Amplifier Recommendations to Match the Tannoy GRF90


Hi Everyone,

I previously posted a very similar post, but it was about the Tannoy Westminster GR, and it appears that since, I have become a Tannoy adept. I have a second system which sounds real good, but the Westminster GR are just stratospheric, so I have opted for another pair of Tannoy, and I got a real good deal for the GRF90. The thing is that I have never heard them, but I got a fairly good description from the agent which is a well reputed and trustworthy person. From what he says, they are in the Prestige line, but do not play at all like the Prestige speakers. They are built and sound more like the Kingdom Royal which is top of the line; very dynamic, with a more nuanced bass and especially a very transparent speaker. They are 95dB.

My idea of sound is simple; it needs to have everything done very well - resolution, tones, imaging, soundstage, scale, rythm/timing, balance, and I particularly love attack and dynamics, which to me are essential because they bring the music to life!

My gears are Esoteric P-01X and D-01X for transport & DAC, Masterclock is Esoteric G-01X, preamp is Coincident Statement Line Stage.

Now I am looking for the fantastic amps, must be monoblocks, that will make the GRF90 go to full potential!! So, thanks a lot in advance for sharing your knowledge, views and experience, especially if you have or know well about these GRF90.

Tunefully yours,

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I haven't heard the GRF90, but was very interested and almost went that way instead of Canterbury GR. It's hard to find anyone with good experience in Tannoy, so I'll pitch in again.

On paper, and given the sonic descriptions I've read on these, the GRF90 very much looks like a refined version of the Yorkminster SE (vastly improved cosmetics too). The GRF90 is really a GRF in name only (no horn loading). Some years ago I tried the Yorkminster SE in my room -- excellent speaker, but missing a bit of the lushness and magic in the midrange vs. the Kensington and especially Canterbury models. So yes, that makes these more like the Kindgom Royal or Churchill. I've heard both of those speakers too, but not in my room. The bass of the Yorkminster was especially exceptional and extended compared to the Canterbury -- but this might make it problematic for smaller rooms.

I love my Rogue Apollos with Canterbury, and it was also very good with Yorkminster, but the midrange was slightly on the hard side. Killer bass response and dynamics, though. Either they've fixed this is on the GRF90 or you'd want to go for a tube amp with a slightly more romantic midrange. To that end, the owners of the Churchills and Kingdom Royals were both using VAC tube amps. I feel you'll sacrifice a little on bass impact and extension by going that route, though. You don't want to sacrifice too much on the low end & dynamics of these speakers though, because it is quite fantastic.

The Canterbury GR was a big improvement on the SE and I've very happy I went that route, though I'm still curious how they've taken forward the Yorkminster/GRF90 design.
mulveling, thanks a lot for that input. I usely prefer SState because of dynamics and general handling of speakers. I heard about some hard mids on those GRF, and was wondering whether there wasn't a lack of break-in there. It is often the case. My Westminster were very much ear wrecking when new, and it took much much more hours than the few hours mentioned by Tannoy to get them tuned in. It seems that they are still improving to date. They are playing on Gryphon Mephisto monos, and it is just phenomenal in every way, never heard this level/quality of sound anywhere before. If I had the means, I would have gone for Gryphon Colosseum (Mephisto maybe too neutral for the GRF, although I also read that putting a very neutral amp like the Bryston 7B3 would be great to keep that neutrality), but no longer the budget for such amps. What would you think about the Coincident Dragon 211 MkII, they are 75W pure classA and have great low end.

Sheer curiosity forces me to tag in here.

Its suprising to hear someone say VAC is more so about the mids than extension in either direction. This could be said of many tube amps I suspect. Sorry, just thinking out loud.

If SS attributes are an inclination, maybe something like the Pass labs 30s or 60s XA series. ??

Wouldn’t it be safe to say then the output tubes attributes might be the key when seeking a tube amp solution which yields better evenly distributed bandwidth presentation?

I can only say from EXP EL34 & the Russian output tubes BAT prefers aren’t what I would call great bottom end providers. Past those, I’m clueless as to which others can do better. I only suspect KTs may.

Sorry I can't be more help. Good luck.

Thanks blindjim, i share those views... and Pass is actually in my thoughts. Tubes are nice, and i own some nice ones, but I've come back on them, except for smaller applications. In reliability, power, dynamics, attack, bass control, all versus their cost and put up against serious and well built SS, they seem to lose the battle, especially for bigger speakers and rooms.
Your welcome.

I’m hoping to experience the antithesis of your account of Tube vs SS. Although I enjoy both amplification platforms. Depending.

My fantasy or groundless imaginations are that a pair of VAC IQ 200s or Burning OTL 200s should do the trick, given the proper loudspeakers. Meaning 93 – 95db. Or thereabouts in a not huge enclosed room.

Being less funded than imaginative I’d like to do it for less. Certainly. It is however why Tannoy has slid onto a speaker not terribly short list.

Somehow tubes and 93db speakers in a medium sized room presented everything the SS amps the tubes replaced demonstrated audibly. My recollections don’t account for degrees from one to the other. Only that everything presented by the SS power was as well delivered buy the tube amps. To my ears, the naturalness factor grew when listening to tube monos. Or at least it seemed that way.

I will admit I added a Velo DD15 after a while. Should have added two. But, then I like a very adept and strong bass presence, if there’s no overhang blurring the mids. It did not.

Lastly, the main theme I hear on the Pass Labs XA amps is the higher you go the less wet the sound. 30s being the juiciest. They sure ain’t slouches further up either as I’ve heard 100s, and some others above them.

Good luck.


As you've probably read, Nelson Pass uses Tannoy's for a lot of his amplifier testing/voicing.  If you're thinking about going that way, you would be best served by emailing Nelson and asking for his recommendation (or Kent English @ PassLabs) for your particular model.  They will not just try to sell you on the most expensive model and don't care if you're buying new or used. 
Hi hddg
I have very high regard for Coincident products and have owned their Statement Line Stage, Frankenstein (300b SET) and Total Eclipse II speakers for 8 blissful years.

You have a preference for solid state I realize but I think that the Coincident Dragon MK II could be an exceptionally good match with your Tannoys. My Frankenstein is superb sounding but wouldn’t be appropriate for what you are seeking.
Best of luck,
Charles ,

Hi charles1dad,

Funny!! I actually own all the amps you are talking about, and i will be trying the Dragon on the Tannoy for sure. But I am in a tropical region and summer with big PP 211 tubes is just very sweaty. Moreover, i have tried those on the Westminster GR (99dB!!!), they were doing actually well, but i’m a real difficult guy when it comes to sound, and thought that they did not have full dynamic control and did not completely seperate instruments, especially bass at higher level. So i am suspecting they wont fully satisfy me with the GRF, along with the heat issue. I must admit that the Coincident products generally have great sound when they are working properly. But I’ve had a lot of "bad luck" with them for just about every single thing i bought there, although I kept renewing my trust to I.Blume, but susbequent orders kept coming with issues, and it was never his fault, always the transport or something else, and he would never make up for it, unless I argued strongly with him. I have conculded that there is some serious quality control problems at CST, and with the assembly/mounting of gears at the workshop. His attitude has been unacceptable, and I have decided to end all relations with CST. Just recenlty with the preamp, less than 2yrs old, the right hand side volume has come off from inside. I am sure (and hope) it is easy to repair, but this should not happen and does not happen with other gear at that price.
Hi hddg,
Your repeated problems with Coincident products surprises me. I’ve had their Line Stage and Frankenstein since 2009 and they have been utterly reliable (and sound marvellous). I’m very sorry to hear that you have had these problems and the responses from Israel Blume. He’s always been very responsive and friendly with interactions I’ve had with him.

I can understand your decision to move on, just the antithesis of my experiences. It does seem that given your desires/objectives,a  solid state amplifier is the right direction for you to pursue.
Best of luck,
Charles
Hi charles1dad,
CST products sound real good, that's actually why despite several first issues which i decided to put aside on bad luck's account, I kept purchasing products from them for my various applications, but now enough with "bad luck". Still using some of them, and will someday get them all upgraded/serviced by some tube specialist. The Franks work great, rolling Psvane WE300B and incredible Takatsuki TA300B.
Thanks for your wishes,
Best,
@hddg & @charles1dad 

When my (second-hand) Coincident PREs were shipped to me, UPS dropped them.  Although there was no structural damage to the cabinets, the internal woofer wire spools ripped off their zip-ties and broke the connections to the woofers, damaging the crossover components in the process.  Eventually had to send them to Isreal to bring everything back to as-new status... ended up being $6k in repairs.  When pulling out a woofer, he put three 2" x 1" scratches in the veneer.  No mention of the damage, no attempt to fix, no price break on repairs.  I'm sure I could have complained and (hopefully) sent the entire sub back to Canada, but ended up just eating the issue because I had to move. 

He also drastically overstates the efficiency of the speaker design.  Despite stating that they can be driven by as little as 3 watts and advertising that the Franks can "easily drive every Coincident speaker model", other owners believe the PREs need at least 30 watts.  When I complained about the bass response created by my Franks, he immediately stated that they do not have sufficient power.  

These are not among my favorite experiences in this industry.
One (more) nice thing about Tannoy is that their listed efficiency/sensitivity numbers are legit, at an honest 8 ohms nominal. And they leave the low-end extension intact to get there.

When I see a speaker, that isn't humongous, claiming 98+ dB with any kind of low end extension past 50 Hz...yeah, "not sure if srs". The Westminster in particular is a unique marvel -- where else can you find: 99 dB, 8 ohms, and extension past 20 Hz in a point source?
Hi Cal,
Sorry to hear about that. For what ever reason I have had no problems. I don’t think all of Coincident speakers are easily driven to the same degree. My Total Eclipse II speakers shine with the 8 watt Frankenstein (14 ohm nominal load surely helps). For sure other Coincident speakers require more power than the Frankenstein provides. They should be very clear about this issue.
Charles
mulveling, i totally agree with you about Tannoy, and that’s also part of the reason i chose the Westminster GR. But still, despite the high efficiency, I have put very powerful amps on them (Tannoy give a hint about that in their manual). So many Westminster are being played with real small and unpowerful tubes, surely sounding very nice to a certain point, but i believe these owners do not even guess or will probably never know the full potential of those, which is enornous.
Hello everyone, thanks for all your help so far.
  
I wanted to share the last developments on my side and get your advice and thoughts about it. I have just received a very good offer/opportunity for a pair of Pass XA.8. Why a pair will you ask since these are stereo amps. Actually, my thoughts are to use them as monos and vertical bi-amp the GRF. I have not heard these amps, but heard and read only very good evaluations about them.

What do ya think?  
I absolutely loved my XA.5 and it appears the reviews for the .8s are wholly positive...