James...I am a 2.4 owner as well and will be interested in the response to your post. I am assuming you will be switching amplification to suit the Tannoys. I am intrigued to try SET tube amps and these speakers will be just the ticket for that experiment. Thx for posting.
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My first speaker was a Tannoy, yes a single speaker. Loved the sound, smooth and laid back. I moved on to K-horns, Proac and am now thinking about JBL Everest. I have heard the Kensington and Everest and think the Everest better meets my needs, especially if driven by ML amps. I think the Everest is about as detailed as you can get, but as always, the room is everything. So, as soon as I come into the $60k, I will act.
I've had the Kensington SE in my system for 2 years now. I've also heard the 2 Glenair models. I fell hard for the Tannoy sound a while ago, and though I do enjoy the attributes of certain other speakers, the dual-concentric sound has become deeply ingrained in my hi-fi experiences & perspectives. It's hard to imagine going to a different speaker line anymore. An example of some attributes I've enjoyed from other speakers (in every case these setups were lovingly tweaked and used excellent upstream gear):
* Audio Physic Tempo 25 threw an incredible soundstage
* Harbeth 40.1 were awesomely musical at moderate volumes
* YG Carmels were very fast and resolving
Then on the other hand, I've heard big boys like the Wilson Maxx and McIntosh line arrays at a high-end dealer, and walked away unimpressed in all respects - hard to compare since that was an open house event and seemed to be more "right from the can onto your plate" system setups (though the upstream gear was all hellaciously expensive). The lone speaker I was impressed by at that open house: the B&W Diamond Signature mini floor-stander. It actually reminded me more of a Tannoy, sound-wise.
What Tannoy does for me is a lovely mix of dynamics, resolution, musicality, coherence, and imaging. Most importantly, they can do spectacularly with rock recordings at higher volume levels. My vinyl collection is NOT typical audiophile fare. They can play clean & loud, and give you a non-fatiguing sound that's listenable for hours. This is all dependent on the room & system of course, as I'd occasionally been fighting a bit of brightness on my Kensingtons, with stock (Russian) tubes and modern high power PPP tube gear. On the other hand, they can easily swing to the side of "too warm and thick" with vintage tube gear, and/or more than 1 set of Mullards in the chain. In that sense they're FAR more revealing and sensitive than I'd ever expected. Every tube and component change is major and extremely apparent! You have to get the overall system balance right.
The Glenairs are excellent, but the Kensingtons SE has a bit of midrange magic that wins me over every time - heard as a touch of "sweetness", ala the upper line Koetsus. The Glenairs can be considered a touch more neutral, or a touch more dry, depending on your perspective. I was really shocked at how much the 10" version improved with some real power behind it - the Rogue Apollo monoblocks brought them alive and made them sound much more powerful than their modest size would indicate. I've got a couple of friends that actually prefer the 10" model over the 15", citing the midrange as the reason (one of them has a theory that the 10" dual concentric is the sweet spot for midrange). That said, the 15" model was certainly dynamic as all hell with those same Apollos.
The other alternative of course, is to consider running SET with these speakers - an avenue I've not explored. Lowest I've gone is 25 Watt/ch vintage PP....and unless in a small room, I love having the extra power!
Oh, and I definitely prefer the Prestige to the lower Tannoy lines, no question.
While I have no experience with the Prestige line, my first pair of Tannoys were ca 1971. They were in DIY cabinets, and not well done, though I did own and enjoy them for 18 years. Then came B&W's, and onto Dynaudio Contour 5.4's. I got this feeling that I had unfinished business with Tannoy, so I sold the Dynaudio's, and purchased a pair of HPD 315's (12" Dual Concentric ca 1975). I had enclosures made, and custom outboard crossovers that I built, using top quality parts. I then had new woofer cones converted to the new "Hard Edge" surrounds, as used in the current Prestige line.
This project took much of my time, and nearly $5000 to complete, but the results were very satisfying, the musicality of these speakers top anything I've owned, and most of what I've heard. If you are the type that likes hands-on, your efforts will be well rewarded.
For more information, check out Hans Hilberinks Tannoy website, there is a wealth of information available on Tannoys, from the history of, how-to, etc.
Best of luck, and enjoy,
You have to, of course, check out for
yourself. At this level of equipment it's all about tailoring a setup for your own preferences. However, if you ask; I second the others owners here of Tannoy I'm totally sold on Tannoy Kensington, if you have a mid sized room they are an end station for me. They excel in being dynamic, coherent and sweet. With tubes, my experience is with push-pull (Manley), they can boogie, rock, be funky and play subtle and tender. They're quit easy to setup right, needs more power than you think if you want them to groove, and loves tubes. In other words, they're musical in the right setup; they portraits music as a gestalt that activates feelings and makes you wanna dance, cry or share wit others - instead of analytically decipher sounds and details in a score.
Thanks for taking the time to write the detail responses.
I was looking at pictures of the Kensington on Google images today and your system came up... small world, great looking system by the way.
Anyway back to business; does the bass have enough impact when you are listening to rock at say 75db or do they need to be played loud to come alive. Would the Glenair 15" give me more bass impact over the Kensington?
Those DIY cabinets are stunning.
I actually plan to use high powered solid state amps if I buy tannoys. I am open to low power sets but my gut tells me I will like these a lot better with lots of power. I am a hard rock fan turned "audiophile" but I need dynamics. I really think these large driver will be best with some real current and damping factor to make them jump when need. But it is just a guess, I will change my system as needed to optimize the speakers.
There is a pretty good write up by Doug Schroeder on the Glenair 15" some of you might like to read. He uses some high power amps in his review.
How big a difference is there be tween using a Tannoy with a 10" driver vs a 15" driver. There are a few used pairs of Glenair 15s around but I think I might be best of waiting for a pair of Kensingtons. I just have a hard time believing a 15" driver will be very detailed at its 1K hand off point. How do some of the owners here feel the hand off in on the 15", and I making a big deal out of nothing?
James, all, I forgot to mention amps. I use three very different amps, depending on my mood, and the music. For chamber music and the like, a modified 10Wpc Sophia Electric "Baby" amp works great. For anything else, a VAC PA 35.35 EL 34 PP, and Plinius SA 100 MKIII, @100Wpc. That's anpther upside of Tannoys, they shine however you use them.
The Tannoys often catch my eye. I love the classic styling. Dual concentric drivers are another unique feature of merit for me. I wonder what the larger models with larger drivers sound like with some of the better modern amps? Gotta hear these someday.
More questions than answers, sorry for that, but just nice to share some love or at least infatuation sometimes.
I heard the big Tannoys (Canterburys?) at THE Show a few weeks back on several recommendations.
I own Zu Def2s as a reference---which I still prefer. The Zus seem faster and more lively than the Tannoys, which with Cary electronics sound stunning on Floyd---but didn't hold up for me on other types of music. A bit sluggish and euphonic for my taste. I wouldn't hesitate to use Mcintosh with them though---and a number of folks on the Mac forums use them.
I wouldn't go larger than Kensingtons either---the big ones are really ugly imo.
I have been a Tannoy lover since discovering them in 1972. I have had 12" Monitor Golds in Altec Santana cabs since 1972,
SRM 15X monitors for a year, (15" HPD, 7cu.ft. cab) and just
received my Canterbury SE's 9 days ago. They have just started to relax and lose any artifacts of glare or harshness. I am using a Primaluna Prologue 5 amp with KT88's,
AVA Super PAS 3i pre with Amperex 12AX7 line tubes and Mullard 12AX7 phono tubes, NAS Interspace/RB250/Grado Gold1,
(well-tweaked), it is glorious and naturally musical. I have
a Robertson 4010 amp and a pair of Bottlehead 300B Paramounts which I have not hooked up to the Canterbury's yet. The 300B's are a little cleaner but challenged on orchestral/choral workhorses. The Primaluna has no neg feedback so is very good.
I value the 15" woofer a great deal, there is no problem at the crossover, and these are very modern speakers.
75dB is definitely lower than I listen, and I've got the system balance optimized for my (higher) preferred levels. Our ears' frequency response sensitivity changes with SPL (e.g. Fletcher-Munson curves), so I would definitely set the system up differently. That said, the Kensingtons are so responsive to upstream gear (e.g. tube changes) that this should be achievable.
My current system is built with an emphasis on a warm, sweet and prominent midrange, with smooth top end (that won't kill my ears) and strong bass. For lower SPL levels, I'd want to focus relatively more on treble & bass. At my levels, the bass feels deliciusly plentiful and powerful, with no artificial boost necessary. In other words, there isn't any 1 system configuration for any 1 speaker that will be optimal at different volume levels. That said, the Kensingtons are capable of superb bass reponse - and here you can truly say "excellent bass reponse" without the usual qualifiers: "for a small-ish floorstander" or "for a monitor". Anytime I see a qualifier like that, no matter how sugar-coated, I stop reading further! You need serious size for real bass quality & quantity; the Kensingtons are the entry level to "big boy" sizes, and Tannoy knows how to use it.
Going a step further - I know how you feel when you look at the Glenair 15" and start thinking it must have even better bass response. I've heard them on my own amp & preamp (though only for a couple of hours), and though awesome, they didn't fully blow me away. The slightly sweet midrange of the Kensington wins it out for me. I didn't hear it give significantly better bass response either; it may be (wild guess here) that more of that extra size went to efficicency rather than bass extension. I should also note that both the Glenair 10" and Kensingtons seriously hopped-up their bass response when driven by a super-powerful tube amp (Rogue Apollos). Also, a couple of my friends heard the same setup and feel that the midrange on BOTH the Glenair 10" and Kensingtons are superior to the Glenair 15". I personally didn't hear any anomolies that could be attributed to the crossover; I just liked the Kensigtons better. Didn't do quite enough comparison to formulate my own midrange opinion on Glenair 10" vs. 15"; but my feeling is that it's close.
I've also heard the Churchill Widebands in a fully different system, and now THAT'S where the Tannoy 15" shows superior bass response! Seriously, seriously wicked dynamics in that system - best I've ever heard. Clean and neutral overall tonality. But again, the Kensingtons have a touch of midrange sweetness that I'm just drawn to - like an RCA black plate 12AX7/12BH7 or a Koetsu Platinum. When I looked at the Yorkminster & Canterbury I wondered whether they would have the Kensington's mids PLUS the Churchill's bass and dynamics. However, my friend with the Churchills has heard the Yorkminsters, and says that the mids on the Kensintons are just unique - in fact he said his Tannoy contact said they've got the best mids in the Prestige line. This friend also recently bough the Kingdom Royals, which I'm going to have to hear soon :P
Thanks again for another detailed responce. You have pretty much covered all of my questions. I think I will pass on the use Glenair 15" and keep an eye out for the Kensington or Glenair 10. It needs to be used though so I can sell it if I don't like it for minimal loss... I have no dealer anyway.
James63, I recently had exposure to most of the Prestige line so will be happy to share my impressions.
First up, a local dealer had taken on the Tannoy line and presented a demo session to our local audio club with the Westminster SE. I don't believe the room/set up was optimal (designed for home theater) but I was able to hear enough positive sonic characteristics to stir my interest.
Next a friend and audio buddy arranged for a home audition of the Yorkminster SE from this dealer. That was a far more rewarding experience, so good that I suggested to my friend that he could stop right there and never look back. Instead he later tried the Westminster SEs but apparently (I did not hear that trial) they overwhelmed his room and were not as well balanced as the Yorkminsters. But then he had the chance to hear the Canterbury SE in his home. They were the best match of all and he bought them. I will avoid the usual audiophile blabber and simply say they provide as much connection/emotion with a live musical event as any speaker I've heard.
Based on these auditions, I might suggest two guidelines -
* the size of the Tannoy driver/cabinet will be critical to the best match in your room/acoustic environment, and
* in spite of the efficiency ratings of the Tannoy models I believe both quality and power will be important in matching an amplifier. Some SETs might work but that would be conditional on your listening level and types of music. Since you enjoy hard rock I doubt a SET with <25 wpc would be satisfactory.
Best of luck in finding your answer.
Hi James, I have heard several members of the Tannoy Prestige family in different systems - the Turnberry, Kensingtons, and a couple of Westminister Royals. Being somewhat of a fan of high efficiency and dynamics, I compared them to Avantgarde horns.
The Avantgardes definitely sound more dynamic, but some among my group of friends thinks that the dynamics are exaggerated on the AVG's and the Tannoys are more realistic.
Where the Tannoys have it all the AVG's is coherence. There is no way to make a large multi-driver speaker like the AVG approximate a point source like the Tannoy dual concentric driver. This has attendant benefits on soundstaging and image size. The AVG's always sound too big and a tad overblown compared to the Tannoys.
The Tannoys have a warmer and more romantic tone than the Avantgardes. On every model I have heard, there is a rosy midrange coloration that makes the midrange sound fat. Not a good thing in my opinion, because I prefer my speakers to be more neutral - but certainly quite appealing with some types of music. According to one owner, this coloration is exaggerated with certain types of amplifier and can be "tuned out" by careful amplifier selection.
Tannoy makes and sells a super tweeter. If you do go down the Tannoy route, you should strongly consider getting one of these because it makes a hell of a difference to the resolution and soundstaging.
Disclosure: I retail Tannoy Prestige, Departure Audio.
You put it best in your original post - "I'm a little burnt out on hifi." Tannoy's are a final stop. IMO, It's not really relevant to compare them with other speakers. Other speakers will measure better, spec better, image better, etc. but that's not what Tannoy's are about. That big, fat, juicy, whole, gripping, emotional presentation of the music either gets you or it does'nt. The cliche that it's about the music and not the sound is really true in this instance. The magic is due,I think, to Tannoy's 80 plus years of refining the fundamentally correct dual concentric technology. There's something magic about a dual concentric done right that can't be replicated by other approaches.
My bias is that if you can fit a 15 incher, do it. Also try to spring for a model with the alnico and pepperpot. I demo the Canterbury SE's.
Joc3021 sums it up best.
I have been into hifi since 1996. Ever since then I have been trying to capture that magical experience I had when i first heard vinyl in the 70's at my neighbours, when I was a little boy.
There are only 2 hifi products that have been able to communicate music like that to me.
1)leben CS300XS integrated amp -GESTALT !!!!!
2)current Tannoy Prestige line-up - PURE MUSIC
I was originally going to buy the Sandringham SE as i auditioned these and fell in love.After discussions with some members in this forum I went with the Kensingtons (unheard) and have never regretted it since.
I tried WIlson and all the usual (marketed) suspects and found them to be all about PRAT with no real ability to communicate music like the Tannoys do.
They are the only product I have bought were people come over and just go "WOW".
If you want to hear how big a bass line can sound or marvel at the high hat appearing 2m above your speaker line; then go for Wilson and the like.
If you are after a speaker that lets you lie on the couch and "trip out" with an immense emotional experience; than the Tannoy's are for you.
I have been told by others who have the Tannoy Prestige line up that, the alnico/pepperpot models are far superior to the tulip design models. However, i loved the Sandringham far more than the Turnberry and Strirling models.
hope this helps you feel free to ask me anything else and good luck
Good points from Dsholl1. On amplification, don't write off high quality solid state amps with these speakers. I use Herron and Blue Circle amps and the results are wonderful. I also find, despite their sensitivity ratings, Prestige speakers respond well to high power/current. Dynamics become even more effortless and bass even more subterranean. Tubes can work well, but a minimum of 40-50 watts in a moderate sized room. More is better. Low power and SE tube amps sound gutless with these speakers in my experience.
Thanks to everyone for taking the time to post good detailed replies. This turned into a very good informative thread for me. Over the last few weeks I have read just about every scrap of information I could fined on the Kensingtons and I am very interested to hear them.
At their asking price they are a little much for me to spend on an unheard pair of speakers. I will have to hear them before I buy them so I guess the hunt begins... I travel for work a little bit and will try and run a dealer down when I am out of town (no "local" dealer)
I have just about demoed every pair of speakers on my list to hear at this point and have been left somewhat empty. Last on my list to demo was Revel and I demoed the Salon 2 (they did not have the Studio 2 which is what I was looking into) yesterday and if you asked me to say anything bad about them I really can't. I can't think of a speaker with better bass or highs and their mids are really great too with a VERY stable soundstage. BUT at the end of demo I felt a little empty. I was changing CDs a lot (not a good sign) an never really got into the music. Maybe it was my mood, I am not sure but came away from a nearly flawless pair of speakers uninspired. Maybe I am searching for something that is not there, maybe my humble system is better than I give it credit for, maybe I am just barking up the wrong tree... sadly I am coming to the conclusion than the quality (recording) of the music I like is holding the equipment back.
I know it's a gamble but you can buy these speakers unheard and you won't be sorry.
Just be warned that they take months to run-in. They will sond bright and shrill for the first hundred or so hours. So if demoing keep that in mind.
I am now running mine with the Leben CS300XS. It is only 15watts but has the most incredible synergy. It's as if Leben used the Kensington/Tannoy Prestige range to voice his amps.
I have had a friend bring his PP EL34 amp over 40watt it sounded great but didn't have the magic that the Leben combo did. I have experimented with a few other amps and the Kensington is so easy to drive and accommodating that we are always scratching our heads as to why all speakers aren't designed to be efficient with easy load handling.
If you ever swing by Atlanta, you should be able to get a good demo of the Kensington SE, possibly Glenair 15, and maybe even Kingdom Royals too. The Prestige dealer in Marietta (Northwestern suburb of Atl) is located just down the street from me :)
Also, I've discovered something very interesting and unexpected in the past month - the VAC Ren III preamp has MASSIVE musical synergy with the Kensington SE...and it's consistently been in full force EVERY night I've sat down to listen ever since. No more "on" days vs. "slightly off" days. I've switched to using its built-in MC phono stage, too.
I have not heard the "audiophile" series of speakers mentioned above....however, I just have heard Tannoy speakers in an auditorium I just played in, ....not only I, but many members of the orchestra remarked how wonderful the sound was....it had the texture, and color of what real music sounds like.
I am ready to update my experience with my Canterbury SE's. After nine months I have learned quite a few things that I did not know back then. From Jim Smith (Get Better Sound) I learned to elevate my speakers to ensure the tweeters are at ear level, a huge difference. I am also using Clarity Cable Organic speaker cable, very neutral but they enable my 300B Paramount monoblocks to run with the big dogs... 8.5 wpc but very little is lacking, even with Beethoven's Ninth, Trans-Siberian Orchestra, hard rock...
The Canterburys are very revealing of any changes and very faithful to the music.
In 1960 or 1961, when I was in the ninth or tenth grade, my overindulgent father bought me my first serious stereo system - University 6303 15" coaxes; Dynaco Stereo 70; PAM pre-amps with stereo adapter; Weathers 'table with Shure Studio Dynetic arm and cartridge; and a Fisher 202R tuner.
Flushed with gratitude, I swapped the Universities and some cash for a single 15" Tannoy Silver in a 15-cubic foot Ablewood enclosure - a move that taxed my father's benevolence, but one that I never regretted.
Impressionable youth that I was, I had come under the thrall of a Tannoy cult led by Michael Humphries, a salesman in the audio department of Sam Goody's in Paramus, New Jersey. He would fervidly recommend Tannoy to every Sam Goody customer. Since the store didn't carry the line, this made Mr. Goody quite unhappy.
Some time later, I bought a mate for my single Tannoy. For the next fifty years to the present, my house has always been home to a pair or two of Tannoys - Silvers, Golds, Reds, HPDs, and currently, a pair of GRF Memories with 3839M drivers. The GRF Memory is from the Prestige line.
I confess to having dalliances with other speakers - Quads with JBL subs and Decca ribbons; Beveridge Model 2SWs - I could go on and on. But in the end, these belonged in a category I call Audio Ephemera. With this class of equipment, you never know when disaster is about to strike.
So instead of being soothed or stimulated by the music, you find yourself in a constant state of adrenal depletion, as in "What was that? Did you hear it too? Was something buzzing? Or is it on the record?"
As your audio nervosa worsens, you start picking out music that you think your speakers will like, and won't expose their Achilles' Heel. Tannoys are anything but fussy or delicate. They don't have to go into the shop because you had a couple of drinks, and goosed up the gain. This should not be surprising, since under their evening clothes, they are rock-ribbed studio monitors.
My wife will soon be retiring, and we'll be moving to a much smaller home. She would like to replace the Tannoys with something much smaller.
There is nothing I wouldn't do to make my wife happy - no spouse has ever put up with more. That doesn't mean that I can't lobby on behalf of my Tannoys. One of the Dual Concentric's many virtues is that even when listening to a big Tannoy in a small living room, they still sound great. In fact, even though my present living room is quite large, I love listening to my Tannoys in the near field. They are the least placement-dependent speakers I know, sounding great in rooms of all sizes, in and out of their unusually wide sweet spot.
Because of its dual concentric design, there is none of the discontinuity between drivers that plagues many speakers, especially the large and complicated kind. The Tannoy's point-source presentation, combined with its high efficiency and low distortion, makes it possible to lose momentary awareness that you listening to speakers at all.
My wife and I listen to quite a bit of live music. Last week, we were sitting in the fifth row at a dress rehearsal of the New York Philharmonic. From this perspective, the power of the Phil at full cry is indescribable. Such rare moments remind me of what a vainglorious path we audiophiles walk.
But sometimes, when everything is right, Tannoys can get you pretty damn close to a balcony seat in a real concert hall. And that's not too shabby for a pair of speakers.
If anybody is interested in discussing my wife's happiness, my email address is email@example.com.
I own the Tannoy Kingdom Royals of the Prestige line. I bought them because they are the best midrange and highs I have heard in any speaker. They are fast, coherent, detailed yet the mids and highs are not clincal and thin but have some heft and weight, like real music. The bass was boomy at first but with break in and some room bass traps it is handled. A bit more to go to make it perfect. Overall the best sound I've heard from a loudspeaker. They are expensive but I have heard nothing better for my purposes which is mastering and recording jazz.
I am in this stupid "Audio" and "Sound" for the last 35 years. Almost all (no absolute) the so-called "Audiophile" and especially those ranked as number one in "Stereophile (their job is to sell more advertisement and bring money to their advertisers)" equipments went through my ears.
None, I repeat, none of them would convey the music as the Tannoy's Kensington and up.
It replaced a Maggie 3.6, and currently using the AudioNote 9 watts SET to drive the lovely Tannoy Kensington.