Exclusive Testing of Poor Man's Watt Canadian made TTS
(The Troubador Speaker)
Audioland - Hong Kong, Dec/95
People have said that for any product to receive a good review in this magazine it is necessary for the to have taken out an ad, I disagree. People also say that to get good reviews, one must have good connection here, I again I disagree. I have only one principle and that is, to give the review that is deserved. I do not care who the supplier is. I am always on the side of the consumer. A very good example of this is following review. This speaker was brought back by a friend of mine from Canada. At this time the company does not even have any dealers in Hong Kong. The Troubador is shaped like a Genesis V, wood work that resembles the Avalon Monitor and it looks like the Watts when it sits on it's own stands.
This is a very special and innovative design with exceptional sound and a very reasonable price. It is such a bargain for the dollar, that I decided to introduce this speaker to our readers immediately even though there was no advertising placed in this magazine.
TTS is short for The Troubador Speaker and it is designed and manufactured by Coincident Speaker Technology. This TTS is one of their three speakers being produced and it is also their entry level product.
All external sides of the speaker are not parallel to one another. The idea behind this design is to reduce reflections and internal standing waves. The front of the speaker is bevelled to minimize diffraction and is similar to Avalon The Monitor. In terms of workmanship, TTS is extreme high end. Wood grains are all matched and polishing is of top class furniture standard. It's so smooth to the touch, just like the Sonus Faber.
Even though TTS resembles a few other famous speakers on looks alone, the driver design is all its own. Mid and low range frequencies are being handled by a six inch composite driver, while the high frequencies are reproduced by a one inch silk dome tweeter. Although I am uncertain as to where the driver is manufactured it appears to be very unique just by the appearance alone.
The concentric design is reminiscent of the British manufacturer Tannoy. This design is seldom used in high end today. That is why I was surprised to see this design again on TTS. Everyone knows that this design allows the sound to originate from the same source or location thereby producing sharp focus. TTS did not let me down at all. Before it was properly placed, this advantage was already very apparent. According to the manufacturer TTS should be toed in between 15 and 20 degrees and should be 28 inches off the ground. Initially I did not follow these instructions. I placed it on a 24" stand (LS 3/5A stand) and 0 degree toe in. The focusing was very well placed even in this location and much better than my reference speaker - Dali Royal. As I toed them in, the clarity and focus gradually spread to the left and right, forming a half circle musical picture. However the effect deteriorated as I approached 20 degrees. The sound source started to cross each other and I think this was due to the side wall being close to the speakers. Readers should therefore take their room size and conditions into account when following the manufacturer's recommendations.
The sharp focus was accomplished but due to improper height, individual instruments became either too high or too low. Luckily, TTS has its own stands and the results will be much better. By just comparing the sound, TTS is the best imaging speaker I have ever tested. The sound in a musical sense depends on the type of electronics used.
TTS is very neutral sonically. During the testing period, I used amplifiers both tube and solid state to drive them, It honestly reveals the differences of the different amplifiers. It is very neutral and is like a monitor overall.
Due to the high sensitivity (90db) it will handle amplifiers from 7 watts to 150 watts and it is quite easy to drive. Any amplifier of 50 watts per channel is sufficient to produce extreme dynamics. Although there are other high sensitivity speakers on the market, the extension of the low frequencies really surprised me. For example, the LP that I used for testing - Joe Williams "New York Life" has bass notes that were reproduced to between 30 and 40 hz. If th listening room is within 200 sq. ft., TTS will give you rich and extended low frequency response.
Secret Weapon - Subwoofer.
I did mention that TTS did resemble the Watts because you can use it with a subwoofer made by the same company to be used for larger listening areas or for those who need extra bass. Although I did not have the chance to test TTS with its sub, I think it is a very useful design. Also, this is the route taken by high end speakers. Examples will be the Watt and Puppy, Ensemble's Profund and Roger's AB-1.
Further Testing - Review of Imperfection.
After praising, now it is time to review its imperfection. I mentioned the advantage of the concentric design, But why is only TTS using it? Is it that other manufacturers are not aware of this technology? It is because this design has an inherent flaw. The tweeter has to be placed within the mid-low range driver, therefore the tweeter cannot be large. The high range driver will be rolled off and TTS has this same problem. During initial testing, I was so amazed and attracted by its imaging ability and therefore easily overlooked the high frequency problem. This problem became more apparent when doing AB comparisons with other high end speakers. The weakness I am talking about is not that there is insufficient extension of high frequencies, but rather the air in the highs seems to be thinned. Everyone, however, please relax since this problem can easily be remedied by a pair of speaker cables with good highs or a good tube amp.
In Conclusion -
TTS is a beautifully packaged speaker that has all the high end ingredients. For example, its unique shape, exceptional wood work, unusual design, sharp and accurate focus, etc., plus high sensitivity and more than one killer secret weapon, all combine to make it an exceptional high end product. TTS sells for approximately $1495 US in North America and is about $9000HK. This is a very reasonably priced speaker. If anyone wants to buy the expensive Watt, Genesis V or Avalon The Monitor, and is travelling to North America, then he or she should take notice of the TTS.