Holy Church of the UK 8" 2-way BBC Monitor Thread...Harbeth, Spendor, Stirling, Rogers etc

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by ArdenHiFi, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. crestwood23

    crestwood23 Active Member

    Location:
    North Jersey
    I'm really loving the warmer mids of my Spendor SP/2's, so much so that I'm considering moving up to the SP100. Haven't seen many SP100's on the used market, but have found a few older S100's. Does anyone know if there's a significant difference between the S100 and the SP100? Looks like the SP100 has the nicer wood veneer front baffle - not sure if there were any driver upgrades made over time between the two models?
     
  2. layman

    layman Active Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    I have really grown to appreciate BBC-School Speakers, especially in the last ten years. It was definitely not love at first listen (or first sight), but the more of these models that I hear, the more I realize that they all share a fundamental "rightness," a fundamental "musicality," and a fundamental "truthfulness" that really define loudspeaker accuracy and set them apart from the many other types of speaker designs out there.

    I can hear minor differences from one BBC-type model to the next , but they all sound (to my ear) more alike than unalike. I have not heard too many other types of speakers that exhibited such consistent accuracy to non-amplified voices and instruments. I find BBC-School Speakers to be excellent tools when it comes to assessing the quality of recordings.
     
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  3. Gibson67

    Gibson67 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Diss, UK
    Had my Quad 11L' s a few months now and I'm really liking them, not only fine sounding but visually stunning. The real Birdseye Maple veneer is something else!!

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    From what I understand, there's basically four versions of the speaker, the S100, SP100, SP100R and SP100R2. The S100 is tri-wireable, while the SP100R is bi-wireable. All the drivers have been updated at some point during the speaker's evolution, though I'm not sure which updates happened with which models. The crossovers were also updated at some point. The real question is whether these updates are worth the huge price gap. Spendor responds quickly if you email them.

    One thing I've noticed about these speakers is they really shine after about an hour of listening. They have a sneaky way of involving the listener.
     
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  5. Daddy Dom

    Daddy Dom Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Zealand
    After getting my QUAD 22/II set-up running last year, I now have a pair of Spendor BC1s to suit : I like the recipe!

    The BC1s recently received a clean bill of health before I bought them, they also have alnico magnets. Having spent the years between 1972 and 1992 listening to music via the BBC, it makes sense. Also, my phono stage is by Graham Slee (ex-BBC, I believe).
     
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  6. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    Harbeth woofers were polypropylene up until the Super version of the HL5 and the start of the "Radial" woofers. The Radial is still a form of polymer, but apparently has a fiber orientation that changes its behavior. And Harwood was the first use polypropylene to make drivers.
     
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  7. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    The magazine reviews of the original S100 commented about some congestion in the upper bass. (Although both Robert Greene and John Atkinson loved them.) There were some cabinet/port resonances in that model that may have been the source. I never saw any discussion of explicit changes, but none of the reviews of the SP100 talked about that congestion. Maybe there was a small change in bracing or the port?

    Spendor S100 loudspeaker Measurements
     
  8. Bananas&blow

    Bananas&blow Forum Resident

    Location:
    Phoenix
    Those are some gorgeous speakers. Is that a Thorens I spy in the background? I am a fan of the BBC monitor style speakers as well. I guess my 6.5 in mid/bass on my B&W's aren't big enough for this thread :). I'd love to get my hands on some Harbeth's at some point, but I need the right room for them from what I've read.
     
  9. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    P3ESR, LS35a or Spendor SP3/5 should work great in a small near-field setup.
     
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  10. BluesMeister

    BluesMeister Well-Known Member

    Spendor BC-1s upstairs in my music room. I had custom stands made to raise them to ear level.
    Spendor LS3-5a downstairs for watching television. Brilliant bookshelf speakers, they are.
     
  11. layman

    layman Active Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Enjoy your BC-1's. I had a chance to acquire a pair a few years ago, but with a house full of Rogers speakers, I did not have room for the BC1s....hopefully when I move to a bigger place.
     
  12. Chazro

    Chazro Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Palm Bch, Fl.
    I bought my S100's in 1990. Less than a year later the SP100 was introduced. I remember thinking that my brand new speakers were somewhat diminished, 'yesterday's news' so to speak. Naturally, I wanted to know what the differences were between the 2 models. Back in the day, our A/V systems usually involved a CRT/tube tv with speakers on either side. I read that the ONLY difference between the S100 & SP100 was some sort of shielding to block interference from tv's. Love my S100's!!!
     
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  13. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    Or for a smaller room but not quite nearfield, the various generations of the Spendor SP3/1 or the new Chartwell LS6 from Graham. Both use main drivers of about 6" in small but not tiny cabinets.

    LS6


    [​IMG]
     
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  14. hesson11

    hesson11 Well-Known Member

    I wonder if you could cite your source for this. It could really put the question to rest. Thanks.
    -Bob
     
  15. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    If you are patient, Spendor SP1/2s are offered for $1K or a little more semi-regularly on Audiogon or USAudiomart. Stands would run $250-$500 used, depending on what you get. For inexpensive, this would be a great place to start. The SP1/2 is essentially the kernel of the Ur-design for BBC monitors with 8" woofers, the BC1 or LS3/6, with driver tech updated to early 1990's spec. They won't really produce bass below 40 Hz or play extremely loud, but a well-cared for pair can do some remarkable things in a normal listening room. It may seem like the treble is rolled off a bit, until you go to a live acoustic concert and listen to the treble there. For folk, small-group jazz or chamber music, they are stunning. The musicians are right there - Sonny Rollins is playing the saxophone between your speakers. On full orchestra pieces, they definitely give up some size/scale, but you can get a lot of that back with a sub-woofer. I use an REL B3 with mine and the combination is very good. On rock, you're definitely going to give up some volume - they start to sound strained when you run them really hard. I suspect that newer driver tech would help that and get the chance to test that theory when I pick up a pair of Stirlng LS3/6s next week. We'll see what Roger Daltrey has to say about their ability to play louder......

    The Spendor SP1/2 Loudspeaker: Twenty-five years in the making

    http://www.cicable.de/pdf/bc1story.pdf
     
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  16. Agitater

    Agitater Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    That's not how life works. You didn't actually provide any facts that back up your assertions. All you did was provide more assertions. You're the one who initially cracked wise about Harbeth's drivers. That's means you're the one who has to back up your claims. You haven't, and if you can't then you should back off from this subject.
     
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  17. layman

    layman Active Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    Thank you for that info. It has been wonderful to see Spendor and Harbeth keep the BBC-flame alive all these years and now Stirling and Graham are also resurrecting many of the original BBC-spec models. Moreover, I notice that Wo Kee Hong Holdings (the company that bought and then liquidated English Rogers) have decided to get in on the act and have recently brought the Rogers LS 5/9 and the Rogers LS 3/5a out of mothballs. There has never been a better time to get hold of a BBC-Spec Speaker.
     
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  18. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    The LS5/9 certainly seems to be the current "hot ticket" in the BBC-based line. In addition to Graham and Rogers, the Harbeth Monitor 30 sequence was originally designed as a drop-in replacement for the LS5/9 but without the official BBC licensing. The Harbeth also uses a 25mm Seas Excel tweeter instead of the original spec 34mm Audax unit. The current editions of the lineage are often pricey - the Graham has a US retail of $6800, while the Monitor 30.1 lists for $5800. Those prices actually put them in pretty direct competition with the current SP1/2-HL5 offerings and more than the Stirling LS3/6. I can't find a US price for the Rogers, but have seen Australian prices that would translate to about $3500. However, it's always tricky to estimate how list prices shift between different countries.

    There is also a separate group of speakers that are "almost" BBC but not quite, since they don't meet any specific BBC design spec. The Harbeth Compact 7, Spendor SP2/3 and Stirling SB-88 use the same 8" drivers as both the LS3/6 and LS5/9 sized offerings from those companies. They are 2-way speakers like the LS5/9 versions, and use thin wall cabinets with BBC-style voicing. But the cabinet sizes are between the BBC-derived designs - about 3-5" (8-12cm) shorter than the LS3/6 designs and about 1" (3cm) narrower, but with the same depth. Those same dimensions are 2-4" taller and 1" deeper than the LS5/9 spec, which should yield a cabinet volume that is 20%-30% higher. All these models use different tweeters from the LS5/9 designs. The only one I have heard is the Compact 7ES-3, which struck me as being a fine speaker, with lively bass and a bit more treble content than my SP1/2s. (Listening conditions were very different from my home system, so I can't say more than that.) There has been a bit of a dust-up between the SB-88 and the Compact 7, with some comments like the SB-88's "truer" adherence to BBC sound, while a ToneAudio reviewer preferred the more "modern" signature of the Compact7ES-3. Not having heard the Stirling, I couldn't comment.
     
  19. layman

    layman Active Member

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    None of these new BBC models is exactly cheap (unlike the originals), but I agree with you that the Stirling LS 3/6 seems to represent the best value. Moreover, lots of the original BBC-spec speakers are available on the used market and are also a great value, with the caveat that many of these speakers are fragile and they degrade with time. The glue that joins the surround to the cone has a tendency to fail in some of these speakers. I have also heard tale of blown voice coils in some of the drive units, so the buyer must beware (when looking at used BBC-spec speakers).
     
  20. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Buyer beware when buying any 20 to 30 year old speakers.
     
  21. 33na3rd

    33na3rd Forum Resident

    Location:
    SW Washington, USA
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  22. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    New list on those designs has spiraled up over the past decade. But there are also less expensive options for relatively newer examples. For example, I suspect the actual differences between the "Plus" and "not-Plus" versions of the Super HL5 are actually quite small (and have read comments from people who prefer the warmer sound of the older model). But the older model can be had for under $3000US/pair (there is a pair in Canada currently offered for $3000C on USAudiomart). In addition, Stirling SB-88s and Harbeth Compact 7ES-3s regularly show up for around $2K/pair.
     
  23. murphythecat

    murphythecat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Canada
    yeah, that price is amazing, but its the first time ever that shl5 go so low in price. normally they go for 3.5k to 4k cad for older shl5 models
     
  24. ClarkFan

    ClarkFan New Member

    Location:
    Fort Collins, CO
    Yes. And I wasn't trying to shill for the seller - know absolutely nothing about them or that particular pair of speakers. But the lure of the new model is definitely at work there, for what is probably a minor revision in terms of sound quality.
     
  25. LARGERTHAN

    LARGERTHAN Member

    Location:
    Eire
    The Plus iteration has an updated crossover, some additional internal damping, as well as the Radial 2 driver as opposed to 1 (this is not a significant change by most accounts). Consensus seems to be tighter bass and more presence in the Plus, and a warmer, more forgiving sound in the previous version - each has their fans.
     

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