Bookshelf Speakers

Tyler Acoustics D4M Bookshelf Speakers

ARTICLE INDEX


Introduction

Tyler Acoustics is a family owned and operated business located in Owensboro, Kentucky. All of their engineering, construction, and testing goes on in house, where they build some of the finest crafted speakers in the business. Their speakers can be purchased in custom finishes by going to their website. Few other speaker manufacturers these days offer as many financing options, demo programs, trade up programs and lay-away programs as Tyler Acoustics. It truly seems like they are willing to do almost anything to help you ease into a set of really nice loudspeakers without breaking the bank, which is a real relief in this economy.

The D4M is a new bookshelf (monitor) design, and although we classify them here as "Two-Channel Speakers", as we tested them here that way, they could certainly be used in a home theater as the mains (you would need a subwoofer), or as the surrounds.

Specifications

  • Design:: Two-way, Ported
  • Drivers: One 1" Soft Dome Tweeter, One 6" Paper Cone Woofer with Aluminum Phase Plug
  • MFR: 44 Hz – 20 kHz (± 3 dB)
  • Sensitivity: 87 dB (2.83 Volts/1 Meter)
  • Power Handling: 100 Watts
  • Nominal Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Crossover: 1.8 kHz, 2nd and 3rd order
  • Dimensions: 16" H x 9.5" W x 12" D
  • Weight: 28 Pounds/each
  • MSRP: $2400/pair USA (when purchased from a dealer); $1,950/pair Factory Direct with Custom Finishes
  • Tyler Acoustics

The Design

Tyler Acoustics strives to manufacture very high-quality, no-compromise audio products. The appeal in a speaker like the D4M is that the technology developed in their high-end offerings trickles down into their lower lines. This way you get high quality Tyler-engineered enclosures designed to mate well with their speaker drivers and crossover networks, rather than a plain square box with good components installed.

The D4M is a bookshelf design, using one 1" tweeter and one 6" woofer. They are housed in a modest sized enclosure, and the sample that was sent to me for review was finished in rosewood.

The 4" flared port is on the rear panel, along with a single set of metal speaker binding posts.


Setup

One of the selling points of this particular model of Tyler's (compared to other mid to high end speaker manufacturers) is that they were designed with the average consumer in mind (which I appreciate). Not to say that they wouldn't really stand out with more expensive separates, but these speakers allow one to upgrade one component at a time, rather than dropping $7K on an amplifier at the same time you purchase the speakers. The D4M's are 8 ohms nonimal, with a modest sensitivity of 87 dB, so they will need a reasonable amount of power to drive them, e.g., 100 watts RMS per channel. I got pretty good results from a $799 receiver in a huge living area, though I imagine more power or a smaller listening space would really have made them shine.

The Tyler's aced the knocking test on all sides. This is most likely due to heavy duty cabinet construction, internal bracing/damping, and their unique hexagonal shape which decreases internal standing waves. For this review, I experimented with placement but settled on forming an equilateral triangle with the speakers about 10 feet apart and each one 10 feet away from me, 3 feet from the back and side wall, slightly toed in, and grilles off (which did slightly improve the sound).


In Use

Compared to my own speakers, the Tyler Acoustics D4M's seemed a little more delicate on the top end, a little better air around wind instruments, and a bit tighter low end definition (if not quite as much). It was immediately apparent that they were adding less of their own character to the music than my own speakers, though slightly more overt in their presentation. If one desires more low end, these rear-ported speakers can be placed closer to the walls, but this would be at the expense of low end definition (best to experiment with placement in your own room).

For instance, on the Telarc CD, Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture, the cannon shots were conveyed very nicely, and I was surprised by the Tyler's ability to recreate the concussion associated with the artillery rounds. By comparison, my own speakers definitely reached a little deeper, with less precision, but I can assure you I would not have noticed a difference without the A-B comparison.

Most complex orchestral pieces were a delight with the Tylers, though my reference speakers did more faithfully reproduce the coherence of a large orchestra, pipe organ and and handling large dynamic swings with at least as much composure as the Tyler's.

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I have newborn twins in the house now, so low-level listening has suddenly moved up a few notches on my priority list. My Denon AVR-2309CI receiver utilizes Audyssey MultiEQ and Dynamic Volume (which are also now high on my list of must have options for new fathers) and mated well with the Tylers. I did much of my watching at 3am while feeding babies and I can tell you that the low level definition and dialogue intelligibility of Tyler's drivers is very good.

Norah Jones' Come Away with Me is an old standby for midrange detail and definition. On "Seven Years" the Tylers provided great separation of instruments, and was very detailed without ever crossing over into edgy. The D4's presentation of Norah's breathy vocals was definitely engaging. On the "Painter Song," they revealed their ability to localize voices into a coherent image directly in front of the listener. Again, the speakers exhibited adequate low end but would probably need to be paired with a sub in a larger room for optimum results and higher volume playback. Note that just about any speaker will benefit from a dedicated subwoofer, especially if the sub has a large enclosure, a big driver, and a powerful amplifier.

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Jack Johnson's Brushfire Fairytales provided a good test of acoustic guitar and male voice. On the title track, the Tyler's provided so much detail that I could easily hear the recording room around him in the silent rests between instruments and voice. My own speakers do well with this album, but I heard new things on every song I listened to. Mr. Johnson apparently moves his lips to counts beats during some of the rests, something I have never noticed on the multiple times I've listened to the album.

One thing I did notice was that during the Jack Johnson sessions my babies would sometimes both stop crying for extended periods and looked up to where the music was apparently coming from. If this had been a consistently reproducible occurrence there is no amount of money that I couldn't come up with for a pair of these!

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While listening to The Essential Willie Nelson's "Me and Paul" at moderate volume, I really got great dimensionality from the D4's with extremely good subtle detail, and the speakers seemed to holographically float the gravelly voice in "The Red Headed Stranger" voice in the air about two feet above the speakers. I had a living room full of family at the time who all stopped what they were doing and became entranced in the music.

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And Yet . . . .

The only thing that could be said against the D4M's, is that there is a lot of competition in this price range, and some of them are very good speakers.


Conclusions

The Tyler Acoustics D4M's are excellent speakers, whose appeal will be to those who want top quality and don't have a problem with spending a reasonable amount of money to get them. They are detailed and have a tight, accurate low end for their size. You can get them in custom finishes by ordering direct, where most manufacturers only offer two or three finishes.