Back in October 2010, I had the pleasure of sharing my front room with the Tannoy Definition DC8 stand mount stereo speaker. This was the smallest in a trio of speakers, the others being the DC8T, a two and half way floorstander with 8" drivers and the DC10T, a two and a half way floorstander with 10" drivers. The somewhat obvious omission from the range was a matching centre speaker and subwoofer (or two!). Well, Tannoy noted that people were apparently buying DC8s and turning them on their side to work as a centre and so have done the decent thing and fashioned a dedicated unit, the DC6LCR to perform centre duties.
What follows isn't strictly a package - Tannoy only list the speakers separately - it's more like a review of all of the Definition Series speakers I've yet to play with, which happily numbers five including a centre. It would thus be rude, not only to review the speakers in their own right, but as a complete package. Subwoofery would have to be drawn from my own arsenal of devices, although I am assured that a Definition Subwoofer is in development, along with others to compliment other Tannoy ranges.
For those just arriving on planet Earth, Tannoy are one of the longest established names in the world of audio and indeed, their name is in the Oxford English Dictionary as a noun. The name itself comes from a contraction of 'Tantanum Lead Alloy', which was used in the manufacture of accumulator chargers, long before Tannoy got involved in loudspeakers of any kind. The association the name now has, was as a result of winning a war time contract to provide a wide area public address system for army bases and Tannoy developed a horn loading system to maximize acoustic efficiency. Horn loading, of one degree or another, has remained at the core of Tannoy's products ever since, in all but their cheapest products. The three speakers under scrutiny here, are far from the budget end of Tannoys catalogue, although that said, they're just as distant from the top.
In order of size, we are scrutinizing the Definition DC6 LCR centre speaker (£1499 each), the Definition DC8T 2.5 way floorstander (£4199 per pair) and finally, the Definition DC10T 2.5 way floorstander (£5250 per pair). The standmount Definition DC8 (previously reviewed) rounds out the range at £2499 per pair.
At the core of each, is a variant of the long established Tannoy Dual Concentric driver, hence the DC in the speakers names. The mid bass driver is a relatively normal unit of treated paper, but instead of a central dust cap, or phase plug pole piece, there is a set of concentric, tapering tubes. These are the patented Tulip Waveguide and it extends, through the centre of the driver, to the titanium diaphragm dome tweeter mounted on the rear of the mid/bass driver. The curve of the mid/bass cone continues the profile of the Tulip Wave guide to further load and constrain the dispersion pattern of the tweeter. This not only delivers high efficiency from the tweeter, but also ensures the dispersion pattern of the tweeter at the bottom end of it's pass band, matches that of the mid/bass it's handing over to which creates an even power response. This is probably more important than a smooth on axis frequency response, as it takes into account the energy emitted by the loudspeaker, at all frequencies, in all directions. The nett result is a coincident source driver, that is excellent for stereo imaging, constrains is dispersion pattern into a 90deg cone from the midband up, which gives and element of room independence. This is a driver that will sound consistent from one room to the next and across a wide area of listening positions.
In each speaker the Dual Concentric driver is partnered by an additional, bass only driver (two in the case of the DC6 LCR), that rolls in beneath the baffle step to augment bottom end bass output. The bass driver is identical to it's Dual Concentric neighbour, but lacks the tweeter and Tulip Waveguide and sports an inverted dome dust cap instead.
The obvious difference between the speakers is the driver size. The DC6 LCR has three 150mm drivers, the DC8T a pair of 200mm drivers and the DC10T a pair of 250mm drivers. In the case of the DC6 LCR, the second bass driver is actually a passive radiator (PR), which takes the place of a port. A PR is not a cheap solution to extending the bass output of a given enclosure, but it does hold some advantages. A rear facing port (to maintain the visual continuity of the range) would inevitably be closer to the nearest wall, which would probably result in excessive bass output. Whether on the front or the rear, a port will tend to 'leak' a certain amount of midrange information, especially when positioned as close to the midrange driver as it would have to be, in a (relatively) compact centre speaker. A PR is, in essence, a bass driver with no motor, but extra weight attached to down tune it's resonance. It has the advantage of sealing the enclosure, or at least, being a lot less transparent to mid range output and also being compact. The lower the tune of a port, the longer it has to be, which becomes more of an issue if the port diametre is sufficiently large to keep air velocities low - chuffing and in extreme cases, whistling sounds can be unwanted side effects. This mandates quite a deep enclosure, but a PR actually demands less depth than the matching bass drivers, which keeps the enclosure compact. So, not a cheap solution, but technically a rather elegant one and one that is coming back into fashion these days.
In the case of the DC10Ts, there is a further difference, that being that the rubber, single roll surround of the 150 & 200mm drivers, is replaced a double roll, treated fabric. This is a style of surround that fell from favour years ago, but modern materials and techniques are seeing a resurgence. Theoretically, it offers a better control and damping of resonance at the cone edge, with a more progressive approach to the hysteresis limit of the material. It is supposed to deliver tighter, faster better controlled transients, at the cost of slightly increased colouration.
Now, I must confess that my enthusiasm, upon hearing about the 'late to the party' DC6 LCR centre, was slightly tempered by the news that it was to be based on 150mm drivers. My concern was the tonal match the much smaller drivers could offer, but in practical reality it was a sensible move. Due to the relative scale of the other Definition speakers in the pictures, it's not clear that the DC6 LCR is still quite a large speaker. By going for the three drivers, Tannoy have created a speaker that is manageably sized in terms of height. Lest we forget, this is a range with a predominantly stereo focus and the centre has been created to fill the gap for those who are stereo first, with surround sound attached. For those craving coffin sized centre speakers, then you have to look a little further up the Tannoy catalogue than the Dimension Series.
In an ironic twist, just as the Dual Concentric driver allowed the DC8 standmount to be turned on it's side for centre duties, I can see people standing the DC6 LCR on it's end, for front and surround duties. As it is a sealed design, tonally balanced to be comfortable sitting on the top shelf of an equipment rack, it would be equally at home on a stand relatively close to a wall. I don't suppose there'll be much mileage in asking Tannoy for another four to test the theory, but I suspect with some confidence it would work very well indeed!
Mentioning that the DC6 LCR is sealed, hints at the ported nature of the two floorstanders. The DC8T has a single rear firing 65mm port, whilst the DC10T has two 75mm jobs. Both are well flaired and come with port bungs to assist in tuning the bass response to suit your room. All the Definition speakers have the same connections, comprising five WBT binding posts in a neatly recessed tray. Four allow for bi-wiring/amping, the tweeter being the driver that is split from the rest. The fifth is a connection that allows you to earth the driver baskets back to your amplifier's ground, if it provides such a connection. It's an idea popular in far eastern markets and seeks to reduce background noise. As it can be accomplished by nowt more than a piece of dirt cheap bellwire, it's inexpensive to try if you do so wish. At a recent hi-fi show, I did notice screened speaker cables that provide for this connection, via the screen, to both amp and speakers, so others see merit in the idea too. The crossovers also go the extra mile beyond use of audiophile grade components, in undergoing deep cryogenic treatment. The deep freeze and slow thaw process, is claimed to reduce stresses in the micro structure of the crossover components, to improve performance. Silver platted, high purity oxygen free copper cable is used throughout.
All of this engineering is housed in what, to this reviewers eyes, are some of the finest examples of distinctive, yet understated cabinets, with exactly the right amount of speaker bling. The sonic benefits, in terms of standing wave dissipation and increased rigidity, of the curved cabinets are well known, but this also has the visual benefit of slimming the Definitions presence. In concert with the sub veneer grill fixing magnets, the brushed aluminium driver and nameplate trims and liquid depths of the plywood cabinet lacquer, it all goes a long way to reducing the significant visual impact of what are, by modern standards, large loudspeakers. To be fair, introducing the DC10Ts into the room went a long way to making the DC8Ts look smaller, but the acid test of wife approval was passed with ease. We agreed on our preference for the Cherry finish of the DC6 LCR and DC8Ts, over Dark Walnut. Neither were remotely close to matching the resolutely oak tones of our room, but it turns out that if I really "must" have large loudspeakers, they may as well look obviously gorgeous, rather than trying to unsuccessfully blend in. There's a gloss black option for the terminally conventional too.
Finally, all the speakers as reviewed, came with plinths. The DC6 LCR ships with a curved plinth to facilitate angling it correctly, but the plinths for the DC8 and 10Ts are optional extras. As the base of the speakers is bizarrely narrower than the cabinet, I'd say the plinths are a must for stability and peace of mind - These are top heavy loudspeakers. These optional plinths are £200 per pair for the DC10Ts and £150 per pair for the DC8Ts. Simple as they are, they work and enhance to look of the speakers to boot.
This proved to be a lot simpler than the norm for two reasons. One is that measurably, or audibly, the in-room response from the midrange up is remarkably room independent. The constrained dispersion meant that gross changes in tonal balance, caused by toeing in or not, didn't really happen. So it was simply a matter of adjusting to 'focus' the stereo image without diminishing the soundstage and that didn't take very long at all. I ended up with about five degrees of toe in with both the DC8 and DC10s. Likewise, they both worked best, in the bass, with about three feet of clearance to the front wall. This just opened up the upper bass, removing a touch of thickness. Both speakers are capable of bass measurable into the upper 20s of Hertz and perhaps because my rooms only real bass mode is down in that region too, I found plugging ports made little difference to the subjective power in that region. If anything, the slight reduction in bottom end, was offset by slightly less freedom to the sound overall and as I personally didn't consider the bass to be excessive, I left the plugs out. As ever in these matters, your mileage will vary, as your room is not the same as mine.
Finally, as it is entirely improbable that a system like this would fore go a subwoofer, my own subwoofers stood in for the yet to be released Definition subwoofer. For the record, they're a pair of 105 litre, 15" driver, 2kW/channel custom built units that aren't exactly shrinking violets.
Listening - Music
Starting with the DC8Ts, it was a clear demonstration of how less bigger drivers, as opposed to a lot of smaller drivers, really sounds much more relaxed and yet, more immediate. Drums start to feel like drums, bass notes start and stop in a far more responsive fashion and the texture of bass instruments is more clearly etched in the fundamentals of the note, rather than being hinted at by the harmonics of it. Double bass, rather than sounding like an initial pluck followed by a dull thrumming, gains extra weight and texture which makes it sound more tight and resonant. This grip, also conveys a fine pace and rhythm to driving bass lines with pop and rock, kicking out bass guitar and deep synth with conviction and without apparent strain.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, the dynamics of treble are equally well focused and clean, although if you're used to a more normal tweeter, the lack of extra treble energy sprayed around the room, can make it sound initially a bit dull. It's not, it's just the reflected hash that delivers artificial 'air' that you're missing. Cymbals and the rasp of brass instruments is very polished and clean, with delicate, jazz brushwork and breath sounds lacking over emphasis. This also helps with some overly edgy recordings, preventing them from sounding too strident - those with a penchant for early eighties digital recordings will find this a welcome trait.
The midrange is tonally neutral and well able to distinguish subtle tonal differences between, for instance a pair of acoustic guitars, but I found it's level possibly slightly low relative to the bass, if not the treble. This not only kept the stereo soundstage firmly in the plain of the speakers, but also made the DC8Ts sound a little laid back. The placement of instruments and vocalists is exceptionally precise, but it does sound a little distant. That said, I'd rather that than the in your lap projection of, shall we say, more commercially voiced loudspeakers and it does make for an easy listen at high volumes over long periods. In fact, I'd say the balance works better at high volumes where your ears don't really want so much high frequency energy anyway.
The DC8Ts can play loud and off less Watts than you would expect. The volume control on my pre-amp was several notches down from it's normal position running a 75dB(SPL) test tone, although the heat generated by my amp after extended high level running suggests that the Tannoys are pulling a fair bit of current. The sensitivity would seem in part due to the driver area, but also in part to a load that I'm guessing is closer to four Ohms, rather than eight. No matter, a good fifty watter will still raise antisocial levels, making it easy to go for quality, over quantity of Watts.
After considerably more grunting and swearing than the DC8Ts had required, the DC10Ts were manoeuvred into position and play recommenced. If the DC8Ts made the driver area advantage obvious, the DC10Ts positively slap you round the face with it, but the sound overall isn't just a bigger version of what went before.
On paper, there is but 3Hz of difference in extension between DC10T and it's 8" brethren, but in practice it feels like considerably more. The difference is really about the 10" driver's ability to maintain that advantage at higher volumes, where the 8" jobs will start to tail off. You need to shift a lot more driver area to shift a few extra Hertz of depth and the 10" driver has a near 60% advantage and it makes it count. I've seldom heard kick drum delivered with such alacrity - perhaps felt would be a better expression - without a subwoofer in tow.
This extra, effortless dynamic expression is maintained up through the mid band, although I noted that it was as apparent with small scale impacts - a gently plucked string, a softer piano note, a lightly hit tom tom - and this lent the overall presentation a more electrifying reality. I'd also suggest that the mid band level of the DC10Ts is slightly higher in level than the DC8Ts, as voices in particular seemed a little in further forward in the soundstage. This gave an increased sense of front to back separation, although as before, the soundstage was very much between the speakers, although mercifully free of the boxes and precise in image focus. I'd rather this than a wider, less focused, alternative.
The slight increase in mid range, is matched by the treble, which gives the DC10Ts a slightly lighter, leaner overall balance, despite the increased bass on offer. This coupled with the incisive, coherent dynamic attack, makes the DC10Ts a more attention focusing, lively listen that with the right material, can leave you positively breathless. Be it the intensity of the opening bars of Michael Bubble's 'Cry Me A River', the intro of Dire Straits 'Money For Nothing', or just about anything by Metallica, the scale, impact and pace injected, or should I say preserved, in the music is absolutely riveting. Not relaxing, but definitely bloody good fun.
I would note that the midrange isn't quite as neutral as the smaller 8" driver offerings. There is a slight emphasis, I'm guessing at about 800Hz, that does lend voices and stringed instruments a slight extra woodiness. The larger cone is a more difficult proposition to control in resonance terms, but it's only really noticeable listening to the two speakers back to back. By the time the DC10Ts had been playing for a few days and sonic memory of it's smaller range mate has faded, it's a non issue. It's certainly a fair trade for the extra chutzpah of the larger speaker as far as I'm concerned, although I wouldn't disagree with those who prefer it the other way. For those with diet dominated by smaller scale, less rhythm driven, acoustic music, the extra neutrality may be preferable.
Listening - Movies
Starting the DC8Ts, the new DC6 LCR felt immediately at home, providing a very smooth match between the front pair. Vocal dialogue under any circumstance and at any volume level was clear, crisp and intelligible. In the company of the DC8Ts, the DC6 LCR appeared to give away nothing to the slightly larger driver area of the floorstanders, matching them with excellent dynamic attack and headroom. As a combination, the DC8Ts and DC6 LCR will sit playing at Dolby reference levels all day long with ease and this translates into a sound that's unfatiguing on the ear. Don't confuse this capability with lacking excitement - with the right material, the snap that gunshot is delivered with is phenomenal and the innate, natural detail on offer, ensures that tinkly sounds have just the right amount of shine, without sounding brittle. No, it means that you don't feel worn out after a a couple of hours of high volume, effects fest.
I was also impressed with the space around sounds placed between the speakers. The reduction in room reflected hash, stops complex mixes sounding overly crowded, with individual effects allowed to stand in their own space, more akin to a stereo image with real depth and less like the two dimensional sphere (if you follow) of surround sound. Sounds didn't just slide around the sphere, they had more than an average level of projection into and outside of that sphere, which aided the illusion of immersion no end. Seriously impressive and as per usual, it was the less obvious effects that benefited most. Street scenes seemed to run through the room rather than just around it and the forests of Avatar sounded incredibly alive and close. Say what you like about that films failings, the care taken over it's soundtrack should gain the same recognition as it's visuals and the Definitions show you why in explicit detail.
Dragging the DC10Ts out of surround duties and up front provided a different experience. If the DC8Ts impressed with their dynamics, the DC10Ts moved the game onto a different pitch. The efficiency of the 10" drivers lends almost any effect a tactile experience that heightens the sense of reality. The snap of the DC8Ts is joined by an extra weight that energizes the room in a quite special way, with an absolutely brutal kick in the upper bass.
The scene in Terminator - Salvation where a 'Transformeresque' robot knocks the seven bells out of a house was transfixing, not only for the big explosions, but the way the noises made by the robot had an electrifying presence in the room. It prompted me to dig out the Martian emergence scene from War of the Worlds to sample the ray guns, only to be given cause to sojourn via the lightening effects. Both were delivered with a palpable sense of static that no amount of mental subwoofery can deliver, without real grunt in the upper bass and midrange of the speakers. The rewind button was abused, as indeed was the volume control. Volume is, unsurprisingly, another area the DC10Ts are comfortable and I mean reference level and above, without strain.
However, using this ability does start to show up the limits of what the DC6 LCR is capable of. However good it is and it is good, the DC10Ts can pull it up to and beyond it's limits, at which point it can start to sound a touch hard as the sound starts to close in. It would also be true to note that just as the DC8T and DC10Ts have a subtly different tonal balance, the DC6 LCR which matches the DC8Ts so well, also differs from the bigger speaker. The difference is more apparent here, as the centre is playing directly in between and at the same time. So whilst the DC8Ts do a fine job as a matching rear to the DC10Ts, the DC6 LCR match to the bigger speakers is a bit more obvious. Voices sound slightly mismatched in character depending on where they are in the front soundstage and panning effects do change subtly in character as they pass through the centre. It's more noticeable when compounded by the volumes the DC10Ts goad you into running. At more moderate day-to-day levels, it's a difference that's very subtle, but given the sticker price attached to the speakers here, it's worthy of note. To be fair, it's amazing that speakers so disparate in size sound as close as they do, but in the end physics rule.
- Full scale, lifelike sound
- Superb music and movie performance
- Room independence
- Centre speaker a better match for the 8" driver speakers
Tannoy DC10T, DC8T & DC6 LCR Speaker Package
Speakers like these make reviewing a total non duty. You find yourself banging a quick five minutes before the family get home, because they're such addictive fun. Fun is the key word with the Definition DC10Ts, because of their coherent timing mated to startling dynamics - they rock out like few speakers can, but are refined and easy going into the bargain. If you're a stereo focused listener, then they dig deep enough that you will never find yourself missing a subwoofer.
Fans of smaller scale acoustic work, may prefer to trade a touch of that vigour for the increased tonal neutrality of the Definition DC8Ts. In dynamic terms, the DC8Ts would still be a class act, the contrast only being made because the DC10Ts were at hand. Indeed, if your average listening levels are lower, the bottom end doesn't give a lot away to the larger speaker and they certainly make a far less imposing presence in your room. I had a great time wandering through the vocals of my music collection with the DC8Ts, but if push came to shove, the headbanger in me just can't resist the extra grunt and excitement of the DC10Ts. Others may disagree and I'd be fine with that - they're slightly different horses, for slightly different courses.
Rolling them altogether with the new Definition DC6 LCR centre, delivers a similar set of choices. The tonal match to the DC8Ts is that bit closer and I'd suggest likewise to the stand mount DC8, which would also be an obvious candidate for surround duties. The DC10Ts, trade a little of the seamless match, for increased bombast and anyway, it's not such a large difference that it would annoy you. For the many users that would be stereo-with-surround attached, it's still a blinding combination and again, the part of me that likes to be assaulted by my movies, would tend to win out over the part of me that likes to be moved by them. The lower volumes of movies for your head, make it even less of a tonal match issue anyway, so I'd like to think you can have your cake and eat it. For those without the room, or neighbours, you aren't giving up much.
Whatever combination you chose, you get a set of superbly crafted speakers, that are comfortable with any musical, or movie genre and that's going to make for a happy and long lived marriage. They proved to be easy to setup and are very tolerant of different rooms which makes them highly consistent - if you like the demo, then the chances are you'll like them when you get home. They're not cheap, but then again, good things seldom are. You could, in the world of speakers, dump a lot more cash on the issue and still not end up with something this self effacing and enjoyable on so may different levels. I have to knock a star off for the slight tonal matching issue of the package as reviewed has, but caveat that with the fact that it's minor and non existent if you go for the DC8 variants all round. No matter, the obvious strengths over all, still make this a Best Buy.
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