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Product Review
 

DCM TimeFrame TFE200 Floor-Standing, TFE60C Center Channel, and TFE60 Surround Speakers

February, 2007

Lee Hower

 

Specifications: 

 

TFE200 Towers

Drivers: One 30mm Dome Tweeter, One 6.5"
   Midrange, Two 6.5" Woofers
MFR: 30 Hz 20 kHz

● Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms

Sensitivity: 88 dB
Dimensions: 45.9" H x 8" W x 20.8" D
Weight: 64 Pounds/Each
MSRP: $499.95/Each USA

TFE60C Center Channel
Drivers: One 30mm Dome Tweeter, Two 6.5"
   Midrange (1 Active, 1 Passive Radiator)
MFR: 50 Hz 20 kHz

● Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms

Sensitivity: 88 dB
Dimensions: 8" H x 20.5" W x 13.8" D
Weight: 21.5 Pounds
MSRP: $349.95/Each USA

TFE60 Bookshelf
Drivers: One 30mm Dome Tweeter, One 6.5"
   Midrange
● MFR: 42 Hz 20 kHz

● Nominal Impedance: 6 Ohms

Sensitivity: 88 dB
Dimensions: 17.5" H x 8" W x 16" D
Weight: 64 Pounds/Each
MSRP: $249.95/Each USA

 

DCM Loudspeakers

 

Introduction

DCM has been producing speakers since 1974, perhaps most notably with their Time Window series that was widely respected at the time.

Today the company is part of Mitek Audio Corporation, which owns a range of audio equipment companies including DCM, Esoteric Audio (cables), and several mobile audio focused brands.

The TimeFrame Evolution series was launched at the 2005 CES show, initially with the TFE200 and TFE100 towers. DCM later broadened the line, the top of their range, with the introduction of center channel, bookshelf, in-wall, and in-ceiling models.

Like many speaker makers today, DCM designs their speakers here in the US and manufactures them in China.

Features and Setup

The 5.1 system I reviewed was composed of the TFE200 towers for mains, the TFE60C center channel, a pair of TFE60 monitors for surround channels.

A TB1212 12" powered subwoofer was also originally provided for the review, but I had an issue with the review unit in my setup. Mitek kindly offered assistance or a replacement unit, but ultimately I was not able to evaluate the subwoofer due to the timing of this review.

All of the TimeFrame Evolution models feature a 30mm textile dome tweeter and a 6.5" Kevlar midrange driver for consistent voicing across the line. The TFE200's are a floor-standing model which feature this tweeter-mid combination along with a pair of 6.5" fiberglass woofers and a front firing slot port.

I played with various placement options for these towers in my home theater and ended up situating them approximately three feet from the front wall and just under two feet from side walls, with slight toe-in towards the listening position. These are large speakers at nearly 46" high and over 20" deep, but the relatively narrow front baffle helps them blend into most rooms (except for smaller ones) better than you might expect.

The TFE60C is a sealed design with the tweeter-mid combo and a second 6.5" Kevlar cone passive radiator, which I stand-mounted below my projection screen.

The TFE60s are a bookshelf speaker with the just the tweeter and midrange and a slot port on the front face. In theory, the TFE60s can be wall-mounted via pre-drilled holes on the rear, but given their weight and depth (16"), I chose to stand mount them at the rear of my listening area.

DCM also has an in-wall TimeFrame Evolution speaker as well as a separate bipole/dipole model in their TimePiece range which has similar voicing, should customers want other surround options.

All of the speakers feature shielded drivers for placement near a monitor and can be bi-wired or bi-amped. I tried the speakers with metal grilles both in place and removed, and ended up doing most of my listening with them off.

Aesthetically speaking, they feature a cherry veneer with a matte black painted front baffle. The fit and finish of the veneer is fairly good, but I felt the appearance of the vinyl veneer and the black plastic moldings at the top and bottom of the front baffles detracted a bit from the overall look.

The cabinets are constructed from MDF, including a 1" front baffle, and seemed to be reasonably solid. The TFE200s in particular give a satisfying, low resonance sound when rapped by knuckles.

Listening Impressions: Music

I listened to music with this system in a variety of configurations, including the TFE200s by themselves as mains, TFE200s with my own subwoofer, and as a full 5.1 system with some muti-channel SACDs.

Rated down to 30 Hz, the TFE200s can be used quite effectively as (nearly) full-range speakers when serving duty for music.

Chemical Brothers' Push the Button (Universal Music) - CD: The latest album from the Chemical Brothers won two Grammys in the 2006 awards. The TFE200s had plenty of dynamic range to keep up with the synthesized beats and guest vocalists (Anna-Lynne Williams, Kamal Fareed a.k.a. Q-tip, and others). With a modest sensitivity at 89 dB/watt/meter, these speakers are probably best driven by solid state amps.

Vladimir Horowitz' Piano Works (Sony Classical) SACD (stereo): A compilation of older recordings, Sony assembled this SACD in 1999 through digital transfer from analog tapes, and includes works by Chopin, Liszt, Rachmaninoff, and Schumann. The TFE200s did a good job conveying the physical presence of the piano in a way that smaller speakers often have difficulty with.

Beck's Sea Change (Interscope) SACD (multichannel): Unlike many of his other albums, Beck sticks to acoustics and lyrics in Sea Change rather than electronic sounds. I find it a real pleasure to listen to, and the multi-channel SACD sweeps over you with waves of sound from all speakers. In particular "Paper Tiger", with its orchestral backing of Beck's languid voice, demonstrated the strength of the common voicing (same tweeter and Kevlar midrange) across the TFE line without any "jumping" as sounds blend from one channel to another.

Overall, I was most impressed by the breadth of the soundstage that the TFE200s throw. Keep in mind, each side covers nearly seven square feet, so there is considerable cabinet area acting as a resonant surface. As you might expect, they don't image as well as the best monitor speakers, but when listening to the piano or orchestral works, the TFE200s convince you that a physically large instrument or group of instruments is producing the sound.

Listening Impressions: Movies

Superman Returns (Warner) HD DVD: This disc is now one of my favorite movie soundtracks, with uncompressed multi-channel Dolby TrueHD audio included on the HD DVD version. While the TFE200s are full-range speakers, credibly reaching into the 30 -40 Hz range, soundtracks like Superman Returns definitely need a capable subwoofer to deliver the intense deep bass like Scene #8 Scene Needing Water when Lex Luthor grows a crystal of gargantuan proportions. Nonetheless, the TFE system did an admirable job with this effects-driven soundtrack and the score by John Ottman and John Williams (original theme).

Thank You for Smoking (20th Century Fox) DVD: Originally an independent film that received some meaningful press and awards, this movie features a talented cast (William H. Macy, Robert Duvall, Maria Bello, Aaron Eckhart) and a lot of fast-paced satire. With a dialog-heavy soundtrack, I was slightly disappointed that the TFE60C center channel couldn't keep pace with the TFE200s. Much of the dialogue from the center channel sounded muddy, despite many attempts to tweak the placement of the speaker. Part of the challenge may be the fact that unless you place the TFE60C above a monitor or screen, in most cases it will physically sit several feet below the horizontal plane of the tweeters in the tall TFE200s.

Conclusions

DCM previously sold speakers through some retailers, but today they market directly to consumers through their own website. They offer a 30-day money back guarantee and a 10-year warranty on their speakers. As a five-channel system (excluding subwoofer), this TimeFrame Evolution setup would carry an MSRP of $1,849 although each of the models is sold separately. The clear standout of the bunch are the TFE200 towers, with their near full-range response and robust dynamics. The $1500-2000 price category has stiff competition, including several other internet direct sellers, but the TimeFrames offer a lot of speaker for the money and are certainly worth a listen.

- Lee Hower -

Equipment Used in this Review

Denon AVR-4806 receiver
Ultralink speaker cables
Panasonic PT-AE900U projector
Sony ES SCD-222ES SACD player
Toshiba HD-A1 HD DVD player
Xbox 360
 

Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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