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Onkyo D-TK10 Takamine Speakers

Part II

April, 2007

Piero Gabucci

 

Setup

Pairing the D-TK10 was an interesting decision. Using the Onix SP-3 integrated tube amplifier along with an excellent universal multi-format player from McCormack (review forthcoming), power cables from Wireworld, and interconnects from Harmonic Tech Magic Link One, I was off and running.

I also played the speakers significantly without much evaluation at first, to break in both the Onkyo speakers and the McCormack player.

I could see the D-TK10s used on bookshelves literally, so close proximity to sides and rears is probably close to design intent.

Ah, take warning of the foreshadowing of this remark.

I decided to place the D-TK10s on recently built laminated plywood speaker stands. I put the speakers about 6 feet apart, finding this distance best after numerous positions in my space.

The Sound

Interesting is the first description, sorry for the less than common audio jargon. It's difficult to separate your perception of the D-TK10 as a speaker slanted to wood instruments. I realized I found myself looking for music with plenty of acoustic guitar, or cello and violin - I was easily influenced. I'm also sure it's the last thing Onkyo wants to hear, that this speaker works best and only with string instruments. On the contrary, I found horns and percussions as lively as any other. I haven't mentioned vocals yet.

On the stands I described, the D-TK10s quickly began to show me depth and clarity – soundstage wasn't quite as deep or wide as I hoped, but most certainly adequate. What I wasn't really getting was dimension. The lows weren't low enough, highs weren't high enough, and the midrange somewhat flat.

It occurred to me simply that my stands were having a negative effect on the performance of the D-TK10s. This was not necessarily the stands per se´(after all I spent hours in a shop building them), but rather their placement in my room.

The Sound . . . Starting Over

Quickly moving aside all the equipment on the long banquet shelf/ledge, I placed the D-TK10s on either side of the Onix. And . . . ?

Ever catch yourself sighing and you didn't even know it? I caught myself exhaling as I first heard the sweetest notes from Yoyo Ma's cello playing Vivaldi. If I could describe the feeling as a completely natural association between the cello and the D-TK10 - the presentation was sweet, warm, and delicate. Timbre was dead on, and the cello sounded full and round.

I had finally heard from the D-TK10 what I envisioned. Not only was the base deeper and the highs sweeter, the range seemed to open. A bookshelf speaker that sounded great on bookshelves, go figure.

Because I'm stubborn, I placed the speakers back on the stands and continued setting them much closer to the rear and sidewalls of the room until I reached the sound I heard on the shelf.

My assessment with regards to the stands is they don't quite isolate themselves from the floor enough, and too much of the energy is lost.

Wanting to challenge the D-TK10s with vocals, I played Rene Marie's Serene Renegade where I found the top end is very controlled – no effects of sibilance in Rene Marie's voice as I know the recording can show. Her live performance at the Jazz Standard in New York City revealed a dimensional space. Her voice was nicely placed amongst the band.

I wasn't timid about pushing the D-TK10s; I just refused to be reversely intimidated by their diminutive size. Listening at low levels is fine, but at higher volumes, the speaker developed more dimension (again, not an average bookshelf speaker).

Listening to Beethoven piano solos, I was struck by how authentic and musical the D-TK10 portrayed the music, exhibiting strength with timing and pace. Edges were a bit rounder than I prefer however, as I looked for a bit more definition of the keys struck.

I admit I'm a sucker for Flamenco and Spanish guitar. I've collected a few from Ottmar Liebert, and I enjoy his Nouveau Flamenco for its simple rhythms and melodies. Playing with bass guitar and percussions, the D-TK10 Takamine was in its element here. The strings plucked with authority. The bass guitar was full of body and the hands snapped off the drum skins with delicacy and depth.

For electric guitar, Dire Straits' Mark Knopfler also provided a male vocal challenge. I was hoping for a bit more texture in his voice, and the more I heard, the more I realized how laid back the sound is from the D-TK10, lacking any coarseness – but certainly not reaching anything I'd consider liquid. But again I'm struck by the immeasurable quality in his steel guitar, which is absolutely sultry.

Conclusions

The Onkyo D-TK10 Takamine speakers are truly gems in every sense of the word. It's been awhile since I had become emotionally attached to a speaker's sound. The D-TK10 reminded me how seductive music can be. Playing simple music such as a guitar, a piano, or a voice – you are connected.

Because of the size of the D-TK10, I hadn't expected to be impressed with bass, yet the delicate balance between low, midrange, and treble are lovely. And, with certain recordings, the highs truly float.

I'm also enamored with the design of the D-TK10, which is graceful, and the curves sensual. I am certain that placing these on your shelf will welcome visitor's comments and admiration without a note played.


- Piero Gabucci -

© Copyright 2007 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity

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