Opinions on Tannoy Canterbury SE?

I've been running the Kensington SE (2 models down in size) for 3 years. An in-home audition of Yorkminster SE -- and a recent listening of my Kensingtons in a smaller room (19'x14') -- has revealed that my speakers are slightly undersized for my room. No doubt I can coax out satisfying bass response, but it took substantial tuberolling (and "gear" rolling), and that last bit of bass extension is clearly lacking in comparison to the Yorkminster (29Hz vs. 23). Also, it's a substantial audible jump from 93dB to 95/96. It's amazing what a difference that extra size makes -- and the Kensingtons aren't small to start with.

I would've bought the Yorkminster, but 1) I dislike their looks, and 2) their midrange seemed a touch dry and less "sweet" in comparison to the Kensington. I've very much attached to that midrange. This issue may perhaps have been mitigated with further burn-in, but in the end I decided to look towards the Canterbury SE as my only potential upgrade. I'm not considering anything else; it's Canterbury or nothing. Also, I won't be plunging into the world of dual subs; I like everything coming from 1 point source.

I figure those of you with notable listening time on the Canterbury SE might also have experience with other Tannoys. Would like to solicit your opinions of how they stack up to the others, especially those of the Prestige line. How "sweet" is their midrange? I like it sweet :) Would also like to hear whether their bass extension provides a noticeable improvement over the Kensington (on paper it's only 28Hz vs. 29). I won't be able to audition these before purchase.


How close are you to Atlanta?
Hi Mike,

A couple of years ago a local dealer added the Tannoy line. I first heard the Westminster Royal at his showroom in a demo for our audio club. That was set up in a home theater demo room and left some things to be desired. Even so, I could hear past some faults and found many elements of natural, musical presentation that impressed me.

Shortly after that a friend arranged with the dealer for home auditions. He didn't try the Kensingtons but I got to hear the Yorkminsters while he had them home. He then tried the Canterburys and bought those.

I was so impressed with the overall Tannoy musical presentation that my own interest was stirred. Due to budget limitations and room configuration, the only model in the Prestige range I could consider was the Kensington. But the dealer didn't have those at the time. Then at last year's THE Show - Newport, I had the chance to audition the Kensingtons. I don't know if they were brand new and not broken in but I found them a huge disappointment. So much so they fell out of consideration for me.

I really enjoyed both the Yorkminster and Canterbury models. They present a rare combination of detail (many times over done by high end components in my opinion) and musical accuracy (meaning tone, presence, and body). The choice between the two could be determined by your budget and room.
Hi Mike,
I used 12" Monitor Golds in Altec Lansing Santana cabs for 38 years, always small rooms. Alnico and pepperpot waveguide tweeters. A couple of years ago my wife died and I was able to put my system in the larger living room. I bought a pair of
SRM 15X Tannoy monitors, no alnico. Fine for rock, but I really missed the alnico for classical. I bought Canterbury SE's about a year ago. They load my room beautifully and are very revealing of detail and nuance. Breakin may take 20 to 100 hours, and then the musicality is very compelling. Good luck!

I'm in Marietta, very near the square. Unfortunately I've got severe agoraphobia that makes getting around even Atlanta very problematic (the awful traffic doesn't help). It's lucky that my Tannoy dealer is right down the block, but no Canterbury in stock. Certainly, my hi-fi system serves as a wonderful figurative escape, when a literal one is not possible.

Yes -- the Kensington can sound anywhere from bland to over-bright to awesome, depending on gear and room setup. It's not like they require super expensive gear and fully treated rooms with CAD-calculated room dimensions to sound wonderful, but the overall system matching is crucial to get that rare blend of detail and musicality you reference. In my experience the Alnico Prestige drivers are extremely revealing of differences in upstream gear -- surprisingly so, in fact.

It's clear that the Yorkminster clobbers the Kensington in bass response (and increasingly so as you increase room size), but I felt they were much closer from the mids & up. I even preferred the Kensington's sweeter mids, but of course that could've been a break-in issue with the Yorkminster. To me, the looks of the Yorkminster made it not worth the risk of waiting for break-in to (hopefully) yield sweeter mids. These speakers would be a BIG piece of my living area, and I need to love how they look: the Caterburys pass this test. I just want to make sure they're at least the equal of the Kensington's mids :)

Agree that a lot of hifi gear sounds too over-done on the detail front, and in general tipped-up on top and amusical. Not sure how much is that perceived detail is faux detail from a tipped-up/unnatural tonal balance, or other mechanisms (i.e. over-complexity and over engineering). On the flip side there's some really warm gear out there that sacrifices gobs of detail, and that's not great either (though I can generally tolerate it better).
I'm yet to hear a decent sounding Canterbury. Everytime I hear them at the dealer's they sound like giant wooden boxes with transistor radio inside. Must be a nightmare to set up right.
Hey Antonkk,
The Canterbury SE's are very dependent on the source material and amplification... You might ask your dealer to hook them up to the rest of the high quality music system!
Once that is done they are very easy to enjoy.
Mike, I suggest that you contact Jim Smith. He can be found by doing a Google
search for his book, "Get Better Sound". He can answer your
questions regarding Tannoy in general and the Canterbury specifically.