, you get it right and over the covers she goes, if not well, see you another day.

I like to ramble when it comes to music, apologies.

I use the Spendor Classic 100s with a Kinki Studio EX M1 integrated. My observations on the resultant sound are similar to yours. I've tried different amps with marginal effect on the openness that appears to be compromised in the speakers.

I believe there are a couple of factors to bear in mind:

1. The Spendors have a unique house sound that make them sound refined and laid back. They will not sound 'in your face' which may actually be desirable for certain genre of music.

2. They are very sensitive to placement and one can achieve a lot through experimenting with speaker placement + isolation + cables.

3. The damping factor of the speakers and the amp impact the sq significantly.

Having said that, I've auditioned more expensive and open sounding speakers and have often cringed at the sound. Therefore, though it's a trade off, I will stay with my Spendors -Kinki combo.

Cheers!
Your observations almost echo those of mine.
The spendors probably never be 'in your face' but their sound has a certain intimidation of class. A bit like walking into a giant library, you see the walls full of books and you know, you are not here to shout.
The placement aspect is bang on. The whole experience changes with little tweaks.
I do plan to stay with my Spendors. I was suggested Kinki amps by a fellow forum member friend too, I will be exploring this option.

Do consider Cambridge audio also. Running my spendor's classic 3/5 with a Cambridge audio amp. Prior to the amp. I also used an entry level integrated. Both of them have excellent synergy with the 3/5.
Cheers,
Sid
I had a Cambridge 550A, way back when. I do remember it being quite an energetic amp and its liveliness belied the wattage number, hmm, something to consider for a fact.

You will get a different sound signature with a different preamp. Eg you can get a tube preamp from Lyrita whose DHT is really well regarded and may be an improvement and not a lateral.

In terms of Power, you cannot ook at just the power but other areas like gain of an amplifier/ current etc as well and a Naim can drive most speakers as usually they do have higher gain.

They will definitely drive a spendor and my guess do a far better job than the Marantz. and I would anyday suggest that over MF or Rega.
I have considered a tube pre, I will give it a go if I can try one.
I am being suggested a Naim more and more, I was leaning toward one over MF or Rega myself to be honest, lets see.

I have been in this situation in the past. A relatively expensive speaker that can do better but an amp that does not full justice to the speaker. I certainly think you can do much better than the PM8005. The Marantz sound is slightly laid back. Adding such an amp to a Spendor has the potential to make the system too laid back. Adding a bright cable may open it up a little bit but that will add some compromises too. Look at it long term. Eventually you will land up upgrading the amp. One option - Up the budget substantially and get a better integrated. Another option is pick up the best preamp you can find at 1L. Use it with the power amp in the Marantz for the time being. Eventually, when you have the budget, sell the Marantz and add a power amp.

My context :
It was a Nad integrated. The preamp was the weakest part. An acoustic portrait tube preamp sorted all that out. I was happy for about 2 years. Then I got myself an odyssey stratos power amp to go with the preamp. All this happened 12 years ago. So many more options now.
What you laid out was kind of what I was thinking but then I have thought of way too many different options in this journey.
Upping the budget substantially to get a better integrated is definitely an option, if I do that then I likely will get a Naim integrated, I will have to wait a bit though. Waiting is fine, I have been impulsive in this game before and by now know better.
 

sidvee

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2007
Messages
2,970
Points
113
Location
Hyderabad
I had a Cambridge 550A, way back when. I do remember it being quite an energetic amp and its liveliness belied the wattage number, hmm, something to consider for a fact.
One more point I would like to make is that while there is a house sound in the Spendor line, there is certainly a difference between the classic vs the A line vs the D line. Though I haven't heard the A line, I have heard the D line and it has a significantly different presentation to the Classic line. So just lumping all spendors into one type of sound and recommending one type of amplification may not be the best strategy, at best you should consider it a starting point.
Cheers,
Sid
 

himadri

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2007
Messages
655
Points
63
May I suggest again that you move your attention from the amp to the speakers. It's the Spendors! Pair them with any amp and they will still retain a fair amount of house sound. If one doesn't like that sound, playing around with amps is not a solution. IMHO.
Agreed. I think Speakers are responsible for around 80 to 90% of the tonal presentation of the sound and has to match with the taste of the listener. For the remaining part , the OP may have to substantially raise the budget to get any significant improvement in noise, resolution , control and reliability in amplifiers and is only important as an end game solution.
 

shibashis

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2012
Messages
1,021
Points
83
Location
Kolkata
May I suggest again that you move your attention from the amp to the speakers. It's the Spendors! Pair them with any amp and they will still retain a fair amount of house sound. If one doesn't like that sound, playing around with amps is not a solution. IMHO.
Why did you have to do that? Here I was actually liking you and then you go and talk about replacing Spendors! No, sir, not happening! :)
As I mentioned right at the beginning, I love the Spendors and what they do, it is just that I feel they are capable of more. It is now a quest to realize their potential.

Buy a used Naim 5i and hear for yourself... Its 50 watts is enough to drive the Spendors.. If you like it, you can sell your Marantz... I would advise against adding a pre amp if you have to use the Marantz...

As someone said above, the Spendors and Harbeths have their own signature sound which are less affected by the amplifier than other speakers... The Naim will make it a little bit more lively and the entry level integrated is enough...
It is looking more and more like there is a Naim in my future...

One simple way to check if an amp with a noticeably different presentation would help is to experiment with tone controls. Will help you judge if a slightly elevated top end or bass would help. This would in turn help narrow the search.

If you find that the current Marantz presentation works well, then looking for a higher end amp with similar voicing would be worth considering

The other thing to experiment with is placement and, if addressing a specific problem, room treatment.

On amp options, adding a local Kolkata brand to the list - First Note Labs. They have a good 50w integrated.
I have experimented somewhat with tone control, both with the amp and my DAC, the thing with tone control is that the output result does not feel organic enough, there are hiccups here and there and that is not what we look for.
I know of First Note Labs, thanks for the suggestion, maybe will get in touch with them.
 

prem

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 14, 2008
Messages
4,459
Points
113
Location
Mumbai
Shibashis, if your budget permits look up Croft. IMO, it’s clearly superior to Naim. It has the PRAT of Naim while maintaining an organic quality and a fullness to the sound.
 

shibashis

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 20, 2012
Messages
1,021
Points
83
Location
Kolkata
Shibashis, if your budget permits look up Croft. IMO, it’s clearly superior to Naim. It has the PRAT of Naim while maintaining an organic quality and a fullness to the sound.
I looked up Croft, thank you for the suggestion but they are beyond my budget right now.

Agreed. I think Speakers are responsible for around 80 to 90% of the tonal presentation of the sound and has to match with the taste of the listener. For the remaining part , the OP may have to substantially raise the budget to get any significant improvement in noise, resolution , control and reliability in amplifiers and is only important as an end game solution.
I agree here too. In this case though I quite like the speakers and so will stick to them. As for substantially raising the budget, well that can not happen at the moment. May stick with what I have if I can not find a good used option.
 

arj

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
May 25, 2008
Messages
3,940
Points
113
Location
Bangalore
There was a Naim integrated for sale on the classifieds here..maybe you can check if its still available ?
 
Top