What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Sat, 13 Sep 2003, 2:00pm

Spendor S8e

Tested at £2300

Capable all-round speakers, but they aren’t quite the stars we hoped they'd be

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  • A detailed and even-handed performer
  • fine build


  • Filter a little too much excitement from the music

When we tested the S8es in 2004, we liked what we heard but thought the bass didn't have the punch and depth expected of a product of this type. Spendor put this shortcoming down to the less-than-rigid fit of the mid/bass driver on our early production sample, and modified the arrangement to improve tightness.

As a result, if a clean, clear and unforced sound is a priority for you, these speakers could well be the perfect choice. They're even-handed to the point that they're equally comfortable getting on the funk-bus with Prince or donning a suit and tie for an evening with Mahler.

Our criticisms of bass power and punch are the most part been answered in this current version: Roots Manuva fans will still get more joy from some of Spendor's rivals, particularly the likes of the bigger B&Ws and PMCs at this price level, but for most people the S8es will do enough to satisfy.

A touch more vitality?
So, an entirely clean bill of health? Not quite: while the current-production S8es are undoubtedly better than the originals, in today's market other areas need improvement. Despite a well-judged balance, impressive resolution and refinement, they could do with a bit more vitality: they sound a little lifeless, particularly in the midrange, and that robs even classic Elvis recordings of an appreciable amount of sparkle. And Elvis without sparkle isn't Elvis at all.

Some won't mind trading zest for the control and insight the S8es deliver, but for us that reserved nature means they retain their four-star rating.

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