Back in the October 2008 issue of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision Arcaydis's SM35As won a lot of admirers.
Not for their looks, which are as retro as they come, aping as they do the legendary BBC LS3/5A speaker.
We loved the 35As' wonderfully expressive midrange and naturalness. Weaknesses noted were a lack of punch and the inability to play particularly loudly.
The SM35Cs aim to change all that without spoiling the good bits. You know what? Arcaydis has succeeded.
The price has gone up by £100. That premium buys a new mid/bass driver and revised crossover network. These changes increase sensitivity by 1dB to 87dB/W/m, almost halve impedance (now 8ohms) and reduce power handling (down from 100W to 70W).
Retro appearance much the same
In all other respects the speakers remain the same as the original with a sealed birch play enclosure that feels very solid. It would be nice if some of the edges weren't so sharp, though.
These are one of the few speakers around that sound perfectly comfortable close to a rear wall, with the bass-end staying precise and articulate.
Once properly partnered and sited – we used a combination of Cyrus CD 6se and Roksan's Kandy K2 integrated amplifier – these speakers sing.
Listen to Bizet's Carman Suite and the SM35Cs will deliver subtlety and dynamics to great effect. Sure, tonal purity isn't up to the standards set by ATC's SCM11s, but midrange fluidity and bass definition are hard to fault.
These speakers stand just 30cm tall, but they have no trouble filling small-to-medium rooms with sound. Switch to the White Stripes and they show they can rock out when required. Fine timing and a decent detail resolution complete the deal.
If you're after a small pair of speakers that are unfussy about positioning yet supremely talented give the SM35Cs a go. They're one of the best around.