Tannoy cheviot, a review 33 years too late
For the first time I have at home a pair of tannoy’s dual concentric speakers.
They are ugly and it’s done on purpose so you have to close your eyes while listening music.
I’ve got them two weeks ago and started to play them for couple of days and quite liked what I heard.
I had to take the cross over appart and realized that some capacitors where problematics. I changed them all for parts I had on hand (solen fastcap bypassed by a jensen copper in oil for bass and solen tin film and foil bypassed by a multicap polystyrene for highs). The rest was perfect and I just cleaned the rotary switches before installing everything back in the boxes. I also took time to clean the compression driver voice coil gap like I have to do from time to time to my lowthers.
Since the cross over refresh I’ve been listening to the cheviots non stop for a week. Ok I sleep and works some times but the speakers don’t.
My reference is custom made big fun horns (corner loaded back loaded horn) using lowther dx4. I don’t really search for replacement but I enjoy trying different gear from time to time. My place is unfortunately stuffed with speakers and amplifiers. I need to sell some but I much prefer buying than selling. I say my reference about the BFH simply because I’ve tried and listen to numerous thing so far and still keep the monsters at home. It may also have to do with the fact that it’s a very hard job to get the BFH outside my house.
The drivers are very impressive to looks at. Not only are they nice, the construction is of very high quality. Now the cheviot use the hpd 315 drivers with inverted foam suspension which need to be replaced every 15 or so years. The ones I have got recently new surround and I suspect it’s not the first time it as been done. On the back of the main cone there is some pieces of plastic in triangular shapes glued to reduce cone brake-ups which is the first time I’ve seen that on a driver.
The cheviot are in some way compromised in size at 65 litters from some simulation I made but still they are tuned close to 32hz without much aberration in frenquency response and very low group delay. The worst part of the cheviot, and probably for any tannoys of this era, is the cabinet construction. The boxes are made of thin press-wood of some sort (maybe low density fiber board) and are vibrating likes crazy. While playing some double bass tracks and listening to side panels I can easily hear some bad resonance comming from wood panel junctions. From listening position I can also hear that from time to time.
Still, I tried to forgive the cabinet problems and listen to the speakers.
How do the oldies reproduce the precious ?
Much much better that you can expect from looking at them.
I really enjoy the 12″ driver abbilities to handle lower midrange with weight while keeping lots of details. Few commercial speakers I’ve heard recently are able to render properly this part of the audio spectrum and this seems to be the cheviot (or should I say hpd concentric drivers) strongest point.
The bass extension is there and it goes quite low but I get a little bit of the bass reflex one note characteristic. I’m not a big fan of bass reflex but I’ve heard so much worst than that and so far I can deal with it. It may also be simply the awful cabinets resonance problem or my room easy emphasis on this spectrum.
The dynamic is very good but not exceptional and I think 93-94db/1w/1m is a little low for my personal taste. I tried a 45 tube amp, a 2 watts otl, a passlabs aleph 5 and a gainclone. The gainclone and the pass helps a lot but the small 2 watts transcendant otl give some interesting results as long as you keep the volume level under control. I may hook up my pair of 845 tube amplifiers which should be a good match for the tannoys. The only problem is that it’s summer and the 845 heat up the room way too much for my taste.
The highs are a little bit laid back and they are quite good and never disturbing. I’m very sensitive to high frequency transducers and the compression drivers used in the concentric are good at what they do. My only real problem is the crossing point between the two transducer because I sometime hear a strange reproduction in some piano notes and been living with full range driver for some times it is very easy for me to pin point this kind of problem.
Going the active cross over with multi amplification way may be the solution for this issue and should also improve on dynamics. I may try it with a deqx soon if laziness doesn’t win.
The overall presentation is on the relaxed side a little bit “english” in presentation but compared to english harbeth, spendor and other if this type, the tannoys have a good level of immediacy and dynamic range while keeping the coloration under control.
The lower end is strong and impressive from the reduces size cabinets (by my standard) and they are very happy rendering electronic music which is sometime bass heavy.
On jazz, classical and big bands they do it right untile you try to reach the stupid volume level (probably 11 on the preamplifier) where you can feel some modulation of the high of frequency spectrum.
On vocal they are lovely and it’s pretty much what I was expecting. there is an emotional connection that happens much likes with my lowthers.
They can snap on double bass, give a somewhat realistic and powerful reproduction of brass and handle better bad recording than my BFH but they aren’t as forgiving than some low efficiency speakers I’ve heard over time.
I feel that they are in some way close to the intended studio sound of many recording.
Tannoy still produce their concenctric line of speakers under the prestige line and I understand why. I’ve heard the new production at some expositions and they are very good but I think they should had really improve the cabinets over time. They are nice but thin and resonant even in 2010.
VS the bigfunhorns
Would I permanently replace my bigfunhorns with the cheviots ?
Absolutely not with the cabinets used in the cheviots. But I can say the tannoys have a edge on the lowther for lower mid range reproduction. For the rest I still prefer the BFH but not by as much as I would had expected. I still listen to the cheviots after 2 weeks which is a very good sign after all.
I want to try home a pair of tannoy’s westminster royal se !!!
I may build some solid GFR rectangular horns and try the driver in them. I really don’t know what to expect but reports from peoples who did it looks very promising. It’s said to improve the bass quality a lot and that is something I would like to hear. Adding that to a multi amp active cross over setup and maybe we are on to something great.
I will wait a little to see if laziness win. It almost aways win anyway …
BTW : if you realized that I have a pair of totem beak on top of the cheviots you win an internet. Sometime I put them on my microwave or my refrigerator but I keep them as an reminder of the past.