Article Index
Tannoy Kensington GR
page 2
page 3 - Sound Quality
page 4 - Conclusion
page 5 - Measured Performance
All Pages

Our measurements show the Kensington produces powerful deep bass, but not subsonics, so it will work in medium sized rooms and not over-drive them. Having said that, there is a peak at 55Hz, but you’d need a small room 10ft long to excite this; there’d hardly be space for the cat. It suggests length and width dimensions greater than 10ft – let’s say 12ft for safety – will work best, which is why I predict this speaker will suit medium sized rooms.
    Our listening room (25ftx18ftx13ft) is large enough to accommodate and suit Yorkminsters or Westminsters, or any other minster or monster, but in this room the Kensingtons sounded just right: bass wasn’t heavy, so much as firm and in good balance. A room this size does not emphasise bass from any but the largest loudspeakers, because its main axial modes are so low (if you want to check your room, go to an on-line calculator such as So for us the Kensington was not a bass heavy loudspeaker. In a smaller room, resonant axial modes will in most seating positions strengthen bass, making it more obvious, but not over powering I suspect.
    We didn’t run-in our samples because they came run-in, because we prefer used speakers, not new ones. This way, anything that’s going to fly off has flown off, and any damage we can blame on previous users. We do use loudspeakers hard and the Kensingtons were wheeled out regularly for The Beatles in Mono box set listening sessions for all the many people interested in hearing these new LPs, which included Guy Hayden, Vice President of Apple Corps.
    I tried many different power amps, including Quad QMP monoblocks, but in the end felt that Quad II-eighty valve monoblock power amplifiers worked best with them. Tannoy’s midrange horn suits valve amplifiers but makes transistor amps sound like – er, well – transistor amps. And of course, being Tannoys you need just a few Watts to go really loud; at 91dB from 1 Watt the Kensingtons are massively sensitive: 20 Watts will lift the roof.
    With LP I used a Timestep Evo turntable (upgraded Technics SL-1210 MkII Direct Drive) fitted with SME 309 arm and Ortofon Cadenza Bronze moving coil cartridge, feeding an Icon Audio PS3 valve phono stage. For digital, I fed the Quad II-eightys from an Audiolab M-DAC, using an Astell&Kern AK120 portable to play (ripped) CD and high resolution audio.
    To summarise so far then, the Kensington Gold Reference is tailored to sound balanced in medium sized rooms; it doesn’t have the massive bass of the 12in Dual-Concentric equipped Yorkminster but its 10in cone does reproduce bass cleanly and with ease. A large volume cabinet absorbs the back wave well, so there’s less box boom than usual, and a big cone produces low levels of bass distortion. You get strong yet well controlled bass with plenty of impact, a big confident sound.
    So with Lady Gaga's Monster (CD) the deep synth lines that are meant to provide a seismic backdrop did so. When I moved 16ft back from the Kensingtons to the rear wall I was hit by massive bass pressure waves that had me gripping the settee. These speakers go low and deliver awesome acoustic power with supreme ease - they're typical big Tannoys!
    Spinning Jackie Leven's Some Ancient Misty Morning (LP) had underpinning percussion sending out a thunderous message: there was an ease and a power to the drums and bass line that was big, bold and yet easy to enjoy. No small drivers struggling here: the 10in Duals just pumped it out with alacrity, defining bass notes with ease. These are physically big loudspeakers that sound big too - powerful yet relaxed, as if cruising along.




The Pepperpot wave guide, at the base of the treble horn.








The central midrange/treble horn loaded tweeter endows the Kensington with strong midrange detail and insight, shining a bright light onto an aurally sensitive area, making the ‘speaker quite forceful in its presentation.  Cryogenic treatment does reveal low level filigree detail and also improves resolution of ambience, obvious when spinning The Beatles 'This Boy', from Mono Masters.  The Kensingtons let me hear the studio behind John Lennon's microphone, making for an atmospherically live presentation. It was obvious that John was singing intensely, right into the mic. and this track became something of a demonstrator with visitors eager to hear our new The Beatles in Mono box set. The Kensingtons gave the song a sense of scale and solidity, as well as dynamic excitement.    
  Because the deep bass cone and horn at its centre project forward strongly, but less so to walls, floor and ceiling, the Kensingtons, like other Dual Concentric Tannoys, stayed both intense and well focussed as I moved backward from them, and at 16ft away there was noticeably less room muddle from reflections affecting the sound stage than I am used to from normal multi-driver loudspeakers. This contributes to their general sense of clarity and their insensitivity to room size.


Large WBT connectors accept spades, 4mm plugs and bare wire. Bi-wire links are shown here, and Earth terminal.


    Another interesting property of the phase-aligned Dual Concentric in the Kensington GR was that its sound balance did not change at all as I moved up or down in front of the cabinet, or even when I walked around the room. Conventional multi-driver loudspeakers, other than KEF Uni-Qs, change their sound, due to inter-driver phase cancellation, as you move around in front of them; in some cases this imposes quite a tightly defined and specific listening position, Yamaha's NS-F901 Soavo loudspeakers I reviewed in our September 2014 issue being a good example. The Kensington GRs are - almost uniquely - completely free of this problem. Their perfect phase matching helped give singers a sense of solidity and body.  Add this to their powerful low frequency output and the reason for the Tannoy sound becomes clear: from the Kensngtons you get scale, body, power and ease of delivery all in one. Result – happiness!


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