Stereo Amplifier

Review: Tannoy M20 Gold Speakers

M20 Gold design (£ 199 per pair) aims to fill a gap in the Planet series between the Mercury (£145) and the Venus/II (£269). To be honest, the M20 Gold looks very like the Mercury (and their technical specifications are almost identical) but it does incorporate a number of refinements to justify that "Gold" suffix. To begin with, the cabinet has been given an oiled walnut real wood veneer or black finish instead of vinyl. It is rigidly constructed of 15 and 12mm high-density particle board and absorbent foam pads have been applied to all inner surfaces to reduce cabinet resonances.

The enclosure is bass reflex loaded, via an 80 x 46mm cylindrical ducted port on the front baffle. Acoustically transparent fabric is used for the grille, stapled over a wooden frame held by four push-studs. The present fashion for using loudspeakers with the grilles left off (to which I do not usually subscribe) is pandered to here by an attractive baffle-board finish and gold trim around the two drive units.

These comprise a 200mm diameter moulded polyolefin-cone bass/midrange unit and a 25mm Audax soft fabric dome tweeter to which an acoustic matching plate has been added claiming to improve the consistency of high-frequency radiation over the prescribed 'listening window', and "smooth the treble response in the vital 3 to 8kHz region". The crossover network is hard-wired using good quality components and connected to the gold-plated terminals by heavy duty cable. These terminals are of a very satisfactory 4mm socket and bare-wire securing type or ideally fit the spade terminals supplied.

How it performed

The well-written instruction leaflet suggests that the M20 Gold loudspeakers should be mounted a minimum of 300 mm (12 inches) from the floor, and indeed set on a tilting stand if the speaker top edge is still below eye level. I agree with this since, as so often with multiple unit loudspeakers, the directivity pattern in the vertical plane for smooth wide-range response can be quite narrow.

Used as suggested, a very even tonal balance could be enjoyed with the treble response within ± 2dB tolerances all the way out to 20kHz. I came to like this un-coloured and un-emphatic handling of the treble register-so often a failing with small two-way systems. Directivity in the horizontal plane was broad enough to give a generous listening area for accurate stereo reproduction another good point.

The bass end held up reasonably well, thanks to the reflex loading, and did not really fall below - 6d B before about 50Hz. I had few subjective quarrels with the bass tone, though some resonance lift at around 100Hz gave notice that we were listening to loudspeakers in boxes rather than real voices or instruments. Sensitivity was a shade above average, allowing any reasonable amplifier rated at 10 watts or over to be used for domestic listening. Distortion was low at all normal levels, and indeed surprisingly high acoustic pressure levels could be generated considering the enclosure's small dimensions.

To sum up, this is a well constructed loudspeaker which avoids any treble nasties, and therefore provides easy listening on voices and instrumental groups of all kinds. Stereo performance is good, so that width and naturalness were obvious plus features. The bass end lacked something in clarity and firmness, but at least enclosures of this size can be tried in various positions until results are judged to be optimum in the given room. The Tannoy name carries a certain promise of reliability with it and is in no way let down by the M20 Gold-even though I have to say that the £ 199 price tag does put it in direct competition with a fair number of other good-value-for-money British designs.