What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Mon, 6 Feb 2006, 4:00pm

Eclipse TD 510

Tested at £1200
100100
5

Eclipse walks a lonely path when it comes to speaker design, but the new TD510s are brilliant in many areas

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For

  • Exceptional in terms of speed, dynamics and stereo imaging
  • great detail resolution
  • superb build and finish qualities

Against

  • Fussy in the extreme about positioning and partnering kit
  • tonal balance isn’t particularly even

What you think of these speakers will depend a lot on what you think of Sean Connery. Can you look beyond the fact that his Scottish accent doesn't really change regardless of the role he plays? If the answer is no, back away from the Eclipse TD 510s now; they are not the speakers for you.

Tonally, the TD510s are not even-handed: they lack smoothness, air and extension particularly at high frequencies, while the midrange suffers from a slight but easily heard ‘cupped' coloration. These are small speakers, too, so seismic bass is off the menu.

So far, this might all sound pretty damning, but it isn't meant to.

Egg-shaped brilliance
In fact, the TD510's sonic accent is easy to adjust to, and once you're accustomed to it, you'll find these egg-shaped speakers deliver a breathtaking performance. One that in some areas – and this is a major statement – is better than just about anything else out there regardless of price.

So where exactly are these speakers so good? Four words say it all: timing, dynamics, imaging and speed. Apart from using a normal moving-coil drive unit – glass fibre-coned and 10cm in diameter – there's nothing in these Eclipses that even hints at the conventional. For starters, there's only one driver to cover the full frequency range, and the limitations of trying to do this are revealed as the speaker's distinctive sonic character.

The advantages are clear, too: these speakers deliver a seamless and focused presentation that makes conventional alternatives, with their multiple drivers and distortion-ridden crossovers, sound soft and blurred in comparison. Agility is top-drawer, and resolution similarly inspired.

All this means that whether you listen to the complex weave of instrumentation that is Kate Bush's Aerial set, or Holst's Jupiter, these Eclipses will track each and every note with the relentless determination of a hungry bloodhound.

Spellbinding imaging
A lack of the usual phase and integration problems also means that stereo imaging, with a disc such as Opus 3's Live at Vatnajökull, is spellbinding. It's precise, sharply drawn and massively solid. A curved mineral-loaded resin enclosure helps -keep the output as clean as possible, too.

These Eclipses need pampering to produce such a performance, though. They require a system of suitable quality and positioning has to be spot on.

The TD510s work best up close – between 2m and 3m is ideal – and pointed directly at you. Get this right and they'll shine. Our review samples have adjustable pedestal feet, but the optional dedicated stands add another £600 to the price – if you need the extra height, you should buy them to ensure you hear the TD510s at their best.

These Eclipses aren't for everyone. They're unconventional in just about every way, and so suffer from a different set of compromises from any rival. That said, the result of all that clever engineering is a speaker of rare talent. Why not take a listen?

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