What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 19 Apr 2007, 4:00pm

Tannoy Precision 8D

Tested at £800
80100
4

The Tannoys are well designed and flexible; they sound good and deserve an audition

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For

  • Powerful sense of scale
  • good dynamics
  • solid timing

Against

  • Not the final word in outright clarity and finesse

Versatility is one of the key selling points of active speakers. And, it's the Precision 8Ds that offer the greatest flexibility within this group.

For starters, the Tannoy's feature a digital coaxial input. Theoretically, you could connect a DVD player or transport directly to the speakers and use their onboard DAC.

However, this means you would have to use the independent volume controls found on the rear of each speaker – not exactly practical.Also on the rear of the speaker you'll find knobs and DIP switches that allow for various configurations relating to frequency response.

These could be intimidating, but the manual does a good job of explaining things. If you'd like some assistance, an additional £40 gets you Tannoy's Activ Assist software package.

This comes with a pre-calibrated microphone and cables that allow you to tune the set-up even further. It takes note of the radiation characteristics of the speaker in your particular listening environment and runs through all possible DIP switch combinations to get the perfect flat response.

If you have your own microphone, and soundcard-equipped computer you can download the software for free and carry out the configuration.

Adjusting the sound
And these subtle adjustments do make a difference. Out of the box, the speakers sounded congested in the upper midrange in our listening room. After trying different switch positions, we reached a point where there they served up greater clarity.

Robyn's vocals during Every Heartbeat were given space to breathe, allowing her delicate vocals to shine through. Yet, despite this improvement, the Dynaudio MC15 and Acoustic Energy AE22 still deliver greater transparency and spaciousness.

The large cabinets each contain 180W of power, and the sense of scale and authority exhibited is impressive. Play Carmina Burana and the 8Ds are powerful and dominating. Listening to Kanye West's Everything I Am shows they are capable of impressive extension in the lower frequencies.

The Tannoys feature a super tweeter and the company's trademark Dual Concentric driver. The idea is to ensure treble and midrange arrive at the same time. Well, there's no area of the frequency range that sounds out of place and the D8s certainly time well.

They promote a broad soundstage and bound along nicely to the speedy guitar strumming during Oasis' Songbird. They're not as accomplished as the Acoustic Energy AE22s, perhaps, but these Tannoys are solid active speakers.

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