These days I still occasionally join my audio friends for yumcha, but almost never do home visits due to lack of time. Yesterday was a rare exception. Danz made one of his rare appearances, and after yumcha trazom, k.c., ghost and I went to his place to audition his Tannoy Kingdom 15. This is a particularly apt crowd: if you remember, k.c. is a user of Tannoy Black (reported here) and has extensive knowledge of Tannoy; trazom has also joined most of our Tannoy visits. All three though have never visited Danz.
From Kingdom to Kingdom Royal
Tannoy was and is extremely popular in Japan, where the original Tannoy Kingdom was introduced in 1997 (official Kingdom brochure). It had an amazing 18" woofer matched to 12" concentric and a supertweeter. Subsequently, the smaller Kingdom 15 and Kingdom 12 were introduced. In 2006, the Kingdom was extensively re-designed to become the current Kingdom Royal. I couldn't find any review of the original series on the net, but the Kingdom Royal was reviewed by Jeff Day, and the article is worth reading for the history it provides.
You will also recall that in 2011, we visited gthk and heard the Kingdom Royal. It was not run in but did allow me to hear the potential which formed the basis for my subsequent advice to Danz.
Thy Kingdom Come!
As you know, I make a special effort for big Tannoy speakers, and have visited Danz many times and reported some of them here (last write-up). I have followed his Tannoy Canterbury (older foam-surround version) journey for a long time. Danz worked hard at it and while his system got better and better, I still felt the old Canterbury was not quite up to the later ones with hard-edged surrounds (HE and SE; see my Canterbury overview). Over the next years, I spent a lot of time urging him to exchange speakers with his father-in-law upstairs. Given the big job, Danz resisted for a long time but finally gave in to my suggestions: the Canterbury went back to his in-law and down came the Kingdom 15! As they say, the rest is history.
When Danz first got the Kingdom 15, I actually paid a brief visit. The sound was obviously bigger than the Canterbury, but the speakers sounded rather raw and the bass was truncated. Too much energy that needed to be tamed. It is obvious in the intervening months Danz had worked hard to improve the sound!
Analog 1: Garrard 401/Moerch DP8-AT OC9III/Origin Live-Ortofon 2M Black
Phonoamp 1: ASR
Analog 2: Lenco L-70/Shure M3D strapped for mono
Phonoamp 2: Manor (Chinese) 2-box bargain
Digital: ICL/Softone as transport - Sonic Frontier SFD-2
Preamp/Amp: Wavac PRT-T1 and MD-805
- This time around, the sound, especially analog playback, is very much better. The Kingdom 15 has a faster and tighter sound than the old Canterbury, and is impressively extended at both ends. The tweeter has a tendency to be a little hot. Some may prefer a richer mid-range.
- The sheer energy can be quite impressive, as one can imagine a 10" concentric mated to a 15" subwoofer and supertweeter (which it basically is). Max Roach's drumming virtually leaps out of the speakers, so great is the presence! The high frequency unit of the Dual Concentric is actually a horn (Jeff Day is not exactly correct)! Danz' room is not small but the Kingdom probably can benefit from an even larger room (as do the Canterbury and Westminster).
- The Kingdom has 3 ports in the back, so placement is more restricted than with infinite baffle.
- On an early 葉德嫺 LP, the Origin Live/Ortofon 2M Black seem to sound more balanced than the Moerch/AT OC9III. The ASR phonoamp is very refined and quiet, but maybe just a little polite.
- This is the first time I encounter Manor, which seems a reasonable buy.
- The digital playback took a lot of warm up to get going. By the time we were leaving, 蔡琴老歌 was well rendered.
I think the Kingdom 15 is great. With time, I am pretty sure Danz can have it all: Tannoy midrange, fast and taut bass, and extended and airy treble!