Tannoy Bounces Back with New Super Gold Monitor Series
Super Gold 10
Frequency Response: 40 Hz - 30 kHz ± 6 dB
Impedance: 8 Ω
Sensitivity: 89 dB (1 W @ 1 m)
Dimensions: 13.8 x 12.2 x 20.6 inches
Weight: 40.8 lbs
Super Gold 12
Frequency Response: 38 Hz - 30 kHz ± 6 dB
Sensitivity: 91 dB (1 W @ 1 m)
Dimensions: 17.6 x 12.1 x 40 inches
Weight: 64.8 lbs
Super Gold 15
Frequency Response: 35 Hz – 30 kHz ± 6 dB
Sensitivity: 93 dB (1 W @ 1 m)
Dimensions: 25.6 x 16.7 x 40.7 inches
Weight: 110.2 lbs
Before 2023, Tannoy hadn’t released a new speaker in 7 years. But I very much enjoyed listening to the Tannoy Kensington loudspeakers ($19,790/pair) at last June, so I took notice when the British brand recently announced an all-new range of speakers called the Super Gold Monitor Series. To understand the name and the significance of this launch, a brief history lesson is required. Tannoy was the first company to build a speaker with a dual concentric driver design, way back in 1947. A couple of decades later, the company released the Monitor Gold drivers — these were dual-concentric drivers sold without cabinets (though Tannoy did offer a variety of cabinets that could be used in tandem with the drivers). The Monitor Gold drivers were incredible performers for their day, and were put to work by many major recording studios, such as Trident, EMI, Decca, Abbey Road, and CTS (Cine-Tele Sound Studios). Soon they could be found in control rooms and projection booths around the world. The Monitor Gold drivers were used in the production of iconic records, such as Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Pete Townsend of The Who used them in his own private studio. Although Tannoy produced a variety of cabinet designs that could house the drivers, many professional recording studios used large cabinets made by Lockwood, a British manufacturer with a rich heritage dating back to the 1930s. The Lockwood factory was sadly devastated by a fire in the 1980s. But fortuitously, Tannoy launched the Super Gold Monitor series in 1985. (If memory serves, these were fully-assembled studio monitors, not just free-floating drivers.) The Super Gold Monitor Series was another hit with professional recording studios over the next few decades. Michael Jackson, Elton John, The Eagles, Billy Idol, Depeche Mode, and Christina Aguilera all made records using these monitors as the final link in the studio signal chain. Soundtracks for major Hollywood movies were mixed and mastered on the Tannoys, from Top Gun and The Breakfast Club in the 1980s to Catch Me if You Can in 2002. And so it is with a nod to the original Monitor Gold drivers from the 1960s and the Super Gold Monitors from the 1980s that Tannoy is launching the new Super Gold Monitor Series.
Despite their pro-audio inspiration and “monitor” moniker, the new SGM 10, SGM 12, and SGM 15 are passive speakers meant for home use. (USA Pricing is TBA; see the Specs section above for UK pricing.) While Tannoy caught some flak a few years ago for moving the manufacture of certain products oversees, the new Super Gold speakers are designed and manufactured in the UK (as are all of the company’s high-end speakers). According to Tannoy, all three models are designed to “create a truly neutral soundstage with zero sonic coloration,” so that home listeners can enjoy studio-quality sound. Of course, this is hardly the first time that a speaker manufacturer has aimed to reproduce music “exactly as the artists and producers intended it to sound,” but that was reportedly Tannoy’s goal for the new Super Golds. The company says that one of the byproducts of reproducing music “without artifacts” is a very non-fatiguing sound. “You can listen for hours on end without wearing out your ears,” according to Tannoy. As you might have guessed, the number in each model name reflects the size of the woofer in inches. All of these drivers use the same dual concentric design, which sees the high-frequency driver merged into the center of the cone of the mid-woofer. The mid-woofers use paper pulp cones with twin-roll impregnated fabric surrounds and a 2-inch edge-wound voice coil. The tweeter is a 1.3-inch aluminum/magnesium alloy dome, also with an edge-wound voice coil. The crossover network is centered at a rather low 1.2 kHz in the SGM 10 and SGM 12, and at 1.1 kHz in the SGM 15. In all cases, it combines a low-loss, 2nd-order low-pass filter for the woofer with a 1st-order high-pass filter for the tweeter. The invention of the dual-concentric driver in 1947 is one of Tannoy’s claims to fame, and some version of this design has been used in virtually all of the brand’s most revered products, including the classic Monitor Gold drivers. The benefits of a true point-source design are many, but Tannoy stresses the importance of having the entire frequency spectrum originate from a single location. Having both drivers on the exact same axis ensures excellent off-axis performance and pristine phase coherence, according to Tannoy. In use, this translates to “a full and rich listening experience from almost anywhere in the room.” Similar designs have been adopted by a number of other speaker manufacturers in the intervening decades, including KEF, TAD, Elac, and Cabasse.
We invented the dual concentric speaker design in 1947, and it has been refined and improved continuously over the decades. With Super Gold you get the very latest incarnation of this pristine design that has won critical acclaim over and over for nearly 70 years! With our Dual Concentric design, the woofer and tweeter are literally merged together, which positions them on the exact same axis, giving you best-in-class phase coherence. Since the sound is coming from the same point, it is a true point-source imaging scenario, and adding to that a spherical wave front that ensures an extremely even dispersion both vertically and horizontally, the Super Gold’s off-axis performance is breathtaking. But what is the benefit when listening? You simply get a very wide and true sweet-spot, which means that you don’t have to sit dead-center in front of the speakers to enjoy every single, subtle detail in the music. You can move around, or when you have company, everyone can enjoy listening even if they are not directly in front of the speakers. Finally, we constantly refine and improve our dual concentric design, and today we use modern ferrite with copper demodulation rings and high flux magnetic circuits, which perform even better than the original 1970s Alnico design.
Despite the placement flexibility provided by the dual concentric design and front-firing bass ports on the SGM speakers, Tannoy understands that much of what we hear from a loudspeaker system is dictated by the interaction between the speakers themselves and the rooms that they’re placed in. In order to help compensate for “acoustically challenged spaces,” Tannoy has included an “energy control system” — essentially an analog EQ — on the front of the speakers. On the big SGM 15, there are three bands of adjustment, while the control system on the SGM 10 and SGM 12 is a 2-way affair. (More details on this in a moment.) All of the speakers use high-density cabinets that Tannoy describes as extremely rigid, allowing the speakers to “control low frequency performance musically and with authority.” The cabinets take advantage of Tannoy’s Different Material Technology (DMT), which involves the use of ply-based laminates made from a combination of materials with different acoustic properties. This is said to result in an exceptionally well damped structure that minimizes the effect of unwanted resonances. Specifically, the heavily damped cabinets in the SGM series are constructed from 3/4-inch-thick panels made of layers of particle board and MDF, with internal bracing made of plywood. The real walnut veneer appears to be of high quality, as are the heavy-duty, 24-carat multi-layer gold-plated custom binding posts. Visually, these speakers are more than a little reminiscent of their 1980s predecessors, but they have an elegance and a level of sophistication to their design that should help them blend in with more contemporary environs.
The SGM 10 is a stand-mount speaker with a 10-inch Dual Concentric driver array. Its proportions and design make it much more attractive to my eye than the which is also a 2-way stand-mount speaker with a 10-inch Dual Concentric driver. The SGM 10 uses twin front-firing ports to help it reach down to 40Hz (-6dB), and its sensitivity spec is 89 dB. The energy control system adjustments are as follows: ±3 dB over 1 kHz to 30 kHz shelving, and 2 dB to -6 dB per octave over 5 kHz to 30 kHz slope. Tannoy says this speaker is designed to deliver “responsive tightness” — a combination of rich low frequencies and tight, fast-responding mids and highs. They’re perfect for “music with fast transients and plenty of attack,” such as Funk, Electronica, World Music, and Contemporary Jazz, according to Tannoy. That said, they are also reported to be “perfectly capable of giving you the chills when listening to Classical Music, Rock, Pop or any other music genre.” ,
The SGM 12 is a smallish floorstander with a 12-inch mid-woofer. Like the SGM 10, it uses twin ports and features the same energy control system adjustment options. The larger woofer and increased cabinet volume allow the SGM to play a tad deeper in the bass, down to 38Hz (- 6dB), but those features also increase the sensitivity spec to 91 dB. Tannoy describes this speaker’s sound as warm but with a “detailed soundscape,” making them an ideal choice for Orchestral Music, Rock, Pop, Blues or Soul. Fans of Jazz, R’n’B, and even Heavy Metal will be more than satisfied as well, according to Tannoy.
Tannoy describes the SGM 15 floorstanders as sounding “epic and larger than life,” thanks in part to their 15-inch mid-woofer and triple front-firing ports. They play down to 35Hz (-6dB), and offer a usefully high sensitivity of 93 dB. The SGM 15 reportedly excels at reproducing massive and punchy lows while maintaining a clear and detailed midrange, and high frequencies that are “silky-smooth and delicious.” Ideal matches include modern R’n’B, Hip Hop, and certain styles of Electronica and Rock, according to Tannoy. The three energy control system adjustment options are as follows: ±3 dB over 1 kHz to 30 kHz shelving, ±3 dB over 1 kHz to 5 kHz shelving, and 2 dB to -6 dB per octave over 5 kHz to 30 kHz slope.
The unveiling of the Tannoy Super Gold Monitor speakers marks a momentous milestone in Tannoy’s history. With its rich heritage dating back to 1926, these speakers represent a harmonious fusion of vintage aesthetics and cutting-edge engineering, offering audiophiles a truly immersive listening experience.
— Andrew Provan, Tannoy Production Manager
The Super Gold Monitor range is on sale now in the UK, with pricing and availability in the USA still TBA.
Unless otherwise indicated, this is a preview article for the featured product. A formal review may or may not follow in the future.