Audiofix Warana, Sunshine Coast Queensland 1 hour north of Brisbane and Gold Coast

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Notes 008. The D7. 26-02-2013

Hi. Its been a while indeed since I wrote the last listening notes and there would seem to a be a pattern developing... I don't write any notes unless the loudspeaker in question blows me away. The D7s blow me away!!!

Before I get down to the nitty gritty let me just say that as much as Spendor have released a couple of new models and a few revisions in recent history, and they have been fine products, I still gain most pleasure from the Classis Series. Maybe its just me, I want a bit of a well rounded musical sound that has a bit of oomph down low and maybe a mild bit of extra sizzle up top with a typically sweet and natural Spendor mid, and the A line doesn't always deliver that. The A line models tend to be more modern interpretations of the Spendor sound, very flat in response, still with great poise and a fine balance of positive attributes but they don't always grab me at an emotional level like live music does and like say the SP3 and SP2 do. The catch is that the A line and particularly the A9 have stunning bass articulation and in most cases that is coupled with surprising extension. The SP2 as an example has ample and enjoyable levels of bottom end but it can be a bit 'full' at times and just occasionally sounds a bit lost. The other catch with the Classics is the hidden (or maybe forgotten) cost of a quality pair of stands and perhaps they are not the most modern looking things on the planet.

I always wondered whether it was possible to couple the talents of the two loudspeaker ranges into one model or design and whether that either could be done or would be a good thing... Read on as I think Spendor might have done just that or even perhaps taken the whole dynamic speaker thing to another level altogether.

The first thing you notice when heaving these fairly weighty floorstanders from the sturdy packing is (once the weird hessian style bag is removed) the superb high gloss finish over some kind of real wood veneer on the cabinets that in certain lights looks like dark purple. A nice shade of dark, probably very dark purple mind you. You feel a little guilty putting your sweaty hands all over the liquid looking finish as traces of human contact are left no matter how recently you scraped the grime of your palms. On to the listening...

D7 Spendor beside A6r during review by Andrew Hutchison in Audiofix demo room at Warana.

Once sited as per any other Spendor, as shown in the pic above but in this case with a pair of the highly regarded A6 right next door for comparison, a quick switch of cables reveals many differneces. Mind you there is no need for a quick changes in case you somehow forget how the other sounded. These two speakers are quite different, one is a first class performer at the price and the other in my not so humble opinion is a new benchmark in performance per dollar. Initially I was listening to various things on the D7s and delighting in the sense of space, the width and accuracy of the left right staging, luxuriating in the extra information I was hearing in recordings I have been enjoying for a lifetime. Further listening and and I was realising that older more simple/mediocre recordings weren't really much different or improved to what I am used to but big production slick stuff with a lot going on and just simple very high quality recordings were much improved with the little percussion bits and pieces on Donald Fagens Kamakiriad's opening track being beautifully presented and frankly being heard with such alacrity for the first time. I'm not sure I was even aware of them before. This extra information sometimes may come with a hard edge or grain or just a mess of extra noise that doesn't really make music. This is not the case with the Spendor D7, it manages to give the extra info, which with it come extra excitement and a solid step closer to a real live performance happening in your room without either pulling the track apart or falling into the trap that some other high resolution loudspeakers do of sounding less than natural and maybe even having hard edges, hence sounding less like live music which in my memory has no hard edges. There is a very 'free of the box' thing happening here that is very rare indeed in a 3 driver floorstander. On older recordings such as Only Human by Mark Gillespie, the second track (Shake it) has a count in that is very clear indeed on the D7s and not so on other speakers from the Spendor stable, but the rest of the tune largely sounds the same. This I think is a good thing as it is a fairly basic recording on old school equipment from the 70s and I want my cake as well because the music on this album is stunning and I don't want to loose the fun factor for the sake of resolution. What does improve is the sense of the space it was recorded in and the way it was miked up etc because through the D7s one can clearly here noisy guitar amps solidly set in an acoustic space. This is a great insight into the technical aspects of the recording and probably brings you closer to how recordings are made than a live performance as such. I liked this invitation into Music Farm Studio's set up and increased my enjoyment of the listening session.

At this point I thought I would flick back to the old standby A6s and make some comparisions. Holy Sheite, this was like going back to DVD after a steady diet of Blurays Discs. Still enjoyable but every damn aspect of the A6 is much improved in the D7. Greater width and much greater accuracy in the stereo image. Placement is very stable, but the first thing you notice with the D7 is just how lifelike the vocals are. Having said that it definitely as mentioned previously applies more to albums with genuinely good engineering. The bass also goes deeper and is more articulate than the A6. This new fangled tweeter also offers amazing insight and air without crashing around. It adds a lot without over emphasising anything, All typically Spendor, perfectly balanced and wonderfully well judged.

Back to the D7s and hi bit rate downloads. This I thought would be interesting considering the evidence so far that they (the D7s) seem to improve well engineered recordings more so than mediocre stuff. A bit obvious when you think about, simply because better engineered recordings or high rez recordings simply have more resolution that can in turn be unlocked by a higher resolution transducer. A bit like playing a DVD on a normal old panel TV. It looks allright and when you connect up a BD player it looks a bit better as the source material is better and allows the lower res panel to look at its best. Taken a step further, a DVD player on a 1080P full HD TV can only show off so much of the available performance. It is not until one plugs in a Bluray Disc that the full benefit of all those extra pixels is exploited. Even then a better transfer will show the screen in a better light than an ordinary one. Blair Witch Project can only look so good...! So I played the over played Steely Dan Gaucho (24 bit sampled at 96Khz, through NAC172 streamer pre amp off a NAS drive) and for a second thought I was sitting next to Walter and Donald at the desk twiddling knobs. It simply sounded like the last time I listened to a 24 track 2 inch machine playing back 1st generation recordings of actual instruments and singers. So clean, so accurate, so damned lifelike, such ambience in the recording, so many extra clues about Donalds vocal techniques, how he moved around the mic etc. Just amazing really.

To sum up if High Fidelity is the quest to have live music in the home then hi bit recordings coupled with decent electronics and these loudspeakers brings us very close to our goal.

Do not buy any speakers until you have heard these.

Regards, Andrew.

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