Review: HHR Exotic Speakers TLS-I Speaker

Category: Speakers

I had the pleasure of meeting Dale and his wife and listening to these remarkable speakers. First, you are not going to meet a more interesting person. His experiences and accomplishments sound as though they were accumulated over multiple lifetimes and his knowledge of audio is amazing.

His continued work and improvements on an already great design are evident because the TLS-I speakers are perhaps the best speaker I have ever heard. Now I cannot say that I have listened to every speaker and I'm sure others have listened to many more, but I have been fortunate to listen to Magnepan, Thiel, Wilson, Avalon, DeVore Fidelity, Vandersteen, Swan, Joseph Audio, Usher, B&W, Martin Logan, Salk, Aerial and Anthony Gallo Reference. And I'm sure I forgot a few. I have always enjoyed a large, open sound that goes well beyond the dimensions of the speaker. Also, I have always placed a premium on accuracy of the mid and high frequencies because way too many speakers sound incredibly harsh. Let me say these speakers do very little, if anything wrong. I enjoy a wide range of music and my mother has played the piano for over 40 years and I know what I like and dislike. Of all the speakers I have listened to, this is the first speaker that doesn't beam the music at my head or force me to listen in one specific position that drastically changes with every inch I move. When listening to a piano, it sounds incredibly large and dynamic and for the first time, I was listening to speakers that understood that. This was the first time I have listened to a pair of speakers that I thought I could turn down the lights and kickback with a drink and simply enjoy the music without thinking of swithching speakers, amplifiers, cables, ...; well you get the idea.

For those also in this hobby and for those that spend A LOT more for speakers than the TSL-I's do yourself a favor and contact Dale. We all know you can spend a lot more for speakers and will end up with many of the same problems associated with conventional speakers. And yes, I understand the room plays a big role. But these speakers sounded better in his room with minimal room treatments relative to some other very expensive speakers in highly treated rooms I have been in. Worst case scenario, you'll talk to him for hours and come away just impressed as I did.

These speakers had the best aspects of all the other designs I have heard without the beaming, small critical listening area and they present the music in a lifelike manner. I walked between the speakers and it sounded as though I was on the stage with the artist. Walk into the next room and it sounds as though the artist is in the next room. No matter where you were, the sound did not disappear. Articulation, accuracy, soundstage, air; it was all present. These speakers will let you know the integrity of the recording, as most speakers do at this level. And it's a shame how bad many of the recordings have become. But after talking to Dale, I now have a plan on how I can ensure I'm getting the best possible recordings.

Now I am a critical person and realize there are others out there that are much more knowledgeable than I am, but listening to these speakers brought the actual instruments and artists into the room and more importantly, brought back very fond memories of my mother playing the piano. And that is what it's all about. This was the first time a pair of speakers made me forget about the pair of speakers and simply enjoy the music. Now I have known people to switch equipment pretty frequently. And that's fine because they like equipment, technology and change.
But for me, it's the fact the equipment got out of the way and the artist took center stage. I was not fortunate to hear the original Walsh designs and I think it's a shame more manufacturers have abandoned or disregarded this type of speaker. Just because something is difficult it doesn't mean it should be ignored and I applaud Dale for improving a legend. If you can't tell by now, Dale's speakers are amazing and you owe it to yourself to contact him and listen to his designs.

Associated gear
Jolida, Conrad Johnson PV-11, PS Audio

Similar products
Magnepan, Thiel, Salk, Wilson, Swan, Usher, Gallo and a few more I'm sure.
I'm very interested in these speakers especially a reproduction of the very rare OHM A. My only concern is who is going the repair these speakers say 15-20 years down the road. I would imagine they will be prone to the same material/driver mechanical break down that the original OHM F series has suffered.
As of now Dale and Miller sound are the only two companies that will/can repair these Walsh drivers in the US

This is the number one concern that has me on the fence with these wonderful speakers

Thank You Dfirca, for such an awesome review and glowing compliments. We are pleased that you enjoyed our humble offerings and I am very grateful for the kind compliments.

Please allow me to address further comments from Apachefl and anyone elese who may be on the fence in this manner...

First of all, I need to retiterate that we do not manufacture Ohm model A or F speakers. We will re-manufacture existing A or F speakers for clients that currently own them and in the process bring the drivers up to our present TLS standards. Or, a client may purchase a complete set of TLS-I or TLS-II speakers with composite and constrain layer technology in the cabinetry, as well.

Next, I would like to say that even though I have more than 35 years experience with this style of speaker, we have only been in business for a little over 3 years as HHR Exotic Speakers and we are still in the process of growing our company. Our continued success and growth fully depends on you, our valued friends and clients worldwide believing in us.

While I can relate to Ed's comments above, I must also point oput that this problem exists for all high end products weather it be speakers, electronics, golf clubs, etc. I have a hard time imagining that if for some reason say Magico or Wilson closed their doors tomorrow that owners of their products would find suitable drivers or parts for their highly specialized products at the local re-cone shop for a few dollars. This fact does not prevent people from purchasing their products, however.

I would also like to mention that I am often critcized for offering dated technology,(Walsh style drivers), however revamped they may be. Many professional audio reviewers are turned off by this fact and therefore consider the Walsh Technology to be a waste of time.

Still, I find it amazing that most of the megabuck speakers available today are based on Dynamic Piston Style audio drivers. A technology that has been around since 1861.

So, for the clients that have trusted in us we sincerely thank you. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to serving the needs of many more music lovers world wide.

Dale Harder
HHR Exotics