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The Kensingtons are fantastically made and endowed with incredible charm. They look unique but shall fit any room even if by way of contrast. The secret lies in extraordinary attention to cabinet manufacture. If I did not already own the Harbeth, I would be proud of retaining the Tannoy Kensington GR as my reference speakers. Although large and very solid, they are also very easily driven. The basic amplifiers during the auditions were the Soulution 710 solid-state amp and the tubed Leben CS-300 XS but to verify the friendly assumption I also used the all-in-one Block CVR 100+, Naim UnitiQute2 and a very low-powered class D Pro-Ject Stream Box DSA. Even this dwarf offered dynamics, momentum and bass that wouldn't be possible with other speakers. Generally however I see the Tannoy with tube amps.

The speakers were positioned in exactly the same place as the Tannoy Definition 10A had been previously or the Raidho D1, Estelon XA and Amphion Krypton3. All of them were compared to my Harbeth M40.1 sitting on custom-made stands from Acoustic Revive. I achieved best results pointing them directly at the listening position and removing their front grilles although the speakers look great with them in place. Just like the Harbeth the Tannoy rested on Acoustic Revive RST-38 quartz isolation boards. My comparative test had the character of an A/B comparison with 2-minute music samples as well as entire albums.

The original shape of this type of speaker cabinet was first seen with the launch of the Tannoy Autograph in 1953. The wooden—here 18mm veneered plywood—cab and its decorative components are more reminiscent of a piece of furniture than hifi product. That and the characteristic front grille locked in place with an actual key all make the Prestige Gold Reference line absolutely unique. The Kensington GR is its second model from the top.

It is a two-way distributed port design where the rear of the driver is loaded by narrow vertical slots on both edges of the front baffle. All wooden surfaces are waxed rather than lacquered and look fantastic. Tannoy even supply their own wax for periodic maintenance. Interior chipboard braces reinforce the cabinet and one of them cradles the magnet of the dual concentric driver developed in 1947 as the "pearl in Tannoy’s crown".

The coaxial driver of the Kensington GR is the latest Tannoy development. It consists of two embedded drivers crossed over at 1.1kHz with 2nd-order hi/lo-pass filters. The tweeter features a large 2”/52mm aluminum/magnesium alloy diaphragm loaded into a very long gold-anodized steel horn with characteristic holes in the throat, hence its graphic nick Pepperpot. The diaphragm is formed during an advanced 5-stage process to ensure very high stiffness to mass. The diaphragm's Mylar suspension runs venting holes whilst the voice coil is aluminum. A damped acoustic rear cavity decreases driver resonance. Hookup wiring is multi-stranded copper.

The tweeter horn flows smoothly into the 10”/250mm mid/woofer cone made from paper pulp with synthetic micro-fiber additives. That driver terminates in a twin-folded damped fabric suspension. The motor is a powerful Alcomax 3, an iron/nickel alloy with additions of aluminum, cobalt and other unspecified rare metals. The magnet is said to combine the advantages of classic Alnico and Ferrite magnets. Since Alcomax 3 is also an electrical conductor, it suppresses any nonlinear eddy currents usually induced by the pole pieces. The main cone is supported by a very robust die-cast basket painted gold on the outside. Ten golden mounting bolts hold it in place.

The crossover network mounts to MDF boards bolted to a side panel. Point-to-point assembly relies on 99.99% pure silver wires. The low-frequency filter network includes polypropylene capacitors bearing Tannoy’s logo and iron-core coils. The high-frequency air coils are soldered separately and feature 99.9999% pure PCOCC copper leads connected to the gold-plated switch terminals on the baffle which control treble level and roll-off slope. As these wires run crimp connectors (a few of them are in the signal path), in Asia they are routinely soldered permanently yet Tannoy treat this as a design interference which voids the warranty. The entire crossover assemblies receive deep cryo treatment to relax metallurgical stresses at the crystalline micro level and reduce signal-path noise.

The speakers sport fantastic WBT Nextgen speaker terminals on the rear. As usual with Tannoy, there are five terminals, the odd one out a ground connection for the driver chassis. Tannoy measurements show that properly set-up systems experience reduced noise from this grounding scheme. Both crossover sections connect to the terminals with a shielded version of the internal hookup wiring. Bi-wire links arrive in a beautiful wooden box in which we also find the golden grille key, wood wax, spikes with lock nuts and a great mini guide to Tannoy's history describing the core design solutions used in these speakers. There is also a separate owner's certificate with the signatures of everyone responsible for checking the individual parts. I found a quality check stamp on one of the braces and it so happened that this person had a classic Polish first name: Genowefa Sarley. The entire speaker looks terrific and its buyer is made confident to be a real somebody.

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