Tekton Design Impact Monitor loudspeaker Page 2

I was stuck: Move the Impacts back and they boomed, move them forward and they blurred. Seeking an enjoyable compromise, I kept moving them—forward and back, closer and farther apart. With each pair of speaker positions, the quantity and quality of bass were dramatically different from what they were in all other positions. A score of radical, floor-gouging adjustments and much lamenting later, I remembered the ol' sock mod. I stuffed the Tektons' ports with Wigwam Outlast Weather Shield socks. Voilà! It reduced the overloading of the room, which I'd determined was happening in the 50–70Hz area. Socks in, there was less apparent low bass, but also less muddy energy clouding the midrange. More important, the socks let me move the speakers back to only 21" from the front wall, where their frequency response seemed relatively smooth and their image focus sharpest. Throughout my listening for this review, I stuffed in Wigwams and yanked them out as the spirit and the recording moved me. Most of the listening observations below were made sans socks.

Toe-in was another big deal. Getting the Impact Monitors to focus their best required placing them closer together than I ever could have imagined would work—the centers of their central tweeters were only 5.6' apart—and toed in about 16°. And from there, at last, they sounded light, fast, and strong, with clean, detailed bass and substantial, detailed soundstages.

The Impact Monitors played reggae extremely well. The first recording I played after finally getting the Tektons dialed in was This Is Reggae Music Vol.2 (LP, Island ILPS-9327-A). As usual when I play this 1975 anthology, what most grabbed my attention was Scotty and Lorna Bennett singing their provocative reggae classic "Skank in Bed": "Breakfast in bed, kisses for me / You don't have to say you love me."

The Impact Monitors displayed every sex-drenched aspect of this song made famous by Dusty Springfield on Dusty in Memphis, with vivid, colorful sensuality. The Hammond organ did its rich tone thing, with DJ Scotty and the best bass lines all stage front, Lorna and the horn section far upstage. Percussive bass seemed attractively fat but tight, and moved like thick hips dancing. Every offbeat rhythm was a delight. Scotty and Lorna's reggae was Jah-loves-I-and-I real.

Breakfast in bed, love can make you sing
What's your hurry, please don't hit and run
We can let her wait, my darling, it has been so long . . .

After breakfast . . .

Every track on Lou Reed and John Cale's quasi-biographical Songs for Drella (CD, Sire 26140-2) humanizes and demythologizes America's most influential artist post-WWII: painter, sculptor, filmmaker, and social avatar Andy Warhol. Cale plays various keyboards and speaks in the voice of Andy, while Reed explains, recollects, and eulogizes. Every track is saturated with reverb; in, say, "Trouble with Classicists," this provides a resilient cushion of studio-generated "air" that captivatingly surrounds and frames the voices. Reed's solitary guitar notes appear sharply, float in space, and finally fade into a reverberating abyss. The Impact Monitors revealed textures and energy in ways that made the songs feel like paintings, reproducing these reverb-filled songs with grace, taut energy, and saturated tone. However, the music was slightly blurred and indistinct in comparison to how it sounded through the more expensive DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93s ($8400/pair) or Harbeth Monitor 30.2s ($6495/pair).

Imaging and saturation of tone are the first things I notice when I put a record on, and the Impact Monitors delivered both in good measure. They even overcame my dread of the comb filtering and phase-related mishegas that I feared 14 tweeters would produce by delivering surprising amounts of well-focused detail.

The Tekton's best and most important trait was its ability to grab and hold my attention, make me think, Oh, how nice this music sounds, then draw me further in, and end up having held my attention for a long time indeed. They specialized in making all types of music easy and fun to listen to.

Because they're tiny sealed boxes, my Falcon Acoustics LS3/5as can't reproduce the scale and force of the manic synth expressions recorded by Aaron Funk, aka Venetian Snares, on his Pink + Green (CD, Sublight SLR204). The big-box Impact monitors handled this disc even better than did the Harbeth 30.2s, which make Funk sound a little too precise. I believe Funk wants his audiences to experience something looser and more expansive—as his music sounded through the Impact Monitors. The Tektons were made for this kind of music.

When I first set up the Tektons, I kept thinking I could hear not the vibrations of their cabinet walls, or the puffing of their ports, but the actual empty volume of the inside of their cabinets. I called this coloration the "overtone of emptiness"—it made everything sound as if it was coming from inside a small whisky barrel. This real or imagined coloration appeared and disappeared for no apparent musical or technological reason. Whether or not it was real I don't know, but if it was real, I think it was enhancing the spatiality and relentless force of Aaron Funk's manic, drum-rolling synth inventions. The Tekton Impacts delivered 100% of Pink + Green's smart-artist attitude.

Speaking of smart artists, the Tektons reproduced Alexandre Desplat's score for the film Isle of Dogs (16-bit/44.1kHz, Abaco/Tidal HiFi) at smaller scale than you'd hear it in a movie theater, but still very big and deep-space thrilling for a pair of stand-mounted speakers in a small room.

As I frequently remind you, the best test of any loudspeaker is how tangibly lifelike it can make a recorded piano sound. I hadn't played it in years, but I thought Minoru Nojima's performance of Liszt's Transcendental Études after Paganini No.3, "La Campanella," from Nojima Plays Liszt (CD, Reference RR-25CD), might be a good test. I've heard this classic audiophile recording from 1986 many times, and am never unimpressed when speakers can sail through it as well as the Impact Monitors did. The HoloAudio Spring DAC was in the system, and every quick note was a pleasure to hear. Nojima's Hamburg Steinway sounded a touch soft and slightly smeared—not as precise as through the DeVore O/93s or the Harbeth M30.2s—but the instrument's weight and body were well represented, and the lower half of the keyboard was especially satisfying.

Experimenting with Amplifiers
Over the next several weeks I kept playing Nojima Plays Liszt, Isle of Dogs, and Songs for Drella, while alternating among the Bel Canto Design e.One REF600M, First Watt J2, Pass Laboratories XA25, and PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium power amps and the Line Magnetic LM-518 integrated. It was no contest—the Tektons best reproduced instrumental and male vocal tone when driven by the First Watt J2. The Line Magnetic integrated, with 845 power tubes, best showcased the Impact Monitors' reproduction of midrange textures and the capabilities of women's voices. Not surprisingly, the Impacts were most impactful (sorry) and displayed the most full-range giddy-up when driven by the deep power of the class-D, 300W Bel Canto REF600M monoblocks.

The best amp for pleasure and dreams was the 35Wpc, EL34-tubed PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium. With the PrimaLuna and Isle of Dogs, I kept smiling and chanting, "I like these Tektons, I like these Tektons." Surprisingly, the Bel Canto–Tekton combo didn't sound too soft—it brought flow, body, and texture to the fore of my listening, and promoted Isle of Dogs composer Alexandre Desplat to Boss of All Music Cats. The Tektons loved film soundtracks.

In 2015, my main criticism of Tekton Design's floorstanding Enzo XL was that its overall sound leaned toward the Puritan, the restrained, the businesslike. Tekton's Impact Monitors were not at all like that. To my delight, I found them aptly named: They delivered exceedingly smooth, liquid sound that was weighty, coherent, and impactful. Whatever Eric Alexander is doing with the Impact Monitor's crossover, it seems to be working.

The Impact Monitor is an all-rounder—a loudspeaker capable of satisfying many serious audiophiles, dance-partygoers, and record collectors. Few speakers can play every musical genre with the Impact's level of ease, acuity, and, uh . . . impact. Add to these virtues the fact that few other moderately priced audiophile speakers can play so loud without distortion. And they're unusually easy to drive. At times, the Impact Monitor looked—and sounded—a bit too big for my small room, but I doubt many pairs of stand-mounted speakers could fill a larger room as powerfully or effectively as these did mine. Highly recommended.

Tekton Design LLC
Orem, UT 84058
(801) 836-0764

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Will It Go Round in Circles"? ............. Billy Preston :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

What phraseology, it takes my mind and imagination to Schonbek Silver Chandeliers in Clear Swarovski.

Mr. HR always seems to toss the readership a GODIVA Truffle in his various writings.

I'll have to return to this review after the prose dissolves.

I took a further glance at this loudspeaker and it's siblings wide range of paint offerings. Phew

Stonehenge tweeters & Orange seem at odds. My Eyes are demanding a Grill ( or at least requesting less impact ). I could cover these things with a Silky Cloth and a Statue of Vlad. Putin on one with Mr.Orange on top the other.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Keven Deal just did a YouTube Review of the Tannoy Cheviot ( which wants $6,500 up front and Funeral Home setting back home )

FredisDead's picture

to cancel my subscription.

Catch22's picture

I don't think I've ever seen a disparity that great in sensitivity measurements vs manufacturer's specification. What gives?

Bry_E's picture

That gives me more pause than anything else about Eric's speakers. I don't think any of them have ever matched his sensitivity claims which are as high as 99dB on some models.

es347's picture

..hasn’t McIntosh been doing this for decades?

Anton's picture

Very very similar in appearance!

Ortofan's picture

... get a Frost King F1524 window air conditioner filter and use the open-cell foam to plug the port.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Kinda looks like "Cyclops" :-) .............

tonykaz's picture

there ain't no dam chinesium in any of this outfit's products. ( I can easily forgive 'em for bee-n mormons if that's what they are ). Romney is a good guy and trump a jerk for dissing him.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Trump is a forward-looking progressive and Romney a luddite.

Edit: This might be a good time for a quick historical overview of hardware quality and work ethic. I started with HP proprietary computers several years before IBM entered the PC business. An HP computer could run in a tent in 110 degree F temps when the IBM PC would shut down before temps reached 90. Then in 1985, HP introduced IBM compatibles, and their quality dropped like a stone. I have many specific examples, FYI.

Articles concerning HP's mil-spec industrial-grade quality in the years before they produced PCs raised awareness about their production plants and quality control. In Corvallis OR and Fort Collins CO, the workforce was described as consisting of "Mormons and born-again Christians". I have no reason to believe that their work ethic was dependent on any given cult, but I do believe that the monocultural aspect of their societies in those locations was a huge factor, as it was in the rapid industrialization of Japan and Germany after the war, when they became legendary for high quality. A man named Deming held the key to some of that.

By and large, you pays your money and you takes your choices, but it's good to know which companies make high-quality products, the era in which those are produced, and the backgrounds that lead to such things. In Apple's case for example, large-scale Chinese manufacturing and the legendary iron-fisted dominance of Steve Jobs turned what could have been tons and tons of schlock into a wealth of useful and durable products.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be it is a good idea to stay "in the zone"? :-) ..............

dalethorn's picture

Who is not in the zone? Who violated the zone first? Don't some people always violate the zone? What zone are you in? The twilight zone? Speak plainly.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

High-end (high performance) audiophile zone :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

There is much controversy about the high end zone. With all of the pressures to remaster the world's catalog in MQA, to end downloads in favor of streaming, and to install listening ("music") devices in every home, you might want to think about what exactly is your high-end zone preference. The world is changing, and where is hi-fi going?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yeah ...... That is the fun part of the whole thing .......... That is what keeps us all interested :-) ..........

Indydan's picture

By "the zone", do you mean a polite way of staying on topic? If so, I agree.

Long-time listener's picture

Yes, that was an extremely polite response to the kind of post typical from Dale thorn-in-our-sides -- interminably long, off-topic, self-involved, and with logic that only he understands. Trump? Progressive? Sheesh. A Timothy McVeigh-in-waiting, as nearly as I can tell.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Deming Circle" :-) ............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stuffing socks or air conditioner filter is some thing similar to "heuristic" solution to the problem of over blown bass :-) .............

Ortofan's picture

... foam bungs that some manufacturers ship with their speakers to allow the user to tune the bass response by either partially or fully blocking the port?

This is an example from B&W:

Maybe Tekton should consider employing the same method.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Agreed ....... I am familiar with that option ......... I also, mentioned another option like acoustic suspension (closed box) design .......... Another possible solution could be using a separate subwoofer and take away the bass duties from these (book shelf type of) speakers. Of course separate subwoofer costs extra money. The advantage with separate subwoofer is flexibility of room placement for best possible bass response :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be acoustic suspension design is a better solution :-) ..........

Indydan's picture

Interesting speaker design. Though, probably not for people who suffer from trypophobia.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Or, neophobia :-) ......... Some of the audiophiles have that problem :-) ...........

Indydan's picture

True. And some audiophiles have the opposite problem: they always need something new or different in their system!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Something New" ........... Album by The Beatles :-) .............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Also, "Dora the Explorer" :-) .........

JBLMVBC's picture

"The classic two- or three-way woofer/midrange/tweeter design contains shortcomings, because the mass relationship is wrong when compared to the recorded source [eg, a violin string]."

One wonders how they explain not multiplying woofers in order to keep up their mass mojo for kettle and bass drums, piano etc...

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Great idea ......... How about 7 woofers surrounding 7 tweeters? :-) ............

scottsol's picture

I’m not sure it makes sense to call these three way speakers. At the least, this would only make sense if the center tweeter was fed by a separate high pass filter so it did not share lower frequencies with the six outer tweeters. Otherwise this could at best be called a two and a half way.

TennesseeTuxedo's picture

Last year and this year (2019) I actively sought out the Tektons in the various rooms of RMAF, based on the gushing reviews by certain people at this publication and CNET. On both occasions I was surprised at how colored and down right unpleasant the music sounded. I was completely unable to enjoy the music because the sound was so bad - harsh, screechy and thin. They weren't even taking requests in the Tekton rooms, just playing a canned set so they should have sounded impressive. Well the impression I got was ineptitude all around. (Hey, maybe they'll merge with Zu and between the tw of them they can put out a decent sounding speaker?!?) Anyway, glad I didn't fall for the hype and buy a pair without demoing them first. Caveat emptor.

navr's picture

Hear for yourself:


I'll take these over any stupid orangutan any time of the day

fidobite's picture

I find myself frequently shaking my head at comments from people who smugly make fun of a speaker they haven't even sampled themselves. Some Stereophile visitors are simply laughable in this respect (you know who you are). Is there anything more embarrassing than some old fool with hearing response measurements that look like a carnival roller coaster commenting that, by golly, I know that speaker sucks because, well, I just want it to be bad. After all my $30k TinEar XX6095's are so superior in every way blah, blah, blah.
Nothing is more tedious than old, half deaf "audiophiles" passing judgement on others' fine work because they simply don't understand its technology and/or they've never even sampled it themselves.