What is the best amplifier for Tannoy Kensington ?

Hey guys,

Im starting of fresh, Ive just purchased a pair of Tannoy Kensington and love the addicted to the sound that they produce, just wondering if any one owns a pair and could recommend me the best match up amps for these babies, thanks!
Wow, you must have hit the lottery, as Kensington is a great speaker. Look at some of the high end amps from Cayin or VAS. Great value, great sound.
Art Audio Jota HC would be a good match, IMHO
I don't know what is the best, per se.

I've had good luck driving my Canterburys with several amps.

Does ss or tube make a difference to you?

I am a Tannoy dealer and I am using the Sophia Electric 300B Mono blocks with a deHavilland Mercury 3 preamplifier. Plenty of power and sounds great. There is a pretty good review of the Sophia's by Jeff Day ( http://www.positive-feedback.com/Issue53/sophia300b.htm )... he talks about all the amplifiers he has used with his Tannoy's. Check it out.

Can you tell us a budget? Anything more about your preferences? If it were me I would go for a "strong" single ended tube amp. I happen to like 211s or 845s. If I were very well off I would consider Lamm. I also happen to like powerful tube PP amps, Ayon might be good or the latest Jadis integrated.My current power amps are giant killers and still amaze me if you handle their Chinese origin. The Opera Consonance Cyber 800 mono blocks. You will be happy esp if you roll the input 5687s and 6922s but leave the stock output tubes.
Mechans is right, you don`t provide enough information(music preferences,volume/listening level, room size etc.) for really meaningful suggestions.I love the 300b SET amps but your speakers will allow much flexibility of choice. What amp was driving these speakers when you heard them?
Despite their good efficiency ratings, Tannoy's respond well to higher powered, quality SS amps. I found bass response, openness and dynamics superior than with low/moderate powered tube jobs. This was with Canterbury's.

I should have mentioned that review is in issue 53 of positive feedback also on the Sophia Electric home page there is a link.
Mactone OTL M-8V with the Mactone Preamp XX-300A. Magic combo with Kensington's.
I'm a Manley importer, but became that after living 3 years with Kensington and a complete Manley setup. EveAnna Manley has always tuned Manley gear with Tannoys. Check it out - the synergy is great.
Hi What ever amp you may end up with finally, make sure you listen to a 300B based amps before you decided. I use Cary 300B monos on my Canterburys & get plenty of volume from 96db efficiency for my listening preferences. I have heard 100 watt KT88 vs a 7 watt 300B. Surprisingly they both controlled the speakers equally. Enjoy your great speakers & good luck!
Here's the thing -- owning and Kensington SE and having heard the Yorkminster SE in my system, that 2dB extra efficiency and 6Hz bass extension of the latter makes a huge difference (shocking, even). The Kensington has the sweeter midrange, but it's hard to tell how much (if any) that gap would narrow with further break-in. I love midrange, so it was a tough choice.

That said, it's no wonder I use higher powered amps (250 W/ch Rogue Apollo tube monoblocks) on my Kensingtons. For my listening preferences (often quite loud, sometimes high dynamic range recordings) and room size (fairly large), that 93dB-95dB/Watt range defines a pretty critical zone; any less is quite hard for me to live with. I disagree with the notion that a 3dB difference is "hard to notice". It makes ALL the difference with speakers as resolving as the Tannoy Prestige, which will remain sounding musical at any level you can push (cleanly) into them, AND will easily reveal shortcomings of the electronics (that's their magic - just wish they were a bit more efficient and extended).

I've used restored vintage tube amps (Heathkit W5, Eico HF-87) of 20-35 W/ch on the Kensingtons, and the sound with the W5 can be sublime. BUT, at those power levels you'll have to concede on at least one of these 3 points: 1. Loud listening 2. Large Room 3. High Dynamic Range material. By point 3, I mean that you can blast modern compressed pop/rock/metal recordings as loud as you like on just 20-25 Watts...but you'll notice significant limitations when you switch over to classical. I definitely noticed such limitations at under 60 Watts/ch.

I prefer tubes to solid state; I got the Apollos because they offer tons of clean tube power at a reasonable price, and offer superb build quality, service, etc. I've also heard the Rogue M180, which sounds very close at half the price (with KT120 outputs). Rogue gear can sound a bit more like (good) SS with the stock tubes; for my preferences I "fixed" that by rolling in RCA blackplates and KT120. Again, the Kensingtons are so revealing of upstream gear and individual tube swaps - and that's where tube gear pays HUGE dividends, by allowing you to fine tune the system to your preferences & needs.

First decide what power level you *need*, then choose between tube vs. SS, then choose the model.
Hi Guys,

First of all, thank you for all these great response, I'm still so amazed by it.
Sorry that i didn't provide more info on my preferences.

I listen to Mostly Vocals, Instrumental, and recently listens to Classical, but I also listens to POP& Soft Rock hear and there.

My CDs are mostly XRCD, HQCD, HDCD and SACD.

Ive heard these with Rega Osiris integrated and matching CD player, they war hooked up with MIT Magnum XLR interconnects and a pair of MIT Magnum Bi-wired. They sounded Great but i somehow find it too solid on the mid range and lack treble and bass was surprisingly strong.
Ive heard them with Manley Valves Setup, very sweat Midrange but just a touch too layback with Rock tracks.

I basically like good Treble ( which i could do with a set of super tweeter, which i can't get a hold of), Sweet Fluid Midrange and tight accurate bass.

I think I prefer SS Amps too, I was told to look at only Pure Class A Amps for the Kensintons and got recommend to ACCUPHASE ( Anymore have these hook up to Tannoy Prestige. Was told that that these are the Ultimate Hi Ends and very reliable.

With Budget I just wanted value for the money, but most of all matches my speakers, as I have test them with Krell Integrated and they sounded not bad for the money.

By the way my listening room is quite small, 3x3.5m , 2.4m ceiling.
Hi Jim

Do you have any Super Tweeters in Stock and how much?

What Manley did you listen to? I guess it was not Snapper, cause they are quit funky and PRaTy on rock with Kensington.
They were NEO250 mono blocks with Jumbo Shrimp Pre.
Haven't Heard the Snapper, bit too too bass are they?


If I am the Jim that you are referring to then, no I don't have any super tweeters.

Sounds Real Audio
How is Apollo compare to krell FPb600?
I am interested to buy Apollo, but don't have a chance to audition.
Still will keep my krell for HT.
Looking at Kengsintons as well. Wondering how they will match up with my Pass XA60.5's (60 watts in to 8 ohms class A)
I'm a little surprised that a dealer would recommend a 300B (7 wpc?) with the Kensingtons by referring to Jeff Day's review. Jeff has the Westminsters which I believe are at least 6 dB higher efficiency than the Kensingtons (99 dB vs 93 dB?).

I don't own Tannoys but I'm interested in them and have auditioned everything from the Kensingtons up to the new Royals (the latter for fun, they are way beyond my budget). I suspect that smaller amps can still sound very pleasing - if played at moderate levels in smaller rooms. But if owners listen to symphonies, big band jazz, or rock, more power would be a benefit.
We have a few customers that have the larger Tannoys. They seem to prefer our M-60 amplifiers, which have a greater amount of power (really handly on the big Tannoys as their efficiency is in the high 90s, which makes them unsuitable for lower power SETs unless you are in a small room).

The big Tannoys in general do seem well-suited for tubes. For most of them, 60 watts is a good power for the amplifier because in most situations it will be impossible to clip the amp.
Ralph, since I never heard your M-60s with any Tannoys I shouldn't recommend them. But based on Gizmo's experiences and writings, I'll guess they would be a wonderful match.

Also, I believe the Atma-Sphere amps are among the most musical and satisfying of all our choices - when matched with appropriate speakers. I once owned a pair of MA-1s which were wonderfully musical within volume and musical complexity limitations. Unfortunately my speakers at that time presented impedance and power demands that prevented the best match. I don't imagine any of the Tannoys would have those problems.
Gwng8: Take your amps to the dealer if you can. I would say they would work ok, but you have to make sure...you might wanna bi-amp...your Pass Labs for the mid-highs, and something like a Bryston or Parasound for the bass.
Ignore the last comment, Tannoys are time aligned thorugh the crossover point, this is why they are so coherent. To biamp with different amplifiers with different transfer functions will destroy what these speakers are about.
I own several pars of Tannoys - your Pass Labs will have enough power.
Yes, Tannoys are easy to drive, and don't benefit from being bi-amplified. You are best off just giving it your best shot with the amp.
I don't have a Tannoy dealer anywhere nearby....I'm just going off of hearing them at Newport Beach....loved it.
There`s no logical reason/benefit to biamp the Tannoy speaker.
Well, the speakers are set up for bi wiring/bi amping, are they not? What does it hurt to try?
If you are installing an electronic crossover, the answer is you will loose detail in doing so. Bi-wiring is a means of getting speaker cables to sound better, which is why some speakers have the capability.
Well, I was referring to passive bi-amping...
With big Tannoys the crossover frequency is relatively low at 1.1K, so the split -
- % of power delivered to the woofer vs. the tweeter -- is closer to even. Those
Tannoy tweeters have to be designed to handle a high amount of power.

You could argue that because of the close split, you might gain some
"effective" power increase in bi-amping -- but not as much as
investing in a bigger amp (if available; I know of a Kingdom Royal setup bi-
amped with VAC statement 450 monoblocks!). I also wouldn't biamp with 2
dissimilar amps -- the gain matching alone would be a pain, and these aren't
the kind of speaker where you can get away with a much weaker tweeter amp.

Also with a biamp setup, you'll gain some tweeter protection from huge bass
transients that -- when clipped -- would otherwise send peak-power level
high-frequency transients to the tweet. However the woofer would still have
to handle that peak power, the tweets are probably much tougher than usual
anyways, and the tweets themselves are pretty easy to replace.
Also with a biamp setup, you'll gain some tweeter protection from huge bass transients that -- when clipped -- would otherwise send peak-power level high-frequency transients to the tweet.
It should be pointed out that this is only true, to a major degree, if an active crossover is used, ahead of the amplifiers. Which in turn would have significant downsides, particularly in this case as others have pointed out.

In the case of passive biamping, both amplifiers have to swing an output voltage corresponding to the full frequency range of the signal. So in a passively biamped arrangement the likelihood that the high frequency amplifier will be clipped by bass transients will only be reduced (compared to using that amp full range) to the extent that its voltage swing capability increases as a result of the reduction in the amount of current it has to supply, and chances are that increase in voltage swing capability will not be all that great.

I make a point of mentioning this because I have seen many posts here discussing the possibility of passively biamping with a low frequency amplifier having vastly greater power capability than the high frequency amplifier. Which would result in most of the power capability of the low frequency amplifier being unusable, because how much of its power capability could be utilized would be limited by the clipping point of the high frequency amplifier.

Also, as you pointed out, in this particular case the relatively low crossover frequency is an additional reason why a large power disparity between the two amps would not make sense.

-- Al
Atamasphere`s suggestion for using one good quality amplifier makes the most sense.Bi amping seems to create potential matching problems that can easily be avoided.
I notice the Kensington frequency range is 29Hz - to 22 khz. Doesn't the 22 khz seem quite low? Any Kensington users find them lacking top end?
Jeff Rowland Model 2 or Model 6 with Battery Power Supply
At the moment I am driving my Kensington with Manley Neo-Classic 300B SE/PP with single-ended typology (11 watt). The sound is as full, dynamic an funky as with Snappers (100watt), but with better holography, midrange magic and transparency. It also handles complex music as symphonies and bass-heavy music as soul and rnb. Whatever the reason these 11 watts have no problem to play Kensington loud in my middle sizes living room.
Al - thanks for the explanation. You are of course right, as usual!
@ Almarg: So, is passive biamping with the same amp(s) ok?
@ Almarg: So, is passive biamping with the same amp(s) ok?
It would eliminate the concerns that have been mentioned. I have no particular opinion, though, on whether or not it would be an approach worth pursuing with this particular speaker, for someone who already has a pair of monoblock XA60.5's.

-- Al
Well, those amps would do the job, but from what I've read over the years, bi-amping is better than bi-wiring.
Dave_72, you do get some advantage from doing biamping (without an electronic crossover, as opposed to running just a single amp) but it is not all that much.

For example, our amps can be monostrapped for more power and in situations where a customer could biamplify passively (IOW using the speaker's own passive internal crossover) universally it has been better to simply monostrap the amps for more power and run them full range. Said another way, the biamplified setup ran a little better than just one amp, but two monstrapped was better yet.

Al pointed out the reason above. If you are not using an electronic crossover, the amps still have to make the voltage (and power), its just used to heat up crossover components.

Tannoys are pretty efficient anyway- I think 96-97 is typical. So if you have 60 watts available in most rooms that is unlimited power.
Ralph, FYI the Kensington is rated at 93 dB, the larger Tannoy models are 95-99 dB.
Ok, I see your point. I really don't have anything to add.
Pryso, thanks, that simply means that 120 watts in most rooms will be plenty. That power level is such that an amplifier would be easy to find. In some rooms you can still do fine with 60 watts.
BAT vk-55se will be fantastic
Well I will repeat that the 8 watt Sophia Electra mono blocks are the best that I have heard the Kensington's sound. Now unless you have an auditorium to fill they should be fine.
I own the yorkminster se's and have successfully powered them with an el84 amp of around 10watts. Tannoys don't need lots of power contrary to some folks suggestions. I agree they probably sound different with 200 watts of ss power, and some folks may prefer that, but they don't NEED it.