Home Entertainment


Tannoy Kensington SE Review

April 26, 2010 By Steve Guttenberg

Click the images below for bigger versions:
Tannoy Kensington SE Review
Tannoy Kensington SE
The Kensington SE has a 10-inch treated paper pulp cone with a fabric surround. In its center is a 2-inch aluminum alloy dome tweeter with an Alnico magnet and Tannoy’s PepperPot WaveGuide.
Tannoy Kensington SE

Tannoy's Prestige Kensington SE doesn't sound like any other high-end speaker; it's something else again.

I may have written hundreds and hundreds of speaker reviews, but I can pretty much guarantee that if someone asks me about the Tannoy Prestige Kensington SE speaker in 10 years I won't have a problem recounting this review.

Tannoy Kensington SE ReviewSure, I might get fuzzy about certain details, like the fact that the Kensington SE has a 10-inch, Dual Concentric driver, and a mahogany veneered, high-density birch wood cabinet. But I will remember the sound. The Kensington SE is one of the most musical speakers I've heard.  

Tannoy, founded in 1926, today manufactures a vast range of speakers for audiophiles and recording studios. The company started out building sound reinforcement systems and is still a major player in that business: the Hong Kong Convention Center, Sydney Opera House, London Palladium, Coca Cola Headquarters in Atlanta and the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas all use Tannoy speakers.

The Prestige line dates back to 1982 when Tannoy introduced the mighty Westminster speaker, which was upgraded and renamed Westminster Royal in 1987. It's still in production and goes for $35,000 a pair.

The Kensington SE is one of the newer Prestige models. It's just seven years old, and the entire line was upgraded to SE status with newly designed crossovers and internal wiring in 2007.

Interestingly, the Prestige's prime market is Japan, where the audiophile cognoscenti know no limits. Prestige is also popular in other Asian countries. North America? Not so much, but now that I've listened to the Kensington SE I'm a true believer.

Tannoy claims the Kensington SE's 10-inch, Dual Concentric driver is an inherently time-coherent design. The woofer is a treated paper cone, and the tweeter is a 2-inch aluminum alloy dome, sitting within a "PepperPot" WaveGuide at the throat of the woofer.

The woofer cone's shape was designed to provide optimal dispersion for the tweeter. The technology is old—Tannoy pioneered the Dual Concentric technology in 1947—but it still sounds amazing today.

The Dual Concentric's Alnico (Aluminum-Nickel-Cobalt) magnet system is sure to woo more than a few old school audiophiles and guitarists (Alnico magnets can be found in sought-after "humbucking" electric guitar pickups from the 1950s). The alloy produces a stronger magnetic field than comparable ceramic (Strontium Ferrite) magnets, and gauss strength within the gap is also very high, which increases the speaker's efficiency. Translation: Distortion is lower at a given volume level for drivers using Alnico magnets.

Tannoy Kensington SEThe Kensington SE's front panel hosts a conspicuous set of tone controls for the tweeter labeled "Treble Energy" and "Treble Roll Off."

That sort of tweak-ability is rare in high-end speakers so you can dial-in exactly the right treble balance to accommodate your room's acoustics.  

Internal crossover parts reflect the Kensington SE's heritage: The low-loss laminated iron-core inductors inline with the woofer minimize resistance between the amplifier and Dual Concentric driver, which Tannoy claims produces superior bass control.

Crossover components include highly regarded Hovland Musicaps capacitors and Vishay resistors. Internal wiring is 99.99% silver.

The Kensington SE's rear panel hosts a rather unusual speaker connector array. Most speakers have either a single pair of binding posts or two sets for bi-wiring, but the Kensington SE has a total of five heavy-duty WBT connectors in a circular bay.

The first four connectors are available for bi-wire duty and the fifth connector provides superior grounding between the amplifier and speaker.

Tannoy Kensington SE

I didn't get to hear it, but Tannoy offers a separate Prestige ST 200 super tweeter ($2,728 a pair) for use with the Kensington SE that "enhances soundstage depth and "air." The ST 200's frequency response extends out to 50 kilohertz.


Good call Steve-I have recommended these to several music lovers who are very happy with them...

I love Tannoy Dual Concentric sound. It is really different than other speakers. Like the reviewer says very true to the original recording. If you are not wealthy enough to get the Prestige, I recommend the Revolution series. They are amazing even in 5.1 setup with concert DVDs and music.

I have a set of Arena lifestyle speakers from Tannoy with 4" dual concentric drivers. Unreal imaging, very wide range of sound...amazing that something only 4" can make that much great sound. this is a company which has got it right!!!

I'm surprised that the "Tannoy Dual Concentric" speaker is still around. I've got a pair - circa 1960 - 15" Belvedere Senior enclosure that's stored in my attic. It's a wonderful speaker. I purchased it new originally because of it's brightness that was suitable to jazz and chamber ensembles. Apparently, Tannoy has not lost its touch, and the original dual concentric technology is still valid.

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.
  • Glossary terms will be automatically marked with links to their descriptions. If there are certain phrases or sections of text that should be excluded from glossary marking and linking, use the special markup, [no-glossary] ... [/no-glossary]. Additionally, these HTML elements will not be scanned: a, abbr, acronym, code, pre.

More information about formatting options

Local Guides

 All Guides
   New Hampshire
   New Jersey
   New Mexico
   New York
   North Carolina
   North Dakota
   Rhode Island
   South Carolina
   South Dakota
   West Virginia