Spendor's Classic line straddles a unique position in the world of hi-fi loudspeakers. Though they evoke the 'retro' style that gives them the name "Classic", they utilize modern technological refinement to capture 21st century performance in a distinctly nostalgic package. But it goes beyond just mere cabinet and cone design; the Classic 1/2's also strive for the rich and relaxed sound that epitomized the 70's era speakers that the 1/2s emulate, such as the famed Spendor BC-1 speakers.
What Hi-Fi? recently had the opportunity to listen to the Classic 1/2 speakers. They begin the review by examining the speakers and comparing them to their spiritual predecessors, the BC-1s. Though technology and materials have advanced in the intervening 50 years, the Classic 1/2 features a similar design and thin-walled cabinet. The reviewer is very impressed with the fit and finish. Spendor designs, creates, and builds their cabinets in-house, a feat that few speaker manufacturers today can boast.
What Hi-Fi? notes that the Spendor Classic 1/2's are pricey and their size requires Spendor's dedicated speaker stand (which are also expensive.) And, if you're looking for a high-tech speaker with the latest in connectivity and engineering, the Classic series may not be the best option. However, What Hi-Fi? is thoroughly impressed with the Classic 1/2s lack of fussiness in positioning and their superior ability to handle higher volumes, especially when compared to similarly-priced speakers:
Those lovely Audiovectors have no chance of matching the Spendors when it comes to coping with high volume levels and absolute sonic authority, particularly in larger rooms. We push volume levels northwards and the 1/2s respond with class-leading composure and refinement. They never sound stressed and refuse to get aggressive, even when provoked with less than perfect recordings.
Of course, one major concern is that the sound of the Classic series will sound too much like a pair of thrift-store speakers or the worn-out cabinets you inherited from your father or grandfather. Older speakers have a certain character stemming from lower quality components or manufacturing process, leading to too much warmth or unclear dynamics. Luckily, the Classic 1/2 speakers avoid this pitfall and offer the richness of sound without sacrificing detail and clarity.
Detail levels are high, with the Classics able to track multiple instrumental strands without issue. The presentation never sounds cluttered or messy thanks to class-leading organisation and a good sense of space around individual notes. Tonally, there’s just a hint of the richness that’s so part of the DNA of Spendor’s Classic line-up, but it never gets out of hand to the extent where we feel more aggressive music is spoilt by the lack of edge. Indeed, the slightly relaxed approach taken here is one that encourages long listening sessions deep into the night.
In the end, What Hi-Fi? gives the Spendor Classic 1/2 loudspeakers an overall 5 Stars, scoring 5 in Sound and Build Quality and a 4 in Compatibility.