Tannoy DC200 Monitors
More than just a hi-fi speaker. These 'dual concentric' models make the grade as serious home studio monitors.
Though targeted at the hi-fi market, the Tannoy DC200 is a useful main monitor for the small studio. Paul White finds out why.
The major point in favour of Tannoy's dual concentric design is that all the sound comes from the same place: a point source. To achieve this, a tweeter is located in the centre of the bass driver and shares the same magnetic assembly. Furthermore, the drive units are said to be 'time aligned' so that there are no serious phase problems around the crossover point. This point-source aspect is important in the home studio because the operator generally has to sit close to the monitors in order to exclude as much reflected room sound as possible. With a dual concentric speaker, this is not a problem, but with a conventional design where the tweeter may be several inches away from the bass driver, the imaging tends to deteriorate as the listener moves closer.
In H&SR Dec 85 we reviewed Tannoy's DTM-8s, which were 8" dual concentric monitors intended for near-field work in professional studios. The driver used in the DC200 appears to be built along the same lines but is 10" in diameter and consequently offers a better bass response, making it viable as a main monitor in the small studio.
The driver is mounted in a nicely finished simulated walnut cabinet with a push-on grille, the particle board enclosure being ported to capitalise on low frequency efficiency. The hardwired, passive crossover comes into play at 1.8kHz resulting in a slight dip in the speaker's response curve at around 2kHz which may well be responsible for the characteristic 'soft centered' Tannoy sound. The useful frequency response of the speaker is quoted as being 45Hz to 20kHz, and I noticed a small but significant improvement in transparency when the grilles were removed.
Connection to the speaker is made by conventional binding posts located in recesses on the rear panel.
As the DC200s are substantially cheaper than the DTM-8s, I was understandably curious to see how they performed as monitors in a real recording situation. After all, there are very few full range monitors available at under £300, especially ones from prestigious manufacturers like Tannoy. Considering the published frequency response, there was not quite as much kick at the bass end as I might have expected, but this may well not be a bad thing. If a monitor with an extended bass response is used in an untreated room such as the typical home studio, the low frequencies are likely to excite troublesome resonances that you could well live without. It's far better to use a speaker with a modest bass performance and let your ears compensate. Having said that, these speakers are by no means weak in the bass department, but they don't hit you in the chest like big monitors do.
The imaging was excellent, as I've come to expect from Tannoy, with a good dispersion of high frequencies. True, the sound is softer and less up-front than some other monitors but I find that a positive advantage when working on them for long periods. Harsh, bright monitors might impress clients but the engineer soon develops listener fatigue. Despite this mellow character, the detail is still open to scrutiny and the high frequency end appears very smooth. Driven from a modest 50W per channel stereo power amp, the levels were well adequate for even loud home monitoring, though I would prefer to use at least 100W for serious use to prevent the possibility of clipping.
Tannoy speakers can evoke very strong reactions from industry pundits. Some swear by them, and others condemn them as monstrous compromises. In truth they are not the most flattering or even honest speakers available, but if that makes you strive to produce a more vibrant mix, then so much the better. This compromise results from the physics of the dual concentric design itself but the great advantage is that the speakers are an effective point source of sound. Having said that, I played some of my CDs through the system and found the sound very much to my liking.
The precise imaging exhibited by these speakers is a terrific advantage for monitoring, especially if you don't have a second set of near-field monitors, and you don't have to sit on a chalked cross on the floor to get an even sound; there's a reasonable amount of leeway as regards listening position. As always, if a set of monitors leads the user to produce a mix that sounds exciting on other speakers, then they're doing their job, and in the this respect, the DC200s emerge with flying colours. Furthermore, if you have to use the same speakers for your stereo as for your recording, then these will suit both jobs down to the ground. At the price, there isn't a lot of choice when it comes to full range monitoring and if I had a limit of £280 for a pair of home studio monitors, these would be near the top of my short list.
Tannoy DC200s cost £280 a pair inclusive of VAT.
Review by Paul White
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