Eclipse TD510 Mk2 Standmount Speaker Review
Single driver, single minded, multi-talented
What is the Eclipse TD510Mk2?The Eclipse TD510Mk2 is a single way, standmount speaker. This sentence on its own should be enough to demonstrate that it is not a normal piece of audio engineering. Eclipse is part of the Fujitsu and Denso group and it exists to build one very specific type of product. These are speakers that, instead of relying on multiple drivers to produce the audible frequency spectrum, uses a single driver to do the same job.
If this was easy to do, everyone would be at it. The notional benefits of making a speaker with no crossover are huge but physics is a fairly hostile mistress and the sacrifices required to do it are considerable. The space that the TD510mk2 occupies is also different from the previous times we have looked at Eclipse speakers. Unlike the dearly departed TD-M1 (still the best standalone desktop speaker system I’ve ever tested) which was a self-contained solution designed for near field use, or the multichannel system we looked at which was underpinned by the finest subwoofer I’ve had the privilege of enjoying in my old listening room, the 510Mk2 stands as a speaker to be considered on its own merits and used as a partner to equivalently priced electronics.
This is an issue because it means it goes up against the Dynaudio Special Forty which is, well, more than a bit special. For the price, there is a huge selection of speakers varying from classic ‘meat and two veg’ engineering to things that are barely less exotic than the Eclipse. Can a speaker that so wilfully follows such a unique set of design parameters really stand comparison to more conventional models? And with that, we cue the music.
Specification and DesignThe most important single point about the Eclipse is that every single aspect of its design and aesthetic is a function of making a single driver work over as wide a frequency response as possible. Other single driver speakers exist but, with some partial exceptions, they are adapted takes on conventional speakers (although aficionados of them will probably quibble about the words ‘Lowther’ and ‘conventional’ occupying the same sentence). The Eclipse follows a pattern shared by all of their speakers and it is one designed to be a single driver design from the very outset.
This means that the overall shape is one designed to support that driver in its pursuit of doing the work of two or more drivers in another system. First up, the driver and the rear port are on axis with one another. This allows for maximum efficiency from both, reducing any loss in flow from corners and the like. The port itself is relatively large and this ensures that the movement of air is relatively unforced and, therefore, inaudible.
The most notable aspect of the cabinet itself is that the driver doesn’t make direct contact with it. It contains a large ‘mass anchor’ which is attached to the inside of the ‘leg’ coming up from the bass. The driver is attached to this anchor which ensures that every last attometre of movement is directed forwards rather than back. There is no other connection between the driver and cabinet. The front surround acts as a pressure seal and ensures that no other energy is wasted. Technically, the cabinet can be peeled off and the driver will sit there on its anchor, still able to function.
The driver itself is just 10cm across - and as with everything else from Eclipse - this measurement is from the edge of the surround, so the actual radiating area is smaller still. This is not an off the shelf unit that has been modified to do this job but is instead is built from the ground up to achieve it. The moving mass is reduced to a minimum and the magnet is specially designed to push frequencies that would otherwise be impossible for 10cm driver to hit. The results - on paper at least - are eyebrow raising. Eclipse quotes a frequency response of 48Hz to 22KHz which - even allowing for the hefty quoted roll off - is a startling achievement.
There are sacrifices required to achieve this. Sensitivity is low at 84dB/w and this is then partnered with limited power handling - Eclipse says that 50 watts is all the TD510Mk2 is good for. The long and the short of it is, again on paper at least, that the Eclipse has a narrow operating envelope - although, as we shall see, the reality is a little different. Connection to an amp is made via a sturdy single set of speaker terminals.
If you take on board that every aspect of the Eclipse is function over form… it still looks bonkers. The models we’ve looked at before are rather smaller than this one and they feel more like satellites. The TD510Mk2 is bigger than a rugby ball and there isn’t much you can do to have it look anything other than mildly astonishing in most living spaces. There is something utterly other worldly about their appearance - part H.G Wells Martian War Machine, Part Tatooine pod racer, part magic eye receiver on the cover of My Morning Jacket’s Circuital. If your listening space is an otherwise period correct homage to the Arts & Crafts movement, this might not be the speaker for you. If you simply embrace them for what they are, you might find they blend in rather better than you might expect. I have found myself lovingly stroking the cabinet of the one nearest the door as I pass because you feel compelled to interact with them.
There is other good news too. All too often products as specialist as this come from small manufacturers who simply don’t have the means of finishing product to the standard that larger ones can. Eclipse is, if you like, the best of both worlds. It is absurdly specialist but is also inside the umbrella of a much larger concern. This means that the TD510Mk2 is really beautifully finished. The paintwork on the cabinets befits a company also active in the automotive sector and everything feels solid and carefully thought out. ‘Mass produced’ is clearly the wrong term for something as specialist as this but it definitely avoids the dreaded term ‘artisan.’
A quick note about model numbering is also worthwhile at this point. The model you see here is the TD510Mk2 and it comes with the ‘leg and foot’ style arrangement that allows it to sit on a stand or other flat surface. There is also a TD510ZMk2 which takes the same driver and housing and mates it to an integrated floorstand. The two speakers are identical in all the parameters that matter save for this difference and as space is currently on the tight side, it was considered a better move to look at the small version.
If you take on board that every aspect of the Eclipse is function over form… it still looks bonkers
How was the TD510Mk2 tested?The Eclipses were placed on Soundstyle Z60 stands and a degree of toe in was adopted to ensure they worked down the length of the listening space. They were connected to a Naim Supernait 2 integrated amp and Naim ND5 XS2 network streamer taking a feed from a Melco N1A NAS Drive. Some additional testing was undertaken via a Michel Gyrodec with SME M2-9 arm and Gold Note Vasari Gold cartridge running into a Cyrus Phono Signature phono stage. All equipment was connected to an IsoTek Evo3 Aquarius mains conditioner. Test material has included lossless and Hi-res FLAC, AIFF and DSD, some Tidal and vinyl.
Sound QualityThe very shape of the Eclipse sort of leads to how you might ‘expect’ it to sound. It looks odd, so you expect the performance to mimic that. The reality is actually a little different. The first thing that is likely to grab you about the TD510Mk2 is not how different it sounds but how in keeping it is with other well engineered standmounts. The most important part of this is how consistent the Eclipse is to the ends of its frequency extremes. There is no sign of unwanted roll off or other nastiness and it really doesn’t struggle in normal use.
At the same time, there are quirks you’ll either want to work with or put them straight back in the box because you can’t be bothered. The sweet spot of the Eclipse, even after considerable experimentation, is just that - a spot. If you are outside this, their tonal consistency and particularly their treble extension, drops off radically. I would also say that, while the worst excesses of their low sensitivity and low power handling are avoided, this is still a speaker that would prefer to be run at sensible volumes on the end of an amplifier of ‘adequate’ power rather than be birched. Even on the end of the Supernait 2, they begin to harden noticeably if you get ambitious with the volume.
So; they often sound like normal speakers except you have to listen to them in a specific place and do so at volumes it is happy with. If this isn’t the sort of thing that is blowing your frock up much, it is fair to point out that there is more to the Eclipse than a convincing facsimile of a normal speaker, and if these virtues appeal, very little else will do. The whole reason why Eclipse goes to the effort of building these speakers is down to the idea of time alignment. Splitting the sound via crossover into different drivers alters this basic time coherence and Eclipse argues that this is so profound that the advantages of not doing so outweigh those limitations.
Listen to the frenetic guitar work of Bjorn Berge’s Honey White and this single minded approach to speaker construction starts to make sense. In the house at the same time as the Eclipse were a pair of Acoustic Energy AE1 Classics. These are fast speakers. Their transient response and sheer ability to ‘hang on’ to the most frenetic time signatures is one of the reasons why they stayed in production for so long. Side by side with the Eclipse though, they move like a fat child full of chicken nuggets. The TD510Mk2 is supernaturally fast. It is the only speaker I have ever experienced that makes Berge’s guitar work feel like something you are studying at leisure.
This breathtaking speed lends music a clarity that becomes addictive after you ‘dial in.’ Provided you are in their sweet spot, there is a sense of immediacy and order to the way the Eclipse makes music that makes them incredibly easy to listen to for long periods. The music itself doesn’t even need to be especially fast or complex for this to be apparent. The news that The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society has gone Platinum after a mere fifty years on sale was a good excuse to listen to it again and the manner in which the Eclipse handles the title track is just wonderfully elegant. Nothing gets in the way of anything else and the close vocal harmonies of the band are delivered in a truly lovely way.
The final piece of the puzzle is that even though the frequency response is far more even than you would reasonably expect, these are still speakers with a truly astounding midrange. If the vocal turn in Twin Shadow’s Runaway played on these speakers doesn’t move you a little then it is likely you have no soul to move. If your tastes extend more to the Jazz and smaller scale work, the Eclipse isn’t merely a good choice, it is a borderline essential one. What is deeply impressive is that even if you then behave like a thug and put Underworld’s Cowgirl on, they will still do what they do in such an engaging way, you don’t really mind that the bass isn’t perfect or that the person sat next to you (outside the sweet spot) is repeatedly asking what the fuss is about. Shorn of the guarantee of near field listening and a partnering sub, the Eclipse still delivers.
This is a single minded masterpiece, not perfect - far from it - but untouchable at the things it considers strengths.
- Outstanding timing, cohesion and imagery
- Beautifully made
- Striking looks
- Narrow performance envelope
- Demanding on partnering equipment
Eclipse TD510 Mk2 Standmount Speaker ReviewAs you have probably gathered by now, I like the TD510Mk2 very much. I am, however, not blind to their quirks. For the asking price, these are not a more complete or more capable offering than the mighty Dynaudio Special Forty. That singular speaker remains my highlight of the year and is the nearest thing to a ‘no brainer’ that the subjective world of speakers can offer. The thing is though, I think Eclipse knows this. They do what they do in the full understanding that it won’t be for everyone.
This means that there will be some people reading this who, if they were shopping at this price point and they listened to these speakers back to back, would choose the Eclipse over the Dynaudio. Having spent some time with them both, I understand why they would too. This is not the reassuringly measurable and standards governed world of video. When chasing accuracy in audio, we place different emphasis on what we mean by that. If you need your music to have the same unerringly ‘right’ time signature of the artists playing in front of you - and I won’t lie, it’s pretty important to me too - this speaker is the one that does it better than anything else I’ve heard. This is a single minded masterpiece, not perfect - far from it - but untouchable at the things it considers strengths. For these reasons, this wonderfully idiosyncratic speaker comes Highly Recommended.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £1,920.00
Ease of Use8
Value for Money8
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