Eclipse TD307Mk3 Speaker Review
- Outstanding near field performance
- Flexible mounting options
- Beautifully made
- Indifferent far field performance
- Will not go very loud in any situation
- Looks won't appeal to everyone
Introduction - What Is the Eclipse TD 307Mk3?
The Eclipse TD 307Mk3 is a one way standmount speaker and I hope that enough of you will have read the reviews of other Eclipse speakers to see the phrase ‘one-way’ and not go ‘huh?’ Eclipse is a company that occupies a unique niche in the world of home audio. It effectively has a design theory of the sort that is usually made by a niche company operating out of a small industrial unit somewhere on Earth. The difference is that they pursue this niche backed up by the engineering resources of a multinational.
The results of this have been some remarkable speakers. Every Eclipse design is locked in a fight to the death with the laws of physics but it’s a fight they they frequently win. In recent years, we have looked at the larger models, culminating in the flagship TD712Z which might cost over £7,000 but has abilities that are beyond more conventional speakers. What’s notable about Eclipse though is that it makes a range of products and they don’t all cost thousands. No less significantly, the first major revision to the passive range in seven years has taken place at the affordable end of that range.
The thing is though, all Eclipse speakers are devices for which allowances must be made in terms of placement and partnering equipment. The TD 307 Mk3 is affordable but it’s the same price as the Rega Kyte and £200 more than the Q Acoustics 3030i. Can the struggle against physics be won at this price point and do you want to buy the result even if it does? Time to get listening.
Specification and Design
The ‘Mk3’ derivation being used for the TD 307 is in some ways a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it points to the continued evolution of existing speaker that has been a success for Eclipse which means it can ensure that dealers and loyal customers know exactly what to expect from the new speaker. On the other, the amount of changes that have been made to the Mk3 would have most other manufacturers reaching for a new model number. This is emphatically not just a refresh.
One of these changes is as much about bringing the 307 in line with the rest of Eclipse family. The previous version was the last speaker in the range to use a paper driver and this has now been dispensed with to make way for a glassfibre design that is more in keeping with the larger models. As well as changing the cone material, Eclipse has worked through the whole assembly looking at the manner in which it moves and the process by which the driver magnets are arranged. The result is that the Mk3 has a completely different driver to the Mk2 and one that boasts a significant upgrade in performance.
The manner in which this driver is mounted and employed though is still entirely in keeping with Eclipse’s wholly unique take on what one driver should be able to do. This means that the driver is largely decoupled from the enclosure (the seal at the front is entirely via precision fitment, the driver is not mounted to the body at any point) and instead attaches firmly to a mass anchor that in turn connects to the leg and foot arrangement. This is to ensure that none of the driver’s output is lost to the cabinet but is instead directed to the outside world.
This is because the TD307 Mk3 is subject to the same compromises as its bigger siblings although perhaps in the opposite direction. For a single driver to have meaningful output at both ends of the frequency response, it needs to be optimised for the task. In the case of this smallest member, the high frequency behaviour of a speaker that isn’t that much larger than a conventional tweeter will likely be pretty good but bass is going to be an issue. Eclipse quotes the driver as being 65mm across but this comes with the caveat that this includes the very hefty surround which isn’t really part of the radiating area. To boost the low end output, Eclipse has increased the magnetic force active in the driver and increased the size of the enclosure. A rear port, kept entirely on axis with the driver assembly also helps to boost output.
This works up to a point. The Mk3 now has a quoted frequency response down to 80Hz over the 100Hz figure of its predecessor but two things need to be explicitly pointed out about this. The first is that the complete frequency response of the Eclipse (80Hz-25kHz) is quoted at +/- 10dB rather than the more common 6dB (or truly rigorous 3dB) figure of most rivals at the price. Even with this roll off allowed, the Eclipse is well down on bass output over pretty much any other speaker anywhere near the price point (something like the Rega Kyte in the recently tested System One for example will manage at least another 30Hz at the bottom end).
The second is that the operating envelope of the Eclipse is more of an operating sachet. This is because the sensitivity is extremely low (Eclipse quotes 80dB/w) but so is the power handling. The quoted maximum input is 25 watts which means that, even if you have the power to make them go loud, the effect of doing so is likely to be terminal. This is not going to be a barn filler and it’s going to struggle in a large room. Eclipse does have a design plan for the TD 307 Mk3 though which we’ll cover in due course.
As well as the engineering upgrades to the speaker, Eclipse has carried out some detail work on the day to day to day practicality of the speaker. All Eclipse models have the means to be angled on their leg and foot system but here is it adjusted via a single bolt on the assembly and this is by far the simplest system to actually change the angle that the speaker sits at. They can be wall and ceiling mounted too which gives them a flexibility that many more conventional rivals lack.
Something they have in common with the larger models is the manner they are bolted together too. Eclipse is part of a very large company indeed. It has resources and production processes that are completely and utterly beyond even those of ‘large’ (a relative term) speaker companies. The result is a speaker that is both beautifully made and finished and something that feels genuinely different to almost anything else on the market. In any other timeline, a speaker this absurdly specialist would be a rough and ready sort of thing because it would be made in tiny numbers (or, conversely, it would be a piece of art but emphatically not available for £600). I make no secret that I love the aesthetic but I appreciate it won’t be to everyone’s liking.
The result is that the Mk3 has a completely different driver to the Mk2 and one that boasts a significant upgrade in performance
How Was the TD 307Mk3 Tested?
For reasons that will be expanded on below, the Eclipse has required testing in a slightly different manner to other speakers. They have been connected to a Rega Io integrated amp and Chord Electronics Mojo2 and used both with these devices mounted in the rack as normal, taking a feed from a Roon Nucleus and with the Eclipses well forward, just in front of my seated position on a pair of Soundstyle stands. They have then been placed on a table top, using the Rega and Chord and taking a feed from a Lenovo T15P ThinkPad. Material used has been FLAC, AIFF, Qobuz, Tidal and Apple Music.
More: Audio Formats
I feel it best to start this section in a way that gives as much unambiguous context as I can muster. In ten years of testing speakers for AVForums, no speaker - arguably no product full stop - has a narrower operating margin than the TD307 Mk3. If you’re reading this looking for a normal pair of speakers to sit in a lounge at a few metres distance from you, this ain’t it chief. In that context, the Rega Kyte is so dramatically better as for further comparisons to be largely pointless. In my 4 metre by 3.5 metre lounge and placed where speakers normally sit, the Eclipse has no meaningful bass extension and a ‘room filling’ volume causes them audible strain.
So why is there more to write after that? What possible redemption arc is there for a speaker unable to fill a room? Allow me to try and explain. What if I told you that the speaker you should be pitching the Eclipse against, isn’t a two way standmount but instead something like the Focal Celestee? Take the TD 307 Mk3 off the stands at the other end of the room and place them less than a metre in front of you, angled and arranged so they are two points of an equilateral triangle where your head forms the third point. Then, listen again.
We are now within that narrow ‘operating sachet’ of the TD 307Mk3 and while it’s a limited space, it excels when used this way. The closest parallel is not the 510 or 712 but instead, the very first Eclipse product we ever looked at, the TD-M1. This was a self contained, desktop speaker system and used in the same way, it had (still has if you can find one used) nearfield abilities beyond almost anything else. With the Chord and Rega delivering them a suitable signal, the Eclipse is no longer a strained sounding little speaker but the most spacious pair of headphones you’ve ever used.
The effect of this reduction in distance is marked. This is never going to be a truly seismic speaker but in this nearfield configuration it has enough low end to convince. It convinces in part because of the wider whole to which it belongs. In this context, the TD 307 Mk3 has that same electrifying speed and coherence as the bigger models and, if you dial in and appreciate this, very little else anywhere near the price can get within a mile of them and none of the other things that can are devices more than one person can listen to at once.
Neither is the Eclipse done there either. So long as the triangle setup principle is adhered to, this speed and fluidity takes place in soundstage that is rock solid and completely convincing. Obviously, this is very effective with small scale material; Sarah Jarosz’s Blue Heron Suite has rarely sounded so gloriously intimate, but it’s surprising how large a scale of performance can be accommodated by them. Archipelago by the Hidden Orchestra is convicing in a way that two dinky egg shaped pods should simply not be capable of doing.
There are still limitations; I cannot emphasise how specific the confines of their sweet spot is in terms of volume and positioning. Move them back another metre, either on the stands or the table top and they begin to recede back into being thin and congested. Raise the volume to compensate and even the 30 watts of the Rega Io is too much. This is the speaker equivalent of one of those animals you see on a nature documentary that has evolved for millions of years in some extremely specific ecosystem; perfectly evolved for one thing and an instant candidate for extinction outside it.
With the Chord and Rega delivering them a suitable signal, the Eclipse is no longer a strained sounding little speaker but the most spacious pair of headphones you’ve ever used
Eclipse TD307Mk3 Speaker Review
The thing is though, in 2022 this niche is not extremely specific. A subset of people reading this will be working from home either permanently or semi permanently. For many people, this will mean a desktop audio installation will come in handy and it follows that while many people will go the headphone route, it doesn’t follow that everyone can do that. If I have to listen out for the door/ keep half an ear on what my son is up to, headphones are not the ideal solution and I know I’m not alone in this. There’s a comfort angle too. I have spent a few hours writing this on my iPad interspersed with doomscrolling Twitter over information in Ukraine with the Eclipse arranged in their tight triangle on either side. The TD307 Mk3 hasn’t missed a beat in that time. It’s as satisfying to listen to now as it was at the start and none of the comfort issues that even the very best headphones can be subject to have been a problem.
What this is then, it the spiritual successor to the TD-M1 but you now get to choose your electronics to suit and this means they have format support that is as state of the art as you want it to be. For some applications, the Eclipse is never going to be suitable but, used in the manner their maker intended, they are sublime. The world of desktop audio just gained an amazing new asset and for that reason, the Eclipse TD 307Mk3 earns enthusiastic Recommendation.
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