Want to know more about Spendor SA1 - See this !!

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Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Yes what Spectre said is very correct. Actually Harbeth P3ESR was also in my list of speakers to be auditioned but unfortunately I could not find a store in my area to provide a listening test
. I also had an auditioned on Stirling LS3/5A (about £1000) though the sound is quite sweet and similar to Spendor but I found it to be a bit bright (by not much) with less bass and the workmanship is not as good as SA1.
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Hi Spectre,

Thanks for the suggestion. I have not heard the Harbeth's but may add them to my list. If i remember correctly they are much higher in price & looks wise I prefer the other speakers mentioned so far. We are not into looks I know but somehow I think they do matter, sometimes even unconsciously.
 

Singslinger

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Jul 31, 2010
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I own both the Spendor SA1 on their dedicated stands, as well as the Harbeth P3ESR.

My experience with both (as driven by my Naim pre-power amps) is that the Spendor has the better highs and mids while the Harbeth has more bass. The Spendor's reproduction of piano music is unbeatable; the Harbeth's tonal balance is its forte. The Spendor is a tad more bright that the Harbeth which is a bit warmer. I can't say which is "better'' than the other, except that they have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Incidentally, I also own the PMC DB1i and think this speaker is also worth an audition - it produces surprising amounts of bass considering the small size of the cabinet. The only drawback IMO is that the quality of the woodwork isn't as good as the Spendor or Harbeth. But if that doesn't bother you, then it's well worth a listen.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Singslinger said:
I own both the Spendor SA1 on their dedicated stands, as well as the Harbeth P3ESR.

My experience with both (as driven by my Naim pre-power amps) is that the Spendor has the better highs and mids while the Harbeth has more bass. The Spendor's reproduction of piano music is unbeatable; the Harbeth's tonal balance is its forte. The Spendor is a tad more bright that the Harbeth which is a bit warmer. I can't say which is "better'' than the other, except that they have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Incidentally, I also own the PMC DB1i and think this speaker is also worth an audition - it produces surprising amounts of bass considering the small size of the cabinet. The only drawback IMO is that the quality of the woodwork isn't as good as the Spendor or Harbeth. But if that doesn't bother you, then it's well worth a listen.
You have excellent taste in speakers sir. Its interesting that the Harbeth's metal dome tweeter doesn't make it brighter sounding! Whats your impressions on sound staging and imaging between these three speakers. I used to the the original Harbeth HL-P3 and I thought they were excellent little speakers, but the Spendor's are completely invisible.
 

Singslinger

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Jul 31, 2010
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Spectre said:
Singslinger said:
I own both the Spendor SA1 on their dedicated stands, as well as the Harbeth P3ESR.

My experience with both (as driven by my Naim pre-power amps) is that the Spendor has the better highs and mids while the Harbeth has more bass. The Spendor's reproduction of piano music is unbeatable; the Harbeth's tonal balance is its forte. The Spendor is a tad more bright that the Harbeth which is a bit warmer. I can't say which is "better'' than the other, except that they have their own strengths and weaknesses.

Incidentally, I also own the PMC DB1i and think this speaker is also worth an audition - it produces surprising amounts of bass considering the small size of the cabinet. The only drawback IMO is that the quality of the woodwork isn't as good as the Spendor or Harbeth. But if that doesn't bother you, then it's well worth a listen.
You have excellent taste in speakers sir. Its interesting that the Harbeth's metal dome tweeter doesn't make it brighter sounding! Whats your impressions on sound staging and imaging between these three speakers. I used to the the original Harbeth HL-P3 and I thought they were excellent little speakers, but the Spendor's are completely invisible.
Thank you kindly. Yes I agree that the Spendors are invisible, probably the most invisible of the three speakers I mentioned. I had a friend come over the other day and listen to all three and he concluded that if you were to strictly apply hi-fi criteria, ie. soundstaging, detail, musical involvement etc, he would pick the Spendor.
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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You are indeed fortunate to own three fantastic speakers ! Thanks to all for a lively and very informative exchange.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Babyboomer said:
You are indeed fortunate to own three fantastic speakers ! Thanks to all for a lively and very informative exchange.
Bb: Well, just let us know at the end of the day which pair of speakers you have choosen.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Neat is similar to PMC however it is cheaper and the bass is not as low as DB1i. No idea on Dynaudio though.
 

Singslinger

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Jul 31, 2010
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Babyboomer said:
You are indeed fortunate to own three fantastic speakers ! Thanks to all for a lively and very informative exchange.
You're very welcome!

As for your question on Neat/Dynaudio. Neat - I only listened to the Neat Motive 1 which looks great but didn't impress, sound-wise.

I haven't listened to the highly-regarded Petite SX though, but I understand this speaker doesn't come with grilles (or they cost extra) so I crossed them off my list.

I listened to the Dynaudio X12 (I think that was the model number) and found it OK, but it didn't grab me like the others - I thought it was more suited to rock than other genres. The Harbeth, Spendor and PMC were more versatile and because I couldn't decide between them, I eventually (over the space of six months) got all three!

Good luck and happy hunting!
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Hi IV & Ss,
My experience with the Neat is the same as yours. I listened to a stand mounter but not the Petite. As for the Dynaudio I heard both the DM2/6 and the Excite 12. All three did not produce the same ‘wow’ factor as the Spendor did. Think it will be down to the MA GX-50, Harbeth and the Spendor for me. Stay tuned.
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Hi Guys,

I finally had the opportunity to audition the SA1 at home (on loan).

Day 1 - With my home set up the initial impression was quite a bright sound compared with my present speakers. I miss the bass weight of my speakers.... The clarity of the SA1, however, is a few notches up. In comparision my speakers sounded laid back with lots of details missing. The SA1 sounded very clear but also tended to be too aggressive at higher volumes and the vocals sounded "shouty". It was not relaxing.

Day 2 - Experimented several positions but think 22cm from the back wall seems best. Find the balance still on the bright side (maybe my electronics ?) but on extended listening the wonderful characteristics (vocals especially) I heard in the shop emerged. Maybe my ears are getting adjusted to the new sound. Althought I can make out the bass notes (quite tuneful)I still miss bass that I can feel. Maybe the floorstanding A5 may suit my taste better.....

I still have one more day to evaluate.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Babyboomer said:
Hi Guys, I finally had the opportunity to audition the SA1 at home (on loan). Day 1 - With my home set up the initial impression was quite a bright sound compared with my present speakers. I miss the bass weight of my speakers.... The clarity of the SA1, however, is a few notches up. In comparision my speakers sounded laid back with lots of details missing. The SA1 sounded very clear but also tended to be too aggressive at higher volumes and the vocals sounded "shouty". It was not relaxing. Day 2 - Experimented several positions but think 22cm from the back wall seems best. Find the balance still on the bright side (maybe my electronics ?) but on extended listening the wonderful characteristics (vocals especially) I heard in the shop emerged. Maybe my ears are getting adjusted to the new sound. Althought I can make out the bass notes (quite tuneful)I still miss bass that I can feel. Maybe the floorstanding A5 may suit my taste better..... I still have one more day to evaluate.
Strange, it is the first time I hear from someone saying that SA1 is bright. There is no doubt that SA1 lacks the bass department and that is why I supplement it with a subwoofer. Bb is your room has not much soft furniture and is uncarpeted ? Try towing in the speakers bit by bit and you may find the HF will be reduced by a bit. If your ear level is same as the tweeter you may experience more HF than if your ear is well above it.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Babyboomer said:
Hi Inter-Voice,

Thanks for sharing your experience.

I went back to the shops to have a (3rd or 4th ?) audition of the SA 1 and Rx1. You'd guess by now they'd recognize my face
.

I listened first to the A5 then the SA1. Good performance from the A5 (nice bass) but the sound of the SA1 somehow appealed more to me, albeit at a loss of bass weight but good definition of what's there. The shop used a 30W Class A Sudgen integrated and CD player. Wonder if Class A would make a world of difference compared to my Class D .....

Next I auditioned the RX1 with the China made int. amp (hybrid valve) & CD. I can hear that the quantity of the bass is definitely more, treble was ok but the sound was quite different from the SA1. Like you said they are in a different league altogether.

I then ventured to a 2nd listen (hosted by a very friendly elderly gentlemen) to the PMC Db1i driven by Bryston equipment. Found the sound nice but was too bright for my liking in the long run.

Finally, I had my first listen to the ProAc Tabletts Anniversary - sounds nice but like the SA1 not much bass weight. They are more pricey than the SA1 or the DB1i.

With vocals the SA1s are more to my cup of tea. I thought they did pretty well with the Fourplay tracks as well !
The SA1 is not a bright speaker, but is revealing the nature of your Class D. You hit the nail on the head with your above comments. With the right amp (eg. Sugden), the SA1s are my favorite small speaker (in the right sized room). I even prefer them to A5 and A6.

Cno
 

Singslinger

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Jul 31, 2010
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The SA1s require a fair bit of running-in. I emailed Spendor about this and they replied with a rough figure of 30 hours but in my experience, around 50 is needed before they really start to show their worth.
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Hi Inter_Voice & Singslinger,

The SA1 have already been run in and your guess is correct, not much soft furniture except the sofa. Floor is ceramic tiles and plenty of glass surfaces (TV/HiFi console, display shelf & coffee table !!!!!) I heard from the ex-agent that my tweeter’s output reduces by quite a bit over the years. Now I know how much of the high frequencies have deteriorated. It is no wonder that I find the Spendor ‘sharp’ upon switching over as i have gotten used to the sound. My sitting position is about an inch below the tweeter. Moving up to ear level brings an improvement in the soundstage.

I hooked up a Sound Valve 40 watts valve mono amps last evening. The presentation is very different from the class D. With the valve amp the SA1 has a less clean sound, a slightly fuller (fatter) bass but you can hear notes decaying.

Just hooked up with an old 40W NAD C320 amp. Pretty decent sounding I must say.

I can now describe the sound with my Class D amp as more 'clinical' sounding than the other two. Maybe some less than ideal interaction between the two.

Not sure how to proceed. The SA1 are good but as I am not about to add more amps to my collection. Maybe I'll arrange to loan the A5 another day.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
If you have lots of hard reflective surfaces getting a larger speaker is not going to help things, try getting some decent acoustic treatments in place (GIK acoustics) to tame things. I listened to my SA 1 in a very live room when I moved to a new house and the sound was a dreadful mess, now they're upstairs in a much better acoustic and some minor room treatments, you wouldn't think it was the same speaker. I can't think of a better bang for buck way of improving the sound of a system but most people try solve the problem by buying different equipment.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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Babyboomer said:
Hi Inter_Voice & Singslinger, The SA1 have already been run in and your guess is correct, not much soft furniture except the sofa. Floor is ceramic tiles and plenty of glass surfaces (TV/HiFi console, display shelf & coffee table !!!!!) I heard from the ex-agent that my tweeter’s output reduces by quite a bit over the years. Now I know how much of the high frequencies have deteriorated. It is no wonder that I find the Spendor ‘sharp’ upon switching over as i have gotten used to the sound. My sitting position is about an inch below the tweeter. Moving up to ear level brings an improvement in the soundstage. I hooked up a Sound Valve 40 watts valve mono amps last evening. The presentation is very different from the class D. With the valve amp the SA1 has a less clean sound, a slightly fuller (fatter) bass but you can hear notes decaying. Just hooked up with an old 40W NAD C320 amp. Pretty decent sounding I must say. I can now describe the sound with my Class D amp as more 'clinical' sounding than the other two. Maybe some less than ideal interaction between the two. Not sure how to proceed. The SA1 are good but as I am not about to add more amps to my collection. Maybe I'll arrange to loan the A5 another day.
Sometimes in the course of demoing you hit upon a magic combination, and for you, it sounds like a Sugden. IMO You can tinker round trying to replicate it, but often end up disatisfied. I think you should hang on until you can take this route.

I fully agree with Spectre's comments about room acoustics. Anything you can do to deaden the room will help (rugs, canvas paintings, plants, curtains, furniture, bookcases etc).

Good luck with your search for answers

Cno
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Babyboomer said:
Hi Inter_Voice & Singslinger, The SA1 have already been run in and your guess is correct, not much soft furniture except the sofa. Floor is ceramic tiles and plenty of glass surfaces (TV/HiFi console, display shelf & coffee table !!!!!) I heard from the ex-agent that my tweeter’s output reduces by quite a bit over the years. Now I know how much of the high frequencies have deteriorated. It is no wonder that I find the Spendor ‘sharp’ upon switching over as i have gotten used to the sound. My sitting position is about an inch below the tweeter. Moving up to ear level brings an improvement in the soundstage. I hooked up a Sound Valve 40 watts valve mono amps last evening. The presentation is very different from the class D. With the valve amp the SA1 has a less clean sound, a slightly fuller (fatter) bass but you can hear notes decaying. Just hooked up with an old 40W NAD C320 amp. Pretty decent sounding I must say. I can now describe the sound with my Class D amp as more 'clinical' sounding than the other two. Maybe some less than ideal interaction between the two. Not sure how to proceed. The SA1 are good but as I am not about to add more amps to my collection. Maybe I'll arrange to loan the A5 another day.
Good room acoustics can certainly improve your listening environment. I believe you know from the link in my signature that I used quite a bit of acoustic material to tune up my room. My experience tells me that it is much more effective than tunning your system by changing interconnects and speaker cables. Have a good try by using more soft furniture, rugs etc. and you will find a great difference. If you are more kin on acoustics then resort to acoustile tiles etc. Search the web and you can find a lot of discussions on the subject on room acoustics (actually I learnt a lot from these forum including the use of REW software to measure my room acoustic condition).
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Hi Guys,

I finally decided on the Harbeth P3ESR. I must say it's an amazing little speaker. I did not encounter the anomalies I experienced with the previous speaker (which I think was a unfavourable interaction with my Class D amp). The P3ESRs are still running in so I hope the sound would get even better after a while.
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Babyboomer said:
Hi Guys, I finally decided on the Harbeth P3ESR. I must say it's an amazing little speaker. I did not encounter the anomalies I experienced with the previous speaker (which I think was a unfavourable interaction with my Class D amp). The P3ESRs are still running in so I hope the sound would get even better after a while.
It is nice to hear you loved your Harrbeth.

I hope you have put your P3ESR on stands as it will make your music and soundstaging much much better.

Mine (SA-1) is on stands like this:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/64195350@N03/6302494453/in/photostream

Merry X'mas and enjoy your music.
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Hi Inter_Voice,

The P3ERS are on my old Atacama 24SEs stands. I could do with more bass as I know the notes in some of the tracks do go lower and stronger. Guess it's physics as my old speakers are a lot larger. For those tracks that are within it's operating limits the Harbeths can sound fullsome and tuneful. Details and clarity are wonderful (like the SA1 that I've heard in the shop). I may need to experiment with positioning to get the most of the soundstage.....

Merry Christmas to you too !
 

Inter_Voice

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Oct 5, 2010
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Babyboomer said:
Hi Inter_Voice, The P3ERS are on my old Atacama 24SEs stands. I could do with more bass as I know the notes in some of the tracks do go lower and stronger. Guess it's physics as my old speakers are a lot larger. For those tracks that are within it's operating limits the Harbeths can sound fullsome and tuneful. Details and clarity are wonderful (like the SA1 that I've heard in the shop). I may need to experiment with positioning to get the most of the soundstage..... Merry Christmas to you too !
Try filling up the steel supporting tubes of your Atacama stands and you can then have better and tighter bass.

As a matter of interest when I play my music I could not "see" my speakers and they are not in my room. What I can "see" is a live band or orchestra with very clear positions of each musical instruments and location of the singer. I am sure your P3ERS should have very similar charactersitics as my SA-1 once you place them in the correct position.

In case you wish to have better bass you may supplement your P3ERS with a goog quality subwoofer. I am using MJ Acoustics Pro50 MKII and now I have a full range system that can satisfy my ears in all types of music playback.
 

Babyboomer

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Jun 7, 2011
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Here's an update on the sound of the P3ESR after a few days - they continue to unveil new information on my CDs that I had not realised were there. Background vocals are heard easliy and just lovely. After moving the speakers around a little imaging has improved by a fair margin. All in all I am very pleased with this purchase. (The SE24s are sand filled and spiked)
 

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