Tannoy System 1000 Studio Monitor
Dick Olsher (September 2023)
First developed in 1947, Tannoy’s dual concentric driver was the first to capture the acoustic advantages of a point-source transducer. Of course, the technology has been continually refined over several decades to arrive at the design embodied by the System 1000 (S1000), released circa 1998 as part of a series of compact near/mid-field reference monitors. It features a 10” dual concentric driver with a precision-injected polypropylene woofer cone and an HF compression driver mated to Tannoy’s patented “tulip” shaped wave guide; the latter being in essence a hyperbolic flared horn. The HF diaphragm is made from an aluminum/magnesium alloy and is optimized to provide pistonic behavior to 25 kHz. Thermal power handling of the voice coil is greatly increased due to the use of a ferrofluid filled magnetic gap. The compression ratio is kept fairly low to minimize distortion due to air nonlinearities.
The S1000 seems to follow the Goldilocks principle when it comes to passive monitors: it's not too big, not too heavy, and offers just-right bass extension, flat to about 50 Hz, at an affordable price. The octagonal shaped cabinet is of decent quality, though the vinyl spray finish is totally industrial in appearance.
A major goal of a studio monitor is to minimize the room’s contribution so that the mastering engineer can make decisions based solely on the musicians’ performance. That can be achieved in the near field by placing even a conventional two-way monitor on top of the mixing console so that the ratio of direct to reflected sound is increased. The problem though is that conventional two-way designs don’t integrate very well in the near field because of acoustic interference between the drivers. A point-source speaker with a coherent wave front makes for a much better choice. For mid-field monitoring a controlled directivity speaker is essential and the S1000 with its 90-dgree contained radiation cone makes for an excellent choice.
The S1000 was in production in the UK for about 15 years before being discontinued, a prima facia testimonial to its popularity. Since I believe that a good studio monitor qualifies as a compatible choice for an audiophile system, especially in small to medium sized rooms, I snapped up a used pair a few years ago. However, it was only recently while the MoFi SP10 loudspeaker was in the house that I decided to spend quality time with the S1000. I was curious to find out just how it might fare relative to a modern 10” concentric design, really a masterpiece design by Andrew Jones.
And so, the S1000 found a home in listening room #2 atop the MoFi stands. The S1000 is said to perform equally well in both landscape and portrait orientations; my choice was for portrait orientation, similar to how I had configured the SP10.
Significant tonal balance differences between these two speakers became apparent rather quickly. Whereas the SP10’s treble response takes off above 15 kHz and pressurizes a listening room with gobs of air, the S1000 rolls off above 15 kHz. The SP10 also goes a bit deeper and is better defined in the bass. On the other hand, the S1000 features a slight upper midrange emphasis that increases immediacy and allows vocals to fully come alive. As such it appears voiced for the mastering engineer in that it digs deep into a mix to resolve low-level detail with impressive clarity and transient speed. And it matches the SP10 in terms of soundstage dimensionality. Convincing width and depth perspectives are clearly a dual-concentric design’s forte. Treble fans will likely prefer the SP10. Yet I’m much more persuaded by midrange excellence. Not that the S100 is neutral in the midband; it doesn’t measure as flat and there’s also a slight dip at 1.3 kHz around the crossover frequency. But it consistently draws me into the music and that is a high compliment.
It's a shame that the S1000 is no longer available, though it occasionally pops up on the used market at a reasonable price. Tannoy has now gone exclusively with active bi-amped dual concentric designs in their Gold monitor series which probably benefits many recording studio applications, but is certainly not ideal for HiFi. Of course, there’s still the Legacy HiFi series at much higher price points, but that is a story for another time.
Frequency response (1): 45 Hz - 20 kHz
Recommended amplifier power: 60 to 200 W rms into 8 W
Power handling: 100 Wrms Average (2); 200 Wrms Programme
Nominal Impedance: 8 W
Sensitivity (3): 94 dB SPL / 1 W @ 1 m
Distortion: < 0.5 %
Dispersion (@ -6dB): 90° conical
Crossover frequency: 1500 Hz
Drive unit: 10’’ Tannoy Dual Concentric type 2513
Low frequency design: Optimised bass-reflex load, in 32 litres
Cabinet construction: MDF (36 mm front panel)
Cabinet finish: Spray ‘F’ Vinyl
Cabinet dimensions: (HxWxD) 541 mm x 331 mm x 298 mm
Cabinet weight: 16.5 kg
Shipping dimensions: (HxWxD) 660 mm x 415 mm x 370 mm
Shipping weight: 19 kg
NOTES : (1) +/- 3 dB , measured at 1m in an anechoic chamber.
(2) Long term power handling capacity as defined in EIA standard RS426A.
(3) Averaged over specified bandwidth for half-space environment. For anechoic conditions the figure is to be decreased by 3 dB.