Notes 007. The A9. 26-03-2010

Hi. Its been quite a while since I have written some listening notes. The new A9 though has gotten me all excited and I feel the need to ramble on about its striking performance. They follow on from the very successful A5 and A6. There is an obvious family similarity in appearance but in regard to sound quality they are a significant step up. Please read on.

I set them up fresh out of their cartons with a stack of Naim gear. The new XS series, CD, pre and power. I immediately turned them up quite loud, sat down and soaked up a wall of very detailed, rather dynamic sound that although a smidge shrill (remember these speakers were still in a cloud of grey pommy air and definitely in need of some running in) was very impressive. After briefly trying a few favourite numbers I left them to play and "run in" a bit.

10 days later and with a quite a few hours under their belt I sat down again for some serious listening.

I plopped Jeff Lang's 'Chimeradour' into the unique loading 'dock' of the CD5XS and selected track 8. An incredibly precise, very live sounding version of the song sprang forth. The A9 offers a sound somewhat less warm and mellow than many might expect a Spendor to sound but there was definitely a cleanliness to the sound and a lack of distortion that is very much now a normal Spendor trait (since the release of the A5 and A6). In other words Spendor engineers have managed to get more detail/resolution/information out of the speaker with no introduction of extra hardness or harshness. I listened on enjoying very much this focused and dynamic sound.

I then stuck Jennifer Warnes old HiFi shop standard in the Naim (The Hunter) and enjoyed a level of bass control and weight not previously available to Spendor fans except to those who own the S9e. In fact I think I might almost prefer the A9's bass as it just seems a little more naturally balanced and the very slight woodiness of the S9e's bass performance in some rooms on some gear was not present on the A9. The other area that the S9e's performance stopped it being a perfect loudspeaker was a slight lack of Spendor warmth in the midrange. It was detailed and had a smooth response but occasionally seemed a little like most other speakers in that it hardened up when pushed and sometimes when it wasn't. The A9 in my brief listening so far showed no signs of this trait. At this stage I am wishing they had 200 hours on the clock as they show so much promise of being the great allrounder. A speaker that offers both a big full range sound but still gets the little things right that speakers like the SA1 do so well.

To round out this quick listen prior to running the loudspeakers in further I shut down the Naim XS stack and connected up the newly arrived Naim Uniti. I popped Jeff Beck's latest effort into the familiar (or is it 'onto'), uniquely Naim CD loading arrangement and selected track 2. This track starts off at a medium volume with some vaguely Hendrix sounding waa waa guitar so I turned it up to 11 (well actually 73 on the Uniti's display). Crikey! The Uniti held itself together while producing an enormous sound that had real drive. Small children ran for the hills, cockroaches flipped onto their backs and the resident parrot shut the hell up for a change. The S9e and the SP100R2 are the only other Spendors that can produce this scale of sound. I feel the A9 does it very nearly as well as the SP100 but in a somewhat more wife acceptable package and at a useful discount. I have a sneeking suspicion though that the SP100R2's charm factor in the mid is superior and I also suggest the amazing SP2/3R2 is a more relaxing listen and is a definite charmer although at lower resolution than the A9 and SP100, BUT the A9's are far from run in yet and who knows.

So far they are the speaker that I am happily listening to in the store and am enjoying their almost full range sound and lack of issues in the mid that so many 3 way speakers are plagued with and "running in" cannot fix.

Back soon with properly detailed notes once they are fully run in.

This page was last updated 26-03-2010
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