Spendor ST vs. B&W 803d vs. PMC PB1i ???

These speakers are all at roughly the same price point, but how do they compare in a high quality 2 channel audiophile system?

I have heard the 803d and PB1i with Bryston electronics (on two different occasions), and liked them both. I will soon compare them side by side at the same dealer.

There is scant information regarding the Spendor ST. Has anyone heard it? How does it compare to B&W or PMC?

Though Spendor has a venerable history, is it still in the same league as B&W or PMC?


Just a word of caution - you are looking at a fairly big investment in the PMC PB1i - I would check carefully the mid range driver. Just what is it???

If it is VIFA D75MX-41-08 3" dome which it sure looks like it is! Then my advice would to be get the next PMC model up such as the PMC IB2i (which has a pro quality mid range driver)

The 3" VIFA D75MX-41-08 has a woefully small drive motor - If this is indeed what PMC have used then I suspect that it is out of place with such a powerful bass response and will be easily compressed and distorted as you push the speaker SPL's and exceed the small 3 mm XMax of this driver - particularly in the lower mids but the IMD from over driving this mid range will also affect the entire midrange.

For example - this is what the small and the big ATC 3" mid range dome look like. The cone or dome piece of the ATC driver is the same size as the Vifa 3" but there is a world of difference in the driver motor behind it...of course there is well over $1000 difference in the price of these drivers

My logic is that you can add more bass with a good subwoofer but you can't fix the midrange...and you are paying a lot of dough for this speaker. Try to find out what mid range driver they used before writing a large check.
I would add that I made a mistake above - the Xmax of the Vifa driver appears to be a mere 1 mm not 3 mm. This performance is similar to most small dome tweeters that have a similar magnet size ...so you get the idea or why I would be concerned about spending so much on this speakers IF and it is a big IF they used the Vifa driver that I mentioned above.
I would also suggest the IB2i. There is a favorable review of them in the current HIFICRITIC. They said in part" It delivers a muscular , authoritative and fundamentally accurate sound which makes many domestic speakers sound like wimps". I am also an admirer of the ATC midrange, which I had in my Nelson Reed 804s. If I wanted this kind of sound I would look at ATC speakers, several of which are currently available used on Agon at a favorable price. The review pointed out that the ATC SCM50SL is the closest competition on the British market. The IB2s are speakers that like a large room and lots of power, they estimated it could handle 400 watts. I have 6 pair of Spendor currently but their new range does not appeal to me.
The less expensive mid-driver is used in the OB1i and lower models. The PB1i, EB1i and higher models use the more expensive, heavier mid-driver. This is one of the main reasons there is a significant price jump from the OB1i to the PB1i. I own the EB1i's and have heard the PB1i's. The PB1i's are a fabulous speaker that won't dissappoint. I'm sure the IB2i's are great too.
PB1i and EB1i both have Vifa mid, the same one found in OB1, it is not PMC mid.
Yes, you are correct, my mistake. The PB1i and EB1i does have heavier duty low range drivers than the OB1i.
It would seem that after some thoughtful responses that Mark has gone.
Not gone, but felled by the flu...

Many thanks for the exceedingly good discussion!

As I listen to mostly classical solo piano and chamber music, as well as to jazz (piano trios etc), midrange is especially important. It would appear that the PB1i does not have an ideal midrange driver. In the 803d, B&W certainly did not skimp in the heft and quality of the midrange driver. I will give them both another listen...

In the meantime I have auditioned the Verity Audio Finn, driven by a Luxman pure class A integrated amp, and this was a very musically satisfying system indeed.

The Verity Audio Rienzi may be a worthwhile consideration vs. the 803d. Unfortunately they are not available at the same dealer, so comparing them involves many other variables.


Hi folks,

The PB1i indeed has the Vifa midrange that has been used by PMC for a while; it was also used in the previous range of speakers like the OB1 and EB1. I have had the OB1 for several years and did not experience any problem in the midrange even at high volumes. But if you like to play everything at thunderous levels, go for the mighty IB2i which uses a midrange of a different level (mighty price too). If you are in favour of transmission line type speakers at a price level comparable (some even cheaper) to the PMC PB1i, maybe the T+A Criterion TS200 (German manufacturer) or the French J-M Reynaud Orféo MK2 or Concorde (both having a ribbon tweeter) are something for you. I've heard some very good things about these TL-speakers. To end I would like to point out that I've experienced some quality issues with the finish of the PMC speaker cabinets. I replaced my previously mentioned OB1 by the PB1i. The first pair has been taken back because of a gap between one of the side panels and the front panel. The second pair has problems with paint (black ash finish) comming of between the two bass speakers. Where the paint let loose, wood paste is visible. So some repair has been done to the panel before painting it (we are talking about a 7000€ speaker!!!). An endless discussion about this has been going on between PMC and myself. I even didn't get any support from the local distributer; he found that I was making a lot of fuzz about nothing. So in the end I gave up and decided to do the repair myself. PMC claim to be perfect but they're not. They sound great; but .... So be aware.
I was able to find the right speakers for me - the Verity Audio Parsifal Ovation - while also being able to support excellence in Canadian audio manufacturing. The VA PA use Scandinavian made drivers.

Vifa used to be Scandinavian, but are now made in the Far East...
I have the PB1i and it is outstanding.

Casting dispersion [pun] on the midrange dome used, because it may not be an $800+ unit, is distracting. It works great in this design, and is probably a much more sensitive unit requiring less power to 'arrive' at full output.

It is also illogical to assume that PMC uses an off the shelf driver, none of their other speakers do. PMC designs, specifies requirements, then hand customizes each driver. I'm sorry, but although they have the same parent company, you can't compare a Honda Formula 1 race car to a base level Civic coupe.

All PMCs are designed and built for rugged use, as evidenced by the fact that PMC offers a 20 year warranty.

Other manufacturers don't even offer a 20 month warranty.

I have valued your thoughts and opinions in the past Shadorne, but this one is misdirected.