When Andy first asked me to take a listen to the new Tannoy Reveal 6D studio monitors, I was eager to hear what improvements had been made from its predecessor the Reveal Active, a speaker that I wasn't too impressed with but with which I was already familiar. After working with the Tannoy Reveal 6D for about two months, I can say that it does sound better.
The most useful and impressive improvement is the ability to tune your monitors to the room. Having recently tested JBL's room-tuning system, I was a bit wary about the reliability and feasibility of any speaker properly tuning itself to an environment. However, I found that Tannoy's system was not only more straightforward, but left me with more information about the acoustics of the room. Using the included Activ Assist software, I was able to plug in the microphone and cables (included) to a laptop, and within seconds, get a bandwidth reading on what the speaker was outputting. The software was then able to interpret and make correction recommendations from a selection of over 2000 possibilities. Making the adjustments required setting the two banks of DIP switches on the rear of each speaker to what the software suggested. The first bank of ten DIP switches controls low-frequency alignment, mid/near/close-field, and half/quarter and eighth-space compensation, while the second bank controls mid-band and high-frequency shelving trim.
Once I was properly calibrated to the room, I found my mixes came out sounding honest and the way they were intended to sound-which I rate as a huge success for a speaker. If I had nitpick, I found the high mids to be a bit brittle for my taste, leaving a mix sounding slightly less shimmery if I wasn't careful to push the top end slightly more than I was used to. (I've worked extensively with Dynaudio BM15A monitors, and I found them to have more warmth and definition than the Tannoys, but these are much bigger speakers (with a 10" woofer) that cost over twice as much.) Overall, I noticed a much fuller and richer sound from the Reveal 6D compared to Tannoy's previous models. But like most gear decisions, it comes down to preference. ($629 MSRP each; www.tannoy.com)
Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.