I had started down this Tannoy review with high hopes of literary superstardom. I’d loaded up Kipling’s ‘If..’ and expected to begin my Definition DC10T review with something highbrow. Half a day later, all I’d got is “If you can bang your head when all about you are turning it down and blaming it on ‘foo’,” and “You’ll be a Tannoy Man, my son!” Hardly worth the effort really, but at least Kipling fans can sleep safe in knowing the poem goes untortured for another month.But the Definition DC10Ts are worthy of some epic words. Because they are epic. They look good, sound good, are easy to drive, will sound fine in big rooms and small, are practically impossible to blow up (and you’ll try, believe me) and put a huge smile on your face.
These are the largest of a three-model range (the others are a smaller DC8T floorstander and a one-driver DC8 standmount). The Definition range itself represents the upper-middle Tannoy tier – above this come the Dimension and Prestige ranges and the mighty Kingdom Royal. The DC10T features Tannoy’s distinctive 254mm (10-inch) Dual Concentric driver – a large doped paper drive unit with a 25mm ‘Tulip Waveguide’ horn-loaded titanium dome tweeter built into the acoustic centre of the drive unit. The tweeter here is one of Tannoy’s WideBand designs, extending up into the supertweeter range. A matching treated pulp 254mm lbass driver (only without the tweeter) sits below the dual concentric unit.
Tannoy’s love of the supertweeter (this one reaches to 35kHz) is based in part on the idea that instruments have extended ranges beyond the audible and the Oohashi experiments that show brain states are more in line with the original unamplified music when listeners are played recorded music that retains the extended frequency range. Controversy still rages over the relevance of this in real-world listening, but regardless metal dome tweeters that extend far outside of our conventional hearing are routinely less prone to ringing effects in our audible range.
The cabinet is a thing of beauty. It’s a high gloss curved and elegant tower with two rear-firing ports above the bi-wire panel and a chrome curve along the bottom edge to match the cone surrounds, which looks fantastic in the right room. It’s a bottom heavy loudspeaker, which means the loudspeaker’s lines don’t need to be broken up with a large plinth. It’s also not broken up by inlets for the speaker grilles, as they are affixed magnetically. Physically, this size of speaker demands a medium-to-large room, even though the speaker doesn’t seem troubled by the room itself. The speaker is best a couple of feet from the rear and side walls, but once again the speaker is not that fussy and foam bungs can help put the speaker up against the rear wall.
One of the unique aspects of the rear panel is that extra speaker terminal. It’s an earthing tag connection for amplifiers with a similar grounding terminal, which is said to enhance dynamic range and cut down on RF interference. I say ‘said to’ because suitably grounding-ready amplifiers were thin on the ground chez Sircom when the review was in progress. Behind that terminal is some distinctly tweaky technology; cryogenically treated components in the crossover network and silver-plated high-purity copper in the hook-up wire.
Like most Tannoy speakers, the DC10T is happier with quality over quantity when it comes to amplification. It’s listed as a 92dB efficient, eight ohm impedance loudspeaker, but although that means on paper it can be driven by practically anything, it needs greater amplifier muscle than it first seems. It was happier with more power (like the Musical Fidelity M6 power amp, tested in this issue) and with the Devialet D-Premier (tested last issue) than it was with lower power amps. However, a good low powered amplifier worked well too, and the Sugden A21SE delivered a fine performance.
My biggest job as a reviewer of these loudspeakers is not to overstate their biggest strength. But it’s difficult; these are possibly the most fun you’ll have with a set of speakers. Owning them is like owning a barbeque, sooner or later they both end up being the excuse for a party. In the case of the DC10T, you’ll end up buying Daft Punk and Black Eyed Peas albums… and loving them. This is because they can take a lot of punishment, go loud in an enjoyable manner without breakup and lay down a wicked bass line.
Perhaps a little ‘too’ wicked, as in it’s very powerful. This is not room dependent, though. It’s just deep and powerful. This is highly exciting for some listeners – those of us who love a good bass line will love it even more through the DC10T, but if you listen to the all-midrange Exile in Guyville by Liz Phair, you get some bass whether you need it or not. It’s good bass; deep, powerful and surprisingly fleet of foot. But you need to be one with your inner Jack Bruce first.
If you’ve never used the term “bangin’ choons” in a sentence or have never secretly desired to dress up like Angus Young and headbang for an afternoon, the DC10T still has a lot to offer. Its appeal is very much at the visceral end of music replay; cold, sterile analysis of music can be done, but it’s not the DC10T’s strong point. This is about the passion in music, and that’s something that is often lost in the desire for more detail and transparency.
So what applies to AC/DC applies to Albinoni. And it’s a curious thing, you find yourself appreciating Albinoni all the more for that. The DC10T makes you discover why the composer laid down the dots in the first place. It’s about ‘feel’; modern music and virtuoso pieces for instruments are as much an expression of the musician’s sensibilities as they are the composer’s art. It’s why we talk of Gould, Casals and Heifetz in the same way as we might discuss Miles Davis or Eddie Van Halen. The DC10T extends that passion to the orchestra and the band. And that’s a passion igniter in the listener; you feel the energy that went into making the recording and the drive behind the person who wrote the music. That leaves you hungry for more.
A lot of this comes down to the DC10T’s effortless dynamic range. Unless you are pushing things (volume level, room loading, ears) to the limit, the sense of dynamic scale to music is deeply impressive. Yes, that makes you reach for the musical fireworks at first, but it’s the more subtle music where that really hits home. You listen to something headbangers would dismiss as ‘polite’ (D’Anglebert harpsichord suites, for example, or the Eroica Trio’s renditions of Brahms piano trio No 1) and you find not just the composition and musicianship impressive, but the weight and energy and passion behind the music comes out every bit as well as it does when Janis Joplin or Billie Holiday pour out their respective troubled souls to a microphone.
The downside? Perhaps some loss of subtlety and that ‘strong’ bottom end delivery. Those after the sort of refinement that electrostatic panels bring to string quartets might not find what they are looking for here. This is in many respects a graceful sounding loudspeaker with all the refinement to play any kind of music in an appropriate manner. But this is often overshadowed by the red-blooded energy it brings to sound. That’s a trade-off many people would happily make.
Another trade-off comes with the balance between imagery and accuracy. The sound has a remarkable, encompassing imagery (forget three rows back in the stalls, picking out every musician in a layered soundstage; you are in there with the band), but this comes at the expense of a very slight ‘quack’ to the midrange. Once again, it’s a trade-off most people would make, because it’s not like it turns spoken word into Donald Duck-speak, but adds a faint plasticky projection to vocals. This doesn’t get in the way of the vocal articulation, but those who listen to mostly spoken word on their system would find better elsewhere.
Don’t let these mild colorations ‘colour’ your feelings toward the loudspeaker. It’s one of the most exciting and impassioned sounds you can get from a set of drive units. If you like your music entertaining – and let’s face it, who doesn’t? – this is one of the most communicative sounds around.
SPECS & PRICING
DC10T floorstanding loudspeaker
Rear ported design
Dual Concentric drive unit: 25mm titanium dome tweeter with Tulip WaveGuide in centre of 254mm treated paper pulp cone
Bass drive unit: 254mm (10”) treated paper pulp cone with twin roll impregnated fabric surround
Frequency Response (-6dB): 30Hz-35kHz
Sensitivity (2.83 Volts @ 1m): 92dB
Dispersion: 90° conical
Nominal impedance: eight ohms
Crossover frequencies: 200Hz, 1.4kHz
Crossover type: Passive low loss, 2nd order LF, 1st order HF, Deep Cryogenically Treated
Power handling: 125w (continuous) 500w (peak)
Dimensions (H x W x D): 112.5 x 34 x 32cm
Finishes: High gloss black, cherry or dark walnut
Price: £5,000 per pair
Manufactured by Tannoy Ltd
+44 (0)1236 420199