Tannoy Mercury F1 Custom 5.1 review

If you can live without room-shaking bass, this Mercury system is well worth auditioning Tested at £1099.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

A musical sound with pace, insight and agility, this Tannoy system gives us plenty reason to applaud


  • +

    Solid build

  • +

    cohesive, fast sound

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    agile, punchy bass

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    detailed and clear


  • -

    Staid styling

  • -

    doesn’t quite plumb the bass depths

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The previous Award-winning Tannoy Mercury F1 5.1 package featured four F1 Custom satellite speakers, but here these just do the job of rears, while F4 Custom floorstanders operate as the front pair. The centre has also been upgraded to the FC Custom, but the compact TS12 remains the bottom-end lynchpin.

With that house-keeping out of the way, we'll admit that at first glance we were a touch underwhelmed by the styling: these are ‘traditional speakers' in the truest sense, However, there's certainly no faulting the sturdy, accomplished build quality.

The F4 Custom fronts come with spikes provided – don't worry, there are carpet-protecting feet, too – as does the subwoofer, but you'll naturally need some stands for the F1 Custom rears. All the satellites are available in smart dark oak or apple wood (as pictured) veneers, though the burly sub opts for a more threatening black finish.

Still it's the sound that counts, and we're soon nodding our heads approvingly as we fire-up the DVD of Flags Of Our Fathers. The clearly-not-as-good-as-our-Blu-ray-copy picture almost distracts us but the engaging, exciting sound soon wrestles our minds back on to the soundtrack.

The cohesion between the front three is excellent, despite the relatively diminutive centre channel, as is communication from front to rear. This package creates a surround whole as well as any here, and thanks to a spacious, large soundstage really fills our good-sized listening room.

Gung-ho sound
Switch to the BD of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, and the exhilarating soundtrack shows the Mercury package's speed, agility and punch. As an Oscar-winner might say, none of this could be possible without the subwoofer, which while it can't go quite as low as others, it certainly never wants for tight, expressive, exciting bass. It all adds-up to a sound that's as gung-ho as that of anything at this level.

Listening to Massive Attack's Teardrop from the Live From Abbey Road DVD, whether in stereo or Dolby Digital, it's clear this Tannoy package is adept with music, too, demonstrating decent timing, solid bass and plenty of pace.

If you can live without a room-shaking bottom end, then this Mercury system is well worth auditioning.

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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