One of the true benefits of reviewing pro audio gear is when the unexpected occurs: a great product shows up at the studio from a previously unknown source. In this case, the source is speaker designer Robert Smith and his new company, SP Technology. The product is a high-performance reference speaker called the Timepiece 2.0 ($2,795 per pair).
Product PointsApplications: Studio, mastering, home theater
Features: Two-way; 8-inch aluminum cone woofer; 1-inch textile dome tweeter; hybrid sealed box/transmission-line bass loading; tweeter level control; gold-plated binding posts and Speakon jack; optional matching speaker stands available
Price: $2,795 per pair
Contact: SP Technology at 219-324-6800, Web Site.
The SP Technology Timepiece 2.0 speakers fall into that no-man’s land of size, somewhere between near-to-midfield in a large control room and as mains in a small control room. The enclosure measures 21.5 inches high by 12.5 inches wide by 15.75 inches deep and weighs in at 65 pounds.
The system is a two-way design utilizing an eight-inch aluminum cone low frequency driver and a one-inch ferrofluid-cooled textile dome high-frequency driver. The low-frequency driver is built with a cast magnesium frame and utilizes phase-plug and rear magnet venting to reduce voice-coil temperature extremes.
A dual cavity, hybrid bass-loading design (ported box/transmission-line) is used to realize extended low frequency performance from the Timepiece’s moderately sized enclosure.
The enclosure is primarily constructed of dual 3/4-inch MDF board with an inner “lossy” membrane in a “constrained layer” configuration. The sides of the enclosure are finished with hand-polished wood veneer, and the front panel is a glass-like black lacquer.
The front panel incorporates SP Technology’s radially-emanating waveguide, with the one-inch driver mounted in the recessed center. The unique waveguide results in greater transducer-to-air coupling efficiency and virtually nonexistent edge diffraction, according to SP.
Stated frequency response is 30 Hz – 18 kHz ± 2 dB (± 1 dB typical). Impedance is eight ohms and sensitivity is 85dB (1 Watt at 1 meter). Maximum power handling is 125 watts continuous, 300 watts short term and greater than 1000 watts peak.
A tweeter boost/cut control is provided on the back panel for environmental positioning compensation and speaker input is via a Neutrik Speakon jack or gold plated binding posts (individual posts for the woofer and tweeter sections are provided for biwiring).
Partners in [Physical] Law
On the SP Technology website, designer Robert Smith takes a philosophical tack in explaining the design motivation behind the Timepiece 2.0 speakers. Occasionally he may drift off into “audiophile adjectivitis” but make no mistake, this man knows his physics. Despite my having an acoustical physics education, Smith’s in-depth design sections sent me back to the books. Those interested in speaker design theory will certainly find his essays of great interest.
As we know, sonic performance, not theory, is the ultimate judge. Based on my extended evaluation of these speakers – over the course of several months and numerous recording projects – Smith most certainly used his extensive knowledge for good, not evil.
These speakers fascinated my recording colleagues and me to no end. When they were first set up, we sat listening for hours, eager to hear what our favorite mixes and CDs sounded like on the Timepiece monitors.
Initially, the high end felt slightly under-emphasized but on further examination, peaks and transients were all there – not smeared or grating like so many other popular models. And the tight accuracy and definition of the low end is impressive.
The overall feeling we got from extensive use of the speakers (everyone wanted to use them) was of an unveiling of details and renewed dynamics within the mixes with none of the artifacts created through artificial emphasis. Thanks in no small part to the waveguide, on- and off-axis dispersion and overall spectral imaging was clean and consistent.
Smooth frequency response and dynamic performance reinforce SP Technology’s mission statement that they built these monitors from the ground up in partnership with the laws of physics. I found that the customary studio monitor acclimation period was very brief with these speakers – even the earliest mixes I did on the Timepiece 2.0 monitors translated very well.
SP Technology’s Timepiece 2.0s are unquestionably among the finest monitors I have had the pleasure of using.
Bryston 4B and Hafler P3000 amplifiers; Audience high-resolution speaker and audio cables; TASCAM DS-M7.1 surround monitor controller.