Tannoy is synonymous in many
places with the finest public-address systems. The Hi-Fi side of the
business may be less well known (to the general public) but is nonetheless
an extremely well founded part, producing some high performance
loudspeakers, at very attractive prices.
So it was with great anticipation that I received the demo pair of Sensys
DC-2 loudspeakers. To cut to the chase, these speakers are definitely on the
short-list for my next upgrade.
What brought me to this conclusion? Read on and I will show you my reasoning.
The speakers arrived very well packed - one had been opened and re-sealed
previously, but the accessory bags inside looked untouched. There was no
audible difference between the two speakers and no visible markings to tell
them apart, so I presumed they were both actually brand-new. The reason I
mention this is that a used speaker would have already been broken in and
would make one speaker sound different than the other for the first day or
After reading the instruction
booklet from cover to cover, I connected the speakers to one of my amps (an
ION Obelisk 100) and used this setup over the next few days for the
recommended burn-in period of 24 hours usage. Over this period, nothing was
optimized and, in fact, I didn't even fit the spikes until I was ready for
some critical testing.
Feeding the Ion amp from my Philips DVD player and using both rock and
classical CDs, I quickly found that I preferred to listen to rock CDs with
the reflex port foam plug inserted in the Tannoys, whereas, for classical
CDs I preferred the fuller bass produced with the plug out. If I had to
choose a long-term compromise, it would be to leave the plug in.
The rest of
the tests were done with a Quad amplifier fed from a Philips CD player. This
setup confirmed my port preferences and, to my taste, suited the speakers
better than the Ion.
In the photo below, the fifth
speaker binding post is for connection to the shield in shielded speaker
For all sources, I found the sound to be smooth, clear, and revealing. When
checking out different speakers you always notice new aspects in CDs, even
old favorites like Abbey Road. The DC2s confirmed this, to the extent
that I felt I was hearing Paul's studio amp for the first time, including a
slight crunch of bass instability on certain tracks. This was present
irrespective of volume, and was in the music, not the speakers.
While on the subject of the Abbey Road test, the DC2s sounded incredibly
open, instrument placement and vocal location being precise across the
audible spectrum. It's reassuring that these old analog recordings were
mastered to CD with sufficient care that even after all these years, they
serve as valuable test material.
My toughest test of the bass stability and extension is "I Love You" from
Surfacing by Sarah McLaughlan. The bass sounded like well-formed,
rounded notes rather than the 'humph-humph' you typically get from lesser
speakers, epitomized by the bass toobs fitted in kids' automobiles!
More seriously, I have been enormously fortunate in being provided with a
private recording, courtesy of the internationally-acclaimed conductor Robin
Browning. Without test instruments to back up my assertion, I would still
maintain that this recording reveals a completely flat frequency response
from the DC2s. More than that, the coherent wave-fronts that the WideBand
(TM) technology built into all Tannoy Sensys speakers produces, came through
with no smearing detectable whatsoever. Some enthusiasts may have veered
away from bass-reflex designs in the past, presuming that the phase-shift
from port to listener would damage low-end location/imaging. All my test
material produced rock-solid imaging at all frequencies. But more on imaging
I ran some further tests using vinyl sources, chiefly the classic Karajan
set of Beethoven DGG recordings. I admit to feeling rather disappointed
after my listening to the Browning recording. The Quad phono input has a
steep anti-rumble high-pass filter characteristic which leaves vinyl sources
sounding a bit thin compared with a good CD input. Even so, the DC2s sounded
as good as any speakers I've heard using the Shure-Thorens-Quad chain.
Moving back to pop, I like to check-out a particular section in "Tell Him"
by Hello: it goes 'chugga-chugga-chug' (onomatopoeically-speaking) and can
highlight any inter-frequency dependencies causing intermodulation. I've
never heard this section sound so controlled. Not disjointed, just delivered
I like to try genuine mono sources as one of the checks for solid imaging.
"Butterfly" by The Hollies usually gets an outing, and the source at all
frequencies was straight down the middle. Mentally paying attention to each
speaker in turn highlights any differences between the DC2s (and the
source/amp chain as well), but there was none.
And finally, a moment that was truly breathtaking. I wasn't particularly
listening to the speakers, just enjoying a favorite CD, like we all do. The
track was Eric Troyer's "If Only" by The Orchestra. I thought the
clarinet-quintet had moved in, and very welcome they were too.
More General Observations
I can't help feeling these speakers are ideal for the larger room. When I
moved them from the Ion location in the sitting room to the Quad location in
the same room, I found I was naturally sitting at a greater distance from
them than before. What a difference this made. Suddenly it all came together
- tonal balance, imaging, reality. These are not near-field monitors, so I
would recommend a listening distance of 7 feet or more. With this
positioning, the sweet-spot is certainly broad enough for family listening.
And on the subject 'family', the speakers are attractive units that should
fit into any domestic environment. Many will prefer to have the smoky-grey
grille left on. Others might wish to run no risk whatsoever in acoustically
filtering the sound by fitting the panels. Tannoy themselves leave the
choice to the user. My own preference is to have the grilles in place, but
the speakers are certainly attractive enough with them off.
I was surprised just how sensitive the speakers are, comfortable volumes
being achieved at very similar settings as those for my classic Goodmans
speakers. Note that the recommended amplifier power is from 20 watts
upwards. It would be interesting to make a comparison using one of the
classic vacuum-tube (valve) amplifiers within the recommended power-range.
That will have to remain for another day.
As of this day, the Tannoy Sensys DC2 has a completely clean bill of health
as far as I am concerned. There are no vices, and the impact, smoothness
across the band, and stereo performance are impeccable. The clarity this new
vision has given me fills me with a certain yearning to continue the
- Graham Vine -
Analog source: Thorens TD-160, Shure eliptical
Digital sources: Philips CD, DVDR70
Preamps: Quad 33
Amps: Quad 303, Ion Obelisk 100
Speakers: Goodmans full-range, Eagle Horn Tweeters