Tannoy Revolution XT 6 loudspeaker Page 2

During my second cup of coffee, while listening to Ito Ema play Bach's Goldberg Variations (CD, M•A recordings MO24A), I heard a dip around 120Hz and some boosted energy just above the 1.8kHz crossover point. The 120Hz dip made the left side of Ito's piano seem less corporeal than I prefer. The 2kHz boost made the upper registers sound lively and direct.

With both the Rogue Stereo 100 and now the Schiit Aegir, I would have to describe the Revolution XT 6's sound as pure and focused but slightly soft. Orchestral soundstages were accurately mapped. There were multitudes of fine detail, but that detail was low in contrast. I remember thinking to myself, this is a speaker that might actually benefit from the high damping factor and etched clarity of an amp like the Benchmark AHB2 (footnote 2).


My biggest revelation about the XT 6s came when I played my #1 test track for every audio device: "Buddy & Maria Elena Talking in Apartment (Undubbed Version)" from Down the Line: Rarities (CD, Decca B0011675-02). This mono track, which consists of Buddy Holly and his wife Maria Elena talking in a vibrating sea of living room and NYC street sounds, was recorded by Buddy, in his Fifth Avenue apartment, on an Ampex 401A mono recorder he had purchased from his producer, Norman Petty. This track is composed of Buddy and Mar°a Elena speaking and laughing, with everyday sounds like wind, cars, a ringing telephone, and crumpling paper—myriad low-level information mapping the spatial layout of the room despite the mono recording. On my best headphones, I can feel the air in the room as a textured volume with tangible mass. On this track, the Tannoy XT 6s driven by the modest Schiit Aegir flaunted their coherence, with likely the best voice intelligibility I have heard from a box speaker on a stand.


Dust-sized detail and textural contrasts were reduced compared to my Falcon LS3/5a or Harbeth P3ESR, but I doubt I have heard these Buddy Holly apartment sounds with a more conspicuous coherence. The only negative was a slight gray haze in the lower treble that reduced contrast and transparency.

While the Schiit Aegir was driving the XT 6s, I decided to try my most difficult test for loudspeaker tone quality: soprano Kirsten Flagstad's Wagner Recital with Hans Knappertsbusch conducting the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra (LP, Decca LXT 5249). This is a 1956 mono recording, mixed from three microphones; I traced it with a stereo My Sonic Lab Ultra Eminent Ex phono cartridge. It was the most spacious, solid, three-dimensional "mono" I have heard from a stereo hi-fi rig. Imagine an extremely deep soundstage with a multitude of right, left, and back-of-stage details. I suspect this vivid 3D-ness was a result of Decca's three-microphone technique coupled with the Tannoys' exceptional coherence. However, the full pleasures of this well-recorded recital are revealed only when there is absolutely dead-on pitch and timbre, and the XT 6s did that, too.

On a shelf
I don't own a bureau, and my desk is too small for the XT 6s, but in the middle of the review period, I installed the XT 6s on the bookshelf just above my desk, replacing my steadfast Dynaudio Excite X12 loudspeakers. As soon as they were installed, I watched the inspiring artist-documentary "Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool," streamed through the Mytek HiFi Brooklyn+ DAC, the XT 6s powered by Mytek's Brooklyn amplifier.

The sound was relaxed and clear. Best of all, the voices, especially the gravelly voice of Miles—as performed by Carl Lumbly—were there in all their textural and tonal glory. This positioning, only 6" from the wall behind them, seemed to make the 50–300Hz octaves smoother, more correct-sounding and better integrated than they were on stands in my floor system. I'm not sure why I wasn't getting similar room reinforcement when they were placed on the stands; maybe the difference comes from the different listening positions. In any case, this should be one of the key takeaways from this review: the XT 6 should sound spectacular on your bureau or desk.

Compared to KEF LS50
While enjoying the Tannoys on the shelf, I decided to spend a couple of days reabsorbing the virtues of KEF's LS50 speakers in the big system. If the XT 6s are to enjoy any great success, they must compete with the broad-ranging abilities of the already classic LS50—noting that the LS50s cost $1500/pair, or 50% more at full retail.

On the first day, I noticed the little KEFs' greater bass solidity and also how, in my room, they seemed a couple of dBs up around 120Hz, while the XT 6s had seemed a couple of dBs down at that frequency. The LS50s played Miles Davis's 1969 recording In a Silent Way (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab LP MFSL 1-377) with more force and density than the XT 6s. On "Shhh/Peaceful," the Tannoys sounded more refined, polished, and subtly detailed than the LS50s, but also a bit indistinct. The Tannoys made Miles's trumpet sound pure and colorful but less direct and powerful than it sounded through the LS50s.

Playing my favorite Miles Davis album, On the Corner (LP, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab MFSL 1-452), the LS50s made the grooves growl while emphasizing the madly simple demonic energy of Michael Henderson's electric bass. In contrast, the XT 6s delivered more transparency, which gave me a clearer view of John McLaughlin punctuating the mix with his disturbed, dangerous tones—tones that illustrate how far into the heart of darkness American blues had progressed in the 10 years previous to this session.


The LS50s expressed the bleakness of the On the Corner attitude—the angry street tough part. In contrast, the XT 6s focused my attention on the nuance and beauty of every dying polyrhythm. The LS50 generated force and body. The XT 6 showcased nuance of tone. Both were good. Neither was completely satisfying.

Compared to the Elac Carina BS243.4
The Tannoy XT 6's separate plinth/base and bottom-firing port reminded me of the $1199/pair Elac Carina BS243.4 I reviewed in January 2020.

When that review appeared on the Stereophile website, an astute reader (Ortofan) noticed that I used these words to describe the Carina BS243.4: "more refined than any similarly priced loudspeaker I know of" and "the word elegant kept forcing itself on me." Ortofan asked if I remembered stating that the comparably priced Wharfedale Linton Heritage speakers "merge a refined, elegantly detailed sound with a magnetic personality that made me want to play records—made me want to listen longer, and to understand more of what I was listening to." He then asked, "So HR, if the sound quality of both speakers is refined and elegant, do the ELAC Carina speakers also have that certain "magnetic personality" that makes you want to play records and listen longer, or not?" My reply was, "I choose my words carefully."

A blunter version of my answer would have been "No." The Elacs were more refined and elegant than the Lintons, but they had less personality. To my taste, they made music too neat and tidy.

I've had a lifelong infatuation with classic British loudspeakers, most especially the Quad ESL, the Rogers LS3/5a, and the Spendor BC1. These speakers deliver a fundamental musical naturalness because of their flaws! Not in spite of them.

In my mind, beauty resides in what I call natural irregularities: dimples, some extra flesh, a gap-toothed smile, a saucy attitude. My beauty needs to show itself as vibrant, rosy-cheeked, and alive. In my room, the Wharfedale Linton Heritage was always vibrant and alive, ready for any music I might throw at them, but they were a little fluffy in the upper bass/lower midrange. At just $1198/pair, I regarded that fluff as a "heritage" pleasure, not a distraction.

The best thing about the Tannoy Revolution XT 6 was that, once they broke in, they never distracted me from enjoying whatever type of music I chose to listen to. In that regard, they reminded me of my beloved but much more expensive Harbeth P3ESRs ($2995/pair). Both small loudspeakers deliver dense textures, accurate timbre, and extraordinary spatial coherence.

The Tannoys and the Elac Carinas—both bottom-ported speakers—feature a precisely managed sound. But, while the Carinas sound buttoned-down, the XT 6s have a sensuous, flirty, seductive side that makes me want to smile, and dream, and listen to one record after another. Highly recommended.

Footnote 2: Unfortunately, the AHB2 was sent back to the factory long ago, so I could not do the experiment.
Tannoy Group Ltd.
US Distributor Upscale Audio
2058 Wright Ave.
La Verne, CA 91750
(909) 931-9686

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I agree ...... Ortofan is an 'astute' reader :-) .......

davip's picture

"...Imagine sound that's thin, metallic, herky-jerky, dull, and rolled off completely below about 90Hz. I repeat: rolled off completely below 90Hz..."

That, Herb, was what I heard from the Tannoy DC2000s that I stupidly bought online in 1989. Unlike your experience, they Never broke in and sounded as sh1t on Day 300 as they did on Day 1. I could never understand why a speaker with two 7-8" woofers in an IB enclosure over 1-m tall could sound so anaemic in the bass. By Day 300, I didn't care and sold them for 1/3 purchase to someone to sit aside his Sony Profeel monitor.

I kid you not when I say that I have heard loudspeakers the size of a 2lb bag of sugar with better bass-response than those Tannoys, and I eventually chalked that absence of bass and crap, shouty sound quality down to simple lack of engineering -- anyone who understood what they were doing in Tannoy is long-dead and gone. I will never buy anything from this junk brand again -- and will happily shout my experience for anyone who's thinking of putting money their way.

It might not seem like a particularly "astute" comment, but when you start a review with "...sound that's thin, metallic, herky-jerky, dull, and rolled off completely below about 90Hz. I repeat: rolled off completely below 90Hz...", it's questionable that you should finish that review with the words "Highly Recommended". This isn't 'break-in', it's Acceptance, and quote 1 mirrors my experience of the Tannoy Dual Concentric driver exactly...

beave's picture

It's a good thing you don't hold a grudge for long! ;-)

davip's picture

I'll remember you said that... X-/

beave's picture

Believe me, I was afraid to submit that post! :-)

emir's picture

Yes certainly Tannoy is not the brand it used to be when they introduced their coaxial drivers back in the four ties and their huge loudspeakers Westimster for example.Now they are just a name uses by some international group more interested in profit than in high quality.Note as some engineers left the brand and started a new brand Fyne Audio to continue the legacy

AJ's picture

The true nature of the beast.


beave's picture

I definitely like seeing the non-normalized plot along with the normalized one.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It would be nice if Stereophile includes non-normalized response curves on a routine basis ..... The ripple effect between 2kHz and 3kHz is better shown in the non-normalized graphs for example, with these Tannoy speakers ....... The FR jumps up almost +7 db from 2kHz to 3kHz ..... Non-normalized graphs are some what similar to the 'Spinorama' graphs obtained at Harman International :-) ......

Erin's picture

Some prefer one method. Others prefer another. I provide the data in both ways just so people won't raise pitchforks. For example:

AJ's picture

Others prefer another.

Well, one shows what hits the walls, one doesn't.
To each their own.
Nice site.



Erin's picture

Absolutely. Just saying that I wish more would provide both to catch both sides of the coin.

funambulistic's picture

I know you from the AH site! Loved your reviews of the Buchardt and Jamo speakers.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It would be interesting to see the measurements of MC Audiotech and Endow Audio speakers ....... They were shown in Florida Audio Expo 2020 and RMAF 2019 ........ Both JM and JVS liked their sound during those shows :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Nice listening room ..... BTW, are those copper infused socks? :-) .......

Erin's picture

Yes, yes, they are copper infused socks. Not because of their ability to help stuff ports properly. But because of their conductive properties when it comes to blood flow. Gotta keep those toes a-wigglin'. :D

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 routinely provides port FR measurements ...... See, Fig.3 red trace in measurements section for this Tannoy speaker model :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Take a look at Stereophile port FR measurements of Totem Skylight speakers ....... Fig.3, red trace in measurements :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Take a look at 22 song playlist Rolls Royce uses to fine tune their car audio systems, posted on Sound & Vision magazine website ........ How come you don't have 'Hotel California' on your playlist? ...... Rolls Royce has it on their playlist :-) ........

tonykaz's picture


the factory is supposed to have Quality Control burning everything in, with a final test sign-off! ( one more china problem )

Keven Deal should've checked these Loudspeaker's performance before he let them out the door.

Deal and Tannoy got very lucky that this reviewer persevered , put the drivers thru a full 100 hour initial break in. I doubt that I would've had the patience of JOB like Mr.HR displayed and I doubt that buyers in today's marketplace will put up with such a defective 'First Impression'.

I can't recall ever getting a "Highly Recommend" on any product that didn't dazzle right out of the box.

I'm wondering: How long will this broken-in Loudspeaker System perform adequately before it's hidden problem re-surfaces. We need accurate, no-bs explanations from Mr.Deal ( don't we? ) and from the Tannoy people considering that Stereophile is the highest integrity Audio Journal.

Mr.JA1 described the complexity of this design and highlighted a persistent problem lurking in it's presence region.

Tony in Venice

ps. these things might sell quite well on the shelves of Best Buy, probably discounted down to some attractive 'Street Price'

er1c's picture

Herb you work so hard to find redeeming qualities in things, ie, critical comments followed by a reason to praise; and I find this endearing. And you write like a painter (Oh yeah, you are that) I own nos tubes purchased at Upscale, a few great a few so so in my Rogue Sphinx v2 and now v3. With Kevin (and I very much enjoy his enthusiasm) everything is fabulous as if he's partaken of very high quality sacred herb just prior. I mean no offense, just saying. I am acquaintance of two very high profile recording engineer/producers who use early Tannoy Monitor Golds with custom cabinets, as studio monitors and since they can afford and obtain anything they want, these must actually be fabulous. I mean they use damn original RCA 44s on drums for crying out loud (I am actually crying) Judging by the artists they've recorded and how amazing the records sound I have no doubt in thier choice of gear. So there must be TANNOY and then tannoy Thanks Herb, I own Spinx v3 and love it whether you do or not, it is a wonderful sound in my economic reach.

Herb Reichert's picture

of the Sphinx V3 (Followup to follow) as well Tannoy Monitor Golds. Also...

I am a forever fan of Tannoy Arden and Tannoy Red or Black drivers on open baffles - just sayin'


Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is it possible to get measurements of Sphinx V3? :-) ......

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
Is it possible to get measurements of Sphinx V3?

Herb's followup appears in the August issue and is accompanied by a full set of measurements. And yes, he does evaluate the headphone output.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be HR could also review the new PS Audio Stellar Strata integrated amp ($3,000) :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hope HR evaluates the headphone output of Sphinx V3, also :-) .......

beave's picture

It would be interesting to have measurements for both a "broken-in" speaker and one straight out of its box. If not measurements, at least listening comparisons might be worthwhile, to see how much the break-in is the speaker changing and how much is the reviewer's perception changing.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Breaking news! ........ After 100 hours, the speakers have finally broken-in! :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Friend: Herb, is there a new construction going on in your listening room? ..... I hear jackhammer sound ....
Herb: No, those are my new speakers breaking-in :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

... better off by instead submitting for review the Revolution XT-8F?

Measurements accompanying the Hi-Fi World review indicate that the low frequency response peaks at about 60Hz, which would likely address HR's comments regarding a lack of output below 90Hz for the XT-6. Foam plugs for the ports are available if the low frequency output is too great. Also, the ~7-8dB peak in frequency response at about 3kHz, shown in JA1's test data, appears to be absent in the XT-8F. Note that the HFW reviewer remarked that the XT8 "had an expansive, immersive sound that encouraged me to extend listening sessions just a little bit longer."


In another review, the XT-8F was declared a Hi-Fi Choice group test winner, besting competitors from DALI, Epos, GoldenEar, KEF and Q Acoustics.


Certainly the $2,300 XT-8F costs more than double the price of the XT-6, but perhaps that added expenditure might yield more than proportional gains in sound quality. In between, there is the $1,700 XT-6F, which received a 5-star rating from What Hi-Fi.


Bogolu Haranath's picture

KEF R5 ($3,000/pair) competes well with Tannoy XT-8F :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

... make that determination?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

KEF R5 was reviewed by TJN for S&V magazine (along with other KEF HT models) ....... Judging from the KEF R3 and R11 models reviewed by Hi-Fi News, most likely the R5 is also a good value for the money :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Because XT-8F is a 2 1/2 way design, they may provide slightly more low bass extension than the KEF R5 :-) ......

Ortofan's picture

... the 2-1/2 way XT-8F might provide slightly more low bass extension than the 3 way KEF R5?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Tannoy XT-8F has two 8" mid-bass and bass drivers ...... Since XT-8F is a 2-1/2 way design, both 8" drivers operate into bass frequencies, up to the port tuning frequency ...... KEF R5 is a 3-way design with two 5.25" drivers operating in the bass frequency up to the port tuning frequency ...... So, the XT-8F could have as much as 10 Hz low bass frequency extension than R5 ......

It is possible that the R5 could have less TIM distortion in the midrange with better midrange resolution than the XT-8F, because R5 is a 3-way design :-) ........

Kal Rubinson's picture

...... Since XT-8F is a 2-1/2 way design, both 8" drivers operate into bass frequencies, up to the port tuning frequency ..

Both 8" drivers will operate down to (and below) the port frequency as well as up to the LP filter for one of them.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yes, agreed ......There would be rapid fall-off of bass frequency, below the port tuning frequency :-) ......

Kal Rubinson's picture

I was too subtle. They both perform down to the port frequency, not up!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yes, the lower woofer rolls-off above 250 Hz :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Ha, I it see now ...... I should have said 'both drivers operate 'down' to the port tuning frequency' ....... Thank you for the correction ....... I should work on my English language :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Aha ..... KR's next reviewing project, Tannoy XT-8F :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

HR could review the NHT C3 ($1,000/pair to $1,100/pair) ...... Was reviewed and measured by Home Theater HiFi :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

SVS Prime Pinnacle ($1,600/pair) is another floor-standing speaker favorably reviewed by S&V magazine and Hi-Fi News :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... in regard to (apparently high) levels of distortion, over on this site:

Roger That's picture

…in an relatively recent online interview, break-in should apply mainly to the woofer(s), and it should be accomplished in a matter of seconds by applying a very low frequency signal (that makes the cone and its suspension traveling in high excursions without applying too much power to the voice coil/thus less heat).

He even defends that the parameters don’t change significantly after those seconds of hard work (except for the mechanical wear and tear that time, years and/or operation will unavoidably bring along), and that a loudspeaker that isn’t used for a very long time can benefit from that process again.

I don’t have any credentials to confirm or deny statements by someone like Andrew Jones, although I can say that I’ve measured the resonant frequency and impedance curve of used drivers (woofers) that were stored for quite some time before and after that exercise mentioned by AJ, and they definitely changed.

I ended up not taking the extra steps in my measurements and go through the Thiele-Small parameters, but I’d almost bet that it would likely be different before and after that exercise (I used a sine wave around 12 Hz or so for less than a minute).

I assume that this was a pure anecdotal experience, but it does correlate with what a very respected loudspeaker and driver designer says (he doesn’t seem to have much faith in “breaking in” tweeters and other smaller drivers for a long period of time, and honestly, neither do I in my experience*).

And all of this to say that breaking-in these specific Tannoys won’t ever change one of the following facts:

  • Either there was a problem on manufacturing and these units were not up to specifications, or
  • This is a poorly designed loudspeaker which shouldn’t be sold by this brand at any price, let alone $1000;

None of these scenarios is positive, because one would suggest a terrible quality control at the manufacturing stage, and the other would suggest just plain wrong engineering (which doesn’t make sense in a brand with these resources).

But that FR is way too flawed to sound anything close to “right”, let alone neutral. That is a ridiculous response any way we look at it.

That “thin, metallic” sound does correlate to what JA measured, and the “rolled off completely below about 90Hz” wouldn’t be surprising if the nearfield rise in level is removed, and other room-related issues combine in a way that’s not favourable to this underachieving loudspeaker.

In the end, almost any loudspeaker can sound “ok” if a combination of factors happens at the same time (the music used for testing, the interaction with the room and partnering equipment’s, and even reviewer bias (we all have our own, whether we realize it or not).

Comparing these measurements with almost any reputable British manufacturer (as reviewed by Stereophile) paints a very clear picture, even at lower price points.

In all fairness, JA (in all its amazing diplomacy) is very clear on his final assessment, which is definitely not something worth a “Highly recommended” measured performance.

I would like to see the in-room response in the reviewer’s room at the end of the review, in order to see if we could make some sense of what made this poorly engineered loudspeaker deserve such a high accolade by the reviewer.

I cannot praise Stereophile enough for having measurements at the end of a review, because (without any disregard for the reviewers opinion at all), this is why people (myself included in the past) would buy a recommended product from an audio magazine, only to find out that the harshness (or any other problem) would never go away.

By making the “complex sum” of the reviewer words with JA’s measurements, things tend to become a lot clearer (or harsher -literally in this case).

*To be clear, my personal experience and beliefs are only mine, without any pretension to be right.

trynberg's picture

It's appalling this poorly engineered speaker earned a "highly recommended" designation. The frequency response is so awful and the woofer rings like a bell. This kind of performance shouldn't be excused on a $300/pair speaker, let alone a $1,000 pair. Pathetic.