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The Speaker Company TST2 Floorstanding Speaker Review

by January 27, 2009
tSc TST2 Floorstanding Speakers

tSc TST2 Floorstanding Speakers

  • Product Name: TST2
  • Manufacturer: The Speaker Company (tSc)
  • Performance Rating: StarStarStarStarhalf-star
  • Value Rating: StarStarStarStarStar
  • Review Date: January 27, 2009 08:45
  • MSRP: $ 449/pair
Type: 3-way Bass Reflex Floorstanding
Woofer(s): 10” side-firing paper coated woofer (x1)
Midrange Driver(s): 5.25"" Aluminum (x2)
Tweeter Type:1" HiCell High Efficiency Dome (x1)
Magnetic Shielding:Yes

Frequency Response: 30-20KHz
Impedance in Ohms: 8
Power handling (watts): 15-150
Sensitivity: 93 dB
Dimensions: 44" H x 6.5" W x 15.2" D
Weight: 54.13lbs ea
Finish: Black ash vinyl, black glass top, with black cloth grille


  • Exceptional value
  • Sonically much better than anything else in its price range
  • Deep bass
  • Rich, resonant midrange


  • A bit unstable
  • Fit and finish not quite there
  • Tweeter breaks up at higher volumes
  • Placement affects imaging highly


tSc TST2 Build Quality

Some great things come from unexpected places. I had never heard of The Speaker Company (tSc) before a listener of AV Rant asked me if I thought they were good speakers or not. Honestly, when I looked at the price tags on the speakers I was dubious. Instead of dismissing them out of hand simply because of their low price tag, I instead decided to ask for a review sample. There are two things I like about reviewing budget gear - first and foremost, I know I'm reviewing something that is in the bulk of our reader's price range. People get excited about things they can afford. I get excited about being able to give them good recommendations. The second is that I love a deal. LOVE IT! Nothing makes me feel better than buying something for $100 or $200 that compares to name brands many times that price. When you are reviewing expensive stuff, those deals are hard to find. But down in the lower price ranges, there are diamonds in the rough everywhere you turn.

First Impressions and Build Quality

TST2_grillon.JPGWhen the TST2s arrived, I was both impressed and disappointed. I was impressed because the boxes were so heavy. Usually budget gear is light and in this case heavy (especially with speakers) tends to indicate quality. I was disappointed because the boxes were thrashed.


In tSc's defense, the delivery had been attempted over the holidays and I was out of town for the first two attempts so they were returned twice to the shipping company's storehouse. That being said, while the speakers were double-boxed, the foam packing end caps had disintegrated. Also, the middle of the speaker was only protected on two of the sides with foam. When the boxes were moved, the speakers and packing flopped around inside. Upon inspection (which the driver insisted I do before he left so that I could refuse delivery), there was a little damage to the vinyl wrap here and there but nothing substantive. Nothing that would make me think that performance would be affected. In that, the packaging was a success I suppose.

As I said, the speakers are heavy, much heavier than I expected for the price point. At 50+ pounds, they are a bit of a bear to move around. They are rear ported near the bottom, have dual binding posts for bi-amping, and are vinyl wrapped in wood grain black except for the front which has a sort of plastic finish. The front of the speaker sports an MTM driver configuration with two 5.25" aluminum drivers and a 1" closed-cell foamed polypropylene HiCell dome tweeter. There is a 10" side firing paper coated woofer. There is a single pair of plastic outriggers for the front of the speakers which need to be installed manually with two screws each. The back has a single threaded insert for a jester hat style carpet spike. The spike attachment points on the outriggers are slightly recessed so that it matches up with the rear insert. There are little rubber gloves (for lack of a better term) to cover the jester hats presumably for placement on hardwood or tile floors. I have carpet so that is not an issue.

TST2_spikes.JPGI am generally not a fan of the three point contact of these speakers. I never could get the speakers to sit right on the ground. While leveling them on an uneven surface was a bit easier, they always seemed to wobble from side to side a bit. A fourth connection point would have helped this. On top of this, even through the threaded inserts seemed to be matched between the outriggers and the one on the bottom of the cabinet, they weren't. I had to grab my level and place it in top of the speaker. It seemed that the speaker was leaning back a bit. Both of them were like this but one was a little worse. This was definitely messing with the imaging and the speakers tightened up a bit when I leveled them. I would definitely suggest that all new owners take this precaution.

The top of the speaker has a piece of glass that is supposedly black. It may be tinted black but it is not opaque. This is obviously an attempt at a cheaper "gloss black" finish. Generally it works. In most light, at most angles, you can't see through the glass. However, at times you can. The grill is flush at the top and meets up seamlessly with a raised lip at the bottom. Personally, I think they look better with the grill off (I love me some aluminum drivers). The grill is integrated well into the design and looks good on.

TST2_glass.JPG     TST2_glassthrough.JPG

The fit and finish of the speakers I would classify as acceptable. The front baffle doesn't quite line up with the rest of the cabinet and the gap between the glass top and the cabinet could be tighter but overall it is quite nice. One of the disadvantages of using a vinyl wrap is how delicate it is. It tears if you look at it wrong. The vinyl wrap (where it wasn't damaged from shipping) was very nice and the edges were perfectly aligned.

TST2_inside.JPGTaking the speakers apart, I was quite impressed with the build quality of the cabinets and the quality of the drivers and crossover. All the drivers are magnetically shielded and the 5.25" woofers feature plastic baskets which is an improvement over cheaper stamped designs typically found in speakers at this price point. The 10" woofer has a stamped basket. All the drivers have large magnet structures (the 10" woofer alone probably accounted for 1/3 of the weight of the speaker). The cabinet was constructed out of 5/8" MDF. The top drivers were encased in their own box with a generous amount of polyfill. The bottom portion formed an L utilizing the space behind the driver box to increase bass response. There was minimal polyfil in this compartment with a single piece running the length of the wall opposite the side-firing woofer. This could be a problem as air movement could cause wires to rub or vibrate against the unprotected walls of the cabinet. The crossover was a complex network consisting of over a dozen parts most of which were high quality. I did note a few iron core inductors that I’d prefer to be air core for improved sound quality via reduced saturation effects but at this price point, can one really be this picky? All of the drivers in this speaker system are magnetically shielded which is a real bonus for those placing these speakers in close proximity to a computer hard drive or an old fashion CRT tube (for those of you still living in the 1980's).

TST2_mid.JPG     TST2_tweet.JPG

TST2_woof.JPG     TST2_cross.JPG

tSc TST2 Setup and Measurement

TST2_grilloff.JPGI set up the TST2's on either side of the Diamond Case Theater Tech TT-400 Credenza with the side firing woofers pointed out. The speakers were powered by my Denon AVR-2307CI with SeymourAV 500 watt ICE Block 5001 monoblocks. A Denon DVD-3910 universal player did source duties with cabling from Impact Acoustics and Blue Jeans wiring everything together. While I never did get the speakers to sit as solidly as I'd have liked, they didn't seem like they'd tip over without major effort from one of my kids. The TST2's were one of the few speakers that I felt really sounded better with minimal toe-in. While they didn't sound bad pointed directly at me, I felt the soundstage gained huge benefits in width with a more straightforward orientation. The off axis response of the TST2's seemed to be good enough that having them toed in only slightly gave me all the performance of a more direct orientation with the addition of soundstage width.

One thing I'm going to remind you is to check the five way binding posts on the back of the speaker. While there is an included jumper bar, a few of the terminals were loose and needed to be tightened. This, if uncorrected, could have caused vibration and extraneous noise. More than one Audioholic has spent countless hours trying to track down a buzz just to find out it was a loose binding post. Don't become a statistic.

Measurements & Testing

For laboratory measurements I used the Sencore SP395A FFT Audio Analyzer and a Sherbourn 2/75B amp, I measured the TST2's in-room on- and off-axis frequency response with 1/12th octave resolution


TST2 1 Meter Frequency Response (1/12th Octave) On Axis
Note - this is NOT a 1 watt measurement


TST2 1/2 Meter Frequency Response (1/12th Octave)
Pink - On axis, Orange - 15 degrees off axis, Yellow - 30 degrees off axis

Overall the frequency response of the TST2's was extremely linear especially considering the price point. Honestly, I was stunned. No obvious boosts in the upper or lower frequencies was present that so many speakers in this price range and above tend to deliberately do for that wow effect on a showroom floor.


TST2 Impedance

The Sencore consistently measures impedance one ohm low. While the specs say that these speakers are 8 ohms, I measured 4 ohms at the terminals. Given the high efficiency of these speakers, I’d consider them an 8 ohm load. tSc employed a zobel network for the tweeter to pad down the response and smooth out the impedance curve. You can see by the impedance minima that these speakers are tuned around 30Hz which is what the manufacturer claims and about what we measured in our frequency sweeps.

tSc TST2 Listening and Conclusion

TST2_tweeter.JPGStarting off, I wanted to see how the TST2's handled bass. Grabbing my trusty Rives Test CD II, I played a few test tones to see what they could do. tSc rates these speakers down to 30Hz and I believe it. With the 31.5 test tone, I was hearing plenty of output. With the lower test tones, I was pleased not to hear any fluttering, chuffing, or bottoming out. These speakers could easily be used without a sub for most music though you're probably going to want to integrate a sub into your system for the lowest content and for movies. At this price point, I am shocked that there is this much bass available. Shocked.

The next thing I wanted to do was to compare the TST2 towers to the similarly priced Elemental Designs A6-6T6 speakers. I knew before starting that the eD speakers weren't going to hold up in the bass department so I ignored that during the comparison. It was, beyond a doubt, the quickest comparison I've ever done. Usually, I spend lots of time switching between speakers trying to eek out subtle difference. In this case, it was unnecessary. While the eD A6-6T6 speakers are a nice speaker in their own right, the TST2's are in a completely different class. So, for those of you that are keeping score, when I said in the eD review, "I defy you to find a speaker that outperforms the A6's overall at this price point. You certainly won't find a floorstander" I was wrong. I've found it. My bad.

TST2_grill.JPGMy next step was to bump up the comparison. While we often read reviewers making dubious claims of "performs like speaker 5x's the price," I wanted to actually do the comparison. The Speaker Company actually claims the performance of a speaker 2x's the price. Ok, I can do that. The logical candidate was the RBH TK-5CTs. They have similar number and configuration of drivers, they have similar cabinet construction, and the TK's (cousin to the EMP EF30T speakers) are just about 2x's the MSRP of the TST2s. The other aspect of the 5x's claim is that you can always find overpriced gear to make your claim real. In this case, the TK's have proven, over and over, to be a class leader at their price point. I've compared them to speakers many times their price point and they've done well handily beating or matching all in its own price category.

TST2_side.JPGI wasn’t concerned about the RBH TK-5CT's bass response compared to the tSc’s since both have nice deep bass. In fact, I didn't have to worry about much unless you count the number of times I had to run back and forth switching cables and level match. If the eD comparison was unusually quick, the TK-5CT comparison was proportionally long. I switched back and forth over and over trying to discover the subtle differences between the two. Yes, I said subtle. Where I expected to find a few glaring differences, I found two speakers that sounded remarkably similar. By the end of the comparison, I decided that the TK-5CT's had better imaging and a fuller, more refined sound. The high end, in particular, was better controlled and defined. Where the TST2s would break up and distort, the TKs held solid. The TST2's sounded great (unbelievably good considering the price) but the overall presentation of the TK's was more refined. This is high praise considering how much I love the TKs (don't forget, we gave the TK-5CTs Product of the Year for budget floorstanding speakers not too long ago). The very fact I was making this comparison speaks volumes for the quality of the tSc’s.

CD: Bang & Olufsen Vol. XIII – The Sound of Perfection
I used this CD during the comparison of the TKs and the TST2s. After I was finished with the comparison, I kept it in for the official listening tests. The speakers were responsive and dynamic. Low level playback retained much of the bass of the high volume though, of course, the tactile punch was missing. Highs were well articulated if a bit fatiguing at higher volumes and the midrange seemed full. I was particularly impressed with the clarity of the speakers. While not quite as articulate as some others, for the price, they were well above my wildest hopes. Separation of instruments was very well realized and everything sounded very uncompressed and open.

CD: Lorna Hunt - All in One Day
TST2_Lorna.jpgI used this album during the eD comparison and again, kept it around for a solo evaluation. The TST2's gave me all the bass this bass-heavy album requires while still maintaining very detailed highs. Lorna's voice was well realized though imaging wasn't quite as precise as I'd like. Imaging seemed to be a bit of weaker point in an overall stellar performance. The kick drum was lively and active but not overbearing. My problem was getting Lorna's voice to be firmly anchored in the center of the soundstage. I ended up with only a slight toe in and with that I have fairly good imaging but it seemed finicky. With some speakers I'm able to set them and pretty much go with it with orientation making only minor sonic adjustments. With the TST2s, placement seemed to be much more important.

CD: Rusted Root - When I Woke
TST2_Root.jpgUsed mainly for its dynamic percussion and woofer destroying speed, When I Woke is an album that demands a responsive speaker. On top of that, we have male and female vocals, tons of dynamic range, lots of bass, and lots of high cymbals. Basically it has everything. Starting with Track 6: "Beautiful People", I was impressed with the TST2's ability to provide a deep, resonant sound to the male vocals. The low bass of the song was well realized and articulate if not quite as deep as I'd like. Honestly, this track practically begs for a subwoofer so perhaps this isn't such a ding. The female vocals were full and rich with the flute providing an airy counterpoint. Track 13: "Back to Earth" has a mixture of soft and loud passages, subdued vocals and yelling, and high energy percussion and acoustic guitar. Again, I found the TST2s to hold up nicely. The speakers seemed very responsive and dynamic but again, the highs would break up at higher volumes. The midrange was full and resonant with the female vocals a particular strong point. Stereo separation was well realized with imaging, particularly of the male vocal, very well anchored in the center of the soundstage.


Let me speak plainly - These are NOT $450/pair speakers like their retail price suggests. They are much closer to $1000/pair speakers with respect to performance and appearance. Do they have all the qualities that a $1000 speaker has? No. But they probably have 80%. And that is 80% of our favorite, award-winning floorstanding loudspeaker. Could I find a speaker at 5x's the price that sounds worse? You bet I could. This time I'm going to refrain from making any grandiose claims but I'll tell you this, don't bother asking me what my advice is for budget bookshelf (with stands) or floorstanding speakers. My answer is The Speaker Company TST2s.

tSc TST2 Floorstanding Speakers


The Speaker Company
100 Corporate Drive
Mahwah, NJ 07430

About tSc
We offer quality speakers and speaker systems at discount prices. From towers, satellite speakers, in-walls, bookshelves and surround systems as well as headphones and iPod Docking stations The Speaker Company offers a full line of speakers & accessories.

The Score Card

The scoring below is based on each piece of equipment doing the duty it is designed for. The numbers are weighed heavily with respect to the individual cost of each unit, thus giving a rating roughly equal to:

Performance × Price Factor/Value = Rating

Audioholics.com note: The ratings indicated below are based on subjective listening and objective testing of the product in question. The rating scale is based on performance/value ratio. If you notice better performing products in future reviews that have lower numbers in certain areas, be aware that the value factor is most likely the culprit. Other Audioholics reviewers may rate products solely based on performance, and each reviewer has his/her own system for ratings.

Audioholics Rating Scale

  • StarStarStarStarStar — Excellent
  • StarStarStarStar — Very Good
  • StarStarStar — Good
  • StarStar — Fair
  • Star — Poor
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStar
About the author:
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As Associate Editor at Audioholics, Tom promises to the best of his ability to give each review the same amount of attention, consideration, and thoughtfulness as possible and keep his writings free from undue bias and preconceptions. Any indication, either internally or from another, that bias has entered into his review will be immediately investigated. Substantiation of mistakes or bias will be immediately corrected regardless of personal stake, feelings, or ego.

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