There's nothing to suggest tongue-in-cheekiness at Spendor, no tradition of wry mickey-taking. Spendor is not the sort of company to issue a speaker with '-zilla' as its suffix nor release a system with a grille bearing a reptile print or disguise a speaker as a vase or a table. But clearly there's a mischievous soul within the organisation, a lateral thinker who came up with a new mini-monitor just oozing chutzpah. And it starts with the name. Or maybe the cabinet.
When a model's nomenclature features numbers including a '3' and a '5' separated by a '/', and there's even an 'S' in there for good measure, you have every right to assume that the company wants to put you in mind of the LS3/5a. And while Spendor was hardly its most fervent devotee - that honour will forever remain with Rogers - the company did make LS3/5as for years and can boast as solid and genuine a BBC-linked heritage as any brand in the UK. But the S-3/5 has one other not-too-subtle connection to the greatest mini-monitor of all time: its cabinet is, effectively, an LS3/5a's box
rotated 90 degrees, so it's narrow and deep, instead of wide and shallow. And when you first lift one out of its shipping container, you can't help but think that maybe the clock has been turned back and KEF has seen the error of its ways and the prodigal son has returned.
Closer examination, though, reveals that this couldn't possibly be an LS3/5a. The grill, for openers, floats away from the baffle instead of fitting flush into a precisely measured recess. Remove it and you will see a Vifa-made 19mm soft dome tweeter, above a Spendor-made 130mm filled homopolymer woofer. Categorically, this is not even the wildest stab at being an LS3/5a surrogate, dimensions, badge and 3/5ths of the name being as far as it goes.
So why am I banging on about this spurious relationship? Because you can't help feeling that, whatever Spendor's sensible and honest protestations to the contrary, this
But dissimilarities continue, despite an equally hungry 84dB/1W sensitivity. For openers, the impedance is 8 ohms, not 15. It's magnetically shielded, making it most definitely a chid of the home theatre era. The S-3/5 can handle 70W and go louder than any LS3/5a I've ever dared to abuse. Bi-wirable through gilded binding posts, it has a crossover operating at 4.5kHz and doesn't use a deceptive hump at around 125Hz to fool you into thinking it has bass. Quite obviously, this speaker has no deep bass at all and makes no attempts to convince you otherwise; Spendor states 70Hz-20kHz (+/-2dB). If ever a speaker screamed for a subwoofer, the S-3/5 is it.
Its 305x165x180mm (HWD) sealed enclosure arrived with a light cherry finish, but you can opt for rosewood, burr walnut or bird's eye maple. It looks too modern to be confused with its 25-year-old sibling (not 30-plus as another magazine would have you believe). Each weighs 4.7kg, and a pair - matched to within 1dB - will set you back an un-LS3/5a-like £499 per pair. The speaker is too unfussy, too easy to match, too easy to site, too easy to
Having fooled around with the sort of amps to which a speaker in this price category would be mated, I quickly grew bored with the sheer predictability of it all: this speaker loves British solid-state integrateds, 50W/ch push-pull tube amps and 5x50W multi-channel Japanese A/V amps. It is so apt, so 'right' for the majority of amplifiers out there that it was in danger of becoming anonymous. So I shoved the leads into something more telling, more revealing, more challenging...and more likely to highlight the differences (or maybe even similarities): the mighty McIntosh MC2000 limited edition tube behemoth, £15k's worth of valve glory and with a sound so sweet and seductive that you could stay there for weeks at a time, like nestling in-between a pair of Russ Meyer's preferred-calibre breasts.