TAGA Harmony make a wide range of products and today Stuart Smith takes a listen to the company’s €2380 Platinum F-100 SE Loudspeakers.
We’ve looked gear from TAGA Harmony in the past ( here ) so I’m not going to bore you with their background other than to say they’re a Polish company whose products are designed and engineered in Europe and who have their own, dedicated manufacturing facilities in China.
The C word has had bad press in recent years with questions about build quality and reliability, but from the moment the two large boxes arrived it’s clear that TAGA don’t really fit that mould, and indeed I think in general Chinese products have come on in leaps and bounds in recent years.
Once you get the speakers out of their well packed boxes what you are greeted with is a gorgeous looking pair of very glossy, real rosewood veneered floorstanders that look very smart and classy indeed. Should you choose, you can also get them in piano black or white (these cost slightly less at €2250 inc VAT), or rosewood with a matt finish. They come with dedicated stands that bolt onto the bottom of the speakers and spikes that finish of the sophisticated look of these speakers.
The Platinum F 100 SEs are a three way design with a 1 inch (25mm) tweeter, a 5.25 inch (133mm) midrange driver and two 6.5 inch (165mm) bass drivers. They have a nominal impedence of 4 Ohms, sensitivity of 92dB and have a large front firing port. The tweeter is a TAGA Pure Titanium Tweeter Dome (TPTTD-II) (TAGA like their anachronyms as you’ll see) whilst midrange is provided by the TPACD-II (TAGA Pure Aluminium Cone Driver) and the two bass drivers are TWCD-Is (TAGA Woolen Cone Driver). The enclosures themselves are TLIE (TAGA Low Interference Enclosure) which is a rigid MDF structure with walls of 18mm – the knock test proves them to be pretty inert but not as “dead” as some.
There’s a grille included and this is firmly kept in place with eight doodads that are very tight ensuring there’s no rattle – indeed when trying to remove them first of all I assumed they were fixed in place, but they do come off and I much prefer to see a loudspeaker in all its glory rather than covered up. I do have a very minor niggle here that, in truth it’s being a bit OCD, but the branding on the driver surrounds is not centralised on any of the speakers other than the mid driver. I see why this has been done (screws are in the way) but it would have been nice to have them lined up…an inconsequential grumble indeed! Visually they have an air of being a cross between the Signature and Esprit range of speakers from Triangle.
Round the back of the speakers you get a nicely finished plate with the two pairs of good quality binding posts that will accept spades, bananas or bare wire. You can bi-wire or bi-amp if you like, but for the duration we used a single amp and a single set of cables.
There’s good sense in partnering equipment for review with gear that is commensurate with the kind of things a member of the public is likely to partner it with. I see little wisdom in putting this sub 2500 Euro speaker on the end of our reference system where the price of a pair of interconnects is almost equivalent in price. So, I put together a little system I felt would be in keeping with the kind of thing folks would themselves put together and this included the excellent little Clones Audio 25i integrated, the Leema Acoustics Elements compact disc player, wired with Chord Company’s Anthem Reference interconnects and their Epic Reference speaker cables.
I have a bit of a liking for front ported loudspeakers in the main as they are usually pretty unfussy about positioning and for the duration we had them well out into the room and away from walls with a slight toe-in towards the listening position that itself was well out into the room. The speakers had come from a previous review and running in consisted of little more than a quick blast through a few CDs to blow away the cobwebs.
First up a bit of Miles Davis and Kind Of Blue. Initial impressions were that this speaker is a class act with a nice and detailed presentation, but without over-blowing scale and dynamics. Of course you can still tell that this is a box speaker, but the sound-stage expands well beyond the loudspeakers and has good depth and height to it. Musicians sit where they should and there’s a feeling that you are listening to a more expensive speaker than you actually are. It’s quite an “audiophile” sounding speaker that will appeal to those looking for a smooth, balanced and unforced presentation that is easy to get on with and very easy to get lost in. You may think I’m suggesting that the Platinum F-100 SE is a little polite and perhaps rolled off at the top-end, but it’s not; Davis’ trumpet has all the required rasp and bite you would expect and microdetail in the little snare brushes and the like are all there to give you a good representation of the recording and the recording space. Nothing really jumps out at you and suggests that the speakers are over emphasizing any particular frequency range, despite my initial thoughts that the aluminium cone driver would be a little harsh sounding…it’s just not!
Lyn Stanley is the darling of the audiophile community around the world and these speakers were crying out for her Interludes album to be slotted into the CD player. The album opens with Lyn singing the opening lines to How Long Has This Thing Been Going On? acapella and you immediately sit up and take notice. Her voice is elegant and refined and it suits these loudspeakers to a tee – unforced, clear and untroubled. But this is ‘audiophile music’ and to my mind it’s relatively easy to make a system shine with this kind of well recorded program – that’s why it’s used so much at shows and the like and so without further ado it’s time to wake up the TAGA Harmony speakers, and perhaps the neighbours, with something a little less restrained and much more raucous.
And so onto Daft Punk’s magnum opus Random Access Memories. This is an absolutely fantastically produced record and a good physical workout for any loudspeaker. It’s one of those records that can sound good on a lot of systems but can also sound truly magnificent in the right system. What comes to the fore here is that at its price-point this should be a mediocre performer, but with this record you are getting a nicely rounded and grown up presentation. I know this record inside out and it’s one we always play at some point during a review. On Giorgio By Giorgio his spoken word is a little forward in the mix but once the music begins you are presented with a nice, tight and tuneful bass that isn’t overblown or over-exaggerated, perhaps a little light if anything. No, these speakers aren’t etching the mix out in front of the listener as you would expect with the best, but for the money being asked they do a sterling job – some may actually prefer this less absolutely truthful presentation, this is, after all, a loudspeaker for the home rather than a monitor/tool for dissecting a record to pieces… in short it’s very listener friendly. The track that for me defines Daft Punk is the final track on RAM, the absolutely spectacular Contact. It’s a track that really does separate the men from the boys in many ways and in absolute terms (and do keep in mind our everyday listen is the Avantgarde Duo XDs) there could be more dynamic punch and hit (particularly in the snares) and things could be more separated in the mix but (and this is crucial for a loudspeaker to get past this point) I still got the Pavlovian Goosebumps at 4 minutes.
At 92dB sensitivity it struck me that it would be remiss of me not to throw some valves at the TAGAs and so I plumbed in the Qualiton A20i integrated we have here for just such occasions. It’s a little Class A amp using Tung-Sol 5881 drive tubes that, as its name suggests offers up just 20Watts a channel. Mad Professor is the undisputed heavyweight champion of British dub reggae and his album Science and The Witchdoctor has been a firm favourite here for well over two decades. No, this is not the most refined of music, but it demands to be played loud. Twenty tube Watts up these and turned up to nice volumes really gets these speakers dancing. Bass is controlled and never bloaty and the spatial effects that make dub what it is are all there. I’ve mentioned being refined and classy previously, and this is important for many different kinds of music we’ve played earlier, but for me a speaker needs to be able to boogie and have that dance factor, and the right music turned up loud and these TAGAs do well.
These are a pretty luxurious statement that will grace many homes and appearance-wise they look like a much more expensive loudspeaker. Thankfully this is carried through with their presentation and what you get is a really nice and elegant sound with lighter material that will please many who listen to this kind of music. They’re also not too fussy about where you sit and will sound good even out of the sweet spot which is a bonus for the kind of people I think these will appeal to.
They also boogie too and you can turn them up and get the party going with the proper music. I do feel that you need to really turn the volume up to get the very best out of them with this kind of stuff…but then that’s what it was made for!
In absolute terms there are better loudspeakers out there, but the €2380 TAGA are asking for these seems to be very reasonable, and if you have this money to spend on a floorstander then an audition is a must. Again, when compared to our much more expensive reference there are flaws – they can get a little confused with more hectic music and the stereo image isn’t as holographic and etched as some may prefer, but for the money you’re getting great looks and very, very acceptable sonics with good detail and a fatigue-free presentation.
The F-100s aren’t going to wow you with hifi histrionics and fireworks, but sit back with your favourite tipple, put on the music you love and let them take you with the flow.
I really enjoyed my time with them.
Build Quality: Well put together and luxurious looking
Sound Quality: Sound more expensive than they are and have a laidback, and smooth presentation many audiophiles will love at lower volumes. They can also move air and party when asked.
Value For Money: Excellent value for money package
Sound like a more expensive loudspeaker
Audiophile type presentation
Easy to listen to for long periods
Crank up the volume and they’re great fun
Can get a tad confused with complex passages
That audiophile presentation won’t suit everyone
Design: Floorstanding, 3-way, 4 drivers,
25mm MDF front and 18mm walls TLIE enclosure
Crossover points: 700Hz, 2.5kHz
High-Frequency Driver: 25mm (1”)
Midrange Driver: 133mm (5.25″)
Bass Driver: 2 x 165mm (6.5″)
Recommended Amplifier Power: 20-280W
Frequency Response: 28Hz-40kHz
Impedance: 4 ohm
Dimensions (H x W x D): 108.9 x 25 x 34 cm
Weight (net): 53.3 kg pair