The Tannoy 501a, which features a 5-inch woofer, is one of three new models in the Reveal line.
Tannoy has been a trusted name in studio monitor technology over the years, and the company recently reintroduced its Reveal line of near-field monitors. The new models, which are designed to offer quality and affordability, include an active 5-inch monitor, as well as active and passive 6-inch models. For this review, Tannoy sent me a pair of the 5-inch 501a models ($179 each).
DISCLOSING THE REVEAL
These monitors have a modern look, with black MDF (medium-density fiberboard) cabinets trimmed with silver. The front panel has an oval-shaped baffle at the bottom and a blue LED power-status light on the front. In addition to its 5-inch woofer, the 501a has a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter and an integrated 60W power amp. The crossover frequency is set at 2.3kHz. According to Tannoy, the overall frequency response for these monitors is 64 Hz to 30 kHz.
On the back is a rotary volume control. I wish that monitor makers would detent these volume controls so that when adjusted to less than 100 percent, it would be easier to set the left and right speakers exactly the same. The back is also home to a three-position HF Trim switch, which is designed to help you tailor the 501a''s high-frequency response to the acoustics of your space. The three-position switch adjusts the volume of the tweeter and gives you three choices: +1.5dB, 0dB, and -1.5dB. The other control on the back is the monitor''s power switch. I prefer front-mounted power switches so that you don''t have to reach around to turn them on or off, but it''s not a major issue.
I began my testing by placing the speakers on the raised back shelf of my studio desk, about 8 inches above the desk surface (essentially meter-bridge height), on top of a pair of Primacoustic Recall Stabilizer speaker pads. As per the manual, I positioned them vertically, which Tannoy says provides the best dispersion. They were about 3 feet from my listening position.
The first thing I noticed when I fired them up was that they were quite bright; too much so for the acoustics in my studio. I turned the HF Trims to -1.5dB, which helped. I played a variety of music through them, and they sounded quite crisp, with the solid, unspattered sound that you usually hear in more expensive monitors.
Considering that they have 5-inch woofers, the bottom end on these monitors was impressive. Whether reproducing the thump of a kick drum or the tonality of a bass (both electric and upright), they did a very nice job. Most importantly, I found them useful for judging the bass level vis-à-vis the rest of the track, which is always tricky when mixing. I left the speakers in their desktop position for a couple of weeks and used them heavily in an acoustic-music mixing project. As you would expect, the more I became accustomed to their sound, the more valuable they were for judging mixes.
I next tried them on speaker stands (equipped with Auralex Mo Pads), positioned 90 degrees to the left of my mixing position, about 5 feet back from me when I turn to face them. I use this auxiliary listening position as a way to hear mixes on alternate speakers in a dissimilar part of the room acoustically. Again, I was impressed with their clarity and solid response. I liked their sound even more at this slightly greater distance.
Overall, despite being a tad on the bright side, the these speakers offer good sound and value. If you''re looking for a low-priced monitor with a high-priced sound, they''re a solid choice.
Overall rating (1 through 5): 3.5
Reveal 501a Product Page