Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Taylo Monitor review

My review of Tyler Acoustics Taylo Reference Monitor, it was posted at Harmonic Discord, but that site is no longer working.

I have been thinking about writing a review for a while, and a suggestion from Dan finally got me started. I bought a slightly used pair, direct from the factory, in an Audiogon auction. I also bought the custom speaker stands and some Dhlabs T-14 speaker cable. Ty takes equipment on trade in, so he always seems to have used speakers for sale on his website, and he also puts them up in Audiogon auctions fairly frequently.

When I got my speakers, they looked almost new. There were some very minor blemishes on the bottom, but otherwise they looked pristine. When I talked to Ty about them, he said they were not even really broken in yet. Oh, that is one really good thing about Tyler Acoustics, you can just call them up and talk to Ty, the owner. He has always made time to answer my calls, and is very friendly and helpful on the phone.

The Setup
My current setup is a Sony SCD-C333ES Cdplayer, connected to a AMC CVT 1030 and Monster M500 IC’s to a Quad 306 amp to my Taylo’s. I have them biwired, using DHLabs T-14 for the bottom, and old Randall Research speaker cable for the tops. The Randall stuff is made up of a bunch of small gauge Teflon insulated wires, put together in a big braid.
Room is 12 W by 18 L x 8 H. It is carpeted over a cement foundation. About 12 feet of the right side of the wall, on the speaker side of the room, is not there, as this is where the kitchen/breakfast room connects to this room. The rear wall has a large window, which is covered by a vertical blind. I think the blind helps deflect the rear wall deflections. There is a large entertainment center with a TV and the stereo in the front of the room.
I put the speakers a little over 5 feet from the front wall, to get them in front of the entertainment center. The speakers are a little over 3 feet from the side walls. Currently, I use very little toe in. I used to have about 1 inch of toe in (1 inch difference between distance of right and left sides of speakers to front wall). I tried about ¼ inch toe in, and found I still had good focus, and a better soundstage. I am still going to experiment in this area. As I do not want to be kicked out of the house, I do not have any room treatments.
I have also used a NAD 906, 30 w by 6 HT amp, but I like the quad better. The quad has better focus than the NAD, and also the mids sounded fuller with the quad than the NAD. The NAD does seem a little quieter, with a blacker background than the quad. The NAD also had a better low end than the quad.

The Stands
Let me say a few words about the stands that come with. They are very well made, made of MDF, painted black. They can be filled, but I have not done so yet, as I move them too much. I have to move the speakers on top of the entertainment center, and stands out of the way, when I am not listening to music. I have a two and a four year old, so I can’t leave the speakers out in the middle of the room.
Stands have brass cones on the bottom, which can be height adjusted to level the speakers. Only problem with the cones is it’s hard to get them through the carpet, to directly couple to the cement. Stands came with 4 hard rubber “feet”, which the speakers sit on. I have since changed the feet to four Vibrapod #3’s. I think the pods help the definition of the speakers. They seem to have a cleaner sound with them, but that could be my imagination. I do not have help around to do a double blind test, so I just have to try swapping and listening. The ‘pods also let the speakers play louder without distortion. Before I used pods, I heard the some distortion on an Andrea Boccelli cut at load volumes, it went away when I put pods on. Only issue I have with the stands is they are a little tall, would prefer if they were 2-3 inches shorter.

The Shopping
Before I bought the Taylos, I listened to many speakers: B&W Nautilus 805, Joseph Audio RM7 Sigs, Paradigm active 20’s and Studio 40’s, Sonus Faber Concerto’s, Speakercity DIY MTM 18, Revel M20’s, Anstrom Legato, Dunleavy SC1’s, Dynaudio Contour 1.3’s, Monitor Audio Golds, Proac Tab 2000’s, Reference 3 MM De Capo’s, Soliloquy 5.0, Spendor 3/5, Tannoy S8, and Westlake Audio not sure model number.
As you can see, quite a list. I live in LA, so there are a lot of high end audio stores, who carry a lot of different speakers, so it was not too hard to do, except it took a couple of months to do this. I would carry the same CD’s with me, and a RS SPL meter, to make sure I listened to the speakers at the same levels.
I did no home auditions of any speakers. I was going to, but then when the Taylos’ went on auction, I bought them because I got such a good price. The Nautilus 805’s and the RM7 Sigs were my next choices BTW. 3MM De Capo’s were really nice too, but they do not have a center speaker available for HT.

The Speaker
In case you do not know, thought I would describe the speakers. These are monitor speakers, but pretty heavy, weigh about 40 lbs each, I think. Tylers uses thick MDF to make the cabinets, think it is 1.5 inches thick. He uses the Scanspeak Revelator tweater, and a Seas aluminum mid/woofer with a brass phase plug. Nice, expensive stuff. He also uses Hovland caps, in the signal path, and other quality components in the xover. Internal wiring is DH labs wire, unless you pay for the upgraded Cardas wire.

Store Sound
I went down to San Diego to hear these in a store who had a used pair. I did not buy from the store because the pair they had was zebrawood finish, which was kind of funky and my wife was already not happy about buying speakers. Listened with NAD 2100 amp, Adcom 565 preamp, Adcom CDP. Tried to use equipment on par with what I had. I took notes as I listened to different songs, and the notes say things like great soundstage, good depth in soundstage, transparent, speakers disappear, good focus, good definition and no grain. I remember being impressed with the 3 dimensional aspect of the soundstage, where you get width, depth and height. Most other speakers I heard don’t do the height aspect very well. I was also impressed by the ability of the speakers to disappear, and make it seem like Diana Krall was in the room with me. They did this as well as anything I heard.
The only area where the Taylos were bested was in the mids by the Nautilus 805’s. The 805 have a very rich, full sounding midrange, which I liked. However, since I did not hear this quality in any other speaker I heard, I wondered if the 805’s were colored in this area, so in the end, I am not sure the 805’s were really better in the mids.

Home Sound
When I first got them, I did not like them as much as when I heard them in the store, but I figured that was because of what I was feeding into them, so I started working on the rest of the system. I got rid of the jumpers Tyler uses between the binding posts, and after some listening, settled on my current speaker wiring. A set of Monster cables was also in the mix.
I have added the preamp and cdp since getting the speakers, along with numerous tweaks, such as changing the AC outlet, playing with Vibrapods, changing a couple electrolytic caps in my amp, just started rolling tubes in my preamp (I just got the preamp).

Good points
I love the way they soundstage. With my current setup, the sound gets well outside of the speakers, especially on the open wall side of the room. They do not seem very setup dependent, as I move them a lot, and it does not make a noticeable difference in the sound.
They are mostly non fatiguing. This is a big deal to me, since I seem to be sensitive to this. I am not really sure what causes it, but I can tell when it is happening. I have made changes, like when I first put in the preamp, I started to notice a little fatigue. Rolling tubes has fixed this, since it came with cheap Chinese tubes that are kind of harsh. Mostly, I can listen for long periods of time with no fatigue.
They are very transparent. I used to have a pair of the original quads, and no, they are not as transparent in the mids as those, but I am have not heard anything that is. These are very good though. They also let me hear when I make a tweak for better, or for worse.
One last good think about them. To me, they are detailed without being analytical, that is they let me hear the nuances in the music, but they are still musical. I really did not hear any over analytical speakers in my list, but I heard many that were not as detailed as the Tylers.

Bad points
They do not do the really low notes, but that is to be expected of a 2 way monitor. They really do not have any faults, that I can spot, other that this.

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