The Tannoy System 800A Active Monitor uses a dual concentric eight-inch driver and two specially-designed power amplifiers with active crossovers. Designed for the recording studio, the 800A's operate with no sonic difference when placed on the meter bridge of the mixing console in either "landscape" (horizontally) or "portrait" (vertical) position.
Ease of Use: 5
The eight-inch Tannoy Dual Concentric type 2046 driver is used in the 800A. With all sound emanating from a single "point source", the dual concentric driver concept has been the chief advantage and mainstay of the Tannoy design. There is a dual magnet assembly for the HF section with its "tulip" waveguide and the LF section with its injection molded polypropylene cone. The HF diaphragm is made from an alloy of aluminum and magnesium and suspended by a inert molded nitrile rubber surround. The HF voice coil is made of high temperature copper wire bonded to a "kapton" former fitted onto the outside of the diaphragm's skirt. For further thermal proofing, the voice coil has a ferrofluid filled magnetic gap...or the space between the moving voice coil and the magnet assembly. The LF section uses an injected-molded polypropylene cone surrounded by high compliance nitrile rubber suspension. Interestingly, the shape of the LF cone matches the HF hyperbolic waveguide so that the two waves (LF and HF) remain spherical and perpendicular...a fancy way to say time-aligned.
Having a great driver does not mean much without proper cabinet design. The speakers measure 275mm X 450mm X 290mm and are octagonal shaped said to contribute to the overall performance of the system. Each of the four corners is flatten and all other usually 90 degree edges are rounded off. This design, along with using a very dense and thick MDF panel construction material, is said to reduce low frequency resonances and increase efficiency by minimizing the mechanical transfer of acoustic energy to the cabinet. The cabinet also has internal (optional) metal shielding to prevent the speaker from affecting video monitors. The worst case minimum distance you can put a video monitor next to the 800A is only 13cm.
Active Crossover, Power Amp Back Panel
The internal active crossover splits the incoming signal into LF and HF components. The crossover frequency is 1600Hz. There are two 90-watt (RMS) power amps, one each for the HF and LF drivers. The back panel of the speaker has a combined XLR/jack input socket and a -10dBu or +4dBu level switch. There is a HF Control switch for flat, -2dB or +2dB changes to the high frequency response. I liked the flat position with the +2dB seeming too much of a change although if I was working in an extremely dead room, I probably go with it. The LF Control has just two positions: Free space and Half Space. Free Space extends the low frequency below 150Hz and was the way I used the speaker since I do not use subwoofers. Half Space sets the monitor to its intended response and removes the subsonic protection for the LF unit for sounds under 30Hz. In any event the 800A's LF driver definitely "pumps" away with low frequency content when cranked to any decent volume. Impressive to watch! The back panel also has switching for 110/220 AC voltage, fused IEC connector and on/off switch. The rear panel does not get overly hot like some other powered monitors I use.
In The Studio
The 800A's have been out for about two years now and I only recently discovered them when approached to mix a project for EMI. To be perfectly honest, my first attraction was their smaller size as compared to my larger JBL LSR 28P's or Genelec 1035's I usually like to use in strange new mixing situations. I had a lot less trouble bringing these speakers to the sessions! I have always liked Tannoy monitors so with respect to having a fully "unbiased objective' viewpoint, I guess I might be the wrong guy.
I was mixing some Pop/R&B music and I used the main monitors for getting sounds (EQ, compression, gating etc.), establishing track size and gauging overall top and bottom qualities. I do all this at loud levels and often return from the near-fields to check on anything that might not show up at softer levels. After I have rough track mix going, I switched down to the Tannoys. Immediately I noticed that all tonal perspectives pretty much stayed the same as the large monitors. Before I hooked up the Tannoys I had already determined that the mains (in this particular studio) were a little bright and lack some bottom end. The 800A's confirmed this right away reproducing the missing lows and pulling down the top. One of things I liked, and the reason why different sets of speakers are a great luxury, is that the 800A's have a warm upper bass/lower mid-range quality I miss on some other systems. This makes them easy to balance music on and very non-fatiquing to my ears. Barry Fox at TGI says "the dual puts more total energy into the room at the crossover point than a regular two-way system and basically behaves as a single full-range drive unit with a single point-source."
The mix project went well with all the mixes holding up well on a variety of playback/speaker systems. I didn't get bass heavy, dull mixes that can happen with small, bright and bass-light speakers and there was no change in the intrinsic musical balances I got using the 800A's only.
As they say, "A great desert island piece of gear", the Tannoy System 800A Active Monitors sell for $1895 a pair and with the shielding option you can add another $100. For more information on the System 800A or any other Tannoy products, please contact: TGI North America Inc. 335 Gage Ave., Suite #1 Kitchener, ON Canada N2M 5E1
Tel: 745-1158 or Fax: 519-745-2364. Web to: www.tannoy.com