It’s common knowledge that small speakers are usually dynamically challenged when forced to play in too large a room. And the diminutive Tablettes are not exceptions. But on my desktop, used nearfield, I was unable to push the Tablettes past their dynamic comfort zone. Their micro-dynamic presentation was subtlety nuanced, and macro-dynamics were equally impressive. On the recording I made in 2011 of the Boulder Philharmonic performing Astor Piazzolla’s 13-minute composition Tangazo (boulderphil.org/concerts/past-concerts/ jan-15-concert) the Tablettes did a superlative job of capturing the dynamic subtleties of its quiet pastoral beginning as well as the passion of Piazzolla’s frenzied high-volume closing lines.
Although they are small, the ProAc Tablettes were certainly not fragile. Near the end of the review I substituted a brand-new lynx Hilo DAC/Pre for the Benchmark HGC DAC-2 that had been in my desktop system.
Professional gear often uses slightly different terms for its inputs and outputs than consumer gear. With consumer gear “monitor” is usually a fixed line-level output, while “output” is usually variable, controlled by a volume knob. On the lynx Hilo the “output” is at full level, while “monitor” is the variable output. I connected the Hilo the way I connect 99% of the DAC/preamps I receive, and (hi) lo and behold, when I turned it on the ProAcs got a two-second dose of full power output at full-scale levels from the Accuphase P-300. That’s not exactly “best practices.” Miraculously, the Tablettes did not melt down and none of the drivers croaked. I daresay the same happy results would not be possible from many mini-monitors.
Comparing the ProAc Anniversary Tablettes with several of my usual desktop references was an interesting exercise in subtleties. For this test I place the speakers right next to each other on my desktop, set matched output levels using a 1kHz test tone from the AudioTest app, and then switch between the two while playing a mono recording.
The Tablettes produced slightly more lower-treble energy than the Role Kayaks in a nearfield setup. I also noticed that the Tablettes provided more inner detail than the Roles. But the Kayaks delivered more lower midrange energy, giving the Roles additional weight and gravitas.
When I did the same test using Aerial Acoustics 5B monitors I immediately noticed that the 5Bs produced a slightly darker harmonic balance than the Tablettes. After more listening time I determined that the Tablette’s upper midrange and lower treble was a bit more prominent than the same frequency region through the Aerial Acoustics 5Bs, which made the Tablettes appear, especially at first, to be more detailed. But after a few minutes of A/B comparisons I concluded that the added detail I heard was primarily the result of the Tablette’s additional upper-midrange energy. Especially when using them in a critical monitoring situation, the ProAc Tablettes were the easiest to “listen into” of all the passive monitors I’ve auditioned recently.
Over thirty years ago, when I heard the ProAc Tablettes for the first time I thought they were an exceptional speaker. Not much has changed in the interim. I still think they have a special magic. Tablettes offer a unique combination of high resolution and musicality that makes them a top contender for desk space, if you are looking for a small-footprint high-resolution monitor speaker.
SPECS & PRICING
Driver complement: 5.875" (150mm) polymer-impregnated Kevlar mid/bass cone with black acrylic phase plug; 20mm ProAc silk dome tweeter with damped front plate. Mirror image offset configuration.
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Recommended amplifiers: 10 to 120W
Frequency response: 35Hz to 30kHz
Sensitivity: 86.5dB linear for 1 watt at 1 meter
Dimensions: 6" x 10.625" x 9.75"
Weight: 5kg (each)
Modern Audio Consultants (U.S. Distributor)
P.O. Box 334
Stevenson, MD 21153
Source devices: MacPro model 1.1 Intel Xeon 2.66 GHz computer with 16 GB of memory with OS 10.6.7, running iTunes 10.6.3 and Amarra 2.5 music playing software, Pure Music 1.85 music playing software, and Audirana Plus 1.35 music playing software
DACs: April Music Eximus DP-1, Empirical Audio Off-Ramp 5, Mytek 192/24 DSD DAC, Benchmark HGC DAC-2, Lynx HiLo DSD DAC
Amplifiers: April Music Eximus S-1, Accuphase P-300
Speakers: Aerial Acoustics 5B, Velodyne DD+ 10 subwoofer
Cables and Accessories: Wireworld USB cable, Synergistic Research USB cable, AudioQuest Carbon USB cables. PS Audio Quintet, AudioQuest CV 4.2 speaker cable, AudioQuest Colorado interconnect, Cardas Clearvinterconnect, and Crystal Cable Piccolo interconnect