Tannoy HTS 200 Home Theater Speaker System Page 2

The Short Form
Price $999 / tannoy.com / 519-745-1158
These slim, stylish speakers deliver a lively sound that will be tasty for some listeners but an overindulgence for others.
•Bright, lively sound just right for some listeners •Excellent transient response with good clarity •Tastefully designed small cabinets will delight decorators
•Bright, lively sound too much for some listeners •Surrounds a bit bass-shy for the towers •Diminutive sub hits only 5 on Richter scale
Key Features
Tower: 0.75-in titanium dome tweeter; (2) 3-in woofers; 37 in high; 12.8 lb •Center: 0.75-in titanium dome tweeter; (2) 3-in woofers; 14 in wide; 5.9 lb •Satellite: 0.75-in titanium dome tweeter; 3-in woofer; 6.5 in high; 2.9 lb •Subwoofer 8-in driver; 100-watt RMS amplifier; 16.5 x 10.9 x 16 in; 22.4 lb •Finish: Cherry veneer
MUSIC PERFORMANCE I don't have the gender demographics of his fan club handy, but I'm pretty sure that Sting appeals mainly to the fair sex. Still, I am secure enough in my manhood to admit that his music is really very good; in fact, he's probably among the best musicians around. More important, at least to the purpose at hand, he is also one of the richest musicians around. That means he can afford to hire the best recording engineers, resulting in CDs that are superb sonically and ideal for auditioning speakers.

Sting's newest recording is Songs from the Labyrinth, with 17-century music by John Dowland. Classical purists may find the four-part overdubbed vocals cheesy, but compared to contemporary pop music, it's beautifully haunting stuff. Still, you may ask: Solo voice, accompanied by lute and archlute, for speaker testing? Yes, each of us is profoundly aware of what the human voice sounds like. Any imperfection in reproduction is acutely apparent, and therefore it's tough for a speaker to reproduce solo voice naturally. After listening to this stereo recording for a while, I felt the towers provided an accurate vocal midrange, but their high-frequency response was a touch bright and somewhat uneven. Faithful, long-suffering S&V readers know I obsessively prefer smooth, warm, even dark-sounding speakers ("phat" in more modern parlance). These towers tended to emphasize vocal sibilants, drawing attention away from the lower vocal register. The result was a crisp sound that was snappy and dynamic and that many listeners might prefer - but ultimately not my cup of tea.

To exercise the rest of the system, and to measure the limits of its frequency and dynamic ranges, I turned to a Sting classic, Brand New Day - specifically the DVD-Audio version remixed in surround. With more upper-range energy present in this recording from hi-hat and cymbals, the speakers' essential brightness became more evident, reinforcing my initial impression. The towers' low-end response had enough extension to merge with the subwoofer, but their essential bass tonality lacked the warmth I typically crave. On the other hand, the towers' lively sound had its plusses and will certainly appeal to some listeners. On "Big Lie Small World," for example, the unique snare sound and pointillistic synth loops were the essence of snappy perfection, and on "After the Rain Has Fallen," the hand claps were explosively impressive. Hey, some people like caffeine at night, and some don't.

As you might expect, the center channel speaker, which has the same transducers as the towers in a smaller cabinet, had similar sonic character in the mid and upper frequencies for a nicely unified front soundstage. The surrounds omit one of the woofers but retain that lively sound common to the front trio. Because of their small size, however, their lack of bass becomes noticeable on some tracks, such as "Desert Rose." They handled the pulled-back vocals, strings, and shaker percussion nicely and mated well with the fronts from the middle frequencies on up but couldn't move enough air to fully reproduce the lower-frequency synth patches that open the track.

Fortunately, the subwoofer came to their rescue, delivering a solid bass foundation. Although not a powerhouse, it provided reasonable bass levels while staying tight. Unlike with the towers, however, which reached down reasonably low, I did find myself wishing the surrounds had a tad more low end to help the mate better with the subwoofer. Don't get me wrong - while the sub could be crossed over high enough to reach the sats, asking it to operate that far up caused its sound to become unsatisfactorily bloated and to call attention to the sub's location. Still, for most bass duties at moderate listening levels (meaning soft to medium loudness), it threw some good punch, lending Sting's bass great articulation and clarity and allowing the kick drum's beater to pound convincingly.