The Tannoy Reveal is well-named. It makes clear all sorts of sonic details, such as ambience, timbre and transients. According to Tannoy, the Reveal Active has an extremely detailed, dynamic sound with a wide, flat frequency response – I have to agree.
Product PointsApplications: Project studio; commercial recording; broadcast
Key Features: 40mm thick front baffle; 3-pin XLR-type connector with TRS 1/4″ phone jack
Price: $899 per pair
Contact: Tannoy/TGI North America Inc., 519-745-1158
+ Mostly neutral, accurate sound
+ Good bass for size
+ Tight bass and transients
+ Powerful dynamics
– Slightly bright on axis
– Deep lows lack weight (normal for small speakers)
The Score: “Another fine monitor from Tannoy – sounds great, looks great and the price is right.”
British manufacturer Tannoy is a long-time monitor maker whose expertise is unquestioned. (PAR reviewed the Tannoy Passice Reveal in 11/98, p. 36.) Although Tannoy is well-known known for its coaxial woofer/tweeter designs, in the Reveal Active ($899 per pair) the drivers are separated. These drivers include a ported long-throw 6.5″ woofer and a 1″ soft-dome tweeter crossed over at 3,000 Hz. Both units are magnetically shielded.
Inside the cabinet is a 50 W, continuous-power amp for the woofer and another for the tweeter. (Self-contained powering offers many advantages. The response of the active crossover can compensate for the speaker drivers, giving a flatter response. The amplifiers are ideally matched to the drivers. Distortion is lower at the same volume level compared to passive speakers.)
This is one good-looking monitor. Its cabinet is gray with an azure blue front baffle, beveled to reduce diffraction. This front baffle – 1.6″ thick – is very solid and nonresonant. The cabinet houses a blue power-on LED. On the back of the box are a port, power connector and on/off switch. Signal input is through a Neutrik combo connector, which combines a 3-pin XLR-type with a TRS 1/4″ phone jack. There are no level or tone controls.
Each speaker weighs 18.7 lb and is a compact 13.4″ high, 8.3″ wide and 9.8″ deep. Frequency response is rated as 62 Hz to 20 kHz, +/-3 dB at 1 meter in an anechoic chamber. Maximum SPL is claimed to be 114 dB peak at the mix position for the driven pair, and distortion is less than 0.8% (SPL not stated). Amplifier input sensitivity is 0.775 Vrms (0 dBu).
I liked the clear, user-friendly manual. It covers SPL safety, connections, orientation, placement, specs, service and graphic equalization (not recommended!). The manual helpfully explains the theory behind speaker placement, and it offers tips on avoiding early reflections.
Time to plug in the speakers and listen. I placed the Reveal Actives where they sounded best, about a foot in front of an absorbent wall, three feet apart on stands behind my mixer at ear height, oriented vertically. When I toed-in the speakers to aim them at me, they sounded too bright, so I aimed them straight ahead.
Here are my impressions of the Reveal Actives reproducing instruments from several CDs:
Bass guitar: Fairly deep, full, not boomy, very tight, uniform loudness of notes. The deepest tones lack weight, and there’s some audible doubling. This is normal for a small speaker.
Kick drum: Good impact. Pretty good bottom, considering the small speaker size.
Cymbals: Crisp. Slightly aggressive or overbright unless I aim the speakers straight ahead.
Percussion: Also slightly aggressive, rather than sweet.
Vocals: Not boomy or chesty. Natural, uncolored. Not overly sibilant.
Drums: Lots of snap, strong impact.
Sax: Good balance between warmth and breathiness.
Acoustic guitar: Clear, slightly forward.
Electric guitar: Lots of bite, gutsy. Neither puffy nor thin.
Piano: Natural, nonresonant, and uncolored. Nice!
Orchestra: Natural timbres. Not as lovely as some other speakers. Too bright on-axis.
Overall, the highs, mids and lows are well-balanced, with a slight weighting toward the highs. The upper bass is better controlled in the Reveal Active than in many other speakers. Detail is exemplary. For example, you’ll hear very clear resolution of reverb returns, both in space and in time. When turned up, the Reveal Active plays very loud and has tremendous dynamic range. Transients are clearly etched.
Like other small speakers, the Tannoy Reveal Active is weak in the deep bass and has a bit of doubling. But the overall tonal balance is neutral (especially with the speakers not toed in). There’s a fine sense of detail from these speakers, as well as exciting dynamics and very sharp transients. Another fine monitor from Tannoy.