Tannoy Precision 8D
Brad Watts avails himself of some Precision engineering… and 16 DIP switches.
I’ll confess to being a fan of Tannoy’s ‘dual-concentricity’ since acquiring a traditional vintage set a while back. As most of you would know, a dual-concentric driver incorporates two transducers into the one unit. The low-end portion of the driver consists of the outer cone and the high frequency driver is situated at the centre of that cone. It’s a technique that Tannoy has patented and has been exploiting and honing for decades.
The Precision range, like the mould-breaking elliptical Eclipse system, utilises the traditional dual-concentric driver setup combined with an ultra high frequency high-end driver. (How dare a manufacturer not design a square speaker cabinet!) With the addition of this ‘WideBand’ top-end driver, we effectively end up with a three-way system. How high does this top-end driver fly? 51kHz is the quoted roll-off frequency. Tannoy claims the extra top end of this titanium dome ‘SuperTweeter’ corrects or more accurately reproduces time and phase response at higher frequencies, resulting in enhanced accuracy and (that venerable audio quality) ‘air’. These upper harmonics can stabilise the soundstage. Extreme high frequency content also results in a more defined midrange and low frequency visibility. Dual-concentric Tannoy monitors are renowned for their focused imaging and these monitors deliver just that. I was more than impressed with these monitors’ imaging characteristics but what impressed me further was the extraordinary detail I heard revealed in so many recordings via the Precisions. There is detail extending throughout the entire audio spectrum – all the way through to the very bottom end.
Departures from tradition don’t stop at dog-whistle frequency reproduction. Signal can be administered to a pair of Precision Ds digitally via coaxial S/PDIF. A switch at the rear of the unit alternates between digital input and the analogue XLR/TRS input. Sample rates of 44.1, 48 and 96k are accepted but strangely, there’s no 88.2k option. A second three-way switch selects what part of the digital stream the monitor reproduces, left, right or combined stereo (mono). And a third control activates the 80Hz, 12dB per octave filter.
All that’s relatively simple stuff until you see the array of 16 DIP switches (yes, 16) for optimising the monitors’ frequency response. Here is where the Precisions can be tweaked to fit into the acoustic space they’re placed in. The manual goes into explicit and forensic detail on how and why you’d be inclined to make adjustments to the monitors via these DIP switches, and even goes so far as to supply a nifty little Tannoy screwdriver for the job. These adjustment values are quite comprehensive but the EQ options could become a little overwhelming if you’re not a recently graduated acoustician. Obviously Tannoy was aware of the pitfalls and has supplied its ‘Activ-Assist’ software to, well, assist. This program utilises an optional, Tannoy-supplied microphone and various anechoic room references to set up the equalisation exactly to your room’s requirements. The program actually measures the sound radiation characteristics of the monitor compared with a built-in anechoic room reference and recommends one of over 2000 DIP switch combinations to get the best possible response for the listener in various acoustic conditions.
Power-wise the amplifiers lurking within the tongue and groove-constructed MDF cabinets consist of 120W low and 60W high-end units. Porting is via the rear of the cabinet and each unit weighs in at a hefty 18kg. Frequency response begins at 43Hz and climbs to the previously mentioned, and stratospheric, 51kHz.
As you can surmise, the Precision 8Ds did float my boat, largely because of their incredible accuracy. If super engineering precision is where you’re at, then look no further. Bear in mind the top-end drivers use metal (titanium) transducers – they have a tendency to be a little fatiguing at high volumes, so pay attention to SPL levels and listening time periods. And while the range is competitively priced due to the product’s manufacture in China, you can opt for the smaller Precision 6Ds (sporting a six-inch low frequency driver) and spend even less. Or you can forego the digital options and opt for the passive Precision 6 or Precision 8 models. All very worthy alternatives.
• Syntec International
Phone: 1800 648 628
• Precision 8D: $3,799; Precision 6D: $3,199; Precision 8 (passive): $1,999; Precision 6 (passive): $1,599; Active Assist calibration software: $199.