Introduction - What Is the Spendor D7.2?
The Spendor D7.2 is a 2.5 way floorstanding speaker and smaller of the two D Line speakers that the company makes. It might not look like it but the D Line is Spendor at its most visually modern. The company produces three distinct ranges of speakers in the A Line, the Classic Series and the D Line. The Classic Series (and we have looked at the Classic 4/5 most recently) is a range of speakers that take design cues and thinking from the origins of the brand but blend it with modern technology where appropriate. The A Series (of which we have looked at the A1) is a range of speakers that employs many of the same engineering solutions but does so in a more contemporary slimline cabinet. All of them are two way designs; the size of the cabinet and driver increasing with each model.
The D Line is conceptually different from the other models. These multi way floorstanders incorporate some design thinking not applied to the other models and occupy a higher price point than the A Line models. When I discussed with Spendor about the possibilities of looking at a larger model, the D7.2 was mooted because; like the A1 and Classic 4/5 it’s the smallest model in its range and also because it is one of the most popular speakers that Spendor makes.
There’s something more too. Talking to various people in industry, be they retailers, electronics manufacturers or other reviewers, people who routinely cannot agree on anything else, all seem to have a soft spot for the 7.2. As this is a rare phenomenon indeed, there’s a degree of intrigue as to what these unassuming floorstanders can do. We had best get cracking.
Specification and Design
The D7.2 is an evolution of the earlier D7 (there’s no indication as to whether a ‘D7.1’ existed as an additional development stage or if Spendor only does even number increments). It’s a 2.5 way design and absolutely critical to the understanding of what it does is the caveat that, like the other speakers we’ve looked at before, Spendor produces its drivers (and its cabinets for that matter) in house. Everything it does is designed for the job.
In the case of the D7.2, this means that the midbass is an example of Spendor’s EP77 (‘Engineering Polymer’) drivers. In this case, it is 180mm in size and uses the same combination of cast magnesium chassis, high efficiency motor and revised surrounds made from a different type of polymer. The midrange driver has the traditional Spendor bullet shaped phase plug where the lower driver does without. This creates a concave dome that Spendor stiffens with a Kevlar liner.
The tweeter is more unusual and something that is specific to the D Line. Spendor calls it the LPZ which stands for Linear Pressure Zone. It takes the same polyamide dome that Spendor uses in all its tweeters but instead of putting the dome in free space, it acts against a stainless steel plate with a phase correcting micro foil between the two that also serves to equalise the contact point across the plate. The result is a tweeter that equalises the pressure across both sides, helping dispersion, frequency response and reducing cabinet colouration.
These three drivers conspire to give the D7.2 a quoted (albeit with no roll off) frequency response of 29Hz – 25kHz which is pretty impressive for a cabinet this size. Furthermore, some of the other Spendor behavioural traits are retained too. Impedance is solidly 8 ohms and though independent measurements do register dips they are never outside the threshold you might define as ‘entirely benign.’ At a price point where some speakers can be fairly demanding loads, the D7.2 sits as an entirely easy going alternative.
Neither is Spendor done there. Unlike the previous two designs from Spendor we have looked at, the D7.2 is ported but the manner in which this is done is different to most other speakers. This takes the form of a tapered twin port that controls air flow over the length of the port and exits via an aperture at the base of the cabinet. This is not downward firing because it doesn’t exit vertically but instead does so into an alcove where Spendor also places the terminals.
As well as ensuring that airflow is controlled and phase correct within the speaker itself, the air exiting the cabinet does so in a way that makes the D7.2 fairly unfussy about placement. I would say the terminals, buried in this alcove are not the easiest to access and the lack of handholds further up the cabinet makes moving around a little harder but normal people buy speakers and place and connect them once, so there’s an element of reviewer specific complaint to this sort of thing.
Neither is this the only effort Spendor has put into how the D7.2 works in room. At the bottom of each cabinet is an integrated plinth that is barely larger than the cabinet but incorporates a solid mounting point for the spikes and partially decouples the cabinet. The internal bracing has been beefed up over the original D7 too, with a system called Spendor Dynamic Damping that is intended to ensure that the cabinet is as inert as possible. Tap the side of a D7.2 and it feels very substantial indeed.
Given that the D Line is Spendor at its most modern, it has to be said that the D7.2 is still a fairly traditional looking speaker but there’s a huge helping of method at work here. The Spendor is available in Black Oak, White, Cherry, Oak and Walnut (the finish the review samples are in). If you’re after an exotic finish from some far flung corner of the Earth, you’ve come to the wrong place. If you’re after a pair of speakers that genuinely work as furniture though, you might want to keep reading. The D7.2 is immaculately built and there’s something extremely British about the way that this has been done. This means you can see the bolts that mount the drivers but they’re perfectly aligned with one another. Spendor isn’t afraid to hint at the oily bits but it does so with great care.
It’s also beautifully proportioned. With the spikes in, the D7.2 stands just over a metre tall. Combined with a relatively slim 19.2 centimetre front offset by a deep cabinet section, it sits very happily in most spaces. Spendor underplays its interests in aesthetics; it’s a company that goes long on sound and engineering, but it’s not accidentally good at it. This is as much speaker as most UK lounges will take without being dominated by them and it’s a cleverly worked balancing act. This is a speaker for adults; if you don’t like it now, you’ll grow into it.
The D7.2 is immaculately built and there’s something extremely British about the way that this has been done
How Was the D7.2 Tested?
The Spendor has done the bulk of its testing on the end of a Cambridge Audio Edge A integrated amp powered from an IsoTek Evo3 Aquarius mains conditioner. This has been using its own decoding for an iFi Audio Zen Stream running as a Roon Endpoint into the USB input and an LG55B7 OLED TV running into an optical input. Some additional testing has taken place via a Rega Planar 10 running into a Cyrus Phono Signature phono stage. They then did a shorter stint on the end of a Naim Supernait 3 and Chord Electronics Hugo2 and 2Go, again running as a Roon Endpoint. Material used has been FLAC, AIFF some DSD, Qobuz, Tidal, some on demand TV and vinyl.
More: Audio Formats
Let me break with tradition at this point and, instead of another speaker picture, here’s a screenshot image of a Tweet I posted a day or so into testing the Spendor;
If you wanted a potted summary of what this speaker is, I’d struggle to do better than that even if I had more room than a tweet allows. Spendor has never been about shock and awe (with the partial exception of what happens if you’re left alone with the Classic 100 and a Roots Manuva album) and so it is here. Listen to the D7.2 for 20 minutes on the end of the Edge A and you’ll be pleasantly impressed but not grabbed; that’s not what they do. It’s only as you pile on the time, reaching for different bits of music, sneaking the volume up as you go that they move from ‘capable’ to ‘irresistible.’
There’re a few different factors at work as to why this happens. Some of them are virtues that are readily identifiable in the A1 and Classic 4/5 while others are rather more specific to the D7.2. In terms of the known quantities, the most important of these is the effortless cohesion across the three drivers. Spendor quotes a crossover frequency between the tweeter and midrange of 3.3kHz which is comparatively high in modern practice but there’s not the slightest audible clue to it. The D7.2 moves from a rich and involving midrange into a sweet, well controlled upper frequency response without the slightest hint of a handover.
Tonal realism is also outstanding. In the time it’s been here, the Spendor has polished off Cellos, Pianos, brass and woodwind without breaking sweat. With voices though, it’s truly in a league of its own. I left Roon running while I concentrated on finishing another piece of work, in which time it went ‘worryingly audiophile’ and selected Babylon Sisters by Steely Dan; some way outside my usual listening preferences but amusing once in a while. The first refrain of the chorus was a genuine moment of demolishing what passes for my concentration and fixating wholly on the D7.2. There’s nothing forced or artificial here, just a genuine mastery of what humans sound like.
Across these virtues, the D7.2 matches the merits of the smaller two way models we’ve tested so far but it has attributes that they can’t emulate too. The first of these is at the top of the frequency response rather than the bottom as you might expect. The LPZ tweeter is a device that manages to leverage its relative complexity into doing something wholly straightforward. There is an outstandingly open and airy nature to the D7.2 that makes even rather well sorted rivals sound a little constrained. It can’t match the intensity of the Beryllium dome in the Focal Kanta No1 but even the Focal leaves more sense of its cabinet than the Spendor does.
At the other end of the frequency response, the presence of a bass driver, bass port and larger cabinet lends the Spendor a low end that is entirely beyond the smaller models in depth but that possesses similarities in terms of overall presentation. That 29Hz figure seems achievable in room but what’s more notable is that the same excellent integration and control that the sealed box designs possess is present here too. The Spendor’s bass port arrangement delivers on the prospect of bass that has the speed and control of an infinite baffle but that has the depth you’d need a vast infinite baffle to achieve. It’s not just about big slabs of electronica too. The glorious layered percussion interlude in Skapel’s Transit is something that the Spendor revels in. The standard drumming is crisp and controlled and then, whoomp, those deep low bass notes hit with a force you feel in the chest.
Then, there’s the best feature of the lot. It takes a little time to come to terms with, partly because the basic presentation of the D7.2 is so accurate and partly because you look at the design of the Spendor and assume that the performance has to match the looks. Then you stick on Sturgill Simpson’s Sound & Fury and you have to quickly re-evaluate that position. This is a joyous speaker to push hard. It goes loud with effortless ease and never shows any signs of its composure fraying until you’re well into ASBO territory. On the end of the Naim and Chord duo it moves with a speed and cohesion that is beyond some standmounts, let alone something good to sub 30Hz.
Against this tidal wave of positivity, there’s not much to put in the against column. Like everything else I’ve ever tested from Spendor, the D7.2 is forgiving in terms of what’s needed to drive it but it responds well to a little power and current being available. As befits the descendent of broadcast monitors, it also has little trouble in highlighting the character and flaws of what’s connected to it; it won’t ever be a cheap fix for equipment you aren’t happy with. It’s also not wildly forgiving of corners but by this sort of price point not much is. By the standards of a speaker at this fairly lofty part of the market, this is a genuinely benign device.
This is a joyous speaker to push hard. It goes loud with effortless ease and never shows any signs of its composure fraying until you’re well into ASBO territory
- A sensational balance of tonal realism, accuracy and joy
- Relatively easy to place and drive
- Beautifully made
- Might look a little sober for some
- Won't flatter imbalanced systems
- A little tricky to lift and place
Spendor D7.2 Floorstanding Speaker Review
Should you have skipped ahead to the conclusion (why?), the D7.2 has delighted me in the time it has been here and gone a long way to showing why it seems to unite the usually disparate opinions of people I know. When I compare it to the resident Focal Kanta No1, it has to give ground as a reviewing tool. The Focal is forensic in a way that even this invigoratingly detailed speaker cannot match and it is why the Kanta remains on hand to help me determine what equipment is up to.
The thing is though, I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this, you aren’t a reviewer. You’re looking to exchange a considerable sum of money for a speaker that will deliver your music collection in a manner that is unfailingly accurate but enjoyable with it. The chances are you want it to look smart and not dominate the space its in. You want it to do impressive audiophile things to impress your mates and play something loud and embarrassing when you want it to impress you. What the D7.2 does is deliver these various abilities better than anything I’ve yet tested at the price. As my tweet noted earlier, the D7.2 is a softly spoken Modern Great™; a viceless piece of acoustic engineering and something that is an indisputable Best Buy.
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