Tannoy is one of those companies where you will struggle to find someone that hasn’t heard of them, it is one of the best established audio brands worldwide with expertise and products ranging from home HiFi to studio equipment and obviously to PA equipment. Founded as the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company in 1926, the current name is said to originate from a solid-state rectifier invented by company founder, Guy Fountain, this was made from an alloy of Tantalum and Lead. This invention is what has lead to the infamous Tannoy brand name.
Bookshelf speakers really appeal to me because of the obvious space saving benefits and the fact that my room is not huge means that big floor standers aren’t really necessary. I also feel that what they can sometimes lack in bass extension and power they can make up for in airiness presentation and mid-range clarity.
So then, with a name like Tannoy and the £900 price tag I was expecting big things from these speakers…
Technology and connections:
The 6.1 uses a single 150mm ‘Precision Dual Concentric driver’ which is similar to the LS50 in the sense that the tweeter is positioned in the middle of the lower frequency cone. The argument that is improves wave dispersion and precision is something I am open to accept… if it works. The design is also rear-ported which I like aesthetically and it also has its benefits for positioning.
This loudspeaker has an 11.0 litre capacity which brings them in at 7.3kg which is very much the same as the KEF LS50 but the KEF’s are a smaller speaker. They also employ an internal bracing structure developed specifically for the Precision range; the cabinet curves dramatically reduce internals standing waves and reflections, leading to reduced colouration throughout the audio band. Something I haven’t come across before though is the fifth terminal in the back of these speakers. Despite the usual 4 bi-wiring terminals there is a fifth for earthing the speaker to the amplifier chassis, this was unnecessary for me but I can see the uses if you live in a particularly noisy environment.
Build and finish:
The Tannoy is without question, exceptional in this area. The cabinet has a gentle curve to the sides which really help the aesthetics of the unit. The gloss black finish is beautiful too, as you can see from pictures the combination of the aluminium and the black is really attractive, well, to me anyway. Build quality continues to impress though, the terminal block at the rear is solid as anything and really a very nicely engineered fixture, and it gives you the confidence to really clamp down those speaker cables or spades. The front covers are also really well made, I have found this sort of thing to be flimsy but not in this case the covers are stiff and very sturdy on the speaker due to strong magnets in the cabinet itself. I do think though that the covers are a bit too transparent for my liking but this is a minor gripe as I predominantly had them off.
Recommended amplifier power (Watts RMS) 20 – 150 Continuous power handling (Watts Peak RMS) 75 Peak power handling (Watts) 300 Sensitivity (2.83 Volts @ 1m) 88 dB Nominal Impedance (Ohms) 8 Frequency response (-6dB) 43 Hz – 35 kHz Dual ConcentricTM high frequency 25 mm (1″) Titanium dome with Tulip WaveGuide
Dual ConcentricTM low frequency 150 mm (6″) treated paper pulp cone with rubber surround.
Crossover Frequency 1.6 kHz Dimensions (excl grille) H x W x D 330 x 224 x 257 mm (13 x 8.82 x 10.12″)
As with the majority of speakers, set-up is easy, these 6.1’s are bi wired but I was using them in single wire configuration, and instead of having cheap nasty connectors to pass the signal to the other terminals, Tannoy include some very nice wire connectors/jumpers. Spade at one side, banana at the other. They look and feel like really high quality connectors and are very robust in build.
The Tannoy’s aren’t hugely fussy with positioning either. One of the ideas behind having the tweeter set in the middle of the larger cone is to improve dispersion and increase the size of the ‘sweet spot’ KEF did this with their Uni-Q driver and Tannoy have their Dual Concentric driver. Having said this, they do benefit from the usual tips and tricks such as the equilateral triangle etc.
When naming this speaker, they couldn’t have done a better job, and that is the first thing you become aware of when listening to this stand mount. Precision is instantly noticed in the form of the presentation and soundstage. Every drum, guitar, voice and cymbal is in its own amazingly well defined space. While the stage is not hugely expansive, it is very focused, and the presentation really is precise, there is no vagueness to any part of the music, and it’s all nailed down exactly where it should be. This gorgeous feature of this speaker is really lovable and having this bundled with every inch of detail in the recording brought to life from mid frequencies upwards, is genuinely enjoyable.
The retrieval of small nuances really does impress too; insightful would be how I would describe the treble. Clean, crisp and airy; all qualities I really love and all qualities this speaker provides. I would describe the treble as ever so slightly forward; this speaker is on the brighter side of neutral. The treble is also quite attacking which gives the whole speaker a very quick almost aggressive sound when called upon. Not an unpleasant characteristic at all but it causes this speaker to be very revealing of poorer recordings and compressed files. Play a 24/96 cymbal and they offer a metallic shimmer which is quite lifelike, but play a 128kbps cymbal and it’s an almost painful shrill. I really don’t mind this as 128 bitrate files have no place in my library but it is worth mentioning if your system is particularly revealing or a tad bright. When looked at alone I really am a fan of the treble, presentation and detail retrieval, these really are outstanding qualities.
Let’s go right to the bottom of the frequency range and talk a bit about the bass.
While not MY favourite area of the Tannoys, they do offer some characteristics many will love. However, despite the larger cabinet and cone, they simply don’t have the depth or weight of the LS50’s, I mean, they just don’t give me the impression there is any feeling or weight behind each note. Bass quantity is on the lighter side of neutral and at certain frequencies in the upper bass can feel quite weak, but at the other end they do extend fairly deep and the majority of the time remain very composed. The bass just isn’t as flat as I would expect from an almost £1000 bookshelf.
I want to mention a touch more on the lack of weight to the sound. Impactful drums and big hitting rhythms just aren’t done justice. This lack of warmth they have makes me feel a little detached from the music. This is especially prominent in the upper bass. Honestly, it doesn’t sound ‘real’ enough. Timbre is effected by this in my opinion, orchestral ensembles suffer massively due to the lack of depth and subtle rumbles that make orchestral so dramatic and dynamic. Bass texture is also not as good as it could be. It’s not bad, but you don’t feel what’s going in with bass notes; same story with decay unfortunately.
It must be stressed though; there are plenty of good points, bass is fast and supremely agile, it gallops through drum rolls with poise and precision, acting when required, exceeding the agility of the LS50’s. Every hit is more instantaneous and the start stop capability is very, very good. It would also be fair to say that detail was pretty awesome, it’s just to me the realism and emotiveness of that detail is where the Tannoys lack capability.
Some people will love the lower frequencies, they will argue that the agility, clarity and separation make it a more reference sounding bookshelf, which I guess, it does, but that doesn’t excite me as much, I’m more into the emotive feeling you can get from HiFi, the conveyance of power, warmth and depth give that realism to music.
Some of these characteristics extend to the vocals where they become quite noticeable. I can’t help but feel and edginess and bordering on a cold sound to vocals. They are not luscious or liquid like the LS50’s can be, but they are very to the point, extremely detailed and incredibly clear. They are also airy, spacious and controlled, not spikey. Yet again this is an area that will divide opinion because some will consider a reference sound while others like me prefer a fuller vocal that has texture and feeling; an emotive vocal is what gets me. Don’t misunderstand though, it must still have the qualities of the Tannoys but I just need that bit extra at this price; I honestly feel I get that bit extra from the LS50’s and I know Sonny agrees here too.
Things I love, things I don’t love.
A couple of other points on sound: The first being the change in these speakers with a decent quality well integrated sub. Some people will explode at even the idea of using a sub in a HiFi system. And I agree if it’s badly done or a bad sub, it won’t work. I have to say though it gives these speakers the ability to be dynamically more impressive, it also gives them a sense of scale that was missing. It really fills them out. They become easier to listen to over really long periods, and this is without losing the overall character of the speakers. To my ears it improved the experience without a doubt.
The Tannoy’s Precision 6.1’s are truly talented speakers from a number of standpoints. Beautifully made and finished as well as looking great. They have the upper frequencies to die for with airiness, detail and precision by the bucket load. They possess spacious vocals that are as clear as I have heard at this price and bass that is fast agile and never boomy. But it doesn’t convey realism in the low end to mid-range like I would love, nor does it have the weight, power or warmth I have to have to truly love a speaker. I believe if you have £900 to spend on a bookshelf the Precision 6.1 and the LS50’s are very different speakers and both are talented, so you must audition both. To me though, the LS50 is more lovable, emotive and more rounded and I would defend them to the hilt in a contest between the two.