REVIEW: KRALK AUDIO TDB-2 STAND MOUNT SPEAKERS
West Yorkshire-based Alan Clark has recently introduced Kralk Audio's new entry-level TDB range of loudspeakers. We took a closer look at the TDB-2 priced at just £185 - £275 depending on finish.
Two-way speaker system
£185 - £275 depending on finish
West Yorkshire-based Kralk Audio may not be a familiar name just yet, but Alan Clark’s hand-made BC speakers blew me away the first time I heard them at a local show.
With the recent introduction of an entry-level range named TDB, it was the perfect opportunity to take a closer look, starting with the TDB-2 two-way speakers.
I do like Alan’s approach and his sense of humour. Perhaps it’s because I was raised in Yorkshire just down the road from his base in Wakefield, or maybe I just gravitate to those in the audio world that like to have a bit of fun along the way.
Clark’s TDB range is a case in point, as he seems to think they’re the dog's biscuits*, so we’ve had a listen. (*possibly doesn’t mean biscuits)
The TDB series of speakers include the TDB-2, TDB-4, TD-6 and TDB-8. Each set also can be purchased with matching stands.
Well, Mr Clark seems happy with them; let’s see if they are actually the mutt’s nuts or more a dog’s dinner.
The TDB-2 are lovingly constructed by Alan’s fair hands and built to order. The cabinets are manufactured from 18mm braced chipboard, and you can choose to have them finished in a real wood veneer or painted.
Carefully chosen internals inline with Alan's bang-for-buck approach includes Falcon Acoustics air core inductors and Solen capacitors utilised in the hand-built 6dB 4200Hz crossovers.
The review sample we received was finished in light oak and features a leather-look black vinyl baffle. The TDB-2 features a single 4-inch bass driver and planar ribbon tweeter in each mirror-imaged speaker. Both are equipped with a convenient tweeter level pad, giving you control over the tweeter output to balance the system according to the acoustics of the room and your personal taste. Rounding off the front panel is a bass reflex port.
Around the rear, each speaker gets a pair of over-sized four-way gold plated terminals which support 4mm banana plugs. These stand mounts measure 27.5 x 24 x 29cm (HxWxD).
The fit and finish of the 7.5kg speakers are impressive, especially at this budget-friendly price point. What you can't see is that the TDB range of speakers is internally braced (screwed and glued) and that the crossovers are hard-wired with high-quality OFC wire. The TDBs may be entry level, but they’re certainly not cheap tat. These speakers will definitely last the distance.
Kralk Audio also supplied the matching stands for the speakers. These are flat-packed but a cinch to assemble. They stand on spiked feet for carpeted rooms, but you also get boots for them to protect your hardwood flooring. On the top plate are a set of Sorbothane isolators decoupling the speaker from the stand. Additionally, the stands come with a little cable tidy affixed to one leg so that you can hide your speaker cable should you want. A quick note here, the stands are only available when you order your speakers, they are not available separately.
The traditional monitor speaker styling may not appeal to all, which, granted, is more industrial than domestic. Let’s just call them purposeful.
I might have personally liked their looks from the off, but it wasn't love at first listen. I know better than to judge loudspeakers 'out of the box' but there was no denying the unrefined output. After cycling through other speakers in for review, I finally came to a week-long stretch where they could just stay put. Over those weeks something magical happened. Perhaps Alan had chanted some magical words over a beer and Megasaurus steak dinner, or the TDB-2 had simply come alive with some hours of running time. I suspect the latter.
They may not have the most extensive soundstage, but they are an enjoyable listen. Naturally, you are not going to get the windows rattling with the single 100mm bass driver, but the low-end extension is better than I expected.
The 70mm x 25mm Planar ribbon tweeter gives a nicely detailed top end, the beauty of which is that it can be adjusted to taste with the level pad control should it get too bright or seem too dull. That added flexibility is another feather in its (flat) cap.
I slipped on Kate Bush’s ‘The Whole Story’ (original release vinyl) long player to kick things off. Dropping the needle at ‘Wow’ the keyboard intro backed with orchestral swells sets the stage for Kate’s unmistakable vocals. The fretless bass and drums duet as the piano and what sounds like a clavichord or similar joins the throng.
As the chorus hits, I suddenly hear the mandolin part clearer than I can recall. The tweeter is really the star here. However, saying that, it does outshine the bass end as there's a lack of weight to the lower keys.
Moving on to Nick Cave’s ‘Red Right Hand’ (CD) and the clarity continues with the brushes on the drum kit. The bass groove is solid and manages to retain its authority. Likely another limitation of the small driver, Nick’s narration could do with a little extra warmth and depth.
Echo and the Bunnymen’s ‘Going Up’ fairs better after a little tweeter tweaking and all seems well with McCulloch and co.
Finally, ‘The Package’ by A Perfect Circle. This is a regular test track for me, especially for the intro bass. I wasn’t expecting an awful lot after the other tracks, but the TDB-2s had a definite grip on Jeordie White’s bass line. It perhaps isn’t as full as I have heard it, but there’s still plenty of meat on its bones.
The TDB-2 offers an excellent option for those on a budget or when you're working with limited space. The fit and finish are remarkable for the price and testament to Alan Clark’s skills and passion.
The TDB-2s love to be driven but can appear a tad bright, although this can be remedied somewhat by using the tweeter dial. As expected, the 4-inch bass driver won’t shake your fillings loose, but surprisingly there is a decent amount of low-end presence.
If bass is really your thing, it may be worth checking out Kralk Audio's bigger ‘Dogs’, perhaps the TDB-6 or TDB-8.
The Kralk Audio TDB-2 actually performed more balanced with the Perraux Audient 80i integrated amplifier I also had in the room for review which has a warmer character than the Musical Fidelity M6si I have on hand.
As always, see if you can have a listen before you buy.
For more information visit Kralk Audio.
StereoNET UK’s Editor and Bass playing gadget junkie. He’s captained the good ship GadgetyNews for over a decade, making low jargon high tech a very handy thing. His passion for gadgets and Hi-Fi is second only to being a touring musician.
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