Spendor and Tubes

I thought that I would take a moment to dispel a common misconception about the large Spendor Classic speakers and low power tube amplification. I have been a Spendor Classic fellow since 1980 -- having briefly tried the Harbeth line as well (I prefer Spendor...YMMV). I have owned every speaker in the line and now run the SP100s in my living room and the 1/2Rs in my small dedicated listening room.

I have enjoyed both speakers immensely with the stupendous McIntosh MC352/C2200 combo. But it wasn't until I made the switch to Cary amps that I realized that the speakers, to my ears, sound best with quality tube gear.

The SP100s are now driven by a Cary SLI80 F1, all-triode, 40 wpc. An ACI Titan II sub resides in the corner. Meanwhile, the 1/2Rs by an older 11 wpc Cary SEI300 in a nearfield set-up. No sub required.

I have had audiophile friends with $$$ systems by to listen and they leave shaking their heads in wonderment and bewilderment at what they're doing wrong.

My point? Don't believe everything you read. Yes, the Spendors are a very stable 8 ohm load on an amp. But the synergy with the Cary gear (Morrow Audio SP4 & MA4 cables) is simply breathtaking. Not "sluggish" in the least. Plenty loud when needed. Sublime with all kinds of music from Bach to bluegrass to China Cat Sunflower.

Long live two channel!
I've got a pair of Spendor SP1/2Es that I run with an Image Audio 65i (rather rare in the US, but 50 watts per channel with 6550 or KT88 outputs). I'd agree - the classic model Spendors work great with tubes and you don't need a tremendous amount of power for them to sound great. (If you're fond of headbanger volume, you should have a different brand of speaker.)
I agree 100%. I have been using my SP100s with tubes for 10 years now. During that time, I have paired them with a modified Dyna 70, Cary 40M monoblocks, EICO push-pull monoblocks (6L6 and EL-34), 300B single ended amps, and now Emotive Vita push-pull monoblocks. The Spendors have sounded wonderful with each one.
Now try the Cary 300 SEI integrated on the Spendor SP 100 and your may not get to sleep for a while.
Cheers Johnnyr
I'm using Harbeth C7's, 6ohm (obviously similar) with 30wpc class A tubes. Absolutely stunning sound. The guy I bought the amp from was using it to drive the big Harbeth 40's.

No rules in this game.
I guess I'll be the dissenter. I preferred a 225 watt solid state amp with my Spendor 1/2e speakers versus the Cary V12i that I also tried with them.
Ah yes, I figured this humble post would bring out some folks! I agree: "No rules in this game." It's all about synergy and matching a system to fit what sounds best to your own ears, IMHO.

Like I said, I thoroughly enjoyed the SP100s for several years with the Mac gear. Ditto the 1/2s. But I listen to mostly classical, acoustic, jazz, folk -- the very music that Spendor Classics are especially adept at presenting in such a fashion that it melts the soul with its beauty. Were I a huge fan of Led Zeplin cranked to rattle the windows, I'd have different speakers.

IMHO, if you're passionate about your Spendor Classic (or Harbeth) and you haven't tried a really good small tube amp, borrow one. Then give your ears a day or two to adjust to the sound. It could be right for you. It was for me.
Your results don`t surprise me, Given a speaker of reasonable load and efficiency. The low -moderate power but high quality tube amplifier would absolutely be my choice if the objective is pure and natural music reproduction.
throwing more solid state watts into the mix is counter productive, at least in my experiences.YMMV.
Best Regards,
I ran my Spendor SP 100s with a Art Audio Diavolo amp for years very successfully. Did the system do "Rock"? Well sort of but it really did vocals and small ensemble instrumental like no other combo I ever tried.
I use Quicksilver tube amps with Spendor 3/5's and I would never go back to solid state. Spendor and tubes are made for each other!
I tried a couple of amps when I had a pair of Spendor S3/5's. One was an 80 wpc hybrid integrated that sounded very nice but the best results were with an 18 wpc Audio Note P2 SE single ended amp. Go figure. A small room made it work out as well as it did.
I'm glad you're happy with your sound, but if driven right, why would you need a sub with the sp-100s? I've never thought they needed a sub if driven with the right amp.
Started out with SS 20 yrs ago when I 1st got my Spendor S100's. For the past 7-8 yrs it's been all tube!! Music Reference RM9, Audio Research LS15, Audio Research PH3. Don't know if it's due to my amp being 100WPC but my system has NO PROBLEM ROCKIN'!!!
I'm in my third amp pairing with my Spendor S8e's. Currently using a Cary V12R and the speakers have never sounded better. A much better match than the 275 watt Musical Fidelity M3 that was in there before. The speakers, btw, are the only thing in my system that I've never felt the need to replace. Great, great speakers.
Thanks for all the input, folks! As to why I use a quality musical sub to augment the lowest frequencies, the SP100s (even with the mighty 400 wpc Mac amp) do not "plumb the depths" as they say.

If you want to know what you're missing, play Patricia Barber's "Premonition Years" CD (the first five cuts on the red one in the set). Once dialed in, close your eyes and have someone turn the sub on and off (as I used to be able to do with the C2200).

Could I live with the SP100s without a sub? Absolutely. Do they become true full-range giant killers with one properly introduced? Even more absolutely.