Jump to content

Review of TEKTON DESIGN Perfect SET 15


Recommended Posts

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.comThe 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.

 

Happy days!

perfect-set-15-blue_orig.png

Edited by doogie44
spelling error
Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats.  Thanks for your thoughts.  Sounds like you have found am excellent speaker. 

  With all the tweeters, are they overly detailed?

 

Btw - Do Tekton offer the 60 day money back guarantee for shipments overseas?

 

Regstfs

Link to post
Share on other sites

They are certainly detailed but not over-detailed at all. I'm very pleased with 'the midrange'--but it's easier to understand if I say you hear all the instruments and the human voice without once thinking something is 'wrong'. Eric A is on to something here. It reminds me of the line arrays of tweeters on the older Infinity speakers and Bob Carver's long tall speaker (the Amazing Line Source speaker). I think the many tweeters are all propagating sound 'differently' (according to his patent) except the one in the middle--the true tweeter.

 

I don't know if the 60 day trial is valid in Oz but after dealing with Eric and Karma his assistant, I would think it is. They are two of the nicest and most professional people I have encountered. Of course it would cost a lot to send them back! My guess as a satisfied owner? That would never happen if you value the things I value in a speaker. If you needed to sell them in Oz you could, I imagine. Just like any other trade. 

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 minutes ago, doogie44 said:

I think the many tweeters are all propagating sound 'differently' (according to his patent)

my (very limited) understanding is that the ring of tweeters combine to become the equivalent of a midrange driver.

I may be completely wrong though

 

Always wanted to hear Tektons. I wonder if anyone in Melbs has a pair?

Link to post
Share on other sites


29 minutes ago, metal beat said:

Congrats.  Thanks for your thoughts.  Sounds like you have found am excellent speaker. 

  With all the tweeters, are they overly detailed?

 

Btw - Do Tekton offer the 60 day money back guarantee for shipments overseas?

 

Regstfs

From what I read only one single tweeter acts as a normal tweeter, while the others are used for some sort of combination of midrange duties.

I have the Tekton double impacts and definitely not overly detailed. For me a touch more would not of gone astray (could be my source too) but I enjoy them immensely.

Edited by rocky500
Link to post
Share on other sites

Good on you for taking a leap of faith with this intriguing speaker company, sounds like it is working out for you.

I may have missed it but what colour did you go with?

Regards the final price, does that include import duty and gst?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I ordered the Light Grey to match the music room decor. My wife selected it...I didn't tell you I was devious.

 

This was my first attempt at importing. After employing a Customs Agent and schlepping the speakers home in a borrowed van the landed cost was an extra $1473. This was more than I was expecting but you can see from the many charges that GST is also levied--AND RE-LEVIED-- on every single item (it adds up)

 

For those who are interested in importing

 

Customs clearance 10%=18.50 185.00
Document retention 10%=1.58 15.75
CMR fee 10%=4.75 47.50
Infrastructure levy 10%=4.83 48.25
AQIS Zero Rated 90.00
Terminal charges - Schenker 10%=54.52 545.18
Customs Charges for your Information only
GST Amount 374.87
Quarantine Processing Charge 33.00
Declaration Processing Charge 50.00
Import GST Zero Rated 374.87
Customs Disbursement Charges Exempt Rated 83.00

Please contact us within 7 days should there be any discrepancies. SUBTOTAL 1,389.55
ADD GST 84.18
TOTAL AUD 1,473.73

 

Oh well

Link to post
Share on other sites


Good colour choice I reckon.

The Customs costs are a bit hair raising but what are you going to do? Tasty speakers are of the utmost importance.

Thanks for your review, not easy things to do.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, rocky500 said:

From what I read only one single tweeter acts as a normal tweeter, while the others are used for some sort of combination of midrange duties.

I can certainly understand this reasoning. In my experience, the lower you can cross over a tweeter, the better it sounds as the tweeter always acts as a much better midrange than the midrange, however it can't handle much power at those lower frequencies since it's so small. Using an array of them to make it handle more power seems a valid way to do it though obviously it would add a lot of cost and make the crossover quite tricky. I do something similar with midrange drivers, using multiple to get them lower and roll off the woofer lower. Same principle, but nowhere near as extreme an approach as the Tekton's.

 

Making their "midrange" surround the tweeter also means they've created a concentric driver by proxy without the problems associated with actual concentric drivers.

 

Definitely a speaker design I'd love to hear for myself.

Edited by Ittaku
Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on the new Tektons. 

 

Having owned the Lores some time back a can appreciate your comments on timber and tone that the Tektons produce. They were great with Vocals too. Very much a front row presentation.

The Lores were also great at low volumes. 

 

Well done.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites


  • 1 month later...

Stumbled across your thread , these are interesting speakers to say the least. A yankee here but not in the states thus import would be / was my method. I have the "Lores", modded ,  which I believe were one of the 1st models but enjoy them immensely.  I would guess the flavor be similar to the perfect set models , likely more detail in the upper ranges from the set speakers. The lores run the bass  driver , which is a bass guitar driver straight up to it's range of 5khz  . My tweeters enter at 2500khz so there is an overlap in highs which does give amazing detail in that range. Female vocals are excellent but really they deliver very studio like sound top to bottom. I am impressed . Drive them with a late 70s luxman 40 watt s.s.  

In comparison My main system (was) AAD 2001 monitors which I (had) never listened to a speaker I liked more at the time , driven with 90s Pass s.s /tube pre. 

  The more I read of these perfect set speakers I want to buy them along with  a low watt tube or perhaps a first watt s.s  

 Interesting review . thanks !

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 4 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

OK, a small update. Sorry, I have been away.

 

The only residual issues in a long sequence of satisfactory evenings and days of listening are:

 

1. The fact that 3W is not enough really to drive the speakers 'properly' to loud levels--but is good enough for low to medium level listening (the majority of my listening). They will respond loudly but there's a subtle distortion. I still love the Line Magnetic EL84-based (Amperex) pentode amp to bits.

 

As well there is the occasional 'booming' from the woofers which is largely alleviated by positioning well out into the room and playing with toe-in.

 

They continue to do most things well and especially vocals and jazz and classical chamber works.

 

Here are some actual pics for your delectation. The Elekit amp (KT-66 8W SEP) on the far right, and the Naim NAT-01 tuner running via the Leben RS-28CX preamp, are doing the honours today.

 

It's a tough gig but somebody's got to do it...

 

IMG_2758.JPG

IMG_2765.JPG

IMG_2770.JPG

IMG_2771.JPG

IMG_2767.JPG

Link to post
Share on other sites


This is a terrific little amp. It's worthy of a review of its own. All hail the well-executed EL84 pentode amp (e.g. Almarro A205A; Leben CS 300; Leak TL12; Line Magnetic; Manley Stingray; Music Reference RM-10)! The EL-84 was the main valve the amplifiers used by many 1960's British bands and the heart of the Hammond B-3 organ. 

Vox AC30 Overview

The Vox AC30™ has been around since 1960. It is one of the classic most recognisable British amps to this day. It sounds absolutely gorgeous and I bitterly regret over and over again selling my 1960’s one....The Vox AC30 users include , The Shadows, The Beatles, Rory Gallagher, Brian May ( Queen) . Quite a diverse set of music styles which reinforces this amp’s versatility and enduring qualities....You can still buy A new Vox AC30 today so the same amp has been in production for 55 years ! It will soon be heading for its pension....Every valve Vox AC30 ever made has  four EL84’s.  Back in 1960 this was a common cheap valve found in record players. Usually only one so using four enabled the output power to be quoted as 30 watts. (from valvetubeguitaramps.com)

 

But back to the Tektons. They are married to my system now and there's a lot of romance for an arranged marriage!

Link to post
Share on other sites

@doogie44, you have an amazing array of valve amps to drive these speakers, which from your review are of the same magnitude. My interest is in the Elekit amp, seems at the lower end of the scale compared to the others you have, how would you rate it in comparison?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Hallo,

 

I would never rate the Elekit at the lower scale of anything if you value sound quality! This is one of the clearest and cleanest sounds I have ever enjoyed. The beautiful sonic presentation of single-ended pentode--with any valves in the 6L6 family (such as the CA-7; KT66; 6L6GC; KT88; 5881)--means that I have never bothered to switch the amp to triode mode, which can be done. I grew up in a home with a single-ended EL84 amp in my formative audiophile years. Just sounds right to me musically. Relaxing and immersive. Never disappointing. A tube roller's delight.

 

The more modern Elekit models are supposed likewise to be minor sonic marvels. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

i only mentioned it as such because you hear very little about them, usul suspects like Weston, Cymer,Connosance, etc.

I agree wholeheartedly with your views of this amp, i bought a new one a few weeks ago, cant stop playing music, have the standard valves insitu, JJ Electronics 6L6GC and JJ ECC82, a full powerful sound, using my Monitor Audio RS6 speakers, 91db, 6ohm, 38 - 30 khz, not lacking for volume. I have hearing aids and tend to listen at lower volumes, the Elekit is very sweet at these levels, using the BX2 with a Quasimodo

15738944350171513755920.jpg

15738943207081434776443.jpg

1573894369289755087787.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, a great performer, designed by someone who really knows how to use parts. I would love to get my hands on their 2A3/300B  model from the past. 

 

I see now I didn't compare the Elekit as you suggested.

 

I use the other amps as different sonic 'flavours' since they comprise a 300B (McChanson), an EL84 (Line Magnetic Mini), an 80W chip amp with a WE396 up front (Retro-thermionic, Marc Houston) and the king--an 845 SET integrated from Line Magnetic. To me this is like the different kinds of red or white wine depending on the varietal grape.

 

Note that the amps all cost me under $700 (because mostly second hand) except for the LM 518iA which was $4,500 a couple of years ago. [For what it sounds like it is an end game amp for me. I note that smp has one for sale right now in the Classifieds. A fantastic item.]

 

Both Elekit and Line Magnetic have impressed me greatly by their broad offerings, either in catalogue or via tube rolling.

 

Of course the execution of the circuit, the transformers and the power supplies also add to the complexities of the result. I like each of the amps for different reasons. Here's how I 'rate' the amps in my lounge room system based purely on a rough estimate of my actual listening time  to each over the past year

 

1. Elekit

2. Line Magnetic Mini 218iA

3. LM 845 amp (the 518iA)

4. 300B

5. Chip amp

 

In my next life I am going to make my own single-ended amps using simple circuits and high quality parts! Pity I am a maths illiterate in this one...

Link to post
Share on other sites

thanks for the reply, a valve amp is the last type of amp i wanted to try, very close to getting a Weston, but the amount of valves in the amp had me concerned for future replacement costs, on a very limited budget at present and possible future. I nearly bought a secondhand Elekit TU-8200 from WA but pickup only, then i decided i had to have a new one, and wow what a gem, thank again for the reply

cheers

Edited by wen
extra info
Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, doogie44 said:

The more modern Elekit models are supposed likewise to be minor sonic marvels. 

Elekit amps are fantastic and I've often recommended them to people. Alas no one takes up the suggestion, preferring instead to buy familiar name brands.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, Ittaku said:

Elekit amps are fantastic and I've often recommended them to people. Alas no one takes up the suggestion, preferring instead to buy familiar name brands.

That goes to most offering in hifi

Link to post
Share on other sites

CORRECTION TO MY PREVIOUS COMMENT

 

Recently in an update I said that:

The only residual issues in a long sequence of satisfactory evenings and days of listening are:

 

1. The fact that 3W is not enough really to drive the speakers 'properly' to loud levels--but is good enough for low to medium level listening (the majority of my listening). They will respond loudly but there's a subtle distortion. I still love the Line Magnetic EL84-based (Amperex) pentode amp to bits.

 

While this is apparently true while listening it is not the fault of the Tektons. I was wrong.

 

I discovered this morning that one or more of the tubes in my preamp are microphonic, or deteriorating. When I run straight into the Line Magnetic integrated (i.e. not using my Leben preamp) I have no distortion or driving problems at all. Ditto with the 3W integrated amp.

 

A 'veil' has indeed been lifted from the sound. I am having a welcome moment of clarity!

 

I'm not experienced in detecting microphonics or I would have picked this up earlier. I see now that it was present from the beginning of my review period and has become worse. I'll replace the offending tubes. 

 

Apologies to anyone who associated the Tektons with my (uninvestigated) perceptions.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.




×
×
  • Create New...