Tekton Design Impact Monitor loudspeaker

"It was not subtle. The [$2000/pair] Tekton Impact Monitors were doing it all: singing, drumming, shaking the air, drawing me in, and making every CD or LP pure pleasure to listen to. A little soft . . . but not too soft. Imagine a gentle but guiding touch with a most perfect sparkle—and then firm and impactful when necessary."

I wrote that last October, after hearing Tekton Design's new Impact Monitor speakers at the 2017 Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. I repeat it here because, as I listened to the Impact Monitors, I thought, Yeah, these speakers sound pretty damn good, but those seven tweeters are a gimmick if ever there was one. I could imagine no good reason for their presence, nor could I imagine how a gaggle of seven drivers could operate without insane diffraction, comb filtering, phase, or frequency-response anomalies.

Those thoughts forced me to scrutinize these unusual-looking, bulky, flame-orange boxes, and listen extra carefully for what must be wrong. Surprisingly, I heard no obvious problems.

Then I remembered: I'd thought the same thing about Tekton's floorstanding, three-tweeter, Enzo XL, which I reviewed in the April 2015 issue. The Enzo XLs sounded a little polite for my taste, but they imaged clearly, and delivered a consistently well-sorted upper midrange—which is where I imagined the Impact Monitor's tweeter problems would be.

When I returned from RMAF, I asked Tekton Design's president and chief engineer, Eric Alexander, if I could borrow a pair of Impact Monitors "in any color—as long as it's black."

Description
In my small apartment, the Tekton Impact Monitors, in their High Gloss black finish, looked much bigger than they had at RMAF 2017. Each speaker stands 24.5" tall by 10.125" wide by 13.1" deep and weighs 40 lb. It's a three-way bass-reflex design with a rear-firing port that loads two 6.5" mid/bass drivers and, yup, seven 1" fabric-dome tweeters. (Grilles are available for $50/pair.)

According to Eric Alexander, "The woofers are lightweight, natural-fiber, pulp-based cones that include papyrus fibers to aid in rigidity. The result is reduced moving mass and great damping qualities. The woofers and tweeters all incorporate copper-clad, aluminum-wire–wound voice-coils to further reduce the moving mass of the system. We've partnered with the highly respected transducer vendor SB Acoustics, and they produce our Impact Monitor parts."

I asked Alexander why he chose a vertical midrange-tweeters-midrange array.

"I chose an MTM design because this arrangement produces vertical symmetry in the polar response. I believe vertical and horizontal symmetry produce a superior overall sound quality."

Why such a swarm of tweeters?

"The seven tweeters are oriented in what I call a 'polycell array.' The 6.5" woofers handle frequencies below 1kHz, and the seven-tweeter polycell array handles frequencies above 1kHz. Comb filtering in the array is addressed and mitigated by transitioning higher frequencies to the single center tweeter—it acts as a supertweeter. When the loudspeaker system receives frequencies ¼ wavelength shorter than the distance between the tweeters' centers, we transfer the power to the center tweeter. The array of seven handles high output levels flawlessly.

"Going up in physical size, the Tekton Design lineup only gets better. . . . Our Ulfberht model incorporates 15 powerful tweeters in a focused array effortlessly digging down to 200Hz!"

When I admitted that this shocked me and that I still didn't understand, Alexander continued:

"Some of the magic of our patented seven-tweeter polycell array is the dramatically reduced system moving mass and its power-handling capabilities. For example: when the average, single-motor, 6" cone midrange with a BL (the strength of its magnetic motor) of 4–7Tm (Tesla meters), driving a moving mass of 10–20gm, is compared to our polycell-arranged tweeters producing midrange frequencies through seven individual motors, each having a BL of 1.8Tm [and] driving a moving mass of only 1/3gm, we discern an audible improvement."

Why is any of this important to audiophiles?

"The moving mass (the string weight) for the violin note 440Hz is 1/3gm. When the violin note 440Hz is played, it produces many discernible higher-frequency overtones and harmonics, [but] when played back [those are] all lumped up as a single resultant wave; this is how the amplifier sees it and feeds it to the loudspeaker. The classic two- or three-way woofer/midrange/tweeter design contains shortcomings, because the mass relationship is wrong when compared to the recorded source [eg, a violin string]. I realized [that] simply using a transducer built from lightweight materials—beryllium, for example—[wasn't] going to change much of anything. We needed to devise entirely new methods of designing loudspeakers. One example is our patented polycell array, used in the Impact Monitor. We show these methods in the patent, and we show how overtones and harmonics lumped up into a resultant wave are subtly diminished and damped when the transducer has a mass higher than the original source [eg, again, a violin string]. The Impact Monitor is simply an expression of how I believe loudspeakers can be improved upon."

I told Alexander how I imagined that every loudspeaker cabinet is like a piano's soundboard: Regardless of how thick or thin, heavy or light, braced or unbraced, it will contribute to the overall tone of a loudspeaker.

"The Impact Monitor cabinet material is high-quality MDF," replied. "We use MDF over other materials because it is CNC machinable, sounds great when used correctly, and keeps the speaker affordable. It is no secret Tekton Design hangs its hat on affordable hi-fi. We have incorporated several internal construction techniques—including cross-bracing—to ensure [that] the speaker has a solid overall foundation and a rigid launching surface for the nine transducers."

Which left one question that only I could answer: Would the Tekton Design Impact Monitor play my recordings as well as it played the ones I heard at RMAF 2017?

Setup
Tekton's Impact Monitor is just under two cubic feet in volume, but right out of the box, sitting on Sound Anchor stands, the pair of them filled my 1400-cubic-foot room like much bigger speakers. They made copious bass with force and power. Unfortunately, that bass was bloated and boomy.

Hoping to eliminate that bloat and bloom, I moved them farther and farther out into the room, until the rear ports were 38" from the front wall. This pretty much cured the boom, but my room is only 11' deep—having the speakers more than a yard from the wall put my ears about 6' from the speakers' baffles. Where I discovered that, unlike my assorted LS3/5a variants, Tekton's big boxes aren't really suited for nearfield listening. The closer I sat to the speakers, the less focused the aural images were; the farther away, the more whole the sound became.

COMPANY INFO
Tekton Design LLC
Orem, UT 84058
(801) 836-0764
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Will It Go Round in Circles"? ............. Billy Preston :-) ..........

tonykaz's picture

What phraseology, it takes my mind and imagination to Schonbek Silver Chandeliers in Clear Swarovski.

Mr. HR always seems to toss the readership a GODIVA Truffle in his various writings.

I'll have to return to this review after the prose dissolves.

I took a further glance at this loudspeaker and it's siblings wide range of paint offerings. Phew

Stonehenge tweeters & Orange seem at odds. My Eyes are demanding a Grill ( or at least requesting less impact ). I could cover these things with a Silky Cloth and a Statue of Vlad. Putin on one with Mr.Orange on top the other.

Tony in Michigan

ps. Keven Deal just did a YouTube Review of the Tannoy Cheviot ( which wants $6,500 up front and Funeral Home setting back home )

FredisDead's picture

to cancel my subscription.

Catch22's picture

I don't think I've ever seen a disparity that great in sensitivity measurements vs manufacturer's specification. What gives?

Bry_E's picture

That gives me more pause than anything else about Eric's speakers. I don't think any of them have ever matched his sensitivity claims which are as high as 99dB on some models.

es347's picture

..hasn’t McIntosh been doing this for decades?

Anton's picture

Very very similar in appearance!

Ortofan's picture

... get a Frost King F1524 window air conditioner filter and use the open-cell foam to plug the port.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Kinda looks like "Cyclops" :-) .............

tonykaz's picture

there ain't no dam chinesium in any of this outfit's products. ( I can easily forgive 'em for bee-n mormons if that's what they are ). Romney is a good guy and trump a jerk for dissing him.

Tony in Michigan

dalethorn's picture

Trump is a forward-looking progressive and Romney a luddite.

Edit: This might be a good time for a quick historical overview of hardware quality and work ethic. I started with HP proprietary computers several years before IBM entered the PC business. An HP computer could run in a tent in 110 degree F temps when the IBM PC would shut down before temps reached 90. Then in 1985, HP introduced IBM compatibles, and their quality dropped like a stone. I have many specific examples, FYI.

Articles concerning HP's mil-spec industrial-grade quality in the years before they produced PCs raised awareness about their production plants and quality control. In Corvallis OR and Fort Collins CO, the workforce was described as consisting of "Mormons and born-again Christians". I have no reason to believe that their work ethic was dependent on any given cult, but I do believe that the monocultural aspect of their societies in those locations was a huge factor, as it was in the rapid industrialization of Japan and Germany after the war, when they became legendary for high quality. A man named Deming held the key to some of that.

By and large, you pays your money and you takes your choices, but it's good to know which companies make high-quality products, the era in which those are produced, and the backgrounds that lead to such things. In Apple's case for example, large-scale Chinese manufacturing and the legendary iron-fisted dominance of Steve Jobs turned what could have been tons and tons of schlock into a wealth of useful and durable products.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be it is a good idea to stay "in the zone"? :-) ..............

dalethorn's picture

Who is not in the zone? Who violated the zone first? Don't some people always violate the zone? What zone are you in? The twilight zone? Speak plainly.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

High-end (high performance) audiophile zone :-) ............

dalethorn's picture

There is much controversy about the high end zone. With all of the pressures to remaster the world's catalog in MQA, to end downloads in favor of streaming, and to install listening ("music") devices in every home, you might want to think about what exactly is your high-end zone preference. The world is changing, and where is hi-fi going?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Yeah ...... That is the fun part of the whole thing .......... That is what keeps us all interested :-) ..........

Indydan's picture

By "the zone", do you mean a polite way of staying on topic? If so, I agree.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Deming Circle" :-) ............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Stuffing socks or air conditioner filter is some thing similar to "heuristic" solution to the problem of over blown bass :-) .............

Ortofan's picture

... foam bungs that some manufacturers ship with their speakers to allow the user to tune the bass response by either partially or fully blocking the port?

This is an example from B&W:
http://www.hi-fiworld.co.uk/images/stories/Loudspeakers/Knowledge/bw686.gif

Maybe Tekton should consider employing the same method.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Agreed ....... I am familiar with that option ......... I also, mentioned another option like acoustic suspension (closed box) design .......... Another possible solution could be using a separate subwoofer and take away the bass duties from these (book shelf type of) speakers. Of course separate subwoofer costs extra money. The advantage with separate subwoofer is flexibility of room placement for best possible bass response :-) ...........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be acoustic suspension design is a better solution :-) ..........

Indydan's picture

Interesting speaker design. Though, probably not for people who suffer from trypophobia.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Or, neophobia :-) ......... Some of the audiophiles have that problem :-) ...........

Indydan's picture

True. And some audiophiles have the opposite problem: they always need something new or different in their system!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

"Something New" ........... Album by The Beatles :-) .............

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Also, "Dora the Explorer" :-) .........

AllanMarcus's picture

Very very cool that you are reviewing an internet direct. Affordable, audiophile lovely set of speakers. May I suggest you listen to the BMR philharmonitors http://philharmonicaudio.com/BMR%20Philharmonitor.html

JBLMVBC's picture

"The classic two- or three-way woofer/midrange/tweeter design contains shortcomings, because the mass relationship is wrong when compared to the recorded source [eg, a violin string]."

One wonders how they explain not multiplying woofers in order to keep up their mass mojo for kettle and bass drums, piano etc...
LOL

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Great idea ......... How about 7 woofers surrounding 7 tweeters? :-) ............

scottsol's picture

I’m not sure it makes sense to call these three way speakers. At the least, this would only make sense if the center tweeter was fed by a separate high pass filter so it did not share lower frequencies with the six outer tweeters. Otherwise this could at best be called a two and a half way.

rzr's picture

When are the Stereophile reviewers going to get a decent room to review speakers? In this review, Herb mentioned that the bass was "bloated and boomy". He blamed it on his 11' room depth. DUH!!! My bathroom is bigger than 11' and our master bedroom closet is bigger than that. IMO, all reviewers should be required to get a decent size room so they can evaluate a speaker without pointing out that the speaker is performing badly, mainly because of the room being used. If I was a manufacturer, i'd be pi$$ed that a terrible room was used to evaluate my speaker. Also, I don't want to hear that Herb's room sounds great because no 11' room will sound as good as a treated bigger room.

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