Royd Albion Floorstanding Speakers

Royd Albion Floorstanding Speakers 


two-way monitor with stand


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[Feb 13, 1999]
David Antonelli
an Audio Enthusiast

In the last year I've soared from owning a Cambridge Audio CD 4 with A3 amp and Numen speakers to owning a Naim system comprised of a CDX/52/180 with a Hicapped Headline headphone amp. On the way up I auditioned many speakers to go wih my system. I found the lower priced naim speakers too aggressive and bright for my tastes and the SBLs and DBLs too expensive, considering you have to go active to get the most of them which just meant spending that much more.
After considering NHT 2.9 (just too weird looking and lacking rythm, but amazing imaging), Thiel CS 1.5 (Very nice but too bright with an almost unaturally big soundstage that made music seem to float all over the room), Linn Keildeih (too laid back), Meadowlark Audio Shearwaters (Don't like the 1st order crossover stand up phase shift and a bit aggressive for me. Seems to combine the worst aspects of Naim and Thiel speakers with no real advantage) a friend who works at Audio Ark in Edmonton was kind enough to let me hear some Royd Albions hooked up to Exposure electronics.

Now, anybody in the audio game should know that there is no ultimate speaker and that a CD player, amp or even something as tiny and seemingly insignificant as an interconnect can be the source of harshness and that finding the right set up involves even worrying about room acoustics. What amazed me about the Exposure-Royd System I heard was how "right" everything sounded. The bass was startling deep and tighter than anything I'd heard without sounding cold or analytical. The soundstage was full and open, but also real. None of this business where it sounds like a horn is playing in the bathroom down the hall. The voices were alarmingly realistic and the highs extended and sweet without being syrupy or aggressive. In short, it sounded like music. I was with my teenaged kids and we played several CDs. We were all blown away and wanted to stay all day. After our listening session we went downstairs and heard several more expensive systems involving Sonic Frontiers, Mark Levinson, Linn (whose products I refuse to buy for personal reasons), and Classé. We all agreed that the Royd/Exposure system was the best at a third of the price of some of the other stuff we'd heard. The question was, since I live in an area where auditioning is difficult, would these speakers suit my 25,000 dollar Naim system? The dealer explained that they were the top-of-the-line Royds and that they were designed using Naim 135 monoblocks as reference amps. He then explained that naim amps liked speakers that were easy to drive (even the 135s) and that the Royds fit the bill in that category as well. On top of that they were beautifully finished with REAL WOOD not veneers and came with dedicated stands. They were not only the best sounding but the best looking speakers. So, I threw caution to the wind and ordered a pair.

A month later they arrived. On first listen they sounded dreadful, but I was warned that Royd speakers took several hundred hours to break in. After two weeks of low volume radio and fixing a problem with my mains plug-inn, they really started to bloom. Superlatives can't be enough for how happy I am with these speakers. They are so quick you'd think I was running them with the fastest amp on the market. Every last strum of a harp or guitar suddenly sounds like individual strings vibrating in unison. I'm told the Royd cabinet is filled with a polymer that prevents any over hang of notes and thus the quickness and accuracy in time. The sense of dynamics is awesome and the bass deep and well extended to levels (they say 30 Hz with the two bass drivers) that make the floor shake on drum and bass even at low volumes. They keep the tempo in the strongest tradition of british loudspeakers. In terms of detail and truth of timbre and musical texture they beat even the mighty Thiel CS 1.5s. The speakers dissapeared and I could tell the difference between different drum surfaces from paper to goat skin. Plucks of strings seemed to occupy real space, some where in front of the speakers, some to the right or left, and some seemingly behind. With all this there was a "sharp velvitiness" to everything. I don't want to say sharp because it might imply harshness. I don't want to say velvitiness as it would imply loss fo deatil. In terms of imaging I'd say they image great. The music seemed to take place in an area much like a goalies crease although extended to the right and left of the speakers. There was never the sense that music was coming from one speaker or the other but from "that part of the room". The soundstage thankfully wasn't so huge and overblown as one gets with some American products where instruments seem to occupy unnatural positions in the room detached from the pulse of the music.

My friend at Audio Ark said at 4000 canadian they sound like many speakers in the 8,000 to 10,000 range - and he's been there for years listening to everything. And being built especially for Naim users makes them a no brainer as a speaker to audition with this brand of electronics. No hype here. I just auditioned the naim XPS power supply and trashed it - perhaps unfairly - so I'm not afraid to say what I think. And this is what I think of Royd Albions: They are the single most impressive piece of audio equipment I own. I know they are just articulating the beauty of the naim pieces, but naim is not known for low prices (although the CDX is a whale of a deal) and Royd is. The Albions at 4000 would be like buying a Nait 3 for 500 dollars - they are that good. I hear Joe Ackroyd could be coming out with an even better speaker. When he does I'll be the first to listen.

If you own Naim or Exposure these are a must try. There may be better speakers in the world, but all I can say is that these aren't going to replaced until I have a CDS II, 01, 52, and 2 135s - and even then I'm sure I'd have to struggle to find something better for less than twice the price and may end up never replacing them.

Six stars please!

[Aug 12, 1999]
Mike Hanson
an Audiophile

I was just looking at my review of the Royd Doublets, when I realized that it's been three months since I posted it. In that time I've looked at myriad other loudspeakers, trying to find something that sounded better than the Royd Albions. This list included (in alphabetical order):
- B&W Nautilus 805 (no bass, and poor soundstage)
- B&W Nautilus 804 (poor cohesion of sonic image)
- Enigma Oremus (very detailed, but no bass)
- Castle Harlech (boomy bass, but very sweet overall)
- Jamo Concert 11 (couldn't disappear into the music)
- Martin Logan (too listener-position-specific)
- Naim Credo (thin and clinical, with lightweight bass)
- Naim SBL (clinical like Credo, but with more body)
- P.E. Leon Enzo (pinched vocals, but otherwise very good)
- ProAc Response 2.5 (magical but unnatural soundstage)
- Thiel CS 7.1 (too laid back)
- Triangle Zephyr (unnatural sounding)

My equipment is currently comprised of a Naim CD 3.5 with an external Flat-Cap power supply, Naim NAC 102 pre-amp with NAPSC power supply, and Naim NAP 140 power-amp. I'm running Naim DIN interconnects between the components, with 5 meters of Naim NAC A5 speaker cable.

Unlike the other reviewer, my pair didn't sound awful straight out of the box. They were a little too tzingy, though, but this attribute will relax itself over the coming weeks and months. Apparently Albions will continue improving, even after hundreds of hours of use.

Overall there is a single word to describe the Albion's performance: "right". You never find yourself saying there's too much of this or too little of that. It's very difficult to dissect the audio signal, because everything fits so well. The bass has just the right heft and slam, with good extension and lots of character from the various instruments. Mids are smooth and natural, often seeming "live". The highs have loads of energy and presence, without seeming harsh or extreme.

The soundstage is quite amazing. Not only are the various sonic elements in their appropriate locations, but the speakers really do disappear (although not in the unnatural manner of ProAc speakers). You can walk around the room and not lose that sense of ambient sound. It's not until you get very near the speakers that you can tell where it's originating. If the recording has it, the soundstage can be extremely three dimensional.

When it comes to rhythm and timing, these speakers excel. I constantly find myself getting more involved with the music than ever before. And that's the ultimate goal here: the enjoyment of music. When I'm listening to me system I don't want to be distracted by it. Just give me the music, and stay out of the way! That's exactly what these speakers do. If you are looking for speakers in the $2000+ range, don't make your purchase until you've had a chance to hear the Royd Albions.

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