Tannoy Ellipse 8 by Carotte
I was in the need to buy new monitors and decided I wouldn't choose the speakers that appealed to me spec-wise... I went out to all the dealers in my area, and passed 2 months, listening to different companies and models that would fit in my 2K budget. After comparing more than 30 pairs, I ended up finding them one common flaw: uneven response. All speakers of this size and price are 2 way; making a speaker either flat but lacking in low frequency or deep, but with a hole at crossover point. Now, mixing in a 134 sq feet room, even if it's treated with Helmoltz resonators, I definitely did not want a sub woofer. For instance, I loved the sound of ribbon tweeters... But once again, the 2 way-only problem occurs on both Unity audio's The Rock as well as Adam AXx series: The Rock and A7x speakers with too little bass response and on the other hand, the A8x having a dip in the mids... Understanding this issue, I started seeking a possible 3 way system, that wouldn't include a sub. I then stumbled upon the Tannoy Ellipse 8...
With a street price around 2500$, these active 3 way dual concentric design UFOs can also be found on eBay for around 1600$. First thing to strike one that lays eyes on a pair, the funny shape. In a SOS article, I learned that the rounded up edges were a design choice that would help out the diffusion of unwanted early reflection of higher frequencies. But all this is hard to tell in my mixing environment, since they are set in the dead end of an LEDE (live end / dead end) room... So I'll take his word for it!
Sound-wise, WOW! When compared to my previous A8x pick, first thing not to come unnoticed: no more presence dip... These are covering the entire spectrum, yet, have the extreme high end push I liked from the ribbon design taken over by Tannoy's "Super Tweeter"... The simple fact of having this super tweeter taking over 14Khz relieves the tweeter from having to work those high energy frequencies over 14K, giving it plenty of space to work the 1Khz to 3Khz range the other 2 way design speakers had trouble covering.
Second thing to strike me, Clarity of the stereo image... Bang... right on... No more questioning about if the saxophone is a little on the right, If it's off 4% from centre, in a treated room, you WILL hear it. As much as I love the ribbon tweeter sound, I have to say the dual concentric design just makes a phase coherency that cannot be achieved in this price range (Dunlavy SC-IV will... watch out price and size!)... This clearly translates into better panning decision and wider stereo image...
An other big thing about them, they were designed so that you can obstruct the bass reflex ports to have a different low frequency response without compromising phase. They even give you the foams that fit in them. I personally found them to be very useful, as I prefer the trade off of less bass extension in exchange for punchier low range. In a treated room with no corners and bass traps, you can clearly hear the difference. Now this is a very personal thing, yet, you get to choose.
Next on the list: the amps. They are a little noisy. Nothing grave, not enough to call it a down side, but still worth mentioning. It's also worth mentioning that my power is cleaned by both medical grade isolation transformer and industrial grade RFI filter, in other words, it cannot be induced by bad power. For the moment, I have my Apogee Ensemble hooked up with them, and it has about 6dB more self noise than the one generated by the amps, so I couldn't care less... However, I was considering buying a Crane Song Avocet, which is known to have a noise floor that can almost reach the centre of the earth! So i'll update this review when I get it (if I ever get the budget to!), but even with the Ensemble off, I found the noise floor to be reasonable and work friendly, yet perceptible.
Finally, once set in my work space, after quite a bit of listening, I found them to be a bit bright and harsh... No big deal, thanks to the EQ in the back of each speaker, I took off about 2dB of HF and 1dB of MF. Just perfect for my taste. As for my 8/10 sound quality scoring, keep in mind this is taking in consideration much bigger speakers that much more... If i'd be to give it a score relative to it's price and size, it'd be a 10/10.
So I hope this helps you in a potential crusade to the perfect monitors, but once again, all of this is very subjective. Go out in stores, schedule a shootout on a wednesday afternoon, not to be disturbed, and check for yourself.