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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. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    It’s very difficult not to acquire another pair of LS3/5as...
  2. PhilofCas

    PhilofCas pfm Member

    As I said earlier up the thread, I’d ordered a sub to go with same speakers as Dec’s, well it came a short while ago (BK XLS200), done only the most basic of setup, but must say what a difference it’s made. There’s another thread running about subs, I posted in there to say it’s a profound change, and it is. Will come back with more comments in a few days or so, but initial thought is that I should have got one years ago.
  3. WillietheSquid

    WillietheSquid pfm Member

    I’ve used sub-woofers on & off (mostly off) for almost 35 years. Always self-powered. Damned if you do ...

    I’ve owned two loudspeakers that didn’t ‘need’ a sub-woofer: Tannoy System 15DMT MKII studio monitors, and more recently, Spendor S100s. ... not a monitor but a full range home hifi loudspeaker. The Tannoys went flat down to 40 hz, spec said 38 hz, and then fell off precipitously. That was sufficiently low for my purposes. Other audio hobbiests desire even greater foundation. I’m rather new to the Spendors ... they give the impression of going even lower ... perhaps 32 hz in room?

    Both loudspeakers impressed with greater integration / seamlessness of low bass frequencies than any satellites / sub-woofer system I’ve put together. I am not willing to go to any lengths in this arena.

    Early years: Audio-Pro
    After 2000: REL
    The were quality subs for their times.

    I’ve had various loudspeakers that ‘could use’ a sub-woofer. For many years, when I attempted to blend a self powered sub-woofer into a system, I allowed the satellites to run full range and then subtly ‘add in’ low frequency at an appropriate frequency and output level. I aimed for a dry sound approach. I was attempting to maintain, insofar as possible, the original character of the satellites. I didn’t want the sub electronics nor audio output to ‘impact’ the satellite.

    Infrequently it worked well; more frequently it was just passable. Why?

    IMO ...
    1. Even if the frequencies between sub and satellites blend well, the dynamics rarely match well;
    2. The room ‘fights’ or resists the blending with locational modes; one can ‘measure’ or use ears ... but the best locations might not meet WAF;
    3. Differential materials in sub and satellites; I think a big deal when one gets into the subtleties of high end hi fi.
    4. As mentioned above, additional / different electronics in the sub;
    5. If there is a BBC hump, one requires electronics the can blend with the hump, or avoid the hump by filtering at a higher frequency;
    6. If discussing mini-satellites, then the sub output should be ‘reaching’ up towards 85 hz, 100 hz, or higher; and it is a rare (or non-exinsistant?) sub that can ‘truly’ start / stop without overhang at those higher frequencies;
    7. Get into electrostatic satellites (Quad 57s), and it’s possible to add weight and foundation (I’ve done it) but the subtle magic / immediacy / transparency of the Quad 57s disappears. Sort of defeats the purpose.

    It’s difficult.


    The 70 hz figure was not my choice; it was the ‘fixed’ compromise that the sub manufacturer used to reduce satellites audio output ... probably based on the strengths of sub’s product design. It just happens to work very well in my room with the Nait 2.

    Panderos likes this.
  4. MikeMA

    MikeMA pfm Member

    Dec, are you using any sort of room correction with your sub? I use a DSpeaker Antimode (BK sell them) with BK200s (with HLP3 ESRs and LS35/As) and find it makes sub placement much less critical, reduces room modes, and generally tightens things up. You may even find you need to increase the sub's gain a bit, and you can certainly run it a bit louder if you want without exciting room modes.

    Also have you noticed how the impact of the sub isn't confined to the low frequencies? It seem to open up the sound stage and gives an increased sense of "airiness". It's interesting to get someone to switch the sub off in the middle of a piece of music while you are listening. The sound stage just seems to collapse in on itself.

    Are you finding the BK400 a good match with your speakers? I was tempted to go down that route but thought it might be too big to integrate well with the small Harbeths, so opted for the BK200s instead. I've often wondered if I did the right thing!
    Panderos likes this.
  5. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Hi Mike, so far just using it natively without room correction- I’m utterly inexperienced with subs! The effect you describe of just subtly floating the S3/5Rs and opening everything out, is the place I hope to get to. Next step is to try the sub in the room with the Spendors either side of the fire place, where the floor’s suspended and the walls lath and plaster and there are neighbours in the building. I’m guessing I’ll need to keep the gain low!
  6. PhilofCas

    PhilofCas pfm Member

    Tried a few methods of dialling in the sub, got best results just last few days, crossover set between 60hz and 70hz, gain only about a quarter way round its travel, phase at 0 degrees. Gives strong bass, seemingly integrated nicely, has really added an extra dimension to the sound, really gives deep and tuneful bass, a solid underpinning to the rest of the range. Brilliant bit of kit, made a big difference in my enjoyment of music, nice!
  7. PhilofCas

    PhilofCas pfm Member

    Christ, just flicking through Spotify, windows rattling with No Roots by Alice Merton, deary me, brilliant example of why subs were invented!
  8. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    Is anyone listening to S3/5Rs at a desk? They look so tiny in Dec's pictures it doesn't seem completely unfeasible.
  9. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Curiosity got the better of me and Ive just bought a pair of Spendor D1s ( to add to the collection of S3/5R, S3/5R2 and HLP3ESR). They’ll be up against the S3/5Rs this week for the start of a four way shoot out. I can load the D1 SAM onto the Devaliet to see what it does with them. I’m interested to see if the pricing reflects a meaningful uplift in SQ over the S3/5R variants, which (imho) already get so many things right.
    PhilofCas likes this.
  10. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    heard a s3 /5r some years back and always remember how good they were . would love to compare to my p3esr
  11. Seanm

    Seanm pfm Member

    Dec are you still using the sub?
  12. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Yes, in a kitchen/ sitting room set up for the telly. The acoustics are bad because of a lot of glass, big tiled floor and stonework, so it’s not been easy to assess its value, other than it adds bass. I need to use it in another room where I listen to music with Spendors or HLP3s. Oddly, when I was selling my HL-K6s, I tried them in the kitchen and forgot the sub was still on- that combination sounded really good!
    I’m not confident with getting the crossover frequency and phase right. Might resort to test tones and an spl measurer.
    Panderos and Seanm like this.
  13. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    Excellent thread....looking forward to your observations.
    I did a 3-way with: Spendor S3/5R2, Stirling LS3/5a V2, MAD 1920S monitors. Unfortunately, I couldn't find Harbeths P3ESR to add to the mix.
  14. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Did you write that up on a forum? If not- get busy! :) BBC style mini monitors are crack cocaine to me.
  15. ampedup

    ampedup Lost in audio

    I'll do a write up in this thread, but Decameron, you have the stage presently. I don't want to influence your experiences.
  16. TheDecameron

    TheDecameron Unicorns fart glitter.

    Swapped the S3/5Rs for the D1s. Very interesting. The first two things that struck me were something of a slight nasal colouration and relief that finer treble quality didn’t come at the expense of marketing-led HF lift. For me the S3/5R to the R2 is similar to going from the pre-Cirkus to a Cirkus bearing. The D1 is a new sub-chassis. The good, recognisable stuff is still all there, there’s just more refinement both in SQ and build. Need to do some extended listening then switch back to the Rs.
  17. twotone

    twotone pfm Member

    I've had both (s3/5r2 classic) and IMO they're as good as the p3esrs although I didn't have them both at the same time, personally I'd buy the Spendors before buying the Harbeths cause there's not £600 (SH) of a difference IMO.
    PhilofCas and hifinutt like this.
  18. hifinutt

    hifinutt hifinutt

    yes the harbs are getting a tad pricy now
    twotone and PhilofCas like this.
  19. JustJohn

    JustJohn pfm Member

    I think I've finally settled on the S3/5R2s. You may laugh, but they really came on song when I replaced the Chord Odyssey between them and the Uniti with some Naca5. The frequency extremes stretched out a little and the mid-range became cleaner. While they're still no head bangers the bass response can surprise on occasions.
    PhilofCas likes this.
  20. Martyn Miles

    Martyn Miles pfm Member

    The secondhand price of ‘ESRs is reasonable, unlike LS3/5as. I saw a pair in superb condition go for a few
    pounds under £1000.
    A pair went privately ( not eBay ) for £930 a while ago.

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