This review page is supported in part by the sponsors whose ad banners are displayed below

This review first appeared in the February 2008 issue of and can be read in its original German version here. It is herewith translated and presented to an English-only audience through a mutual syndication arrangement with As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end has a link below it to his e-mail should you have questions or feedback you wish to send. All images contained in this review are the property of - Ed.

Reviewer: Ralph Werner
Source: Analog -Acoustic Solid MPX, Phonotools Vivid-Two, Denon DL-103, Ortofon MC Rondo Bronce, Shelter 501 II, Zu Audio DL-103 mod; digital - audiolab 8000CD, Esoteric SA-10
Amplification: Integrated - Esoteric AI-10, Magnat RV-1, Myryad MXI 2080; preamplifier - bel canto PRe 3, Funk LAP-2; power amplifier bel canto M300 (monos)
Sehring 703 SE, Volent Paragon VL-2, Zu Audio Druid mk4
Cables: low-level - Ecosse Baton + Symphony,fis Audio Studioline, fis Audio Livetime, Funk BS-2, van den Hul Integration Hybrid, Zaolla Reinsilber NF; high-level - Ecosse SMS2.3, fis Audio Livetime, Ixos 6006 Gamma, Zu Audio Libtec
Power strip: fis Audio Livetime
Rack: Creactiv & Taoc AS-3, Gerätebasis der Akustik Manufaktur
Review component retail: € 3.590/pr

Even though it'd be easy as pie, I won't preach the historic Spendor gospel. This firm's got tradition; been in the speaker manufacturing jams before I was even born. And then it took me lots more years to first get on the hifi kick before I finally crossed paths with this brand. No, that approach won't fly, not with me at the helm. So here's a better one:

About 10 years ago, I ring a fella with a pair of Cabasse towers in the classifieds. I'm in upgrade mode, hoping to replace my Dynaudio monitors with something more room filling. A brief phone call later and I've got a date for the following evening. Anticipation runs high. Once I enter his flat, curiosity gives way to disbelief. In a 3 x 2-meter shelf, this chap has packed more sodding hifi electronics than certain dealers demonstrate with. The Cabasse towers are properly placed (in free space and in an equilateral triangle, lightly toed in... perfectly correct) but, despite proper height, seem size-wise challenged. Granted, size is relative. In a 60m² living room, slim speaker towers can turn cosmetically depressing quickly. Acoustically too. And that's precisely the owner's issue: he's short on fullness and projection power. He's bought 'em two weeks ago, simply wanting to know how he'd get on.

But sadly he concludes that it's not happening. Well, I can't really help out except to agree. Particularly over my amp which I'd brought (at the time a small Rega), things sound - um, excessively timid. Regardless, the evening is fun. Pointing at big black nobbits looking like refrigerators atop funky stands on the long well over yonder, I simply must know what they are. "Spendor broadcasting monitors" is the self-assured reply. "Spendor, proud negation of the Slimline" I think silently to myself. How he lights up though when I ask for a quick demo I still haven't forgotten. In no time things get moved, rewired, an old Garrard leashed up and "Walk on the wild side" cues up. Oh yeah - I start beaming meself now...

Not his missus though. She's far from amused. I reckon he went after the narrow Cabasse speakers to please her. Two weeks of suffering in his large space ends in fancy rationales on how he can't possibly sell those Spendor monsters. It's the brand-new pretty Frenchies that'll have to go. That's his first misstep into doodoo. Then an interested buyer shows up ("another wanker") and husband dearest proves incapable to talk him into the pretties and clinch the sale. Worse still, both men go on listening to music over the dinosaurs, can't get over how bitchin' they sound and things just about degenerate into white hot male bonding while all the lady of the house wants is to iron her clothes in peace and watch the bloody telly, dammit. After 1.5 hours, I smartly thank my host, flash an apologetic smirk in her direction (to zero response of course) and hightail it on outta there. And a splendid evening it's been, at least for this wanker...

Spendor S 8e is what today's 2-way goes by. And that 'S' doesn't signify disdain for Slimline as the photos prove. Spendor's S-Series of which the S 8e is part dons modern threads without becoming fashionista victim. The charm of fine British furniture is apparent in Spendor's low-key classicism that lacks even a hint of glitz but redoubles with first-rate fit 'n' finish. From high-level veneer, robust terminals and spikes to the minuscule gaps around the driver rings, everything's in proppa order.

Certain shared genes with the dinosaurs (or present-day Classic Series) remain with the mid/woofer. What's visible as a white mirage on the right edge is damping material - and you can see that through the driver because its diaphragm is made of ep38 polymer. Synthetic membranes are erstwhile Spendor tradition. Their chaps claim excellent stiffness-to-mass ratio with optimal self damping properties. Driver central isn't the ubiquitous dust cap but a phase plug while the diaphragm edge shows up the inverted surround.

As per Spendor, that's a synthetic rubber specially formulated for this driver which is developed in house and fabricated in East Sussex/England. I'm surprised by its bandwidth. The tweeter doesn't segue in until 4,000Hz. With an F3 of 44Hz, that makes for 6.5-octave coverage, an impressive feat. The tweeter meanwhile is treated textile, not the most modern of materials but well proven and free of metallic resonance. This unit is a Spendor-specific SEAS affair. What about the enclosure?

While the Classic Series deliberately works with enclosure resonances, the 'S' Series embraces the acoustically dead maxim, implemented with the usual internal braces which further grasp the drivers from the inside to attenuate vibrations.

The rear-firing port is another part of the enclosure and not circular in how it commonly terminates an internal pipe but rather, a wedge-shaped waveguide dubbed '3D linear flow port'. Spendor claims a more linear, turbulence-free air exchange over conventional solutions due to enhanced size and because the ratio of length to width of the opening isn't constant. While I usually hesitate on rear-firing ports, Spendor insists that the S 8e may readily park in close wall proximity. Perhaps.

Be it the venting scheme or what for a 2-way is goodly internal cubic volume; perhaps the long-throw polymer unit - or all of the former: Spendor's S 8e is no hungry waif. I can't imagine getting deeper bass from an enclosure this size. Spendor lists the mid/woofer at a 210mm diameter. That's measured across the basket ring. The moving membrane is merely 150mm which makes the extension doubly impressive. This speaker is well matured and hung. But depth without quality matters little. The upper bass is agile, well differentiated and fleshed out. While not dry as dust, it's anything but soft or cushy. Two octaves higher in the midrange, things are potent and persuasive - voluminous in the best sense. Voices are well grounded, attached to bodies and, when called for, authoritative. Music thus has both feet solidly on the ground.

Way down low, things go a bit soft. That's not problematic as long as a few items are sorted (or not as it were) - including that close-proximity wall placement bit. I'd not sign on that dotted line. Linear flow or not, at 20cm distance, things turn rather too thick. Some experimenting later, the S 8e end up about 90 centimeters into the room which benefits not merely the bass but soundstaging as well. While on soft-suspended long-throw drivers mated to vented alignments, it's not a bad idea to look for low amplifier output impedances, i.e. decent damping factor. Lastly, don't be a pig to park the Spendors on the floor without spikes.

Properly prepped, the Spendor S 8e turns into a darn full-blooded speaker with power and scale. Joe Jackson's LP Big World struck me as a bit lean and wan more than once before. With the S 83, there's swing, energy and foundation to the music to sound a lot better. The other end of the scale, the treble, is equally to my liking. Surprised? Rumors would have it that Spendors and refined trebles don't go together. Granted, I'm not one of the prick-eared jocks who observe chalk board attacks without flinching and call that resolution. My ground rule for the upper octaves is simple. Spare my nerves. Only then and not sooner may one proceed with more. A good ribbon does bring more than Spendor's fabric dome, no doubt. Will it sound as integrated, tonally coherent and seamless as the S 8e though? Rarely. This Spendor two-way is dialed for balance and tonal integration. The S 8e avoids FX like the plague to render 10-minute quickie auditions useless. Don't judge a marathon runner at hundred meters.

Or listen to two different speakers an hour a piece. The one you want to crank up afterwards is the one. Guess which one I'd bank on? Where did I leave off? Treble. Spendor recommends a rather steep toe-in, at least according to the sketch in the owner's manual which looks like 45° to 60°. Here too I didn't follow their advice neither even though I probably did end with between 30° and 40°. Depending on seat height, even the vertical angle can be tweaked by how far the front or rear spikes get screwed in our out. Regardless, the plinth of the S 8e won't budge because the spikes arrive with two counter nuts and the outriggers make for bump-safe floor coupling.

Positioned such, the treble proved open, detailed and non-fatiguing over the long haul. I was particularly taken by the precise focus of the upper band which was free of jittery tizz. If you're hot on femme vocals and visit your local dealer with a stash of fave albums tucked under the arm, you best not listen to the Spendor S 8e without arriving also with a stash of euros worth 3,590. Else stay a homebody and poncefied. It's really a bit sick what this speaker offers. I'll sidestep all the sonic virtues one might mention and go directly for the cherry on top. It's as though voices carried the thinnest of dew layers, a glistening liquid shimmering softly. To call it soft is putting it down too hard already. Think Tau, not Lenor. Never mind. It seems a paradox - both neutral and sexy.

Spendors of course are famed for excellent mids and the S 8e delivers in spades. But let me repeat: it's not spectaculous. Thank gawd. Especially in the midrange, Spendor values realism. Thus piano, guitar, vocals, woodwinds and whatnot simply sound authentic and natural, neither too sharp nor too dull, neither too upfront nor laid back, with a matte and not intense gloss, not overly present. Such a high-wire act refrains from being pinned down by hifi superlatives but makes for long-term satisfaction with a loudspeaker.

Equally well-balanced is the spatial casting of the tunes. Certain speakers play even more liberated and on a grander stage - yet occasionally, they also blow instruments out of proportion. The Spendor S 8e is free of such shenanigans and maintains proper scale. Stage width is good, stage depth excellent. There's localization focus but not with a laser pointer. I get the impression the Spendor designers are more about hanging believable body on sounds, instruments and voices than pin persnickety little cross markers on the sonic map.

Zu Audio's Druid makes for an interesting juxtaposition not merely because I've got 'em in my digs but because, tonally speaking, both play from the middle. Still, they express two very different concepts and sonic ideals. The easiest formulaic description calls the Zu Druid dialed for speed, dynamics and large-scale soundstaging while maintaining balanced tonality whereas the Spendor S 8e turns the latter into the key attraction and virtue.

Guitar riffs over the Zus are more pearlescent, double bass fingerings more detailed, vocalists in general 10cm closer to the microphone. The Spendor guitar meanwhile has more weight and body. Ditto for the bass. And on voices, the Brits turn on their special charm. While the Yanks do well there, the Spendors do better and also erect a more powerful foundation.

The Spendor S 8e is free from affectedness and a very high-class act all around. As humble as that may sound, it's a fat credit and real recommendation. In my view, speakers which impress across the board are anything but the norm in this segment and having the guts to avoid flashiness is rare. A bit more bass here, a smidgeon more treble brilliance here, perhaps a small bump in the presence region - whaddyathink? Fuggedhaboudid.

If you're chasing a pair of speakers at €4,000, listen to the Spendor S 8e and bring more than 15 minutes. Only then switch to another option and ascertain whether something didn't just fall apart. Never mind British understatement - in my opinion the Spendor S 8e is a speaker of the first rank.

  • For a 2-way of its size, the Spendor S 83 goes astonishingly low, albeit a bit soft at the very bottom. Free placement and good amplifier damping are assets. The upper bass is fast, defined and full - but dry as bricks it ain't.
  • The midrange is a true marvel of balance, perfectly integrated above and below for utter seamlessness. Vocals in particular exude a wonderful charm, a natural softness that's hard to find.
  • The treble is open, nuanced and of long-term fitness, i.e. never aggressive or hyper. More resolution and air are possible but this speaker values coherence, not isolated peak performances.
  • The soundstage is of good width and particularly well layered. Localization cues are more about conveying the presence of bodies in a specific place than sweating millimeter precision.
  • This speaker is dynamic, goes loud and remains linear to never tip at elevated levels. She can thus double as a wicked party animal without worries.


  • UVP: 3.590 Euro
  • Dimensions and weight: 925 x 226 x 320 mm (HxWxD), 25 kg/ea.
  • Standard veneers Cherry, Maple, Rosewood, black Ash (Walnut and blond oak 8% surcharge)
  • 5-year warranty
redaktion @

Spendor website