2013 New York Audio Show: Spendor SP100R² loudspeakers bring big-room sound with an even bigger price tag


In the most recent  installment of the Audiophile System Builder, we recommended two systems based around two very different loudspeakers from Great Britain: the KEF LS50 and Harbeth Compact 7ES-3. Where KEF’s dynamic thoroughbred blazes past the competition with its state-of-the-art enclosure, Uni-Q driver, and modern styling, Harbeth’s boxy studio monitor offers transparency, coherency, and one of the most intimate listening experiences at any price.

Cut from the same cloth as its stodgy cousins is the modern revision of the statement SP100R² loudspeaker from Spendor, which made its triumphant return at the New York Audio Show.

Unlike Harbeth’s designs, which  don’t particularly thrive in large spaces, the behemoth Spendor SP100R² 3-way, stand mounted speaker absolutely adores the opportunity to show off its room-filling dynamic capabilities when driven with the right amplifier. Spendor has modernized its entire line-up in recent years, adding eight new models to complement its “Classic” line-up, which includes the Spendor SP100R². The downside to these upgrades?  Prices have risen dramatically in the past three years, so sticking a pair of the SP100R² in your home will now run you $11,500. 

The SP100R² are akin to a pair of studio monitors on steroids weighing in at close to eighty pounds each and measuring 28 x 14.5 x 17 (HxWxD – in inches). They’re too large and heavy to be placed inside bookshelves; these speakers must be elevated off the floor in order to place the tweeter at the right height. Since their release, the standard recommendation was to plop these elephants on a pair of $800, custom 14-inch stands manufactured by Sound Anchors. In New York, however, Spendor cheated on the love of its life with a custom pair of Canadian stands by Skylan which retail for about $275 less. Apparently, the more rigid American stands dry out the presentation of the revised model, whereas the Canadian stands let the cabinet exhale, preserving its pristine midrange for Queen and country…and Celine Dion.

As large as the SP100R² may appear, they are not the most demanding load in the world, requiring only a robust 50 watts of power to really sing. The SP100R²’s 12-inch bass drivers won’t complain if you stick something more powerful in the mix – it has always adored the more powerful Naim Audio amplifiers such as the NAP 500 – but they do prefer to be driven by a tube amplifier. We owned a pair of the smaller Spendor SP2/3s for eight years and think there are few combinations as musical as Spendor speakers paired with push-pull tube amplifiers.

For the New York show, Spendor teamed up with French manufacturer, Jadis, which provided more than 100 watts of tube-based power –  it was certainly one of the few combinations that held our interest at the show.

If the Spendor SP100R² pique your interest as a home theater loudspeaker, we know from experience that using three of these for your front channels is a lust-worthy set-up, as long as you give them some space and drive them with sufficient power. They can play any type of music with ease, reproduce the human voice as well as any loudspeaker we’ve ever heard, and look quite dramatic without their grills on

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