A La Carte Productions, Spendor, Chord, SME, VPI, Vienna Acoustics, Aesthetix | FLAX 2020

Spendor is BACK!

Yeah, I know I already used that line with the Bob Carver room, but in this case it’s a little more personal. I started my high-end audio journey with Spendor, first with the S20 (later the SP3/1) and later with a pair of SP100s. In the last few years, however, Spendor seems to have faded into the background in the US. Maybe it’s because they’ve neglected their legendary big-box Classic line in favor of slim towers, or because my own personal tastes leaned more toward British hi-fi brands such as Harbeth over the ensuing years. At the 2020 Florida Audio Expo, I was delighted to walk into the first of two rooms from A La Carte Productions, a Florida dealer represented by the ebullient David Sckolnik, and find a pair of Spendors making glorious music.

Sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Core Power Technologies A/V
Sponsored by Living Sounds Audio
Florida Audio Expo 2020 coverage sponsored by Living Sounds Audio

“Can you hear the rosin?” David exclaimed. “Can you hear the bows?” I have to be honest–I’ve never heard the rosin while a string orchestra was playing, but I immediately heard it here and now I always will. I was listening to the Spendor Audio D9.2 Eucalyptus Limited Edition towers ($13,495/pair, $11,495 in standard finishes) and an SME Model 12 turntable w/309 arm ($10,900), Ortofon Winfield TI cartridge ($4390) and Dynamic Sounds Associates Phono III phono stage ($19,000), all powered by the 220wpc Chord CPM-3350 integrated ($12,300) and Chord Hugo/Dave ($10,900 and $4795, respectively) digital playback, all connected with cabling from Luminous Audio Technology. The sound was utterly fantastic, and the soundstage demolished the room boundaries and stretched out toward the Florida horizon.

The second A La Carte Productions room was a bit more low key, perhaps because the gentleman running this room was more low-key. (This isn’t a knock against him, but David was very entertaining and funny during my visit and is, perhaps, a tough act to follow.) This room featured Vienna Acoustic Beethoven Baby Grand Reference speakers ($9500/pair), an Aesthetix Mimas integrated (starting at $7000), a VPI Super Prime Scout turntable ($3400) and the VPI Voyager phono pre ($2500). The sound in this room was equally compelling (I’ve owned Vienna Acoustic Bach speakers before as well), and I was particularly impressed with a playing of one of my favorite tunes, “Duke’s Place.” Again, the soundstage was extended and superb in every way.

But back to those Spendors. They were good. So good that now I’m wondering why I’ve forgotten about these excellent transducers over the years. I probably haven’t had decent seat time with Spendors since I lost my SP100s in a custody battle, save for a brief visit with a pair of SP200s at the SME booth at High End 2019 in Munich. I’m intrigued, and I’m looking forward to crossing paths with this venerable British marque once again in the near future.