Review: SP Technology Timepiece 2.1 Monitor
Review of Timepiece 2.1
Before I begin my thoughts on this wonderful monitor, I feel a brief history is in order as it will give a better perspective of how I luckily stumbled upon Bob Smith of SP Technology and his products.
In January of 2006, I attended what is known as “The Show” at the St. Tropez hotel in Las Vegas. For those unfamiliar, it’s pretty much an all audio component show in contrast to the CES show which includes audio components as well as other electrical products. I make this distinction so the reader understands that for the most part, many of
the best audio components across national & international markets do find their way to “The Show.” Hence, one had the pleasure of hearing/demoing a plethora of fantastic products in slight walking distance of one and other as each vendor had a hotel room and or suite where those like myself could sit and listen to the products of their choice.
While attending this show, I had the pleasure of hearing many components. Since I was in the need for a new pair of speakers, I visited at least 10 different manufactures. Moreover, the prices of these speakers ranged from about $1500.00 to over $100,000.00 a pair. I tried to be realistic about my price range, but that would kill the fun so I listened to as many speakers as I could.
To my surprise (as this was my first show) there were many manufacturers I’d never heard of before as well as the Von Schweikerts, Cabasse’s, and other top names in the industry. As time went on and I listened and re-listened to different offerings, I kept being drawn back to the SP Technology room where their flagship model called the Revelation was being played. I was not alone either for the listening couch was always occupied and many times there was standing room only in their suite. Frankly, the dynamics and musicality of these speakers left an indelible impression on me. So much so, about 6 months after the show, I contacted Bob Smith (whom I had the pleasure to meet at the show) and purchased a pair of his Timepiece 2.1 monitors.
The Timepieces arrived extremely well packed via a trucking company for they are quite large and heavy as monitors go. What struck me was the sheer size of the cabinet as it was 21.5” high, 12.5” wide and 15 ¾ deep. Frankly, it’s the biggest monitor I’ve ever seen and I mean that in a good way. Plus, they weigh about 65lbs each and feel extremely stout and solid to the touch. I understand the large box size accounts for the impressive frequency dept as the bass is just phenomenal, (more on that later) Also, the physical attributes and construction of the speakers made me feel good about the money spent in a world where prices seem to rise and quality seems to drop. And yes, I do realize the sound is the determining factor, but it was nice to see/feel what a good bang for the buck the workmanship revealed. Furthermore, and I mean no degradation to any manufacturer, but I’ve seen speakers 5 times the price which did not rival the overall physical presence these monitors represented.
For set up, I put them on 24inch stands 5ft from the back wall, 3.5 ft from the side walls and close to 10ft apart. My listening room is pretty large at 17ft wide, 28ft deep, with 8 ft ceilings. Moreover, I sit about 16-18ft back from the speakers. Furthermore, my system consists of Quicksilver tube mono-blocks (great products) a Placette passive pre (fine gear as well) a Pioneer jukebox CD player with a Monarchy Classic DIP to re-clock things and lower the jitter as well as a Kora tube DAC. I listen to a variety of music from Johnny Cash, to the old Stones/Beatles, to Norah Jones, pop rock from the late 60s, early 70s to Classical and all in between.
The first thing I noticed about the Timepieces was their fantastic reproduction and extension of the lower registers. Low and mid bass is extremely enjoyable/accurate and one can easily hear the bass lines do their thing. Hence, I realized the bigger enclosure really paid off as the Timepieces dropped amazingly low. Also, the sound-stage is quite large/wide instead of that pinpoint type focus monitors are known for. Actually, I was pleasantly surprised for the last time my sound-stage was like this was when I was running Magnepan 111a’s. The mids were quite focused/detailed as well and reminded me of another nice pair of speakers I had called the Tyler 7U which although fine floor-standers, in my opinion, could not reproduce the lower frequencies like the Timepieces. Furthermore, I’m sure the tubes play their part, but the vocals, whether male or female were never forward or offensive with the Timepieces unless the CD was horribly recorded. The highs were very natural too with cymbals and high-hats, prominent without being aggressive or harsh.
To me though, the real signature of these monitors are their musicality. I did listen to many of my old Cds and definitely heard things I’ve not heard since I used albums. I know that’s a strong statement, but there was a fullness and non-fatiguing timbre which brought back wonderful memories. Actually, all the Cds I played, both old and new, sounded more open with a fullness and substance at the bottom, which I’ve not heard in any speaker I’ve ever owned. I would also mention I never found the Timepieces to be overly analytical, just detailed, full, and quite musical. Plus, on the better recorded Cds, the instruments were wonderfully positioned across the sound-stage front to back and side to side with a depth that created a 3d type of impression on the right material. Moreover, all these observations were made at moderate listening levels. So, of course, what red-blooded American would not take the opportunity to give them some juice? Especially, having heard the Revelations at the Show and knowing Bob’s speakers like to be revved a bit. Frankly, I was shocked how well the sonics stayed true as I gave them the gas. Actually, in my opinion, they sounded better as I added the power and they reached levels much higher than I would ever listen for extended periods. I guess it’s just comforting to know it’s there if you need it. And let’s be honest, I think we all blast our systems every once in a while. Furthermore, although I never pushed my 100 watt tube mono-blocks into the red, the dynamics and realism just exploded as I sat back and let the music envelope me. Better yet, it delightfully pinned me to my chair like I was 21 again.
On a somewhat technical note, and although I wish not to repeat the same old descriptions, I must say these speakers bring out the most in your ancillary components, whether good or bad---and from what I’ve learned, that’s precisely what a great transducer is supposed to do.
Next, I’d like to add my thoughts pertaining to some kind of numeric evaluation based on a 1-10 scale. Please note, I hesitate to give any speaker a 10 rating in any category as I’ve surely not listened to everything out there. The customer service issue is another thing though and I’ve had nothing but honest, friendly, and forthright dealings with Bob Smith of SP Technology and truly recommend him and his products to the fullest degree.
Performance: : 9.5
Value : 9.25
Build quality : 9.5
Customer service : 10
In closing, aside from the many attributes I’ve given these monitors, I truly feel one would have to spend quite a bit more to equal the overall performance these speakers offer. I say this not only from listening to my pair, but from listening to some well known manufactures at the aforementioned audio show whose offerings were priced 6-10 times the current price of the Timepiece.
Again, I’m not a professional reviewer. I’m a music lover who over the years has tried like many of us, to put together the most satisfying and dynamic, yet realistic and natural audio system possible within budgetary constraints. To that end, I find the Timepiece 2.1 monitors to be an A+ transducer and quite an achievement at any price point.
Please feel free to e-mail any questions and I’ll get to them as quick as possible.
Thanks for reading this review and God Bless,