Tannoy DTM8 Monitors
Jim Betteridge pins his ears back and gets his hopes up
Tannoy's new DTM 8 monitors are unique in that they can offer inexpensive, phase-coherent, point-source monitoring in a relatively compact desk-top form.
The success of UREI's range of 'Time-Aligned' monitors brought to the attention of the recording world in general the purported benefits of dual concentric drivers and accurate phase alignment between the components of a speaker system, yet until now such benefits were not available in a cabinet of truly desk-top proportions.
The simplest and cheapest form of speaker system is one containing a single drive unit required to radiate sound as best it might across the whole audio frequency range — 20Hz to 20kHz. The problem is that the physical requirements of a speaker capable of shifting the huge amounts of air necessary to reproduce very low frequencies are somewhat at odds with those of a high frequency radiator which need handle little power but must be small and light enough to move very quickly with little resistance.
The logic therefore follows that a system should be designed using one big hefty driver for the low frequency components of a sound whilst filtering the high frequency contingent through a driver more suited to such a rarified purpose. For many years speaker manufacturer JBL ruled the control rooms of the planet with a range of monitor systems which divided the frequency spectrum up into as many as five bands, with numerous assorted drivers mounted on a single baffle speaking to the world with a noteably clear and impressive voice. JBL are far from being the only manufacturer to opt for this method, but they are undoubtedly the most famous.
The big question has always been, are JBLs actually accurate or do they in fact 'colour' the spectrum to produce an over-impressive sound? There are many ways to measure a loudspeaker system, and depending on how much importance you put on which specifications, a case can be put for and against the large 'multi-array' approach.
One of the undeniable problems with a multi-array is that each driver (speaker unit, etc) radiates sound on its own individual axis, and as the waveforms from each radiator collide in space they interact, adding with and subtracting from each other to distort the tonal balance of the sound, producing 'hotspots' where a certain frequency band is emphasised, or 'dips' where cancellations have taken place. Inconsistencies in simple frequency response can be corrected with a graphic equaliser, and how important and generally deleterious such interactions are is still to some degree a matter of opinion. A great many people have made excellent recordings using JBL systems and they are still extremely popular all over the world. Many people, however, now agree that a dual concentric device, such as those from the Tannoy stables, is likely to be 'easier on the ear' and less prone to being 'over-impressive'.
The dual concentric approach is to mount a larger low frequency driver within the same chassis and on the same axis as a smaller high frequency radiator, thereby precluding the problems of two different axes or radiation interfering with each other.
In the past few years great importance has been set on the phase alignment of the different components: even though the various drivers might be mounted in exactly the same plane (ie on the same baffle) their actual effective acoustical centres (where the sound generation effectively starts) will be offset. Hence the different frequency band components will reach the listener at slightly differing times, and this again will cause interactions, stereo image shift (especially at the close distances from the speakers involved with desk-top monitoring) and general confusions — not to mention possible headaches and mental, aural strain.
Thus we arrive at the conclusions that present the DTM8s as a possibly sensible choice of desk-top monitoring for a larger studio, or indeed as main monitors for a home set-up. They are not small as compared to the likes of the Auratone Cube; they are more akin to a medium size hi-fi speaker and measure 460mm x 300mm x 200mm, weighing in at 11 kgs, with a single 8" dual concentric driver in a ported cabinet design. They are constructed from a material called Medite which is far denser than an equivalent volume of particle board or block board because it is made of compacted wood fibre, and thus there is less air space.
You can have them in any colour you like as long as it's matt black, and rubber pads are provided for physical isolation, to protect the finish of your expensive mixer and also to hold the cabinets in place.
All the right things have been included such as the use of edge-wound coils to increase efficiency and a polyolefin cone to keep cone resonance to a minimum. Some multi-array systems will exhibit several hundred degrees of phase shift, between different drivers, across the frequency spectrum, whereas the physical design of the DTM-8s yields only 15% — actually Tannoy's best performance to date — even though they don't incorporate Tannoy's 'Sync-Source' electronic time alignment system.
So do they sound any good? If you like Tannoys (I do) the DTM8s won't disappoint you. They aren't overly loud, or overly impressive, but they are accurate, pleasing to listen to and easy on the ears after hours of critical listening. They are selling like proverbial hot cakes in America, and I see no reason why they shouldn't be consumed with equal keenness over here.
RRP: £362.25 inc grilles
Review by Jim Betteridge
Previous article in this issue:
Next article in this issue:
mu:zines is the result of thousands of hours of effort, and will require many thousands more going forward to reach our goals of getting all this content online.
If you value this resource, you can support this project - it really helps!