I have been a studio mixing engineer since the late 90's. In 2001, I started rebuilding my business from the ground up. When it came to studio nearfield monitors, I decided I was going to really take my time and get the absolute best for my ears - and accurate.
I made a trip to Sweetwater, just north of Indianapolis. The staff there was quite helpful - they set me up in a room with about 6 pairs of monitors of my own choosing (they carried just about everything except Dynaudios at the time). I had decided I was going to purchase the best nearfield speakers available, no matter the price.
After listening for a couple hours, going through brand names such as KRK, Event, Roland, JBL, and so on, I finally whittled it down to 3 contenders: Genelec 1032a, Tannoy System 800a, and believe it or not, ... the Mackie HR824! All had their merits and sounded the best of the 8" woofer series monitors at the time.
I took about a half-hour break and returned after lunch for the final shoot-out. I had been listening to everything from jazz, to metal, to orchestral... but the real kicker was a CD I bought of a guy named Al DiMeola (album name is "Orange and Blue"). The album is very percussive and has a great number of very subtle sounds and timbres. As it turns out 2 of the monitors revealed some things in the music I had never heard before. Those two were the Genelecs and the Tannoys. The Mackies had a similar E.Q., round and full, but the low end was muddy, and much of the subtle nuances of the music were incoherent even at some of the upper frequencies. So the Mackies dropped out.
But the kicker was this... although the Genelecs had the highest price tag, and the greatest reviews, and the upper frequencies were stunningly clear, they were actually shrill and hurt my ears after several minutes of listening - and I usually listen at lower volumes. The Tannoys, on the other hand, were every bit as crystal clear, yet smoother, all the way up to the highest frequencies. I bought the Tannoys, which were 3/4 the price of the Genelecs.
Since then I have used them for sprectal and impulse room testing, so I tested them outdoors, using a pair of Earthworks QTC30's, and Earthworks 1024 Preamp, and an RME ADI8 A/D converter. Analysis revealed the the frequency response is quite smooth and round, and capable of very high freqs weel outside my range of hearing (about 20KHz). The low end begins to drop smoothly below 45 Hz, which is actually quite good for a pair of 8" woofers. Impulse response proved very fast, albeit, not exactly lightening fast, but definitely impressive. Damping is also pretty quick, very low at about 40ms, and practically unobservable by 60ms.
In summary, I fell in love with these monitor from the very beginning. They have been my primary recording and mixing monitors in my studio, and I have never been sorry I bought them. They are still working strong, and I would never mix on anything else.
By the way, for those comparing these "speakers" to hi-fi systems, this is typical of audio enthusiasts, and is really an unfair comparison. These "studio monitors" were actually made for picking apart problems in a mix. The theory is, if you can tweak a mix until it sounds good in these monitors, which can find every little problem that exists, it will sound incredible on a high sounding (albeit somewhat mushier) hi-fi system. The proper use for these monitors is "studio surgery", and by that definition, these things are quite amazing. It saddens me that they are no longer in production, replaced by the snazzier sharper and crunchier "new blood", the Tannoy "Reveal" family. I personally still prefer my System 800's and pray they never quit!
I don't know why we're in the floorstanding hifi speakers forum room, because the Tannoy System800 monitors are octagonal-shaped dual-concentric nearfields. Mine are on tall stands, on their sides.
Nobody mentions the fact they are quite BIG; 10kg per cabinet. I have the passive ones.
I do find that my mixes sound so much sweeter on a Hifi speaker, after I have mixed on the system800s. Make of that what you will.
I have wondered how I would feel about them, when compared to a really good studio nearfield. When I first got them home, I proclaimed I had never heard an old Korg MS700 analogue synth sound so great; it was buzzy and bassy like I coukldn't get before, yet you never felt like the speaker couldn't cope. So now, I feel like these make amazing tracking monitors. The psychologicfal effect of the thick polypropylene cone gives you a nice feeling of safety.
I'm probably underpowering them with a 50W OMNIPHONICS RESEARCH S-50 amplifier.
I look forward to adding a more refined pair of monitors in the future; there seems to be something so bland about thair overall sound, which brings you back to the initial point about mixing strategy.
The point in the System 800's after all, is to create an honest reproduction of the work you are doing. If you do not have an accurate room you will NEVER appreciate the quality and accuracy of this small monitor. I have had them in many proper control rooms over the past 6 years and found that when properly placed and powered, they performed very well. If the room is designed well and will accomodate these speakers per the design, you will find your mixes should sound even better than in the control room itself (which is the idea). So I mix as hard and full as I want and print it with great results. I now use these in my personal control room with a KRK sub, and am quite pleased with the accuract of the mixes. Don't be too quick to judge a speaker when you are listening to it in a acoustical mess of a room. Always do something to address the acoustics. There are a lot of reasources online you can turn to for great help. Trust me on this one...Fix the room first
A.I.A., A.S.A., A.E.S., E.E., M.E.
"Excellence Through Knowledge and Experience"
I have had these speakers for three months. They are great speakers with the exception of bass. I would not spend 3. or $400. If you can buy these for under $150, that would be a good buy. Best suited for Jazz, and Classical. Great soundstage. Very detailed. Just not enough bass so 4 stars
The Tannoy System 800 caught my eye on the Tannoy Professional Website. I forgot how good this design can sound. It has been 30 years since I fell in love with the old Tannoy Lancaster with a 12" Monitor Gold driver, driven by a Quad 33 pre-amp and 303 Power Amp. I have never heard Buddy Rich and his Orchestra sound so good, and I am a part-time drummer.
This system has the same speed and attack, with staggering imaging. I found there was no compression, and no detectable coloration. Bass is amazingly deep and tight, mids are superb, clear, and crisp, and the highs are tranparent, with just the right amount of bite.
I found there is inner detail on many CD's that is just not audible on most other speakers. There are continous phasing cues, and subtle sounds in the studio present, that were not heard before.
Cosmetics may seem rather "Industrial" looking for some, but in real life they are better looking and very well assembled and finished. A bit pricey at $1000.00CAN, but one gets that Dual Concentric driver at a cheaper price than the Home Audio products. I am surprised Tannoy hasn't advertised the Pro line more. In all, superb sound that everyone loves, including Engineers.
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