Looking for a good pair of compact premium floorstanders? Spendor’s new A4s could be exactly what you’re after.
They’re beautifully engineered, smartly finished and sound great. And at just over 80cm tall they’re unlikely to dominate, even in smaller rooms.
Build and compatibility
While it may be tempting to think of these speakers as a development of the company’s well-established A5 model, they are quite different – even if the general styling and cabinet dimensions suggest otherwise.
These are a two-way design, rather than the 2.5-way of the A5 – the change is 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 has 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 – but this time with a protective grille in place.
The change in drive unit configuration doesn’t alter the underlying specification too much.
Claimed sensitivity is similar at 86dB/W/m (just a single dB down from the A5) and nominal impedance remains at 8ohms. Any good price-appropriate amplifier will be happy driving these.
We’re impressed by the build quality. The cabinet feels immensely 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. There are the traditional finish options, including black ash, dark walnut and natural oak.
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.
These floorstanders are unfussy about positioning – just give them a little space to breathe and don’t stuff them into a corner.
We angle them towards the listening position slightly, which helps to solidify the stereo imaging.
Once up and running it doesn’t take long to realise 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 design, fun.
We start with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and these floorstanders revel in the music’s wide-ranging dynamics and complex arrangement.
There’s plenty of insight, with the A4s able to track multiple instrumental strands while still presenting them as a cohesive and musical whole.
Spendor has long prided itself on delivering natural and convincing tonality, and that’s the case again here. These floorstanders sound clean and wonderfully balanced.
They replace the slightly sterile presentation of the A5s with a natural sense of life and articulation that’s hugely engaging.
Stereo imaging is impressive too. Once properly positioned (and partnered with suitably talented electronics) these speakers describe an expansive, nicely layered soundstage populated with precisely located instruments.
The imaging stays stable even when the music becomes demanding, which is no easy feat.
Massive Attack’s Teardrop shows the A4s to be capable of deep, articulate low frequencies.
While they wouldn’t be our first choice to fill large rooms or play at a party, they do well for their size. More importantly, they stay refined and composed when pushed hard, avoiding the slight edge of their predecessors.
Rhythms are handled in a surefooted manner and delivered with plenty of snap and drive. There’s all the insight and analysis we’ve come to expect from Spendor’s models, but here it comes with a sense of enthusiasm the brand hasn’t always achieved.
The A4’s midrange is lovely. Voices come through with impressive clarity, pleasing projection and a class-leading level of subtlety. This points to well-matched drive units and a carefully calibrated crossover.
While we’ve generally liked Spendor’s products, a few of the smaller, more affordable models have tended to prioritise analysis over entertainment.
The A4 delivers both, with ease. In recent years the likes of PMC’s Twenty 23s have been our go-to compact floorstanders at this price level.
We’re adding the Spendor A4s to that very short shortlist.
From WhatHiFi July 2017