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Spendor S3/5R sound compared with S3/5R2 and HLP-3ESR

Discussion in 'audio' started by TheDecameron, Feb 12, 2018.

  1. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    I really like the presentation of the S3/5R and wondered if anyone has had a chance to listen to both it and the R2 comparatively? I really wanted to know if the tonal character was obviously different- particularly if there was more emphasis in the HF with the R2.
  2. droodzilla

    droodzilla pfm Member

    I've had both in the past but I don't think my reply will be terribly helpful.

    I don't remember much about high frequency emphasis, which suggests the two were more or less equivalent. My memory of the 5R2 is that it had a tight, controlled sound, and was quite punchy for it's size. It seemed to project the sound more into the room than the original 5R.

    On the other hand, I found the 5R to be more open sounding, less forward but more "organic". It did decent dynamics when the music required it (I remember a neighbour not being happy about me blasting out a Sibelius symphony one night - irony being she was Finnish herself).

    Overall, I admired the S3/5R2 for the way it navigated the inevitabel compromises of shoebox speaker design, but I never really took to it. I preferred the S3/5R and sometimes I regret selling my pair. A regret I will carry with me to the grave.
  3. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Thanks Drood. I too regret selling my first pair then buying another!
  4. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    IIRC Stereophile compared them and didn’t find much difference. The review will no doubt be online somewhere. I think there is an even newer variant now too.
  5. anuenlil

    anuenlil pfm Member

    God, I thought was the only one loving the S3/5R in this world of Harbeth fandom
    bhazen likes this.
  6. Tony L

    Tony L Administrator

    If I hadn’t spent a lot of time and effort restoring a pair of JR149s and wanted a nice modern mini-monitor it would be between these Spendors, the new Tablette 10 Sigs and the Falcon LS3/5A (which is twice the price!). I’ve always really liked the little Spendors. A very refined speaker that doesn’t fall into the trap of trying to sound ‘impressive’.
  7. regafan

    regafan pfm Member

    I have had both, and used vinyl and solid state. They were both excellent. They majored on tonality, for me meaning classical instruments sounding like real classical instruments rather than an impression of. I think a few people have said the s3/5r was boring, I think they didn't have powerful enough amps. It could sound a bit insipid below 50w a side. I used mostly Quad 303 & 405 @ 50 & 100watts. The S3/5r2 was a bit more all things to all men. It had the same tonality but with more bass and a bit more of everything to use a hackneyed phrase. I found with the s3/5r2 I was analysing music more. It made a harsh sounding record I have, Hergest Ridge sound very nice with a Quad 33 303. With other amps that record sounded more truthful and a bit rough. Strangely with this set up when I swapped to a Croft 25 pre I couldn't detect any difference with the Quad. My only impression, the speakers took what they had been fed and made it sound really good to me whatever the source.

    As an end thought, of the two speakers I remember more fondly the s3/5r, supposedly the weaker one. I found that with classical I wasn't analysing so much, enjoying the tonality and the music and forgetting the deficiencies. Values of these are creeping up, especially with threads like these... however they fell off a cliff a while back when they were discontinued and the s3/5r2 was out. Maybe the rise is also a secondary effect of the ls3/5a madness that continues unabated!
    WillietheSquid likes this.
  8. Witchfinder-general

    Witchfinder-general pfm member

    Also interested in getting hold of a pair of S3/5rs, any recommendation on speaker stands for these? Also positioning, are they ok close to walls?
  9. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    Something Solid SL24 would do well. These are my stands of choice for '7L' speakers.

    Yes, they're fine close to walls. :)
    Witchfinder-general likes this.
  10. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Thanks- useful impression. Like you, it was the reproduction of timbre on classical (as well as the imaging etc) that I loved with the 3/5R. ATC7s just couldn’t match it and I find HLP3ESRs more obviously emphasised in the HF. The challenge for Spendor is that that carefully crafted balance can sound undemonstrative in a comparative dem, yet give long lasting satisfaction after purchase.
  11. Yomanze

    Yomanze pfm Member

    Indeed, other speakers can easily wow during a demo, but the tonal balance and resolving of fine detail of these little Spendor S3/5s is exceptional.
  12. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Did someone get the pair on eBay tonight? I bid what I paid for the last pair I bought on eBay last November but someone bid £40 over my max to get them.
  13. Witchfinder-general

    Witchfinder-general pfm member

    Yes! I bid £444, but someone else got them, at £454, I didn't want to bid higher as you can get new ones now for £700.
  14. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    yes indeed, I had a pair on wall brackets either side of a TV and they worked fine. Later put them on stands close to wall and near to furniture to sides and still fine, so they are tolerant of less than ideal positioning.
  15. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    OK, sprung for a pair of new S3/5R2s. Will report back after Tuesday.
  16. Witchfinder-general

    Witchfinder-general pfm member

    I was about to do the same, you had the series 1 right? Let us know the difference, a new pair at £700 is very tempting.
  17. Witchfinder-general

    Witchfinder-general pfm member

    Well, I got 'em now, for £425, the seller said the highest bidder hadn't been in touch, typical ebay.....Just need some stands now.
    TheDecameron likes this.
  18. matt j

    matt j pfm Member

    I'd like to try a pair of these as well, if for no other reason than curiosity and to compare them with the Tab 10s.
  19. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    I'd be interested to hear a pair of S3/5Rs and S3/5R2s alongside my Rogers LS3/5As and Harbeth HLP3ESRs. Ive a feeling the Spendors are underrated.

    I recently picked up z pair of Harbeth HLP3ES2s in perfect condition for £300. They are very good and I can barely tell them apart from the ESRs. Another sleeper?
  20. regafan

    regafan pfm Member

    I've hardly seen any P3es2s come up second hand, although you often see the esr being bought and sold.
    My understanding is the monitor 20 is now the p3es2, albeit now aimed at the professional market.

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