13 August, 2011

Tannoy Canterbury and Karma
















Tannoy Canterbury and Karm
a कर्म
A few brief words before we dig into the meat. If you don't already realize, there is a recent spate of activities on the Tannoy Canterbury front that occurred almost synchronously and suddenly, leading me to ponder that it must be karma, that one action leads to another...

You see, for the longest time I only knew my pair of Canterbury HE (hard-edge). Then Danz contacted me through review33 and we got to meet and I got to know his older version (foam surround).

Then it was a long lull until the incredible recent flurries, 3 new pairs of the latest SE version (like HE, hard-edge) in as many months!!! (for details on the various versions, click here). In Chinese, now it is 三代同堂 and things are changing fast.

First, shadow-green got his pair. Things are moving fast for him. Since last visit, he has ditched his Goldmund amps and has just received delivery of not one but two amps from YS Audio, a 300B amp and a KT120 amp (pics here). Running in these is going to take some effort! I sure shall re-audition when SG is ready.

Literally, right on the heels of SG came abc2009, whom we also visited (click here) and who presumably now is running in his mint pair. A Fisher rematch looks to be on the horizon.

Life and Karma
And now let me introduce you to my old friend, moniker leben (German for Life). As readers may know, if possible I usually use people's monikers rather than real names in my writing. But for this article, for such a special name, for a special person, for celebration, I am going to use his real name, Karma.

Though we have not been in contact much, I have known Karma for almost two decades, from the days of my Yahoo Group Cheaptubeaudio. Hailing from the land (ex-Kingdom) of Sikkim, Karma is well-read, a professional (though to me he seems more a philosopher) and, most importantly, generous to a fault and a true gentleman. I think I can gleam Karma's spiritual side. His comfortable abode (below), his choice of moniker, even the name of his previous loudspeaker (Living Voice) all conveyed a spiritual dimension, life's force if you will.

Out of the blue, Karma started to renew contact with me through review33, and one day together with agentsmittie he came to my house for a brief audition of the Tannoy Canterbury. It was incredible how quickly he made the momentous decision to get a pair, and how quickly a new pair arrived from the UK! As they say, the rest is history.

Mise-en-scene: Cut to the Day Before
At Karma's request, on Friday, the day before yumcha and our visit to Karma, I organized a meeting at Danz' place to audition his latest effort (for equipment, see last visit). Thanks to Danz and his maid for providing us with a nutritious and healthy lunch (for pic of the delicious udon, click here).

The equipment has not changed, but Danz has been tuning his system for a better balance, mainly by REMOVING various power conditioning devices as well as swapping out various boutique cables for cheap professional cables like Gotham.

Danz' effort has paid dividend. As in the last visit, the system was quite awesome with audiophile discs, but this time classical playback improved significantly, though I'd have preferred still more elasticity and easy refinement. In Danz' case, it is almost the classic audiophile case of leaning towards all-roundness vs razor-sharp precision. There is no perfection in this world, and each has to choose his own destiny.

The Yumcha Diaries 飲茶後記: 13-08-11
Of course I could not pass up the chance to hear another pair! On this day, after yumcha, two carloads went to Saikung for a visit. Karma's house is tugged deep into the hill, surrounded by wild vegetation (and yes there are sometimes snakes). The inside of the house is simply, but nicely, organically and richly decorated and we felt instantly at ease and at home. Equipment:

CD player: Micromega Stage 4 and Denon DVD player
Preamp: Wavac PRT-1
Amp: Wavac MD-300B and Lavardin IT
Loudspeakers: Tannoy Canterbury

The Canterbury's are literally brand new, and not ideally placed (rather close together relative to listening distance), yet the sound was already quite promising. We experimented a little with toeing in, but the effect was not significant. More interesting was the effect of closing the ports (there are 2 adjustable ones in each speaker); we unanimously preferred them open.

IMHO, as happened many times before, removing the wooden tuning devices under the preamp was highly beneficial. Equally significant for me was replacing the rigid and thick boutique power cords with more humble generic ones. All these moves livened up the sound.

We also briefly tried out the Lavardin (used as an amp). Everybody preferred the 300B amp for its openness and liveliness. I was disappointed, and intrigued by the under-performance of the Lavardin IT (as it has a rather famous audiophile reputation). I'd not mind borrowing it from Karma and play with it, to see better for myself what all the fuss is about. But I do have to say I have never heard Tannoy fare better with solid state.

I'd like to thank Karma's graceful wife Jennifer and her maid for laying out a full table of snacks for afternoon tea. Tea from Sikkim tasted good, rather like a Darjeeling.

With acquisition of the Canterbury, I reckon Karma is in a new state of flux. I could only say to him, "take your time".

One thing is for certain, for almost everyone, the approach to sound before acquisition of Canterbury had to be drastically revised afterwards. Almost without exception, in my experience of Tannoy visits, fancy interconnects, tuning devices, power cords, power treatment etc all had to be ditched. Which goes to prove, for the Tannoy heavyweights (as for most else), simple is best. I think our friend JCR33 said as much before about his own experience.

Back to karma, the concept is more sophisticated than any translation can convey. It is not simply fate; the Chinese term 因緣 (不是姻緣) is much closer. Should you be interested in karma, the wikipedia entry is a start. All I can say is, our collective actions and beliefs in the modern Tannoys Prestige loudspeakers (I include the awesome Westminster in this) are bearing fruit and enhancing our lives.
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