The back and sides of the enclosure are formed into a continuous curve, tightening at the back, which not only looks unusually attractive, but should also improve overall stiffness and avoid focusing the internal lateral standing waves. The front panel too is very gently curved. The enclosure comes in a choice of maple, walnut, dark apple, or black ash vinyl woodprint, and a moulded black ‘bump’ covers much of the top surface, matching the curve of the Uni-Q driver frame.
Much of the difference between the new iQ-series and its predecessors lies in improvements to the Uni-Q drive unit, which now incorporates a die-cast frame, stiffer, titanium coated 125mm plastic cone, longer throw suspension, a copper-plated flat aluminium wired voice-coil, and elliptical-profile tweeter domes. However, that was some three years ago, since when the Uni- Q has undergone at least two further stages of evolution – the cone edge/surround waveguide introduced in 2007’s Reference series, and the ‘tangerine’ tweeter waveguide featured in the new XQ series. The Uni-Q used here is therefore not quite to the latest and most advanced specification, though it still has the inherent features of the type. The key element is the small 19mm tweeter mounted on the pole-piece at the ‘acoustic centre’ of the main cone. This helps accomplish a smooth crossover transition, and also ensures consistent off-axis responses. The iQ9’s Uni-Q driver operates in a sealed box section of the enclosure, while each of the 165mm plastic cone bass drivers has its own ported subenclosure. The whole speaker sits on 8mm spikes, but since no additional plinth or outrigger arrangement is supplied, overall stability is far from generous – indeed this must be one of the iQ9’s most obvious liabilities. Twin terminal pairs are provided, and optional port-blocking foam bungs are also supplied, which might be useful if the speakers are placed close to a wall.
The iQ9 delivered some slightly surprising measurements. Despite the promise of substantial bass output from those twin bass drivers and their associated twin ports, its bottom end alignment is actually quite dry. The low port tuning frequency of 34Hz gives good ultimate extension below 30Hz and helps avoid mid-bass excess. Frankly, there seems little point in contemplating the use of those bungs, and some case can be made for positioning the speaker rather closer to the wall than the driver configuration might suggest.
Sensitivity is a healthy 90dB or thereabouts, though that’s due in no small part to a quite demanding impedance that stays close to 4 Ohms throughout the lower mid-band. The overall frequency balance is mostly very impressive indeed – relatively smooth and even, with good crossover integration and a well-judged top-end – though peaks liable to add some coloration were recorded at 95Hz and 750Hz. That dry bass alignment means that the iQ9 tends to lead with its mid-band, which is entirely appropriate as that mid-band is, for the most part, smooth, even and neutral. While the bass end does its stuff competently enough, with decent weight and extension, it does seem a little lacking in grip and authority, and doesn’t really drive things along with the enthusiasm found elsewhere. There’s an occasional tendency to add some unwanted upper bass ‘thump’, and a slightly thickened texture is audible on male speech. Alongside an attractively open and beautifully judged tonal balance, the overall sound is superbly coherent through the mid and top-end, which greatly facilitates musical communication. However, some midband edginess can make listening at high levels a shade uncomfortable with some material, and the top-end is not particularly sweet or transparent: it supplies plenty of detail in pretty good order, but lacks some airiness and tends to draw a little too much attention to itself.
However, in a price context these criticisms are frankly only to be expected, and are relatively minor in degree. Indeed, the lack of any plinth or outrigger arrangement to improve physical stability is arguable more serious.
Bouncy, lively and impressively coherent, the real strength of the iQ9 lies in its thoroughgoing all round competence, and an ability, rare in modestly priced floorstanders, to make the best possible use of a generous enclosure and driver array. Decent bass extension and sensitivity, a wide dynamic range, and superior neutrality with quite modest levels of coloration, are all positives that add up to a fine overall value for money package.
Tannoy Revolution Signature DC6
Tannoy might be one of the oldest names in British hi-fi, but it has changed hands a number of times, and has always been just as heavily involved in Pro Audio as hi-fi activities. Current owner is the Danish TC Group, a public address and digital processing specialist which took over several years ago, since when Tannoy seems to have focused most of its attention on the Pro sector, while its hi-fi activities have been a little subdued.