Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW Review – Vintage nobles

The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW presents itself completely in the style of the “greats” of the renowned Scottish loudspeaker specialists, both in terms of design and sound character. Only in terms of dimensions, the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW is extremely restrained, making the charm of legendary Tannoy speaker systems accessible to many.

There are companies whose name alone stands for the epitome of the finest hi-fi solutions, which have been able to build up an impeccable reputation over years, even many decades, for example through solutions that have made a significant contribution to the development of the entire market, or which are almost characteristic of a product group, an era or a special sound character.

Looking at the market as a whole, there are not too many companies that can claim this for themselves, especially not on this scale, as the Scottish company Tannoy Ltd. can.

Tannoy Ltd. is clearly one of those manufacturers who have not only for years, but actually for decades been a constant in the market, whose development has also been largely determined.

Long, long history

Tannoy Ltd. is one of the oldest companies in the industry, even if, and this must be stated openly, the development of the last few years in particular, with various upheavals, did not leave the English unaffected.

Tannoy Ltd. was already founded in the year 1926 by Guy R. Fountain, first in London, as Tulsemere Manufacturing Company. In 1928, the name Tannoy was established, whereby this name was to be understood as a reference to tantalum and alloy, i.e. alloys that were used in rectifiers of that time and thus represented a direct reference to the products manufactured at that time.

It is particularly exciting that Tannoy Ltd. achieved an immensely high level of recognition, especially during the Second World War, as it equipped ships with communication systems for the Royal Navy and thus the company name was even adopted as a synonym for an entire product group, as was the case with many other brand names. Thus, Tannoy can even be found in the Oxford English Dictonary.

To the point… Dual Concentric Chassis

It wasn’t until 1947 that what has continued to have an impact to this day, namely the focus on loudspeaker systems with a very special construction principle, the so-called Dual Concentric Chassis, first presented at the London Radio Show.

This laid the foundation for an extremely successful history, which was to make Tannoy Ltd. one of the most important loudspeaker manufacturers in the world. This was mainly due to the fact that loudspeakers based on the aforementioned Dual Concentric Chassis were initially used in recording and broadcasting studios, so that in the 1950s and 1960s the Tannoy HiFi segment was gradually established.

The eventful history…

As already mentioned, Tannoy Ltd. also has a very eventful history. As early as 1974 the company was taken over by Harman International Industries, with the company founder Guy R. Fountain retiring. In 1976 the company moved to Coatbridge near Glasgow in Scotland, in 1987 a merger to Good Tannoy Goodmans International took place and in 2002 the Danish company TC Electronic took over TGI and became the TC Group. The takeover by the MUSIC Group in 2015 caused a great stir, as this was accompanied by probably the most massive upheavals at Tannoy Ltd.

New times…

However, it was precisely this takeover that brought many a legendary system of the early years back into focus, because the company now deliberately wanted to counteract any rumours and emphasise its connection with its own roots. In addition, a remarkable hype about vintage systems played into the hands of the company, so that many a noble system of the heyday experienced a new edition.

The interesting thing is that, in the case of Tannoy Ltd., these solutions are all very powerful, truly impressive systems that don’t really want to match the current design trends in loudspeaker systems on the market. Slim, almost graceful, and thus discreetly integrable into the living space – this has been the credo of the loudspeaker developers for years and days. With the best will in the world, all this cannot be attested to the vintage solutions from Tannoy Ltd.

Whether this is a Tannoy Canterbury, Tannoy Eaton or Tannoy GRF, in any case, these are loudspeaker systems that somehow seem to have fallen out of time in terms of design. Mighty, no, in fact almost mighty in comparison to the “modern” design language of other systems, these solutions appear to be powerful, but it is from this that they derive their very special charm. The unique sound experience is then added…

But such systems do not only have their price, they also require corresponding space, so that the target group remains quite manageable, even if the potential would be much greater in principle, there would only be solutions that also give this unique charm of days gone by with more living space-friendly dimensions…

The essence in its smallest form…

So it is a very clever move that Tannoy Ltd. made with the launch of the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, for example, because this is a loudspeaker system that meets the requirements just outlined. The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW is a loudspeaker system that exactly meets the requirements outlined above. It plays with the charm of the “good old days” and takes up the vintage idea, but is based on the latest technology and has a form factor that even allows the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW to compete in the compact loudspeaker segment.

“A legacy that has endured the test of time and adapted with the evolution of technology”

The long history and tradition of loudspeaker development by Tannoy Ltd. is in the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, so the Scots promise. A promise that carries a lot of weight in view of the detailed introduction, because this small loudspeaker should not do less than reflect the impressive history in a particularly compact form and thus offer “Studio Quality Audio in the home”…

The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW can be called a miniature of the legendary Tannoy Signature Design from the 1950s, with this description the manufacturer is absolutely right. Because at first sight this speaker looks exactly like these models, but it is everything in the truest sense of the word en miniature…

The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW measures 356 x 209 x 156 mm and weighs 4.4 kg. No comparison to its bigger siblings, where you can usually add a zero before the decimal point in the data sheet without hesitation.

Thus the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW fits into any living room without any problems and can even – strictly speaking – pass for a desktop audio solution.

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The first contact…

When you unpack the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, every single movement of the handle is exactly the charm you expect. The perfectly finished surfaces in a noble walnut finish are stroked with relish, whereby manual labour is used and the surface is oiled. This is cleverly combined with a covering that flanked the baffle with a delicate stripe, so that it forms a charming contrast even when the equally well made speaker grill is not used. In fact, this should only be used when absolutely necessary, otherwise the view of the perfectly executed baffle is hidden. The baffle features a “GR” emblem burnt into the wood, together with a fine brass plaque, both of which identify the speaker’s noble pedigree as “Prestige Gold Reference”.

The ring, with which the drivers are embedded in the baffle, is also made of brass and has been solidly attached to it several times with gold screws.

One more word about the speaker grill, which is also made of wood, the covering is made of grey mottled textile fabric as described. The grill is held in position by magnets, but is not placed on top of the grill, but is kept almost flat in the front by a baffle slightly offset to the rear.

The basic shape of the speaker roughly corresponds to a triangle, so that no standing waves inside should cloud the reproduction. It is easy to understand that this is one of the reasons why it is an extremely solid construction.

The back of the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW is adorned with a pair of screw terminals that make an impeccable impression and accommodate bare cable ends as well as cables that have been pre-assembled with banana plugs.

The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW comes with matching feet to protect the furniture on which it is placed.

The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW is a two-way bass reflex system, of course based on a dual concentric chassis system.

A few numbers…

In particular, the product description highlights one indication, namely that of the performance for which the loudspeaker system is designed. The manufacturer states no less than 200 watts peak power for the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, which seems quite impressive considering the very, very compact dimensions. But, exactly this is one of the special features of many solutions from Tannoy Ltd., especially of those vintage systems which this small speaker is supposed to follow up on, namely a gripping, dynamic reproduction. Well, we recommend an amplifier with a power between 20 and 100 Watts, the continuous load is then specified with a somewhat more modest 50 Watts, whereby the sensitivity is 85 dB, and the impedance is 8 Ohm. One may therefore use somewhat more powerful electronics within the mentioned parameters as playing partners.

As already mentioned, this is a two-way bass reflex system based on Dual Concentric Chassis technology. A 4.5 inch paper cone with a particularly flexible rubber surround and 33 mm voice coil forms the frame in the truest sense of the word, with a 19 mm titanium dome with a so-called Tulip WaveGuide at its centre. At the rear of the speaker is the opening for the bass reflex system.

The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW features a crossover with capacitors manufactured according to the manufacturer’s own parameters. This, together with high-quality wiring, helps to achieve a natural, harmonious sound image without losses and high signal transparency.

According to the data sheet the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW covers a frequency range between 106 Hz and 20 kHz.

From the practice

Tannoy Ltd. recommends for the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW a slightly to strongly angled installation, whereby it should be clearly pointed out that this speaker system was developed primarily for small rooms. The distance to the listener should not be much more than 3 m, so that one can almost speak of classic near field monitors. This is one of the reasons why we have already spoken about using it as a desktop audio system.

In our case, we actually placed the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW on our desk, just to the left and right of the Apple iMac, barely more than a metre away from the listener. This worked out splendidly with a combination of Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 digital in combination with a Pro-Ject Amp Box S2, especially as the speaker found its place on the desk without any problems due to its special, quite slim shape.

But this alone does not really do justice to the potential of the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, it is very decadent to actually use this speaker as a noble audio system for the desk alone.

So the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW found its place in the dining room, next to the table on a sideboard, for the extensive test, and on equally compact but very fine electronics, namely a Cyrus ONE HD Stereo Integrated Amplifier.

Although this meant that not everyone could always sit in the absolute sweet spot, it also demonstrated a characteristic of the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW that is quite welcome, namely that it has a comparatively harmonious radiation into the room, so it is not so bad if you are not sitting in the one optimal listening position. This is despite the fact that its characteristics indicate that it is almost a monitor speaker, as described several times.

So the principle of the point source, which Tannoy Ltd. has been following for years with the Dual Coax Chassis technology, is still one of the most remarkable, even in such a compact form. Music is presented here in an extremely appealing way, with much more detail and nuance than the values in the data sheet would initially suggest. This begins with the clear, concise bass reproduction, which is remarkably powerful for such a compact speaker system. The Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW may be placed relatively close to the wall, in our case it was about 30 to 40 cm, with foam plugs included to reduce the bass reflex port’s power of penetration.

Voices get a clear drawing with the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, are presented with an extremely concise illustration, but are very finely embedded in the respective instrumentation. Fans of classical rock, blues, jazz, pop and folk music will have a lot of fun with the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, because these are clearly the musical directions that suit it best. The spark immediately jumps over, because she does not exercise restraint here, but shows her whole joy of playing. Classical music, on the other hand, is not necessarily the speaker’s paradise discipline, be it on a small or large scale.

But one thing has to be said, of course the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW has its limits, because it is what it is, a very compact monitor speaker. So you should have a certain proximity to the speaker and not make it face unsolvable tasks with a large room.

Getting to the Point

Excellent Scotch whisky is only consumed in a discreet form, a small glass is enough to unfold all its nuances on the palate. Similarly, the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, which presents everything for which the legendary speaker systems of the Scots are praised, in a particularly compact form. Just as with whisky, this is probably not for everyone, but if you are looking for a speaker system full of character with a very special charm and magic, this is the right choice.

HiFiBLOG Award Excellent

After all, excellent Scotch whisky is only consumed in a discreet form, a small glass is enough to allow all its nuances to unfold on the palate. Similarly, the Tannoy Autograph Mini-OW, which presents everything for which the legendary speaker systems of the Scots are praised, in a particularly compact form. Just as with whisky, this is probably not for everyone, but if you are looking for a speaker system full of character with a very special charm and magic, this is the right choice.

Manufacturer:Tannoy Ltd.
Distribution:Audio Tuning Vertriebs GmbH
Germany:TAD-Audiovertrieb GmbH
Price:€ 1.899,-
The Good– Outstanding design
– excellent processing
– musical presentation
– comparatively wide radiation despite “monitor character
– assertive bass despite small size
– very finely reproduced centers
– detailed in the heights
The Bad– Only conditionally suitable for classical music
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Michael Holzinger

Michael Holzinger, founder and editor-in-chief of HiFi BLOG and sempre-audio.at, has been working for years as a journalist in the fields of IT, photography, telecommunications and consumer electronics.

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