The Tannoy HTS-101’s appearance in our Awards issue had become an annual routine you could set your watch by.
For four years it ruled the roost as our favourite budget style package, so it's fair to say its successor, the HTS-101 XP, has plenty to live up to...
MORE: Tannoy HTS-101 review
Tannoy has done more than simply add ‘XP’ to the name. The design of the four satellites and subwoofer has had a welcome makeover, swapping the MDF cabinet’s shiny glossy finish for a smarter, brushed-look version. We like the more mature look, which is handily discreet.
Physical proportions have been revised in more ways than one. Whereas the centre speaker in the last package was bigger than the other satellites, all five are now equal size so any can take centre stage.
The paper cone driver and titanium dome tweeter have gained a few millimetres too, to 10cm and 2cm respectively. Despite being smaller than the one used before, the subwoofer doubles up on power output with a 200W amplifier driving its 20cm woofer and matching passive radiator
The surround speakers can be wall-mounted, perched on stands or a shelf. Even the Tannoy badge rotates, so they can be positioned on their side without looking topsy-turvy.
These Tannoy satellites produce a more-than decent spread of sound, filling our large test room with relative ease. Even when the speakers are placed 3-4m apart (around a metre wider than is ideal), the soundfield is airtight, with no detectable gap.
In terms of sonic character, the HTS-101 XP doesn’t stray from its heritage of fast, exciting and spacious sound. It simply adds extra helpings of detail and solidity to the mix.
Play Interstellar and, in the scene where Matt Damon tries to dock the spacecraft and flee, the package refuses to let the on-screen action override the audio experience.
The score’s dictating, dramatic pipe organs pound their way through the system with power, scale and dynamics that thoroughly exceed what we’d expect from a package of this size.
You can clearly distinguish the score’s low level instruments underneath the action; bells sparkle through the composition with clarity and texture. When the booming score dies down, the subtleties of the astronauts’ breathing emerges through the eerie silence as the Tannoys stay tonally even and solid.
Dialogue comes through thick and fast without compromising on crispness, and highs are nicely pronounced and textured, meaning that careful system matching isn’t quite so necessary this time round.
The well-integrated sub is a tiny powerhouse, slipping good amounts of low-end brunt effortlessly and cohesively into the presentation. Taut and controlled, it’s just as at home delivering the deep, low monotonous rumble of the spacecraft as it is the short, sharp explosions.
The Tannoy HTS-101 XP has been well thought-over, making minor yet effective revisions under the ‘XP’ umbrella.
It’s nearly twice the price of its predecessor, and while that might put it out of many people’s reach, it doesn’t make the 5.1 channel one-box solution any less compelling.
It’s a fantastic-sounding package, as practical as ever and one of the best of its kind we’ve come across.
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