As some may have noticed via our social media posts we’ve taken delivery of a stunning pair of Tannoy Stirling GR-OW loudspeakers. These feature the famous Tannoy Duel Concentric drivers first developed by Tannoy in 1947 and launched at the London Radio Show the same year.

Not for the first time, we were not exactly looking for more loudspeakers when our good friend Dan Raggett of Symphony Distribution asked if we would be interested in listening to some of Tannoy’s range. Apparently, they’d worked well with Accuphase equipment at a Hifi show some weeks before. Hey, it would have been rude to say ‘no’. We can always let him down gently.

Prior to Dan’s arrival we set up our Accuphase E-650 A-Class integrated amplifier and Accuphase DP-750 CD/SACD Player connected via our go-to cables for Accuphase, Audiomeca interconnects and speaker cables.

Part of the reason for choosing Accuphase other than Dan’s comments about the Tannoy-Accuphase synergy is Tannoy’s Duel Concetric  designs  usually have very high sensitivity, in the case of our new  Stirling’s the 10″ driver has 91 dB/Watt sensitivity and 340 Watt peak power handling, these should work well with A-Class and no need to wind up the dial on the amp.

Dan arrived in good, optimistic, spirits after quite a lengthy drive from Wiltshire. He brought along two examples for us to hear, the Stirling’s and a pair of Super Gold monitors suffix SGM 10.

Both designs featured the same proprietary drivers but in rather different enclosures with different crossover topology.

The SGM10 is a large stand mount design, unfortunately Tannoy don’t seem to make dedicated stands for them and I suspect the SGM10’s would have looked rather “top heavy” on our Solid Steel tripods.

Dan brought along a custom made set of wooden stands for the demo, they looked the part but after listening for a while we felt the stands might have been part of the reason we weren’t getting along with the Monitor Golds.

My own impressions were..

Seemingly flat frequency response with quite lean sounding bass, very much a monitor to my ears.

We switched to Naim New Classic 300 series and found quite a forward sounding presentation with the Monitor Golds so we switched back to Accuphase, this time opted for the E-380 and Naim Streamer (NDX2) this in part was due to none of us being able to find the CD’s we wanted, tut tut, yes what a lazy bunch of iPad weilding streamers we’ve become.

The Monitor Golds performance was better in this configuration but the magic just wasn’t there unfortunately, it could have been the stands or perhaps they needed some running in? Either way we switched to the Stirling’s and were in for an unexpected treat.

Tannoy are the second oldest British loudspeaker manufacturer, Celestion are the oldest, founded in 1924 but technically Tannoy are the oldest still making domestic Hifi loudspeakers.

Initially, they were called Tulsemere Manufacturing Company. When Guy R Fountain entered the business with his new electrical rectifier made out of Tantalum and lead alloy the company became Tannoy, a Syllabic abbreviation of Tantalum and Alloy.

Another interesting fact, Tannoy’s name has become a term used for use of public address systems. Similar to how the name Hoover became synonymous with vacuum cleaning.


The Stirling’s.

With the SGM10’s discretely removed, Dan unpacked the fairly chunky Stirlings and we helped him set them up.

Still using the Accuphase, but now the E-380 class A/B integrated amplifier, the session continued.

These floor-standers have a retro but tasteful appearance with exceptional finishing on the metalwork and cabinets, the Stirling’s look great with or without the weighty grille covers.

First impressions were..immediately more bass.

I must mention the bass at this point, these aren’t bass monsters, even with a 10” driver they won’t “do” really deep bass, the likes of electronic or artificial bass are not their forte. What these “do” is proper bass, real musical instrument bass and it’s fast.

Part of the appeal with un-doped paper pulp cones is their speed and cohesive nature, mix that with a single point source and you could be onto a winner, we were exceedingly impressed with the Stirling’s. It was interesting to note how the two models of Tannoy speakers could sound so vastly different despite sharing the same drivers!

Agnes Obel’s The Curse had wonderful realism especially on the piano and cello sections. Janis Ian’s Tattoo (known locally as the Janis Ian test) was terrific and yes they passed with flying colours, or more accurately with impressively low colouration in the mid band.

What shocked Andy and myself was the leading edge performance especially on percussion, excellent transient response, stop start stop very typical of stiff surround material and paper cones with the only down side being limited cone excursion, hence the -db on very deep or artificially created bass notes.

The Stirling’s feature the Tulip Wave Guide on this variant of tannoys dual concentric design, the pepper pot is featured on the higher end drivers.  We found the single point source imaged very well and featured no detectable phase or time alignment issues at all, very different sound to what we’re used to but a welcome difference all the same.

This is seen by Alastair and Andy, as a deeply inconvenient result!

The Stirlings feature HF attenuation panels on the front baffle. Minus two through to plus two db, we opted for minus one but after a “running in” session we set them a zero db or neutral position with grilles in place and a slight upward tilt by raising the front spikes.

Overall we enjoyed the retro looks and somewhat retro sound too. These won’t be for everyone but, despite us not really looking for anything, we found ourselves wanting a set. They’re different but in a good way.

Ultimately the Stirlings partnered very well with our Naim New Classic 200 and 300 series and the Accuphase E-380, we were really enjoying that and then someone came in and bought it! Typical..

I guess I’ll have to move the hefty E-650 back in for a try. . .

All we need now is a nice tasteful mid century sideboard to sit between them and complete the retro vibe!

When taking on new brands the discussion usually moves smartly on to us taking a reasonable cross-section of the range. Alastair took Dan for a gentle stroll round the site while they discussed the lack of room for any more ginormous boxes. Hey, life’s full of challenges!

Anything that we don’t have here can be borrowed for demonstration.

In time, it’s likely that we will have more of them squeezed in here!


Kevin Fulcher April 2 2024