Tannoy Dimension surround speaker system Page 2

Tannoy's TDC center-channel speaker combines an 8-inch Dual Concentric driver, a SuperTweeter, and two supplementary woofers. Because it has a sealed cabinet, the TDC uses a slightly different crossover arrangement from its floorstanding brethren: first-order highpass and lowpass crossovers set at 1.4kHz. A first-order, 400Hz crossover to the supplementary woofers minimizes comb-filter effects and negative interactions with the concentric driver's midrange. Designed to be placed atop or below a TV monitor or behind a screen, the TDC's shape lends itself to being angled up or down, depending on its final location. Like the TD10, the TDC is not a rectangle but a rhomboid with an angled roof. Magnetic shielding ensures that it won't pollute the color of a direct-view monitor, even when placed atop it.

Because they don't make bookshelf-sized Dimensions for those who want to place their rear speakers above ear height, Tannoy sent a pair of Saturn S8LRs with accessory ST100 SuperTweeters to serve as rears. Perched atop the Saturn, Tannoy's universal ST100 SuperTweeter looked right at home. The SuperTweeter's black ash finish blended nicely with the S8LR's cherry sides and champagne-colored metallic baffle. The Saturn uses an 8-inch polypropylene midrange/woofer in its Dual Concentric driver, and its rectangular front-ported enclosure comes with a removable foam plug. The gold-plated speaker terminals permit biwiring or biamping, and made connecting the SuperTweeters quick and easy.

The Tannoy PS 350 subwoofer saw little action in my system. I set it up initially and soon replaced it with the Earthquake Supernova MKIV-15, and then the M&K MX-700, each of which offered substantially higher performance. While not a bad subwoofer, the PS 350 was clearly not of the same caliber as the rest of the Dimension system.

Putting Everything in its Place
Setting up the Dimension system is relatively painless as long as you have some well-muscled assistance. At almost 71 lbs, the TD10 is not exactly a one-person speaker, but with another person helping I found it easy to maneuver into place. The TDC is also no lightweight, at 69 lbs. My advice is to not try to install this system if you're home alone.

This was the fourth complete speaker system I'd installed in my new, small listening room, and, with minor variations, the Dimensions wound up in approximately the same positions as their predecessors. The room, more than the gear, dictates ballpark speaker placement.

At the end of a few days' listening and incremental repositioning of speakers, the Dimensions were in the positions they would occupy for the rest of the review. The front speakers were 70 inches from the listening position, 85 inches apart, and well clear of the side and back walls. The center speaker rested atop my Proton 331 monitor, its concentric tweeter 55 inches off the ground, its SuperTweeter 8 inches higher. Both rear speakers were 91 inches from the listening position, sitting atop 15-inch-diameter ASC Tube Traps.

The TD10s have built-in spikes on their bases. Rather than scrape my new wood-laminate floor, I placed pennies (heads up, of course) under each spike. Tilting the TD10s forward by putting thicker spacers under their rear spikes altered their focus and harmonic balance: the more I tipped them forward, the more pinpoint their focus, but the brighter their harmonic balance. After some experimentation I found a good compromise angle at which focus and harmonic balance were optimal. This angle varied with my distance from the speakers.

Such Stuff as Dreams are Made On
Going from the Wegg3 Lunare Surface Mission speaker system to the Tannoy Dimension was roughly akin to hopping out of a Ferrari California roadster and into a Jaguar XKE coupe. Whatever was lost in high-speed power and agility was made up for in comfort and ease of driving. Although the Tannoy TD10 was not as dynamically liberated as the Wegg3, it had a suavity and euphonic rightness that made everything sound musically correct. Both systems offer a first-class listening experience, but will appeal to different sonic tastes.

The first burning question was whether Tannoy's new SuperTweeter made a difference in the sound of the TD10. It did. Placing a large piece of felt around the SuperTweeters to stifle their outputs had a dramatically negative effect on the TD10s' sound. With the mufflers in place, the soundstage width shrank to about two-thirds its original size. Vertical height also shriveled to slightly more than the elevation of the coincident driver's tweeter. The sound sans SuperTweeter was less extended, but not without upper-frequency detail. Even without SuperTweeters, the TD10s didn't sound especially hooded or harmonically dark, but merely lacked a bit of top-end air and sparkle. Surprisingly, the SuperTweeters seemed to have more effect on the size and breadth of the TD10s' soundstage than on their harmonic balance.

Speaking of harmonic balance, the TD10 is best described as "slightly warm." The lower midrange and upper bass had a great sense of presence and power without venturing into chesty overemphasis. The TD10s gave music a slightly rosy glow that made listening to them a pleasure. When I played my own orchestral recordings, the Tannoys' additional lower-midrange and upper-bass energy seemed to add an extra player each to the cello and French horn sections.

Although its low-frequency extension was not as subterranean as that of many floorstanding speakers, the TD10 certainly went low enough to slide smoothly into the 80Hz crossover point of the THX standard. Even 60Hz worked nicely (if your processor allows for a slightly lower crossover setting). I tried the TD10s with their dual rear ports plugged and unplugged, and found that the speakers performed better in my setup with the foam plugs in place. Unplugged, the bass was a bit too full in its upper regions and lost some overall speed and precision. On SACD material, with that format's full complement of low-frequency information, the TD10s' low-end extension did not quite warrant treating them as full-range speakers. They'll handle much higher SPLs without strain when configured as Small speakers and relieved of low-bass duties.