Spendor Classic SP100R2 loudspeaker Measurements

Sidebar 3: Measurements

The Spendor Classic SP100R2 loudspeaker was measured with DRA Labs' MLSSA system, using a calibrated DPA 4006 microphone to measure the speaker's frequency response in the farfield, and an Earthworks QTC-40 mike for the nearfield responses. The Spendor's voltage sensitivity is specified as 89dB/W/m, a little higher than my estimate of 88.2dB(B)/2.83V/m. The impedance is specified as 8 ohms with a minimum of 5.5 ohms; the solid trace in fig.1 indicates that the impedance remains above 8 ohms for almost all of the audioband, with a minimum magnitude of 5.95 ohms at 171Hz. Though the electrical phase angle (dotted trace) sometimes reaches extreme values, this is always when the impedance is high, ameliorating the increased demand for current. With its slightly-higher-than-average sensitivity and benign impedance, the Spendor should work well with low-powered tube amps.

The traces in fig.1 are free from the small discontinuities in the midrange that would indicate the presence of panel resonances. Nevertheless, the response of the SP100R2's cabinet to the knuckle-rap test was very lively, and testing with an accelerometer found a number of high-level resonances. Fig.2, for example, taken at the center of the rear panel, shows strong modes at 324 and 258Hz, and a weaker one at 211Hz. All three resonances could be detected on all the speaker's panels, and I must admit to some surprise that Art Dudley noted no specific coloration that could be laid at the feet of this behavior. I wondered, however, if these modes contributed to the speaker's warm tonal balance, especially as AD did note some overhang with low-bass notes.

Fig.1 Spendor Classic SP100R2, electrical impedance (solid) and phase (dashed) (2 ohms/vertical div.).

Fig.2 Spendor Classic SP100R2, cumulative spectral-decay plot calculated from output of accelerometer fastened to center of top panel (MLS driving voltage to speaker, 7.55V; measurement bandwidth, 2kHz).

The saddle centered at 24Hz in the impedance-magnitude trace suggests that this is the tuning frequency of the two ports on the front panel. There is the expected notch in the woofer's nearfield output at that frequency (fig.3, blue trace), which is where the back pressure from the port resonance holds the woofer cone stationary. However, the ports' output (red trace), scaled in the ratio of the square root of the radiating areas to that of the woofer, is a little lower in level and extends over a wider bandwidth than I anticipated. The rise in the woofer's response in the midbass is primarily an artifact of the nearfield measurement technique; the woofer alignment appears to be somewhat overdamped, which is why AD found the speaker to sound a little lean until he could optimize the placement in his room.

Fig.3 Spendor Classic SP100R2, acoustic crossover on HF axis at 50", corrected for microphone response, with nearfield responses of midrange unit (green trace), woofer (blue), and port (red) respectively plotted below 500Hz, 350Hz, and 600Hz.

The woofer's upper-frequency rolloff is well controlled, and the crossover to the midrange unit appears to be set between 500 and 600Hz, with symmetrical third-order slopes. The midrange unit's and tweeter's outputs (green trace) are basically flat from 700Hz to 21kHz, though with three small peaks visible at the bottom of that range. These peaks are also visible in the overall response on the tweeter axis, averaged across a 30° horizontal window (fig.4). While small peaks and dips in a speaker's response tend not to be noticed as such when of equal amplitude and width, I could hear the lowest-frequency peak with the MLSSA pseudo-random noise signal as a touch of squawkiness. With the small peak in the bass due to the nearfield measurement technique, the low frequencies will actually be flat down to 40Hz or so, but without full reinforcement from the ports in the octave below that frequency. This is sensible design, given that there will be boundary reinforcement of the low frequencies in rooms of small to medium size.

Fig.4 Spendor Classic SP100R2, anechoic response on HF axis at 50", averaged across 30° horizontal window and corrected for microphone response, with complex sum of midrange, woofer, and port nearfield responses plotted below 300Hz.

The Spendor's treble is actually commendably flat, and not shelved down as I was expecting from AD's description of the speaker's balance as "warm." Again, I wonder if the warmth stems more from the cabinet's behavior than from the anechoic response, but the SP100R2's lateral dispersion (fig.5) reveals a lack of energy off axis that coincides with the presence-region notch in the tweeter-axis response. I imagine this is a result of the limited dispersion of the 5" midrange drive-unit in the region below its crossover to the tweeter—a high 5kHz, according to the specification. The vertical-dispersion plot (fig.6) indicates that the SP100R2 is relatively fussy about listening axis, though the balance doesn't change significantly over a ±5° window centered on the tweeter axis. The stands used should be tall enough to place the listener's ears between the top of the woofer and the midrange unit's dustcap.

Fig.5 Spendor Classic SP100R2, lateral response family at 50", normalized to response on HF axis, from back to front: differences in response 90–5° off axis, reference response, differences in response 5–90° off axis.

Fig.6 Spendor Classic SP100R2, vertical response family at 50", normalized to response on HF axis, from back to front: differences in response 15–5° above axis, reference response, differences in response 5–15° below axis.

Turning to the time domain, the Spendor's step response on the tweeter axis (fig.7) reveals that its tweeter is connected in inverted acoustic polarity, its midrange and woofer in positive polarity. The decay of each drive-unit's step blends smoothly with the start of that of the next lower in frequency, suggesting optimal crossover design. The SP100R2's cumulative spectral-decay plot (fig.8) is clean in the region handled by the tweeter, but a ridge of delayed energy is evident at 2.3kHz.

Fig.7 Spendor Classic SP100R2, step response on HF axis at 50" (5ms time window, 30kHz bandwidth).

Fig.8 Spendor Classic SP100R2, cumulative spectral-decay plot on HF axis at 50" (0.15ms risetime).

I must admit to some puzzlement over the Spendor SP100R2's measured performance, especially as, other than having tighter, better-controlled low frequencies, it doesn't appear to perform as well as Spendor's S100 from 20 years ago. Certainly, these measurements don't indicate why AD liked the speaker as much as he did. An enigma.—John Atkinson

Spendor Audio Systems, Ltd.
US distributor: Bluebird Music
40 Sonwill Drive
Buffalo, NY 14225
(416) 638-8207

OneMic's picture

The crossover frequencies are ~ 620 Hz and ~ 3200 Hz .  It's misstated in the article at 55 Hz and 5000 Hz and also in the specifications page at 500 Hz and 5000 Hz.  Just thought I would bring this to the editors attention. 

Also who would ever choose to use a 7" driver to cover 620 Hz to 3200 Hz ?  That shit is crazy as the directionality of the woofer from 2KHz to 3.2KHz creates a huge dip in the off axis power response. 

On paper this speakers looks like a blunder.  I think JA summed up this review the best: An enigma. 

John Atkinson's picture

The crossover frequencies are ~ 620 Hz and ~ 3200 Hz .  It's misstated in the article at 55 Hz and 5000 Hz and also in the specifications page at 500 Hz and 5000 Hz

You can see from fiig,3 in the measurements that the crossover between the woofer and midrange unit is set between 500 and 600Hz. The off-axis suckout at 3900Hz in the vertical dispersion plot (fig.6) suggests that this is the crossover frequency between the midrange unit and tweeter.

I'll correct the "55Hz" in the article.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

jcjuice's picture

i'm not put out by the strange measured results - to me this only adds to the theory that something can measure "strangely" and sound wonderful, just like something can measure techincally well and not sound appealing at all!

Measurements are useful - but I will always buy a loudspeaker based on what it tells my ears, not what it tells a microphone inside an anechoic chamber...

zettelsm's picture

Art certainly got it right with his review of the Spendor SP100s. I lived with the previous incarnation of the SP100s for several years, and though they moved on to a new home when I completed my Edgarhorns, I still consider the Spendors to be one of the great music-listener's speakers of all time. Clarity, coherence, and a musical rightness that too few speakers seem to get nowdays.

Steve Z 

jimmieg's picture

My room is 12X11.5X12....not a listening room someone would design from scratch, But it is a dedicated listening room and it sounds surprisingly good. I often wonder about a larger speaker, the goal being a bit more dynamics and more bass than my current Totem Model One Signatures. I am able to sit about 7 feet from the speakers, while giving them about 3 feet of distance from both side and rear walls. Would this speaker likely be too big for my room?