Review: Spendor Classic 2/3

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This week we tested the Spendor Classic 2/3 speakers. These speakers from the Spendor Classic range are entirely made in the UK. Cabinetwork, drivers, crossover filters… all of the elements that go into making the Spendor speakers are assembled in the company’s factory. This explains the Spendor 2/3s rather hefty price tag: approximately 3700€ for a pair.

Les enceintes Spendor Classic 2/3

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: the range

The Spendor 2/3 speakers are part of the brand’s Classic range. This range includes the Spendor Classic 3/5, Classic 3/1, Classic 2/3, Classic 1/2 (compact), Classic 100 and Classic 200 (floorstanders). All the speakers in the range share the same drivers, with a bass driver that ranges in size from 5.9” for the most compact speaker, to 11.8” for the two floorstanders. These large drivers are proof that Spendor is serious when it comes to low frequencies.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: vintage look

If the Spendor Classic 2/3 compact speakers boast a vintage look, it’s not for the sake of following a trend. The British brand has kept this design for years, and it’s a conscious choice on their behalf to continue creating speakers that look like they were designed decades earlier. The Spendor Classic 2/3s are undeniably aimed at lovers of classic hi-fi. However, these speakers aren’t at all dated, they simply have a vintage sound, as we will discuss later on in the review. It takes quite a lot of skill to be able to achieve this.

Enceinte Spendor Classic 2/3 vue de dessu
The Spendor Classic 2/3 speaker encased in its dark walnut cabinet. In reality, the walnut is relatively light, not far from the color of oak.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: large driver

At almost 60 cm high and over 25 cm wide, the Spendor 2/3 is a big compact speaker. Spendor has included an 8.3” midbass driver, immersed in a substantial amount of air. This driver is the heart of the 2/3. The choice of such a large driver can be explained by the desire to restitute lows with velocity and impact. The speaker’s large size is related to this approach, as a lot of air is needed for a driver to adequately reproduce low frequencies.

Les haut-parleurs de l'enceinte Spendor Classic 2/3
The Spendor Classic 2/3 accommodates an 8.3” bass driver with a bullet-shaped phase plug and a 22 mm fabric dome tweeter.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: the most important driver

If you keep up to date with hi-fi news, you probably know that HD digital sound has been at the heart of many devices for a few years now: digital audio players, DACs, amplifiers, 4K Blu-ray players and, of course, speakers. High definition is systematically associated with a wide frequency response in the highs, well over 20 kHz and beyond human hearing capacity. Despite this, the tweeter – a 22 mm fabric dome model in the Classic 2/3 – isn’t the biggest driver in a speaker.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: a matter of octaves

The audio spectrum is generally divided into 10 octave bands, from the lows to the highs. The central frequencies of these octaves are 31.5 Hz, 63 Hz, 125 Hz, 250 Hz, 500 Hz, 1000 Hz, 2000 Hz, 4000 Hz, 8000 Hz and 16000 Hz. Two-way compact speakers regularly assign the restitution of the first 6 or 7 octaves to the bass driver and the 3 highest to the tweeter. Consequently, the tweeter only restitutes 30% of audible frequencies, compared to 70% for the midbass driver.

Borniers de l'enceinte Spendor Classic 2/3
The Spendor Classic 2/3’s speaker terminals, with gold-plated binding posts. The cable used here is the excellent Viard Audio Silver HD12 HP.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: filtering

Spendor decided to assign the 35 Hz to 3.6 kHz frequency range to their homemade Kevlar driver with its bullet-shaped phase plug. Therefore, crossover frequency takes place over an inconsequential frequency range. The Spendor 2/3 uses a bass-reflex system with a circular frontal port. Consequently, the speaker can be placed close to a wall without any negative effects for low frequency restitution. The Classic 2/3 has a frequency response from 35 Hz to 25 kHz, a sensitivity rating of 87 dB for 1 kHz and an 8 Ohm impedance.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: listening impressions

We listened to the Spendor Classic 2/3 speakers with several hi-fi amplifiers, in particular the Yamaha MusicCast CRX-N470, the Rega Brio and the Nuprime IDA-8. We listened to FLAC files, web radios and a few Spotify playlists. The speaker wires used were Viard Audio Silver HD12 HPs.

The Spendor Classic 2/3 is balanced and the manufacturer clearly hasn’t opted for a simplistic approach, which often consists of including a tweeter that’s too dynamic or highlighted during filter adjustment. There’s an obvious form of honesty in the 2/3’s sound signature, which reminds us of more traditional Tannoys. Here, Spendor clearly isn’t trying to cover the bass driver’s imperfections with a tweeter that sounds like a caffeinated parrot. In short, the Spendor Classic 2/3’s sound could be described, as was often the case during the last century, as a representative of the typical English sound: linear and measured, but with a distinct authority.

Le tweeter de l'enceinte Spendor Classic 2/3
The Spendor Classic 2/3 speaker’s tweeter, always discreet, impeccably filtered.

The high-lows and low-mids are richly textured and highlight large string instruments and snare drums. Masculine and feminine vocals are restituted with finesse. The timbres are subtle.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: compared to…

Klipsch Heresy III: vintage design and techniques, but the solutions implemented by Klipsch with the Heresy (11.8” driver, 2 horn-loaded tweeters) endow the speaker with superior analytical capacities and more obvious authority.

Tannoy Legacy Eaton: the tonal balance is very similar to that of the Spendor Classic 2/3, but the highs are more refined and chic (metal dome with a projecting waveguide). The ability to adjust the tone is an advantage. The soundstage is also more precise. Tannoy has the upper hand.

Spendor Classic 2/3 review: conclusion

The Spendor Classic 2/3 compact speaker will please listeners looking for speaker with a classic look and sound. This remarkably large compact speaker is relaxing and allows very long listening sessions. A rare quality.

What we liked:

  • The expertly placed highs
  • The overall balance
  • The micro-dynamic accuracy
  • The design and finish
  • The high-quality speaker terminals

What we would have liked:

  • Nothing else

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