Spendor A4 & Uniti Star... disappointing?

Good morning all!

Not to re-hash a potentially well explored topic, but I’m currently home demo’ing a pair of Spendor A4s with my Uniti Star and the result has been surprisingly underwhelming. I had high hopes based on what I’d read here and heard in the shop, with Spendor being a go-to for Naim gear.

The shop loaned me a pair of Transparent Musicwave 8’ cables to connect them up, and the result has been an oddly muddy, recessed, vague presentation. Treble lacks any real life or definition, singers sound like they’re facing away from the listener, and bass sounds very one-note-y.

For comparison, the Dynaudio 1.3se’s I’ve had for 20 years connected via NAC-A5 sound dramatically better: treble has air & life, musicians occupy space in the room, and bass has tonality and definition (before you ask, the Dyn’s are heavily modified with external crossovers and the NAC-A5 is hard wired to them).

I’m going to borrow a couple of different speaker cables from the shop before I give up on the A4’s (some NAC-A5 and Audioquest) and hope they will change the sound for the better.
I’d appreciate hearing from others who have used Naim & Spendor and what speaker cabling has worked out best for them? I’ve always been very skeptical of Transparent and their ‘network’.

As an aside, I briefly heard the A7 and thought they were a significant step up in all aspects even though they apparently use the same drivers and crossover (?). I heard more definition everywhere -treble, mids, bass- and if I hadn’t seen them, I would have believed they were using 2 different tweeters. Anyone compared the two at length?


1 Like

You definitely need to hear the system with Naim A5 cable.

I would be worried about cable that states -
“Built-in network is calibrated to cable length and type to further reduce noise and increase signal efficiency”


Unless those speaker cables are a very bad match for Naim amps I think it’s unlikely that they are the problem. More likely the speaker setup and the way they interact with your room. Also are the speakers ex-demo and how much have they been used?


Contour 1.3s are a classic design that has stood the test of time. Maybe they are a just a more refined speaker than the Spendors despite their age?

Like you I recently tried the Spendor A4 as they do appear to be well liked with Naim. I/we were hugely disappointed with the A4, lacked bass and overall musicality- they seem very dry and analytical, also lacked in mid range / vocals compared to our current speaker. Speaker cable was NAC A5 and Nait XS3. For us not a speaker in our setup / room we could enjoy. Now have Sonus Faber and delighted.

You sound as though you are happy with your Dynaudios, so I wonder what prompted you to try other speakers. Just because speakers are newer doesn’t mean they are necessarily better. You seem to have fixed on Spendor for some reason, again I wonder why.

1 Like

Why don’t you try the Spendor A4’s with your Naim A5 cables…? Then report back.

Its possible that they are not ‘better’ than your existing speakers - don’t forget that.

1 Like

The challenge is that the A5 is hard wired to the Dyns, so would need to be removed and fitted with 4mm plugs.

Speakers are such a personal choice. I tried the A4’s with my Nova and I Iiked the combination in my room, but went with a lightly used pair of Harbeth HLD5XD that my dealer had. The latter speaker I loved.

My point is to try various speakers in your room until you find the match that does it for you and the music you listen to.

1 Like

Thanks all,

The main reason for looking at speakers again was to see how much better (if at all) the current products are within my price range. I was also looking for something that would play a bit bigger & deeper than the 1.3SE’s. And, after many years with these admittedly frenkensteined Dynaudios, I wanted to see just how far I’d drifted from their original and already very capable sound, that is to say, had I ruined them?

The Spendors were recommended by my dealer, and a quick demo in store (with the same Naim UnitiStar I use at home), showed them to be much more suited to my tastes than the other speakers we listed to, including the Sonus Faber Lumina V (which has a lovely midrange), and Sonetto II, as well as a pair of Lintons and the Spendor A7. Curiously, the A7 sounded significantly better than the A4 in spite of allegedly sharing crossover and drive units, but is a good jump up in $, hence the home demo with the A4. Also, the A4 is a demo, which helps the sale in terms of price, but also suggests they are broken in already.

I’m starting to believe the 1.3se may still be a very good speaker, and anything appreciably better is going to cost me significantly more than the MSRP on the A4.

I sold my 1.3 MkII’s about 3 years ago due to renting a smaller house - they would have dominated the living room…

But otherwise I would have kept them. I tried them side by side with some very expensive Vienna Acoustics floorstanders in a dealer and I really could not see what the additional £10k or so was offering (this was on the end of Cyrus mono power amps).

The ‘So What’ being that I think you would need to spend some serious money to significantly better what you have already - I really regret selling mine. They filled the room with sound and sounded absolutely superb on the end of my then Naim 102/140 combo (and indeed a later Cyrus set up).

I’m as surprised as you, it sounds odd.

Can you ask the store for some Naim or Chord speaker cable. My normal recommendation would be the much liked Witch Hat Phantoms ,

Hope it goes well

The experiment continues…

I borrowed some NAC-A5 from my dealer and the difference is striking: much more cohesive all around, the treble detail is back, mid bass & bass have detail and definition again, everything feels better organized. These now feel like a coherent, fast, dynamic speaker!

Still a ‘darker’ presentation than the 1.3se’s, and the A4’s don’t quite match the treble detail, air, etc, but we’re in the same game here at least. These little monsters play deep, significantly deeper than the Dynaudios; however they don’t have the same detail in the bass. I’m once again impressed with these wee beasties, the sound I heard in the shop (with superlumina speaker cables) is largely back.

The transparent cables definitely seemed to suck the life out of the music with this combo. They had a pleasant, mellow sound, but they didn’t work for me.

I have to wonder what could be done in swapping in higher grade crossover components. Based on previous experiences and what I’m seeing in these, I suspect significant improvements could be made.

If you are already thinking of modifying the Spendors, perhaps it’s time to enter the world of self build speakers. Then you can tailor them to your exact needs.

1 Like

The inexpensive Transparent are not very good. The very expensive Transparent are a very good match with Wilson speakers and Spectral electronics. If you like the Dynaudio sound, why not upgrade to Special 40, or the Contour 20i ? Or if you want a stand mount that’s sounds big and musical plays bass and images like crazy you should listen to ProAc D2R’s

1 Like

Go an audition a pair of Graham Chartwells. They sound terrific with all of NAIM’s products including CB equipment.


At a big step up in cost I’d be wondering what they were playing at if tgere wasn’t a significant improvement in sound! And it is not uncommon to find the same drivers in more than one of a manufacturer’s products, the rest of the design affecting how they perform. BTW are you sure the crossovers are identical - your first post had a question mark?

You raise a valid point, and I went down that road a couple times in the past when I had access to a wood shop; such is not the case these days.

The resulting speakers were sonically very good, but eventually my curiosity as to whether the big names did it better got the better of me, so the DIY units were sold.

Interesting that your dealer demonstrated Lumina V and Sonetto ii, but not the Sonetto iii. Slightly pricier but we found they blew the Lumina away. Maintained that gorgeous midrange you liked but much better bass control and crystal clear treble. Also downward ported so very easy to place.

I’m not 100% that they share e same XO, but I did read that somewhere, and given the drivers are identical, it does make some sense… but why then do they sound noticeably different? A larger cabinet & a revised port design… and perhaps some additional cabinet structure to reduce coloration? The A7 sounds like an A4 turned up 5-10% on all levels, but the parts belie the sum it seems.