Review: Proac Tablette-2000 Monitor
It’s easy to take your speakers for granted, especially in the summertime, which in the frozen northeast is concert season. A few live performances, and you start itching for something better, even if it’s just a pipe dream.
I’ve sold more than a few speakers I really should have kept because the upgrade bug bit me. Casualties included the B&W 601S2 (a bit clinical but WOW – so much detail!) and my all-time favorite cheap monitor, Polk’s RT25i (now sadly discontinued).
One set of speakers I’ll NEVER sell is the ProAc Tablette 2000. They have some flaws, it’s true, but over the years I’ve never really tired of them.
They’re not quite as lively as I’d like them to be. They also require a strong amp. I like them with my Denon receiver, though they sound rather soft at times. They’re more highly resolved with my Rotel RC-980 preamp and RA-960 amp, but I don’t have room for two boxes right now on my rack. The best resolution I experienced was when they were powered by my Acurus DIA100, but that’s as dry sounding an integrated as you’re likely to find and it didn’t play nice with the ProAcs.
Due to their nearly full-range response, with REAL low end down to 35Hz, and a rear port that blows more air than a jet engine, they need to be positioned a good distance from the rear wall to avoid overpowering the midrange. Corners are bad news, too. And no matter where I’ve placed them, soundstaging is also not quite as ‘real’ as either my B&Ws or my Polks. Finally, at $1100, they may not seem like a bargain. But to me, they are. Build quality is exceptional, and they look and feel like they’ll last 20 years or more. (What does that work out to…15 cents a day?) Plus, the styling – though staid – will likely never look dated.
Because my listening room is small, floor-standing speakers are out of the question. The Tablette 2000s give me the placement flexibility and imaging of a small speaker with the presence and power of a big one. In fact, the only bookshelf speaker I’ve heard that comes close to the Tablette 2000 in that respect is from Definitive, but I didn’t find it to be quite as natural sounding. I also spent a great deal of time listening to the Paradigm Reference series at Sounds & Images awhile back, especially the Studio 20, which is very similar but with slightly better-defined highs. If you get it in black, and not the fancier wood finishes, it’s probably a better value than the ProAcs, but I’m still fonder of the Tablette’s styling.
About my only real complaint is that the ProAcs are incapable of sounding ‘small’ when they should. With more intimate recordings, quiet female vocals and delicate strings can sound puffed up. That’s a small price to pay for rock that’s big as life, classical that has the impact of a locomotive crash and movie soundtracks that pound my chest like an out-of-control CPR trainee. Plus, the Tablette 2000s, despite their aforementioned trouble delivering an entirely convincing soundstage, do have the ability to convey space and ambience particularly well.
In my long history of long-winded posts, this will probably be the shortest ever because I think these things are so great. I could live with lesser speakers – heck, I have Bose 201s in my bedroom and they’re really not as bad as some people say – but why should I?
Best of all, the Tablette 2000s exterminated my upgrade bug. It’s been over two years, and in that time, I’ve listened to at least six pairs of speakers. Normally, I’d have bought (and then sold) at least two of them in that span of time. I haven’t. I’m sure it gets better than the Tablette 2000, but not in my price range.
Denon DRA-395 stereo receiver with MM phono section
Rega P2 turntable (with P3 glass platter and None-Felt mat)
Ortofon X1-MC moving coil cartridge
Pioneer DV-563A universal disc player
Philips CDR-785 CD Recorder
ProAc Tablette 2000 loudspeakers
Radio Shack MegaCable 16-gauge speaker wire (bi-wired)
Various Kimber, Audioquest and MonsterCable interconnects
MonsterPower HTS2500 Power Center
AudioQuest MC cartridge demagnetizer
Record Doctor II record cleaning machine
Sennheiser HD580 Precision headphones
Sony ProAudio MDR-7506 studio monitor headphones