Spendor S-3/5 Speakers Reviewed

By |

Page 1 Page 2


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.

Additional Resources

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 be a replacement for its illustrious predecessor, even if it will never serve, as did the original, as a BBC near-field/on-location monitor. (With Labour-crony Dyke in charge, we can only expect more Birt-like destruction of what was this nation's greatest contribution to global broadcasting, media and communication.) Worse, there'll be a teensy part of every LS3/5a owner, ex-owner and wannabe that needs to see the vacancy filled. Some of us this to be the new LS3/5a.

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 to be an LS3/5a. But that didn't stop me from comparing the two.

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.

  • Comment on this article

Post a Comment
comments powered by Disqus

HTR Product Rating for Spendor S-3/5 Speakers

Criteria Rating







Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.

Latest Bookshelf Speaker Reviews

Jan 06
MartinLogan Motion 20i, 15i, and 30i Speakers Reviewed MartinLogan is best known for its high-performance hybrid-electrostatic speakers, but those large panels generally command a premium price tag, to...
MartinLogan Motion 20i, 15i, and 30i Speakers Reviewed

Dec 09
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards As 2019 comes to a close, we at HomeTheaterReview.com look back at all the products we reviewed this year and pick the best of the bunch, from affordable favorites to flagship products that make us drool.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

Nov 13
Polk Audio S10 Satellite Speakers Reviewed Every audio junkie might need a pair of speakers like the Polk S10s. Small, dynamic, smooth, sleek, easy to power,...
Polk Audio S10 Satellite Speakers Reviewed

Oct 07
Polk Audio Legend Series L100 Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed On the surface, Polk Audio's little L100 bookshelf may seem like the least interesting offering in the company's new Legend...
Polk Audio Legend Series L100 Bookshelf Speaker Reviewed

Sep 18
Orb Audio Booster1 Micro Soundbar/Stereo Speaker System Reviewed Is it just me, or are TV and movie sound engineers actually getting worse at making dialogue easily discernable in...
Orb Audio Booster1 Micro Soundbar/Stereo Speaker System Reviewed