In case members are interested I submit my amateur review of my new speakers that I imported unheard and unauditioned from the USA recently. The Tekton Design speakers are generally the subject of many glowing reviews: https://www.tektondesign.com. The designer, Eric Alexander has enormous practical experience and several radical ideas. He is keen on a concentric array of tweeters to form a 'virtual midrange' driver. This gives his speakers a 'mad scientist' look but doesn't bother me.
The Perfect SET speaker was designed for low-powered valve amps with a high sensitivity and high impedance. My model is the second iteration with a 15 inch woofer, around 98dB sensitivity and 8 ohms impedance (without sudden dropoffs). I'm showing a pic from the website as the blue colour makes it easy to see clearly. I requested the upgrade package (better caps; Cardas wiring; grilles) and the final cost was $US 2632--including International Shipping to Mascot (Sydney)
I am extremely impressed. I've shared this review with Eric A and also the Audiokarma Forum.
Review Of Tekton Design Perfect SET 15 Speaker
After a lot of soul-searching I decided to buy a pair of Perfect SET 15 speakers from Eric Alexander at Tekton Design. Because I was unable to audition these speakers myself I relied heavily on the reports from the Audiokarma Tekton Owners forum. Of course in principle this was not such a good idea – but I went ahead anyway!
Having owned Spatial Hologram M3 Turbo speakers for several years (and Magneplanar 1.7 planars before that) I was quite satisfied with their sound, but I needed more efficiency because I have a collection of low-powered triode and pentode amplifiers. Very unfortunately I was unable to purchase the Triode Master modified M3 from Spatial. Now I was in the market for a speaker with efficiency in the high 90s dB and a benign/high impedance too. Serendipitously, Eric had made two versions of his tweeter array and large bass driver speaker specifically designed for triodes. Ostensibly they are some 98dB efficient with 8 ohm-type impedance
A note about my musical preferences: I play guitar and piano and attend concerts regularly. I am a music lover before I am an audiophile. Although I listen to every kind of music, my preference is for instrumental classical music, all singing, and chamber jazz. I am a lover of tone and timbre above all else, so no wonder I am attracted to what tubes can do for the reproduction of music. My system ‘must’ get the sound of the human voice as correct as possible. Over several decades I have owned hi-fi systems based on vinyl and tubes. I am a late convert to digital since it rarely gives me goosebumps! Despite that, there is plenty of new music in that digital world.
Eric and Karma at Tekton were very efficient and professional. I collected the speakers from Australian customs and set them up in my lounge room on 9 July. They were well packaged, and in some 45 minutes I slotted them into my main system. They made music immediately. Because I was listening analytically I noticed some harshness in the upper midrange and a slight metallic quality in female voices. I decided to play them continually for a number of hours and hooked them up to an 80W chip amplifier playing Internet radio.
The sound continued to settle down and manifested a ‘front-row’, direct and clear presentation. There was plenty of information listening at low levels. I was immediately impressed by the quality and quantity of bass, and all kinds of percussion. After about 50 hours I hooked the speakers up to my Leben preamplifier, Elekit KT88 single- ended pentode amplifier, Audio Note CD-2 player, Naim NAT-01 FM tuner, Cambridge Audio CXN streamer and my Clearaudio Performance turntable + Maestro Wood cartridge. There are also two REL Storm 5 subs in the room. The better kind of recordings now sounded full and vibrant.
I began to listen through songs to the ineffable beauty of music. I found myself playing recordings right through because of their musicality. I started to feel the relaxation that comes when you give up enquiry and comparisons. Nevertheless, things were not perfect.
Some of the muddiness in the sound was because I was consistently playing music too loudly – I don’t know why. Probably I just got too excited. Possibly the speakers were more sensitive than I was used to. Certainly I could hear every little detail on all my favourite recordings. Very often I would note new details in old familiar recordings (this was thrilling). I also began to suspect that my room needed some work to support these new speakers properly, so I adjusted everything that I thought would help. I played around with the toe-in of the speakers. I also confirmed my preference for analogue over digital recordings (generally speaking), as a violin sound could sound harsh at times in digital recordings. Sometimes there was still congestion and “muddiness” in the sound—I found myself sliding back into critical and analytical thinking about that. More break-in required? I began to think about the upstream components all over again; I embarked on a cleaning marathon of all connections, checked my cartridge, checked my tubes. I cleaned my ears of wax (don’t laugh, you should try it if you know what you are doing, or get your nurse/doctor to help).
At about 100 hours’ playing time I found that most of my favourite recordings were sounding as they ‘should’. There was plenty of atmosphere and depth in a lovely sound field. At about 200 hours I decided enough was enough – and that I was happy. The tonality and the timbre was very good. No system is perfect. Break-in is probably the time that it takes for your processing brain to get used to the newness/differences of the equipment. This acceptance lets you focus on the music as you should. Naturally at this stage I was not regretting my purchase!
I was very pleased when I looked up my Line Magnetic 3W single-ended EL 84 pentode amplifier to the Tektons. There was plenty of drive with an excellent presentation, particularly in the bass. I don’t know the exact efficiency of the speakers but they must be well north of 95 dB as my similar Spatial Hologram speakers found 3W a little underwhelming (they do have an impedance that dips to 3 ohms so it’s not a fair comparison). I was even more pleased when I hooked up my Line Magnetic SET with 20W output from two 845 tubes: this is a wonderful combination in every way. I preferred it to my 300B SET amp. Now the speakers are giving me the kind of enjoyment that I am used to. The kind that I am very willing to spend money for (but not ‘silly money’ because I don’t have any of that). Did I mention that the speakers are most reasonably priced considering what they can do? Even importing them to Australia for 40% more cost represents a bargain in my opinion.
I gather that some critics have found intellectual/technical fault with the circular design of the tweeters that form a ‘virtual midrange driver’. I am not one of those critics. As a result of my listening I’m not a critic at all. The speakers sound terrific to me. Eric Alexander has kicked a massive goal, as we say in Australia.
I find their sound now to be as elegant and refined as the recordings I prefer. It’s quite the equal of the two kinds of speakers I owned previously over recent years – so they are in very good company. When it’s called for they can really perform, with terrific bass power. They have a very involving, musical sound field. There is plenty of good drama in such a sound. I am still surprised at the amount of depth and detail – especially in recordings that I know extremely well. Vocals are smooth and involving. They are a wonderful companion for low-level listening too. While quite revealing of differences in my setup, amplifiers, tubes, and recordings, this is as it should be in a high-end system.
I am thinking that some of my early difficulties were related to this capacity for revealing subtle differences and distortions, in that I had to rebalance my whole system. I don’t know if the speakers do require extensive run-in, but in my system and in my room a couple of hundred hours was a major benefit (although they sounded ‘OK’ right away). I continue to notice positive changes.
I consider that the Tektons take on the essential character of your system, and the recordings, more than I expected—such that when everything is balanced, they take up position as true performers for your musical delight. I don’t find that they impose; rather, they get out of the way of the music and give you plenty of that enjoyment. They do everything well for me and are easily the best value component I have bought (considering the importance of good speakers in a system). I like to own components that are at the very top of the ‘middle range’ of audio quality or at the bottom of the ‘top range’. Ideally I can buy them used, to save money while other people upgrade in search of Nirvana or a cure for audio nervosa.
I have bought my Tektons new; I think of them as great speakers—and every day I am reaping the sonic benefits because for me they are at the ‘bottom’ of the very top range of hi-fi gear. When your system is in good shape and the music is flowing you are in good shape.