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Tannoy Definition Series DC10T Speaker Review

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Tannoy Definition Series DC10T speaker systemThe Sound

I burned up quite a bit of my listening time over the period of a month or so in determining what would be the optimal position for the Tannoy DC10T’s in my room. Over the course of those listening sessions, I became quite familiar with their overall signature and what types of music would make them really shine.

Let there be no doubt, the Tannoy DC10T’s most definitely have a signature sound. In fact, you can say that they have a dual personality: The DC10T’s with driver ports open and the DC10T’s with the driver ports plugged up. Irrespective, the Tannoy DC10T’s sound can best be described as warm and inviting. For instance, when listening to the CD Passage by Harp46 (Jazz harpist April Stace’s combo), the harp was reproduced cleanly with a touch of added warmth and richness in tone. The accompanying acoustic bass and percussion that round out this excellent combo came through in a very relaxed and engaging way. This is the purest sense of shoulders-down, head-bobbing goodness that we all look for when we sit and have a listen. On the anal-retentive audiophile side of things, the added warmth in the Tannoy DC10T’s mid bass and low bass region comes at a price.

With the ports wide open, there is a slight muddiness that makes itself known on the bottom end; with the ports closed, the muddiness disappears, but there still remains a lack of definition in the bass lines and in the mid-bass region. This is particularly true when there is more than one instrument contributing to the bass or mid bass of the piece of music. Does it detract from enjoying the music being played? Well, quite frankly if you are interested in the music more than the audiophile side, the answer in my case would be an emphatic, no. With the plugs in place, the Tannoy DC10T’s also became uncharacteristically dry sounding, so I opted to leave the ports wide open. Another go-to album for me is Steve Howe’s Not Necessarily Acoustic. This CD enabled further exploration of the Tannoy DC10T’s capabilities in this particular aspect of its sound. This is a live recording that can sound overly hyped-up on some systems. Such was not the case with the Tannoy DC10T’s. Once again they proved their sheer likability in the way they delivered a big enveloping though somewhat darkened sound of the live nightclub environment that was captured on this recording. Steve Howe’s acoustic guitar comes through wonderfully warm and rich in tone. The sense of the venue however is diminished from what I am accustomed to hearing from more finely resolute devices such as the Martin Logan CLS2z full range electrostats, or the outstanding air motion transformers in the Eficion F300’s. This comparative loss of detail of the soundspace is what keeps you from teleporting to the venue when listening to the live piece of music and resulted in this case in a darkened overall perspective. I found this to be true time and time again as I played other live recordings throughout the review period. Recordings such as Nils Lofgren’s Acoustic Live, Eric Clapton’s E.C. was Here, and the Pat Metheny LP (and CD) with Christian McBride and Antonio Sanchez Day Trip/Tokyo Day Trip Live. What I find particularly interesting about this aspect of the Tannoy DC10T’s sonic signature is that the sense of diminished detail is not from a lack of high frequency extension. This would have been the case perhaps of older Tannoy Dual Concentric speakers that I had heard in the past, but not so with these. The tweeters in these modern Tannoy’s are certainly up to the task. Clearly, there are other influencing factors at play here, such as perhaps the moving mass of the rather large midrange.

Moving on to other recordings of a more dynamic nature such as Janis Ian’s superbly recorded classic ‘Breaking Glass,” the Tannoy DC10T demonstrates once again their undeniable niceness. For instance, on the cut “Breaking Silence,” the sheer weight and energy of the dynamics of this song are downplayed. Yes, the Tannoy DC10T’s remain remarkably unruffled by huge swings in dynamic range and the sheer volume and power required in reproducing them; there is not a hint of stress or strain, but at the same time, they reproduce these very dynamic swings in a very polite and matter-of-fact manner thereby removing some of the life energy of the recording. On the cut “All Roads to the River” from the same LP, an earlier observation re-emerged: The bass and the drums on this track conspired against each other when reproduced by the Tannoys resulting in a muddied and ill-defined presentation. The dynamic swings of the song were also diminished into an even and unruffled politeness that masked the energy that was captured on this recording.

Perhaps due to that very politeness, the Tannoy DC10T’s acquit themselves beautifully in reproducing acoustic guitar and the female voice. Katie Melua’s “Piece By Piece,” the track from the CD of the same name is remarkably engaging in a warm and sensuous way. So, too, on symphonic works such as Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, on Nonesuch, the DC10T’s appear to be in their element. The Tannoys are able to capture and evoke the dramatic expression and dark emotion of the piece as performed by the London Sinfonietta accompanied by Soprano Dawn Upshaw.

So what does all of this mean?

The Tannoy DC10T’s have their own character and signature. In the purest audiophile sense, they certainly exhibit a preference toward certain types of music. However, regardless of whatever piece of music they are reproducing, there is a certain sheer likability to them that is undeniable. In fact, I would go out on a limb here and say that this may well be their very purpose.

Here we have a speaker that carries the weight of tradition on its shoulders and must do justice to that tradition, as well as be relevant to today’s in-home listening experience. The Tannoy DC10T’s hold true to their sonic roots in so many ways that there is no mistaking their heritage. However, their fully modernized design deftly exploits the advantages of their traditional Dual Concentric speaker design approach and modern technology to yield a speaker that is a successful blend of old and new; a blend that yields superior frequency bandwidth capabilities, power handling, low distortion, superb imaging and phase coherence, fine cabinetry, and build quality …and that undeniable politeness.

The legions of fans of the Tannoy Dual Concentric approach will be quite content with the Definition Series Tannoy DC10T, and I am convinced that there will be more still who will join their ranks once the speakers are seen and heard at their local dealers.

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