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Interesting, thanks for the feedback gentlemen. I like SE version of the spendor with the Scanspeak tweeter. A little more dynamism supposedly, which is nice to have in the mix.
They aren't necessarily cheap speakers for a second system, but I hear so much positive reaction to them from people, and you can't deny the size is desirable, so I think it is worth the splurge.
How is the bass response in a smaller room? Say about 11x11ish with 8 foot ceilings?
Bass response is better than expected, especially if you put these on a pair of 28" high Sound Anchor stands. Just had a listening party tonight with a tube integrated amp (Ming Da MC-88 in Triode mode) and the following speakers in a room 11' x 11' with 8 foot ceiling: Spendor SP1/5, Spendor 15-ohm LS3/5a, Spendor SP3/1p, and a pair of Green Moutain Europas. Previously I've had the Spendor S3/5s on those stands and they are stellar too. The LS3/5as had a surprising bass response in this size room, but the Sound Anchor stands were likely part of that.
As for your choice, I haven't heard the Harbeths, but the S3/5s are very nice. Not quite the same speaker as the old LS3/5a, or presumably the newer v2 Stirlings, but one reviewer nailed them with he called the S3/5 both transparent and sexy as all get out in their midrange. Listening to a sax solo on the S3/5s gets libidinous, but all these others offer much the same enjoyment with certain refinements for a bit more money.
They are both great speakers from the UK made by companies where there is very little turnover in their personnel. I can recommend a great dealer I was referred through audiogoners named Gene Rubin Audio. He has great experience matching these components. I find him to be very honest in his correspondence about how they behave with tubes and ss.
I have heard both and think they both do a wonderfull job with vocals. With that said, you should also audition Tannoy, B & W 800 series and ATC 7s, 11s, and 19s. I favor Harbeth and ATC for their neutrality, and if this is something you also value, you would do well to hear the ATC's first. They are the most utilized speakers in professional studio environments (used by over 1,000 established sites) and their consumer gear is second to none for reproducing the widest range of genres. They work better with solid state.
thanks guys....I will look into the brands mentioned here, although I gotta tell you the Spendors are on my short list at this point after all the positive press I have read.
I would be matching these with a VTL IT-85, which is use the lovely EL-34 tube. Any thoughts on how that might pair up with any of these speakers?
Both Harbeth and Spendor will sound great with the VTL.
I would not recommend the ATCs, which favor the purer sound of solid state over tubes due to their neutral design.
You might also want to audition Zucable speakers. The Zu Tones and Druids are very dynamic and lively and have an overall warmth to them--lot's of tubey magic on the ones I have heard at tradeshows. They might match well with your system and are priced about the same as your speakers above.
As a safe bet, you should also contact VTL directly and see who they use for demo purposes.