It may be for this reason that the low-frequency performance of the Talis S 300 is, at first, hard to get a handle on. If one starts with pop and rock recordings from the 1960s and 70s, many seem undernourished in the bass department and you may conclude that the loudspeaker’s a lightweight in this regard. But, in fact, many of those recordings really didn’t have that much low-bass information—and plenty of speakers artificially pump up that part of the frequency spectrum. Not the T+As. This is a fat-free representation of what’s on the recording, from top to bottom. It’s then kind of surprising when some “real” bass comes along—say, in the finale of the Saint-Saëns “Organ” Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s recording on the Ondine label: The potency of the low end is quite unexpected. The Talis floorstanders will provide adequate weight for most symphonic recordings, and there’s enough “slam” so that newer rock recordings will have the needed propulsiveness that comes from well-recorded electric bass and kickdrum. Still, if you feast on synth-heavy dance music or late-Romantic French organ works (or both!), the Talis S 300s may not be the best choice. Adding a subwoofer is a possibility, but it needs to be done with care, lest you screw up the very good things that are happening further up the frequency spectrum. After a good deal of trial and error, I more-or-less successfully integrated my Magico S-Sub, using DSP room correction and limiting the sub’s contribution to 35Hz and down. I could then get my jollies from Blue Man Group’s The Complex, and the terrifying organ pedal descent heard in “Le verbe” from Olivier Messiaen’s La Nativité was suitably apocalyptic. Mostly, though, I listened to the S 300s without a sub and felt nothing was missing.
Up top, the high-frequency specification of 35kHz seems believable, so open and airy is the sound with truly full-range recordings. The divisi violins at the beginning of the Act 1 Prelude from Lohengrin are richly textured on both digital (De Waart) and analog (Solti) versions. On Dark Side of the Moon, the scary-realistic bell and clock sounds on “Time” had a generous dose of “jump.”
The T+A’s abilities with spatial cues are as good as I’ve heard. With my go-to orchestral performance for scaling and imaging, Bernard Haitink’s version of the Shostakovich Symphony No. 15, the localization of instruments was precise but lifelike, and the many passages in the opening movement for solo woodwinds and brass had those instruments correctly sized. The presentation had both immediacy and a sense of the room; the soundstage was vast and continuous. A lot of the credit, of course, goes to the engineering, but the loudspeakers assured that this recording’s glories registered fully. Likewise, Count Basie—Jam Session at the Montreux Jazz Festival 1975 was never more absorbing. The all-star sextet—Basie, Johnny Griffin, Roy Eldridge, Milt Jackson, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, and Louis Bellson, all having good days—were tangible presences in front of me.
I do want to emphasize that the qualities described above were not evident when the S 300s were freshly unpacked—they needed 150–200 hours of playing music to come into their own. Before that, the speakers were quite “accurate” with loads of detail, yet provided only a very ordinary listening experience. With time, the preternatural clarity remained, joined by an organic ease and naturalness surely related to the tonal verisimilitude noted above. Loudspeakers under $20,000 are the class of products I cover at shows, and I’ve not heard ones better than the S 300s. Sonically, they hold their own with competing models from Wilson and Magico that cost thousands more, despite having to cross an ocean to get here, and the T+As will likely get higher marks for appearance than products from those other two fine manufacturers. Most importantly, the Talis S 300 can make you forget that you are listening to a recording. And that’s what it’s all about, right?
Specs & Pricing
Type: Floorstanding, three-way, bass-reflex
Driver complement: 1x 1" aluminum-dome tweeter, 1x 4.72" aluminum midrange, 2x 6" aluminum woofers
Frequency response: 32Hz–35kHz (+/-3dB)
Nominal impedance: 4 ohms
Dimensions: 8.3" x 41.4" x 11" without base
Weight: 72.7 lbs.
T+A ELECTROAKUSTIK GMBH
Planckstraße 9 – 11
D – 32052