One of the drawbacks of ribbon tweeter designs can be their tendency to beam as the frequency rises, making the listening-window unhelpfully narrow, but the Piegas do not suffer from this at all. Instead you get the most gloriously open and detailed view of the recording as the balance seems slightly tilted toward the mid rather than the treble. Although the low frequency extension is better than you might expect from such a diminutive cabinet, I sometimes felt that the bass was slightly detached and not quite “of ” the whole, which is a trait I have heard in other hybrid designs. This is nothing to do with its dynamic qualities, just that it can seem slightly monotonous and lacks a wide enough range of bass tonality to match the mids. Given that the integration and resolution elsewhere is so good it is perhaps not surprising that the bass range suffers a bit in comparison. Although I never stopped noticing the lack, I never felt that it did any real damage to my overall enjoyment of the speaker. Put it this way, you are never going to buy these speakers purely for their low-end performance, but I very much doubt it would stop you from wanting them either. It is certainly very fast, with the lack of any real extension and the small, tight cabinet helping to give the speaker a very positive, but light rhythmic touch which is more than matched by the ultra-clean transient delivery through the mid and top. Unravelling tempo and timing conundrums is never an issue with these speakers.
Vocals and other predominantly mid-band instruments do assume a prominence and a certain amount of forwardness in comparison to my usual speaker, the JMlabs Micro Utopia Be and it takes a while to get used to the fact that the relaxed yet high-energy projection of the Piega makes it appear that, even albums you know very well seem as if they have been given an extra degree of midrange presence. The TC 10X has a sense of purity and clarity that never strays into the realm of being over analytical. In fact I found that there is a certain dry sweetness to their balance that is only emphasised by the stunning openness and lack of compression, even when confronted with complex material. Not warmth, that would be the wrong word, but a feeling of harmonic richness and tonal vibrancy that always seems entirely on the side of the music.
Presentation-wise there is little to criticise. If you like an uncompressed, broad and open soundstage, with good depth and brimming with resolution (and who doesn’t?) then these Piegas will delight you. It is true that certain components lead you to music that plays to their strengths and I did listen to a lot of vocal albums through these speakers. The more complex and involved the arrangements were, the better, as the TC 10X has that rare ability to unravel even the most dense of recordings in an unstressed way and when the system is so at ease with this material, you are too. It is no onetrick pony either. There is absolutely no denying the purity of this speaker when it can illuminate the tonality of pianos, strings, voice and guitars so beautifully. There is effortless control of these instruments right down to note level where, when dealing with leading edges, you find precision, followed by colourful sustain and decay that shows you the shape and character of each instrument’s voice. It can provide layer upon layer of different, or clashing tonal colours and spread them before you in a fixed picture of an acoustic space and is among the very best when it comes to what I call superimposition, where two instruments, close in frequency, are played alongside each other. Acoustic instruments like piano and guitar can be uncomfortable recorded bedfellows and I have often felt disappointed with the way that even expensive systems deal with this particular combination. Where the note shapes and tonal characteristics of each instrument, generally dominated by the piano, get congealed together into some amorphous swirl, you can end up hearing a guitano, the non-existent harmonic offspring of the pair. The Piega has the precision to resolve them both with absolute ease and makes understanding each instrument’s progress easy to follow. The result is that not only the instruments but also the musicianship itself is easier to follow and appreciate. So, given this level of insight, it is no surprise that it is also so articulate when it comes to resolving the micro-dynamics of classical music where those small changes in playing pressures and especially the shimmering fog of the massed vibrato in string sections often causes systems so many problems.
This is a smaller speaker than you might think by looking at the photographs, but I can see it appealing to many people. Obviously, due to its general sophistication and lack of real bass it is not going to find favour with head-bangers (rock or classical). But it is an attractive proposition for anyone with a small listening room who enjoys an intimate relationship with their music or those who have previously found smallspeaker compromises hard to live with. But, like all designs, the TC 10X is not a speaker without some flaws, however minor. If Piega could just improve both the low-frequency unit’s tonal qualities and its integration, then, for its size, this would be near perfect. This is an expensive design but, if you can meet its requirements, it can be quite brilliant.