Tekton Design Brilliance Loudspeakers
I heard it through the grapevine that Tekton’s Eric Alexander is now using a new patented technology in some of his speaker models and that he is making some kind of over-the-top claims for the technology, and the speakers. For example, from Tekton’s website:
“Until now, there has been an inappropriate mass relationship between musical instruments and loudspeakers. This exists within all past and current competitors’ speaker models, and it certainly includes the high-priced speaker models that cost more than new cars and houses! When the moving mass of the loudspeaker cone is greater than the musical instrument’s vibrating string, column of air, resonating surface, etc., it fails to accurately respond to the instrument’s subtle nuances, details, upper overtones, and upper harmonics. Loudspeakers are absolutely musical instruments and the music reproduced through high fidelity speaker systems cannot sound lifelike and correct unless the mass relationship between the speaker and the musical source is correct. The top 10 best-selling subwoofers of today happen to be extreme and blatant offenders.”
“Our revolutionary U.S. patent #9247339 (issued January 26th, 2016) allows us to literally align the moving mass of speaker cones to the harmonic spectra of the musical instruments being played. This means that, in theory, we’ve now made every other high fidelity loudspeaker on earth obsolete in one fell swoop! Again, I believe I can make a strong case for claiming that every other high fidelity loudspeaker is now obsolete or (for models that do try to mitigate moving mass) at least subtly obsolete. I’m quite confident in stating that we’re now producing the most accurate and best sounding loudspeakers ever built – period!”
Strong words—and they were creating quite a buzz over at Audio Circle for sure. So in this review, it is my intention to evaluate Tekton’s Brillance loudspeakers that include Tekton’s patented technology, and determine if there is in fact something very special about their musical performance. Work, work, work!!!
Standard soft gloss paint finishes for the Brilliance include black, red, white, and gray, although when you talk to Tekton Design about ordering, many other paint options exist. For example, I ordered mine in a deep burgundy soft gloss and I rather like it.
For $3,000 the pair, the Brilliance comes with one pair of high quality gold-plated speaker posts and high quality internal wiring and crossover parts… but there are options. Grills may be added at $75/pr., and dual inputs for bi-wiring or bi-amping are $30 extra. And I believe that if you speak with Eric Alexander you can get a premium crossover/wiring package upgrade for $300 more.
My review samples are the base model of the Brilliance, which is actually quite good just as it is… more on that to follow.
The Brilliance is a 4-way design using a proprietary high performance 8" papyrus fiber Seas transducer, a 4.5" mid-bass transducer, and a proprietary triple-dome radiator high frequency array.
It presents a 4-Ohm load and the sensitivity is stated as 94.02dB for 2.83V input at 1 meter. This will allow its owners to use medium and possibly low power amplifiers depending on the listening room volume and the user’s preferred average volume level.
The loudspeakers are 47” tall, and weigh 62lbs. each. They come with cone feet, but on Eric A’s recommendation I ordered adjustable outriggers from Soundocity.com, which provide adjustable tilt, and a very stable platform for the Brilliance. With the outriggers I was able to tilt the Brilliance slightly forward so that the junction between the upper mid-bass/midrange driver and the upper tweeter were aimed at my ears in my seated listening position (which is the recommended orientation and sounds the best to me).
I set the Brilliance up at one end of my Large Room. The front baffles were 49.5” from the front wall and the center speaker points were about 35” from the side walls with a modest toe-in toward the listening seat. I also gave the loudspeakers the recommended slight tilt forward, as I said above, using the Soundocity outrigger adjusters (photo right). Distance from the front plane of the speakers to the listener’s ears is 8.5 feet.
The associated electronics chain was almost the same as I had used for the Caintuck Audio Betsy speakers. I used my Lenovo laptop computer (with the USB Disruptor) as the music source feeding the modified Jolida Glass FX Tube DAC III that in turn fed my custom Tripath amplifiers, which provide 100 watts per channel into the Brilliance’s 4-Ohm load. This combination sounded surprisingly good.
Also, I should note that the Brilliance sound quite good right out of their boxes but after I had put around 50 hours on them they opened up a bit and seem to sound a level up from their initial debut.
I did some preliminary listening to help the loudspeakers break in, which helped them open up a bit more—and then I got more serious… or did I?
The thing is, that once the Brilliance open up they are the kind of loudspeakers that suck you in to listening and going through your favorite recordings to see how each one will deviate from your known universe of recordings. And I mean that in the best possible way. Unfortunately it kept me from taking notes for a while.
I should make a list of parameters where the Brilliance excel. Here it is:
• Ultra-quick transient response and freedom from ringing on the leading edge of transient bursts
• Very taut, extended, and punchy bass
• Quite linear and detailed treble
• Excellent soundstage width, depth, layering, and image specificity/focus
• A very coherent and musical nature while at the same time being uber detailed and nuanced
• Well expressed dynamic contrasts that keep one on his (or her) toes!
If you consider all of the above, the Brilliance may be shaping up to be a breakthrough loudspeaker. So let’s play some music!
Let’s begin with Fiona Apple’s Tidal CD (Clean Slate Work OK 67439). This is a nicely recorded album that showcases Fiona’s vocal talent and her musical artistry. It contains strong bass, snappy percussion, and Fiona’s emotive vocal styling. Her song “Shadowboxer” threw a deep and layered soundstage that is a step above what most loudspeakers can manage. And “Criminal” had copious deep bass power, and an excellent sense of musical coherency and lyric comprehension.
Then on Ingrid Michaelson’s Be Okay CD (Cabin Records 90264 00210 6) the song of the same name provided a very sweet and well focused vocal that emerged in step with an authentic sounding double bass. And in concert with Ingrid’s backing vocals the resulting chorus was about as delightful as I have ever heard it.
I also noticed across a wide selection of music that high-frequency percussion was particularly well rendered. Whether it was hands clapping, rim shots, woody sounding wood blocks, or cymbal strikes that shimmered gleaming metal into the air, the Brilliance did a particularly good job of getting the percussive sounds to sound real.
Another CD that truly impressed me is Rodrigo y Gabriela’s Live in Japan (ATO 0062 88088 21638-2). Off the bat I will tell you that in my experience it seems particularly difficult for loudspeakers to correctly reproduce their super-fast guitar riffs and their foot-stomping, guitar smacking bass. But the Brilliance had fun with it blasting out the guitar riffs with blazing speed and clarity that surely impressed me.
But more than that, the Brilliance captured Rodrigo’s subtle phrasings perfectly as well as all the musical sweetness the virtuoso duo’s guitars had to offer. It felt like I was at the concert experiencing the show right in front of me. Great stuff!!
Not much to mention at this price point. But one thing I can mention is that the Brilliance use extremely good custom-built 8” woofers sourced from Seas. Don’t get me wrong, these are great bass-making transducers. They delve into the 20Hz’s and generally sound taut and agile. The only potential problem I might anticipate is that because the woofers are so low to the floor, which will reinforce the bass in addition to the bass reinforcement from other room walls in close proximity, the bass may be overly strong in some rooms.
In the particular part of the room where I set up the Brilliance I did get a bit too much bass but was able to easily drop it by a couple of dB between 80Hz and 100Hz with the simple DSP EQ tools contained in my J River Media Server.
I should also note that the part of the room where I set the Brilliance up (same location I used for the Caintuck Betsys) does tend to bring up the mid bass a few dB.
So don’t let this scare you. In most cases it will be easily remedied (if it even happens) by either acoustic means or by using DSP EQ that is commonly available on many music servers these days. And remember, a slight repositioning of the loudspeakers in the room, like moving them a little farther away from rear and side walls or even trying them on the adjacent wall to see which wall works best can make dramatic improvements in bass performance.
On the plus side, unless you’re a real bass freak or have a very large acoustic space to fill, you probably won’t require a subwoofer with the Brilliance. I would advise against installing the Brilliance in small square rooms (like many secondary bedrooms) due to additional reinforcement of particular bass frequencies, but I think I can get a very good result in my Small-Room Reference System, which measures 11’x14’ with a vaulted ceiling rising toward the listening position. I’m going for it!
Also note that if you will be putting the loudspeakers in a very large room or if you are using them for Home Theater applications and playing them VERY LOUD, Tekton offers another loudspeaker with the same patented technology and price—namely their Double Impact model…
I must admit to you the reader that I don’t come across too many (if any) loudspeakers in the $3k price bracket that can match all the things that the Tekton Brilliance loudspeakers do with finesse and ease.
They are ultra fast, musical, well focused, and more linear and extended in their frequency response than the majority of competing loudspeakers. Their sonic imagery is brilliant, lyric comprehension is excellent, and they won’t break the bank.
I very much enjoyed my time musing to the dulcet tones of these charmers and I have a strong feeling that they may be destined to become my new reference loudspeakers for my Small-Room system. I also want to thank Tekton’s Eric Alexander for striving to think outside the box and produce speakers that employ new patented technology of his own creation and design.
So do my findings validate Eric Alexander’s claims for this new patented technology? In my opinion they do. Are there other loudspeakers out there using the standard tried and true technology that perform as good or better? Yes, I believe there are, and most—if not all of them—are priced considerably higher.
Tekton Brilliance Loudspeakers
- US Patent 9247339
- Proprietary 4-way loudspeaker design
- Proprietary high performance 8" papyrus fiber Seas transducer
- Proprietary triple dome radiator high frequency array
- 4.5" mid-bass transducer
- 94.02dB 2.83V@1m sensitivity
- 4 Ohm design for optimum performance
- Frequency Response 30Hz-30kHz
- 200 Watts power handling
- Height 47"(119.38mm) x Width 10"(25.4cm) x Depth 13"(330.02)
- Weight 62 lbs
- Manufactured in the USA
Tekton Design, LLC
Orem, Utah 84058