Spendor Classic 3/1 Loudspeaker Page 2

The movement of the piano keys, and the decay of the plucked bass strings on this track are served up in a manner that ensures they are distinct and almost tangible. Yet rather than detract from the overall experience they become crucial to the suspension of disbelief. Then, locked centre stage and the focus of the performance is Agnes Obel herself. The ephemeral quality of her voice is recreated beautifully and never feels overcooked.

Indeed, this speaker feels seamless, open and effortless in what it does, all qualities aided by how little cabinet coloration is perceivable. Spendor's approach to speaker design might be more traditional than that of rivals, but it is unquestionably effective, the Classic 3/1 virtually disappearing from the soundstage.

Crucially, when the music goes low, this speaker has the extension and grip to maintain that feeling of realism. 'Simmer', the opening track on Hayley William's Petals For Armour [Atlantic 075678649943] is underpinned by a deep, relatively complex combination of drum and synth patterns. The Classic 3/1 conveys this with a speed and articulation that might well take your breath away if you've been lulled into the belief that this speaker's vintage appearance is any indicator of its overall performance.

True Grip
Bass weight is no less impressive. True, there are similarly-priced loudspeakers – including other standmount designs – that might deliver more outright shove than the Classic 3/1. But never did I feel short-changed as to the extension on offer, in part because of the impressive low-down grip and the manner in which the bass is integrated with the upper registers.

This means that little details which can sometimes be lost in the pursuit of impact are always present and easy to hear. It ensures that the melody played by the bass on 'Repo Man' on Ray LaMontagne's God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise [RCA 88697758652] can be heard as such, rather than simply as 'bass'.


Spendor’s own 180mm (polypropylene derived) EP77 bass/mid driver is joined by a 22mm soft-dome tweeter set into a very shallow waveguide

This helps the Classic 3/1 whip up genuine levels of fun alongside all that reach-out-and-touch realism. Its time in my listening room coincided with a voyage of discovery into the earlier works of Labi Siffre and here it proved to be the perfect listening partner. It captured all the swagger and boisterous energy of 'The Vulture' on Remember My Song [Mr Bongo MRBCD011] in a way that ensured the focus was firmly on the music rather than the technical attributes of the design.

Walk The Line
The behaviour of the tweeter was particularly helpful here as, like a few recordings of this vintage, the track can sound a little thin and bright on the wrong equipment. The Classic 3/1 revealed a richness that went a good way to alleviating this.

Another area where this speaker impressed was its ability to walk a neat line between reproducing the qualities of the equipment to which it was connected and retaining its own positive qualities. On the end of a Naim Supernait 3 integrated amp and Chord Hugo 2 headphone amp [HFN Aug '18] with 2go streamer, the bite and drive of the Supernait 3 and three-dimensionality of the Chord duo were all present and correct in a rendition of Gregory Porter's 'Revival' from the 'Deluxe' Qobuz version of All Rise [Decca 0861978]. This made for a weighty and propulsive presentation without the slightly hard edge this combination of electronics can exhibit at times.

Switch to the fuller sound of Cambridge Audio's Edge A [HFN Nov '18] amplifier/DAC and this Spendor speaker conveys the amp's character without losing its own articulation and rhythmic engagement. And nothing I asked to drive the 3/1 felt like it was being worked hard, which held true for the speaker itself. Yes, pushed to firmly anti-social levels it starts to harden up somewhat. But you can rest assured it will go loud enough for most domestic situations before this becomes the case.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
The Classic 3/1 is a speaker that you buy with your head, but which then goes on to win your heart. This is an exactingly made, classically handsome standmount that should present few challenges to most sensible partnering equipment. It balances tonal accuracy and realism while bringing a compelling feeling of joy to everything you play through it. The result is a classic in all senses of the word.

Spendor Audio Systems Ltd
East Sussex
Supplied by: Spendor Audio Systems
01323 843474