The end result of all of this engineering innovation is a superb midrange. I certainly could not detect any obvious midband coloration. In fact, the vocal range was reproduced with exceptional timbral fidelity. My own personal reference, David Manley’s Lesley album, never sounded any closer to the original mastertape. This is high praise indeed, as very few speakers manage to get this right, regardless of price. They either reproduce Lesley’s voice as harmonically too thin or too thick. In contrast to much of the competition, the Tannoy 8F hits the harmonic Goldilocks zone, sounding just right. The range from 300Hz to about 10kHz left little to be desired in terms of textural purity, microdynamic integrity, and tonal accuracy.
A coincident driver’s primary reason for being is coherence—the music’s fundamentals and their harmonics originate from essentially the same spatial location. Thus it should come as no surprise when I tell you that the 8F generated a colossal soundstage populated by tightly focused image outlines. The listening sweet spot was enormous, being far more expansive than that produced by a typical two-way design, extending to at least 15 degrees off-axis. The tonal balance and image focus remained stable even with substantial head movements about the listening seat; no need to hold your head in a vise with the Tannoy. In particular, image stability was a joy to behold. This attribute isn’t something that is often mentioned in print, but it reduces the amount of mental energy required to accept the soundstage illusion as believable. The 8F made it effortless for me to virtually embed myself in a recording’s acoustic space.
What was surprising was the Tannoy’s Formula 1-caliber transient speed. I didn’t expect that at this price point, ditto for its soundstage transparency. For example, driven by the Perla Audio Signature 50 integrated amplifier, the combo gave the soundstage quite a sonic flossing, clearing away crud that would otherwise have obscured image outlines. Partnered by the First Watt SIT-1 single-ended monoblocks, the mids sang sweetly with the purity of expression that these reference amplifiers are capable of. Musical lines soared effortlessly with dynamic conviction and minimal electronic intrusion. Time and time again, the 8F was able to decisively reveal amplifier differences, a testament to its resolving powers. For the record, it gave its best imaging performance when partnered with tube amps that also happened to flesh out the most convincing spatial impression.
You shouldn’t expect perfection at this price point. The fly in the ointment was its performance at the frequency extremes. I’m not much bothered by the slight emphasis in the lower treble, with the real issue being in the midbass. At least in my room, there was just too much of it. In-room measurements showed a peak of about 7dB relative to the upper bass and lower midrange over the octave from about 50Hz to 100Hz. Of course, room modes become prominent below 300Hz, so I took care to average the bass response at several room positions. It appeared likely that while the coupled dual-cavity, bass-reflex alignment was exercising tight control over the woofers, the port output was excessive. To test that theory, I wedged a one-inch-thick section of acoustical foam into the space between the base and the down-firing port. The result was a 4dB attenuation of the peak and a much more satisfactory overall bass balance. When I related my findings to Tannoy, I was told that Tannoy has concluded that for some rooms, a foam bung should be used in the port, and will be including this on future production. That is a welcome development indeed, as it would give the end user the ability to tune the port output to his or her own listening environment.
The Tannoy Revolution XT 8F was Robert Harley’s top discovery at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show. His first impression was as follows: “After listening to it and looking at the real wood enclosure, I guessed the price at $7000 to $10,000. The Revolution XT’s price was then revealed to be just $2600 per pair.” After living with the 8F happily for several months, I was ready to declare it a sensational entry-level loudspeaker. But I see that I need to slightly amend that statement—the only thing entry-level about it is the price. The real wood veneers and level of finish don’t suggest an entry-level product, and sonically it performs to a much higher standard. I’m in total agreement with Robert’s assessment: The Tannoy packs a virtuoso midrange that is competitive with speakers approaching $10k retail. I’m in no rush to displace the XT 8F from my listening room. And that’s high praise from someone who is in possession of much more expensive speakers. So do yourself a favor and give the Tannoy a listen—you’ll be glad you did.
SPECS & PRICING
Driver complement: 1"/8" coaxial tweeter/woofer, 8" woofer
Frequency range: 34Hz–32kHz (-6dB)
Sensitivity: 91dB (2.83V/1m)
Power handling: 25–200 watts
Nominal impedance: 8 ohms
Dimensions: 12.6" x 42.5" x 13.6"
Weight: 43.9 lbs. (19.9 kg)
Rosehall Industrial Estate
ML5 4TF Coatbridge, UK
TC GROUP AMERICAS INC. (U.S. Distributor)
335 Gage Avenue, Suite 1
N2M 5E1 Kitchener, ON
Lamm Audio M1.2 Reference and VTL Manley reference series 100/200 monoblock amplifiers, First Watt F7 and Futterman H3 stereo amplifiers; Perla Audio Signature 50 integrated amplifier; Monarchy Audio NM24 DAC with April Music’s Stello U3 USB Link, Sony XA-5400 SACD player with ModWright Truth modification; Kuzma Reference turntable; Kuzma Stogi Reference 313 VTA tonearm; Clearaudio Da Vinci V2 MC phono cartridge; Conrad-Johnson PV-5 preamp; FMS Nexus-2, Wire World, and Kimber KCAG interconnects; Acoustic Zen Hologram and Kimber KCAG speaker cable; Sound Application power line conditioners