Spen­dor A4

FOR Ar­tic­u­late and ex­pres­sive sound; ex­cel­lent build AGAINST Noth­ing of note

What Hi-Fi (UK) - - Contents -

Spen­dor’s A4s could be the pair of com­pact premium floor­standers you’re af­ter. They’re beau­ti­fully en­gi­neered, smartly fin­ished and sound great. At just over 80cm tall they’re un­likely to dom­i­nate, even in smaller rooms.

The gen­eral styling and cab­i­net di­men­sions sug­gest these speak­ers are a de­vel­op­ment of the com­pany’s A5 model, but they are quite dif­fer­ent. These are a two-way de­sign, rather than the 2.5-way of the A5 – the change marked with a move from two 15cm driv­ers to a sin­gle 18cm mid/bass unit.

The low fre­quen­cies are tuned by a rear-fir­ing re­flex port on the new model – the older one had a sealed cab­i­net. High fre­quen­cies are de­liv­ered by Spen­dor’s favoured 22mm wide-sur­round tweeter, which is claimed to pro­duce a wider fre­quency range and lower dis­tor­tion than tra­di­tional dome de­signs.

The change in drive-unit con­fig­u­ra­tion doesn’t al­ter the un­der­ly­ing specs much. Claimed sen­si­tiv­ity is 86db/w/m (just one db down from the A5) and nom­i­nal im­ped­ance re­mains at 8ohms.

Crisp edges

We’re im­pressed by the build qual­ity. The cab­i­net feels rigid, with care­fully de­signed in­ter­nal brac­ing com­bined with the clever use of low-mass con­strained poly­mer damp­ing. The fin­ish is pleas­ing too, with crisp edges, neat de­tail­ing and smart real-wood ve­neers in black ash, dark wal­nut and nat­u­ral oak op­tions.

Con­nec­tion is through a high qual­ity pair of sin­gle-wire ter­mi­nals. Spen­dor has moved away from bi­wiring with its A models in a bid to keep things sim­ple. We’re fine with that. It’s al­ways bet­ter to use a sin­gle run of qual­ity ca­ble over twin runs of an in­fe­rior al­ter­na­tive.

Once they’re up and run­ning, it doesn’t take long to re­alise that the A4s are tal­ented. They have a more out­go­ing and friendly char­ac­ter than the older model. They’re ex­pres­sive, en­ter­tain­ing and, per­haps sur­pris­ingly for a Spen­dor, fun.

We play Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Over­ture and they revel in the mu­sic’s widerang­ing dy­nam­ics and com­plex ar­range­ment. There’s plenty of in­sight, with the A4s able to track mul­ti­ple

“De­liver anal­y­sis and en­ter­tain­ment with ease”

in­stru­men­tal strands while pre­sent­ing them as a co­he­sive and mu­si­cal whole.

Clean and won­der­fully bal­anced, these floor­standers re­place the A5s’ slightly ster­ile pre­sen­ta­tion with an ap­peal­ing sense of life and ar­tic­u­la­tion.

Once prop­erly po­si­tioned, they ren­der an ex­pan­sive sound­stage pop­u­lated with pre­cisely lo­cated in­stru­ments. The imag­ing stays sta­ble even when the mu­sic be­comes de­mand­ing, which is no easy feat. Im­por­tantly they stay re­fined and com­posed when pushed, avoid­ing the slight edge of their pre­de­ces­sors.

Rhythms are han­dled in a sure­footed man­ner and de­liv­ered with plenty of snap and drive. Voices come through with a class-lead­ing level of sub­tlety.

There’s all the in­sight and anal­y­sis we’d ex­pect from Spen­dor, but also a sense of en­thu­si­asm that the brand hasn’t al­ways man­aged. Some of its more af­ford­able models have tended to pri­ori­tise anal­y­sis over en­ter­tain­ment, but the A4s de­liver both with ease. In re­cent years, PMC’S Twenty 23s have been our go-to com­pact floor­standers at this price level. You can safely add the Spen­dor A4s to that very short short­list.

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