So I listened to some speakers...

sergiup

Distinguished Member
I had some spare time today while the car was getting fixed, so I wandered into one of the local audio shops and thought I really should actually have a good listen to some of the speakers I've potentially considered over the past few months (aside from the XTZ 99.36's, that's another story for another time).

Please keep in mind that I am most certainly not a speaker reviewer by trade, so these are purely personal opinions, and weren't conducted in a strictly controlled environment or anything like that. The room was similar to your average square-ish living room, maybe about 3x4 metres, carpeted, sofa etc.

The models I had a sit-down with were the Monitor Audio RX6's, Tannoy Revolution DC6T (not the Signature) and KEF R300. I know they're not exactly directly-comparable, but I figured that they had roughly equivalent RRP's when they first came out, and they were a personal choice. I could've picked KEF Q500's instead, but I wanted to give the newer R-series a go.

The CD player was a Marantz CD6004 via analogue L/R and the amp was a Yamaha A1010 receiver in PureDirect mode - not a stereo amp, because this is a lot more similar to what would be driving them at home. The (let's just call it personal) choice of music was Adele's "Rolling in the deep" and "Someone like you", "Take Five" off the Dave Brubeck Quartet's Time Out, AC-DC's "Back in Black" and Tchaikovsky's 1812 Ouverture plus Borodin's "Polovtsian Dances" (Deutsche Grampohon recording of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra).

First up were the main reason this got kicked off, namely the RX6's. There were two things that struck me straight from the first few chords and drum kicks: the RX's like bass, and for some reason the sound stage refused to leave the speakers. In "Take Five" for example, there's a cymbal that Russell picked on as well (here) and this was firmly in the left speaker; the trumpet was relatively well anchored to the speakers as well. "Back in Black" seemed to draw a bit more of a sound stage, but still not much. With the "Polovtsian Dances", I also found that the reoccurring triangle and some vocals were firmly in the right channel

I was quite surprised with how the RX6's sounded - not in a bad way, I guess what I noticed is probably what some refer to as the "Monitor Audio sound"; it was not lacking detail or clarity or balance, it was just quite different from what I am used to and lacked what I consider to be a soundstage, or imaging, call it whatever makes sense to you.

Second up were the Tannoy Revolution DC6T's. My first notes for these have an exclamation mark about how the bass if far more under control (yet still present where needed), and a squiggle of a gramophone; there's a reason for the latter, and I think it could be due to the dual concentric design - the mids & treble seemed semi-trumpeted to my seating position, as if the speaker was making sure I can hear it all by beaming it all to my seating position.
I thought something sounded a little off, which led me to find that toe-in seems to make a sensible difference with these. I ended up with the speakers having about 20-30 degrees toe-in, that'll most likely depend on the listener though.
I found the Tannoy's vocals sounding more natural tone-wise, but also ever so slightly more obvious. On "Take Five", the cymbal seemed to be slightly off the left speaker towards the centre, but each strike sounded similar to the others, with only minor differences - the RX6's had managed to convey them as more different somehow.
Over with Tchaikovsky, I found the triangle here to be a lot more subtle, but still present and very clear; however there seemed to be nothing there in terms of it actually being struck, just the sound it made afterwards.
The main surprise with the DC6T's was how low they go, and how well controlled they sounded down low. They seemed to form a soundstage between them, and extending slightly behind and in front of them.

The last set were the KEF Q300's. I also found these to put out a lot of bass energy, however the reason for this seemed to most likely be a room induced resonance; other that that, the bass was well represented and overall quite pleasant.
"Take Five" was also more pleasant, the cymbal stayed off the left speaker and slightly towards the centre, the different hits sounded different and they appeared to slightly change source position. "Back in Black" made me think that these still have a little of the "gramophone" effect of the DC6T's, but it was a lot more subtle.
The classical tracks presented a better sound stage too of course, the triangle seemed more present and defined. However, the stage seemed to be between the speakers and in front of them, towards the listener.

Conclusions? I think I've found what the MA sound is, and I can quite safely say that it's not my thing - if nothing else, this would've made the trip worthwhile.
Choosing between the DC6T's and the R300's would be quite hard. The Tannoy's seemed more pleasant to listen to but had a clear "here's my sound, I'm making sure you get it into your ears" quality that could be pleasant but would require some getting used to.
The R300's were less like that, they were the clearest and most detailed of the three as well, had good imaging, but (subjectively) had a shorter bass extension; in no way lacking (especially for a standmount). If I had to pick between just these three I would probably go for the KEF's.

I then thanked the very kind folks at SSAV Bromley and proceeded home, where I repeated the listening with my (relatively puny) Lektor 1's. But since it's silly o'clock I'm going to bed and I will finish that part tomorrow.

A couple of things:
- please take this as a purely subjective experience, it's nothing more.
- Thank you for reading!
 

davisa

Active Member
Interesting and well written review. Thanks for taking the time to post it!
 

sergiup

Distinguished Member
Thanks all! just hoping to be of help to others.

As for the final part, this was my Dali Lektor 1's, same tracks from a BDP-S570 via HDMI through my RX-V667 also in PureDirect.

The very first thing I noticed was that there seemed to be a lot more upper-mids and treble, something which I hadn't really noticed before - then again you're unlikely to notice something that your everyday speakers do unless you compare them. This could also be down to the room, as their current location is in one half of a knocked-through living room / dining room which is quite a bit bigger than the SSAV demo room; I think this definitely sucks out some bass, and will of course change the rest of the sound too, however the extra mids & highs I mentioned above couldn't really be attributed to this.
So at first I thought I'd been wrong all along, and that the Dali's are actually a lot brighter, giving Adele less lower-mids and putting on more treble. However I then paid a bit more attention and what I found isn't that they put on more treble in a bothersome way, they actually seem to do it in such a way that they take whatever is there and manage to put it out in more detail, making it that much easier to tell apart all the different sounds and details.

I would describe them as holographic, they create a soundstage that seems to start between them and go backwards, but they manage to make it seem as if it just goes on further outwards and backwards than the rest of what I'd heard yesterday. The cymbal in "Take Five" was on the left hand side for example, but not stuck there; each hit had a slightly different sound and you could find some detail in it.

The snare in "Back in Black" seemed to have more texture - I'm trying to refer to the brushing/extra vibration that a live snare has, not just the noise it makes when struck. Again, the sound stage was more like a stage widening past the speakers backwards, and having them almost (but not quite) vanish. In terms of bass... well, they're the tiniest of the four so of course they can't dig that deep, but they make a well controlled and deep enough effort for their size.

The vocals in the Tchaikovsky pieces make me think slightly more of a choir than before; the triangle sound was I'd say similar to the DC6T's, in that it was subtly present, but in this case it had a slight bit more detail in its sound.

I would say that even though the above makes them sound quite good (and they really do, at least for me) they won't be for everyone simply because they do add to the upper mids and treble - but in doing so they seem to be able to construct a more detailed image of what's actually there.

I will say that the ~3 hours I spent doing this were definitely worthwhile, since now I know that I definitely want to hear the XTZ's and also that I would (almost as much) want to hear a floorstanding Ikon or Mentor to see how they use the extra lows for a fuller sound. Happy days for me, not so happy for my wallet! :D
 

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