My review - Tannoy Reveal 502 - Active nearfield monitors

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tibah
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Post 17 Jan 2015

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As you can see, you have 3 different models to choose from. Reveal 402, 502 and 802.
I was also able to listen to he 402 recently too and I'm rather impressed how much sound you get from this rather tiny speaker. 

I've been using a pair of Samson Resolv 80a for a decade, but they had some issues. First of all, mids and highs always seemed very unclear and I always found myself more guessing or somewhat "blind" to what is actually going on. Secondly, the stereo imaging wasn't great either. You can think of panning basically being down to using LCR, as everything in between wasn't noticeable in the way I would like it to be. 

I had some major demands for a new speaker. I also moved from a dedicated room into our living room, into a somewhat isolated place, so I was sure that I wanted a step down in terms of speaker size and basically, energy in the room.

For some reason, I was sure I didn't want the usual suspects, Rokit and HS50. I can't tell you why. Maybe because *everyone* seems to go for them. I never liked the sound of the Rokit and the whole Yamaha series reminded me way too much on the sounds I had from the Samson's.

It may sound weird, but I never went out to actually listen to them. I bought them blind, which is one thing I would never advise someone else to, but I was so hooked by the reviews that I couldn't resist and it turned out to be one of my best purchases ever.

Thanks to the wave-guide around the tweeter, the sweet-spot isn't set to that one place. You are free to move around and still get a very good impression of the sound, without being *nailed* to always sit in the right spot. Along with this you have the great stereo imaging, which seems a totally different world to what I was used before. I'm finally able to hear little tweaks in panning and not have to make extreme tweaks and end up with something close to LCR panning, just to be able to notice anything. To my own surprise, the low end is very detailed and gives you a good image of what's going on. This was my biggest concern about this size of speaker, but I'm happy that it turned out to be as good as it is. You may prefer the bigger Reveal 802 in some cases, but I can't complain about that aspect.

The tweeter is poke-resistant, if that could be a concern for you in any way. ;) There is a little sound control at the back, basically boosting or lowering the tweeter by 1.5dB. I left this on neutral, but you can use it depending on your environment and taste, as some may say they sound too bright, while I admire the clarity. They don't have an auto-standby feature, meaning the speakers won't turn to idle mode and only turn back on once a certain level is reached. I hated that on my Samson's, because they would produce enough bass energy on this minimum volume, that could be an issue on certain times of the day. Sometimes also you would have quite music playing that would turn on the standby feature. Annoying.

You can always go into another price category. I got them for 129€ each, which is a steal. They *revealed* details in songs that I know for ages that I didn't noticed before, especially in the mid-high region and in terms of panning and instrument placement. I can only highly recommend them. Take them on a spin versus something like some speakers mentioned above and you will notice how the mix will *open*, as close as you are almost able to *touch* each instrument! :)

*Enthusiastic mode off*

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Benedict
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Post 17 Jan 2015

Thanks

Speakers are an endless fascination. And I am endlessly fascinated how some 'not very good' speakers get popular. I understand the need to like the speakers you use but too much fun and the speaker becomes useless. Oddly I led myself up that very path with the album I composed in the last few months. For some odd reason I was annoyed with my main speakers, thinking they sounded thin, esp when using for wake-up music. I ended up ganging with a set of towers with welly and tizz and thought I had it licked.

As soon as I started listening back to the new mixes on other speakers I could hear everything was all over the place. I turned off the Wharfedales and went back to only the Jamo C803s and suddenly everything sounds clearer and in reality I don't feel I am losing any bass. The Wharfies only add confusion across the spectrum which even as main listeners is not so good. Those towers are back to being 'speaker stands' as in reality they sound crappy on their own compared to the Jamos as they have a big scary hole in the mids as if they have phase issues which renders them only good for explosions and not dialogue.

:)
Benedict Roff-Marsh
Completely burned and gone

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djfm1983
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Post 17 Jan 2015

Is your room acoustically treated well? If not that should be #1 before upgrading any existing monitors (IMO). New monitors won't fix any room modes (peaks and null points) in your room only acoustic treatment can do that. You can easily buy some Owens Corning 703 panels, build a frame for them, wrap them in some fabric and you have some professional acoustic panels. If your having problems with your stereo image could be due to the lack of absorption at your first reflection points.
I'm always baffled by people who spend so much money on monitors but fail to treat their room. My acoustic treatment (I went the DYI route) ended up costing me more than my monitors. I figured what good would it be to spend allot of money on a pair of monitors if they won't be able to do their job correctly.
soundcloud.com/djfm1983

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djfm1983
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Post 17 Jan 2015

As far as the mid range goes any 2 way monitor can give you a blurred image of the mid range due to the crossover being in the midrange. Using a 3 way speaker or full range (like avantone mix cubes, which is what I ended up buying) will help dramatically.
When it comes to monitors I'm still looking around for a good non ported monitors to buy in the future. Ported monitors give you more bass response but at the expense of your monitors resonating which can misrepresent bass frequencies.
soundcloud.com/djfm1983

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ohmygoff
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Post 17 Jan 2015

The low end of the 502s is what impresses me again and again. When I got them, I only used them for listening to my music collection for a couple of days, and I was amazed what details I discovered in the low-end range. They are not really 'warm' in the mid-range (hello, guitars...), but you always can analyze what's going on.

There seems to be a 'hiss' problem with the tweeters of the first units they produced (which Tannoy has adressed as well and according to their site has been fixed), so I waited till the new ones arrived before buying them and found them to be much quiter than the M-Audio BX5, for example (there's a tiny bit of noise when you really stick your ear in the speaker, but that's pretty unrealistic for everyday use).

Pretty good value for money. 

tibah
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Post 18 Jan 2015

ohmygoff wrote:The low end of the 502s is what impresses me again and again. When I got them, I only used them for listening to my music collection for a couple of days, and I was amazed what details I discovered in the low-end range. They are not really 'warm' in the mid-range (hello, guitars...), but you always can analyze what's going on.

There seems to be a 'hiss' problem with the tweeters of the first units they produced (which Tannoy has adressed as well and according to their site has been fixed), so I waited till the new ones arrived before buying them and found them to be much quiter than the M-Audio BX5, for example (there's a tiny bit of noise when you really stick your ear in the speaker, but that's pretty unrealistic for everyday use).

Pretty good value for money. 
Yea, the hissing / noise-floor is my only issue with them to be honest. My older speakers had nothing like that, so it took some time getting used to it. I figured out the serial number for the fixed models on the internet and my models seem to be from the corrected series, it was still something that I noticed, sitting in a distance of 90cm. With music playing it's pretty much gone and they do way too many things that I appreciate.

Thanks for the tips djfm! I was thinking about acoustic treatment, but it isn't really possible atm, since this is also our living room and we used some swedish made shelf to separate my music corner a bit. I did "build" a diffusor to help with the first reflection the easiest method I know of - placing books and folders in an uneven way in the shelf. I just recently read about that there is a certain math behind a real diffusor and tools to calculate different hides for building your own, so this is something I may investigate further soon.

I never used my old speakers in this place, because was already sure about getting the 502s and I didn't want to get used to 2 different speakers in a short time. The things I wrote about the Tannoys are things that for me are improvements already and this is what makes this investment already special to me. They quite balanced as well, so you are not going to have weird changes in sound on different volumes. So overall, on this budget, they "improve" on all areas for me. :)

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ohmygoff
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Post 18 Jan 2015

emotica wrote:
Yea, the hissing / noise-floor is my only issue with them to be honest.
If they're not too old, maybe you should try to exchange them for a different pair. The first pair I got went straight back to the shop, because one of them looked like someone had put a flowerpot on top of it for some time, and the other had spiderwebs in the tweeter...

I won't blame Tannoy for this, because I don't know if the shop I got them from was trying to sell me stuff that somebody else had returned because of the hiss issue...

The second pair (which I collected myself instead of having it delivered) looked much better, and, as I said above, doesn't have that noise issue I've been reading about in various tests on the net.

There's only two (minor) issues I have with the 502s:

1. The resolution of the steps on the volume knobs could be a bit more precise, it's a bit hard to set the same level on both speakers by just counting 'clicks' on the knobs. But hey - I have ears....

2. Placing the status LEDs at the back can be an aesthetic challenge when they flood the wall they're placed against with blue light in a dark environment. But you may file that under 'nitpicking'.   

elMisse
Posts: 130
Joined: 17 Jan 2015

Post 19 Jan 2015

Owned 2 pairs of 402, and the noisefloor/hissing/humming unbearable for my kind of work, on both pairs.

Pretty decent frequencyresponse.  Goes remarkable low with attitude (for a 4") without losing the semi-ok accuracy it has on bass.

Absolutely worth 200€ :)

Without the hiss, worth 300€! hehe


tibah
Posts: 900
Joined: 16 Jan 2015

Post 19 Jan 2015

emotica wrote:
Yea, the hissing / noise-floor is my only issue with them to be honest.
ohmygoff wrote:
If they're not too old, maybe you should try to exchange them for a different pair. The first pair I got went straight back to the shop, because one of them looked like someone had put a flowerpot on top of it for some time, and the other had spiderwebs in the tweeter...

I won't blame Tannoy for this, because I don't know if the shop I got them from was trying to sell me stuff that somebody else had returned because of the hiss issue...

The second pair (which I collected myself instead of having it delivered) looked much better, and, as I said above, doesn't have that noise issue I've been reading about in various tests on the net.

There's only two (minor) issues I have with the 502s:

1. The resolution of the steps on the volume knobs could be a bit more precise, it's a bit hard to set the same level on both speakers by just counting 'clicks' on the knobs. But hey - I have ears....

2. Placing the status LEDs at the back can be an aesthetic challenge when they flood the wall they're placed against with blue light in a dark environment. But you may file that under 'nitpicking'.   
Like I wrote, I do own the corrected series. Everything pre serial number 808174 had "more" issues with the noise-floor.

From my conversation with Tannoy:
We would say that this is likely to be the normal level of noise emitted by the loudspeaker.
I can just guess how much noise you had before they corrected it. And of course, it's most noticeable with no music running. What is your distance to the speakers? It's about 85-100 centimeters for me. My triangle is quite "small" perhaps.

I agree on the volume knobs. For the first 2 or 3 days I found myself numerous times to recheck if everything was set right, but everything deviant from the middle settings, which is where I have mine set, is not to difficult to spot. Don't mind the LEDs at the back. :)

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Theo.M
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Post 20 Jan 2015

djfm1983 wrote:As far as the mid range goes any 2 way monitor can give you a blurred image of the mid range due to the crossover being in the midrange. Using a 3 way speaker or full range (like avantone mix cubes, which is what I ended up buying) will help dramatically. When it comes to monitors I'm still looking around for a good non ported monitors to buy in the future. Ported monitors give you more bass response but at the expense of your monitors resonating which can misrepresent bass frequencies.

Have my adams sitting on auralex monitor pads and also using the official perfectly sized adam stuffing for the ports which all but eliminates the resonance. Works like a charm and still plenty of bass.

There's always workarounds.

@emotica, thanks for the review. Cheers

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