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REVIEW: Tannoy Little Gold Monitor

My Story
   These speakers were my first set or dual concentric Tannoys. I was watching these on eBay for Tannoy LGM - Speakers' Fronts (Thumbnail) couple of years and always wanted a pair. They do not come up on eBay very often, and when they do, they can reach anything between 700 to 1200 GBP. Purchasing mine was a bit of a coincidence or perhaps a universe giving me signs to purchase these - at least this is how I had to explain it to my girlfriend at the time :).
   I have found a set on eBay (collection only) from Bristol, which is about 4.5h drive from where I live. This correlated with a business trip couple of days after the auction's end date. Guess where? Near Bristol... I've contacted the seller, made an offer and arranged a mutually convenient collection time. Week after, and I was a proud owner of this beautiful Tannoys.



Speakers Info
    These speakers, similarly to many other Tannoy designes, feature famous 'Dual Concentric' construction which means that we have two diaphragms (HF and LF) combined in one driver and working on the same axis (for more details see the Speaker Info paragraph in the Monitor Gold 15 Review). Speakers from ‘*** Gold Monitor’ range are the successors of ‘*** Red Monitor’ range and feature minor improvements over them (please don’t confuse these with much older Monitor Red or Monitor Gold drivers).
    Little Tannoy LGM Behind Mixing Desk (Thumbnail)Gold Monitor speakers were developed with nearfield studio monitoring in mind, and recording/broadcasting studios are where most of these speakers were used (see the image on the left, that was found Tannoy LGM in Sheryl Crow's House (Thumbnail) somewhere on the internet). Many studios still use them these days. A good while ago there was some news on the internet about Sheryl Crow buying a new house for millions of dollars. I’m not usually interested in this type of news but there was a photo of Sheryl’s studio-room (check out the image on the right) and I was very pleased to discover that she had the LGM monitor/s behind the mixing desk. Presumably, whoever works in there with Ms Crow, could have asked for any speakers regardless of cost, and yet he or she chosen LGM’s. To me, this says that LGM’s must be good at something...


Factory Specifications
Frequency Response:
Sensitivity (2.83v at 1m):
Recommended Amplifier:
Impedance:
Drivers:


Crossover Frequencies:
Enclosure Type:
Enclosure Dimensions (HxWxD):
Weight:

Additional Information
Production Year:
Price When Launched:
Equivalent Present Day Price:
Current UK Price:

55 - 20,000Hz (+/- 4dB)
92dB (1W input, measured at 1m)
10 - 200W
8Ω (5.5Ω min.)
HF & LF - Dual Concentric (Type 3149) with:
          51mm (2") Aluminium Dome Compression Driver
          300mm (12") Paper Diaphragm
1,400 Hz
Bass Reflex
548x400x275mm (23x16x11")
21kg (each speaker)


1990
??
??
£650 to £1,200*
*For a pair.



Look & Feel
   In my humble opinion, these speakers are one of the best looking vintage speakers ever. The enclosures are made from thick MDF with two internal bracings and finished in oiled walnut veneer - good looking and very rigid. Gold treble controls and gold writing nicely contrast with black speaker faces. The treble horn throats are painted gold and gently glare through the centre of the drivers. The drivers are very neatly finished with the baskets made from gold painted die cast alloy and a lot of ‘breathing’ space. The 12in bass diaphragms are made from rigid paper suspended on fabric surrounds (aging resistant). The 2in tweeter diaphragms are made from aluminium and are positioned behind the ferrite magnets. The crossovers are hardwired and feature fairly standard components. Interestingly, there is an additional board attached to the crossover which is responsible for delaying the HF signal. As far as I am aware, this was done as a result of using flatter ferrite magnet. This meant that the horn throat was much shorter than in older ranges like Monitor Gold or Monitor HPD, which featured tall AlNiCo magnets that requred the horn throat to be much longer. Short horn throat meant that HF unit was not aligned in phase with LF, hence the time delay circuit. Internal wires and connectors are decent quality but nothing over the top - computer 4 pin plugs and quite thick copper wires.
   Overall, great ‘little’ speakers with rigid enclosures, very good finishing quality and plenty of attention to details.


Sound
   When I bought these speakers, I first compared them to a pair of modern budget floor-standing speakers - Tannoy Mercury F4. What hit me first, was how transparent and clear LGM’s were. The difference was huge. In direct comparison the modern Tannoys sounded like they were playing from behind a thick curtain, whereas LGMs sounded like musicians were playing in my living room. But the first impressions can be misleading, so for next two years, these were used as my main speakers and compared with many other speakers during this period.
   After living with these speakers for a long time, I can say with confidence that people who like full bodied sound or deep bass will not be too happy. These speakers have -4dB at 55Hz and they rapidly drop below this frequency. In their defence though, whatever bass they do, they do it very well. And the dynamics in the upper bass is astonishingly good.
   Midrange and treble is a totally different story. This is where LGMs exceed. They provide exceptional level of details and transparency. The instruments and vocals sound very natural too. Especially guitars and other string instruments. I have never heard any other speakers playing guitars so beautiful and realistic as LGMs. Listening to Stalkers In Tokyo album by Whitesnake was the closest experience of being on that acoustic performance. However, as we all now, speakers are always some sort of compromise, and LGMs are not different in this aspect. Great transparency and a lot of details make them a little edgy and brutal. Edgy because on high vocal notes they sometimes can sound squeaky. Brutal because they play songs as they are and have no mercy for poor recordings. This meant that 70% of my music collection suddenly became less pleasant to listen... Some, more upbeat Bryan Adams' tracks just sound unbearable. Something to consider before purchasing LGMs. Another thing to consider is the depth of soundstage - there is not much of it. The presentation of these speakers is very similar to all other large Dual Concentric Tannoy drivers - wall of sound. Despite this, they are still very musical and give the impression of being with the artists in the room, just not a very large room.



Conclusion
   One of the most transparent speakers I have ever heard but with a bit of edge to it. Very natural sounding but  modest with bass, which spoils the balance of sound a bit and makes them sound a little bright. Ideal for studio monitoring but can be a bit fatiguing when used at home, unless only used with best quality recordings. Overall, very impressive speakers but not good as all-rounders.
 

Balance of Sound:  
Neutrality of Tone:  
Transparency:  
Soundstage:  
Attack:  
Engagement:  
TOTAL:  

Please note - if you want to know what I mean be the descriptions above, hover you mouse over them. More detailed information will be available in separate section of this website.

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