Tannoy Eclipse Three
FOR Articulate presentation; good build and finish AGAINST Need a bit of space to breathe
Eagle-eyed readers will notice that it’s been a few years since we have tested budget floorstanders that we could recommend without hesitation.
Most of the ones we have seen tend to sound bloated and unwieldy next to their smaller, standmounter siblings. Floorstanders invariably offer lots more bass, but that’s only worth having if it’s articulate and well integrated – and in our experience, usually it’s not.
So, we’re pleased to report Tannoy’s Eclipse Three bucks that trend, turning in a musically engaging performance that compares favourably with the best standmounters at the price.
Once out of their packaging, you’d be hard pushed to find anything in these Tannoys to indicate that you’re about to witness a class-leading performance.
These are very much budget boxes built down to a price, but within those restrictions, they’re relatively solid and nicely finished. The price point also limits the choice of finishes – in this case there’s just one and that’s the Black Oak of our review sample.
There may be three drivers on show, but from an electrical point of view, these are two-way speakers. The pair of 13cm coated-pulp mid/bass units crossover to the 28mm woven polyester dome tweeter at 3.2khz – a little higher than we normally see.
Once you’ve attached the plinths – which give the 96cm tall speakers greater stability – it doesn’t take much to get them singing. The plinths are essentially two plastic bars held on by a pair of screws each. It’s no more than a couple of minutes’ work to attach them and screw in the floor spikes.
We position the Eclipses almost a metre out into our listening room with just a touch of toe-in to solidify the stereo imaging. Depending on your room, you can go as close as 50cm to the rear wall without issue. But make sure you stay away from corners and sidewalls or the bass end becomes a bit boomy.
While these towers aren’t unduly fussy when it comes to partnering kit, it pays to use a good quality source and amplification. Something like Marantz’s CD6006UK CD player (£350) coupled to Onkyo’s A 9010 amplifier (£200) would be a good choice.
Once properly run-in – we leave them running over a weekend – these speakers turn in a fine performance. They’re agile, articulate and, well... just fun. Listen to Prince’s 1999 and it’s obvious that the Eclipses have no problem when it comes to having a good time.
There’s plenty of snap to the rhythm track, a good dose of attack and enough refinement at the top-end to prevent things turning overly harsh. Prince’s vocals are as quirky as ever with the Tannoy’s fluid and articulate midrange coming to the fore.
Swing into action
We switch to Holst’s Jupiter and the Tannoys continue to impress. They deliver a good dose of scale and deliver the music’s huge dynamic swings with plenty of conviction. If you are prepared to spend a little more to buy the likes of the Award-winning Q Acoustics 3050 (£500), you’ll receive much more in the way of low-end reach, insight and authority. However, at this £300 mark, we haven’t heard any rival do better.
Tonally, these speakers don’t sound particularly pure, but that’s not entirely unexpected at this price. At least they’re well balanced and smooth enough to work well with a wide range of kit. This kind of unfussy nature is essential for budget speakers.
We’re pleasantly surprised by the Tannoy’s ability to organise detail too, and their refusal to get messy when things take a turn for the complex. They hold onto instrumental strands firmly and keep things composed even as volume levels rise.
Towers of strength
These towers aren’t perfect – no rival we’ve heard is either – but they’re enjoyable and informative while being easy to set-up and partner. These things count for a lot at these price levels. As far as budget floorstanders go these are some of the best around at the moment. Tannoy has done a fine job.
“These Tannoys work with a range of kit. This kind of unfussy nature is essential for budget speakers”
These are no-frills budget speakers, but they’re enjoyable too
Keep the Eclipse Threes away from corners or side walls