Impressions of Spendor S8 and Totem Staff


Prominent Member
Dec 5, 2002
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I had a demo this morning of the Spendor S8 (old range now so £1300 instead of £1800) and the Totem Staff (not sure on the price, around £1400 I think). The amp and CD player were Naim.

The Staffs had good clarity and seperation, and the bass was strong, but uneven. Vocals tended to have a slight sharpness to them which I didn't like. The highs were nice with high hats sounding very much like they should. Punch was nice, drums had a good kick. The speakers themselves are small and not expensive looking, the bass output was surprising given their size. The soundstage I found to be quite wide, but lacking in depth, the imaging was not very good either. Over all, I prefered my current 602s :)

Next up was the S8. This was a significant improvement over the Staff in a number of areas. There was a much smoother sound, although detail was still retained. Vocals were far more pleasing. The bass was weaker but much more even and natural. Highs were not as precise at the Staffs but were still good. The punch on drums wasn't as good. I found the soundstage and imaging to be better although not hugely.

The S8 was the definite winner here but I came away feeling that my 602s partnered with a nice power amp sounded better. Of course they have the benifit of the equalisation provided by my 2011 which, depending on the room, can make a big difference. It could have been the speakers, but when I saw the Naim kit powering these speakers I was expecting something special and it didn't materialise.

I have now listened to the B&W 704, 703, Monitor Audio GR20, Spendor S8 and Totem Staff. I have a demo setup for the ATC SCM-35 and a couple of others, not sure what the shop has lined up for me.

So far the 703s are in the lead. The only thing I didn't like was the highs sounding harsh on ocassion. Given my recent experience with the Primare power amp on my 602s, I think that may have been down to the Roksan Kandy amp not being up to the job rather than the speakers themselves.

I spent too long pondering on the Primare and lost my oportunity, so a Parasound A23 is on the list. If it sounds as good as the Primare did, I'll be very happy.

Any suggestions on other speakers I should demo (£2000 for fronts absolute limit)?

Different experiences with the above speakers?

[BTW can anyone link me to the thread by The Beekeeper or buns made about people upgrading their speaker when they should be spending more on the electronics? I can't find it.]
Thanks Ian.
You might like to try the Linn Ninka's but make sure they have the upgraded polymer bases fitted as this makes a lot of difference to their sound. They retail around £1045 and the base upgrade (essential imo) is £165. If they're going to be used within a hc set up then the Trikan (£450) is a good match for a centre speaker.
I'm more than happy with these speakers they deal admirably with everything I throw at them. The icing on the cake for me is that they offer a good upgrade path. I currently have them bi-wired but they can also be bi-amped, tri-amped and made fully active with crossover cards later should you wish.

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