Tannoy Mercury F4 Custom review

These big units will need space to breathe but they produce a massive sound Tested at £380.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

Tannoy’s done a great job of producing a massive sound that doesn’t sacrifice much in the way of excitement – at a very reasonable price


  • +

    Huge, 3D soundstage

  • +

    surprising articulation and punch for a large, affordable floorstander


  • -

    Look and feel a little basic

  • -

    a little over-excitable at times

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

We tend to get speakers in for review as a stereo pair first. Then, where appropriate, we include the pair in a home cinema-oriented surround package.

In this case, however, we're working the other way round, as these F4 Customs have previously only graced these pages as the front left and right components of the excellent Mercury F1 Custom 5.1 package.

Like the Q Acoustics speakers on the page opposite, the F4s are designed to offer big-speaker qualities for a relatively small monetary outlay. And just like those Qs (the Tannoys are just a centimeter shorter than the 1050is),they're big – offering you an awful lot of speaker for the money. However, the F4s also look a little cheap, and they feel slightly less substantial than you'd expect.

We'd encourage you to ignore that and just get on with the listening though, as these speakers are very impressive for the money. We kick off with some modern rock in the form of Coldplay's Death and All His Friends.

It starts off all coy and introspective, but builds to a pumping beat and eventually a rocking crescendo, and impressively, the Tannoys are happy with each of the three parts. The opener is well-textured and defined, the build-up is deep and snappy, and the crescendo is massive and three-dimensional.

Good-value big speakers
Switching to Holst's The Planets results in more reasons to be happy. The depth and scale of the sonic image is at times astounding, and this is partnered by a degree of grip and attack that's very surprising for a speaker of this size and price.

The extra excitement does have a small trade-off though: the treble occasionally hints at sharpness. It's also fair to say that, although the Tannoys are impressive for the money, there are other speakers in this test that offer greater detail, refinement and sophistication.

However, if your budget is tight and you fancy a large speaker that majors on scale and still offers a reasonable amount of articulation, these Tannoys will be worth auditioning. Make sure you've got room for them, though – they're big units and they need to have space to breathe.

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.

Read more about how we test