Spendor D7 loudspeaker Page 2

The D7s gave me the kind of imaging and image specificity I associate with small stand-mounted monitors. You know how Brits like to place their speakers close to the front wall; the D7s seemed to want some distance—at least 3'. They worked for me in the relative nearfield, toed in slightly. I suspect that the D7 owner has considerable leeway in positioning them. If your room is long and narrow, you might get away with placing them about 4' from the front wall and very close to the sidewalls.

Over the years, all sorts of materials have been tried for woofer cones. Doped paper. Plastic recycled from old shampoo bottles. Hemp. Aluminum (ouch). The D7's 7" (180mm) mid/woofer has a cone of copolymer (plastic); the 7" woofer—or "LF drive unit," as Spendor calls it—has a Kevlar-composite cone. Kevlar is the stiff stuff used for everything from body armor to bicycle tires to hunting trousers. The 7/8" (22mm) tweeter sports a precision-woven polyamide dome, if that catches your fancy—it's fabric, not metal. I'm more interested in the way the tweeter is built into a damped acoustical chamber, with the dome behind a protective plate of stainless steel. A phase-correcting screen built into the plate is said to allow all parts of the dome to act in a similar, linear fashion, and guards against the prying digits of fool audiophiles.

Spendor describes the D7 as a "2.5-way" speaker. The bottom, bass-only driver has Kevlar-reinforced skins on a lightweight cone and runs up to 900Hz, the mid/woofer up to 3.2kHz, where the tweeter takes over. The D7's overall frequency response is 29Hz–25kHz.

That's the short of it. For more technical details, see Spendor's website, where you can mull such terms as linear pressure zone.

914spend7.bac.jpg

Spendor sonics
In my listening room, where once resided my Spendor BC1s, I noticed especially fine treble dispersion and extension, as well as freedom from any harshness. The treble had a crystalline clarity that put the Spendor D7 among the finest speakers I have heard at any price. I noticed this particularly with piano recordings, such as Simone Dinnerstein's Something Almost Being Said, a collection of music by J.S. Bach and Schubert (CD, Sony Masterworks 798943). I've heard Dinnerstein live, and I must say that the D7s brought her sound and her presence into my listening room.

Then there's the British pianist Christian Blackshaw. The other day, on BBC 3, I heard a live recital of him playing works by Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert. I keep replaying it for this week that it remains available for streaming. Exquisite. I looked up his discography and found Vol.1 of his cycle of Mozart's piano sonatas (1, 2, 8, 9, 17), which I heartily recommend (2 CDs, Wigmore Hall Live 61). Few pianists perform so quietly, so sensitively, without regard to creating a sensation. Awe-inspiring. I can hardly wait for the late Schubert sonatas. Blackshaw is now 65. His playing is comparable to that of Sviatoslav Richter, which is to say that it's otherwise incomparable.

I turned to the Endellion String Quartet's recording of Schubert's quartets 13 ("Rosamunde") and 14 ("Death and the Maiden"), D.804 and D.810 (CD, Warner Classics 664232). Talk about a work to die for—Schubert was soon to do just that. I like stringed instruments to sound bright and lively, yet full, rich, and sweet at the same time. The D7s delivered, though some might welcome a slightly softer tone. It would be fascinating to compare the D7 with Spendor's Classic SP1/2R2.

914spend7.250.jpg The cabinet is well braced but has little stuffing, which may account for the tight, controlled bass and the seamless sound. In no way did the bass lag behind. What I found especially rare about the D7, for a relatively small loudspeaker, was its authority, weight, and speed. You could spend far more for a speaker and not get such a fast, highly resolving sound, and such a sweet midrange. As sweet as the speakers in Spendor's Classic line? Comparing them would be a splendid way to spend an afternoon. I turned to more robust, more full-bodied classical fare.

Carlo Maria Giulini's cycle of the Brahms symphonies with the Vienna Philharmonic has long been a favorite. His Los Angeles Philharmonic cycle suffers from a mediocre acoustic and muddled recording. Both are on Deutsche Grammophon. The Vienna cycle was briefly available a few years ago as Newton Classics 8802063. See if you can pick up that 4-CD set for around $20. Check Berkshire Record Outlet, where it could be a "Featured Restock!" (footnote 1).

Listen to the opening bars of Symphony 1 and the way Giulini drives the music home. (I twice heard him conduct the work live.) Few loudspeakers can convey the power without the aid of a pesky subwoofer or two. Or without pooping out. The D7s could, given enough power.

But how little power?

I was listening mainly with my Quicksilver Silver 88 tubed monoblocks. There, on a nearby table, I spied my 3.5Wpc wonder, the Sun Audio SV-2A3, also tubed. Why not?

The sound was glorious: the life, the space, the resolution. If only there were more power to bring out the Spendor's splendid bass. The sound lacked large-scale dynamics, bottom-end weight and authority. Nice try.

Flea-watt amps aside, the D7s didn't seem overly fussy. The bass control was equally firm with the Quicksilvers, as it was with the solid-state Musical Fidelity M6PRX. Through these quite different power amps, the D7s' sound remained, overall, surprisingly consistent.

Conclusion
The D7 is a splendid Spendor. One might seriously question the need to spend any more than $6495 for a pair of speakers. Goodness knows, I'm no spendswift. Or spendorthrift.



Footnote 1: It is is still available at ArkivMusic, for $27.49, though it's listed as a "Backorder" item; also, all four of Giulini/VPO's Brahms symphony recordings are included in the 15-CD boxed set Giulini in Vienna (DG) for $80.49, also at Arkiv.— Ed.
COMPANY INFO
Spendor Audio Systems Ltd.
US distributor: Bluebird Music Limited
2299 Kenmore Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14207
(416) 638-8207
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
fy415's picture

I appreciate the subjective reviews, but really look forward to the measurements. It's hard to compare different speakers (and other products) when different people reviewed them. Measurements, however, take away a significant amount of confusion and doubt.

John Atkinson's picture
fy415 wrote:
I appreciate the subjective reviews, but really look forward to the measurements.

The D7's measurements are published in the April 2015 issue of Stereophile and are now appended to this Web reprint.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

allhifi's picture

Quote: ...." Measurements, however, take away a significant amount of confusion and doubt."

Indeed, Stereophile's measurements can be very informative --and the magazines regular 'testers' no doubt can "interpolate" specific "data/readings" with subjective impressions.

Personally (with loudspeaker tests) I prefer to see a linear frequency response as wide as possible, but critically in the
50 Hz -to 5-KHz (preferably to 10-KHz) range.
LF loading is absolutely critical, preferring to see a damped (or over-damped) design.

With that said, I wonder if there is a distinguishable "measurement" differences between the PSB T-3, and KEF Reference -1's (same retail value) --and also one's I've auditioned side-by-side many times.

Quite simply, the (current) KEF Reference 1 is in a completely different league than the T-3's --the "subjective" impressions leave the PSB in the dust-bin. There is simply no comparing the PSB T-3 to the spectacular REF-1's (KEF).

Observing the construction details (not to mention million-dollar design investment of the KEF's)reveals impressive attention to (vital) details: Six-to-eight BOLTS, secure the drive-units to the (advanced) baffle board, while the impressive MF/HF driver itself is additionally secured (and strengthened)by a metal-plate (between driver and baffle-board) --again anchored my metal, threaded BOLTS !

(You'd think many/most similarly priced (and more expensive loudspeakers) also bolt the driver's to the enclosure --not so.)

Summarizing, test measurements are an essential tool, but so are design details (as described) that are almost NEVER examined or disclosed. Why ?

peter jasz

JunkyJan's picture

...I'm really tired of being treated like "Well-to-do Professional who knows Law / Medicine / whatever but baffled by technical mumbo-jumbo". Without seeing real measured values, I feel like I am being asked to part with cash based on a review writer's ability to write flowing prose and praise. I am in the market for new speakers at the moment - and I will do some listening tests - but my "candidate speaker list" selection should be based on more than just the most flowery -sounding reviews.

allhifi's picture

Listen to the current KEF Reference -any model.

Search over.

pj

andy_'s picture

Is the absence of measurements a blip, a permanent change to the format of loudspeaker reviews or perhaps something in between?

JunkyJan's picture

No, it's been going on for years. Some (paper)magazines will give you a full technical run-down with measurements as well - "HiFi News and Record Review" used to do that, no idea if they still do. IIRC "HiFi Answers" or "What HiFi" started this "pure subjectivity" trend back in the late 70s or early 80s.

Also remember that test equipment is DARN expensive, and people who know how to operate it even more so. So since the early 80s many magazines went the route of "Bombard the reader with enough pretty euphemisms and the advertisers will shower us with money" (increasing circulation is always the driving motivation).

The problem for me, being on the verge of shelling out the equivalent of (U.S.)$10,000 on a pair of speakers, is that I can no longer stomach the lack of actual measurement to back up however reasonable the claim of the author may be. Without it, it all becomes just one man's opinion :(

brian2010's picture

At current exchange rate these speakers are only $5,500. Only? Measurements in the lab are a part of the picture, I agree. But the part that matters is one's own ear and no measurement is going to make that much difference if you like the speakers. Outside of power handling capabilities I find measurements more than a bit obtuse, but to each their own.

remlab's picture

In the twenty years I've been reading Stereophile, I have never seen a measurement acompanying his reviews. In a way, It's like a having a little, tiny "Absolute sound" subscription!

John Atkinson's picture
Quote:
In the twenty years I've been reading Stereophile, I have never seen a measurement accompanying his reviews.

I don't routinely publish measurements of the products that are covered in our monthly columns. However, I do measure some of these products when I have the time and opportunity, even those reviewed by Sam Tellig. See, for example, www.stereophile.com/content/musical-fidelity-v90-dac-da-processor.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

remlab's picture

.

fy415's picture

"I don't routinely publish measurements of the products that are covered in our monthly columns. However, I do measure some of these products when I have the time and opportunity...."

I think I can understand how columns are autonomous, and don't necessarily follow the same format as full articles/reviews. But what are the chances that a product covered in a column will also be given a "formal" review (and measured in the lab), without the review becoming redundant?

Whatever the reasoning for the current situation re: whether or not a product is measured, it seems unfair (and is certainly frustrating) that, as a reader, I am not able to get consistent and complete information about the different products that I read about. With different writers having different musical/acoustic preferences and writing styles, the technical measurements are the only thing that provides all these different pieces of equipment context, and an even playing field.

I believe I read that a speaker manufacturer (Magnepan? My apologies if I'm mistaken) has repeatedly declined to provide review samples because they don't agree with the magazine's testing protocols (or, to be more precise, their speakers don't "measure well"). That is certainly their prerogative, and readers of this magazine can make their own decisions in response.

But I believe that more effort should be put into lab testing all products that are given substantial coverage in the magazine. In my opinion, measuring only "some" of these products is not adequate, and unfair to the the manufacturers whose products went through the rigors of lab testing, regardless of the results--products with "good" measurements may not receive enough credit for their achievement, and products with "bad" measurements may be unduly punished because their peers avoided the tests.

Is it possible that a manufacturer can exploit Stereophile's practices, i.e., the columns' autonomy (and logistical difficulties in arranging for lab testing), to get a subjecive review published without fear of having its technical deficiencies exposed in a lab test?

John Atkinson's picture
fy415 wrote:
I believe that more effort should be put into lab testing all products that are given substantial coverage in the magazine.

It comes down to resources. As I said, I try to measure some of the products that are covered in our columns, but it is impracticable to measure all such products. As was said in another comment, lab testing is time- and resource-consuming, which is why so many magazines and webzines don't do it at all. With Stereophile, we publish as many measurements as is possible within the constraints of budget and a monthly publishing schedule.

fy415 wrote:
In my opinion, measuring only "some" of these products is not adequate, and unfair to the the manufacturers whose products went through the rigors of lab testing, regardless of the results--products with "good" measurements may not receive enough credit for their achievement, and products with "bad" measurements may be unduly punished because their peers avoided the tests.

That's a fair point.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

GQ's picture

If you looking for measurement, you can see a very nice one in HI FI Critic magazine.

http://www.spendoraudio.com/Images/Spendor%20D7%20HiFi%20Critic%20Sept%202013.pdf

fy415's picture

Thank you for the link to the technical review.

It's not as thorough or as descriptive as Mr. Atkinson's tests and descriptions. The product was most likely tested in a different location, with different equipment, and possibly different protocols. Still, this gives me and other readers a more complete picture of the speaker being reviewed.

Thank you.

To Stereophile: I'd much rather not have to go to different sources for different aspects of a review for every product that interests me. Please, please try harder to publish complete reviews.

remlab's picture

John
Why doesn't Magnepan just use Sam's column to safely shield themselves from your evil measurements? That way, they can be happy and you can be happy!

andy_'s picture

I suspect Magnepan's concerns may be valid about how potential customers may interpret the standard set of Stereophile measurements of their door sized panel speakers. For example, how many manufacturers that have worked hard to get a flat bass response to within +/-X dB are comfortable with Stereophile showing a bass rise in the measured frequency response and their specifications appearing to be false? Despite JA's comments in the accompanying text I am pretty sure it is not going to stick with a fair few readers who have no interest in measurement techniques and the physics of sound.

corrective_unconscious's picture

That measurements with a review of their speakers would reveal proprietary design details. Now, they must mean "widely reveal," because a lot of manufacturers could do such measurements (and more) of Magnepan products on their own.

Magnepan must also mean "certain measurements," because their speakers have been reviewed within the half year in one of the British audio mags which did offer at least some measurements along with reviews.

Perhaps an alternate idea to yours of Magnepan being worried about how readers would interpret such measurements as we find in Stereophile would be that Magnepan is worried about how Stereophile's measurements are conducted.

Richard Vandersteen (among others) has voiced considerable skepticism regarding some of the measurements' procedures and findings in the past, as one example. But he said so openly in the Manufacturers' Comments after allowing one of the II series to be reviewed....

It would be interesting to know for sure.

Roger That's picture

One of the main reasons why I quit buying What-HiFi magazine back in the nineties was the lack of any objective measurements.

That’s one of the major assets of Stereophile, with all the (great) work made by John Atkinson.

Please don’t turn Stereophile into another (near) useless audio resource. It’s not like I don’t value the reviewers opinions (they’re actually fundamental), but without any kind of objective data it’s only that, one informed (but personal) opinion.
That’s great for a column article, but not so great for a review, imho.

Thank you for all your great work.

DaveinSM's picture

I agree! I really, really appreciate John Atkinson's measurements, plus they are always thoughtfully and insightfully explained to boot.

Bluebird Music's picture

Bluebird Music has repeatedly said the D7s are the best speakers Spendor has ever made. We are more than willing to back up this claim by providing a pair of D7s to be measured and tested as you do in your regular reviews. You only have to say the word and we would be delighted to send a pair. Frankly, I would like to see how they measure too! - Jay Rein, Bluebird Music

John Atkinson's picture
Bluebird Music wrote:
We are more than willing to back up this claim by providing a pair of D7s to be measured and tested as you do in your regular reviews. You only have to say the word and we would be delighted to send a pair.

That's an excellent idea. I will publish a measurement follow-up of the D7 in the March or April 2015 issue. (It's too late for the February issue, which ships to the printer on Monday.)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Shangri-La's picture

Does Stereophile have plans to review the Spendor D9? Really interested in the new flagship.

Mark McLaughlan's picture

Hi,

I had a pair of SPENDOR A9's until a year or two ago and liked them a lot except they needed a fair volume before the bass seemed to be at one with the rest of the music - well possibly still not quite "as one".

I am wrestling between the Spendor D7 and the new KEF R7 which sound rather good and look real pretty. Unfortunately the Spendor dealer is in another state so I can't listen to them before committing.

Any recent experience with these two speakers please?

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