Best yet? The Tekton Lore S

I’m loathe to call my Fedex driver “the cat” as he’s 6’4″ and every bit of 250lbs, but I’m still tickled with what he dragged in today. The new (-ish) Tekton Lore S!

To get them into the sweet spot in the main listening area, I had to manhandle a monster pair of eFicion F300s out of the way and those suckers weigh 150lbs+ each. Ugh. I can’t wait till my 5 year old son is big enough to start hauling gear like this around for me. Wouldn’t that be sweeeet? Ahh, me, yes.

Oh, my back…. Anyway, after that exercise, I was really liking the comparatively slim Lore S speakers, which proved pleasantly easy to move and position. In fact, that’s an excellent point. Why don’t more speakers I listen to conform to a more lower-back-friendly design, I wonder? Blah blah blah, heavy magnets, big drivers, inert cabinets, blah blahditty blah. Yes, fine, I hear you. But all I know is that no one is going to be crushed to death underneath a Lore S, and for that, I (speaking for my back) was grateful.

I really need to learn to love smaller speakers. Really really really. I am such a wuss.

If you find the fit and finish of the speakers in the pictures to be a bit on the utilitarian side of things, which I think is about what you should expect for this price point, you certainly can spring for the optional veneer and sail easily into WAF-appealing territory. I wouldn’t bother unless they’re going into your living room or you happen to be a vain little beotch. My demo pair, with their basic black, look fine, if plain. Your call, of course. Beotch.

The Lore S is a front-ported design, so placement should be less fussy than the bigger, rear-ported Pendragons, but that doesn’t mean they should be jammed up against the wall. Sound stage is bigger and more precise out in the room and the bass reinforcement does need a bit of space to develop. I put them more or less where their big brothers, the Pendragons, went — about 4′ off the back wall and about 8′ apart (tweeter to tweeter).

One thing the astute will probably notice off the bat is that these speakers are something of a departure from the rest of the Tekton lineup, at least the part that I’m familiar with, moving away from the big Eminence drivers and incorporating a swanky 8″ Nextel driver, which comes from SEAS’ Excel lineup, which is mated to a a 3/4″ SEAS aluminum-dome tweeter instead of a fabric dome.

Like the Pendragons, the Lore S needed only about an hour out of the box and on the juice before the sound unfolded and began to show it’s color. Oh, and before you start jumping up and down about the hazards of early opinions, these are demos — they are fully broken in. Take that!

The result? Well, in this dude’s opinion, the Lore S sounds … well … great. Yep, sure does!

Hmm. Wait. Is that a letdown? Not a large enough pile of a superlatives? Do we need to gild the lily? Well, we could probably hang some more adjectives off the trunk of that particular tree without getting into too much trouble, so lets do some of that.

I think the Lore S is a lovely sounding little speaker. It just has a “little something” that all adds up to a step up in sound quality in some very meaningful ways over the Pendragon. How so? Well, to pick one that comes to mind, how about the phrase “clear as a bell”, emphasis on ‘clear’. Okay, that’s close, but still not it exactly. Let me reach and try again … it’s as if the Lore S speakers disappear a bit more. Ring and shimmer are a bit more pure and decays last longer before fading. They’re cleaner sounding. More crisp. Less smooth. More “hi-fi”.

Eric acknowledges this change, and that even though the sound might be a bit more hi-fi (instead of monitor-like or pro-audio, I suppose), they still meet his goal to “re-create live music” and be faithful to the scale and drama of the live event. What does that mean, here, with the Lore S? In short, they’re room filling. Think: Big Sound! I’m having a hard time believing that all of this that I’m hearing is really coming from these speakers. No, they’re hardly tiny as speakers go, but the sound stage they’re throwing up is, ah, big.

Listening to this new Tekton, I had to know if Eric hadn’t just made its more expensive big brother obsolete. It’s a serious question! The sound stage these little 2-ways are throwing out into my room is just baffling. My top-of-the-line 10x as expensive Merlins just didn’t do this. Dare to turn up the volume on the Lore S and you’re going to get drenched by the sound stage. It’s like sitting in the first three rows of a Gallagher show. Be warned: the Sledge-o-Matic is coming out, folks, are you ready?

In the spirit of being fair and balanced, I think it’s worth mentioning that the speakers still aren’t best described as “detailed”, at least, not in the way that Esoteric’s speakers have been described as being, or what my Magnepan 3.7s (which may be getting a bit jealous, I think, with all these speakers that have come through of late) are capable of. As I mentioned in my write up of the Pendragon, whether or not this is an issue has more to do with your pretensions than with the sound quality. And I mean “pretensions” because these little guys sound g – o – o – d. Oh my.

So, as much as I was groovin’ to these new speakers, I still had that question, though. That little curious voice that wanted to know, “what if?” So, off I went.

The Pendragon, as you can see here in the photo, is about 1/3 taller and 50% deeper than the Lore S. It also has a crap load more drivers. You’d think that this would mean that the bass would be “better” on the Pendragon, wouldn’t you?

Well, it is. Sorry, no revelations there. I played some Jem and Morcheeba on the Lore S and I was immediately impressed with the dynamics and the bass coming out of these “little” guys. Sacrificing my aching body for your reading enjoyment, I then wrestled the giant Pendragons into place, swapped speaker cables, moved the Lore S speakers, and replayed the previous two tracks.

Skull crush. Like grape. Squish!

The Pendragons devastate the Lore S in terms of bass, sound stage and sheer, unbridled power. They’re insanely good. This is what a real full range speaker does to you, folks. Un-ZIP! It’s ludicrous.

The Pendragon is more sensitive (93dB on the Lore S vs 98db on the Pendragon), so when you crank it to 11, the Pendragon will go directly to brain pulverizing levels with very little distortion. This is something that the Lore S just can’t do. The 90dB+ range is where the lack of deep bass really starts making itself felt as the sound began to thin out as the volume goes up and up. By contrast, the Pendragon’s are deftly and effortlessly able to dig deeply and just pile it on at ever higher SPLs. I gave up before the Pendragons did. This makes sense — as volume increases, our ability to perceive bass increases. When it’s loud (-est) is when it’s most obvious what is and isn’t there. Good to know.

So, assuming that you don’t want or need to have a rock concert that your neighbors three streets over can enjoy right along with you, my suspicion is that most of you might find the Lore S to actually be the better sounding speaker [gasp!]. I know! Crazy. Exactly why this could be so is hard to articulate, but I think tone is probably the best place to start. I think the Lore S just sounds a bit more real and a bit more refined. Images are cut a bit sharper and feel more real. Placement is a bit more precise and realistic. Shimmer shimmers more. And aside from the bass, which is listed as heading into the upper-30s, I think I’d rather listen to the Lore S. Sure, the Lore S isn’t exactly full range — and I am IN LOVE with that sound — but what’s “down there” is solid and has some real tub-thumping thwack to it. The mid range is clear and grainless, imaging is precise and that tone ... mmm, delicious. Pardon me while I clean myself up. The Lore S is a beast and $1400 buys you just silly-good speakers.

Here’s the bottom line. I have no idea how Eric is able to make speakers this good for so little money. Any complaints? Not really. At all. I am thrilled with these speakers and at this price, I don’t feel like there’s anything to ask for. I can see most audiophiles getting off the bus here and being very, very happy. Add the $1500 Red Wine Audio Signature 15 and call it a day.

Maybe I’m perverse, but I now want to see a Pendragon with SEAS drivers. Is that absurd? Yeah, well, there’s just no pleasing some people, I know — but guess what? It’s gonna happen. Eric has confirmed that in addition to a significantly up-market offering that’s still in the works, a SEAS-enabled Pendragon variant is in fact also on the drawing board. “I might have to use a slightly smaller tweeter in order fit an array in there, but yeah”. Hee hee!

[Insert drool here].

I can’t wait to see what else Eric comes up with!