Tekton Design Electron Loudspeakers

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EdVanwinkle100_1.jpgI’m guessing that, like me, you are someone who combs the various internet audio sites to keep your finger on the pulse of the high-end audio industry. Therefore, it’s likely you have noticed the huge amount of attention Tekton Design has garnered from various online sites in the last year or two. Also, like me, you probably hadn’t heard of Tekton. As much as I try it’s hard to keep up with everything out there. Thankfully, I have audiophile “family” who are also out there on the lookout for new products and trends…and we share!

About a year ago one of those shared events came courtesy of Mr. Clement Perry, who had spread the word among the North Jersey contingent of the Stereo Times circle of “family and friends” that he had been enamored by a new speaker and come one, come all to check it out!  Likely you have read his Double Impact review in which he walked us thru his journey with the DI’s. Part of that story was how our friend Dennis Parham became so enamored with the DI’s that he just had to have them…even though his then current loudspeakers cost nearly 10 times more!

From the Beginning

Pureaudiobanner.jpgThat’s where the Tekton story kind of starts for me. Not long before this point I had been introduced to Dennis Parham via a mutual friend (i.e. Jazz drummer extraordinaire Billy Drummond) and soon thereafter I was becoming a pretty regular visitor to his wonderful system which, at the time, was helmed by Sunny horn loudspeakers. The rest of his associated gear was of an equally high level and supported by an array of tweaks; that I was soon to learn more about and lust after. One of the great things about “audiophiles” is they love to compare notes on new music and equipment (and for that matter old music and old equipment). Luckily, due to Dennis’ enthusiasm to share, I was thrilled to get a chance to experience all this stuff first hand. Thank you! (It’s a family affair).

One day he let on about some new Tekton Designs’ Double Impact he had heard at CP’s that were so captivating Dennis considered getting his own pair (which ultimately, he did). A short time later, I got invited to experience them in his place. I’ll never forget what a great first date that was! It took a track or two to acclimate but from there on I was smitten by their effortless dynamics, relaxed demeanor and remarkably large soundstage. Smitten!…as was my listening compadre: Mr. Billy Drummond.                                                                                        

Context

An observation I’ve often had was how Billy…a professional drummer… could sit so physically still while listening. Me, I’m always squirming and tapping and gyrating. I can’t help it. For me, it’s about my being engaged by the music… it’s not about the sound (but IF the sound is good then I’m even more engaged). Too be clear, I never felt Billy wasn’t engaged, just that, as a pro perhaps, he had a practiced composure. My guess is, it comes with the territory of his profession. I, on the other hand, didn’t/couldn’t practice that restraint. But the whole point of this story is to illustrate one of the key reasons why I think Eric Alexander (Tekton Design’s chief designer) is really onto something………. that day Mr. Drummond couldn’t sit still!!   

Miles Filles.jpgKnow that the late, great Tony William’s is one of Billy’s percussive heroes; and he is very intimate with Tony’s sound (live and recorded). His first request was to play something from Miles Davis’ disc Filles De Kilimanjaro (which I really didn’t know very well – that has since been rectified). Within a few minutes Billy got so worked up (he became, dare I say it?… I will…ECSTATIC!) One of the many points Billy went on to make was that he had previously listened to that track many, many times, yet, this time he heard details along with dynamic nuances that just never showed themselves in past listening sessions. This, I thought, spoke volumes!

As we continued our session there was much “oohing and ahhhing.” Eventually, Billy felt the need to break out his phone and take a video to share this new-found greatness with another friend. Summing up, we had a blast with Dennis that day and we all remember it as one of best listening experiences in recent memory. Yeah, maybe there really is something to all this Tekton mania.

So, after a few return visits, the wheels in my head started turning and I too wondered if/how I could get something close to this sound in my own listening room. I started perusing the Tekton website. It seemed to me that the Electron (aka…The Mini Double Impact), the subject of this review, would probably be the right choice for my smallish (~16 x 12 x 8) room. My system consisted of a pair of Audio Physic Avanti’s along with a pair of Vandersteen 2WQ subs. Having lived with this combo for quite a few years I was of the mindset that if I were ever able to entertain changing loudspeakers, there would be a list of demands. I would of course, need a symbiotic relationship between the speakers and my room and components. Also, I would like something that could integrate with the subs. I am a fan of what they can bring to the table. I surmised that The Mini Double Impact which is physically smaller and lighter and less ample in the bass than the DI, would be better able to properly integrate with my subs. If I was able to find all that in one speaker then perhaps they could pass muster as a serious candidate to replace my beloved Avanti’s.

Thinking that the Electron’s (they’re Mini Double Impacts after all) might meet my demands, I floated the idea to Mr. Perry and lo and behold arrangements were made and adventures awaited.

Let the Research Begin

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Let me flesh this out with a little more back story before I go further: Between the time Dennis first ordered the DI’s, and when they arrived, Tekton fever had spread to my interconnected handful of Stereo Times “family and friends.” We were binging on every morsel of info we could find on Tekton. That’s when I discovered that a few Tekton reviews had previously appeared in Stereo Times. I started voraciously studying what was being written about this company. This led me all around the internet, but especially informing was the humongous DI thread on Audiogon (check the Tekton website for a complete list of reviews at other worthy sites).

Over the years, when trying to narrow down the field of contenders for a component that I was interested in, my thinking was that one great review could make a product “interesting”, but my logic told me that if a variety of reviewers liked a product then likely that product was worthier of my attention (the “cream rises” logic).

You Can Fool Some of the People

Now I acknowledge that I wouldn’t be the first to point this out but most of us have “unique” systems. They have evolved over time… due to a bunch of trial and error … substituting different things in and out… looking for that sound. Yet none of them sound alike!  Why?  I think partly it’s because most of us don’t buy systems…we change things step-by-step-by step. Eventually, we hit upon a combination that moves us and makes us happy, until we need to be moved again. My main point being; most of the systems that my friends use have components from all over the world.

While perusing the DI review in Stereo Times, I was reminded of the first time I heard them. Clement (and Mike Wright, in his excellent follow-up) hit on something that Billy and I picked up on immediately; the DI’s image like planars (think Maggies) but have the effortless dynamic jump of high-efficiency transducers (hence their 98 dB sensitivity rating). Though this basic description fits all the Tekton’s I’ve heard, let me attempt to parse their differences. As Mike and Clement pointed out, it’s the patented seven tweeter array that is largely responsible for this aspect of their sound. But what mostly differentiates each of these models is the varying size and number of mid or bass drivers in each.

To date, I’ve personally heard Double Impact’s, Double Impact SE’s, Electrons and Impact Monitors and, not surprisingly, there is a “family” sound. (Ok, Ok, I’ll knock it off). So, letting that serve as a thumbnail sketch of their similarities, let me get a little more specific and narrow my gaze on to the one model I have lived with for a while (the others, I have just visited).

The Tale of the Tape…Location, Location, Location

When the Electrons showed up at my place, I expected that they would need to be run in a bit, to shake off the cobwebs of newness. I figured I would need to experiment with room position to find where they would be most happy, i.e. finding the “G” spot, if you will.

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Now my experiences with room position may be different than yours. I have a wall that zigs here and another that zags there. Additionally, shelves and racks and cabinets are breaking up the straight lines of the rectangle. Since my wall boundaries do not form your standard rectangle, I have had to try and turn lemons into lemonade.  

In my room, “normal” i.e. symmetrical positions are those where each speaker is equidistant from the walls behind and/or to the sides. Unfortunately, foot traffic flow would be compromised by big boxes in the road. So, given that “necessity is the mother of invention”, I have spent considerable effort trying different, non-traditional (i.e. asymmetrical) speaker positions around the room. Over the years I have moved, and moved, and MOVED speakers around my room (Billy has dubbed me “Magellan” for the intensity of my explorations). I’m happy to say though that treasure, in the form of good sound, has been found!

Now, the concept of speaker placement being VERY important is not news, but it’s also not a unique requirement of the Electron’s. I’ve listened to them in many different positions in my room – including the very traditional ones – i.e. equilateral triangle, isosceles triangle, toed way in, toed way out. I’ve also explored placement near and far to the back and side walls. You name it, I’ve tried it!

For many of you the logic of an asymmetrical set-up will surely be questionable but give this idea a chance before you categorically reject it. I’d argue that using just our ears is the most tried-and-true, number one way most of us have determined speaker placement. Sure, there is the Rule of Thirds and the Golden Ratios and many other formulaic systems put forth to help people with the set-up process …and I’m not dissing them… I’m just suggesting that this outside the box thinking may help you find YOUR rooms’ “G” spot. It did for me. In MY room, I was able to go from excellent sound (i.e. symmetrical positioning) to very excellent sound (i.e. asymmetrical positioning). Would it work for you? No guarantees, each room is unique. I encourage you to play!

With all that said, feel confident that my upcoming descriptors of the Electron’s sound are not just due to some unique positioning requirement. You can count on the sound being very good it’s just that in some spots it will be “gooder” than others. If you have placement flexibility, time and inclination…have at it. There’s gold to be found.

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Let’s compare

Of the Tekton’s I’ve heard so far, all can move a lot of (bass) air, relative to competitors of similar size and/or price.  They can all play effortlessly loud which is of great import to me. Their generally high sensitivity allows them all to have great dynamic nuance with “closer to real” dynamic range. Now, bass and dynamics alone do not make a great loudspeaker. Keep in mind that all the models I’ve heard have the patented seven speaker mid/tweeter array. Start with that basic goodness then stir in more bass as needed. It’s a winning recipe! Keep in mind, virtually everyone who has reviewed them has pointed out that there is this hard to explain “liveness” and “presence” in the way music tumbles out of them. All of them!

So which model might be right for you?

Well, compared to the Electron’s the DI’s are bigger, heavier and have larger woofers and midrange drivers. This alone yields a different tonal center of gravity. They are deeper, fuller, richer and more relaxed and capable of bigger images and soundstage. So maybe you should just go with them, right? Not so fast… although it may seem that I’ve painted these traits as advantageous, let me qualify a bit. Let’s talk context. In the wrong room (or I would argue, in the wrong position in the room) these same traits could be considered as too bass heavy, bloated and obscuring of detail. If your loudspeaker placement opportunities are limited, or the size of your room skews smaller, the Electron may be the better choice for you. Don’t sleep on the fact that the Electron’s are sub-titled the Mini Double Impacts. Even though I think that choosing between a DI or Electron is a win-win situation, there are important personality differences. Even though you may think of the Electron as a “DI-lite”, don’t dismiss them as bass shy…they are not!  I’ve come to think of them as having a more “audiophile” balance in that their ratio of highs to lows trends towards a lighter, brighter perspective. The bass foundation undergirding the upper frequencies supports them firmly, but not as fully, as the DI bass does. The quality is excellent but the quantity is not the same. What’s right for your situation? Wisely, Tekton offers a 60-day audition policy for you to find out.

I could torture more adjectives and tell you how detailed and transparent the Electrons are, but noticeably and thankfully it’s not of the exaggerated edge-definition, glary, hard, persuasion. Though they’re not as full-figured as the images you get from DI’s.

Now this may be considered an unfair stereotype, but this aspect is why I call them more “audiophile” vs. what some might call the more “musical” DI’s. With an eye towards helping you review-the-reviewer, know that my tastes have generally fallen on the “audiophile” side of the tracks.

If you’re like me…someone who will – out loud, and in public – proudly describe himself as an “Audiophile” (I’m ashamed no longer!), then I hope this has been helpful to you.

Happy Listening!

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ed van winkle 

SPECIFICATIONS:
Price: $2750.00 as reviewed 

Made under U.S. Patent 9247339

Dual 8″ high-output Electron transducers

Unique 4-way loudspeaker design

Proprietary controlled directivity – acoustically superior proprietary polygon-oriented, triple-ring radiator high frequency array. This array disperses a precisely focused acoustical power pattern of that of a horn or waveguide without the audible ringing influence of horn flare walls constraining the soundwave for acoustically superior mid-range high frequency performance 

Dual 4″ mid-bass transducers

95.0dB 2.83V@1m sensitivity

4 Ohm design for optimum performance

30Hz-30kHz frequency response

200 Watts power handling

Dimensions: 48″(121cm) H x 10.0″(25.4cm) W x 13.625″(34.60cm)

Weight 62.5 lbs.

Call for custom colors.

Manufactured in the USA

Additional upgrade package: add $300 for Cardas inputs, Mil-Spec internal wiring, ClarityCap or Solen (depending upon real-time availability) within the tweeter section. Includes an oversized Jantzen or Erse Sledgehammer inductor (depending upon real-time availability) within the woofer section. – 

Website: www.tektondesign.com

 

 

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