Been reading this thread with a lot of interest. Funny enough I was at Audio Gold in London less two weeks ago. Best service I have received from any Hifi shop so far. Friendly and relaxed shop. Heavenly place for vintage hifi. Going there again to audition some speakers Nxt week.RLCCM said:Hi all, so after a few weeks waiting with no progress I've today finally made the next big step/test forward - the big one that I've been waiting for infact. I got a chance to plug a pir of Tannoy Turnberry GR's with the same Icon Audio amp as mine (though with a different set of valves admittedly, KT150's instead of my KT120's). The CD player used however was something that gives less detail and clarity than my audiolab.
The Turnberry's are the slightly bigger brothers of the Stirlings I have my eye on - they are more or less the same speaker in a bigger cabinet, and despite being on the smaller end of the prestige range, I can say they were pretty freakin' huge! Much bigger than I expected. And given that the Stirlings are not all that much smaller - I would say the Stirling is pretty much bang on the size I am looking for - if not even potentially still a bit big - the living room will easily take it!
They also are a very nice looking set of furniture, which is a plus. They'll go very well with my furniture, so on that note, the one minor worry is put aside.
More importantly, the sound - well firstly they were tested at a favourite shop of mine "Audio Gold" in london. Great friendly shop, selling mostly antique hi-fi equipment and Vinyl, and a bit of an aladdins cave. They have a brilliant friendly service, with no push to sell. It's a somewhat imperfect listenning room however, as there is a great deal of clutter, and so many passive speaker cones, grilles, cabinets, and just about everything else about to soak up and flatten and deaden the sound in there, so it's a very poor approximation comparative to my living room, which will undoubtedly be livelier, as well as larger.
The Turnberry's however were frankly.... admirable! They produce a lush, big sound, whilst being remarkably easy to drive (we didnt turn the amp over roughly 1/4 volume - i needed much more for the PM1). The detail and clarity was fantastic, the balance really good with the big band horns still having a full punch that others have missed. In a better room I would feel as if I was right there... these seriously blew away the PM1 (or frankly any others I've heard) for detail which remains with a cohesive presentation. Classical instruments and the full orchestra equally sounded fully detailed and lush, it was quite an experience, except for the accoustic deadenning of the room sitting on the shoulders like a ton of bricks to weigh it down - the room didnt quite let the speakers sing at the top end quite as I'd hoped, but to be fair, that really is splitting hairs because in any better and more open space, I think the treble would have a fantastic realism.
Also splitting hairs would be the bass, perhaps a touch large for my taste - it was certainly more than ample and full in scale, and with a valve amp, perhaps could have had slightly better control, but to be fair again - they have all the colour and feel of the instrument that most speakers lack, really hearing the wood of the double bass. The assistant at the shop said that the Stirlings (which they did have in before) are VERY similar to the turnberry in sound and presentation, but for the Turnberry's having that bit bigger bass due to the larger cabinet. This seems to make sense, and therefore again points me towards the Stirlings over the Turnberry.
The Turnberry's to my ears, and despite this awful room, were instantly clearer and more likeable than the Harbeth SuperHL5+ which in many ways was the most similar presentation I've heard to date, and far more engaging than the CM9, CM10 or 805D.
SO, knowing that I've punched holes in every speaker I've heard to date - where did these fall down? That's so far the most difficult question to answer of any I've tested, I perhaps wanted them to sing just a touch more in the treble, but really think that is likely the room and positioning of them (though they dont seem picky in placement). Otherwise, I would say for Parov Stelar or Woodkid, i.e modern music didnt quite have the edge it wants, again though, that's very difficult to reach with the valve amp, and a relatively unimportant test. With Pearl Jam, I initially felt it a bit warm, also losing a bit of edge, but then after some moments my ears attuned and I was quite happy - and overwhelmed if turning the volume up at all! Seriously... they can ROCK with volume!
Also, we plugged in some vintage Celestion DItton 44 (i think) speakers to compare to. A bit damaged, but only £550 due to age, these gave a great performance, in terms of lush warm waves of sound coming out, they were hugely enjoyable, an absolute bargain for the money. However they really lacked detail in comparison to the Tannoy's. The shop owner said he has a pair at home so he can effectively relax as they are so warm and easy to listen to. Very much worth a listen, though I am not sure I want to see them in my living room!
Lastly, as someone mentioned somewhere above to try alternative sources - another customer tried the same Icon Audio/Tannoy set-up with a vintage turntable rather than my CD's and... wow! It was a match made in heaven on a Ray Charles disc! So silky and rich... that really was a joy to the ears. So yes, at some point I will have to get a turntable!
But for now, the Turnberry's have been the best speaker I've heard to date, to the extent I think it's time to buy, bearing in mind the slightly cheaper and smaller cabinets of the Stirlings may just reign in the bass a little in my favour!
So... I'm going to mull it over for a couple of days, but I'm very likely to buy the Stirlings at the cut-down £2600. At this price, they even feel like good value comparatively!
Seems you really knew what you were looking for and got it. Was nice reading about your story. I will be on a journey soon to dwn size step by step and would not just settle for any sound. Most popular main stream speakers do not rock my boat. I like my current speakers but still think it could do better in terms of openness in the mid range. I may go active but will take the path which sounds best to me. ENJOY!