We can’t help but admire Eclipse’s single-minded approach to speaker design. In a world full of rectangular wooden boxes and multi-driver designs, Eclipse’s distinctive offerings stand apart.
The company’s single-driver egg-shaped speakers have always impressed, and not only for their stunning appearance. The Eclipse TD508Mk3 speakers are yet another example.
Eclipse TD508Mk3 review: design
There’s real substance to the design. While it’s true that a single drive unit – even one as highly developed as the 8cm fibre-glass one used in the TD508Mk3 – can’t cover as wide a frequency range as multiple driver alternatives, there are many plus-points to consider.
One driver reproducing all the sound means there are no integration issues, and no need for a crossover circuit that invariably introduces all kinds of distortions while sapping detail.
Eclipse is obsessed with how its designs respond to an impulse function – a high-level signal that only lasts for an instant. In theory, if a speaker gets this aspect right, every other sonic parameter will follow.
The Eclipse TD508Mk3’s cabinet is equally unusual. It’s egg-shaped for rigidity and to avoid any reflective edges, which can spoil the stereo imaging.
The speaker is cleverly engineered so that any vibrations caused by the driver are first fed into a high-mass anchor and then dissipated down into the stand. The enclosure is supported by the anchor, but decoupled from it to reduce any mechanical energy transfer. This way cabinet vibration is minimal, and so it contributes far less to the overall sound than would usually be the case.
The TD508Mk3 speakers are intended to be as flexible as possible. That pedestal stand is adjustable over a wide range of angles and these speakers can be wall or ceiling mounted, as well as fitting in well in the usual places such as on a stand or shelf.
Eclipse TD508Mk3 review: performance
How do the TD508Mk3s sound? Given their distinctive engineering it would be a shame if they sounded ordinary. They don’t.
We’re astounded by their speed of response, and the level of insight they offer. Low-level subtleties in dense recording such as Orff’s Carmina Burana are readily revealed, and can be followed easily as the music gets more demanding.
The Eclipse speakers’ presentation is impressively composed when stressed by complex material, keeping the all the music’s instrumental strands in place and proportion.
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Set up, with care taken over toe-in angle, these speakers deliver a wonderfully laid-out soundstage: it’s solid and intricately layered with suitably well-recorded material. Even the best of their conventional rivals, such as the ATC SCM 11 and KEF LS50 speakers, sound vague and imprecise in comparison.
The Eclipse’s rhythmic ability is terrific, too. It catches the leading and trailing edges of notes superbly, and maintains the timing relationships between sounds immaculately. The changes of pace and rhythmic drive of Dr John’s Revolution are conveyed brilliantly.
These speakers fall short in all the areas where such a small design with just a single 8cm drive unit would be expected to struggle. Bass depth is limited and this affects the Eclipse TD508Mk3’s ability to deliver authority and dynamic punch.
Given a demanding, bass-driven piece of music such as Time from the Inception OST, these Eclipses just sound small and undernourished. There’s no denying the insight, even at lower frequencies, but equally the sense of power in this recording isn’t communicated well.
There’s less of an issue with treble in this speaker than we’ve had with its larger relatives. Higher frequencies sound relatively open, but still lack some of the texture and sparkle that good dedicated tweeters have.
While Eclipse has made good progress in all these areas compared with earlier version of the 508 – a slightly larger cabinet, revised drive unit and anchor assembly all help – it’s still found wanting next to conventional alternatives.
In its areas of strength, though, we have no doubt that the Eclipse TD508Mk3 is as good as it gets at this price – and well beyond. In fact, to match or better the TD508Mk3’s strengths you have to buy its big brother, the TD510Mk2, and that costs around £2000.
Eclipse TD508Mk3 review: verdict
We normally award five stars to excellent all-rounders, but in this case, as we have done with other Eclipse speakers, we’re willing to bend our rules a little.
So good are the Eclipse TD508Mk3 speakers in specific areas that they make even the very best of the competition sound inept. If you like what these Eclipses do, nothing else at this price comes close.