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Price (when reviewed): 44 990 PLN/pair

Contact: G5 Ropemaker Park | South Road
Hailsham | East Sussex | BN27 3GY


Provided for test by AUDIO CENTER POLAND


Images: Spendor | Wojciech Pacuła

No 207

August 1, 2021

SPENDOR is an English company specializing in loudspeaker production, set up in 1968 by SPENCER HUGHES. Its first product designed with the thought of independent operation in mind was the BC1 model (1969), ordered by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC). We are testing their second model from the top – the CLASSIC 100.

ERHARD HIRT, THE OWNER OF AYON AUDIO, refers to the Krakow Sonic Society as the “Polish Gang”. He does it nicely and gently, as he is a member of the association himself, but his opinion on what we do in Cracow reflects something important, i.e. close bonds between us, even though our opinions on the devices that we test often differ significantly and the debates are frequently very heated. The thing is that, despite the differences between us, we share similar values concerning sound.

It is no different in the case of the so-called “British school of sound”, a mental shortcut which has become a stereotype with time. What does it mean? An attempt to answer this question has been made by the CAMBRIDGE AUDIO company, which is, as we can read on its website, an advocate “of ‘British Sound’ [which has] been at the core of [their] engineering process since [they] began”. There is also a detailed further explanation:

But for us ‘British Sound’ represents audio in its purest form. An unadulterated and true representation of what the artists intended when they first plugged in their gear at the recording studio. For want of a better phrase, we don’t like to ‘muck about’ with the sound at all. But achieving this hasn’t been as straight forward as you might think. It’s been a gradual and combined effort from artists, engineers and hi-fi manufacturers over the past 50 years.

Great British Sound - The Story,; date of access: 23.07.2021.

A nice attempt, isn’t it? To be honest, it does not state what the “British school of sound” actually IS, but what the Cambridge Audio company WOULD LIKE it to be. From a historical perspective, the starting point here is really good, as the phrase in question originated in a studio environment and it referred to the sound of loudspeakers designed at the research studios of the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) and then by companies led by former BBC engineers. At a studio, precision and neutrality are the most desired values.

With time, however, choices made by designers in terms of structure type, cone materials used and loudspeaker tuning, have formed something that is not neutral (as there is no such thing as ‘neutral’) and that can be described using a single term, e.g. the “British gang”. An example of a company that is almost synonymous with both the “BBC school” and “the British school of sound” is the SPENDOR (SPEN + DOR) company set up in 1969 by SPENCER GUGHES and his wife DOROTHY GUGHES.

In the 1960s, Spencer worked for BBC’s research department, in a section testing the usability of plastics, especially polystyrene, for loudspeaker cones. His first design, completed at the time when he worked for BBC and made commercially available after he had set up his own company, i.e. the BC1 model, used transducers in which speakers had plastic cones made from polystyrene type that Spencer called Bextren (BC = Bextren Cone).


THE AUTHOR OF AN ENTRY CONCERNING THE SPENDOR COMPANY, placed in the monograph entitled Illustrated History of High-End Audio Volume 1: Loudspeakers (editor: Robert Harley), started it with the following sentence:

The founding of Spendor Audio by Spencer and Dorothy Hudges and the release of the company’s first speaker, the Spendor BC1 in 1968, launched a new era in audio (Robert E. Greene, s. 61).

He supports is thesis not with flat frequency response in overall balance that, as he says, had also been achieved by other companies before, but with the “elimination of all audible resonances of driver and cabinet in order to produce a truly uncolored sound”. In order to achieve that, a then revolutionary material was used, the abovementioned Bextren.

The BC1 model was manufactured with small modifications until 1994 (!). However, it is not a direct predecessor of the Classic 100 model that we are testing. The one before it was the BC3 model launched in 1973 (my peer :) and sold until 1992. Then there came the SA3 model (1980-1993) and the following one was the S100 (1989-1994). It was not designed by Spencer, who had died in 1980, but by his son, Derek, for whom it is (as we can read in his test published in “Stereophile”) the culmination of his attempts to produce a monitor that could:

Arival the BC1 in midrange neutrality but with a higher sensitivity and a considerably greater dynamic range capability, coupled with a low-frequency tuning that will give a good balance between bass extension and articulation in a typical listening room.

⸜ JOHN ATKINSON, Spendor S100, “Stereophile” Vol.14 No.12, December 1991, read HERE; date of access: 22.07.2021).

Derek Spencer also designed the SP100 model, later also offered in the SP100R2 version (1994-2018). The Classic 100, launched at the end of 2018, is the latest incarnation of the classic design.


WE COULD READ IN PRESS MATERIALS AT THE TIME THAT “the British Spendor has replaced its classic designs that have been known as SP with a new Classic series. Their numbering, however, has remained unchanged (3/5, 3/1, 2/3, etc.) and almost all models, except for one, have the same numbers as their predecessors.” Identical numbers, however, do not refer to the same designs. The cabinet dimensions and proportions have not changed. The already known textile ring dome tweeter (a diameter of 22 mm) has been included to deal with high frequencies in all the models. The mid-range driver and bass driver have been changed.

The Classic 100 are designed to operate as three-way far and medium field monitors with dome tweeters and cone mid-range drivers, paired with a bass driver with a diameter of 310 mm (!). They are to be used at home, where, as we can read in company materials, they will ideally operate within larger living space, connected to a powerful amp characterized by high current efficiency.

When the criteria are met, the Classic 100 ensure absolute sound naturalness, tonal balance, precisely outlined and developed space, as well as a perfect reflection of the power and control of low frequencies. They are designed to be used in an area of over 30 m2, but as it is further stated in the materials, when properly applied, they will sound perfect also in smaller rooms.

The latest Classic series is, as has been emphasized on the manufacturer’s website:

(…) a development of the legendary designs labeled with the symbol SP and another stage in pursuit of model sound neutrality. We have used new mid-range and bass drivers in the Classic 100 model, arranged in a way that is optimal for the operation of the whole configuration. We have also redesigned the cabinet, modifying the internal support elements to cooperate with the new drive units and to reduce unwanted resonances to an absolute minimum.


| A few simple words with…

Owner, constructor

WE ARE CURRENTLY RELOCATING OUR DESIGN and engineering department to our new facility at the Advanced Manufacturing Park in Sheffield (all the bold has been added by the editor – Editor’s note) where I am heading up a new team. Our in-house cabinet manufacturing division (Timberworx) is also in Sheffield - not sure if you know but we manufacture all our own cabinets and we also manufacture cabinets for several other highly regarded loudspeaker manufacturers. When our facility is complete it will include a new showroom and demo facilities. So no pictures yet as it's still a 'building-site'.

Our first priority was to get our new listening room fully functioning (it is not decorated yet!). For this new room we researched, designed, engineered and constructed everything from the ground up - every step of the way we measured and listened to be sure everything was exactly as we wanted with no compromise. It's great for music, representative of a real-world listening space and incredibly neutral. So we can hear fast and easy exactly how anything (amps, DACs, etc., as well as loudspeakers) sounds and behaves. We couldn't live or work without this room!  

Our new Spendor 100 woofer has a two-component Kevlar composite cone. It is very different to the plastic cone woofer we used successfully for over 40 years in the '100'. The new cone is far more rigid and much better damped. It noticeably reduces bass and very low-mid band coloration. It also has much better phase linearity. As a result, the new Classic 100 sounds more even, more articulate, more natural and more 'musical' than ever before.

Our biggest challenge when developing the new Classic 100 was to maintain the natural musical timing and warmth and charm which is at the heart and soul of every Spendor Classic design. It comes from the thin wall cabinet and it has to be in perfect harmony with the music. The structural and material cabinet engineering required to get it just right is surprisingly complex. PS PS


THE CLASSIC 100 ARE LARGE three-way BBC-style monitors with bass-reflex cabinets. The arrangement of the drive units is a bit different from what I have in my own Harbeth M40.1 loudspeakers that I have compared with the Classic 100, as the tweeter is below the mid-range driver unit, which indicates that another type of filters has been used. The midrange is dealt with by an 18-cm driver unit equipped with the EP77 polymer midrange cone and a phase corrector – the cones used to be half-transparent and milk white, while now they are uniformly black; let me add that the reinforced EP77 polymer was already used in models from series D.

I was most impressed by the 31-cm (or 30-cm, according to some materials) bass driver. As we already know, Bextren that has been used so far has been replaced with a composite material consisting of cellulose pulp reinforced with Kevlar fibers. Also the inside, i.e. the dust cap, has been made of the same material.

The basket, just like in the mid-range unit, has been made of a magnesium-based alloy. The drive systems have also been modified. The cabinet is made of MDF panels covered with veneer made of natural wood (there is a choice of two finish colors – cherry and natural walnut. The grille is magnetic and put into a protruding frame at the front, like in classic loudspeakers from the 1970s.

The panels have different thicknesses – the front and back are rigid and thick, while the rest are thin. The mass of individual panels has been selected in a way that allows to DISTRIBUTE vibrations as effectively as possible and not DAMPEN them or, even worse, STORE them in a large mass. Similarly to other BBC designs, according to the company materials, also here the panels are not entirely dull and are tuned to another frequency, both thanks to their thickness and the use of specialist viscoelastic damping pads. What is interesting, the internal spacers that used to make the cabinet more rigid have been given up entirely. The aim is not to accumulate energy inside, but to make it radiate in a controlled way.

Classic studio monitors used to be powered by multi-amplifier systems, so they were equipped with binding posts for each of the drive units – and so is in the case of the Classic 100. Today it doesn’t make much sense, in my opinion, as (again, from my perspective) it is better to use a single terminal. On the other hand, thanks to this solution, anyone who likes to tinker with audio devices can use a single connection, bi-wiring, tri-wiring, bi-amping, or even tri-amping; by the way, I must test such a system once. The gold-plated solid binding posts have been manufactured by the WBT company and we connect them using a silver twisted pair, which is neither convenient, nor technically sensible, but that’s just the way it is…

Together with the columns we can buy the original Spendor Classic 100 Stands that cost 4,195 PLN (2 pieces).

The loudspeakers look absolutely classic and make a very good impression when placed on matching stands. They are solid and look nice. They will match any room – both modern and vintage interior designs.


⸤ THE WAY WE LISTENED The Spendor Classic 100 are an equivalent of the loudspeakers that I have been using for… 10 years! (I had to check the information using my “High Fidelity” archive, as I had lost count). I tested the latter in October 2011, placed on Japanese Acoustic Revive stands and, even though the loudspeakers are not ideal, they have fulfilled all my expectations (more HERE).

The Harbeth M40.1 Domestic (a studio version was also offered) are similar to the tested Spendor Classic 100, even though the two models are naturally not the same. Both have been created by people attached to the idea of BBC monitors. They are both three-way bass-reflex loudspeakers and require placing on stands that are not too tall. Their mid-range and bass driver units are made of a special formula developed by BBC laboratories, even though there are differences in detail. Both manufacturers also use tweeters made by external subcontractors (here: SEAS).

A comparison in numbers:

84 dB, 1W, 1m SENSITIVITY 89 dB, 1W, 1m
350 Hz, (?) kHz CROSSOVER FREQUENCY 490 Hz, 3.6 kHz
35 Hz–20 kHz (±3 dB) FREQUENCY RESPONSE 25 Hz – 25 kHz
750 x 432 x 400 mm DIMENSIONS (H x W x D) 700 x 370 x 433 mm
34 kg/unit WEIGHT 36 kg/unit

Even though BBC loudspeakers can be successfully used in systems with tube amplifiers, a lot of power is needed to drive them and the biggest models sound best, in my opinion, with semi-conductor devices, as this is the way they have been designed. On paper, the tested Spendor loudspeakers seem to be a more convenient load in this respect that the Harbeth ones, offering higher nominal impedance and sensitivity, but in reality it does not make too much of a difference.

Albums used in the test | a selection

⸜ ENYA, Enya, BBC Entertainment BBC CD 605, CD (1987)
⸜ JOHNY CASH My Mother’s Hymn Book, American Recordings ‎B0002362-02 | Compact Disc (2004);
⸜ PATRICIA BARBER, Companion, Premonition Records 522 9632, CD (1999);
⸜ THE EAGLES, Hotel California, Asylum Records/Warner Music Japan, WPCR-11936, CD (1976/2004)

⸜ CLIFFORD JORDAN, Hello, Hank Jones, Eastworld ‎EWLF-98003, „Direct Cut” LP (1978)
⸜ DEAD CAN DANCE, Into The Labyrinth, 4AD/Mobile Fidelity MoFi-2-001, “Silver Line Special Limited Edition | No. 1545”, 2 x 140 g LP (1993/2010)
⸜ DIANA KRALL, This Dream Of You, Verve Records 602507445416, TEST PRESS, 2 x 180 g LP (2020);
⸜ FRANK SINATRA, Sing And Dance With Frank Sinatra, Columbia CL 6143/IMPEX RECORDS IMP6036, 180 g LP (1950/2020)
⸜ JEAN-MICHEL JARRE, Magnetic Fields, Disques Dreyfus/Polydor Super Pols 1033, LP (1981)
⸜ TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO, Misty, Three Blind Mice/Cisco Music TBM-30-45, „Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Limited Edition | No. 0080/1000”, 45 RPM, 2 x 180 g LP (1974/2004)


A FEW WORDS FROM THE LATEST DIANA KRALL’s ALBUM entitled This Dream Of You, played from a Test Press version and I already knew that the tested loudspeakers are unambiguously and deeply BBC monitors, i.e. the sound idiom that they present has more in common with other loudspeakers originally designed for the British broadcast company than with most columns of a different origin. So, we get warmth, scale, excellent differentiation and fantastic image stability. The upper edge of the frequency band is unbelievably smooth and the midrange dominates over other sub-ranges.

However, within that idiom, loudspeakers made by different companies that have been created by different constructors are, well, different from one another. For people who know the history of BBC monitors, are familiar with the technical requirements set for these designs and have experience in listening to loudspeakers made by different companies, these differences are much clearer and have more influence on the end result than the way the “BBC school” differs from the modern approach to sound.

It cannot be shown any better than by comparing my Harbeth M40.1 with the Spendor Classic 100 – two models which are (nominally) complementary. The Classic 100 sound more focused and distanced. Where the Harbeth loudspeakers endow the musical message with power and scale, bringing the foreground forward and letting us almost “touch” the artist, the tested Spendor loudspeakers move everything beyond the line connecting the speakers, limiting the volume of sound and showing it pore precisely, and more unambiguously.

We could clearly hear that while listening to the abovementioned Krall’s album. She sounded more like she was at a studio and not in my room (though this is a studio and not a “room” recording). We made similar observations when we listened to FRANK SINATRA, whose vocal on the only track from the album Sing And Dance With Frank Sinatra recorded onto a 16” transcription disc and not on tape, like the remaining songs, was shown a little further away from myself. This track sounds lower than the rest and has, which is surprising, a more natural color. The Classic 100 instantly showed these differences without a shadow of doubt, perhaps even more clearly than my Harbeth model. The musical message was a little smaller with them, not as vivid as with the reference loudspeakers, but also more uniform as regards its tone color.

I have no doubt that the tested designs are real ‘monitors’, perhaps even more than my own loudspeakers. It is because they outline the edges of instruments more precisely when it comes to their arrangement on the soundstage. At the same time, their sound is incredibly fast, almost as fast as the sound of the Harbeth model, which is absolutely unique and rare. That is why the direct-to-disc recording from the album Hello, Hank Jones, recorded by CLIFFORD JORDAN (trumpet) and HANK JONES (piano), sounded so natural. Recordings of this type usually sound a little bright and there is little fill in them, while the album in question sounds exactly the opposite.

The bass of the Spendor loudspeakers is fast, meaty, saturated and dense. It is not tuned like in the case of my Harbeth model, so the Classic 100 do not create such incredibly large space, but, it seems to me, they are a bit more accurate in the sense that they do not boost anything. Perhaps this is at the cost of the presentation volume and recordings are not that “magical”, but many music lovers will find this to be a better option, as everything sounds more accurate.

As for the tested Spendor loudspeakers, the highs are incredibly silky. Even in the case of really precise recordings, such as the tracks from the album Misty by TSUYOSHI YAMAMOTO TRIO, released by Cisco Records (the predecessor of Impex Records) on two 45 rpm discs, the sound was not brightened up and the attack was not hardened, which happens easily when the constructor wants to simulate detail. The sound of the tested loudspeakers includes both detail and a lot of information. It is not as soft and dense as the sound of the Harbeth loudspeakers, but, as I have already mentioned, these are two different designs.

It is thanks to such positioning of the treble that the tested loudspeakers can be listened to for hours. This is something that is true for all BBC designs. The Spendor Classic 100 go deep into the tissue of recordings and thus let us learn a lot about them, but never cross the line which separates real learning from stupidly bombarding the listener’s head with information, i.e. from learning without pleasure. The Classic 100 entertain to teach, while the Harbeth loudspeakers teach to entertain.

So, the tested loudspeakers yield nice, dense and also precise bass, and silky treble that is filled with information, but after each subsequent album and each listening session, we will reach the conclusion that the midrange is most important here, but not because it is especially exhibited. As I say, we are talking about real monitors that could be placed in any recording or mastering studio. So, the reason is that we obtain the most information from the midrange and that it is characterized by the highest resolution. In this context, both bass and the treble would only be an addition to supplement and enrich it.

The 3D images of vocals and instruments are deep, but due to the fact that the whole foreground is shifted away from us a bit, they are not especially vivid. Precision is the element that matters more in them. It is because of this that the loudspeakers so perfectly and outstandingly show the differences in phrasing, tone color and slight phrase shifts. All of these are vital elements of the album Into The Labyrinth by DEAD CAN DANCE, released by Mobile Fidelity on 140 g vinyl and cut from digital files. It sounded incredibly good with the Classic 100, as far as scale, tone color, dynamics and the ability to build tension are concerned.

Let us also remember that considering the warmth, density and silkiness of sound of the tested monitors, the Spendor Classic 100 are incredibly fast. I mentioned that in the context of a direct-to-disc album, but Hotel California by THE EAGLES played from a Japanese CD sounded explosive, powerful, with the almost iconic beat played on the kettledrum in the right channel since the very beginning, which sounded as if the drums were placed really somewhere near me.


THE SPENDOR CLASSIC 100 ARE BEAUTIFUL LOUDSPEAKERS. If somebody would like to learn what the “monitoring” of recordings is all about, they should definitely listen to the tested model. At first sight, they may seem less attractive than 99% of modern designs, as their bass and highs are not as prominent as from many other loudspeakers (even smaller ones). However, this is just a false impression – both the bass and highs are excellent here, and carry a lot of information with them. The bass of the Spendor loudspeakers is not that saturated and does not go as low as in the Harbeth M40.1 model, but seems more precise and better defined.

One could listen to the tested loudspeakers for hours without getting tired, but still we will always be aware of the fact that we are listening to real music and not to “Muzak”. Their most important sub-range is the midrange which is, however, neither tuned up, nor warmed, which could be said about my loudspeakers. So, the foreground is situated a little behind the line connecting the loudspeakers, while the depth of the sound stage is really good. The musical message focuses rather on the axis, while sounds at the sides of the loudspeakers only reach our ears if the given recording has been made that way.

The Spendor Classic 100 feature the classic British sound in which emotions are drawn from the midrange – though here the midrange is perfectly complemented by the frequency range extremes. The Harbeth M40.1 loudspeakers, which I compared to the tested model, produce larger sound and go lower in bass that is much more saturated in them and even “tuned up” a bit. As far as speed is concerned, when compared to the Spendor Classic 100, most other loudspeakers sound as if they were out of breath, even if they pretend to be as quick as a lightning. Combined with beautiful tone color, this guarantees the highest quality sound for very little money. So, we are awarding the tested loudspeakers with the GOLD Fingerprint – our highest award, reserved for top of the range devices only.

Technical specifications (according to the manufacturer)

Description: 3-way stand mount speakers
Enclosure type: twin port reflex loaded
HF driver: 22 mm ring-dome liquid-cooled unit
MF driver: 180 mm, EP77 polymer cone
LF driver: 310 mm, paper-Kevlar® composite cone
Sensitivity: 89 dB (1 W / 1 m)
Crossover frequency: 490 Hz, 3.6 kHz
Frequency response: 25 Hz – 25 kHz
Nominal impedance: 8 Ω
Amplifier: 25-250 W
Dimensions: (H x W x D) 700 x 370 x 433 mm
Weight: 36 kg/ pc
Finishes: natural walnut, cherry


Reference system 2021

1) Loudspeakers: HARBETH M40.1 |REVIEW|
2) Line preamplifier: AYON AUDIO Spheris III Linestage |REVIEW|
3) Super Audio CD Player: AYON AUDIO CD-35 HF Edition No. 01/50 |REVIEW|
4) Stands (loudspeakers): ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom) |ABOUT|
5) Power amplifier: SOULUTION 710
6) Loudspeaker filter: SPEC REAL-SOUND PROCESSOR RSP-AZ9EX (prototype) |REVIEW|
7) Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|


Analog interconnect SACD Player - Line preamplifier: SILTECH Triple Crown (1 m) |ABOUT|
Analog interconnect Line preamplifier - Power amplifier: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RCA-1.0 Absolute-FM (1 m) |REVIEW|
Speaker cable: SILTECH Triple Crown (2.5 m) |ABOUT|

AC Power

Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - SACD Player: SILTECH Triple Crown
Power (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Line preamplifier - ACOUSTIC REVIVE
Power Reference Triple-C (2 m) |REVIEW|
Power cable | Mains Power Distribution Block - Power amplifier - ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 |ARTICLE|
Power cable | Power Receptacle - Mains Power Distribution Block: ACROLINK Mexcel 7N-PC9500 (2 m) |ARTICLE|
Power Receptacle: Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE |REVIEW|
Anti-vibration platform under Acoustic Revive RTP-4eu ULTIMATE: Asura QUALITY RECOVERY SYSTEM Level 1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RPC-1 |REVIEW|
Power Supply Conditioner: Acoustic Revive RAS-14 Triple-C |REVIEW|
Passive filter EMI/RFI: VERICTUM Block |REVIEW|


Speaker stands: ACOUSTIC REVIVE (custom)
Hi-Fi rack: FINITE ELEMENTE Pagode Edition |ABOUT|
Anti-vibration platforms: ACOUSTIC REVIVE RAF-48H |ARTICLE|

  • HARMONIX TU-666M "BeauTone" MILLION MAESTRO 20th Anniversary Edition |REVIEW|


Phono preamplifier: Phono cartridges: Tonearm (12"): Reed 3P |REVIEW|

Clamp: PATHE WINGS Titanium PW-Ti 770 | Limited Edition

Record mats:


Headphone amplifier: AYON AUDIO HA-3 |REVIEW|

Headphones: Headphone Cables: Forza AudioWorks NOIR HYBRID HPC