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PaPi61 3rd December 2011 02:51 AM

Tannoy Reveal 601a
Personally, I believe near-field monitors are one of the most critical elements of your studio and the serious DAW user should not spare any expense here. But then again, I'm a professional composer and it's my livelihood. If I were an amateur or a semi-pro (prosumer?), I certainly wouldn't have planked down over 3 grands on my Focal Twins (you can read my review in this section) just to get that extra 5% that can make the difference in the professional world. And, let's face it, there is also another unfortunately popular scenario, that of a very talented musician who isn't as lucky as I am to be working full-time. Especially in this awful economy, it's sadly becoming the norm.

While there's plenty of choice at the entry level price (and, unfortunately, you get what you pay for...) and at the pro level, mid-price monitors are trickier to choose from. I believe that NFM's with a 6.5-inch woofer are ideal for most users: not too big, not too small, enough bass but without going into a territory where even an 8-inch cone would be insufficient.

The Tannoy Reveal 601a was released about a year ago, along with the 501a (5-inch woofer) and the 601p, which is identical to the 601a, except for the fact that it's passive (hence the p.) At 13.4 x 8.2 x 10.7 inches in size and weighting in at 18.2 lbs, the cabinet is fairly conventional for this type of speaker, but the curved edges on the front baffle are less common. They were designed like that to reduce edge diffraction, a phenomenon that can affect the clarity of high frequencies. This two-way system includes a 6.5-inch woofer and 1-inch tweeter. Again, nothing revolutionary. But it's an evolutionary design when compared to the older Reveals, which, unlike the new model, had a rear-facing bass port that could create problems, especially in small and insufficiently treated rooms. Both the woofer and the tweeter are entirely new designs. The former produces a more neutral response compared to that of the older Reveals, while the latter now tops at a very respectable 30 Khz. The frequency response is 60Hz-30Khz. The dual amplification produces 30W for the tweeter and 60 for the woofer, for a total of 90W. The rear panel features XLR balanced (+4dB) and quarter-inch unbalanced (-10dB) inputs, volume pot, HF trim (-1.5/0/+1.5dB), power switch, voltage selector (110/220V) and power cable receptacle. The maximum SPL is a respectable 111dB per pair at three feet of distance (the sweet spot.)

OK, how do they sound? For the price, phenomenal. They're focused, sharp, linear and well-balanced. The high frequencies are clear without the harshness typical of more economical speakers. The low-end is well controlled and adequate for most situations. Compare these monitors to their competitors at the same price level and you'll be able to pick them any time in a blind test as the most linear and neutral. Yes, of course, they don't have the extreme accuracy of the Focals or other products in that price range. But, like I said at the beginning of this review, the extra 5% at the top will cost you a lot of money. In my opinion, these monitors are better suited to pop/rock/jazz/acoustic music than dance and electronic music in general.