Tannoy Canterbury Corners, a love story.

I was very very lucky to get a pair of Tannoy Canterbury Corners with "red monitors" as they are called, about 10 years ago.
Actually not a real pair, as the first Canterbury was a mono corner speaker and no "real pairs" matched for stereo were actually produced as such.
One was from 1958, the other from 1961 but looked pretty much the same, save one had a Tygan finish ( an hybrid plastic/cloth grille, harder to rip and easier to wash), the other a vintage beige-grey-ish cloth. Both had early glorious LSU/HF 12L drivers with orange dustcaps. I wasnt very much experienced in speakers back then, though already into british sound thru Kef Cantata and 105.2 and Rogers LS/something, powered by solid state amps.
When i spotted the speakers, i reached out for advice about them. I already had scanned the deep Tannoy web, as I had an opportunity on Lancaster with Gold monitors. Thanks to the internet again, I dared to contact a revered specialist of vintage british audio, Mr Haden Boardman, who urged me to grab them Canterbury ASAP. Later, came the amp issue. For whatever weird audiophile reason, I had Linn gear back then and Haden told me to stick with it if I was happy to hear about 50% of the Tannoy's sound... (I'm sure Linn sounds great, but not for me)
Valve gear was required, EL84 were chosen and a by-passed preamp stage Sugden A21 class A amplifier (the 2nd early version).
The first second I heard the T's, I was hooked. I think it was Kenny Barron's "Night and the music" cd, with Charlie Haden.
The piano, the ambiance, the bass, the air between them. Then vocals. Carol Sloane, Shirley Horn, Sarah Vaughan, Melody G. Then all my collection. Coltrane, Miles, Evans, etc.
They're not the best speakers in the world but they are to me, with their limitation, my system's and our room's. The one they share with us isn't the greatest audio environment : tiles floors, almost bare concrete walls, little furniture, kinda minimalist deco style, but its the room where we live.
A well-renowned audiophile and great fan of Tannoy's red monitors, texted this to me after we shared about our interest and discussed possible evolution of my system, until I sent him a picture of the room :

"Thank you for sending the image. It clearly shows your destination, it is a very nice furnitured room with lot of mid century and 1960s style accessories and furniture. It shows perfectly your main use of the room, it will work supportive for looking at TV/movies or for finest conversations or at least reading a book. But to be honest, geometry, materiality (harsh reflection surfaces) and optical preferences are completely contrarywise organized for acoustical superiority. Here is is impossible to get any audio set up working!! It is not a question of components, their quality or even the formats advanced step, to combine such audio components to a higher grade of listenability in a higher degree of musicality... Spend your money into wine, food or other sense bringen things which can create some happiness. You are in a right region to find manifold goods which will match."

I won't comment on it. I found it pretty harsh but not totally wrong, just hoping his wings don't bother him too much to listen to music.
But for the common mortal that I am and after many other speaker experiences - Altec 19 ( def not suited for that room ), Klipsch LaScala (which were great) I found in the Canterbury corners with 12" drivers my speakers of heart.

Truth be told, pop and rock don't play very well on them. Or on me, at least. It's said the early drivers were "not tailored" for this kind of music but acoustic music and I find this very true. Actually, after the "Reds", Tannoy developed the Gold series in stereo in the late sixties, then the HPD drivers to suit pop and rock needs in bass and dynamics, sparing a few Db on efficiency. Golds (or is it HPDs?) were monitors of choice at Abbey Road and other famous british studios. History says The Who burnt a few Tannoy drivers during recording sessions.

A seasoned hifi friend wanted to listen to the "famous" Tannoy sound he had heard so much about and brought a few cds.
Among them, the first Bijou opus on cd ( Bijou is a cult 80's french kinda garage rock band ). The cd played for a good 30 seconds before he rushed to end our torture. His cd of Steely Dan was ok ( but is the Dan pop/rock?) Among my fave genre cds, Destroyer's "Kaputt" is ok, same goes for these artists I love : Prefab Sprout, Neil Young, Bruce, David Crosby's "If only I could remember my name"... Soul music sounds great on them, Tom Waits, Joni, Rickie Lee, Sade, but we're already on jazz territory. Blues sound magnificent, too and yes, vinyl sounds much better on them, which isn't a surprise. Vinyl's bass, meatier sound suits the DC driver.
One cdp that really challenged vinyl was a EAR yoshino acute i unfortunately parted with.

Most of the times, dubious mixing and horrid CD mastering is usually all I hear in pop/rock cds (and some jazz, too). Maybe its my cd player, obviously it could be my room and then from now on, probably my ears. It's a genre I immersed myself deeply into back in the days but rarely listen anymore. I'm a bona fide golden era Hip Hop lover and here again, the Tannoys don't do justice to it. But I think hip hop is made to be played in a car anyway, with bass boost on, period. Same goes for the 90s deep House music i love so much : it's meant to be heard and danced to, in a club with an astounding sound system that makes your solar plexus shriek.
Now that i'm finally an old fart, I occasionally indulge in these sounds i loved and lived by so much. Electronic music, nu-jazz style and experimental mixes perform pretty well on the Red monitors. Riccardo Villalobos, Nicolas Jaar... It actually depends a lot on the quality of the mix. But CD mastering is another subject to be discussed elsewhere ( and de-mastering for instance).

In the main room, vinyl was banned long ago for conveniency reasons, too much space and boxes, too many kids running around.
I've been using a Marantz MCR 610 for a few years now. It's an all-in-one FDA amp+Cdp+analog/digital tuner+network box which sounds pretty good on the T's.
Then, when planets align and family allows, I plug the EL84 Heathkit modded monoblocs and smile. .../to be continued
 

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Audionut

Next Round Is On Me
Great story! Tannoys are on my must listen to list, but reds are hard to come by. My feelings parallel yours regarding my Altec 604’s; they are amazing for the music they were made for (classical, jazz, classic rock...), hip hop and pop is a different story...but add stereo subs and presto!
 
Great story! Tannoys are on my must listen to list, but reds are hard to come by. My feelings parallel yours regarding my Altec 604’s; they are amazing for the music they were made for (classical, jazz, classic rock...), hip hop and pop is a different story...but add stereo subs and presto!
Thanks for your feedback. Yeah, 50/60s drivers were tailored for acoustic music so you can ask for a little extra but can't expect miracles. Same as room acoustics, we can be limited by these and must accept to live with these limits - or not. I'm happy to enjoy the music I like with 12"s and probably will with Red 15"s, too. but the cabs they deserve are another domestic challenge
 
I'm really intrigued by these cabinets, I hope you won't mind a few questions:

Would these originally have had legs?

Is the Tygan something Tannoy did or a later recover? (It looks a little off to me, but I'm far from an expert on this stuff.)

Are these cabinets ported on the side/sides rather than the front?

Finally, want to trade these for a pair of 12" Reds in Lancaster corners? (OK, that last one is a joke, I wouldn't make that trade either.)

Cool speakers, for sure.
 
Yes, they originally had legs. Tygan was a trademark material Tannoy did use and probably proposed as finish, alternate to cotton cloth.Its almost impossible to find anymore. They're ported on the front, with évents on the sides. Ah ah, no sir 😁 but it was worth trying 🤷
 
Many other speakers played in my (infamous) living room, most noticably Altec Model 19 and Klipsch LaScala. The Altecs' 15" were too loud for the volume of the room. It took me almost 2 years of tests and tries to finally understand and admit it. They sounded great, as long as you could stood it. The room is essential. The Scalas were very easy and musical. For my kind of music, powered with the same old EL84 Heathkits I never suffered the lack of bass most of users complain about. And it all depends on the source, too. Vinyl has more bass. Some cds are so badly mastered its not even worth trying. I tried an interesting sub though but it was too many equipment to deal with in a family room. When we remodeled the room, the washing machines had to go. Family sacrifices. And I wanted the Tannoys' 12" back.

Because yeah, long story short, I had to part with these beloved speakers, with most of my hifi collection. They shipped to Asia of course with tears and regrets and fat money that hardly covered it. I knew it was my biggest audio mistake audio but sometimes life gives you lemons, or melons if you are dyslexic. Then i was ok with it and still enjoyed music on various gear for years but i knew my goal was to get Canterbury corners back. It took some time but i succeeded. This is clearly the sound i prefer in my room with my music. Its not the best sound or speakers but i'm at peace with it and enjoy them musically and visually
 

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Good stuff beathunters. Gorgeous speakers.
I'd say most of if not all of us have less than ideal rooms to work with. Reality of life and today's lifestyle.
That Marantz seems like a nice piece for all the things it does. A couple things to think about that might help you take better advantage of the unused Ferrari.
1. Unfortunately that Marantz does not have pre-out capability. If it did it would be really easy to insert the tube amps when desired. Integrated amps seem to be the new rave and things are good for it. You can probably find something similar to your piece now that has pre mains out to facilitate this option.
2. Room correction is getting really good and easy with DSP and Dirac. If an above said new unit has those capabilities, or you add it to the stream somewhere, you would be able to off-set some of the issues - not all, but some for sure. And it would allow you to equalize the signal as well and maybe get a bit more bottom end.
3. Don't be afraid to show us a photo of your room with the speakers in action. Maybe we could dig up some other ways to get more out of them without messing up the lifestyle aspect of things.
 
Good stuff beathunters. Gorgeous speakers.
I'd say most of if not all of us have less than ideal rooms to work with. Reality of life and today's lifestyle.
That Marantz seems like a nice piece for all the things it does. A couple things to think about that might help you take better advantage of the unused Ferrari.
1. Unfortunately that Marantz does not have pre-out capability. If it did it would be really easy to insert the tube amps when desired. Integrated amps seem to be the new rave and things are good for it. You can probably find something similar to your piece now that has pre mains out to facilitate this option.
2. Room correction is getting really good and easy with DSP and Dirac. If an above said new unit has those capabilities, or you add it to the stream somewhere, you would be able to off-set some of the issues - not all, but some for sure. And it would allow you to equalize the signal as well and maybe get a bit more bottom end.
3. Don't be afraid to show us a photo of your room with the speakers in action. Maybe we could dig up some other ways to get more out of them without messing up the lifestyle aspect of things.
Thanks for your feedback. I Can use the marantz cdp direct on the tubes so i'm fine with it. The 611 has a full pre-out set, so maybe ill get one when this unit breaks down or look for more sophisticated device.
 
I realize i didnt show you the other corner. Its an older unit, around 1958, with grey plain cotton cloth. Wood is a little darker. The driver an earlier series with orange dustcap. I'm waiting for another early one, pretty close in serial number, to match the "pair". I'm gonna have a session with the LEBEN 300Q pretty soon
 

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