Tekton Design Impact Monitor Theater System Review Page 2

Audiophiles for decades have argued about the relative merits of ported versus sealed subwoofers, with ported subs typically delivering lots of output, and sealed models trading some of that efficiency for tighter, more extended bass. The Brisance 12 is neither of these; it uses what Tekton refers to as a Tesla valve to vent the enclosure. Alexander describes this patent pending design as a set of restricted flow vents, which he feels combines the benefits of both sealed and conventional ported designs. Three relatively small rectangular openings can be found on the Brisance 12’s back, but instead of a port tube extending into the enclosure, there’s what appears to be a sculpted form made from rigid high-density foam located inside the openings.

I find that most standmounted speakers provide the best focus and balance when the cabinet’s top sits at ear height. But with the tweeter on the Impact Monitor positioned lower than normal in the baffle’s center, I found that it liked to be positioned a little higher than usual. I also kept the Impact Monitors I used as surrounds at the same height as the other speakers rather than raising them up high. The benefit here was a more seamless transition between the front stage and the surrounds. As usual, I placed the subwoofer to the outside of the left front speaker near my front wall, but also made sure to leave plenty of breathing room for the Tesla valve ports.


For most of my listening, I ran all five channels crossed over to the Brisance 12 sub set at 60 Hz. The exception was during my initial music listening, where I simply used the main left/right Impact Monitors in stereo mode. The Impact Monitor’s 94 dB sensitivity rating makes it an easy load for most amplifiers. My Integra receiver did a good job driving them as loud as I could stand, but I did find that connecting a more powerful amp helped to maximize the sound’s dynamic impact.

Before listening to actual music, I first had to convince myself that Tekton really has managed to tame the comb- filtering demon through the use of all those drivers. Playing pink noise through the five speakers, I was impressed at how I could move around the room without hearing the usual high- frequency response variations from each speaker. Not only was the response very stable, but the system had about the best tonal match between channels I’ve ever encountered.

As usual, I started my listening using uncompressed music streamed from Tidal with just the left and right channels playing full range and no sub. Kaya has long been my favorite Bob Marley album due to its open and relaxed sound, and for great songs like “Is This Love.” The Impact Monitors impressed me with their detail and wide tonal color palette, and I heard plenty of body in Bob’s voice and in those of his backing singers. Reggae music is all about the bass, of course, and the Impact Monitors gave a tuneful and agile performance on that front, though without the deepest weight and heft you’d hear from a real reggae sound system. But adding in the Brisance 12 sub brought balance to the sound, supplying it with a foundation to match the system’s detail and top-end sparkle.


Switching gears, I next played Brahms’s Hungarian Dances conducted by Ivan Fisher with the Budapest Festival Orchestra. I find that most speakers have an instantly identifiable sonic character, one that’s usually attributable to the tweeter. The Impact Monitors, in contrast, didn’t have a “sound” at all. Sure, there was speed and dynamic impact, but terms like bright or warm didn’t really apply. In some ways, there was the same chameleon-like quality that I hear with electrostatics, but here it was combined with the dynamic capabilities of an efficient speaker that uses conventional drivers.

Given its impressive tonal consistency and dynamics, I figured the Tekton system would be ideal for surround sound, and it didn’t disappoint. Rogue One on Blu-ray features lots of surround-channel action and lease-breaking bass. The battle scene on Jedtha rattled the floor with laser guns that sounded like they could inflict real damage, plus loud explosions that the Impact Monitors handled without any hint of distress. During quieter scenes, the system provided loads of envelopment, turning my room into a cavernous spaceship interior or whatever virtual environment was being depicted onscreen. Dialogue was transparent and clear, and it could be easily understood even as chaos was breaking out. While the five Impact Monitors delivered ample dynamics during action scenes, it was the Brisance 12 sub that did much of the heavy lifting. This sub can move lots of air, yet it still manages to sound punchy and taught as opposed to being boomy and indistinct.

While most speakers seem to be designed by committee to appeal to the widest range of potential customers, it’s clear that this system reflects the priorities of a single person, Tekton Design’s Eric Alexander. The name Impact here applies perfectly, because the speakers are efficient and dynamic and can play really loud. They also offer tremendous value. The trade-off in this case is a somewhat industrial look, with dozens of exposed drivers and no furniture-grade finish. This system clearly isn’t for everyone, but if, like me, you believe audio gear is to be listened to rather than gawked at, I’m sure you’ll appreciate Tekton’s Impact Monitor Theater system.

Tekton Design

AVphile's picture

Where are the measurements to back up the subjective reviews? It is extremely disappointing and sad to see the magazine that I have steadily supported since 1995 has eroded to the same level of many webzines.

HTLover's picture

I was thinking to my self where are the measurements... then I read this comment.

prerich45's picture

Sound and Vision's sister site (Stereophile) has already measured the Impact Monitors - here's a link to the measurements....https://www.stereophile.com/content/tekton-design-impact-monitor-loudspe...

not bad either.

javanp's picture

Nice to see that there's an actual review of these speakers somewhere.

frodo582's picture

Yes, I'm also curious about the frequency range graph of these Tektons

pw's picture

Interesting but I'm wary of spending money on cheaper made speaker components..
6 cheaper Tweeters vs. 1 real good Ribbon or Higher Tech Tweeter element..

drny's picture

Double Impacts Full standing speakers hit the market in the spring of 2017. These monitors are Tektons concession that size unfortunately matters to the wife.
For those of my fellow readers who keep harping on measurements for speakers, please let me lead you to the true path of Knowledge. Room acoustics and placement will trump any measurement. I started reading Julian Hirsch speaker reviews (and all his cut and dry, no embellishment needed please reviews) on Stereo Review (S&V predecessor) in 1978. Even he would take issue of making measurements the determining factor in the evaluation of speakers. He would probably tell us, negotiate a home tryout with a 30 days exchange option on your purchase.

AVphile's picture

Yes. It's true that measurements do not tell all and no one said it should be used as the only factor in determining speaker purchase. However, it is critical to see if a speaker, regardless of brand or pedigree, was soundly designed. Frequency response issues of a speaker will certainly be emphasized even more in a less-than-perfect room (which are all rooms unless professionally treated). How many times have we audio enthusiasts come across speakers from very established brands that were praised by many reviewers but that later turned out to be far from neutrality in both measurements and actual use in the home environment, no matter how well room treatment was employed? There is, perhaps, some truth in the late great speaker designer John Dunlavy's statement: No speaker sounds better than it measures.

Eric180db's picture

An audio magazine not measuring power and frequency response is akin to Road and Track not posting acceleration times and horsepower figures for cars. This is completely ridiculous. Like all great empires, they too will fall. It's been a nice run. I grew up with stereo review and the transition to sound and vision during all the years I put into audio. The good thing is I look forward to the new magazine that will displace them and capitalize on their mistakes...

pw's picture


DennyH's picture

New magazine...not going to happen. Those days are over.

Eric180db's picture

Yea, probably a youtube channel or a facebook page now...

prerich45's picture

I posted the Stereo Review link with measurements (albeit - for the mains not for the center and rears - although I believe the measurements will be very similar on the center channel as they're virtually the same speaker turned on it's side).

prerich45's picture

Correction Stereophile not stereo review.