REAL REVIEW: ECLIPSE TD510Z Mk2 Loudspeakers

Review by Andrew Eastham


The ECLIPSE TD510Z Mk2 is a fascinating speaker that combines futurist looks with a compelling ability to evoke music as performance. In spite of their strikingly modern appearance, they embody the quite traditional sonic virtues of tonal naturalism and accurate timing, but the way they achieve this doesn’t come from any familiar tradition. They were designed from first principles in Japan, with all the resources of the wider DENSO TEN Group, a technology conglomerate that has its background in car manufacture as well as electronics. Their industrial design is rational yet subtly voluptuous. Although in the past I’ve been more likely to host BBC legacy designs and vintage Tannoys in my listening room, I loved the elegant futurism of the ECLIPSE. This is complex engineering in the service of simple beauty. The attention to engineering detail is clear, and the matching stands are perfectly thought out, with multiple adjustable studs rather than spikes, and a locking mechanism that allows minute tilt adjustments of the speaker, to perfectly direct the driver to the listener’s ear.


The sound engineering of the ECLIPSE matches the ingenuity and rationality of the industrial design. The designers have clearly stated that their primary goal is time alignment. For conventional two or three-way designs, a key challenge is to achieve the best possible integration of the drivers, so that the sounds reach the ear at the same time. ECLIPSE circumnavigate this problem by using a single 10cm driver, and what they manage to achieve with this small and innocuous-looking cone makes me wonder why I’ve not paid more attention to full-range drivers in the past. As with electrostatic designs, one of the keys to the magic of full-range drivers is the absence of a crossover. This has further benefits, in addition to time alignment. For the majority of two-way speakers, the crossover region is in close proximity to the presence region, to which the ear is most sensitive. This gives a designer awkward choices: disguising the region with the classic ‘BBC dip’ risks an overly polite sound, but a flat or emphasized presence region can sound too forward, easily exposing a cheap tweeter. Having lived with Quad ESL63 in the past, I am well aware of the benefits of crossover-free designs, and the unique fidelity the Quads achieve from the mid-range to lower treble is still my reference point.


As soon as I had the ECLIPSE set up properly, it was clear how its design choices bear fruit. These speakers have a seamless clarity that is achieved without any of the tricks used by some modern speaker designers: they do not need to resort to a treble spike to provide illumination. Their revealing quality is often surprising but always feels like a genuine attempt to get to the truth of the source. The balance from the mid-range through the presence region and treble is exceptionally smooth. If you are used to a recessed presence region they will seem subjectively quite forward, and in some ways the ECLIPSE resembles a kind of futurist LS3/5A, mimicking the vintage monitor’s sense of living presence, with greater depth and extension. When driven correctly, the bass is surprisingly present and coherent, although it is heavily reliant on the port, with the result that the mid-bass above the port output is relatively lean, and the roll-off below 50Hz is quite steep. Crucially though, the port does not compromise the speaker’s superb sense of timing, so long as the speakers are not positioned too close to a corner.


Although the manufacturers recommend certain conditions; a healthy degree of toe-in, and a reasonable distance from the side and front walls; I found them surprisingly flexible speakers. In my 4.5 x 3.5m room I could use them in a close near-field triangle, providing excellent focus, or wide across the room, with around 1m from each side-walls and 0.5m into the room, providing impressive width and scale. The imaging was superb in both conditions, but when I moved to a wide placement, I was surprised how these miniature drivers could fill the space with both precision and richness. I can’t recall any other speaker I’ve tried that can work so well in both wide and near-field scenarios. My final position was a downward-firing arrangement, with the speakers 1m out into the room and 0.5m from side-walls: this provided the best combination of holographic imaging and dramatic presence.


The small driver does need some power to exploit its full range, but whilst the 84dB efficiency suggests the ECLIPSE will be hard to drive, the absence of a crossover compensates for this making them a relatively easy speaker to partner. During the review process, I used three different amplifiers: the Primaluna Dialogue Premium, an integrated valve amplifier with a modest output of around 40W, the Unison Research Unico Pre and DM power amp, a 150W hybrid using MOSFET output stage and valve input stage, and finally an Onix OA21, a 50W solid-state integrated from the 80s, and still my budget reference. All of these drove the ECLIPSE very well, but with one important distinction. I began the listening process with the Primaluna, using the supplied EL34s, but with the vintage valves, the sound was all mid-range and little else. Fortunately, the Primaluna allows for a wide range of power valves, so I moved up, through KT77 and KT88, and finally to KT120. The last switch was a revelation. Suddenly, I was hearing the combination of rich texture and clarity that would continue to impress me throughout the review process.


Sound Impressions

I began my listening with relatively small-scale works, focusing particularly on voices. I’ve spent some time recently listening to Marianne Faithful’s extraordinary live album, Twentieth Century Blues, which confirms her as one of the finest singers of Kurt Weill’s music in English and one of the great Decadent chanteuses. Listening to her version of Brecht’s ‘Pirate Jenny’, there is a compelling focus on the rasping nasal quality of her voice, encapsulating both the desperate anger and pride of the character. The clarity and focus of the ECLIPSE is consistently arresting with this recording. Faithful’s vocal performance is uniquely dramatic, and at the conclusion of ‘Boulevard of Broken Dreams,’ you can hear her whole body clenched in desperate anger.

This sense of the urgency of performance was a consistent theme in my time with the ECLIPSE. I had a similar sense of the song as a dramatic event with Lula Pena’s collection, Archivo Pittoresco, a brilliant and highly original album with multiple inspirations, including fado and French chanson. When I’ve listened to this recording on Harbeths or Tannoys I’ve been so immersed in the texture of Lula Pena’s voice that it almost becomes a fetish. With the ECLIPSE I feel a greater sense of the immediacy of the performance, but also intimacy. The voice is richly textured and holographic, and the combination of richness, intimacy, and rhythmic involvement makes for a wonderful sense of private theatre.

I should note one more point about set-up at this point. On first listening to these vocal recordings, my initial impression was of a slight lack of depth in the chest: the focus was compelling, but I still missed some of the tonal luxury I’ve heard from my Tannoys, and from the Harbeth SHL5Plus I had before them. Changing the speaker cables had surprising effects, which were far more immediately noticeable than with many of the traditional speakers I’ve used. The Chord Epic Twin I began with is a good mid-value option, but switching to Abbey Road Moving Air cables restored the chestiness of voices and extended the bass. My Transparent Audio Musicwave Plus (MM) brought even greater richness and texture: with Marianne Faithful’s voice, the years of heroic dedication to tobacco were revealed and I could even hear the phlegm in the throat. The synergy here was exceptional, and I would urge ECLIPSE users to try a rich and smooth cable like those from Transparent Audio.

Providing the ECLIPSE with powerful amplification also paid dividends, even on small-scale material. Listening to Kings of Convenience, Eirek Boe’s voice had an airier balance than I’m used to from Tannoys, Quads, and BBC designs, but this didn’t compromise the holographic realism; the ECLIPSE achieved exactly the right balance between the space of the recording and the texture of the voices. At times I felt I was hearing these voices with more naked truth than ever before. On songs like ‘The Weight of My Words’ (from 'Quiet is the New Loud'), where Eirek and Erlend’s voices are given equal prominence, you can hear the voices as simultaneously separate and as one. This ability to convey harmony is beguiling, and in spite of the clarity of imaging, listening felt more like floating on air: a deeply relaxing palliative to the August heatwave.

The ECLIPSE was equally convincing with more dynamic recordings across different genres. During the review process, I received the recent reissues of Joy Divison’s 12” singles, all of which sound palpably raw and alive through the ECLIPSE. I was continually struck by the way that these speakers kept tight attention to musical time, making for a dynamic and forward presentation of rock music, whilst accurately conveying tonal colour. This combination of virtues was especially well suited to dynamic jazz recordings such as Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure, on the excellent Music Matters LP reissue. I’m always gripped by Eric Dolphy’s solo at the beginning of ‘Refuge’, which is both an exploration of the tonal essence of the bass clarinet and a rollercoaster of scalar improvisation. The ECLIPSE emphasise the relentless pace of this arrangement. The piece manages to feel both frenetic and democratic, everyone making a statement at maximum velocity. In this case, the ECLIPSE is clearly making an interpretative decision, telling me not to be distracted by too much tonal luxury, because the key to the performance is unceasing energy.

Although I was enjoying a wide range of acoustic music through the ECLIPSE, their futurist visual design seemed to call out for electronic works. They were an ideal vehicle to pay homage to the recently departed Florian Schneider, and sure enough, Kraftwerk’s 'Trans-Europe Express' had just the right mixture of svelte retro textures and relentless machinic precision. As a result, the great sequence on side two sounded timeless but oddly ambiguous; both a beautiful glimpse of an electro-utopia and with ‘Metal on Metal’, the mirror of a dystopian machine world.

Moritz von Oswald Trio’s ‘Fetch’ provided another surprise. On this recording, deep dub electronics blend with echoing per1cussion and Sebastian Studnitzky’s diffuse, ambient trumpet sound. It is as dense and wet as it is echoing and spacious, and I’d never have imagined these small drivers could create such a palpable and room-filling sound.

The ECLIPSE’s capacity to create depth and space was particularly rewarding with orchestral works. I’ve recently been impressed by Jean-Efflam Bavouzet’s recordings of Mozart’s Piano Concertos No.20/21, with Gábor Takács-Nagy and the Manchester Camerata (Chandos, Qobuz Hi-Res Streaming). What first strikes me through the ECLIPSE is the speed and precision of both the string sections and the piano. The sense of orchestral depth and scale doesn’t equal my Tannoy Eatons, but they are just as convincing as the classic dual concentric design at marrying tonal naturalism and timing. Once again, using my most powerful amplifiers paid dividends here: I could hear the space around the piano clearly and the strings had greater scale and depth. Mozart’s later piano concertos have a unique combination of drama and grace and the ECLIPSE manage to keep this balance. The tonal emphasis is different from my Tannoys in that the lower strings have less weight, whilst the brass section is more forward, dynamic and defined. But the overall naturalism is similar. What I’m discriminating here are variations on an essential rightness: it’s very obvious when this lost.

This brings me back to the idea of the ECLIPSE as a larger scale Futurist LS3/5A. Listening to orchestral music on a smaller speaker may rob the orchestra of weight, but it gives a wonderful space and clarity to solo instruments. In spite of this, I still wondered if these speakers could do justice to works with a grander orchestral presence. To assess this I listened to a favourite of mine, Maria-João Pires’ performance of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto’s 3 & 4 with Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Symphony. The recording has clarity and presence but also urgency, weight, and scale so that when I’ve used large speakers in my medium-sized room, the piano has often failed to assert itself. My Tannoy Eatons achieve an especially good balance between scale and focus, but the ECLIPSE is also effective. As always, they make their case by dramatic timing.

The second movement of the 4th concerto is an interesting case in point, since this is all about the tension between the piano and the looming body of strings, as if the orchestra represents the call of fate, demanding that the piano wake up and assert itself against immeasurable odds. At the beginning, the orchestra seems to overwhelm the piano, as if the soloist is cowering in submission. With my Tannoys, I experience this drama through the heaviness of the strings and the illusion of great space this creates. Through the ECLIPSE the effect is more about time. In this case, the orchestra is making a sharp and relentless statement, against which the piano’s first responses seem slow and lacklustre until finally, it wakes up. In this case, the call of necessity is the demand of musical timing.

I think this distinction is fundamental to understanding why the TD 510Z Mk2 is such an invigorating speaker. Going back to what I heard with Eric Dolphy’s bass clarinet solo, they always maintain a sense of urgency and speed. They create drama, rather than luxuriate in sound for its own sake, but when luxurious sound is there, they reveal it with a clear window.


During my time with the ECLIPSE, I was continually impressed by a double achievement: I wondered how they managed to be so precise without ever being clinical, so richly textured without ever being overly saturated. There is no doubt that the balance is pushed towards presence and drama, and this means that sitting down to listen is an event. If you want a smooth sound for background listening or speakers that will fill a large living room so that you can step in and out of the music in a relaxed way, these might not be for you. But if you want speakers that will compel you to listen, reinvigorating the music you’ve known for years and making new discoveries feel like revelations, I would urge you to listen to the ECLIPSE. Be patient, make your system work for them, and they will repay you.


The comparative pricing level of the TD510Z Mk2 is raised significantly by the prescence of the stands, bringing them to £4K. This is perhaps the one thing I have to complain about with the ECLIPSE: the stands are eye wateringly expensive, and almost as much as the speaker. I should admit that comparable stands by companies such as Track Audio are even more expensive.

At this price level, there are a number of well-known British speakers that make their case on tonal accuracy and well-rounded musical appeal. It may seem contrary to the visual statement of the ECLIPSE, but I think they bear interesting comparison with modern speakers from the BBC monitor tradition such as Graham’s LS5/9 or Harbeth’s Compact 7ES3 (now in the XD version, which I am yet to hear). These two models would come closest to the more forward balance of the ECLIPSE, although they are both considerably larger cabinets. The C7ES3, which I lived with for three years, have greater weight and a similar level of excitement, but they do not have as even a balance across the presence region and lower treble, and the budget tweeter does compromise their evocation of the upper harmonics of brass instruments. They are also far less flexible in terms of room positioning. I have not yet heard Graham Audio’s LS6, but these medium-sized monitors would seem a natural focus for comparison. The Proac D2R is another monitor of similar size and ambition: its ribbon tweeter brings smooth clarity and natural scale, and it shares the ECLIPSE’s ability to adapt to small or large spaces. But it does rely on some treble emphasis, and this impinges on mid-range naturalism.

Generally speaking, it will not be hard at this price point to find speakers with greater weight, scale, and bass presence, but I find it difficult to think of a modern speaker at this price point that has a comparable combination of tonal naturalism and timing.


Model 10cm Diameter Full-Range Speaker System

Colour Available Black, White

Speaker Unit 10cm Diameter Full-Range, Fibreglass

Frequency Response 42Hz-22kHz(-10dB)

Sensitivity 84dB/W・m

Input Resistance (Rating/Max) 25W/50W

Impedance 6Ω

Angle Adjustment -10°~15°

Max Dimensions (mm) W384×H978×D393

Weight (per Speaker) Approx. 19.5kg

Accessories Grille x 1, Plug x 5