Alan Clark at Kralk Audio in Yorkshire, England has designed a budget range of speakers and called them The TBD range, standing for The Dogs B******s. Ian Ringstead auditions the TDB4s, the second smallest of the range and costing £355 to £465, depending on the finish chosen, to ascertain whether these really are the dog’s danglies, or indeed a dog’s dinner.  

Regular readers will be aware of Kralk Audio’s speakers as I have reviewed them several times. Alan Clark the designer and owner was speaking to me last year saying how he wanted to design and sell a budget range of speakers suited to the lower end of the market and for the price conscious fans on limited funds. He went around several dealers to see what was currently out there and to get a feel for current trends to see what he was up against.

The result was the TDB range. When asked what TDB stood for Alan in his inimitable Yorkshire way said “The Dogs B******s “. In other words, the real business or deal. You have to love him for his down to earth sense of humour. Initially there are four models in the range, the TDB2, TDB4. TDB6 and TDB8. Matching stands are available for each model too. 

CONSTRUCTION

To keep the costs down Alan has used chipboard for the cabinets instead of the more usual MDF or birch ply. Every model in the range is hand built to order using real wood veneer or any colour painted finish (extra charge applies for painted finish) the customer requires. Alan uses quality drive units and hand-built crossovers with Solen Capacitors and Falcon Acoustics coils providing quality parts for your money. Twin 100mm bass drivers and new 75mm x 25mm Planer ribbon tweeters are fitted for a detailed lifelike sound, and the cabinet is a twin ported bass reflex design. The cabinets are mirror finished for superior stereo imaging and the tweeters are recommended to be on the inside of the soundstage for best effect. Real wood veneers are used on 5 sides and black Leather look front baffle. The high-quality gold-plated speaker terminals are hard wired direct to the crossover.

The TDB-4 is a 2 way stand mounted speaker and was designed to give a detailed lifelike performance even at low to medium volume levels. They are suitable for small to medium sized rooms and come in real Oak veneer and leather look Vinyl baffle. Other painted finishes are available at an additional cost and I was given the Rosso Red finish to review. There are two 4” bass drivers and the twin port acoustic loading extends the bass for such a compact size. The new Planer ribbon tweeter is interesting and great to see in a budget speaker. The drive unit layout is mirror imaged to aid sound quality and stereo imaging. Also, a tweeter level pad gives the listener full control over the output from the tweeter in order that the user can balance the speaker system to the room acoustics or their personal taste.

The crossover is hard wired for extra reliability with high quality OFC wire and is a 12db Bessel unit with Solen capacitors and Falcon acoustics air core inductors. Terminals are over size 4-way gold plated with 4mm banana plug capability. The cabinets, as mentioned earlier, are 18mm braced chipboard with real wood veneer or paint finish. All internal bracing is screwed and glued for maximum rigidity and long life without rattles.

Alan supplies dedicated stands at an extra cost of course and a pair were also supplied for this evaluation. These are well put together and match the TDB’s ranges looks of solidity and great value for money.

SOUND QUALITY

Alan told me he had purposely voiced the TDB4’s like all the other models in the range to be different to the competition so as not to be another ‘me too’ speaker. I gave them a few days to run in and initial thoughts were mixed. A cross between a PA speaker and a hifi one was my first impression. After a few more days and going back to them I suddenly started to like them. You can certainly drive them hard and they are an easy load.  The twin 100mm bass drivers pump out the volume and the new 75mm x 25mm Planer ribbon tweeter gives a relatively sweet and detailed top end which can be adjusted to taste with the level pad control should you prefer a brighter or duller presentation. The soundstage did not extend hugely beyond the speakers but remember these are effectively a budget speaker which fair very well against the competition I have heard.

I put a favourite album of mine on Wishbone Ash’s “New England” which is 42 years old now and was made when they moved to America for a while. I love every track, so I never tire of listening to it and it is a good test if I enjoy it on a system. There are hard hitting rock tracks and some great atmospheric ones as too, giving a good balance on the album. The classic duelling twin lead guitar sound, is unique to the bands performances, and one of the reasons I love them. I saw them numerous times in the seventies. The twin bass drivers coped well with the bass guitar and kick drum which were the firm foundation to the tracks, whilst the lead guitars soared left and right in the sound stage and vocals were locked centrally and clearly defined.

The ribbon tweeters are a nice touch normally seen in more expensive speakers and they extend to 32KHz so giving air and atmosphere to the sound, even though most adults can’t hear above 12KHz as they reach maturity. The human ear and brain are very good at interpreting sonic information and feeling the sound even though you can’t hear it. It’s all about psychoacoustics and I find it fascinating. The fact you can adjust the HF output is a bonus, especially for those listeners who are sensitive to high frequencies or helping to control more difficult listening rooms with harder surfaces and reflections. (Of course, you can dampen a room with diffusers such as carpets, rugs, wall hangings etc, but a tweeter control is handy to have). Cymbals and hi hats were particularly well conveyed on the track “In all of my dreams you rescue me” which starts with cymbals and bass interspersed with the lead guitars and the plaintive vocals. The track has great rhythm and is imaginatively written, showing off the real talents of the band. It ends with the sound of crickets on a hot summers night adding an ethereal atmosphere which the TDB4’s handled well and then the next track suddenly rips in with great gusto. I like contrasts in music and both the speakers and Wishbone Ash acquitted themselves admirably.

When I went up to Alan’s house to collect the TDB4’s he let me listen to the bigger TDB6’s and TDB8’s. It was interesting to hear how different each model sounds, so I strongly recommend auditioning them if you can. The largest model, currently the TDB8’s, are Alan’s personal favourite and sound great on rock music, but they might not be to everyone’s taste. Isn’t that the point though of offering several models in a range? The fact they all differ

CONCLUSION

The TDB4’s I feel offer a good balance of qualities for most listeners on a budget, or who have smaller listening rooms. In a cheaper system than my reference set up using the Myst TMA3 integrated amp the TDB4’s were well suited and didn’t let the side down. If you crave more bass, then the TDB6’s or TDB8’s will satisfy your addiction. It took me a few days to like the TDB4’s, so either running in took a while or my brain was slower on the uptake than usual. Either way they are well worth a listen. The matching stands complimented the speakers superbly being the correct dimensions, nicely made and great value. They feature powder coated MDF tops and bottoms with leather look vinyl uprights to perfectly match the TDB series baffles. Gold plated adjustable cones for the base and Sorbothane isolators for the tops finish them off. The stands are only available for purchase with the TDB range and aren’t sold separately.

AT A GLANCE

Build Quality: For the budget, excellent with high quality parts and the usual Kralk Audio finish Alan is so good at.

Sound Quality:  Lively and engaging with good top to bottom clarity for their class.

Value for Money:  Alan has done a very good job of crafting and designing a cheaper range to cater for the budget conscious listener and finish is as good as any I have seen for a similar price from the bigger companies out there.

Pros: Great sound and quality finish, with high frequency adjustment, and an easy to drive, room friendly design. A range of stands to match are an added bonus and great value.

Cons: They took me a while to adjust to the sound but are worth the effort.

Price: £355 – £465 dependant on finish

Stands £60- £86 dependant on size and accessories.

Ian Ringstead

Review Equipment:  Luxman PD300 t/t, Jelco SA750 arm, and Goldring 1092, Tisbury Audio Domino phono stage, Myst TMA3 amp along with Temple Audio mono blocks and Tisbury Audio passive pre amp, Marantz SA11 S2 SACD player, TQ Ultra Black and Van Damme speaker cables, Way and Missing Link  silver interconnects, Hi Fi Racks Podium slimline rack.

 

TDB-4 Spec

Bass drive units………………… 2 x 100mm
Tweeter…………………………70mm x 25mm Planer Ribbon
Crossover……………………….12dB Bessel 3400Hz
Cabinet…………………………Twin bass reflex
Sensitivity …………………….  87.5 dB 1w 1m
Frequency range ………              35Hz to 32kHz
Power handling.                          60 watts RMS 120 peak
Ohms …………………………. 6 Ohms nominal
L-pad…………………………. -16dB to +3dB
Dimension H x W x D…….      .40 x 24 x 29cm
Weight …………………………10kg Each

You must be logged in to leave a reply.

Real Time Web Analytics