Tannoy loudspeakers are one of the most respected and sought after loudspeakers in the world. Tannoy was founded by Guy Fountain in England in 1926 but has been based in Scotland, since the 1970s.
Tannoy has an incredible following of people all over the world and vintage Tannoy are becoming collectors items.
I began my Tannoy journey about ten years ago. I was using loudspeakers made by a French company called JMLab and the model, Focal Diva and I did not think that anything could sound better. I had been using the JMLab Micro Utopia before these and it had taken me a couple of years to reach this audiophile level.
The first taste
I had been visiting an old friend in England and he took me to his music room to show me his latest acquisition which was a pair of Tannoy Berkeley’s. They had been built in 1970 but were in very nice condition and they also fitted into his room very well. I was really interested to hear what they sounded like because in all my years of being involved with music and audio I had never heard a pair of Tannoy loudspeakers before.
My friend had a nice system made by a Japanese company called Esoteric and the amplifier was the Esoteric A1-10. The Source machine was again from the same company and the model was the Esoteric DV-60 and I thought well this does look pretty good but I was thinking that the speakers seemed a bit on the small size for the room and so wondered how they would sound. My friend was an audiophile for many years as I was and so if he was showing me than I figured that it must sound good but speakers build in 1970?
The CD was one of the classics from Dire straights it was inserted and my friend pressed play. I think the only word that comes into mind as I write this was a shock because that is exactly what it did to me. The sound coming from those 1970 Tannoy cabinets shocked me in such a way I will never ever forget that experience. I have never heard so much bass and fullness and it was just so alive. I have the same CD back in Lithuania and often listen with my Focals but now I realised that indeed something was missing from my sound.
When I returned to Lithuania I decided that I had to find a pair of Tannoys, as I wanted to have that Tannoy sound in my apartment. I searched everywhere but could not really find anything in Lithuania so I decided to ask some of my friends if they could help me. As luck would have it, a friend of a friend was getting married and so wanted to sell his Tannoy Edinburgh’s to raise money for his wedding. Tannoy Edinburgh’s have a 12″ driver so one would not expect the same response as from a 15″ driver the Tannoy Berkerleys had.
.The Loudspeakers arrived in the Tannoy shipping boxes and they were in really fantastic condition. They were made in 1997 and had a cabinet volume of 200 litres and fitted perfectly into my room. The JMLab Focals were removed and the Tannoy Edinburgh’s set up and then came the moment of truth, the listening test.
The Listening test
I set everything up to the best way I could and used the same CD from Dire straights so I would be able to hear the difference between the JM Lab Focals and the Tannoy loudspeakers. I was using the Esoteric I-03 amplifier and the Esoteric X-03 SACD player with cabling was from Nordost. It was a very good sounding system and as I said earlier I had no reason to even think about changing until my trip over to the UK
I inserted the CD and pressed play and went back to my listening position and sat down ready to hear what these beautiful Tannoy loudspeakers would sound like. I wanted to use a word that is not really suitable for print. But, will just say I was in shock when I heard the lack of depth in the bass. And, sorry to say but the Focal Divas sounded very thin in comparison.
The Focal Divers did give a bit more transparency and edge to the music but the Tannoys gave a more musical performance. And, this is what I wanted. So from my first listening session with Tannoys to the fact that I now had a pair in my front room was a great step in the right direction.
The next step
The time has passed and I have finished with the oil industry and started to work with Perkune audiophile cables. I have been working with and testing cables but after hearing the 15″ Tannoy drivers I decided that I needed to upgrade.
I went over to the UK and visited another very good friend who actually has very good contacts and I was able to audition some great examples of 15″ Tannoy drivers and came home with a pair of NOS Tannoy 3818. They are called the Glenair and were built to fit the Tannoy Churchill cabinets for the North American market. These are very sought after the driver and are regarded as one of the best drivers that Tannoy ever produced.
I decided that I needed to build the enclosures with a capacity of 300 Liters, as this would give me the correct feel and speed from the music.
I was able to design and make the enclosures in a very short space of time. I used 25 mm MDF and the internal was braced and filled with rock wool. The crossovers were hand made and the cross over frequency was set at 1K. The cabling internally was cryogenically treated and the cabinets were placed on sound care spikes.
The sound from my Tannoy loudspeakers is just about the best that I have ever heard from any system. The bass is the deepest that I have ever heard and the realism and musicality again are amongst the best that I have ever heard.
I have heard so many systems in my life and also now that I am working with Perkune audiophile cables as this is all part of my job and this is now one of the best ways of working – loving what you are doing!
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