Tyler Acoustics D1: Listening impressions
I have been a Tyler speaker owner for a few years now, and thought I would give my impressions on the new D1 speaker system (second attempt to post this!).
I was intrigued when I saw the new Decade line that Ty recently introduced. I called him up to discuss the line, but was a little hesitant to give up my current Linbrook SuperTowers (I have also owned the Linbrook Signature System, but preferred the imaging, soundstage, and midrange ‘weight’ of the SuperTowers). Since I already own a very nice subwoofer, I was not in need of the extra low end provided by the LSS. The SuperTowers were the best imaging speaker I have ever had in my room (18' x 14' x 8'), and with the 4 7" Seas midrange drivers, had a fantastic 'weight' in that range. Women vocals, guitars, piano, horn sections, etc., all had an ease and weight to them that gave a true sense of realism. I highly value imaging and a sense of space, and the SuperTowers were far superior to the LSS in that regard. An additional plus of the SuperTowers is their use in my HT setup -- with the 4 7" Seas midrange drivers in each speaker, they could play loud and unrestrained on extremely dynamic passages. I listened to quite a few speakers before settling on the Tylers, and while I have had the opportunity to hear several systems since acquiring them, none have made me want to give up my Tylers.
Initially, I was pretty sure that I would go with the D2s, thinking that my room might be too small to accommodate the D1s. However, after talking with Ty, he assured me that the D1s would not overpower my room, and would probably be the best choice in order to maintain the HT capability of the SuperTowers. Enter the D1s.
I got the D1s in the cherry finish (like the ones pictured on the website). I have to admit I was a little worried about the look of the speakers from the pictures -- they just didn't seem have an elegant look to them, and my wife was definitely not excited about either the look or size. However, once we had unboxed the speakers (not a simple task), carried them upstairs to the listening room (an even more difficult task -- took 3 of us to get them up stairs) and set them up, we all agreed they are truly an awesome looking speaker. Ty's craftsmanship has always been first-rate, and that continues with the D1s. Both of my sons thought the copper tweeter was 'cool,' and my youngest was absolutely taken with the magnetic grills. Ultimately, we decided to keep the grills off, but I think the speaker may look the best with the 2 woofer grills on and the middle one off.
OK, so they look nice, but how do they sound? Right out of the box, I got the sense that these speakers were going to excel in speed, clarity and dynamics. They sounded a little hot on top, which is to be expected before burn in, so I put on music and let them run pretty much 24/7 for about 3 weeks. I now have about 450 hours on the speakers, so I think they are basically 'broken in.' I have moved them around the room some, and will probably move them some more as I have time, but for now, I have them about 52" from the front wall and 24" from the side walls (that leaves them about 8' apart). I sit about 10' away, with my sofa also 52" from the rear wall.
Tweeter - I was very impressed with the Seas Magnesium tweeter in the older Tyler products, and was worried that the new one might not match up. No worries necessary -- this new tweeter is every bit as good. In fact, I think I actually prefer the new one in that it seems to be slightly faster and more detailed. It is extremely clean and fast, but it never reaches the point of offending. I often listen to music at fairly high SPLs, and have been able to listen for extended periods of time without ever thinking the highs were shrill or overdone. But it is extremely revealing. This is one area of the speaker that I did notice changed quite a bit over time. Initially, they sounded slightly hot. After a 100 hours or so, it settled down and actually became a little laid back. But now it seems to have stabilized, and I am very pleased.
Midrange - This is the area I was most concerned about -- the SuperTowers have the best midrange I had ever heard. However, the D1s are even better. I think it is the speed and clarity that makes them so special. Female vocals are as real as I have ever heard, with a weight and authority that gives a true sense of 'liveness.' The electric guitar riff at the beginning of Dire Straits, "Money For Nothing" sent chills down my spine. The 'snap' of an acoustic guitar, the power and grace of Chuck Mangione's flugelhorn, -- all of these are portrayed with the speed, clarity and weight of a live performance (watching Neil Peart’s drum solo from the “Snakes and Arrows” Blu Ray was amazing). I am not a true classical music fan, but listening to some full orchestral works proved to be quite an experience. I could picture the venue, easily picking out the instruments in space, and the power and ease with which full crescendos were presented even impressed my oldest son (he is a hard rock guy). Quite frankly, I have not heard better at anywhere near what I can afford (to my ears, for my taste).
Bass - Owning a very good sub (the Legacy Pacemaker), I was not really concerned about this area of performance. However, in my room with the D1s, the sub has been relegated to HT use only. I initially hooked up the speakers and ran them full range to break them in, but forgot to change back over to using the sub when I finally sat down to give the speakers a serious listen. I was listening to some music and thinking, "Wow, that sub really sounds nice – deep, tight, fast bass," and went to disconnect the sub from the system, only to realize I had never hooked it up. The D1s bass is extremely fast and tight – tighter and more defined than the bass of the LSS, and much deeper and authoritative than the SuperTowers. In my room, which does give a slight boost in the low 30/high 20 Hz range, the D1s are essentially flat down to 25 Hz. The bass has genuine authority, and is capable of high SPLs without ever breaking up or becoming congested. I admit to being a bass fanatic -- I have owned the Legacy Focus with 3 12" woofers each, and I am completely satisfied with the bass of the D1s (the D1s do not have the quantity of bass of the Focus, nor are they flat down to 20 Hz, but the definition and speed is vastly superior). Again, I want to emphasize, the bass is fast, dynamic, and defined, and I would think that for all but the extreme bass freaks, would satisfy most listeners.
Imaging -- This is the area that has always drawn me towards monitors. In fact, the SuperTowers are really just a 'super monitor.' The D1s imaging is even better -- wide, deep, defined. Again, I think it is the speed and clarity of the drivers that I really like here -- individual voices and instruments are easily discerned in space. Being a tall speaker, it presents real-life size musicians on the stage (hearing a singer that is about 3’ tall really annoys me!). One thing that I have not often heard in a speaker is the soundstage extending directly behind the speakers. Most of the time, the soundstage forms an ‘arc’ behind the speakers, with the depth of the soundstage increasing as you move towards the center . The D1s present a truly holographic stage – one that not only extends to well outside of the speakers when the source allows for it, but one that extends deep, even directly behind the speakers.
One other area in which the D1s excel is their ability to keep their same sonic signature from very low to very high SPLs. I have heard many speakers that sound very good at high volumes, but when you reduce the volume, they often lose the ability to present the authority and ‘airiness’ in the music. Even my SuperTowers, with the sub, tended to lose some of its midrange magic as the volume levels dropped. The D1s sonic character remains the same, even at very low volumes, and I have found myself listening to much more music after everyone else has gone asleep because of this quality.
I think it is obvious I am very pleased with the D1s. I was certainly not 'unhappy' with the SuperTowers or the LSS for that matter, and I still think they are both fabulous speakers, especially for their current price. But the D1s, to me, are truly something special. They are a full-range speaker (unless you are looking for flat to 20Hz, then they come up a little short), with the speed, detail, weight and authority that is exactly what I am looking for. Everyone's tastes are different, so I know the D1s are not for everyone, but if you are in the market for a pair of speakers in the price range (or 2 or 3x their price!), I highly recommend an audition. For those who are current Tyler owners, I think you will find the new Decade line very appealing. While the older models tended to be slightly to the warm side of neutral, I would say the D1s are closer to neutral. They excel in speed, clarity and definition, and open up a much clearer window into the music.
I have seen several folks on agon suggesting the use of tube or other 'warm-leaning' equipment with these speakers, and I am sure that would sound great (I’m personally not a tube guy). However, I am using an all SS system with the D1s (Bryston SP2, Modded Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000, Squeezebox Duet with CI power supply) and couldn't be happier. I know the whole Decade line of speakers is 8 ohm, so they should be very easy to drive.
Finally, I must say that the best part of the entire transaction is dealing with Ty himself. I have not met a more pleasant and accommodating person. He is very unassuming, a real straight-shooter. In fact, it was his reluctance to tell me that the D1s would be a large step up from my SuperTowers that held me back for a while. I think he is much too modest when speaking of the Decade line – they are, at least to MY ears in MY room with MY equipment, an incredible speaker for the money. I know it is a dangerous claim to make in this hobby, but I do not see myself looking for another pair of speakers for many years to come.
Bryston SP2 preamp/processor
Wyred 4 Sound ST-1000 amp