Spendor SA1 Bookshelf speakers

Over the years Spendor has introduced several small sealed-box sub-miniatures inspired by the BBC LS3/5a. Its first layout, christened the SA1 and dumpier shape when compared to a 3/5a, having a squatter was established in the mid-1970s. It was highly regarded, despite the fact that a license to make the LS3/5a and this new SA1 animates the name, though not the shape of the original was subsequently taken out by the business.

The truth is, it is just like a 3/5a dimensionally, over width. depth and Three alternative finishes comprise the fairly daring lacquered zebrano of our samples, a satin, plus black piano lacquer-finished wenge, while concealed magnets hold the grille in place. The partnering stands (not provided but worth investigating) have coordinated wood inlays in their own central pillars. Crucial bracing and three different thicknesses of comparatively light and thin panels furnish stiffness and resonance control while preventing significant energy storage.

An unusual 22mm tweeter uses a small 19mm diaphragm plus a 'suitable' environment to widen its possible functioning bandwidth.

One set of high quality WBT terminals feeds a refined crossover network using top quality components and internal wiring. At GBP1,275 this must be one of the most expensive sub-miniatures around, particularly if you add an additional GBP500 for the duplicate stands.

Superficially, and as one of the smallest hi-fi speakers around, the SA1 searches a decidedly high-priced possibility that may well struggle to justify its pricetag. However, it could be a error to prejudge a speaker by size or its own pricetag, just as one shouldn't judge a book by its cover.

Sound quality

That became clear when the listening test results were analysed and it became clear that the little Spendor, assisted by close-to-wall placement, had come out comfortably ahead of the remainder of the group. A loudspeaker this small is bound to get certain dynamic expression, constraints, in bass grunt and above all in greatest loudness capability.

Having a tiny bit of assistance from the wall behind, it delivers a smooth, remarkably flat and tonal balance appropriate across the wide bass and group. Imaging is first class, with coloration and realistic depth interpretation and great focus is not extraordinarily high and free from boxiness. The extreme top end is sweet and attractively restricted, giving ample detail while avoiding drawing unwanted attention to itself.

The SA1 might seem to be quite expensive for this type of tiny loudspeaker, but its superior standard of presentation and sound quality provides ample reason. It is an excellent solution for anyone seeking high quality with minimal intrusion that is physical and who are ready to accept some constraints on maximum loudness.

Spendor SA1 Bookshelf speakers photo