I seem to be forever reviewing small speakers in the £1300.00 ish price bracket. I suppose I have the right size room for them (about 4 x 3m ) and really ought to be in the market for something like this. However, my musical tastes tend to be bass heavy and small speakers never quite deliver in that department.
The surprisingly diminutive Trubadors are no exception to this really, however they do other things so well I am prepared to forgive them their inability to defy the laws of physics.
The design is refreshingly honest looking, with a nice thick ply front on a black cabinet, with side firing ports (experiment in your room with them firing in and out for best results), they are a simple 2 way design, with a far from simple “mini maggie” tweeter, which really is the star of the show here.
To suggest this is a sweet and wonderful sounding tweeter would be like suggesting that some men find Scarlet Johansen quite attractive. I actually found myself pondering ways in which I could transplant this tweeter into my Triangle Deltas. I had visions of some kind of open backed board, mounted on top of the existing tweeter. My sincere hope is that Royd decide to make a full on, three way big statement speaker based around this tweeter. That would be something to behold.
Now, I’ll cut to the chase, the size of the speaker does hold them back a touch, there isn’t that slam or sense of depth you get from a larger cabinet with larger drivers. However, do not abandon hope, all ye that have a small room should be listening to a pair of these in short order. The bass they do muster is perfectly tuneful and well balanced, equally what scale they muster is beautifully cohesive, there are no gaps from top to bottom.
The top-end is a very refined sound, strings have a wonderful reality which defies the £1300.00 price tag, and while the mid-range is fully formed and as previously mentioned, joins in, rather than feeling bolted on. There’s nothing artificial here. Voices are placed nicely in a credible soundstage, and there’s never anything etched or harsh.. just a wonderfully cohesive sound which is nicely separated. You can’t trip them up easily as the tweeter is so fleet of foot. They skip along like Jason Robinson running through the Australian back line, this way and that, fast and hugely enjoyable.
The lack of bass depth does come into play at times, and anyone into Dub-Step or early 90’s Jungle really shouldn’t bother unless augmenting them with a sub… mind you, you need a PA not a hifi if that is your game. For the rest of us, there is much here to be admired and they stand up to the competition rather well. The clarity of voices, and instruments of the horn and string variety is sublime. Listening to Mose Alison playing Seventh Son was a particular treat. Mose’s voice is silky smooth at the best of times, however, via the Troubadors, all of its rich tonality was revealed, with a seriously impressive in the room realism. This fair took my breath away, while the brushes on the snare drum also felt physically present. The Double bass seemed just a touch absent. It was there, but was lacking the ultimate depth only a larger driver can provide. Even so, this was a hugely enjoyable listen, whatever I felt about the bass was massively compensated for by the silky delivery from the mids and treble. The words Royd use to describe the tweeter are given below;
One of the innovations in our design is to use an Isodynamic tweeter. This can be described in simple terms as a mini Magnepan. It’s benefits include high power handling and a wide range frequency band [up to 40Khz] with no impedance resonance.
The tweeter features a low mass heat-resistant Kapton/Copper Membrane and heat-resistant conducting electrical membrane covering about 90% of the chip. It has an exceptional sonic resolution and an ability to reveal the dynamics of instruments very clearly.
The vibrating element is almost weightless in comparison to that of a dome tweeter. As a result it provides an immediate and precise response to any transients in the original signal. It’s off axis response is good making a wide range of listening positions possible.
Royds claims for the benefits of this tweeter are born out in the listening. They have perhaps been a touch modest, it’s a real treat. And I did find that I could sit on the left or the right ( oh god, no politics please), of course the sound-stage was best revealed in the middle ground.. ahem..
The speakers really are tiny, they lean back to time align and also to project up at the listener, it was possible to place them close to the rear wall without any problem. The cabinet itself is made from Vachromat, which according to the blurb is kinder to the planet than MDF while being 30% stiffer. Certainly there was no cabinet colouration here, in fact they are not coloured at all. Changes in kit behind them were easily detectable, and I wouldn’t say they impart anything of their own, other than the sweet delivery of music. The doped paper cone is driven b y a long throw magnet, and it does move some air. They can go loud and given their size, when set up properly they ‘will give enough bass for normal listeners (I accept I am not normal in this department – nor many other departments for that matter).
We have no FM or DAB in our village to speak of, hidden as we are by the South downs. However, listening to Radio 3 is still a pleasure I can enjoy, even within the limitations of my Sonos system streaming from the web. The Troubadours were sublime with choral pieces, and I could really not fault them here. The lush, silky delivery of all vocals was the real constant across all genres, but with classical choral pieces they really excelled. When it came to the more dramatic and operatic end of the spectrum the ultimate lack of weight was obvious, but really, at this price, with this level of flexibility, I think they are a cracking loudspeaker, very worthy of attention. Blur’s new album (the Magic Whip) may divide opinion, but the Troubadours stomped along very well and were always insightful and revealing with no nasties in sight.
If you are in the market for a small speaker, which will fill a room with a sweet sound, and are not interested in shaking the neighbours’ foundations, then these are worthy of audition. You’ll not get a better tweeter and mid range at this price, and the over all package is a real treat. I liked them so much I wrote a review, I don’t do this for fun you know!
You can buy direct, http://roydaudio.co.uk/troubadour/ £1299.00 ish.