Going to work on an egg? Paul Rigby grabs two, a pair of Eclipse TD712zMK2 speakers
Unboxing the TD712zMK2 speakers was the scariest unboxing experience I have ever had. A cold chill rang down my spine. My hands cooked up a sweat. My throat ran dry. My lips tasted of salt.
Why? Because, when I opened the box a shiny egg spanning 285 × 411 × 285mm sat inside. I knew then that if I made any sudden moves, a small alien creature would leap from within it, clamp itself over my face, whereupon it would implant itself inside my belly and later, while I’m laughing and joking with my friends, a small stand-mounted speaker would burst through the stomach lining of my tummy, look left and right and scuttle off towards my monoblock power amps.
I wasn’t going to fall for that one. Oh no.
Which is why I left to have a stiff drink and then returned later, slightly numb to lift the 11kg of egg out of the box. All alien eggs weigh exactly 11kg, you mark my words.
It was only after I talked to my psychiatrist and realised that I should have been taking the red pills and not the blue pills that I finally understood that the TD712zMK2 pairing was, in fact, based around a 12cm full range driver that sits, like a giant eye, at one end of the aluminium/fibreglass egg. As you might expect then, there’s no crossover to be worried about. It is run by a powerful magnet.
That egg shape is there to prevent any standing waves or diffraction as no radial surfaces are the same. Isolation is a big part of the Eclipse design so inside you’ll find a sort of 5-armed star structure called a ‘stay’ which allows the driver to float inside the chassis so that vibrations are not transferred from one to the other.
Rigidity is another element of the design and you’ll find this in the air tight seal of the chassis enclosure but also the all-point contact between the chassis and the bespoke stand based upon strong metallic legs and a locking ring to create a stiff bond between the speaker and stand. Within this area is a mass anchor which also reduces vibration. Don’t think about buying a third party stand for the TD712zMK2. This speaker and the damped stand (plus isolation feet) are made for each other – quite literally.
The speaker offers an 84db sensitivity and 6 Ohms so you should require a sturdy amp to achieve top performance. The stands arrive in two flavours to make a combined height of either 994mm or 606mm, depending on where you propose to mount the things.
So, what did they sound like?
I began with Nancy Wilson and You’ve Got Your Troubles from the Capitol/EMI pressing of A Touch of Today (1966) on CD. This album features a measure of compression so, while there’s plenty of detail on offer, the upper mids are pushed to the edge. Any hi-fi component has to show discipline and control if it doesn’t want to produce a bright output here. There’s plenty of work to do too because the backing orchestra is packed with tonal variety.
I must emphasise that this LP is not the norm in mastering terms and really throws a speaker design into the deep end in terms of the demands placed upon it.
I initially set up the 712 speakers with a toe-in enough to not quite point at my ears. That is, the left speaker channel skimmed outside of my left ear position.
I was very surprised at the vast amount of air and space produced by these speakers. The soundstage seemed a large area indeed. I wouldn’t call the 712s absolutely neutral, though. Remember I mentioned that the Wilson track was pushed to the edge of brightness because of its own inherent mastering? A strictly neutral design would keep it there. Rock solid. The 712 speakers eased the mids over the line to produce a stridency that was a touch on the brittle side. I’m not declaring that the 712 speakers are a bright design, the Wilson track was ready to topple to that point at the slightest provocation. What I am saying is the the 712 speakers added a touch of edge to the overall presentation.
Ever processed an image in Photoshop or similar and reached for the Sharpness tool to add a measure of definition to an image? That’s what the 712 speakers do. They add a tiny amount of definition to the overall sound, giving the music a slight etch, lifting details from the soundstage to highlight even subtle elements within the master.
But that’s not the end of the matter. I then rotated the 712 speakers further, increasing the degree of ‘toe in’ so the right speaker was actually firing past my left ear and the left speaker past my right. This was actually the recommended positioning for the 712 speakers and now I knew why. If pointed vaguely at your ears, the 712 speakers tend to ‘beam’ at you, adding a well-lit midrange. With excess toe-in, the speakers calm down a lot. In effect, they act very much like the Heco Direkt that I recently reviewed. These speakers behaved in a very similar fashion.
The result for the Eclipse speakers was a reduction in the space and air mentioned above but also a much calmer and considered sonic output. There was still evidence of a high definition etch to the overall sound that took the speakers slightly beyond the strict neutrality but the behaviour was far more civilised.
I changed the music to a better quality master from rock outfit T2 and It’ll All Work Out in Boomland and the track, Morning on vinyl.
This track was less of a severe test on the TD712zMK2 speakers. The music was more atypical of what the Eclipse would face on a day to day basis. The mastering offered more of an average in terms of sonic boundaries and settings.
When faced with a master of that type, the 712’s preference to shine a light on the mids added more benefits than negatives.
Hence, the lead guitar was superbly tracked in terms of the plucking of the strings. The manipulation of the same was also good, the bending and striking of the strings to produce additional effects. There was enough space – not only in between each instrument – but also between each note to provide a wealth of intricate information. The sort of information that many other speakers easily miss or smudge into an amorphous lump. Hence, the ability of the 712’s to get right into the mix and to tease and package small and subtle details was one that wholly impressed me.
And this is the key to the 712 speakers, I feel. The room it provided for the master. That room allowed tapped cymbals to offer the ear a delicate metallic response but also room for the resultant reverb to travel. The slight sonic emphasis also provided a built-in discipline to the broad sonic picture which meant that the midrange sounded fast in a transient way. There was no smudging or smearing here. Mids and treble were both crisp and informative while bass was lean and pacy.
Vocals also benefitted from this ultra-focus. On this track, the ‘fat’ was cut away and the essence of the voice was highlighted. There was nothing warming or bloated about the vocal delivery. Any emotive emphasis was quickly translated by the 712s.
The Eclipse TD712zMK2 speakers are not for everyone. Those looking for a strictly neutral design should look elsewhere but those who want to hear everything on their vinyl disc should definitely seek out a demo. Detail is a major highlight here. The 712s are perfect for those demanding a high definition presentation to their analogue output where a spacious soundstage, pace and precision are important. If they are, then the Eclipse TD712zMK2 has all of those ingredients in spades.
ECLIPSE TD712ZMK2 SPEAKERS
Tel: 05602 054669
GOOD: detail, midrange insight, lean bass, transient speed, styling
BAD: slight midrange stridency
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