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tSc TST2 Listening and Conclusion

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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.

Conclusion

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

$449/pair

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
MetricRating
Build QualityStarStarStarStar
AppearanceStarStarStarStar
Treble ExtensionStarStarStarStar
Treble SmoothnessStarStarStarStar
Midrange AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
Bass ExtensionStarStarStarStarStar
Bass AccuracyStarStarStarStarStar
ImagingStarStarStarStar
SoundstageStarStarStarStar
Dynamic RangeStarStarStarStar
Fit and FinishStarStarStar
PerformanceStarStarStarStarhalf-star
ValueStarStarStarStarStar

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About the author:

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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Recent Forum Posts:

PetProfstit posts on January 31, 2011 20:05
dobry

Dzieki za ciekawy blog
mcghee33 posts on November 08, 2009 21:01
tst2 or tst3

Can anyone who has already purchased the 2's or 3's give me some feedback on them. Obviously the review by Tom gives me an idea of how the tst2's sound but I am curious as to weather the tst3's are worth the extra money. At the moment you can refurbished 3's for 30 dollars more than the 2's.
ace0001a posts on June 18, 2009 16:49
gliz, post: 583922
untill they make them more stable I will not be buying any, three spikes is not enough

Yeah at first I really didn't think they would be stable, but they turn out to be more stable then you'd think. I too would prefer 4 outriggers, but it's actually fairly stable as it is with TSC's TST series of speakers.

If you even have a twinge of wanting these speakers, I highly recommend them. They definitely can't be beat for the price and with a 30-day trial, you really have nothing to lose.
gliz posts on June 18, 2009 10:06
untill they make them more stable I will not be buying any, three spikes is not enough
ace0001a posts on June 01, 2009 10:34
tdamocles, post: 574787
I noticed in the article that it said that the tweeters broke up at high volumes. Could someone who has these speakers comment on if they keep their composure when watching movies with loud explosions? Do they break up in this case?

My interpretation of this from the review here and other customer responses here and elswhere is that it doesn't seem to be a major issue. Surely if it was, you'd read more complaints about it. I'm still waiting for my TST3s to arrive and have been told by TSC that they should be shipping them in the next week or so. I think it's safe to assume that the tweeter break up only happens infrequently and at fairly high volumes that is louder than what many people set theirs at when listening to music and movies…otherwise like said, you'd read more complaints about it. You've also got to keep in mind that in a review, it is necessary to be nitpicky and I'm sure the detail about the tweeters breaking up at high volumes goes along those lines. I currently own Paradigm Monitor 7 V1s that I bought over a decade ago that the TST3s will be replacing. I remember back in the early days when I first got the monitor 7s that I would occassionaly hear some tweeter breakup at high volumes. After using them for a while, I didn't hear it anymore and basically realized things like that can happen during the “break in” period. Also, this thread has been a bit quiet lately and I think those owners and others who posted earlier here have either lost interest or are really busy.
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