It’s a well-known fact in the industry that any review of a Tannoy product must reference how long the Scottish-based company have been in business for (since 1926) and that they are – as Alan Partridge rightly pointed out; so synonymous with public address systems that their name is widely considered one and the same thing. So, with that out of the way…
Tannoy are back with an all-new range of budget loudspeakers, and given the lineage of their predecessors, it’s a pretty likely bet that this new Eclipse series will measure up pretty well too. Currently featuring the One, a bookshelf design, and the Three, a floorstander which we’ll be reviewing today. The Eclipse range replaces the outgoing Mercurys as Tannoy’s entry-level speakers. As with any Tannoy speaker, though ‘entry-level’ and ‘budget’ don’t mean cheap and cheerful. These are speakers built to be the first (sometimes even last), to grace a ‘proper’ hi-fi system.
As far as raw materials go, the Three are certainly pulling no punches, coming in a pretty sizeable cabinet, packing in two 5″ drivers and a soft dome tweeter in a d’appolito arrangement (woofer > tweeter > woofer) for better time alignment. The woofers are designed to drop down to a hefty 38Hz, ensuring the bass is plentiful and full of depth. The cabinet work is also more than up-to-scratch, with a heavy-duty fibreboard design helping to control resonance and reduce vibrations and standing waves. Plinths and spikes are provided to keep the speakers off the floor where possible, as well as giving greater stability and tightening up bass response. Speaker outputs are single-wire only and these sockets are set up to take banana plugs. Good stuff!
During listening to the award-winning Cambridge Audio CXA60 amplifier and CXC CD transport were used, as well as a Sonos Connect, giving us access to all of the music on our NAS drive, Spotify and the like. As with any new speaker, 48 hours of proper ‘running in’ was given before serious listening commenced, but the Tannoys made a good show even before this time had passed.
Nine months after his untimely passing, David Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ continues to amaze and sadden, with this brilliant work fulfilling the wishes of fans but serving as a poignant reminder that there will be no more. The eponymous single, with its epic near-ten minute runtime sounded fantastic through the Threes, its skittering drum patterns gave plenty of impact, while Bowie’s voice, sounding positively Shamanic, was full-bodied and carried real weight. Soundstaging was also very good considering the price point, with instruments heading out past the left and right of the speakers. Front-to-back staging wasn’t as impressive, but similarly priced designs offered similar performance, so this isn’t something we’d mark the Tannoy’s down for.
The Jazz-inspired drumming of that track left us hankering for more, with John Coltrane’s ‘A Love Supreme’ next up. Considered the artist’s magnum-opus, ‘A Love Supreme’ was recorded in 1964 and is made up of four tracks. Said to be inspired by Coltrane’s growing interest in spirituality at the time of its release, the album is renowned as one of the genre’s finest works. The opening track ‘Acknowledgement’ shows Coltrane at his very best, his soaring tenor sax leading in the cymbal washes of album drummer Elvin Jones before the rest of the band fall in around the two. Again the Tannoy Threes proved to be a brilliant performer. The space given to each of the instruments meant that the often busy piece was easy to follow. Tonally speaking, Coltrane’s sax sounded excellent, as did the double bass of Jimmy Garrison as the track fades out. Pricier speakers gave wider separation, with some of the finer detail (intakes of breath and knocked instruments) missing from these cheaper speakers, but none of the musical enjoyment was lost because of this.
All-in-all we found these speakers to be very much worthy of the prestigious brand that produced them. They handled a wide range of genres deftly, working as well with string quartets as they did with out-and-out rock ‘n’ roll. For the money, you’d be hard pushed to find something that’ll bring a bigger smile to your face, and that’s why we all listen to music in the first place!
To find out more about the Tannoy Eclipse Three, click here.
Author – Chris, Liverpool store