Toby Shaughnessy of Tub’s Audio is a really unassuming guy. He’s extremely casual and when I first met him, it never occurred to me that he was the designer for the visually distracting loudspeakers I was listening to. He’s also a bit … young. I mean, surprisingly so. So, for all you wondering where the “next generation of audio” is, I’m going to just shut up and point. To New Zealand. Toby’s going to be an interesting one to watch.
Tub’s Audio M-Supreme ($17000/pair) is unusual, to say the least. Front and center is a dual-concentric driver, with a 12″ paper cone sitting behind a horn-loaded 4″ compression driver. Two down-firing bass horns mate to the front-firing horns for a four-horn-in-one assembly. Visually, however, all you really see is a single driver in the top third of a rectangular cabinet, hollowed out in a gentle horn shape. That huge white surface to the horn will certainly grab eyes all over any room they sit in. Here’s the specs:
- Response: 35hz-20000hz
- Sensitivity: 96 db
- Power handling: Max 400 watts rms–800 watts program power. Minimum power required, 8 watts.
- Nominal impedance:—-8ohm
A BorderPatrol P20 XSD paralleled single-ended 300B-based stereo amplifier ($16,750) was time-sharing with a fully loaded Red Wine Audio Signature 57 integrated ($6,995). A Pure Audio Vinyl preamplifier was used with a Palmer 2.5 turntable ($7,995), mounted with a Soundsmith Sussuro cartridge ($4,800). A PS Audio P10 Power Plant ($4,995) provided the power cord fan-out and conditioning. The very attractive table ($2,500) and plinths used to suspend the gear off the floor came from Where Wood Meets Steel.
The sound in this room progressed rather dramatically from Friday through Sunday, and by dramatically, I mean it traversed a full spectrum from “hot mess” to “quite fine”. A lot of the tuning and tweaking came after a complete reset of the layout — with the “winning” setup being the most unusually off-center configuration I’ve yet seen at an audio show. Whatever, right? It worked. Imaging was very credible, with layered tonality and very respectable frequency extension. Even Gary Dews, the designer of the BorderPatrol amp we were using, was feeling his eyebrows crawl into his hairline late that Sunday afternoon. This was really good!
96dB and 8Ω is a magical set of numbers for any low-power tube lover, and a set that’s increasingly difficult to find, much less beat, shy of a big ass multi-part horn system. As one of those low-power amp lovers, I really want this guy to succeed! Go Toby!
Anyway, Toby currently lives and works out of New Zealand, which is about as far as you can get from the North American audio show circuit, but I’m hoping he’ll come back soon. There’s something really interesting going on with these loudspeakers.