Tannoy Speakers

Famous, Dual Concentric Coaxial loudspeakers from Scotland
Tannoy aims to lead the industry through concentrating on innovative, high performance products

As one of the largest European loudspeaker manufacturers, Tannoy aims to lead the industry through concentrating on innovative, high performance products for use in the home and in a broad range of professional applications.

Tannoy Ltd is a Scotland based manufacturer of loudspeakers and public-address (PA) systems. The company was founded by Guy Fountain in England as Tulsemere Manufacturing Company in 1926, but has been based in Coatbridge, Scotland.

Tannoy is famous for its 'Dual Concentric' speaker design which places the tweeter behind the centre of the medium or bass driver. 'Dual Concentric' is a trademark.

Tannoy's image is particularly linked to studio monitors on the one hand and its Prestige range of home speakers on the other. Prestige speakers use Dual Concentric cone speakers and are easily recognisable by their 'vintage' design.

Introduction - Prestige GR - Prestige Gold Reference sereis
Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark loudspeaker range; the Prestige Gold Reference. This major upgrade to the entire Prestige SE series of loudspeakers marks another significant chapter in Tannoy’s illustrious history. Gold Reference (GR) further refines the Dual Concentric™ driver concept, brings cutting edge materials and engineering technologies to the Prestige range and leverages the sonic benefits of Deep Cryogenic Treatment. The result is a captivating and unique range of loudspeakers that further improves and refines the world-renowned acoustic excellence of Tannoy’s Prestige range.

Of course, the sumptuous traditional design and time-honoured method of construction of the famous Prestige cabinets remains unchanged. These bespoke pieces of fine acoustic furniture have been hand crafted from solid wood and hardwood ply laminates by Tannoy’s finest artisans for many decades.

Prestige Gold Reference continues to proudly boast the world’s finest traditional loudspeaker cabinets.

In addition to the luxury real-wood veneering with hand-rubbed oil finish, the new GR models benefit from revised intricate wood-working detail, new contrasting wood inlays and new metal trim pieces. The driver trim parts, HF adjustment panel and rear boiler-plate are machined from billet aluminium and hard anodised in a luxury gold finish.

Available in five models from the compact Tannoy Stirling Gold Reference up to the magnificent 530litre/138kg Westminster Royal Gold Reference, high power handling, high sensitivity and breath-taking clarity and musical communication are the common theme across the range. With point-source articulation, precision imaging, extended natural bass and incredible dynamics, Gold Reference marks another significant upgrade of the long-running Tannoy Prestige range.

To mark the Prestige GR milestone, and as a celebration of the company’s proud heritage, the famous original Tannoy ‘lighting strike’ logo has been incorporated into trims on all models throughout the Prestige GR series. The design element of the lightning strike logo lends itself to the timeless traditional styling of the Prestige GR models and reminds listeners of the proud heritage of Tannoy brand built over more than eight decades of audio innovation.

Drive Unit

The new Prestige Gold Reference series marks the most sweeping advancements in Dual Concentric™ technology for more than 40 years. Gold Reference revives the spirit of the ground-breaking Monitor Gold, but pushes performance even further than the previous SE designated models by leveraging the best of 21st century materials science and computer-aided design. With many Tannoy innovations and bespoke technologies trickled down from Tannoy’s flagship Kingdom Royal development project, the GR series drivers stand as Tannoy’s most advanced Duals to date.

At the top of Tannoy’s new Prestige GR range, both the Canterbury GR and Westminster Royal GR are fitted with a newly developed cone material. To increase rigidity across the larger surface area of these 15.00 inch Dual Concentric drivers, the fibrous mix within the cone material has been revised to realise further improvements in the cone’s mechanical characteristics. Modern imaging technology affords incredibly detailed analysis of cone mechanics under load and many versions of the cone pulp mix were evaluated prior to the final selection of this vital component. As with all revisions to Tannoy’s important Prestige series models, the final selection of material was the result of critical auditioning with a wide range of music. Canterbury GR and Westminster Royal GR models now offer an even more dynamic presentation than their predecessors, with reduced colouration and an incredibly natural mid band response.

A new HF compression driver is incorporated in all Prestige GR models featuring Tannoy’s Alnico powered motors and Pepperpot Waveguide. Fitted to the Kensington GR, Canterbury GR and Westminster Royal GR, the design is a direct result of research undertaken for the Kingdom Royal project. Many months of R&D were spent testing and auditioning numerous alloys and heat treatment configurations before final selection of a heat-tempered aluminium alloy. The domes are terminated with a vented Mylar surround, which affords better energy termination at the diaphragm boundary. The result is even greater transparency and linearity across the driver’s working spectrum, delivering an even more refined and natural sound than previous Prestige Duals.

To further enhance the driver’s mechanical integrity and integration with the cabinet, all GR Duals are built on a new cast aluminium chassis with multi-point fixings. Tannoy’s signature ‘Tulip’ and ‘Pepperpot’ HF Waveguides feature across the GR series, depending on model, further enhancing the point source symmetrical dispersion properties of the driver.

Construction

On the inside, Prestige crossovers have been improved across the range and fine-tuned to integrate with the new GR Duals. ICW ClarityCap MR capacitors are used in the Westminster Royal, Canterbury and Kensington GR models but, unique to Tannoy, the leadout wires are PTFE insulated 99.99% single strand silver, extruded to our specification. The result of ICW’s own ground breaking two-year research program, these devices offer excellent self-damping characteristics and class-leading performance. Revised low loss laminated core inductors and thick film resistors are used throughout the Prestige GR series crossovers, chosen for their ability to resolve micro dynamic detailing.

Each fully assembled Prestige GR crossover is Deep Cryogenically Treated (DCT) as a single unit to improve the audio characteristics through components, cabling and solder joints holistically. The process involves freezing the entire assembled crossover to -190degrees and thawing at a controlled rate to remove micro stresses in the crystal structure of all conductors in the crossover. The improvements in musical cohesion and smoothness made it an essential part of the Prestige GR upgrade.

Around the back of each Prestige GR loudspeaker, the GR series boasts Tannoy’s unique fifth speaker terminal. This can be used to electrically ground the driver chassis to the amplifier, dramatically reduce potential for radio frequency interference and further enhancing midrange clarity. Westminster Royal GR, Canterbury GR and Kensington GR use the very latest loudspeaker terminals from WBT, the NextGen™ WBT-0703. These high-end loudspeaker terminals ensure perfect signal transfer from the amplifier to the Prestige GR loudspeaker.

To celebrate Prestige Gold Reference and the latest evolution of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric driver, Prestige GR cabinets have been enhanced with a range of external styling updates to reflect the quality and craftsmanship within. Light reworking of the cabinet finish included milled and machined detailing in the timber, new veneer inlays within the front baffle of certain models and precision machined metalwork, hard-anodised with a gold finish. Each cabinet is lovingly crafted from solid timber hardwoods and ply laminates and finished in a combination of lacquer and oil depending on model. The finish can be maintained for decades using Tannoy’s Prestige wood wax-oil and a soft cloth. Matching grilles with complementary woven cloth material are included with each model. The return of Tannoy’s famous ‘lightning strike’ logo establishes the Prestige Gold Reference series as another landmark in Tannoy’s illustrious history.

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Featured

TY 02 SB REV XT6
NZ$ 1,995.00 (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
TY 03 SF REVXT6F
NZ$ 3,500.00 (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
EXTENDED REVIEW: We all know what a good loudspeaker should do, but how to do it is another...
TY 04 SF REVXT8F
NZ$ 4,500.00 (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
Tannoy’s new Revolution XT range has made quite an impact.
TY 15 SF EATON
NZ$ 11,995.01 (incl. GST)
Following the recently revived Prestige range, Tannoy is now bringing three models from its original Legacy series back to life. If you hark back to the era of flared trousers, Saturday Night Fever...
10" Dual Concentric Coaxial driver - paper cone based on 1974 HPD technology. Front-mounted...
If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of...
TY 16 SF CHEVIOT
NZ$ 14,995.00 (incl. GST)
Following the recently revived Prestige range, Tannoy is now bringing three models from its original Legacy series back to life. If you hark back to the era of flared trousers, Saturday Night Fever...
12" Dual Concentic Coaxial driver - paper cone- based on 1974 HPD technology. Front-mounted control...
If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of...
TY 17 SF ARDEN
NZ$ 19,995.00 (incl. GST)
Following the recently revived Prestige range, Tannoy is now bringing three models from its original Legacy series back to life. If you hark back to the era of flared trousers, Saturday Night Fever...
15" Dual Concentic Coaxial driver - paper cone based on 1974 HPD technology. Front-mounted...
If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of...
TY 19 SF GR STIR
NZ$ 12,995.00 (incl. GST)
Introduction - Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis - Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark...
TERRY HUMPHRIES IS the kind of guy who believes in doing it properly. Why sell top gear unless you’...

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Home Theatre

TY 01 SC REV CTR
NZ$ 1,495.00 ea (incl. GST)
The Omnimagnet dual is augmented with twin 100 mm (4 inch) mid/bass drivers to deliver deep bass reproduction down to 62 Hz, bringing authentic presence to movie dialogue. The compact 7.6 litre XT C...
Home Theatre

Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

TY 01 SW REVXTMI
NZ$ 1,495.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
TY 02 SB REV XT6
NZ$ 1,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
TY 15 SF EATON
NZ$ 11,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
Following the recently revived Prestige range, Tannoy is now bringing three models from its original Legacy series back to life. If you hark back to the era of flared trousers, Saturday Night Fever...
10" Dual Concentric Coaxial driver - paper cone based on 1974 HPD technology. Front-mounted...
If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
TY 18 SF GR AUTO
NZ$ 3,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis - Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg
TY 28 SB ST200
NZ$ 3,500.00 pr (incl. GST)
The ST200 Prestige SuperTweeter is the ideal partner for any of Tannoy’s Prestige loudspeakers from the current Gold Reference series back through the line’s near five decades of heritage and...
Book Shelf/Stand Mtg

Floor Standing

TY 03 SF REVXT6F
NZ$ 3,500.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
EXTENDED REVIEW: We all know what a good loudspeaker should do, but how to do it is another...
Floor Standing
TY 04 SF REVXT8F
NZ$ 4,500.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Revolution XT series - Revolution XT is the latest development of Tannoy’s most affordable loudspeaker to feature the world renowned Dual Concentric™ driver. The XT is a true ‘...
Tannoy’s new Revolution XT range has made quite an impact.
Floor Standing
TY 13 SF DEF 10T
Price on application
Introduction - Definition series - For those looking for the ultimate in music and movie sound, Tannoy's Definition series is Tannoy's flagship multichannel loudspeaker range. Definition distils...
EXTENDED REVIEW: manufacturers in audio have as rich a history as Tannoy. Though founded by Guy...
Floor Standing
TY 14 SF DEF 10A
Price on application
Introduction - Definition series - For those looking for the ultimate in music and movie sound, Tannoy's Definition series is Tannoy's flagship multichannel loudspeaker range. Definition distils...
EXTENDED REVIEW: Tannoy’s history in audio is so long, illustrious, and well known that I’ll keep...
Floor Standing
TY 16 SF CHEVIOT
NZ$ 14,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Following the recently revived Prestige range, Tannoy is now bringing three models from its original Legacy series back to life. If you hark back to the era of flared trousers, Saturday Night Fever...
12" Dual Concentic Coaxial driver - paper cone- based on 1974 HPD technology. Front-mounted control...
If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of...
Floor Standing
TY 17 SF ARDEN
NZ$ 19,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Following the recently revived Prestige range, Tannoy is now bringing three models from its original Legacy series back to life. If you hark back to the era of flared trousers, Saturday Night Fever...
15" Dual Concentic Coaxial driver - paper cone based on 1974 HPD technology. Front-mounted...
If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of...
Floor Standing
TY 19 SF GR STIR
NZ$ 12,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis - Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark...
TERRY HUMPHRIES IS the kind of guy who believes in doing it properly. Why sell top gear unless you’...
Floor Standing
TY 20 SF GR TURN
NZ$ 16,995.05 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis - Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark...
These loudspeakers hail from the new range of Tannoy’s prestige series loudspeakers aimed at the...
Floor Standing
TY 21 SF GR KEN
NZ$ 34,995.01 pr (incl. GST)
Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis - Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark loudspeaker...
EXTENDED REVIEW: Not so long ago our office building was demolished, not by us playing too loud,...
Floor Standing
TY 22 SF GR CANT
NZ$ 58,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis - Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark...
EXTENDED REVIEW: A Brief History of the Tannoy Prestige Line -It doesn’t go all the way back to the...
Floor Standing
TY 23 SF GR WEST
NZ$ 89,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
Introduction - Prestige GR - Gold Reference sereis. Over forty-five years on from the introduction of the world famous Monitor Gold Dual Concentric™ driver, Tannoy has launched a new benchmark...
EXTENDED REVIEW: Do you know what the oldest loudspeaker company in the world is? If you guessed...
Floor Standing
TY 25 SF GRF90
NZ$ 39,995.00 pr (incl. GST)
The Gold Reference GRF 90 is a limited edition speaker marking TANNOY’s 90th Anniversary. Utilising a 300 mm (12") Gold Reference Dual Concentric driver housed in a beautifully designed, oiled walnut...
Floor Standing
TY 26 SF KING
Price on application
CROSSOVER - The Kingdom Royal has the largest crossover Tannoy has ever produced, being a double-decked design built on boards as wide as the cabinet interior. Silver solder, solid silver cables for...
Tannoy has always been a leader where quality sound reproduction is concerned and the no-...
Floor Standing

Reviews

The Kensington GRs are speakers to love..... there’s enough sonic quality to place them on the top rung of speakers at this price. They’re gentle giants, balancing finesse with force in a mighty appealing way. Consider us tempted.
OUR VERDICT: 
It’s easy to dismiss these on the grounds of their retro appearance, but there’s real substance to the Kensington GR’s engineering and performance
FOR: 
Impressive combination of scale, dynamics and finesse
Good rhythmic capability
Impressively articulate and insightful
Sonic composure
Retro appearance
Fine build and finish

EXTENDED REVIEW: It’s easy to dismiss Tannoy’s Prestige series for being old fashioned. While the range’s traditional appearance may not suit the decor in many UK homes, it’s a firm favourite in the Far East where the fine craftsmanship, retro details and sonic talent have brought huge success.

We have one of the mid-sized models on test here, the Kensington GR, and even a quick listen proves there’s more at work here than just nostalgia.

Build and design
When we say mid-sized, it’s only in the context of the range. It’s still a huge cabinet that’s 105 litres in volume and 110 cm tall. Packaged, these speakers weigh in at a hefty 49kg each, so make sure you have a willing (and strong) friend to help unpack them.

Once you do that you’ll find that the Kensington GRs are beautifully made, wider than they are deep and covered with loads of retro design details. The cabinets are solid too, using a mixture of high-density birch ply for the front baffle and rear panel, combined with particle board and solid wood for other sections.

There are two standard finishes; the traditional-looking Walnut most Tannoy Prestige speakers come in, or the Black Oak of our review sample.

There are loads of neat cosmetic touches. We love the GR (Gold Reference) emblem on the front baffle and the engraved thick metal plate used for the treble adjustment section. The surprisingly heavy grille actually locks into place and there’s a chunky key that unlocks it for removal. Our inner nerd loves such things.

The speakers' accessories are housed in this beautifully made matching box

Items such as the beautifully finished wooden box that houses the biwire links, spikes and the nicely produced manual help promote pride of ownership. Details like this really boost the feel-good factor.

Despite all the fancy woodwork, the heart of these speakers is Tannoy’s trademark Dual Concentric drive unit. The one used in the Kensington GR builds on decades of development. It has a 25-cm paper pulp mid/bass cone with an impregnated twin roll fabric surround.

The tweeter – positioned in the heart of the mid/bass to help integration – is a 52mm aluminium/magnesium dome. It fires through a ‘pepper pot’ grating into a stainless steel horn – an arrangement said to help sensitivity and control directivity.

We don’t normally mention the magnet material used in a drive unit, but here we’ll make an exception. The Dual Concentric driver uses an Alnico magnet to provide the driving force for both the low- and high-frequency drivers.

Tannoy claims the use of Alnico (an iron/nickel alloy, with cobalt, aluminium and other rare metals) helps give the drive unit array a cleaner transient response and increased sensitivity.

The fifth terminal is for grounding – which can improve sound

The sheer size of the Kensingtons means you’ll need a big room – around 20 square metres as a minimum, we’d say. Make sure you can place these floorstanders at least a metre out into the room to make the most of their stereo imaging.

In our listening room, any closer to the rear or sidewalls resulted in an un-natural bloom at low frequencies. It isn’t particularly severe, but enough to adversely affect the overall performance.

Tannoy provides a good degree of flexibility in the treble. On the front baffle you’ll find adjustments for treble energy and roll-off. These are subtle enough to be useful, so it’s well worth experimenting to optimise performance.

The Kensington GRs can be biwired, and they benefit from that, sounding more precise and lucid when used this way. As with other Tannoys there’s an additional terminal next to the two pairs of signal inputs, the use of which (wired to the ground-pin on your amplifier) results in a cleaner, crisper presentation.

Performance
A solid, embossed key locks the weighty front grille in place

Effortless – is our first impression of the Kensington GR’s sound. They’ll deliver a piece of music like Hans Zimmer’s Where We’re Going (from the Interstellar OST) with breathtaking composure.

The large dynamic shifts of the track are rendered with impressive force and the scale of sound is just huge. Yet, there’s it’s all done with an astonishing sense of ease. At no point do these speakers sound strained or close to their limits, even at high volumes.

There’s none of the hardness of lesser speakers when pushed, nor the restrained dynamics that go with small drive units and compact cabinets.

Then, there’s the bass. While it comes as no surprise a speaker this size produces lots of it, we’re impressed by the Tannoy’s quality. They’re subtle, textured and articulate.

Rivals from the likes of B&W and Focal deliver more punch and grip, but sacrifice a little grace in the process. It’s a trade-off we’re happy to accept.

You can fine-tune the treble via the under-grille panel

We’re impressed with the Tannoy’s stereo imaging too. Positioned with care these speakers set up a wide and deep sound stage populated by securely focused instruments. The stability is impressive, with the precision unspoiled even when louder elements come into play.

With Nina Simone’s Feeling Good, the Kensingtons continue to shine. That Dual Concentric driver gives a seamless and direct delivery, rendering Simone’s vocals with real passion and drive. Along with the power, we’re reminded just how subtle and insightful these speakers are.

We give alt-J’s Hunger of the Pine a listen and are struck by the Tannoy’s rhythmic skill. The overall presentation is a little gentler than we’re used to, but there’s still enough energy to satisfy. The combination of fine timing, strong dynamics and clarity are more than enough to win us over.

Verdict
The Kensington GRs are speakers to love. Their retro appearance may not be to all tastes but there’s enough sonic quality to place them on the top rung of speakers at this price.

They’re gentle giants, balancing finesse with force in a mighty appealing way. Consider us tempted.

Overall, there is nothing I can find to mark down this speaker at the price; it’s an excellent performer with a special talent all of its own
David Price

REVIEW SUMMARY: Tannoy is going through something of a purple patch with some very strong affordable and mid-price speakers out there, all of which have garnered a reputation for musicality as much as that trademark expansive sound. To this list we now need to add the Revolution XT 6F, which performs far better than it has any right to. Add those traditional values you get from the dual concentric driver – starting with that wonderful ‘point-source’ imaging – to its highly engaging sound and this is likely to win many friends in an already highly competitive marketplace l

EXTENDED REVIEW: We all know what a good loudspeaker should do, but how to do it is another matter altogether – there are many different ways of attempting this. Moving coil drive units in a wooden box are the most common and simplest type to produce, but arguably the most flawed. Still, because the concept is so old there has been plenty of time to refine it, and Tannoy came up with its own solution nearly 70 years ago. Its first dual concentric design – the Monitor Black of 1946 – was a coaxial speaker combining mid/bass and treble units in one drive unit. This was not sold in cabinets, but as research tools for testing microphones, due to the exceptionally flat frequency response. 

It soon found its way into hi-fi speakers, when Tannoy made a monitor for Decca recording studios. Whereas normal speakers fire sound out at you from different places on the front baffle, Tannoy’s driver produces it from the same place. Think of a violin playing a single note; a standard speaker will have different parts of this (including its harmonics) coming from two or more points in space at the same time. A Tannoy dual concentric driver, however, will produce all the note’s spectral components from a single place at precisely the same time. This brings great phase coherence and better off-axis response too, making the speaker image far more accurate. 

The driver has been refined over the years. Indeed, this year has seen one of its most radical redesigns, with a new Omnimagnet motor and Torus Ogive Waveguide. Both mid/bass and treble drivers now use a single shared magnet and a special waveguide integrating a donut-shaped (Torus) tweeter diaphragm and bullet-shaped (Ogive) phase plug. The tweeter has been moved forward for better time alignment and a shallower but more flared waveguide is said to give better high-frequency directivity. 

The Revolution XT range is the first to debut this new driver and the XT stands for ‘extra technology’ . The ‘6’ refers to its 6in dual concentric driver, which includes the 25mm PEI dome tweeter and the 150mm multi-fibre mid/bass unit, which crossover at 1.8kHz. There’s an additional 150mm bass unit that works in parallel below 250Hz using a blend of paper fibres. 

Sound quality 

There’s something instinctively right about the sound of this loudspeaker. First impressions, when a speaker initially reveals itself, are important and can decided whether it lives or dies in the showroom. From the off, the Revolution XT 6F impresses, but not in the sense of sounding dramatic or impactful, but rather because it doesn’t. It presents itself as a ‘mature’ product for its price, devoid of the usual frequency peaks and troughs that are often deliberately – or inadvertently – engineered in. 

The first track on the CD player is Spacer, a classic piece of disco music, performed by Sheila and B Devotion. It’s a worthy test, with lots of energy at both ends of the frequency spectrum and a wonderfully sinewy rhythm that soon reveals whether it can stop and start properly. It comes over as tonally well balanced; there’s no sign of lumpiness to it, although you would have to concede that the upper bass has a subtle weight that helps propel pop music along on in a most pleasing way. Treble is very good too, being clear and crisp if not quite as delicate as the very best at the price. In-between this is a pleasingly open and well integrated midband with a surprising amount of clarity, both from a loudspeaker at this price and also from a Tannoy. It’s certainly a touch more well defined and seems able to give a more intricate rendition of what is actually in the recording than I’ve heard before from a speaker in this segment bearing this great name. The result is that Spacer comes over in a most enjoyable way; sounding warm, smooth, expansive and yet engaging. The lead vocal is sweet and expressive. 

Moving to something altogether more contemplative, and the beautiful ambient strains of The Cocteau Twins’ Lazy Calm shows just how good the new Tannoy is at imaging. Not that this was ever in doubt of course, but still it serves up a cathedral-like expanse of sound, imaging far left and right, and also hanging back nicely. This is further underlined when I move to the Ralph Vaughan Williams stirring Symphony No.2, only to hear the soundstage open up still further. Indeed, the Revolution XT 6F is able to show off its even tonal balance, delicate midband and obvious ability to recreate a recorded acoustic in three dimensions. I am also struck by the fine string tone delivered on this recording; earlier entry-level Tannoy dual concentrics had a tendency to sound a little ‘cuppy’, but the latest drive unit is a model of openness and neutrality by comparison. It may not necessarily have been voiced as such, but the Tannoy proves an excellent choice for classical music. 

One often finds that loudspeakers that score highly in traditional aspects of performance – bandwidth, smoothness, detail, etc. – fare less well in their ability to entertain and involve the listener. But not so with the Revolution XT 6F, which again proves highly adept at extracting the music’s essential rhythm from the electrical signal it is presented with. This is a highly enjoyable design that bounces along at a high rate of knots. 

John McLaughlin’s excellent Love And Understanding is a powerful piece of guitar-based jazz fusion and the Revolution XT 6F shows its excellent transient response with some dizzyingly fast strummed electric guitar strings and hi-hat work. It proves well able to get into the groove, powerfully showing up the fine rhythmic playing of the instrumentalists, as well as the dynamic accenting that makes the music sound so expressive.

In absolute terms the Tannoy isn’t brilliant at dynamics – it’s only a medium-sized box with three drive units after all is said and done – but it is excellent at capturing those all-important subtle nuances of the music. It also does well for its size in bass extension, having a smooth and deep bottom end that doesn’t sound like it’s struggling too hard with lower bass notes. Overall, there is nothing I can find to mark down this speaker at the price; it’s an excellent performer with a special talent all of its own. 

Conclusion 
Tannoy is going through something of a purple patch with some very strong affordable and mid-price speakers out there, all of which have garnered a reputation for musicality as much as that trademark expansive sound. To this list we now need to add the Revolution XT 6F, which performs far better than it has any right to. Add those traditional values you get from the dual concentric driver – starting with that wonderful ‘point-source’ imaging – to its highly engaging sound and this is likely to win many friends in an already highly competitive marketplace l
….. David price - 5 STARS AWARD

Dr PAUL MILLS - Director of Development Tannoy
Q&A DP: How would you say the Tannoy dual concentric has changed over the years? PM: Improvements in materials and manufacturing techniques over the years and computer aided design, both mechanical and acoustical, have enabled the concept to give better performance, greater reliability and substantial gains in power handling. The use of ferrite magnets in 1978, which are common today, became the norm due to rare earth magnets consistently rising in cost, making once affordable speakers very expensive indeed. However, Alnico magnets are still retained for our high-end Prestige models. Do you consider the new driver a major historical development? The Omnimagnet system (shared magnet for LF and HF sections of the driver) allows a better optimised mechanical arrangement necessary for the new waveguide to operate, and also increases power handling. It is another significant step forward in the long history of the dual concentric; to the point that this element of the new design has been granted a patent in the UK and a patent is pending in the US. What advantages does it bring? The HF dome is Torus (donut) shaped allowing it to be placed further forward in the throat of the driver. An Ogive (bullet) shaped phase plug sits in front of the diaphragm, which assists in shortening the propagation path of HF waves. The Torus Ogive waveguide has a faster expanding flare than previous ‘tulip’-shaped dual concentric waveguides, which expands wave front propagation through the cone of the bass driver. The result is a shortened acoustic path through the driver and greater phase coherence between HF and LF. This has a profound positive effect on stereo imaging, and the improved phase coherence ensures a natural and expansive sound.

Gary Steel has a positive predisposition towards Tannoy loudspeakers that’s reconfirmed (and then some) by its retro-look Prestige Gold Reference series: 4.5/5 STARS.
GARY STEEL

REVIEW SUMMARY: I would implore anyone who likes the look of them, and likes what they read about them, to experience at least one of these Tannoy Prestige Gold Reference models for themselves. 

TERRY HUMPHRIES IS the kind of guy who believes in doing it properly. Why sell top gear unless you’ve got a beautiful room in which to display it? Why display it if you’re not going to play it? Accordingly, Terry has set up his ‘by-appointment-only’ show room, Audio Reference, down a side street in central Auckland in what is probably the perfect venue to act as a conduit between genuinely high end audio gear and anyone with the ears to appreciate it.

When I turned up, both Terry and Romesh Anandaraja from Tannoy importers Wildash Audio Systems were there to answer any questions, and make the change-over between three different models of the Tannoy Prestige Gold Reference range a smooth process, and they indulged me for hours while I methodically played my music selections.

So let’s backtrack a bit. We all know about Tannoy, the only speaker manufacturer whose products are so ubiquitous that they’re in the dictionary. Those of us with an interest in the broadcast of recorded or live sound know that one famous use of Tannoy speakers is as public address systems, and that if you’re lucky enough to live in a Muslim country, you’ll be woken at some ungodly hour by a public Tannoy making a ‘call for prayer’; more relevant perhaps, is the formidable reputation that Tannoy has as a studio monitor. And then there’s the ‘residential’ market, which we might call ‘domestic’, which goes from fairly lowly, home-theatre-oriented floorstanders right up to the flagship Kingdom Royal.

My personal experience with Tannoy goes back about 16 years, when I was running a shop called Beautiful Music. We served espresso, sold CDs and vinyl, and hosted music performances and DJ sessions in the evening, and I needed speakers to do the space (and the music) justice. A friend was working at a local hi-fi store at the time, and turned me on to his 15-inch dual concentric Tannoy studio monitors. My friend said they sounded better than anything stocked in the shop in which he worked, and when I heard them, I was blown away, and I had to have some for myself. They survived a hell of a beating, and I never got tired of hearing compliments on the great sound from a variety of musicians, producers and sound engineers. (I was juicing them with an old Perreaux amplifier). So that’s my Tannoy soft spot, right there.)

The Tannoy Prestige Gold Reference is something quite different to my rather ugly monitor boxes, but they’re instantly recognisable as Tannoy, nonetheless, because of the unique dual concentric speaker (a tweeter smack-bang in the middle of a large woofer) that’s been a feature of the brand since the 1940s. Yep, that’s right, the London-born, Scotland-based company has been around for something like eight decades, which means they in existence before the word “hi-fi” was even common parlance.

Now, a few paragraphs back I mentioned the Tannoy flagship Kingdom Royal. Well, in a tradition that has become common in modern technology, the Prestige GR Series has benefited from many of the innovations that make the Kingdom Royal so, uh… royal! It’s the flow-down principle. In addition to that, each specific model in the Prestige GR series has its own individual esoteric touches, meaning that it’s not simply a case of bigger is better.

Of the five models in the Prestige GR Series, we were able to audition the Stirling, Turnberry and Kensington, while we’ll have to leave the top-of-range Canterbury and Westminster for another day.

You’ll notice that each member of the Prestige GR Series is similarly styled. That is, they all look like someone has fallen in love with an Edwardian-era gramophone – you know, when audio players actually looked like something you’d decorate the parlour with – and fashioned a speaker out of it. Or two speakers actually, because they do play in stereo. It’s a specific look that will appeal to those with a particular aesthetic, or perhaps those with a beautiful old villa where these beauties would look right at home. And to be honest, there is something comfortably old-world about the Prestige GR series, and when you’re sitting in a room the look of the loudspeakers staring you in the face does impact on the way you hear the sound.

Of course, there’s nothing old-world about the technology built into these speakers, which includes something called Deep Cryogenic Treatment (DCT). Even after Googling it, I was baffled. Impressed, but baffled. Complicating matters is the fact that some of this new technology and quality enhancement is used on some models and not others, so I’m going to try not to tie myself up in knots, and deal with one speaker at a time.

The Stirling GR ($9995) is the low end of the Prestige range, but it still looks and sounds top notch. You might look at it and think: “But where are all the drivers? I can only see one!” and you’d be right. But the thing is, with only one beaut 10-inch driver and that lovely gold dual concentric tweeter at its core, you’ve got a distinctively Tannoy sound which gives alarming musical cohesion, and burns away all that crossover distortion.

Needless to say that, although the Stirling is devoid of some of the fancy new technology carried by the upper echelon of Prestige models, the basics are all there and they’re nothing to be sneezed at: Like the hand-built, pre-oiled cabinet in real walnut wood veneer, which is (according to the blurb) ‘complemented with solid walnut trim and edging, machined metal trim and adjustable high power switch.’

The Stirling was perfectly suited to that outstanding, classic Bill Evans jazz album,  Waltz For Debby, and brought out its incredibly resonant bass, natural dynamism and the well-rounded piano fingering in a way that the clarity of my Martin Logan electrostatic hybrids would sacrifice.

K&D Sessions by Kruder & Dorfmeister is a nicely engineered electronic downbeat collection, and while its ‘Speechless’ track by Count Basic really called for a subwoofer bass extension, the bass presence of the Stirling was quite phenomenal.

The haunting freak-folk sound of Lyttelton songbird Aldous Harding, on the other hand, fails to sound as “in my head” as it does at home, but then again, we’re listening in a very large room with very high ceiling, so perhaps the intimacy you’d get in an average size lounge will naturally be missing. Ditto Brendan Perry, whose Ark album sounds less 3D or stereophonically magical but certainly still impressive.

Emiliana Torrini’s ‘Birds’ is an interesting track, because it features up-close recording of voice and acoustic guitar, but also an intermittent groove and ambient guitar and piano sounds, and the more you listen, the more you hear. It strikes me that the Stirling bears the classic Tannoy sound: one that never tries to play magic tricks on you, but when something sonically amazing happens on a disc, it’s right there and present and waiting to floor you with its abilities. This happened on ‘Birds’ halfway through when the bass notes sounded. It wasn’t a ‘too much bass’ moment, just a moment when you’re floored by what you’re hearing, and I haven’t heard it before quite like that on another pair of speakers.

Next up was the Turnberry GR ($11,995), which looks near identical to the Stirling but is just that little bit bigger and better.

The blurb raves on about the new dual concentric driver, and why not? ‘The 10-inch Gold Reference Dual, unique to the Turnberry GR, uses a paper pulp cone material with twin roll fabric surround and 33mm aluminium-magnesium alloy dome tweeter with Tulip WaveGuide. The low frequency cone is fitted with a 52mm edge wound voice coil. This latest evolution of the 10-inch Dual brings an even more thrilling and dynamic performance than its well-regarded predecessor.’

The thing about Tannoy – and maybe it’s because of the company’s refinement of the studio monitor or just a characteristic of the dual concentric cone – is they don’t bullshit you. If you play a record that’s sonically compromised, then sonically compromised is what you get. So many speakers will modify a bad recording to make it sound okay. That doesn’t happen with Tannoy. It’s an aurally honest way of reproducing sound. When I played a track from a recent album by NZ jazz ensemble The Jac, I was taken aback by the intensity of the horn sound. Sure, ensemble horns blatting away can sound quite harsh. I wouldn’t describe the sound as harsh, exactly, but definitely edgy. And my guess is that the sound engineer didn’t quite have a handle on the horns. But anyway, the undertow, especially the bass and the drums, sounded spectacularly alive and present.

In fact, everything I played for a second time sounded more open, more detailed, and a little bit more dynamic than they did on the Stirling.

But the Kensington ($24,995), as you would expect for the price: now that was something else! If anything, it looks a little more svelte than its brothers, but there are many ways in which it justifies the price tag, not just that lovely reddish hue coming out of the dual concentric tweeter!

The driver itself is Tannoy’s Gold Reference 10-inch, and to quote the blurb again: ‘Its high-efficiency compression driver with 52mm heat-treated dome, Alnico motor system and high rigidity material creates outstanding dynamics, spacious sound staging and exceptional musical articulation.” None of which I would disagree with. But this is the bit I like: ‘To match the new 10-inch Dual, the Kensington crossover has been extensively upgraded with custom-specification ICW ClarityCap MR capacitors, low loss laminated core inductors and thick-film resistors, before the whole unit is Deep Cryogenically Treated. This technology brings a wealth of benefits to the Kensington GR sound, including more spacious soundstage, crisper micro dynamic detailing and an exceptional natural HF response.’

Another cool feature is that ‘the adjustable HF energy and treble roll off controls allow optimisation of the sound within your home environment.’

So, what does music sound like on it? Well, it’s still that identifiably Tannoy sonic signature, but the Kensington is effortlessly superior to its more humble siblings. I wish I had begun the day listening to it, because by now, I was feeling a little audition fatigued, but honestly, the Kensington is superb.

One of my favourite hi-fi test discs is Brian Eno’s Drawn From Life, an album he made with J. Peter Schwalm back in 2001, and which combines an incredibly spacious sonic palette with both electronic and orchestral elements. The album sounded so luxuriant on the Kensington’s that you could almost smell it. The bass was effortlessly deep while the orchestrations were so creamy you wanted to lap them up.

Frank Zappa’s ‘Watermelon In Easter Hay’ is one of the loveliest guitar pieces ever committed to vinyl, and the Kensington replicated the air sculptures of Zappa’s guitar perfectly.

From my favourite electronic dub (International Observer) to the jazz diva iterations of Holly Cole to Leonard Cohen’s old-man rumble of Old Ideas, the Kensington never stopped spilling out wads of superbly well defined, dynamic yet refined sound, and did it all effortlessly, while remaining totally in control.

Of course, this is called a FIRST LISTEN because that’s what it is. I haven’t spent weeks in my own environment getting to know these speakers. But I would implore anyone who likes the look of them, and likes what they read about them, to experience at least one of these Tannoy Prestige Gold Reference models for themselves.
.......... GARY STEEL

PS, Not to forget all the componentry that went together to help them perform at their best. All of that (thanks to Terry) is detailed below.

1) TANNOY Prestige GR STIRLING speakers @ RRP $9995/pr
OPPO JTLI  (hot rodded) CD / Multi format Player –  RRP $4250
Antipodes DS Music Server @ RRP 2995 with Aqua La Scala tube DAC @ RRP $8250
Ayon Scorpio KT88 Class-A 45w tube integrated amo pentode / 30 triode @ RRP 5995
TELLURIUM-Q Interconnect XLR Black Diamond reference @  $2795/pr
TELLURIUM-Q Speaker cable Ultra Black speaker cables @ $3750/ 3mtr pr

2) TANNOY Prestige GR Turnberry speakers @ RRP 11,995/pr
Ayon CDT – tube CD transport @ RRP $7995
Ayon Stealth tube DAC/Preamp @ RRP $10,995
Ayon Triton III KT150 class-A tube stereo power amp – 120w pentode / 70w triode @ RRP $15,995
Acoustic Zen Absolute Copper interconnects XLR-zero crystal ribbon copper interconnects @ 2750/pr
Tellurium-Q Speaker cable Black Diamond speaker cables @ $9375/ 3mtr pr

3) TANNOY Prestige GR KENSINGTON speakers @ RRP $24,995/pr
Accustic Arts TOP PLAYER-I Mk3 CD Player @ RRP $9995
Accustic Arts REFERENCE TUBE PRE-II Mk2 preamp @ 15,495
Accustic Arts REFERENCE MONO-II 300w Mono Blocks @ $25,995/pr
Acoustic Zen Absolute Silver interconnect cables @ $4750/pr
Tellurium-Q  Silver Diamond speaker cables @ $11,995/ 3mtr pr

...add this to their powerful low frequency output and the reason for the Tannoy sound becomes clear: from the Kensngtons you get scale, body, power and ease of delivery all in one. Result – happiness!
Noel Keywood

REVIEW SUMMARY: As Tannoy continue to refine their Prestige Series loudspeakers they get ever more impressive. The new Kensington Gold Reference is a carefully balanced design suitable for medium-to-large rooms, where it will impress by dint of sheer impact. This is a loudspeaker you feel – as well as see. It is fabulously well engineered all round, with its big Dual-Concentric drive unit and lovely traditional cabinet. I did at times have the Kensingtons pumping out massive volume from our 80 Watt Quad valve amplifiers and loved every minute of it. They play from soft to Rock-Concert loud without difficulty, always sounding lively and engaging. And our new offices haven't been demolished I'm happy to say! It's a pity the Kensingtons' price will exclude so many of us, because big loudspeakers like these are an experience worth having. I'll always love big Tannoys; they sit in a world of their own.

EXTENDED REVIEW: Not so long ago our office building was demolished, not by us playing too loud, but to make space for much needed new homes in Kilburn, north-west London. We had to find new offices and a key requirement and big issue was that they suit Tannoys. This isn’t favouritism: big Tannoys are physically challenging and if we could review them properly, we could review any loudspeaker properly. The new Kensington Gold References I’m reviewing here illustrate our dilemma.

Doorways and goods lift had to be big enough to accept Westminster Royal SEs, the biggest speakers Tannoy make and a size benchmark for us. And I knew from my time with Yorkminsters that we also needed a listening room that was big – and neighbour free.

Put together, these requirements were nearly impossible to meet, but in the end we found a building able to survive the onslaught and reasonably free of humans. Tannoy obligingly announced a new range of Prestige loudspeakers at around the same time, so a large lorry duly arrived and left in the street, sitting on a palette, two huge boxes, vinyl wrapped together. We had to get them in-doors quickly before Notting Hill decided the date of Christmas had been changed.

When we used Westminsters at a show demo in Manchester some years ago it took three men to move each one. The Yorkminsters needed two men and the Kensingtons need around one and half men. Each one weighs 37kgs and stands 1.1m tall. As most floorstanders are 1m tall and big ones 1.2m, the Kensingtons are not in truth so high, even by UK standards. But they are relatively wide (405mm) and quite deep too (350mm), meaning they loom large in a room. But there’s “nothing like a good big’un” when it comes to loudspeakers and these dimensions give a generous 105 litres (3.7cu ft) to load the 10in Dual-Concentric bass unit, for “real bass”.

What you get with the new Kensington Gold Reference is a large and very heavily crafted traditional looking loudspeaker in a big, but not impossibly large cabinet. The Yorkminster had a 12in Dual and the Westminster a 15in Dual, so they are larger speakers all round.

The Kensington tops the 10in Dual-Concentric equipped Prestige loudspeakers and will fit a typical UK lounge, even if it is more likely to be bought elsewhere, especially the Far East where they love traditional style and values – and Tannoys.

A its price tag it may seem high, but the new Kensington GR offers a lot for this and of course, with its olde-worlde styling and high quality of finish is almost alone in any case. And it’s a Tannoy, which truly does mean different and very, very good. I’ll always miss the Yorkminsters, no other loudspeaker ever moved a room like they did, but I needed a new home to suit them and couldn’t afford one big enough!

The Kensingtons have been carefully and subtly tailored to suit medium sized rooms, around 18ft-20ft long. They’d likely even work in my lounge at 16ft long (I didn’t try – it’s three floors up and I don't have a goods lift), which the Yorkies nearly demolished, but I’ll go into this in more detail later.

What you have in the Kensington GR is a Tannoy 10in Dual-Concentric drive unit, loaded by a front ported cabinet. The ports are slots concealed in each front, hardwood corner trim, at left and right and effectively facing forward.

The Dual-Concentric drive unit houses a large 2in (50mm) aluminium dome tweeter, loaded by a brass plated central horn with ‘pepperpot’ waveguide, that you can see in our pictures. Most tweeters are 1in diameter, so this one is twice as large. What that means in principle is that it goes lower than other tweeters – and this is good. When designing World Audio Design loudspeakers for Hi-Fi World it became obvious to me that a lower crossover frequency largely eliminated the phase error problems that conventional tweeters impose on loudspeakers (this is all due to distances and wavelengths). Tannoy’s large tweeter all but eliminates crossover phase error and you can hear this as a less phasey and indeterminate quality from the loudspeaker. It sounds solid and consistent, especially as you move your head or move around.

The 10in paper cone bass unit handles everything below 1.5kHz, quite a big task for a large paper cone but there are no hand-over issues between bass and midrange our measurements show. Tannoy have continued to develop their Dual-Concentric drive unit so it meets modern demands and expectations, and in the Kensington GR you get a technically refined performance, that is smooth in nature, carefully avoiding emphasis or aural artifice.

Those big cabinets are made from plywood, which is more durable than MDF. They are finished with an oiled Walnut veneer and protective Walnut hardwood corner trims; Tannoy recommend the cabinets are waxed and not stood in direct sunlight, to avoid fading. They sit on an integral plinth, with four feet; spikes are not available.

The front grill can be removed, unlocked with a key. Beneath, on the veneered front baffle, lies a heavy machined brass adjustment panel that employs thumbscrews to select treble level and roll off. As delivered these are set to Level and that’s what our measured frequency response shows. Treble can be lifted or lowered and the upper limit reduced if desired, by small amounts that effect subtle changes. Tannoy consistently voice their loudspeakers to be smooth and accurate and, if anything, a tad mild at high frequencies; they don’t come with obvious or fierce upper treble. There are treble lift positions to increase midrange output to give more thrust, if you wish.

Because the horn loaded tweeter is very well integrated with the bass/midrange unit, there is no crossover suckout to soften the sound, and the horn is forceful in any case so the Kensington doesn’t come sounding laid-back; quite the reverse it has a lot of midrange push and strong insight and detailing. 

The crossover is Cryogenically treated (deep frozen) and this does improve insight I feel, subjectively lowering the noise floor to reveal fine low level detail. It adds air and space into the sound.

Tannoy use sturdy, high quality WBT screw connectors with removable wire links for those that want to bi-wire. As always, there is an earth terminal so the metal frames and parts can be earthed, lessening their sensitivity to RF (Radio Frequencies).

SOUND QUALITY

Our measurements show the Kensington produces powerful deep bass, but not subsonics, so it will work in medium sized rooms and not over-drive them. Having said that, there is a peak at 55Hz, but you’d need a small room 10ft long to excite this; there’d hardly be space for the cat. It suggests length and width dimensions greater than 10ft – let’s say 12ft for safety – will work best, which is why I predict this speaker will suit medium sized rooms.

Our listening room (25ftx18ftx13ft) is large enough to accommodate and suit Yorkminsters or Westminsters, or any other minster or monster, but in this room the Kensingtons sounded just right: bass wasn’t heavy, so much as firm and in good balance. A room this size does not emphasise bass from any but the largest loudspeakers, because its main axial modes are so low (if you want to check your room, go to an on-line calculator such as http://amroc.andymel.eu). So for us the Kensington was not a bass heavy loudspeaker. In a smaller room, resonant axial modes will in most seating positions strengthen bass, making it more obvious, but not over powering I suspect.

We didn’t run-in our samples because they came run-in, because we prefer used speakers, not new ones. This way, anything that’s going to fly off has flown off, and any damage we can blame on previous users. We do use loudspeakers hard and the Kensingtons were wheeled out regularly for The Beatles in Mono box set listening sessions for all the many people interested in hearing these new LPs, which included Guy Hayden, Vice President of Apple Corps.

I tried many different power amps, including Quad QMP monoblocks, but in the end felt that Quad II-eighty valve monoblock power amplifiers worked best with them. Tannoy’s midrange horn suits valve amplifiers but makes transistor amps sound like – er, well – transistor amps. And of course, being Tannoys you need just a few Watts to go really loud; at 91dB from 1 Watt the Kensingtons are massively sensitive: 20 Watts will lift the roof.

With LP I used a Timestep Evo turntable (upgraded Technics SL-1210 MkII Direct Drive) fitted with SME 309 arm and Ortofon Cadenza Bronze moving coil cartridge, feeding an Icon Audio PS3 valve phono stage. For digital, I fed the Quad II-eightys from an Audiolab M-DAC, using an Astell&Kern AK120 portable to play (ripped) CD and high resolution audio.

To summarise so far then, the Kensington Gold Reference is tailored to sound balanced in medium sized rooms; it doesn’t have the massive bass of the 12in Dual-Concentric equipped Yorkminster but its 10in cone does reproduce bass cleanly and with ease. A large volume cabinet absorbs the back wave well, so there’s less box boom than usual, and a big cone produces low levels of bass distortion. You get strong yet well controlled bass with plenty of impact, a big confident sound.

So with Lady Gaga's Monster (CD) the deep synth lines that are meant to provide a seismic backdrop did so. When I moved 16ft back from the Kensingtons to the rear wall I was hit by massive bass pressure waves that had me gripping the settee. These speakers go low and deliver awesome acoustic power with supreme ease - they're typical big Tannoys!

Spinning Jackie Leven's Some Ancient Misty Morning (LP) had underpinning percussion sending out a thunderous message: there was an ease and a power to the drums and bass line that was big, bold and yet easy to enjoy. No small drivers struggling here: the 10in Duals just pumped it out with alacrity, defining bass notes with ease. These are physically big loudspeakers that sound big too - powerful yet relaxed, as if cruising along.

The central midrange/treble horn loaded tweeter endows the Kensington with strong midrange detail and insight, shining a bright light onto an aurally sensitive area, making the ‘speaker quite forceful in its presentation.  Cryogenic treatment does reveal low level filigree detail and also improves resolution of ambience, obvious when spinning The Beatles 'This Boy', from Mono Masters.  The Kensingtons let me hear the studio behind John Lennon's microphone, making for an atmospherically live presentation. It was obvious that John was singing intensely, right into the mic. and this track became something of a demonstrator with visitors eager to hear our new The Beatles in Mono box set. The Kensingtons gave the song a sense of scale and solidity, as well as dynamic excitement.    

Because the deep bass cone and horn at its centre project forward strongly, but less so to walls, floor and ceiling, the Kensingtons, like other Dual Concentric Tannoys, stayed both intense and well focussed as I moved backward from them, and at 16ft away there was noticeably less room muddle from reflections affecting the sound stage than I am used to from normal multi-driver loudspeakers. This contributes to their general sense of clarity and their insensitivity to room size.

Another interesting property of the phase-aligned Dual Concentric in the Kensington GR was that its sound balance did not change at all as I moved up or down in front of the cabinet, or even when I walked around the room. Conventional multi-driver loudspeakers, other than KEF Uni-Qs, change their sound, due to inter-driver phase cancellation, as you move around in front of them; in some cases this imposes quite a tightly defined and specific listening position, Yamaha's NS-F901 Soavo loudspeakers I reviewed in our September 2014 issue being a good example. The Kensington GRs are - almost uniquely - completely free of this problem. Their perfect phase matching helped give singers a sense of solidity and body.  Add this to their powerful low frequency output and the reason for the Tannoy sound becomes clear: from the Kensngtons you get scale, body, power and ease of delivery all in one. Result – happiness!

CONCLUSION

As Tannoy continue to refine their Prestige Series loudspeakers they get ever more impressive. The new Kensington Gold Reference is a carefully balanced design suitable for medium-to-large rooms, where it will impress by dint of sheer impact. This is a loudspeaker you feel – as well as see. It is fabulously well engineered all round, with its big Dual-Concentric drive unit and lovely traditional cabinet. I did at times have the Kensingtons pumping out massive volume from our 80 Watt Quad valve amplifiers and loved every minute of it. They play from soft to Rock-Concert loud without difficulty, always sounding lively and engaging. And our new offices haven't been demolished I'm happy to say! It's a pity the Kensingtons' price will exclude so many of us, because big loudspeakers like these are an experience worth having. I'll always love big Tannoys; they sit in a world of their own.

We urge you to give them an audition.

REVIEW SUMMARY: Our Verdict  - These Tannoys are something special - they fire out an infectious, entertaining sound - 
Lively, balanced sound
Excellent agility and precision
Impressive dynamic range
Superb finish

We don’t deal readily in hyperbole, but we feel compelled right about now. The Tannoy Revolution XT6Fs are incredible speakers for the money and you must seek them out for an audition.

Their aptitude is obvious. They waste no time in setting out their stall: what you get is an entertaining listen. There’s a tremendous immediacy to the Tannoys’ delivery that has no problem attracting your undivided attention.

Performance

We put on a bit of Prince and party like it’s 1999. Your feet will tap. Your fingers will snap. So infectious is the level of energy that you can’t escape, at the very least, doing a tiny dance in your chair. That said, these Tannoys are more than just a joyride.

These are versatile speakers, and while they’re happy to bop along with Pharrell Williams they are just as content chilling to Portishead. Timing and dynamics are the key here, and these Tannoys are well endowed in both departments.

Whatever you throw at them will be handled with precision and agility, while the wide dynamic range offers enough zest to ensure the performance never veers into the clinical. Despite their lively demeanour, the sound is nice and balanced. No part of the frequency demands extra attention.

The midrange is lovely. It’s direct without being demanding. Vocals stand out without feeling isolated. There’s a good deal of bass, but it’s agile and nicely controlled. We move up to the treble and find it could be a little sweeter and more delicate, but now we’re just nitpicking.

We’re impressed by the level of integration. The various elements cooperate to perform as a unified whole. There’s also plenty of detail throughout the frequency range. The various textures are entirely convincing. It also helps that it’s a big sound, tall and wide as you like.

The presentation is spacious and airy. There’s room enough whether you want to occupy that soundstage with brass bands or full orchestras. Whichever you choose will be organised and fully ready to rock.

Build and design

A stunning performance, then, and it’s entirely down to the engineering. We’re always nervous when a manufacturer decides it’s time to shake up a winning formula, but the Revolution has definitely been improved – at least where the XT6Fs are concerned. ‘XT’, by the way, stands for ‘extra technology’.

The most obvious change here is the angled base of cabinet and an integrated plinth and down-firing reflex port for better dispersion of low frequencies. Tannoy’s signature Dual Concentric driver has also been tweaked to improve integration between the tweeter and mid/bass cone.

The trapezoid shape of the cabinet, as always, helps to reduce internal standing waves. And, as always, fit and finish is superb. We’re particularly keen on the attention to detail: look closely enough and you’ll see ‘TANNOY’ written on the bolts at the front. This is very pleasing. We are very pleased.

Verdict

We were big fans of the previous Revolution DC6T SEs, but the new XT6Fs are a definite step up in quality. They are beautifully finished, but more importantly they sound every bit of their asking price.

EXTENDED REVIEW: 

regardless of whatever piece of music they are reproducing, there is a certain sheer likability to them that is undeniable. In fact, I would go out on a limb here and say that this may well be their very purpose.
Ray Seda

REVIEW SUMMARY: Here we have a speaker that carries the weight of tradition on its shoulders and must do justice to that tradition, as well as be relevant to today’s in-home listening experience. The Tannoy DC10T’s hold true to their sonic roots in so many ways that there is no mistaking their heritage. However, their fully modernized design deftly exploits the advantages of their traditional Dual Concentric speaker design approach and modern technology to yield a speaker that is a successful blend of old and new; a blend that yields superior frequency bandwidth capabilities, power handling, low distortion, superb imaging and phase coherence, fine cabinetry, and build quality …and that undeniable politeness.

The legions of fans of the Tannoy Dual Concentric approach will be quite content with the Definition Series Tannoy DC10T, and I am convinced that there will be more still who will join their ranks once the speakers are seen and heard at their local dealers.

EXTENDED REVIEW: manufacturers in audio have as rich a history as Tannoy. Though founded by Guy Fountain in 1926 to exploit a solid state rectifier he invented, for sake of audio discussion, Tannoy really entered the scene in sound reproduction in the 1940’s, with the invention and introduction of the Dual Concentric loudspeaker driver, a woofer/midrange with a coaxially mounted tweeter. The tweeter is mounted behind where you would normally expect to have a traditional cone driver’s dust cap to cover the voice coil. This creates a single point source supposedly which is phase coherent, a trait that is not easily accomplished in many multi-driver dynamic speaker systems and which has been something of a holy grail since Jon Dahlquist raised the audiophile public consciousness on the merits of phase coherence back in the 1970’s.

When I was approached by Constantine Soo to review a pair of Tannoy speakers, I agreed with some level of trepidation. Having seen and heard plenty of the old fashioned Tannoy’s in years past, I had a sense of what I may be getting myself into in terms of historical significance, sonic characteristics, and their place in the annals of British audio establishment. I had not even seen the newer generation Tannoy speakers, let alone heard them, so I was more than a tad curious.

The pair of Tannoy Definition Series DC10T arrived while I was out of town on business. I had not had the time to look them up on the web, so I really had no notion as to what was coming. I must say that I was more than delighted when I got home, busted open the boxes and had my first gander at these 2011-style Tannoy’s. Yes, they are real lookers. I ’m a sucker for a shapely, beautifully finished wood cabinet and the Tannoy DC10T’s are about as nice as they get. The nicely rounded high gloss cherry finished cabinet is fresh, modern, and less formal in look than the furniture-like Tannoys of the past. Yes, the DC10T’s are fairly big towers, but I believe that Tannoy has made great strides in giving their speakers a higher WAF (or SOAF as the case may be) than the previous huge pieces of furniture I recall in the distant past. The Tannoy DC10T’s are also available in high gloss black and in high gloss dark walnut.

Today’s modernized Tannoy speakers are certainly not the Tannoy’s of old. Tannoy continues developing and advancing the Dual Concentric technology that was pioneered so long ago. Their latest Dual Concentric drivers offer wider frequency bandwidth and greater dynamic range than previous generations’, and such modern high-end design details as deep cryogenically treated crossover components and internal wiring, silver plated copper conductors, beefy WBT electro-plated brass speaker binding posts, and a hand finished structurally rigid cabinet design. Tannoy’s Dual Concentric speakers are found extensively in professional studio applications, theater and sound reinforcement applications, and of course, the in-home two-channel stereo and home theater applications.

The Tannoy Definition Series represents the latest technology and design efforts from Tannoy that is specifically designed and executed for a home stereo environment. The Definition Series includes the models DC8, DC8T, and the top of the line DC10T. The DC10T sports a 10” woofer as well as Tannoy’s latest 10” dual concentric driver that utilizes their new 1” titanium dome wideband tweeter. There is also a center channel for the Definition range.

Installation and Break-In

The speakers arrived already having some use and were said to be partially broken-in. I therefore decided to place them in my main system right out of the box and have a listen. When wiring up the DC10T, I came upon what looked like an odd number of binding posts. It turns out that these speakers are equipped with a facility to electrically ground the internal driver chassis, a feature I had not previously encountered. According to the DC10T’s documentation, the “…fifth speaker terminal electrically grounds the driver chassis, dramatically reducing radio frequency interference circulating in most hi-fi audio systems. Eliminating this RF ‘noise’ in Definition reaps considerable benefits in midrange clarity and further opens up the soundstage throughout the presence region for truly expressive music presentation.” I must say that toward the tail end of the review period I electrically grounded the speakers as suggested in the Tannoy manual and did not identify any audible change in the sound. I suppose this is quite system-dependent. My system is currently run fully balanced and I had my four dedicated power circuits in the room all run to a dedicated ground separate from the rest of the house’s wiring when my home was constructed.

The DC10T’s driver complement features a 10” woofer that is vented and gradually crosses over at a fairly low 200 Hz. Operating full range, the midrange driver in the Dual Concentric speaker runs in tandem with the bass driver. The 1” titanium tweeter driver in the dual concentric speaker comes in via a steep 2nd order crossover at 1,400 Hz.

I initially positioned the DC10T’s as far apart as possible in my sound room, three feet from the adjacent walls and five feet from the front walls. The speakers were toed-in rather dramatically, which is not recommended by the manufacturer, in order to have the tweeter approximately on axis with the listening position. My initial listening session indicated that the speaker probably needed some level of breaking-in. The midrange was a bit dry and forward and bass was constrained and lacking in detail. I ran the speakers in at a very healthy volume with my break-in CD for roughly 100 hours over the next couple of weeks. During that period of time I had some short listening sessions to evaluate if there were changes occurring and indeed, there was significant progress. The drivers definitely needed to have their spiders and surrounds worked in and I’m sure the polypropylene capacitors utilized in the crossovers also benefitted from some run in time in order to fully form.

Once comfortable with the fact that the speakers were fully broken-in, I began to experiment with speaker placement. Having the DC-10T’s too close to the front walls resulted in a rather diffuse and somewhat muddied bass which overpowered the balance of the speaker. For that reason I settled on a distance of just under six feet from the front. Since the Tannoy DC-10T’s have the coaxial Dual Concentric driver, I assumed that optimal response and imaging would be accomplished by having the driver as close to on-axis as possible with the listening position. Emphasis must again be given here that it is not a recommendation made by the manufacturer. This proved to be a correct assumption for my system. However, that left the task of optimizing the physical distance between the speakers and the severity of the angle of toe-in required to meet the above mentioned parameter. This led to some very interesting play time. Proximity to the side walls did not seem to faze the Tannoys much at all in terms of response. However, the further apart they were placed, the wider the image became irrespective of the fact that the severity of the toe-in was also increased with the distance. I therefore needed to make a judgment call as to which image sounded “right” to me. The final outcome was a distance of eight feet between the speakers, with a seating distance 10 feet away from their horizontal position. The speakers were toed-in accordingly so as to achieve on-axis positioning of the concentric driver. I adhered to this position throughout the remainder of the review period.

The Sound

I burned up quite a bit of my listening time over the period of a month or so in determining what would be the optimal position for the Tannoy DC10T’s in my room. Over the course of those listening sessions, I became quite familiar with their overall signature and what types of music would make them really shine.

Let there be no doubt, the Tannoy DC10T’s most definitely have a signature sound. In fact, you can say that they have a dual personality: The DC10T’s with driver ports open and the DC10T’s with the driver ports plugged up. Irrespective, the Tannoy DC10T’s sound can best be described as warm and inviting. For instance, when listening to the CD Passage by Harp46 (Jazz harpist April Stace’s combo), the harp was reproduced cleanly with a touch of added warmth and richness in tone. The accompanying acoustic bass and percussion that round out this excellent combo came through in a very relaxed and engaging way. This is the purest sense of shoulders-down, head-bobbing goodness that we all look for when we sit and have a listen. On the anal-retentive audiophile side of things, the added warmth in the Tannoy DC10T’s mid bass and low bass region comes at a price.

With the ports wide open, there is a slight muddiness that makes itself known on the bottom end; with the ports closed, the muddiness disappears, but there still remains a lack of definition in the bass lines and in the mid-bass region. This is particularly true when there is more than one instrument contributing to the bass or mid bass of the piece of music. Does it detract from enjoying the music being played? Well, quite frankly if you are interested in the music more than the audiophile side, the answer in my case would be an emphatic, no. With the plugs in place, the Tannoy DC10T’s also became uncharacteristically dry sounding, so I opted to leave the ports wide open. Another go-to album for me is Steve Howe’s Not Necessarily Acoustic. This CD enabled further exploration of the Tannoy DC10T’s capabilities in this particular aspect of its sound. This is a live recording that can sound overly hyped-up on some systems. Such was not the case with the Tannoy DC10T’s. Once again they proved their sheer likability in the way they delivered a big enveloping though somewhat darkened sound of the live nightclub environment that was captured on this recording. Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar comes through wonderfully warm and rich in tone. The sense of the venue however is diminished from what I am accustomed to hearing from more finely resolute devices such as the Martin Logan CLS2z full range electrostats, or the outstanding air motion transformers in the Eficion F300’s. This comparative loss of detail of the soundspace is what keeps you from teleporting to the venue when listening to the live piece of music and resulted in this case in a darkened overall perspective. I found this to be true time and time again as I played other live recordings throughout the review period. Recordings such as Nils Lofgren’s Acoustic Live, Eric Clapton’s E.C. was Here, and the Pat Metheny LP (and CD) with Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez Day Trip/Tokyo Day Trip Live. What I find particularly interesting about this aspect of the Tannoy DC10T’s sonic signature is that the sense of diminished detail is not from a lack of high frequency extension. This would have been the case perhaps of older Tannoy Dual Concentric speakers that I had heard in the past, but not so with these. The tweeters in these modern Tannoy’s are certainly up to the task. Clearly, there are other influencing factors at play here, such as perhaps the moving mass of the rather large midrange.

Moving on to other recordings of a more dynamic nature such as Janis Ian’s superbly recorded classic ‘Breaking Glass,” the Tannoy DC10T demonstrates once again their undeniable niceness. For instance, on the cut “Breaking Silence,” the sheer weight and energy of the dynamics of this song are downplayed. Yes, the Tannoy DC10T’s remain remarkably unruffled by huge swings in dynamic range and the sheer volume and power required in reproducing them; there is not a hint of stress or strain, but at the same time, they reproduce these very dynamic swings in a very polite and matter-of-fact manner thereby removing some of the life energy of the recording. On the cut “All Roads to the River” from the same LP, an earlier observation re-emerged: The bass and the drums on this track conspired against each other when reproduced by the Tannoys resulting in a muddied and ill-defined presentation. The dynamic swings of the song were also diminished into an even and unruffled politeness that masked the energy that was captured on this recording.

Perhaps due to that very politeness, the Tannoy DC10T’s acquit themselves beautifully in reproducing acoustic guitar and the female voice. Katie Melua’s “Piece By Piece,” the track from the CD of the same name is remarkably engaging in a warm and sensuous way. So, too, on symphonic works such as Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, on Nonesuch, the DC10T’s appear to be in their element. The Tannoys are able to capture and evoke the dramatic expression and dark emotion of the piece as performed by the London Sinfonietta accompanied by Soprano Dawn Upshaw.

So what does all of this mean?

The Tannoy DC10T’s have their own character and signature. In the purest audiophile sense, they certainly exhibit a preference toward certain types of music. However, regardless of whatever piece of music they are reproducing, there is a certain sheer likability to them that is undeniable. In fact, I would go out on a limb here and say that this may well be their very purpose.

Here we have a speaker that carries the weight of tradition on its shoulders and must do justice to that tradition, as well as be relevant to today’s in-home listening experience. The Tannoy DC10T’s hold true to their sonic roots in so many ways that there is no mistaking their heritage. However, their fully modernized design deftly exploits the advantages of their traditional Dual Concentric speaker design approach and modern technology to yield a speaker that is a successful blend of old and new; a blend that yields superior frequency bandwidth capabilities, power handling, low distortion, superb imaging and phase coherence, fine cabinetry, and build quality …and that undeniable politeness.

The legions of fans of the Tannoy Dual Concentric approach will be quite content with the Definition Series Tannoy DC10T, and I am convinced that there will be more still who will join their ranks once the speakers are seen and heard at their local dealers.

In absolute terms though it sounded most concert-like and how we'd hear a bass guitar during a gig or a double bass in a small club.
Wojciech Pacula

REVIEW SUMMARY: the Tannoy revealed more context in a recording and also more individualities between various recordings. Its take in this regard was neither exaggerated nor hyper detailed to the point of becoming annoying. It was simply a presentation that contained more data built on precise attacks, accuracy, coherence and dynamics. And the speaker's tonality was very even. It is also was a far easier load than the Harbeth. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: It would be difficult indeed to in brief retell the full story of a company whose roots date back to 1926. The first important event in its history when it was called Tulsemere Manufacturing Company took place in 1929. Guy R. Fountain, founder and long-time head engineer, developed a new type of electrical rectifier for home use. Its design was based on two pieces of dissimilar metal immersed in an electrolyte. One metal plate was made of tantalum, the other of lead alloy. The combination of ‘tantalum’ and ‘alloy’ became Tannoy as registered March 10, 1932. A year later Tannoy presented their first speakers then microphones.

A crucial event was the 1947 development of a coaxial speaker system simulating a point source called dual concentric. Its inventor was chief engineer Ronnie H. Rackham. The first product with it was the two-way Monitor Black sporting a 15-inch mid/woofer. 1953 saw the most famous Tannoy speaker, the Autograph [above right]. Incidentally it was another Rackham design that would employ a newer version of the dual concentric called Monitor Silver. A special limited edition of this speaker launched in 2001. Guy R. Fountain retired in 1974 and passed away in 1977.

In 1982 Tannoy presented the Prestige line, the first ever intended specifically for the Japanese market. It included the Westminster, GFR Memory, Stirling and Edinburgh designs. In the 2006/7 season the Prestige series was upgraded to Special Edition or SE status. In 2013 Tannoy introduced a further refinement in the Golden Reference or GR series featuring design solutions pioneered in the flagship Kingdom Royal. It includes just three models: the Westminster Royal, Canterbury and Kensington GR reviewed today. Even this brief introduction shows that we deal with a legendary company. If we add that colloquial British English has the term ‘Tannoy’ synonymous with public address systems, everything is clear. 

The Kensington GR speaker is the smallest of this top lot. But that doesn't mean small per se. With a 10-inch dual concentric driver system housed in a trademark cabinet resembling pre WWII furniture, it is a thoroughly modern speaker which nonetheless looks both wonderfully anachronistic and surprisingly appropriate all at once. It was in fact one of the few speakers my wife would be happy to keep in our living room. Its front grill is locked with a key (!) and the cabinet is made of veneered Plywood. The speakers rest on solid spikes and the treble balance can be adjusted with two switches labeled ‘energy’ and ‘roll off’ on a large golden plate on the front. The energy control is a ±3dB shelving filter across a bandwidth of 1.1-27kHz, and the roll off provides adjustments over +2dB to -6dB per octave between 5kHz and 27kHz. 

Measuring 1100 x 406 x 338mm, the speakers are large and and heavy. You'll need another person to carry them. They have a higher 93dB sensitivity (2.83V/1m) and a friendly 8Ω nominal impedance not crossing 5Ω which should make for an easy load. Frequency response is specified at 29Hz-27kHz -6dB.

Albums auditioned during this review: Okihiko Sugano Record Collection, Victor Edition/Trio Edition, Audio Meister XRCG-30025-8, 4 x XRCD24 [2012]; Clan of Xymox, Clan of Xymox, 4AD CAD503CD, CD (1985); Daft Punk,Random Access Memories, Columbia Records/Sony Music Japan SICP-3817, CD (2013); Depeche Mode, Everything Counts and Live Tracks, Mute Records INT 826.831, maxi-SP CD (1993); J.S. Bach, Die Kunst Der Fuge, Marcin Masecki, Lado ABC C/13, CD (2012); Jack Johnson, Sleep Through The Static, Brushfire Records 756055, CD (2008)...

...Johann Sebastian Bach, St. John Passion, BWV 245, Kenneth Slowik, Smithsonian Chamber Players and Chorus, Smithsonian Collection of Recordings/ADDA ND 0381, 2 x CD (1989); Marc Copland & John Abercrombie, Speak To Me, Pirouet Records PIT3058, CD (2011); Miles Davis, Seven Steps To Heaven, Columbia/Sony Music/Analogue Productions CAPJ-8851, SACD/CD (1963/2010); Neu!, Neu! ‘75, Brain Records/P-Vine Records PCD-93529, CD (1975/2012); Nino Rota, La Strada Concerto Soirée, Josep Pons piano, Benedetto Lupo, Orquesta Ciudad Granada, Harmonia Mundi HMC 901864, CD (2005); Wolfgang Riechmann, Wunderbar, SKY Records/bureau b BB 027, CD (1978/2009).

With audio products long awaited and highly anticipated, the first impression—the first album or even track played—isvital. A poor selection can spoil the mood over a long time and in extreme cases even put off the audition altogether. It is not so much about the quality of the recording or at least so I believe. It is rather a matter of emotions. We have in our throats and across our chests a ready-made pedestal eager to receive this product but it is supposed to actually get there with emotions evoked by a well-known much liked song or album that connects us with our past. In my case that sequence of events is applicable each and every time.

The Tannoys arrived just whilst I was reading Jonathan Miller's Depeche Mode biography. I'd reached the period of time by which they’d released their third album Construction Time Again or more specifically the first single from it. Hence I really had no other choice but to listen to this very single. I chose its German CD version originally released as a 12-inch maxi-single which here features the 12-inch mix in addition to the basic 7-inch mix and live tracks. 

The band’s instrumentation had grown significantly over time and included first digital samplers. Martin Gore finally began to write songs that made the band into what we know today albeit with considerable help from new member Alan Wilder. The sound on the single and entire album was darker, denser and more selective but also sharper.

But let’s get back en pointe. The Tannoys pretty quickly showed their overall tonal balance and let in some light on their understanding of soundstaging. It must be clear that there's no such thing as a reference domestic soundstage. It all depends on a given recording and playback system. The British speakers under review are no exception but did some things more accurately or simply better than my personal Brit references, the Harbeth M40.1. Not everything was superior as there are things where the Harbeth can hardly be beat but elsewhere the Tannoys showed their mettle.

I did not have to listen to Depeche Mode for long before concluding that I preferred a slightly different tonal balance. At their default flat factory settings for treble level and roll off the Tannoy sounded too forward. Treble clarity was exceptional, better than my Harbeth and as good as the Amphion Krypton3 had been. The level of the treble and upper midrange however seemed too high. As I said the third DM album also is brighter and sharper which partly justifies what I did next. I lowered the treble level by 1.5dB and changed its roll-off to -2dB.

Now everything clicked into place. After a while of getting used to Tannoy's more selective if not more resolving read over the Harbeths, I was listening to Jazz when I tried energy at -3dB and roll-off at +2dB. The sound was now slightly different but still good. Important was that I could use the controls to compensate for the acoustic characteristics of my room and system to fit personal preferences. Whilst the changes may have seemed small—after all, what’s a two decibel change amongst friends—the sonic improvement was dramatic and moved from a rather hard to a precise yet deep sound.

On the one hand the Kensington GR was similar to the Harbeth, on the other completely different. I ran through many comparisons in my mind trying to assign each to a particular sonic class yet couldn't come up with a simple parallel. In the end I could really only say one thing with certainty which was incredibly insightful. They were different. To express that otherness but demonstrate that even so the Tannoy had more in common with the Harbeth than other speakers, I will say that if they were headphones, the Westminster GR would tonally be a HiFiMan HE-6 magnetostat, the Harbeths a Sennheiser HD800 yet on soundstaging they'd trade seats. Both are built on momentum, dynamics, intensity and soundstaging. 

The cover features an embossed ambigram which viewed from one direction reads "die Kunst" (Marcin Masecki) and from the other "der Fuge" (Bach). It's spot on about what this recording is all about. Masecki is well-known for being an anarchistic musician with his own controversial approach even about the recording process itself. In this case he simply put a voice recorder on the piano and recorded everything in one take. Especially to an audiophile it would seem sacrilege and predestined to sonic mediocrity. Yet it sounds amazing.

How did the Scottish speakers react? In their own way too. First they built a credible soundstage especially on scale and depth but also with air to prevent drawing a sterile dissected instrument with layered reverb which wouldn't be true. It was not a very dense presentation however as the Tannoys avoid such thickening tricks. Yet clarity, excellent dynamics and good resolution managed to convey the climate of this performance, its moment and the event. It is something beyond the usual hifi concepts. My attention was not drawn to individual sounds but rather to their sequence; not to details but to how they formed larger textures.

Yet one cannot claim that these boxes don't do detail. There is lots of detail, almost as much as with the Amphions. Their presence however stems mainly from clear non-blurred transients. Whenever something arises it does so immediately. The Harbeth by contrast tend to slightly round everything over and introduce a minimal but present delay. Hence their phenomenal ability to engage without ever getting irritating. The price to pay is this slight softness especially on the top and bottom ends which wasn't the case with the Tannoy.

What mattered here was a more direct presentation. Whilst paradoxical perhaps, this resulted in much larger emotional climate changes between tracks which also better tracked differences in recordings, whether the microphones had been positioned closer or farther away and such. I could easily ‘read’ albums like Bach’s St. John Passion performed by the Smithsonian Chamber Players and Chorus; or organ works performed by Amadeus Webersinke on the brilliant XRCD24 Cutting HR reissue. The latter has a higher tonal balance and a fairly large distance to the organ. The former sits tonally slightly lower and also closer. Nino Rota's songs were recorded in a fairly narrow perspective—too narrow in fact—and these differences were loud and clear and added a lot to each album's subjective reception. 

Modern productions such as Daft Punk and Jack Johnson sounded spectacular due to high dynamics and bass that was tight, deep and superbly differentiated to be most interesting. It was neither as focused as with the Amphion however nor as dense as with the Harbeth. In absolute terms though it sounded most concert-like and how we'd hear a bass guitar during a gig or a double bass in a small club. The Amphion and Harbeth attempted to compensate for lack of eye contact by emphasizing something each in their own way

With Jack Johnson I heard something which I had to verify immediately. It showed how nothing is free and there is always a quid pro quo. The Harbeth played it deeper and showcased a more saturated denser midrange. The Tannoy focused on precision and articulation over body. As such it is a top high-end effort which does what it does very well yet compared to other high-end designs shows a clear difference of approach. 

Conclusion.

As you see, one must sacrifice something to get something else. I perceived the differences between these speakers as a function of the dedicated Harbeth midrange and larger woofer. Let’s face it, size matters. On the other hand the Tannoy revealed more context in a recording and also more individualities between various recordings. Its take in this regard was neither exaggerated nor hyper detailed to the point of becoming annoying. It was simply a presentation that contained more data built on precise attacks, accuracy, coherence and dynamics. And the speaker's tonality was very even. It is also was a far easier load than the Harbeth. 

I feel very comfortable in giving these speakers a very high recommendation. they are excellent speakers that are detailed, integrated, dynamic and warm, and not many speakers can say that. Definitely include them on your list You can thank me later.
Ed Momkus

REVIEW SUMMARY: There is never any sense that the performers are playing disjointedly. There is always the sense that music is coming at you like a force of nature (though not in unpleasant sense). This makes for a very stimulating listening experience with virtually all musical styles.I got a sense of “rightness” to the music that was coming out of the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR. I suspect that you’ve had that experience at some point in your life. That’s the point where good sound-staging, tonality, performer placement or PRAT all of a sudden really clicked into focus as a result of moving speakers ½ inch, changing a power cord on one component, or inserting aftermarket footers under a component. That’s something that you can dial in with the Canterbury’s bass and treble adjustment options.

EXTENDED REVIEW: A Brief History of the Tannoy Prestige Line -It doesn’t go all the way back to the time that Chaucer wrote The Canterbury Tales, but Tannoy is an audio company with a long and illustrious history. In 1948 Ronald Rackham of Tannoy (which had already been in existence for 22 years) invented the dual-concentric speaker, a seminal idea that became one of the transducer designs that has been a staple in audio. In 1967 Tannoy began including its then-current iteration of the dual concentric transducer – the Monitor Gold Dual Concentric – in its Prestige series of speakers. The company has been perfecting the dual concentric design continually, and the most recent iteration was introduced in 2014 with the introduction of the Prestige Gold Reference (GR) Series. This review is of the new Canterbury Prestige GR, which is second only to the flagship Westminster Royal GR.

Given its long history, the Prestige range is an iconic part of Tannoy’s product lines. You don’t screw around with an icon. Rather, you want to build on its strengths and make it even more desirable. Think of the Corvette. Powerful engine in an extremely light and rigid body, but just as importantly, a look that sets it apart and that screams “Corvette!”. It’s pretty clear that in this revision of the Prestige line Tannoy used the same principle – dual concentric transducers, bass and treble adjustability and luxurious traditional wood finishes. Before you even connect and fire these babies up you immediately notice the wood and metal, the grille covers and other aesthetic details that maintain the overall feel of the Prestige line. According to Tannoy, they didn’t just improve the visual aesthetics, but made significant improvements by developing “new cone materials, new high frequency compression diaphragms, upgraded crossovers and extensive use of Deep Cryogenic Treatment” on Prestige GR models. I can tell you that this isn’t just hyperbole, because I have heard the end product.

Tannoy Prestige Canterbury Gold Reference speaker Tech Talk From A Non-Technical Guy

In an ideal world a speaker designer would want to design a single transducer that addresses the entire frequency range – the ideal of the single-driver speaker. That transducer would cover the lowest bass notes as well as the finest details of the upper treble. Alas, that ideal has been very elusive, and drivers that work well for low frequencies don’t work well for the upper frequencies. Speaker designers have instead resorted to the use of multiple drivers and complex crossover schemes. Of course, this breaks up the audio signal into different segments and transmits each segment from and to different points in space, creating all sorts of acoustic problems that have to be addressed.

Enter the dual concentric driver. The major advantage of the dual concentric design is that the low and high frequency sound radiation is generated on the same axes – both the vertical and horizontal axis and all the others in between – sending out a single integrated wavefront of multiple waves instead of waves from multiple locations. We have all heard multi-driver speakers which sound a bit disjointed, putting the violins or brass or some other part of the orchestra in a different place than their locations at the time of recording, or creating smearing because the multiple wavefronts are not reaching the listener at exactly the same time.

With the dual concentric driver you have a single chassis that incorporates two separate drive units, integrated into one. This concept is pretty easy to grasp. However, the implementation of that simple concept is not that easy. I venture into the next few paragraphs with some trepidation since I know very little about speaker design, but I think we need a bit on this topic to properly appreciate the Tannoy Canterbury Gold Reference.

The high frequency driver mounted in the middle of the centre pole of the bass driver is an exponential horn. In general, an exponential horn has an acoustic loading property that allows the speaker driver to remain evenly balanced in output level over its frequency range. However, one drawback is that an exponential horn can narrow the radiation pattern as frequency increases. This is because use of a large bored throat in the horn has the effect that the output of the edge of the diaphragm travels a longer distance than the output at the centre, potentially causing upper frequency cancellation and/or peaks in response. This tends to create a very strong high frequency focus on-axis, but homogenises the high frequency off-axis.

The term “waveguide” is used in audio to describe a technique to address this issue in certain types of horns. Indeed, the term “waveguide” is sometimes used as though it is a different device than a horn. However, it is more accurate to say that all waveguides are horns, but not all horns are waveguides. Most horns with narrow throats have some waveguide design which controls their radiation pattern. Tannoy uses either the PepperPot WaveGuide™ or the Tulip WaveGuide™ to address this issue, dependent on the model. The new Prestige line incorporates the PepperPot Wave Guide™, which should please Tannoy aficionados who enjoyed the presentation of the earlier iterations of the Prestige line which used the PepperPot. For the readers interested in a clearer picture of what a waveguide is and the difference between the Pepperpot and Tulip waveguides. 

Loudspeaker magnet systems have generally been constructed in two ways: (1) With a permanent magnet as the centre pole, and a rounded outer casing that forms the flux return path to the front of the magnet; or (2) a soft steel centre pole, and ring-shaped cast Alnico outer ring permanent magnet. The second way is the method Tannoy uses. The Alnico powered motors are now fitted with a new heat-treated aluminium (Brits call it “aluminium”) alloy HF compression diaphragm. The diaphragm is bonded to a revised copper-clad aluminium voice coil. According to Tannoy, use of a new Mylar surround delivers a sweeter response than in previous models.

Tannoy says that the new 15-inch Gold Reference bass driver is Tannoy’s most powerful and articulate Dual to date, offering over 96dB efficiency. It has a new fiber-enriched paper pulp cone material and the cone is terminated with a twin roll surround of impregnated fabric for improved damping characteristics. The crossover to the bass driver has also been redesigned, featuring Custom ICW ClarityCap™ MR capacitors, low loss laminated core inductors and thick-film resistors, and the final assembly is deep cryogenically treated as a whole unit.

The birch plywood cabinetry has been engineered with what Tannoy calls a Variable Distributed Port system allowing low frequency output to be tuned to best fit room dimensions. There is also Tannoy’s signature high frequency power switch, which permits fine adjustments to the treble. As I will discuss below, the dual variable distributed port system and the high frequency power adjustment options give greater flexibility with room placement and personal tuning than with most other speakers.

Setup

I used the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR with the fabulous Pass Labs Xs 300 four-chassis monoblocks, the Electrocompaniet Nemo monoblocks and the Electrocompaniet monoblocks. The source was my modded Qsonix Q-105 server, DACs were the Bricasti M1 and MBL 1611F, then the signal went through a BSG Technologies QOL and a Lyngdorf RP-1 before sending the signal to the Pass or Electrocompaniet amps. Interconnects were Audio Reference Technology (A.R.T.) Super SE, Silent Source Music Reference and Signature, Tara Labs Zero Gold, and Lessloss Tunnelbridge. Speaker cables were the A.R.T. Super SE and the Silent Source Signatures. Power cords were A.R.T. Super SE and Lessloss DPFC Signatures.

I started by placing the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR in the same locations that I place my Vivid Giya G-1. This put the Tannoys approximately 12 feet apart, 7 feet from side walls and 5 feet from the front wall. The seating position was approximately 13 feet from each speaker. Toe-in was initially set by aiming the speakers directly at the center of the listening position. I eventually moved the speakers slightly closer together (just a few inches), changed the toe-in to aim the speakers at the outside of the main listening chair, and used some Walker Audio discs to slightly elevate the front feet of the Speakers (discussed further below). This was the position of the Canterbury GRs during the auditioning sessions.

Comparison Speakers and Use of Solid-state with Horns

The two speakers I used for direct comparison were the fabulous US$62,000 Vivid Audio Giyas 1 and the overachieving US$3,500 Sonus Faber Venere 3.0’s. I did not have any speakers in the Canterbury’s price range, but having something that was twice as expensive and something that was 1/10th the price kept things in perspective. There’s lots of excellent competition in this price range, including speakers from Electrocompaniet, Rockport, KEF, and Wilson. However, no one else I can think of in this price range has the particular design philosophy or traditional aesthetics incorporated into the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR.

When Constantine Soo proposed this review of the Tannoy Canterbury Prestige GR, I was very enthused, but also a bit apprehensive. Since I hadn’t heard any Tannoys for many years, I checked the Tannoy website to get some information on the speaker’s design. One of the first things I saw was that they incorporated a horn. Many light years ago I owned a pair of Klipsch Heresy I, which featured horns in the midrange and tweeter and used Alnico magnet materials in the drivers. I drove those speakers with much less power than what I have on hand today, and also used a tubed preamp. For many years, horns have been thought to be best coupled with tube electronics. How would the Canterbury GR sound with extremely high power solid-state electronics? Nonetheless, I assumed that Tannoy expected many users to be using solid-state electronics in today’s environment.

Bass

As you might expect, speakers with 15-inch cones project a lot of bass power if driven with appropriate electronics. The Pass Labs Xs 300 and the Electrocompaniet Nemo and Nada were seriously “appropriate”, and the effect is a tonally tight yet physically expanding bass penumbra that hits the listener with force. (More on the “penumbra” later.) For kicks, at one point I connected the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR to an old, inexpensive 80-watt Denon receiver just to see the difference. There was clearly less impact, but the Denon had no difficulty in driving the Canterbury in a manner which was quite pleasing. Tannoy’s spec indicates use of amps with 20-300 watts of output, and that is clearly an advantage to any purchaser. You can use low-power tube electronics and experiment with higher power options as you progress on the upgrade path.

Though it sports a 15-inch woofer and is a ported design with a traditional box cabinet, there was no trace of “one-note” emphasis that some speakers that incorporate these elements exhibit. Moreover, there is no energy loss in the lower midrange/upper bass that is characteristic of some floorstanders. The effect of this in some floor-standers is a sense of discontinuity between the bass and midrange with music that has significant content in the 100-200 Hz range. No such issue exists with the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR, and the frequency response was subjectively flat throughout the entire audible frequency range, including the difficult transition between upper bass and lower midrange.

I played a wide range of bass-heavy music for this portion of the review, including organ music and Bela Fleck’s Flight of the Cosmic Hippo, and I was very pleased by the results. In general, I personally prefer the more robust bass sound that one gets from vented designs, and the Canterbury was no exception to that general rule. I find that most sealed box speakers’ bass is too tightly controlled and does not sound to me like bass does in a live performance. There are, of course, numerous exceptions to this generalisation, just as it is inaccurate to say that all vented designs sound bloated. Nonetheless, the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR clearly fall into the “robust” bass camp without losing any meaningful bass articulation. If the note was there, the Canterbury reproduced it cleanly and with appropriate weight. For comparison, the twice-as-expensive Giyas are a bit tighter and a bit more extended, while the tonality is similar to that exhibited by the one-tenth-as-expensive Sonus Fabre Verere 3.0, just with a lot more force and bass extension.

Midrange, Treble and Integration With the Bass

I’m addressing the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR’s midrange and treble in the same section of this article because, well, they’re produced by the same horn in a full-range speaker with a 2-way design. I will also discuss the integration of the treble and midrange with the bass.

The height of the mid-section of the Dual Concentric caught my attention early in the review. I find that even with speakers that have wide radiation patterns, it is best to have the tweeters at ear level. My listening chairs are such that the height of the centre of the Dual Concentric was below ear level. Though I found that this could be corrected by moving the listening chair further back, that did not work well with the dimensions of my listening room, which is why I opted for the slight upward tilt that I described earlier in this article. You should definitely consider elevating the Canterbury when setting it up. Before tilting the front up I had the sense that the top of the soundstage was cut off, as though the ceiling was lowered. I also obtained better treble tonality and imaging with the upward tilt, and I would expect that a slight elevation of the speakers would be the best solution for most listeners.

As I previously described, the Dual Concentric, like other transducers, projects an expanding sound wave into the room. The difference is that the sound waves that emanate from the high frequency unit are embedded within the sound wave emanating from the low frequency unit. Contrast this with the overlapping sound waves that emanate from other 2, 3 or 4-way designs. You have the bass units set in the low position, midrange in the middle position, and treble units typically in the highest position. Each separate wave must spread out and eventually intersect at the listening position. The Dual Concentric, on the other hand projects outward from the speaker in a single expanding wave. Visualise an umbrella viewed from the tops as it slowly opens to full size.

The term “penumbra” comes from the description of shadows, particularly those cast by the earth and moon. In law, however, penumbra is used to describe an expansion of powers or rights beyond their strict meaning to include the necessary implications of that strict meaning. As it relates to the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR, I use “penumbra” to describe a mushroom cloud expansion of the sound. However, the mushroom cloud has a relatively straight stem, and the sound coming out of the Canterbury is more like the top of a mushroom that keeps expanding outward. If I had better drawing skills I’d draw a single set of expanding concentric circles coming out of the Dual instead of multiple concentric circles that overlap.

Why is this important? Because both the highly integrated sound of the Canterbury and the sensation that there is a force coming out of the speaker appears to be a function of the Dual Concentric design. There is never any sense that the performers are playing disjointedly. There is always the sense that music is coming at you like a force of nature (though not in unpleasant sense). This makes for a very stimulating listening experience with virtually all musical styles.

This sense of integration clearly affects how the listener perceives the midrange and treble response of the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR. The treble is highly detailed – as detailed and nuanced as the supporting electronics allow it to be. There is no trace of the kind of shrillness that is sometimes associated with horn transducers. Instead, you get natural detail with excellent pace, rhythm and timing. The midrange and treble literally “feels” like it’s embedded within the bass, not artificially, but in a way that seems natural in live concerts. The performer placement is very good, though not quite the level of my Vivid Giya G1, and the soundstage is both wide and deep, just a tad less expansive than the Giya. The net effect is a combination of detail, warmth, depth and power that is excellent and very musical.

Fine Adjustments

Once I got the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR set up in their preferred position and had a chance to get the sense of the speakers’ presentation, I turned to the bass and treble adjustments that are possible with these speakers. I was surprised how great of an effect I could obtain in making the adjustments, even though in an absolute sense the adjustments were quite small. However, this is in keeping with the principle of making sure that the essence of the speaker’s presentation was not distorted.

I addressed the bass first, even though I did not find the bass to be either too bloated or too tight. I first adjusted to allow for the greatest amount of bass to come through. After listening a bit, I reset the control to the least amount of bass. After additional listening and going through this process two more times with a variety of material, I decided that I prefer the setting that provided the least amount of bass. This was very consistent with the fact that I was using amps which are bass champs and provided full-bodied bass to virtually every speaker I’ve ever tried them with.

I then turned to the treble adjustments. Though my amps are solid state, they all have relatively sweet top-ends, especially the Pass Labs Xs 300 and the Electrocompaniet Nemo. Consequently, my adjustments turned out to be minimal, and I reduced the “Energy” setting by the smallest available adjustment (1.5 dB) and left the treble roll off at the “Level” setting.

Once these adjustments were made I got a sense of “rightness” to the music that was coming out of the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR. I suspect that you’ve had that experience at some point in your life. That’s the point where good sound-staging, tonality, performer placement or PRAT all of a sudden really clicked into focus as a result of moving speakers ½ inch, changing a power cord on one component, or inserting aftermarket footers under a component. That’s something that you can dial in with the Canterbury’s bass and treble adjustment options.

 Conclusion

I really wish I had more time with the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR, but I promised I’d get this review done before the new year, and I’m cutting that very tight. I expect to continue making fine adjustments and trying different matching components so long as Tannoy lets me hold on to them. I feel very comfortable in giving these speakers a very high recommendation. Even though they are competing in a price range that gives you many sterling options, they are excellent speakers that are detailed, integrated, dynamic and warm, and not many speakers can say that. I suspect that if I had any tubed electronics on hand I’d really be able to get a luscious tonality out of them, so maybe I’ll see if I can borrow some to try out. I’m confident that no matter what I pair them with, the Tannoy Prestige Canterbury GR will give me a great performance. And if you’re also looking for that traditional look that includes expertly-crafted woodwork and metalwork, these Tannoys are your speakers. Definitely include them on your list if you’re shopping in this price range. You can thank me later.

rest assured that the Turnberrys, matched with an appropriate amp are well worth the cost and all of the effort.
Paul

NOTE - this review was with previous model since replaced by new model with new significantly upgraded drivers.
REVIEW SUMMARY: .....get the amplifier match right and you will be rewarded with a very musically engaging performance with just about any genre which draws you into the performance like few others........roll forwards 50 or so hours:  Things had bedded in well after a week with more definition and wallop in the bass particularly noticeable and that superb imaging still set these loudspeakers apart from the crowd.  Overall balance seemed very well integrated. The Tannoys draw you into the music without this tizz but at no point was I left wanting for detail as the tiniest “ting” of a triangle being played (along with the decay) was noted on some orchestral music for example.

These loudspeakers hail from the new range of Tannoy’s prestige series loudspeakers aimed at the higher end of the market, and employing not just the same technology as their predecessors of old in the use of dual concentric drivers, but also sharing a traditional cabinet design.

It’s probably worth starting with the aesthetics because it’s here that the new Prestige line stand head and shoulders above their more traditional ancestors.  The design has been deliberately kept  ye olde English where the ‘speakers seem if they ought to be fitted with brightly polished tan leather brogues for ‘speaker shoes, or dressed in tweed (hang on…the grill cloth is a little tweedy).  It’s no small surprise that such traditional styling cues have been chosen as the main market seems mainly to be the Far East.  It’s in markets such as Japan and Hong Kong where large floor standing Tannoys are prized possessions as part of the appeal remains the English country gentrification image as well as the traditional and much valued dual concentric loudspeaker design.

The odd thing is that the styling does in fact suit modern minimalist homes as much as it does Chesterfields and oak panelling, so wife acceptance factor (WAF) is likely to be very high.  With the Turnberrys you get a box which stands 95cm tall by 46cm wide and 37cm deep, each box weighing in at a reasonably hefty 30Kgs.  The front edges are crafted from solid European Walnut with left and right edging being twin through-fluted to act as the port vents for the cabinet, which is a neat and aesthetically pleasing design.  The cabinet itself is a hefty and very solid construction of ¾ inch thick plywood/particle board with a European Walnut high quality veneer and it appears to be very well braced and very strong.  

Removing the grill requires the use of a gold plated brass key to unlock the grill panel.  Whilst this may appear gimmicky, it’s actually a good design as there’s no plastic bobbins to snap off and a rather sold locking mechanism which prevents little fingers removing the grills to get to the inviting drivers beneath!

For the review pair, I did also have a sneaky peak at the crossovers by removing the grills and then unscrewing the crossover housing which is fronted by a rather bling brass plate containing a treble energy variator (a posh screw which can be set into one of several holes for variations in treble energy response with +/_ 3dB from 1.3 KHz to 25KHz).  The wiring is all high quality silver plated OFC and connections to the crossover board are via gold plated brass spade connectors. 

Driver Technology (singe upgraded to new improved driver)

So much for the looks and construction, what about the sound?  Expectation bias will likely play a big part in any decision to buy Tannoy loudspeakers, any of them. As those who have or who have had the older Monitor Golds or HPD units might expect more of the same, whilst those who’ve never heard them or simply don’t like the older Tannoys may be put off before listening as opinions abound on the “Tannoy Sound”.  Years ago, Tannoy had the means and the budget to produce some stunningly well engineered drivers and whilst it would simply be unaffordable to produce something like a higher power handling monitor Gold unit today, the DC drivers (split into two types:  Tulip Waveguide and Pepper Pot) of today are still worthy of their hi-fidelity tag.

The Turnberrys come with the 10 inch DC Tulip Waveguide driver; this uses a sort of dual concentric brass coloured horn(s) within the main driver unit to obtain treble energy dispersion.  Whilst this system is not ultimately as refined as the better (more expensive) Pepper Pot design, it nonetheless works very well.  For those unfamiliar with Dual Concentric drivers from Tannoy, the idea is that you combine woofer and mid/tweeter into a single driver unit to obtain true point source imaging, the mid/tweeter using the curved bass driver and (in this case) an internal metal horn load the compression drivers used.  The result is fabulous imaging.  One thing that modern Tannoys do benefit from over the older units is in better engineered and higher quality crossover units, and this makes up a lot for the cost cutting in some of the driver technology used in the lower models.

Sound Quality

I was advised that straight out of the box, the Turnberrys needed 50 hours or so bedding in, but to be honest, they still sounded great from the word go.  I had a range of amplifiers to try with them (more on this later).  They were initially set up with a little toe-in about 500mm off the front wall and about a metre out from the corners although they didn’t seem too fussy where they sat to be honest.  Initial impressions were of a well focused wall of sound with good imaging particularly front-to-back.  Bass was a little dry straight off but there was plenty of punch there.  The amp driving them to start with was a Croft pre/power combo with around 50 watts per channel which was more than plenty for the rated 93dB sensitivity.

Roll forwards 50 or so hours:  Things had bedded in well after a week with more definition and wallop in the bass particularly noticeable and that superb imaging still set these loudspeakers apart from the crowd.  Overall balance seemed very well integrated.  I had been concerned that the urban myth of Tannoys needing super-tweeters would mean recessed treble but was rewarded with plenty of detail.  These are not as forward as most these days and I do think that there is a tendency, which is as much about marketing as high fidelity, to deliberately lift the HF response on some loudspeakers to impress for first impressions.  This is what I call the hifi fireworks trick, all tizz and sparkle but soon becomes fatiguing once said speakers are wired up at home.  The Tannoys draw you into the music without this tizz but at no point was I left wanting for detail as the tiniest “ting” of a triangle being played (along with the decay) was noted on some orchestral music for example.

Where the first problems started to occur was in the upper mid frequencies, the home of the infamous “Tannoy Honk” which some of their DC speakers have gained a reputation for.  Having heard Tannoys many times now, I was convinced that this honk was as much about cross-over issues and matching amplifiers as it was about the Tannoy design, although the Tulip Waveguide is arguably more prone to the “honk” than the more mannerly pepper pot sibling.  This has been a bone of contention amongst enthusiasts for years and even now, arguments abound on this topic, so I set out to see whether refinement could be had and the effects of the over abundant upper mid energy reduced. (since been greatly ameliated in the new drivers in replacemet models).

To cut a long story short, many different amplifiers were hooked up in turn, all with varying topology, some valve some SS and some hybrid.  The best behaved was a push-pull Art Audio Quintet (modified with KT66’s in place of the usual EL34s) and surprisingly, a 25 year old SS amp  (Ion Obelisk…a great little amp) did an admirable job as did the excellent LAR IA30 EL34 integrated amplifier. The Croft paring proved to put too much bass and upper mid energy into the speakers which was great for rock but not for much else (the culprit being the power amp which I’m sure that Croft could have re-worked if requested for the Tannoys).  The biggest surprise was that for imaging and emotion along with a very neutral upper mid was that a Single Ended Mastersound amp came out tops, but only after the valves had some running in time as initial impressions weren’t as favourable across the bandwidth.  The final audition was then done after spending several weeks with a Mastersound 845 Compact single ended valve amp kicking out some 30 watts in pure Class A.

I won’t claim that the honk had vanished altogether (better resolved in new replacement model) but it did become a complete non-issue as an overall balance was struck that was so musically involving that the music (whatever genre) took precedence with every disc and LP spin up.  Now whilst the Turnberrys may have a fairly benign load and are an amp friendly 93dB sensitivity, there is obviously something happening either with impedance or phase angle exacerbated by the tulip waveguide somewhere about the crossover point from mid to treble.  This in turn does mean that you have to be very careful which amplifier you partner with these loudspeakers in order to hear them at their best.  Their best incidentally is very good indeed and certainly up there in dynamics, sound staging ability and bandwidth with the very best at a similar price range.  What they have in spades is totally effortless scale which kicks in at very moderate levels so no need to play loud which if you have close neighbours or like to listen late at night is obviously an important consideration.

There will be some for whom no amount of dialogue will be ever be convinced about Tannoys as they will not have had the inclination or the means to listen on an extended basis with a variety of amplifiers.  As stressed, with the right amplification, they are stunningly capable transducers whose strengths far outweigh their weaknesses in my book.  It is a personal choice.  I would say definitely audition if tempted but do NOT buy on the strength of a review alone (as with anything else hifi).  Certainly audition on the strength of a review because you may never get to appreciate what these are capable of otherwise.  Be prepared for some amp box swapping shenanigans and what you end up with may very well be the very last set up you’ll ever want or need.

One thing to note is that whilst standing 95cm tall, these ‘speakers and their slightly smaller siblings, the Stirling SEs still require stands to ensure that the tweeter is at ear level (unless you have a very low sofa or listening chair).  It does make a difference and a positive one at that.  I was rewarded with better clarity and a slightly cleaner bass response by lifting the Turnberrys by around 7 or 8 inches and used the purpose made RFC stands (shown in the pictures) for this purpose.

Conclusions:

The Turnberry SE’s are a very fine loudspeaker for the price.  The sound quality is very good, having effortless scale, good bass and excellent transient response along with truly superb imaging thanks largely to the point source driver design.  Where they fall back slightly is that they are very amplifier fussy.  Whilst almost all amplifiers of 25 to 30 watts output and above will work with them, and whilst valve amps tend to reward with a more silky smooth presentation, careful partnering is required to avoid exacerbation of the upper upper mid energy.  Having said that, get the amplifier match right and you will be rewarded with a very musically engaging performance with just about any genre which draws you into the performance like few others.  They are a great alternative to spending considerably more on buying an older set of reconditioned MG drivers and having new cross-overs and cabinets made up and they have higher power handling than the older units, able to handle amplifiers of up to 180 watts output.

Higher powered amps do tend to work better with these than flea powered valve amps. Forget using them with 2A3 or 300B single ended or PP amps because they simply won’t have the grip or dynamic capabilities with the Turnberrys.  Any decent push-pull valve amp of 40 watts or more should work well, and powerful (for single ended anyway) SE amps of around 30 watts output are ideal although a very expensive alternative.  Budget SS work very well too, and having used some 20 to 30 year old SS amps with them, they can be driven well on a tight budget.  Aim for a SS amp of around 50 watts/channel upwards for best results if class A/B.  Whatever you use, the caveat is try as many as you can because the Turnberrys respond differently depending not on wattage but on amp topology although it is fair to say amps which put out larger current work well.  Due to the design of the driver, it is one of the few occasions where you may find that slightly less damping factor of the amp can work wonders, but again, experimentation is the key.

Whilst the Turnberrys may not sing quite as sweetly or as deeply as the more expensive Kensingtons (using the pepper pot drivers) get the amplification right and they will look like excellent value by comparison and not that far short on performance. The Tannoy 10 inch drivers are the pick of the bunch for me as they do seem to have more speed than the larger 15 inch models yet in large enough cabinets deliver a surprising bass wallop and superb imaging.

Rest assured that the Turnberrys, matched with an appropriate amp are well worth the cost and all of the effort.  Hifi is something of a journey and it is fair to say that for many, these (and most certainly the Kensingtons) could be the last step in that journey simply due to their sonic strengths and their timeless styling.

I encourage listeners to seek out if they’re looking for this type of sound -- few, if any, speakers sound quite like this one. It’s a speaker that taught me a valuable lesson:
Doug Schneider

REVIEW SUMMARY: Tannoy’s Definition DC10A not only surprised me, it impressed me -- partly because it allayed my initial misgivings about it, but mostly because its strengths have changed some of my preconceptions of what a truly great loudspeaker should sound like. The DC10A does things that few other speakers do. Most notable were its expressive sound -- bold, incisive, and powerful, it grabbed hold and drew me into the music in an uncanny way; the high level of detail, which remained consistent from very low to extremely high volume levels; its prodigious bass capabilities; and the composure and effortlessness of its sound as the volume levels were ratcheted up. 

EXTENDED REVIEW: Tannoy’s history in audio is so long, illustrious, and well known that I’ll keep this introduction short: The company was founded in 1926, in London, as the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company, and trademarked the brand name Tannoy in 1932. Since the 1970s Tannoy has been based in Coatbridge, Scotland, and in 2002 became part of the TC Group, which has offices in China, Denmark, Canada, and Japan. In its 87 years, Tannoy has developed many products for the professional and consumer markets, and is known for its pioneering Dual Concentric drive-unit, in which a high-frequency driver is positioned at the center of a lower-frequency driver, to create a true point-source radiator.

But despite that long history, and Tannoy’s legendary status among professionals and consumers, when their Definition DC10A loudspeakers entered my room, I eyed them with suspicion. I’m all for Dual Concentric drivers -- I’ve heard their benefits in other companies’ speakers -- but the one perched high on the DC10A’s baffle looked old for a new speaker that sells for $16,000 USD per pair. So I let them sit idle at the back of the room for almost a month, all the while thinking, “By today’s standards, can these actually be any good?” I wonder how many of you might be wondering the same.

Description

The DC10A is the largest and most expensive speaker in Tannoy’s Definition series, and they make no bones about the fact that the driver technology that took me aback is decades old. However, that driver -- and the rest of this speaker -- has been created by implementing that tried-and-true technology with modern-day knowhow.

The DC10A’s tweeter, which has a 2” aluminum-alloy dome, nests very deeply inside a 10” midrange-woofer with a paper-pulp cone. The tweeter is aided by what Tannoy calls a Pepperpot Waveguide. This has small holes at its base, the part closest to the tweeter diaphragm, followed by a fairly long tapered tube that transitions into the midrange-woofer’s cone. The midrange-woofer itself has a double surround, presumably for greater linear excursion, and is augmented by two large-diameter ports on the rear panel, which can be stopped with foam plugs (provided) should there be too much bass for your room. Tannoy claims for the DC10A a -6dB low-frequency limit of 28Hz, which is deep, and an upper-frequency limit of 22kHz.

Both the tweeter and the midrange-woofer have alnico magnet systems, which Tannoy makes quite a to-do about. Alnico magnets are made primarily from aluminum (Al), nickel (Ni), and cobalt (Co), hence the name. Supposedly, only rare-earth magnetic materials such as neodymium create stronger magnets (out of commonly available materials). Alnico makes for a powerful motor system that, in combination with the large midrange-woofer cone and some serious horn loading on the tweeter, results in a claimed sensitivity of 93dB/2.83V/m, which is pretty high -- the DC10A will play superloud on very few watts. Furthermore, the DC10A’s impedance is said to be a moderate 8 ohms, which will make it pretty easy to drive, and is likely why Tannoy specifies a minimum amplification of just 30W. However, they also spec a maximum amplification of 300W, with a peak-power rating of 600W. If an amp can deliver the juice, this speaker can take it.

The DC10A’s tweeter and midrange-woofer hand off to each other at a very low 1.1kHz, with second-order slopes on each. That low crossover point was likely chosen to ensure that the big midrange-woofer doesn’t beam (i.e., narrow its dispersion) too much. According to Tannoy’s literature, in designing the crossover the designers took a “simple, straight” approach of fewer parts for the highest fidelity. To reduce resonances and further improve performance, they’ve damped the crossover components with what Tannoy calls DMT, and have gone a step further by cooling the assembled crossover to -190°C, then slowly thawing it over a specified period of time. This cryogenic treatment supposedly “permanently reduces internal stresses in the microstructure of the crossover’s components, joints and conductors, leading to further improved signal transfer and greater resolution of fine detail.”

Of course, there’s also what the DC driver is bolted to: the cabinet, which is over 40” tall, almost 14” wide, and nearly 18” deep. At first I thought it was made from layered MDF, as are most cabinets these days that have similarly curved sidewalls, but it’s actually layered birch, chosen for its acoustic properties. The supplied grilles are magnetically attached and cover about two-thirds of the front baffles, starting at the top, but should be left off for critical listening.

Not outwardly visible but accessible from the cabinet’s bottom is an empty space. Tannoy calls this a Mass Loading Cavity, and says that it “can be fully or partly filled with a range of particle materials from fine mineral aggregates to dedicated loudspeaker ballast.” When filled, this cavity is said to improve the tightness, detail, and control of the DC10A’s bass.

I didn’t really like the shape of the DC10A, even with its curved sidewalls -- it looked less than elegant in my room -- but I did admire the color and quality of the High Gloss Cherry real-wood veneer the review pair was finished in. (High Gloss Black and Dark Walnut, also of real wood, are available.) I also liked the metal trim around the midrange-woofer and on the bottom of the baffle, as well as the two-piece plinth of solid aluminum that bolts securely to the cabinet’s base, and holds the superthick spikes, which gave the DC10A a sure footing on my carpeted floor.

I don’t usually fuss much over binding posts, but the DC10A’s pairs of WBT NextGen connectors, which permit biamping or biwiring, are doozies -- of excellent quality, they tighten securely over spades, but also make a firm connection with banana plugs. If, like me, you’re not into biwiring or biamping, Tannoy also supplies good jumpers. There’s also a fifth connector; connected to an amplifier, it grounds the speaker’s driver frame through the amp “to reduce potential RF interference in the audio system.” I have no RF problems in my system, so I didn’t feel the need to connect it, but it may come in handy with some systems.

Setup

I often review a set of speakers using just one amplifier that drives them sufficiently well, but with the Definition DC10As I tried a number of different amps. The sound varied considerably with each amp, which isn’t usually the case with the speakers I review. I can’t explain why there were such variances, but I accepted that there were, and in the end I settled on the two that sounded best with the Tannoys. One was the Simaudio Moon Evolution 870A ($20,000), a top-grade, solid-state stereo amplifier capable of delivering 300Wpc into 8 ohms. The other was actually two amps: a pair of JE Audio VM60 monoblocks ($6400/pair), an all-tube design that outputs only 60W into 8 ohms. The VM60s couldn’t make the DC10As play as loudly as the Simaudio 870A could, but they were still loud enough in my room, and the sound was astonishingly good. The DC10A is, indeed, an easy speaker to drive.

The rest of my review gear was the same as I’ve been using for my other recent reviews: EMM Labs PRE2-SE preamplifier, Meitner Audio MA-1 DAC, Samsung Laptop running JRiver Media Center 18, AudioQuest Carbon USB cable, Nordost Valhalla balanced interconnects, and Siltech Classic Anniversary 330L speakers cables.

I positioned the DC10As a little differently from how I’ve placed most of the speakers that have been here recently, in order to get the best combination of tonal balance, bass, and soundstaging: 8’ apart (or 1’ more than usual), and 10’ from my listening chair (or 1.5’ more than usual). I toed in both speakers by just under 10°, which put my ears 10-15° off the tweeter axes.

Performance

I was pleased to find that the Definition DC10As had a generally neutral tonal balance, which made every type of music I played through them sound natural, but they were definitely not ruthlessly neutral -- which is why I had to tweak their positions more than I do with most speakers, to get the balance to my liking, particularly in the bass. The result was a midrange that was very smooth but a touch forward, which made voices sound present and alive; highs that were clean, very extended, and quite lively; and bass that was full, forceful, and remarkably deep. In fact, the bass was so deep and enveloping when I played “Mining for Gold” and “Misguided Angel,” from the Cowboy Junkies’ The Trinity Session (16-bit/44.1kHz FLAC, RCA), and weighty and thunderous when I played the title track of Sade’s Soldier of Love (16/44.1 FLAC, Epic), that it was easy to understand why Tannoy supplies port plugs -- these speakers could easily overload smaller rooms. The only speaker in recent years that reached deeper more forcefully in my room were Vivid Audio’s Giya G2 ($50,000/pair).

The DC10As’ soundstage greatly exceeded my expectations, with awesome width, surprisingly good image specificity, and 3D solidity, particularly when driven by the JE Audio VM60 monos, which have a more palpable sound than typical solid-state amps. There was a decent sense of depth, even if it wasn’t the deepest stage I’ve attained in my room. (That may have had something do with the fact that I was listening to the Tannoys from farther away than I usually do.) Suffice it to say that it was invigorating to hear such an old-school-looking speaker reproducing Margo Timmins’s angelic voice as solidly and tangibly on the stage as had Grand Cru Audio’s Essentiels, which are two-way, stand-mounted minimonitors ($8200/pair). I was even more pleased to hear the stage extend past the outer edges of the DC10As, not only with The Trinity Session, but with every recording I played that has a soundstage that’s intended to stretch that far.

Another thing about the DC10A’s sound was not only noteworthy but, in my experience, unique to this model: anexpressiveness in the way it presented each type of music. That might seem a strange word to use. Basically, the pair propelled a bold, incisive, powerful sound that leapt out at me in a visceral, incisive, exciting, and pleasing way that made them an absolute joy to listen to, and the opposite of speakers that are tight-fisted to the point of sounding closed-in and restrained. I’m not necessarily talking about “forwardness” or “punch”; rather, I experienced an immediacy and presence even with the simplest recordings. The Tannoys projected the music into the room and drew me into the music.

Equally notable was the transparency of the sound and the details that the DC10As could reveal -- these were comparable to some electrostatic designs I’ve heard over the years. Leonard Cohen’s voice in “Going Home,” from his Old Ideas (16/44.1 FLAC, Columbia), was positioned vividly in the center of the stage, with every inflection clearly audible and with a razor-sharp distinction between his voice and the voices of the backing singers spread out behind him. On Soldier of Love, Sade’s voice in “Morning Bird” was just as clearly rendered, and with the same kind of delineation between her voice and what the other musicians are doing around her. What’s more, the high level of detail was as audible at the lowest listening levels as at the highest, something that isn’t always the case with speakers that need above-average power before they get up and go and start revealing the small stuff. The DC10As seemed to jump with only a hint of power.

The Tannoys could also re-create the authentic sound of an acoustic piano as if there were no tomorrow, a notoriously difficult thing for any speaker to do -- the piano’s tonality, weight, detail, dynamics, and, most important, richness were reproduced in my room in a shockingly realistic manner. The only speaker that has impressed me more in this regard is, again, Vivid’s Giya G2. It was interesting to rediscover some of my favorite piano recordings through the DC10As, including Ola Gjeilo’s Stone Rose (16/44.1 FLAC, 2L), Glenn Gould’s A State of Wonder: The Complete Goldberg Variations of J.S. Bach 1955 & 1981 (16/44.1 FLAC, Sony Classical), and Leon Russell’s self-titled debut, from 1970 (16/44.1 FLAC, DCC/The Right Stuff).

The Gjeilo and Gould recordings showed me how clearly and accurately the piano could be reproduced, but it wasLeon Russell that really captivated me. The DC10As reproduced the ferocity of Russell’s playing at low and high volumes with uncanny realism and emotion. The sound remained clear at higher volume levels, with a lack compression that only a handful of speakers I’ve heard can approach. Furthermore, that expressiveness that I noted before was in full cry here -- the piano had a full, forceful, vivid, highly present sound that had me believing it might actually be in the room.

The DC10A had a unique sonic character that had plenty of strengths and a few weaknesses. One of the latter was its not entirely neutral tonal balance. Although I played with the positioning to compensate for this, there were a few things I just couldn’t iron out. One was a slight cupped-hands coloration, particularly with male voices, but also a bit with female voices and some instruments. This is typical of Dual Concentric drivers, largely because of the proximity of and interaction between the high- and low-frequency drivers. It wasn’t noticeable all the time, but I could highlight it with specific recordings, usually simpler in nature, which seemed to exacerbate it. My best guess is an anomaly somewhere between 400 and 600Hz. Likewise, the highs, while generally clean and quite lively, didn’t sound as refined as they do from the best conventional metal- and soft-dome tweeters I’ve heard recently, including the one used in my reference speakers, Revel’s Ultima Salon2s ($21,998/pair). I suspect not so much the DC10A’s tweeter but, again, the interaction of its output with that of midrange-woofer surrounding it. Whatever the case, sticking a tweeter inside a midrange-woofer conveys benefits along with the disadvantages, and the DC10A amply illustrated both.

Conclusions

Tannoy’s Definition DC10A not only surprised me, it impressed me -- partly because it allayed my initial misgivings about it, but mostly because its strengths have changed some of my preconceptions of what a truly great loudspeaker should sound like. The DC10A does things that few other speakers do. Most notable were its expressive sound -- bold, incisive, and powerful, it grabbed hold and drew me into the music in an uncanny way; the high level of detail, which remained consistent from very low to extremely high volume levels; its prodigious bass capabilities; and the composure and effortlessness of its sound as the volume levels were ratcheted up. In addition to those strengths, the DC10A had a few weaknesses that I highlighted above. I also had to work with the setup a little more than normal to get the balance just right, and take more care with amplifier matching because different amps yielded different sounds.

But when I critically assessed the pros and the cons, it was obvious that the Definition DC10A’s strengths so far outnumbered and outweighed its weaknesses that it’s not only an easy speaker for me to recommend, it’s one that I encourage listeners to seek out if they’re looking for this type of sound -- few, if any, speakers sound quite like this one. It’s a speaker that taught me a valuable lesson: Just as you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, it’s important never to judge a speaker by the look of its drivers.

. . . Doug Schneider

As my friend Ron said after hearing the Westminsters, "Where do you go from here!" Well, for me, nowhere. I'm finally done searching for loudspeakers. For me, the Westminster Royal SE represents the end of long a journey, I've found 'my' perfect speaker.
Jeff Day

REVIEW SUMMARY: The Tao of Tannoy: The Westminster Royal Special Edition Loudspeakers
"Which one of the three do I prefer when they are optimized in a way that brings out the best of their performance? I prefer the Westminster Royal SE by far. As listener after listener that has visited my listening room have said, the Westminsters are really something special, and are a couple of levels above either the Avantgarde or Harbeth in performance (or as my friend Chad puts it, the Westminsters are in a totally different league). But they should be considering the price differential: the Harbeth is around $12K, the Avantgarde Duo is double that, and the Westminster is triple that. In the case of the Westminster Royal SE, you really do get what you pay for though, and using the Stereophile rating system that places the Avantgarde and Harbeths in Class A, the Westminsters are simply off the rating scale above Class A somewhere up there around the North Star".

EXTENDED REVIEW: Do you know what the oldest loudspeaker company in the world is? If you guessed Tannoy you're exactly right, as Tannoy was founded by Guy R. Fountain in 1926 and has been making loudspeakers now for over 84 years. 'Tannoy' was trademarked as a name in 1928, and was located in London until 1975, when it relocated to Coatbridge, Scotland, where it still resides.

There is such a rich history associated with Tannoy that it's impossible to do it justice in a web-length article, so I won't even try. Rather, I'll focus on the Westminster Royal Special Edition loudspeaker that is the object of this article, and I'll direct you to an excellent book that covers Tannoy's rich and interesting history with the detailed treatment it deserves: The Tannoy Story by Julian Alderton, Edward Gaskell Publishers, 2004, ISBN 1-898546-58-4. I bought my copy of Alderton's The Tannoy Story at Amazon.com, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves history and Tannoy loudspeakers. 

If there is anything that is symbolic of Tannoy it is certainly the Dual Concentric™ speaker unit, which I think is one of the most important advancements in speaker technology ever developed in the history of audio (Westminster Dual Concentric™ shown below). Ronald Rackham developed the Dual Concentric™ speaker in 1948, the Monitor Black, which brilliantly integrated a high-frequency compression horn driver unit into the same axis as a fifteen-inch direct radiating low frequency driver on one chassis. Rackham also designed the Guy R. Fountain (GRF) and Autograph corner horn enclosures for the Dual Concentric™ speakers, which also quickly attained status in the music industry as high-performance designs. If Nobel Prizes were awarded for achievements in audio electronics, then Ronald Rackham would certainly be deserving of one for his contribution of the Dual Concentric™ speaker design—it is a positively brilliant musical device that has been highly revered by generations of music lovers.

The Tannoy series of Dual Concentric™ speakers and enclosures have impressed many music industry luminaries over the years, like Arthur Haddy, the chief recording engineer at Decca, who heard the Monitor Silver (successor to the Monitor Black) in 1951 and ordered it for the Decca studios in London. Dr. Dutton of EMI visited Tannoy in 1951 and heard the Monitor Silvers installed in the GRF enclosures, and was so impressed he ordered the combination for EMI's Abbey Road recording studios. Kingsway Hall, the BBC, and many others, followed their example and ordered Tannoy Dual Concentrics™ for their recording studio work. Tannoy's became so prolific in the music industry that there's a very good chance that those beloved recordings you've treasured all your life were originally mastered using Tannoy Dual Concentrics™, and I suspect they will still be at their most authentic best when played back over Tannoys today.

The Westminster Royal Special Edition Loudspeaker

Today's top of the line Tannoy Dual Concentric™ is the Westminster Royal Special Edition. You might think that Tannoy's naming of its premiere loudspeaker as the Westminster Royal is a bit pretentious, and that they are perhaps guilty of putting on airs, but actually the naming of the Westminster Royal is rooted deep in Tannoy's rich history and commemorates the installation of Tannoys in what was once the primary residence of the Kings of England, the Palace of Westminster. That original Tannoy installation in the Palace of Westminster, now serving as the home of Parliament, was tuned by none other than Ronald Rackham, the afore mentioned Father of the Dual Concentric™ design.

While the Tannoy Westminster may visually look like a vintage horn design, it is not. Rather, the Westminster Project was initiated at the request of Tannoy's longstanding Japanese distributors, TEAC Esoteric, to serve as a noteworthy successor to the famous Autograph corner horn that was designed by Ronald Rackham so many years ago. Alex Garner, the Technical Director at Tannoy at the time of TEAC Esoteric's request, did the acoustic development for the first version of the Westminster (those colorful reports that they are a long lost and born again design of Guy R. Fountain are merely a bit of delightful fiction).

In 1987 Dr. Paul Mills joined Tannoy as a Senior Design Engineer (and is now Director of Research and Engineering), and helped Alex Garner, then the Technical Director of Tannoy, put the finishing touches to the Westminster Royal, the successor to the original Westminster, which was launched that year. Dr. Mills then took over development of the Westminster Project and has continued to develop the concept to make the Westminster Royal Special Edition what it is today.

Like Ronald Rackham for his design of the Dual Concentric™, if the Nobel Prize Committee awarded Nobel Prizes in Audio, certainly Alex Garner and Dr. Paul Mills would have won awards for their brilliant design work that has brought us the original Westminster, and now the Westminster Royal Special Edition, one of the most noteworthy designs in the history of audio.

There have actually been five different versions of the Westminster over time, the first version being produced from 1982 to 1987. That first Westminster used a 15-inch Dual Concentric™ speaker with a foam surround on the bass driver, and was installed into a massive and complex compound horn cabinet, with both front and rear horn loading.

The second version of the Westminster, called the Westminster Royal, was produced from 1987 to 1998. The Westminster Royal had an even larger cabinet than the first Westminster, and was made more rigid by using thick birch plywood for its construction. The Westminster Royal also used better capacitors in its crossover and Van den Hulwiring throughout. 

The third version of the Westminster, called the Westminster TW (Tulip Waveguide) was produced from 1992 to 1998 in parallel with the Westminster Royal. The Westminster TW was a lower cost version of the Westminster that used a ferrite magnet instead of the more expensive (and better sounding) Alnico magnet, and had a smaller cabinet volume than the Westminster Royal. 

The fourth version of the Westminster, called the Westminster Royal HE, was produced from 1999 to 2007. The 'HE' in its name referred to the 'Hard Edge' impregnated fabric surround on the bass driver which stored less energy, and which gave it a faster and more articulate sound than its predecessors.

That brings us to the fifth and current version in the evolutionary development of the Westminster Royal, the Westminster Royal Special Edition (SE), which was introduced in 2007. The Westminster Royal SEs have entirely hand built compound horn-loaded birch plywood cabinets, each with a volume of 530 liters, and weigh a hefty 304 pounds per loudspeaker. Internally the cabinets are cross-braced for rigidity and heavily damped to eliminate resonances that could degrade their sound quality. The cabinets are finished in beautifully applied book-matched walnut veneer, solid walnut trim, and walnut burl highlights—the overall effect is quite stunning and it can be quite hard to take your eyes off the speakers when listening to music at first. The cabinets are hand-waxed before leaving the finishing workshop, and Tannoy thoughtfully includes a specially formulated wax with the loudspeakers so new owners can keep them looking as good over time as they did when they were new. The cabinets have casters on their bottoms to aid moving them into position, and believe me they are an absolute necessity when trying to move these behemoths. The speakers come with machined cups that the owner can place under the casters for additional isolation after the speakers' final position is determined (which I haven't got around to trying yet).

Each Westminster Royal SE speaker cabinet incorporates two 11-foot long rear folded horns—composed of 30 individual panels—that couple to the rear of the Dual Concentric™ drive unit and exit at the front cabinet corners (see the cutaway diagrams of the cabinets below). The rear horn starts acoustic coupling to the drive unit at 300Hz and provides low frequency response down to 18Hz (-6dB). Above 300Hz the low frequency drive unit is coupled to the front horn and provides frequency response in the range of 300Hz to 1000Hz. The high frequency compression driver component of the Dual Concentric™ drive unit provides frequency response from1000Hz to 20000Hz.    

The Westminster Royal SE's 15-inch Dual Concentric™ drive units are objects of beauty, with their elegant golden Westminster logo on the indigo low frequency driver cones, and their glowing, golden, high frequency Pepper-Pot Wave Guides™ (so named because its interior pattern of openings in the wave guide looks like the openings in a pepper shaker). The Westminster Royal SE uses the latest and most refined version of Tannoy's Dual Concentric™ 15-inchAlcomax 3 drive unit, which incorporates Alnico magnets and a computer designed and manufactured reverse throat high frequency Pepper-Pot Wave Guide™.

Alnico magnets are revered by horn loudspeaker aficionados for their incredibly lifelike tone, and in the Westminster Royal SE Alnico magnet assemblies provide flux generation for both the high and low frequency driver motors, maintaining a strong magnetic flux around each voice coil in its precision air gap. The Alnico magnets used in the Westminster Royal SE are Tannoy's most refined Alnico formulation to date, referred to as Alcomax 3, and has a iron-nickel alloy composition doped with cobalt, aluminum, and other rare (proprietary mix of) metals to provide magnets with "unparalleled sensitivity and clean transient response". The magnet assembly is housed in an extremely rigid high precision die cast chassis that keeps everything perfectly aligned in the Dual Concentric™ drive unit.

The high frequencies (1000Hz to 20000Hz) of the Dual Concentric™ drive unit are provided by a high performance 2-inch compression driver with a wide dynamic range whose acoustic output is routed through a multiple phase compensating device into the throat of a solid steel acoustic horn, where it goes through an impedance transformation that matches the compression driver's radiation to the room. The driver uses a aluminum-magnesium alloy diaphragm that is manufactured according to a precision five-step process that produces a grain structure aligned at the molecular level to provide high performance and long-term durability. The diaphragm is driven by a round wire voice coil that is an ultra-low mass aluminum design, and is wired with copper Litz wire for high performance and long-term durability. The acoustic cavity of the driver is damped to control its response and to match its impedance to the horn throat. The compression driver's response extends two octaves below the crossover frequency of 1000 Hz, which eliminates colorations that can arise due to operation over the fundamental resonance region.

The 15-inch low frequency cone is made of a proprietary paper-pulp material that is treated to absorb internal resonance modes, and utilizes a reinforcing structure that gives it a very high stiffness to mass ratio that allows it to maintain very accurate pistonic motion over its frequency range. The low frequency cone has a damped twin roll fabric surround that is designed to be compliant and linear over the large excursions the driver is capable of. A high power motor that consists of a four-layer coil that is suspended in a very fine tolerance magnetic air gap drives the cone. The coil is wound using a special high temperature adhesive system and then goes through a curing process that ensures reliable operation at high peak power inputs the driver is capable of handling (e.g. 550 watts peak, 135 watts RMS).

As you can see in the cutaway drawing (below) of Tannoy's Dual Concentric™ drive unit, the flare profile is continuous from the high frequency Pepper-Pot Wave Guide™ out across the low frequency cone to provide optimum dispersion across the audio frequencies to give a smooth transition at the crossover point. One of the most important aspects of the Dual Concentric™ drive unit design is that it has all frequencies emanating from the same central axis, with the high-frequency exponential Pepper-Pot Wave Guide™, located in the center and behind the low frequency driver, perfectly integrated to produce polar sound dispersion that is symmetrical in both horizontal and vertical planes, a design aspect which has a huge advantage over multi-driver systems in coherency due to being in essence a point source, which I'll talk about more as I describe my listening impressions.

The crossover of the Westminster Royal SE is bi-wired for low and high frequencies, with hard-wired low-loss components in a passive design. The crossover is second-order on the low frequencies and second-order compensated on the high frequencies. Earlier versions of the Westminster Royal used a similar crossover design with only minor differences, but with the Westminster Royal Special Edition the crossover topology has been refined and the design has been taken to a new level of performance by using state-of-art Clarity Cap polypropylene capacitors, non-inductive thick film Vishay resistors, very low loss laminated core inductors custom made for Tannoy, and a combination of proprietary high purity silver & Acrolink six nines (6N) purity copper hard-wiring. The crossover allows the owner to adjust the high frequency energy and roll off.

As a point of clarification, the Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers I'm writing about are not 'in for review' in the usual sense. Rather, they are a personal purchase. Normally I don't write formal reviews about personal purchases because, well, it takes a lot of time, and time is increasingly in short supply these days it seems, and frankly I'd rather be listening to music for pleasure instead of writing about it! However, in the case of the Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers, I decided I couldn'tnot write about them because they are just so ridiculously good, and information is so hard to come by about them in the West, that it would have been a horrific disservice to music lovers everywhere had I not written about them.

Let me back up a little bit to the beginning of this story. My journey to owning a pair of Westminster Royal SEs started like this: Quite a few years ago at the Consumer Electronics Show I heard a pair of Tannoy Churchill loudspeakers and they really impressed me. They had gorgeous tone and produced a visceral impact that I could feel over my entire body, and I was never quite able to get that experience out of my head. The Churchill is now a footnote in Tannoy's history, but in any event, I had fixed my attention on the Westminster Royal SE, Tannoy's most beloved loudspeaker. "Hey, if the Churchill was that awesome, the Westminster Royal SE must even be more awesome," was my logic (and hope).

So I did what a lot of us have to do with exotic Hi-Fi equipment that's not easy to audition, due to their scarcity, I ordered a pair without having heard them and hoped for the best. That's a little scary when you're talking about a loudspeaker that sells for about as much as I paid for my Toyota 4Runner when it was new, which was my single largest purchase ever next to my house. So for an average guy like me, it was a huge step to place that order for the Westminster Royal Special Editions.

Tannoy makes each pair of Westminster Royal SEs as an order is received, so it takes a while from the time you place an order until they make your pair, test them, and then ship them. I settled in for the long wait for Tannoy to make my Westminster Royal SEs and deliver them to me in the USA from their factory in Coatbridge, Scotland. Well, the wait wasn't really that long I suppose, it just felt long because I was so excited about getting a pair of Tannoy Westminster Royal SEs. I ordered the big West's on October 19, 2009, and I got a call from FedEx on December 30, 2009, that they had made their way safely from Coatbridge, Scotland, and were now in town and ready to be delivered to my residence.

The FedEx driver helped me get the big shipping containers for the Westminsters out of the truck and into my entryway. I call my buddy Chad asking for some help to get them uncrated, and fortunately he was able to come to the rescue. The Westminsters sit upon interlocking pallets, and given that each of them weighs over 300 pounds, Tannoy recommends 5 people to lift them off their pallet.

Chad and I stared at the crates for a while trying to figure out how just the two of us were going to do what Tannoy recommended for five men. First we removed the shrink-wrap from the shipping containers, and then lifted off the cardboard containers and set them aside. Then we removed the internal foam packing that is shrink-wrapped to the speakers and set it aside.

According to Tannoy's directions, essentially you have to do a dead lift of the loudspeaker straight up off the pallet to clear the interlocking blocks, remove the pallet from underneath the speaker, and then set the speakers down. That means that each of the 5 men recommended would only have to dead lift a little over 60 pounds each.

But there were only two of us. Chad, an engineer, looked over the foam beams that protected the corners of the loudspeaker during shipping and noted how robust they were, and that they were the same length as the speaker. "Aha!" he said, "We can place the beams under the back of the speakers, lay the speaker down on them, and because the speaker pivots on its axis it means each of us only has to lift 75 pounds." Brilliant. So that's exactly what we did, and then pulled the pallet out and set it aside, and tipped the speakers back upright.

We wheeled the Westminsters in place (thankfully they have casters on the bottom), and then did a rudimentary setup and got them up and playing. Holy cow! What great sounding speakers! We listened to record after record that night and we were blown away with the Westminsters – and they weren't even broken in yet! As I would find out later, they get significantly better with more time on them, and now they are now sounding positively otherworldly.

I've found the Westminsters to be a bit picky about associated equipment, as they are quite neutral. You can make them sound slow and dull with poor equipment choices, or conversely bright and edgy. However, they are utterly magical, musically colorful, naturally life-like, and astonishingly expressive when matched with the right associated equipment. Of the different equipment I've listened to, I've come up with a few general guidelines for associated equipment matching that works well in my room to make the Westminster Royal SEs really sing: I've found the Westminsters to be at their best with associated equipment that is tonally rich and colorful, extended and well behaved at the frequency extremes, smooth, transparent, and somewhat detailed (but not etched sounding).

Just a note on amplifiers: Use vacuum tube amplification, even really good solid-state amplification gives up too much performance. Given the 99dB sensitivity you would think any of the DHT SET amps out there would work fine, but in practice I've found that anything below about 5 watts just really couldn't make them sing and swing at levels that are typical of live music, so you'll want to look for something bigger than a 45 or 2A3 amp if you listen to dynamic music played loud. If you listen at low levels the majority of the time you can easily get by with a 2A3 amp, but you'll never be able to hear what the Westminsters are really cable of dynamically.

To date, the two best matches for amplification have been the MasterSound Caesar 300B integrated amplifier from Italy that my friend Ron brought over for a listening session, and my own Leben CS660P power amplifier from Japan. The Caesar is a beautiful little amplifier that is made to an extremely high quality standard, and its 9 watts sounds massively powerful on the Westminsters even on the most bombastic pieces played loud. It's a very transparent amp with a lot of natural resolution of detail, is a lot of fun to listen to music with, and is one of the best amplifiers I have ever heard. My Leben Hi-Fi Company CS660P power amplifier at about 40 watts is way more power than you really need on the Westminsters, but it does give plenty of reserve power for those dynamic peaks in the music.

Keep your eye on these: I was very impressed with the prototype deHavilland Model 50A mono amplifiers made by tube wizard Kara Chaffee in the brief audition I had of them on my Westminsters. I haven't yet heard the production versions, but if they're anything like the prototypes they will be stunning. A couple of my pals have already bought pairs so I'm hoping to get a more extended listen soon.

Listening

It's been fun having friends over for listening sessions with the Westminster Royal SEs in residence. From that first playing of music with Chad after unpacking them, right up until now, we've all been blown away by the sheer musicality of the Westminsters, and we are a picky and hard to please crowd of musicians, music lovers, Hi-Fi enthusiasts and writers, including a couple of Hi-Fi dealers, and even a few Hi-Fi manufacturers. That's the first time in my recollection that there's been such universal praise for a pair of loudspeakers among that group of picky listeners—it's unprecedented!

There is something magical and seductive about the combination of full-range horn loudspeakers like the Tannoy Westminster Royal SEs, vacuum tube electronics, and vinyl as a source—it is just so inherently musical that all of my analytical reasoning gets pushed aside and I just melt into musical ecstasy. That's saying something for someone who has a Doctorate in analysis (literally), because I can quite easily get caught up in the 'paralysis of analysis' due to my pointy-headed training if I'm not careful. Yet the Tannoy Westminster Royal SE completely disconnects my analysis pathways, and I melt into the music. It's like magic!

I get quite a few people asking me what the Westminster Royal SEs sound like, so I'll start with a very general description, and try to elaborate from there. First of all, as you would expect from their size, they sound big. Big in the way music sounds live, and if you closed your eyes for a moment, you could be forgiven for thinking that the music coming through them is coming from musicians playing live, that you're hearing them through a very refined sound system, although I doubt there's many venues where the music sounds as good as when coming through the Westminsters. The Westminster's presentation of recorded music is energizing, life-size, and powerfully moving, much in the same way live music is.

As I've mentioned earlier, the Westminster's overall sonic character is largely determined by the way you've voiced them in your room via your equipment choices. I've chosen associated equipment that makes them sound just a little bit dark and warm overall, with high frequencies that sparkle like starlight through a pitch black night, and with deep, taut, and articulate bass response.  The Westminsters voiced thusly have a big, richly colorful tone, and a very natural presentation that is surprisingly agile and transparent, not something I would have expected from a big 15-inch driver.

Perhaps the Westminster Royal SE's most notable attribute is how visceral the musical experience is through them. You can literally feel the sound waves of the music flow over and interact with your body in a way that is uniquely tangible compared to any loudspeaker in my experience. The most vivid example of this is the bass response, which can quite literally rattle your ribs in your chest. But the effect is not limited to bass, it's pretty much that way across the frequency range, where I can feel it energizing my body much in the same way live instruments do, and more than one visitor to my listening room has commented on how involving this phenomena is.

Another aspect of the Westminster's overall presentation, at least when setup like I've described above, is that they can play at very loud levels without my ears shutting down. I'm not sure if it is their very low distortion, the point-source-like delivery of the Dual Concentric™ drivers, or the enormous wave front that washes over you during listening, but I've found that they defeat that 'strained' feeling I normally get as volumes increase, which allows for listening at higher levels than I am used to with other loudspeakers. A caveat is in order: because of this sense of ease at loud volumes, you have to be a little bit thoughtful about listening at loud levels for long periods, as you will surely be tempted to do so with the Westminsters, and that could damage your hearing over time. So I'm just saying, be a little careful not to overdo it to your own detriment.

Ok, that's enough of a general description; let's listen to some music. Since my VPI Classic turntable arrived a few weeks ago I haven't listened to digital for more than a total of 5 minutes. Not that my digital front end isn't wonderful, it is, but after listening to vinyl, particularly vinyl as good as the new 45 RPM Blue Note Reissues from Analogue Productions, it quickly dispelled in my mind any idea that good digital can compete head-to-head with good analog. This morning I've been listening to Joe Henderson'sPage One 45-RPM LP set, and it is incredible, and stands shoulder to shoulder on the podium with any of the greatest jazz LPs ever pressed.

Kenny Dorham's Blue Bossa is Side One of the LP set, and at about a minute into it he takes off on a trumpet solo that sent a pleasurable shiver down my spine with it's pulsating vibrato. Through the Westminsters, Kenny's tone is mind boggling beautiful, with its Latin bossa nova infused hard bop lines, with no edge or grit, but smooth and liquidly flowing, burnished, and yet still able to keep me on the edge of my seat. From a sonic standpoint you get well-defined life-sized flesh & blood images, a deep soundstage, and a lot of musically natural detailed suffused with a large sense of space. Musically it is sheer ecstasy, with deeply colorful instrumental trumpet (Dorham) and sax (Henderson) tone played by masters of their instruments. Henderson takes a solo after Dorham, and it is one of his best. The upright bass (Butch Warren) is taut and moves the music along nicely, and every note's pitch is obvious—no one note bass issues with the Westminsters—they display Butch's playing in its full glory. The improvising, the backing… man it is just out of this world, and I'm really finding it difficult to articulate the sheer mesmerizing beauty of this music through the Westminsters. McCoy Tyner's piano playing emerges out of the center of the mix from way back in the soundstage, with his distinctive voicing of chordal structures and melodic phrasings. Pete La Roca's drum playing is perfection.

Joe's Recorda Me (means 'remember me' in Portuguese) is the first cut on Side Three of the LP set, and it is quite simply sax soloing perfection… and I'm going stop there, because you really just need to get this album and listen for yourself. You will not regret it – this is one of the great jazz albums. Page Onethrough the Westminsters is an experience, an experience you'll never forget, and will make it clear why you got into this crazy Hi-Fi hobby to begin with. The Westminsters truly leave me at a loss for words in articulating how intensely involving music this music is through them.

I'm a big Miles Davis fan, and one of my favorite Miles Davis albums is Someday My Prince Will Come, so I could hardly wait to unpack the Analogue Productions 45-RPM version that I ordered a little while back and listen to it through the Westminsters. In case you're wondering, the pretty girl on the album cover was Frances, Miles' wife (man, some guys have all the luck!). It's not just the album's cover that is impressive though, because Prince features John Coltrane (tenor sax on Someday My Prince Will Comeand I Thought About You), Hank Mobley (tenor sax on all tracks except I Thought About You), Wynton Kelly (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Jimmy Cobb (drums), and of course Miles Davis (trumpet). The songs covered are Someday My Prince Will Come, Old Folks, Pfrancing (a Punny contraction of Frances' name and dancing—really!), Drad-Dog, I Thought About You, and Teo.

I'll tell you what, there's never been a copy of Prince that even comes close to the quality of the Analogue Productions 45-RPM version—it's just freaky good! Miles Davis' trumpet is perfectly portrayed, being piquant, but never edgy or harsh. Jimmy Cobb's cymbal work sounds so real it'll give you chicken skin. Paul Chambers' bass playing is insistent in driving Prince forward, and his bass sounds big, taut, and defined. The Westminsters can really carry a tune, with the melody pulling you in, and the tempo sailin' along, just like it should. Lest I forget, let me mention now how life-size and solid images are, and they're spread across a wide and deep soundstage. How big is the soundstage through the Westminsters? On Prince it's as big as the stage at a nice little jazz club, in other words it's BIG, even life sized. The Westminsters immerse you in a huge ambient soundspace as well, making you feel like you're a couple of tables away from a performance at Seattle's Jazz Alley.

My trusty old Analogue Productions 33-RPM test pressing of Cookin' With the Miles Davis Quintet(recorded in 1956) isn't so shabby either, even if it's not quite up there with the 45-RPM reissues, and is another one of my favorite Miles Davis albums. Cookin' features Paul Chambers on bass, John Coltrane on tenor sax, Miles Davis on trumpet, Red Garland on piano, and Philly Joe Jones on drums, and is an altogether terrific set of music. I'll tell you what, when the Westminsters are playing Cookin' at a volume that approximates live music it will stir you body & soul with the music with an intensity that you experience in life—the West's nail the sound and feel of livemusic.

A few pointy headed observations: The Westminsters reproduction of believable instrumental timbre for the bass, tenor sax, trumpet, piano, and drums on Cookin' really helps the illusion of live music along, as does the way the Westminsters portray the time elements of music like tempo, melody, and rhythm. For example, Paul Chambers' bass sounds woody, taut, and appropriately defined (with just the right amount of string slap and sloppiness at times) that you could be forgiven for thinking that someone was playing a bass down the hall if you had just walked into my house.  I get the same sort of musical sensibility hearing the Westminster reproduce Paul's driving bass lines that I get from hearing an upright bass in life, and his forward momentum drives the music along beautifully, just like in life. Miles' trumpet has its characteristic bite, but never sends you running for cover the way it does with some speakers. The Westminsters portray horns beautifully, perhaps because they are horns themselves and can track the dynamics of Miles' and Coltrane's playing easily and realistically. 

Wrapping Up

I quite literally could go on and on telling you how wonderful and powerfully emotive vocals are through the Westminsters, or how they make huge classical performances as intimate and involving as small group jazz, or how you're transported to Seattle's Tractor Tavern when listening to bluegrass with the Westminsters, or how they can play rock & roll at live levels, levels that make you want to get up out of your seat and dance to the music (as more than one visitor to my listening room has done), but I won't, because I want to finish up my writing now so I can get back to listening to music for fun, and believe me, the Westminsters are unparalleled in the fun department.

In wrapping up, I am reminded of a question posed to me by one of Positive Feedback Online's readers, who e-mailed me asking me to discuss my experiences with three loudspeakers I have owned that he was interested in, to help give him ideas about what to do next. Those three loudspeakers are the Avantgarde Duos, the Harbeth Monitor 40.1s, and the Tannoy Westminster Royal Special Edition loudspeakers. After thinking about it, I decided a distillation of that conversation would also be useful to readers of this review.

First of all, I should point out that these are three very good and very different loudspeakers, and I think they will appeal to different listeners based on their needs and tastes. For example, room size is an important consideration for any of these speakers to perform at their best: for the Westminster Royal SEs to perform optimally I think your room should be at least as long as a 18Hz half-wave (the West's bass extension), or about 30 feet. For the Harbeth Monitor 40.1s, I think they are at their best in a fairly small room, reasonably close to a size of 3x4 meters or thereabout (which is the size of room they were optimized in during Alan Shaw's design process), or their bass tends to become unbalanced and boomy. The Avantgarde Duo is more flexible due to its tunable bass module, so it can be optimized for a larger variety of rooms size-wise, but still it prefers a larger room to a smaller one like the Harbeth is happiest in.

Then there is loudspeaker sensitivity and amplifier choice: The Avantgarde has > 100dB sensitivity, which means you can use any of the low power single ended triode (SET) amplifiers of 1 watt or more and get adequate sound pressure levels. The Westminster Royal SE has 99dB sensitivity, which I have found to work best with amplifiers of 5 watts or more, which excludes some of the smallest SETs like those based on 45 and 2A3 tubes. The Harbeth Monitor 40.1 has 85dB sensitivity, and that means more powerful amps must be used with them to get adequate sound pressure levels. Even though the Harbeth is rated as having a rather low 85dB sensitivity, the rating is a little misleading, as it is easier to drive than its low sensitivity rating would suggest, but still, for most listeners that means amps in the 30 - 40 watt range or bigger.

Then there is the voicing of the loudspeaker, and which one is preferential will be largely a matter of a given listener's taste: the Harbeth sounds like a classic monitor, and when used as intended in a small room for near field listening it is evenly balanced, detailed, and tonally neutral but not fatiguing, assuming your associated electronics are not.

The Avantgarde is a bit tricky to integrate completely for a coherent sound because it uses two different technologies: two horn loaded drivers that are very fast and a powered bass module that isn't quite as fast. When optimized it can sound quite good, kind of like a highly sensitive Harbeth Monitor 40.1 perhaps, with a detailed, neutral, and very dynamic sound. Tonal balance will largely be dependent up associated equipment, which can range from warm & lush to cool & detailed depending on the equipment.

Then there's the Westminster Royal SE, which uses a Dual Concentric™ driver that behaves essentially as a point source, making it by far the most coherent and balanced top to bottom of these three speakers. It is quite a different listening experience because of the Dual Concentric™ driver than the other two loudspeakers, which effectively allows music to take on a level of naturalness of presentation that is remarkable by any measure. The Westminster sounds big, and more like live music than the other two speakers, and it provides a visceral experience that is unparalleled in my experience—it can quite literally rattle your ribs in your chest with certain music. The Westminster Royal SE is unique in that you not only hear it, but you can also feel the musical waveform over your entire body, even at moderate listening levels, which is one of its rather endearing traits.

Which one of the three do I prefer when they are optimized in a way that brings out the best of their performance? I prefer the Westminster Royal SE by far. As listener after listener that has visited my listening room have said, the Westminsters are really something special, and are a couple of levels above either the Avantgarde or Harbeth in performance (or as my friend Chad puts it, the Westminsters are in a totally different league). But they should be considering the price differential: the Harbeth is around $12K, the Avantgarde Duo is double that, and the Westminster is triple that. In the case of the Westminster Royal SE, you really do get what you pay for though, and using the Stereophile rating system that places the Avantgarde and Harbeths in Class A, the Westminsters are simply off the rating scale above Class A somewhere up there around the North Star.

Conclusion

As my friend Ron said after hearing the Westminsters, "Where do you go from here!" Well, for me, nowhere. I'm finally done searching for loudspeakers that I can live with and love for the long haul. For me, the Westminster Royal SE represents the end of long a journey through many different loudspeakers, all of them good, but in the Tannoy Westminster Royal SE I've finally found 'my' perfect loudspeaker. I like everything about them, and I can't imagine living without them. I hope I never have to.

......Jeff Day

What we do know is the British bulldog is back and snarling. We like that....
Peter Familari

If Michael J. Fox went back to a 70s recording studio he would have been KO’d by the sound of Tannoy’s HPD Series of speakers. By any standard the HPDs had life-like veracity, could play deafeningly loud driven by a handful of watts.

They were also inherently rhythmic and overtly musical. Which begs the question “Why were they discontinued?”

You won’t have to die wondering because Tannoy has revitalised the HPD speakers and more importantly, has stayed true to the initial concept releasing three Legacy series models called the Arden, Cheviot and Eaton. Can’t get monikers more British than these.

Point is this trio use a Dual Concentric driver based on the revered HPD 1974 technology. Tannoy released its original HPD models in 1947 and all models inclusive of the Monitor Black, Silvers, Reds, Golds and HPDs shared the same basic design with minor variations.

Tannoy reintroduced the HPD models in 1974 until production ceased in 1980.

HPD technology features included a plastic magnet cover finished in a natural buff colour without any paint applied. These models also had a gold cast chassis basket and a low frequency driver surround made from plastic-foam. This low frequency driver came with eight ribbed girders attached to its rear to reduce cone break-up.

Material used in the HPD driver magnet was Ticonal-G. The low frequency cone was an ultra-low resonance model that achieved 20Hz compared to the 30Hz of previous Tannoy designs.

To be sure, one glimpse of the HPDs reveals that famous iconic, classic styling featuring a large cabinet and largish driver is back, big-time.

There’s no mistaking these speakers are anything other than kosher Tannoys.

To illustrate this point, Tannoy builds the HPDs by hand, in pre-Brexit UK.

Reasons enough to make Michael J. Fox want to be British. But he ain’t and neither are we. What we do know is the British bulldog is back and snarling. We like that....

I could live very, very well with this dream speaker.
Tom Frantzen

SUMMARY: STEREO TEST - SOUND QUALITY = 97% - 4/5 STARS - EXCELLENT
With its new Prestige GRF, created for its 90th anniversary, Scottish manufacturer Tannoy presents the most modern version of a living legend, combining enormous dynamics with a natural presentation of even the finest tones. 
Tannoy‘s GRF is basically the living room version of the Prestige legend. With the 30cm coax driver and the latest generation of tweeter horn, this dream loudspeaker plays and grabs the listener‘s attention emotionally in an almost irresistible way. Great - listen!

LAB COMMENTS - The frequency response is generally balanced, even if it also shows typical horn ripples. The efficiency of the Tannoy is above average at just under 93 dB at 2.83 V. The impedance is good-natured.

EXTENDED REVIEW: At 90 years old, Scottish company Tannoy is not only the world‘s oldest and most traditional loudspeaker manufacturer, but also possesses a technologically remarkable arrow in its quiver with the coaxial „Dual Concentric“ driver. Used for the first time in 1947, this driver, which consists of a powerful, long-throw cone paper cone with impregnated textile surround for the bass, and a centred mid-treble horn, is closer to the spatially temporal ideal of a point source than almost any other speaker driver system. The offset sound generation centres are synchronised by the pressure chamber behaviour and the longer path of the mid-tweeter at a listening position of about three meters.

And the directional effect of the horn prevents the comb filter effect caused by the ‘funnel’ effect of the surrounding membrane, the „Pepperpot“ version used here getting its name from the well visible and precise perforation at the horn opening. This minimises phase errors due to „atomisation 

In addition, the „Pepperpot“ design also brings into play a particularly powerful (and expensive) Alnico magnet system, in contrast to the more conventional magnets used in the „Tulip Waveguide“ version of the Tannoy coax used in other series.

Memorable experience

I have unforgettable Tannoy memories when the STEREO invited the company’s huge Prestige Kingdom for test almost 20 years ago, the outdoor facilities of Burg Veynau were not quite finished, meaning the two loudspeakers, each of which weighs over 210 kilograms gross, had to be loaded one by one from the 40-ton truck into an excavator for transport over the drawbridge to the castle gate, and thence into the building by means of an external pulley block to the listening room level.

With the GRF, which – thanks to the extremely stable high-density fibre board/birch plywood/walnut cabinet – achieves a net weight of more than 62 kilograms, and a modern publishing building with its internal elevators, the whole thing is simpler today.

The GRF, which was originally planned in small numbers as the anniversary model GRF „J“ and then put into series production, appears to be a decidedly domesticated variant within the Prestige series. The housing appearance has also been modernised considerably, and while it may an ideal match for glass/aluminium, it’s still well-suited to many warmer living environments – such as ours.

In the minds of Tannoy fans circles, the 30cm coax driver is considered to be the most balanced, yet it goes deep enough, offers spectacular dynamics and embeds the lower tweeter horn in a „environment“ that is perhaps a bit less compromised than that in a 38cm driver. A second-order softness with low-temperature treated components ensures perfect coupling, and Tannoy attaches great importance to the possibility of bi-wiring and bi-amping, along with a fifth terminal to enable to speakers to be grounded to the system with which they are used. 

What a speaker!

One can argue long and hard about details but, as soon as the GRF sends the first notes into the room, every discussion ends. The reaction is instant: „Oh my God! Eric Clapton, for instance, seems to have written his blues for these speakers, to the extent that it would seem a shame if the musicians were unable to experience them for themselves.

Carolin No, with Carolin and Andreas Obieglo, is also overwhelming with „Still River Run Deep“ from our listening test CD VIII, especially as the low frequencies of the GRF really do make the room tremble and their temperament sweeps the listener away. Apart from the fact that I have to control my affinity for wood and especially for the solid wood here, which matches my 50-year-old Wenge-parquet flooring, I have to say the Tannoy inspires me both visually and to the touch, not to mention sounding fantastic.

After several hundred hours of play-in time (!), it has a spectacular dynamic sovereignty that immediately leads to thought-provoking work, as one could easily imagine keeping something like this something like this on the aforementioned Wenge parquet, marriage and financial crises notwithstanding!

The Tannoy has a special status within the high 20,000 Euro class due to its optical uniqueness and the sum of its properties. In contrast to its even larger brothers and sisters, this GRF is also housed in a housing-friendly manner. A dream loudspeaker!

By the way, Tannoy recommends a free space installation, some 40cm from the rear wall, to achieve a balanced frequency response – not least due to the two large-caliber bass reflex ports to the rear of the speaker, Not only does the Tannoy reach down below 30Hz, it also does so quite noticeably, both acoustically and physically. At higher levels, the room shakes – on which subject, this isn’t a speaker for small rooms, though the average German living room of just under 25 square meters should be enough for you to be able to enjoy its full sonic splendor. Any less space and we’d recommend you consider the smaller Stirling

Emotion plus dynamics

What the Tannoy does in an inimitable way is to capture and support moods and atmosphere. Of an evening, with an open fire in the living room grate, one might not want to listen to any other transducer. The sound is pleasant, clear and yet warm, extremely confident and effortless. Even the tweeter of the latest design looks refined and golden, as a colleague called it: in the past, such tweeters went beyond „tinselly“, and simply sounded biting not here, helped by a front terminal panel allowing some tuning of the treble to the space and personal preferences.

We were slightly amused by the strange feel of the handle - or nipple - for assembling and dismantling the front cover: although we would remove the grille permanently for optical reasons and only install it if we had expected a more violent visit, we might hope for a less pragmatic, but definitely more attractive solutions. But that’s just a minor point.

Back to the listening test, and rarely have we developed such curiosity about how the coax reproduces the music. Of course, this exceptional driver with an internal horn is not free from coloration, but it is quite far ahead in terms of timing and positioning, and its character such that you hardly notice it. 

The musical presentation is extremely rich and spatial, with an effortless, casual superiority, creating a three-dimensional sound with an abundance of filigree details. These are maintained at low levels, and not lost even in widely dynamic music.

The Tannoy kicks into Michael Bublé‘s „Feeling Good“, complete with big band, with almost 93 dB of bouncing liveliness, supported by an abyss-deep, rhythmically springy bass able to leave some of its rivals helpless, while the time errors of many other horn constructions, which disturb many sensitive listeners, are completely eliminated. It all fits together precisely and four-dimensionally.

This loudspeaker is certainly not a sensible choice, even though it is the softened version of the even more voluminous Tannoy Prestige models, and neither is it cheap, but it has its own peculiarities – in the form of pure emotion, fun and enjoyment! And that‘s what this is all about, isn‘t it?

I could live very, very well with this dream speaker.

…………Tom Frantzen

 
Verdict - The 6.2s are beautifully balanced and hugely listenable speakers, with a stereo image to die for

FOR:  
Excellent build quality 
Attractive design 
Wide, focused soundstage 
Brilliant integration 
Detailed, dynamic and entertaining sound 

AGAINST:  
Nothing of note 

Precision by name, and suitably precise by nature, the Tannoy Precision 6.2 speakers are charming, fantastic-sounding floorstanding speakers. You should consider them one of the best pairs of speakers at this price.

Out of the box, the Tannoy Precision 6.2 speakers look distinctive and attractive. The curved sides to the cabinet, the clean-looking aluminium trim around the drive units and the chunky terminals on the rear all combine to create an impression of quality.

The splendid-looking satin dark-walnut veneer, pictured here, gives the finishing touch (high-gloss dark walnut and high-gloss black are also available).

The dedicated plinths complement the solid, sturdy speaker design. The spikes are adjusted from above using the supplied key, so you don’t have to mess about tipping the speakers over to balance things out.

Unusually, the Precision 6.2s give you the option of mass-loading the cabinet. Unscrewing the plinth reveals a round panel, which covers a cavity into which you can pour suitable material, such as dry sand. Tannoy claims this helps lower the centre of gravity and improve stability (and hence sound quality).

The top drive-unit is one of Tannoy’s trademark Dual Concentric drivers which sees a 25mm titanium-dome tweeter recessed in a 6in paper-pulp cone. Tannoy claims this helps with focus, integration and dispersion. Below the Dual Concentric sits a dedicated 15cm bass driver.

Performance

During testing, we found that placing the Tannoys 60cm or so away from a wall has them singing at their finest, and a little toeing-in helps to firm up the stereo image.

And what an image! The Precision 6.2s paint a beautiful sonic picture. The speakers position the various elements of a track in an accurate, cohesive manner, allowing the listener to soak up all the detail on offer.

Play Daft Punk’s Lose Yourself To Dance, and instruments are extremely well organised. Although the Tannoy’s excellent dispersion means you get a very broad soundstage, all the instruments and vocals hang there perfectly. The sparkly starburst that makes an appearance on the track flits across your listening position with deftness and subtlety.

There’s a great, funky flow to the tune with Pharell’s vocal featuring prominently, but it still integrates perfectly with guitar, percussion and background singers. The 6.2s communicate the subtle dynamics of the track with ease.

The Tannoys take well to bi-wiring, too. Not all speakers do – some can lose a little cohesion and focus. But, if anything, the 6.2s become even more listenable when connected in this way.

There’s a greater expanse of sound, but they still manage to keep that superb stereo image intact. In fact, the soundstage sounds a little more three-dimensional, giving the dynamics greater reach and making you feel even more connected with the music.

And, although there is the option of mass loading, we never felt that the Tannoys were lacking in bass quantity or quality. Positioning them a little closer to a rear wall can always add a little reinforcement should you require it.

Verdict

We’re yet to review the larger Tannoy Precision 6.4 speakers, which sit at the top of the new Tannoy Precision range, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the 6.2 is the sweetspot for this range – they are beautifully balanced and hugely listenable speakers, with a stereo image to die for.

Few rivals can match the power and finesse offered by these excellent speakers.

WHAT HI-FI Review: 5 STARS
Our Verdict - If you have the space, these Tannoy floorstanders are an excellent buy. Little else at this price can match their combination of force and finesse

FOR:
Plenty of good quality bass
Go loud with ease
Subtle and insightful presentation
Excellent build and finish
Aggressive price

AGAINST: 
They require a larger room to shine
Take care in system matching

Tannoy’s new Revolution XT range has made quite an impact. The XT6F floorstanders waltzed away with a Group Test win in our May issue, Having spent a considerable amount of time with the new Tannoy Revolution XT8Fs, we think they’re arguably these are best of the bunch.

Build and design

In essence, these are just larger 6Fs, using an 8in (20cm) version of Tannoy’s dual concentric driver rather than the 6in version. Tannoy has put a lot of work into this latest generation of drive unit, honing just about every aspect of the design from the motor system to the tweeter waveguide in an attempt to push performance standards higher.

By putting the tweeter in the middle of the mid/bass driver, integration is improved over the separated arrangement used in most rivals, as is the time alignment of the drive units and uniformity of dispersion.

In the XT8F, a dedicated 20cm bass driver augments the dual concentric’s output. The additional unit comes into play below 250Hz.

We think Tannoy has done a great job with the cabinet. It’s solid and smartly finished, though with a volume of almost 50 litres, it’s pretty big. There are two finish options: Medium Oak and Espresso (a dark walnut), but we think both look smart.

There’s more to this 108cm tall cabinet than just crisp edges and angled sides, which are designed to reduce the build up of internal standing wave. Tannoy has designed a coupled cavity bass reflex system to optimise low-frequency performance. A downward-firing port exits into the gap between the base of the cabinet and plinth.

Performance

As we start listening, it’s obvious the work has paid off. We begin with Hans Zimmer’s Time (from Inception OST) and discover that these Tannoys are capable of producing oodles of low-frequency information.

Not only is it deep, it’s delivered with real power and precision. There’s plenty of agility here coupled with a solid punch.

If you have a medium sized room, say anything smaller than 4x4m, then it’s possible that the quantity of low-end may prove too much. But give them a larger room to play in and the XT8Fs will shine. In a suitably large space these speakers deliver a scale of sound, loudness capability and dynamic reach that’s hard to better for the money.

There’s more to these towers than just bass and brawn, though. Move up the frequency range and they’re articulate and communicative; alt-J’s Breezeblocks is delivered with enthusiasm and coherence.

There’s a fine degree of rhythmic drive and plenty of attack on offer. Vocals are crisply rendered, lacking nothing when it comes to subtlety and precision. There’s a lovely directness to the way these speakers produce sound that just draws the listener into the music.

Tonally, these Tannoys aren’t the sweetest sounding performers around. You’ll have to take care not to partner them with anything that sounds overly forward or harsh, because they’ll do little to tone these qualities down.

But feed them with well-balanced electronics and these floorstanders will deliver.

We’re pleased with the stereo imaging. These speakers shine when placed well out into our test room and given just a touch of toe-in towards the listening position. Once the Tannoys are positioned with care their sound stage is crisp, nicely layered and pleasingly solid.

Verdict

Given a suitably talented system and a large enough room, few rivals can match the XT8F’s combination of muscle and subtlety.

Most of all they make listening to music fun and that, more than anything else, is the reason why we’re happy to recommend them wholeheartedly

The Tannoy Revolution XT 8F is a terrific speaker and a jaw-dropping bargain
Robert Harley

REVIEW SUMMARY: The bottom line is that the Tannoy Revolution XT 8F is a terrific speaker and a jaw-dropping bargain for US$2600 (excl tax) per pair. It’s also beautifully finished.... given the XT 8F’s superlative sound and stunning value, you can be assured that we’ll be reviewing more models from this venerable British company.

EXTENDED REVIEW: Tannoy’s new Revolution XT 8F made quite an impression on me at the latest CES. I listened to it without knowing the price, and after hearing its open and uncolored midrange, wide dynamics, and deep bass (and seeing its wood-veneered cabinet) guessed its price at close to $10k. The XT 8F actually costs $2600, leading me to fast-track the review by Dick Olsher that appeared in Issue 255. Dick said of the XT 8F, “The vocal range was reproduced with exceptional timbral fidelity. My own personal reference, David Manley’s Lesley album, never sounded any closer to the original mastertape. This is high praise indeed, as very few speakers manage to get this right, regardless of price. They either reproduce Lesley’s voice as harmonically too thin or too thick. In contrast to much of the competition, the Tannoy 8F hits the harmonic Goldilocks zone, sounding just right. The range from 300Hz to about 10kHz left little to be desired in textural purity, microdynamic integrity, and tonal accuracy.” That’s saying a lot for a US$2600 (excl tax) speaker.

In the meantime, Jonathan Valin, Julie Mullins, and I heard the XT 8F sound terrific at the Munich show. Jonathan even included the Tannoy in his Best of Show roundup, a list populated by many six-figure items. “Speaking of surprises! I could’ve picked many other speakers to fill this final slot, but I simply wasn’t expecting this modest floorstander from the storied British firm whose name was once synonymous with ‘loudspeaker’ to produce such high-quality sonics. The XT 8F produced an astoundingly robust, full-bodied sound. Oh, its midbass might’ve been a tad overfull, but it still had impressive definition, while its midrange timbre and transient response were excellent by any measure. Driven by Rega’s top-line electronics, the XT 8F was shockingly good for the money. Thus its inclusion in this illustrious company.”

Always on the lookout for those stand-out overachievers that bring high-end sound to accessible prices, I decided to give the Revolution XT 8F an extended audition in my own listening room as well as in a friend’s system. I drove it with a range of electronics, including a Hegel H360 integrated (a stunningly great integrated amp, incidentally), and the big Soulution 701 monoblocks (don’t ask the price).

Auditioning the Tannoys at length with familiar music, I couldn’t believe that I was listening to a $2600 speaker. What makes the XT 8F such as standout is its midrange—with its amazingly natural rendering of timbre. Female vocals through the XT 8F were as pure as I’ve heard from some very expensive speakers. The XT 8Fs projected vocals with a weight, body, and tangibility that you just don’t expect from a speaker under $10k (or even over $10k, for that matter). The Tannoys were also highly detailed in the mids, conveying nuances of expression usually reserved for the high-priced spread. Transient speed and snap were superb, adding to the impression of lifelike realism. The word “coherent” kept coming to mind as I thought about what made the XT 8F’s midrange so gorgeous.

As Dick and Jonathan noted, the XT 8F’s bass is a bit overfull. The bottom-end extension is remarkable for a speaker of this size, but it’s a bit too much of a good thing. Fortunately, there’s a remedy; a rolled up pair of socks in the port between the cabinet and the plinth takes out some of the excess energy. Interestingly, though, when I listened to the XT 8Fs in my friend Scott’s room, the bass balance was just right without the socks, even though his room is much smaller than mine and my room is outfitted with ASC 16" Full Round Tube Traps. Tannoy says that it will offer a port plug for those rooms that benefit from less bass output. None of this should overshadow the fact that the XT 8F has terrific weight and body in the lower registers, seamless integration with the midrange, and exceptional dynamic agility.

The treble is open and extended, contributing to the XT 8F’s clarity and immediacy. Above about 8kHz the treble gets a little dry and bright, but only in juxtaposition with that gloriously smooth and natural midrange. Vocals had a trace of excess sibilance, and cymbals took a step forward in the mix. But it seems churlish to mention this treble performance in light of the XT 8F’s price and all its other outstanding attributes.

The bottom line is that the Tannoy Revolution XT 8F is a terrific speaker and a jaw-dropping bargain for US$2600 (excl tax) per pair. It’s also beautifully finished—the way the cabinet is raised off the plinth (part of its technical design) with chrome tubes is elegant. It’s also exciting to realize that Tannoy makes an entire range of speakers featuring similar technology (the coincident driver and innovative woofer loading) that tops out with the flagship DC10Ti, priced at $9998 per pair. Given the XT 8F’s superlative sound and stunning value, you can be assured that we’ll be reviewing more models from this venerable British company.

Testimonials

Perfect Fit....

Hi Terry, 
The Tannoy XT6S bookshelf speaker are a Perfect fit, looks awesome and most importantly sound fantastic, in the smaller room the bass response has come into it's own. Surprised the little NuForce isn't struggling one little bit. 
Thought I'd send a photo, not your usual customer setup :) I have to find something to good to isolate them from the desk now. 
Have a great weekend !
.......Rowan

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