Chances are that unless you spend a lot of time perusing some of the smaller audio forums or scour the deepest pages of Audiogon looking for your next audiophile "deal," you've probably never heard of Tekton Design. However, while you may not be familiar with Tekton Design, its President and founder, Eric Alexander, has worked for some of the biggest names in the audiophile and home theater industry - brands such as Kimber Kable and Aperion Audio to name two. Eric served as one of Aperion Audio's chief designers during his tenure there, meaning he knows a thing or two about producing high performance, high value loudspeakers. As wonderful as Aperion Audio loudspeakers tend to be in terms of value they can't hold a candle to Eric's latest endeavor, Tekton Design.
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• Find a subwoofer to pair with the M-Lore loudspeaker in our Subwoofer Review section.
• Explore source components in our Source Components Review section.
I stumbled across Tekton Design while doing research into high efficiency, full-range loudspeakers to pair with my Decware single ended triode amp. After learning what I could via the usual audiophile forums and user groups, I ventured over to Tekton's website where I discovered a bevy of loudspeaker designs, all priced well within the realm of reason - in fact, the most expensive pair on the site was listed at $5,000 a pair. It wasn't Tekton's flagship loudspeaker that interested me; it was the eight other models that were priced from $475 a pair to $1,500 that piqued my curiosity. I sent an email to Tekton and within 24 hours received a response from Eric himself. Soon after, Eric and I had a few phone conversations and before I knew it, a pair of Tekton's mid-level loudspeakers, the M-Lore, were on their way to my humble abode for review.
The M-Lore or "Mini" Lore loudspeaker is Tekton Design's mid level loudspeaker, which retails for $649 a pair direct plus shipping. The M-Lore, according to Eric, is designed to be a jumping off point for newcomers to the Tekton family, possessing most of the magic found in other Tekton designs but at a more advantageous price. That last part made me laugh, for the loudspeaker the M-Lore seeks to "undercut" is the Model Lore, which retails for $999 a pair.
The M-Lore is a high sensitivity, low profile floorstanding loudspeaker measuring 34 inches tall by nine inches wide and 10 inches deep. The standard M-Lore comes in Tekton's Premium Black Satin finish, which is applied overtop its solid MDF cabinet. In terms of build quality the M-Lore appears first rate with no visible seams, blemishes or imperfections visible on my review pair. Tekton also offers high-end, real wood veneer options as well as premium gloss paints (think Ferrari red or Apple white) starting at $200 a pair. There are a few examples of Tekton loudspeakers in some of the above mentioned finishes on their website, which do dress up the otherwise unassuming loudspeakers considerably. The M-Lore employs a single eight-inch Eminence transducer mated to a one-inch Vifa tweeter. The eight-inch driver sits close to the top of the M-Lore cabinet with the one-inch tweeter resting just below. There is a forward firing port about two-thirds the way down the face of the M-Lore. The M-Lore ships without any speaker grills, though grills can be ordered for an additional $75. Around back the M-Lore utilizes a single pair of five-way binding posts with a five sixteenth diameter shaft. Cardas binding posts can be ordered and installed; however the upgrade will incur a $65 up charge.
According to Tekton, the M-Lore has a reported frequency response of 38Hz to 20kHz with an efficiency of 95dB into a stable eight-Ohm load. To put it another way, the M-Lore is one easy-to-drive, super efficient loudspeaker that is well suited for virtually any system regardless of power or budget. Speaking of power, Tekton recommends anywhere between 100 and 250 Watts of total power in order to power the M-Lore "properly." Truthfully, you don't need anywhere near that much unless of course you're trying to recreate concert-like volume levels, in which case you'll want that much power on tap. However, due to their size and construction, Tekton recommends that the M-Lore loudspeakers be used in small to medium sized rooms. For larger rooms you'll probably want to step up to the Model Lore or perhaps Tekton's new flagship, the Pendragon - but I'll get into that later.
All Tekton Design loudspeakers, including the M-Lore come with a standard 30-day risk free trial period that allows you to demo any Tekton product in your own home. If you don't like what you hear you can always send them back, less shipping and a 15 percent restocking fee, which on the M-Lores would be under $100. Of course if you order your Tekton loudspeakers custom out of the gate there is no trial period. Along with their risk free trial all Tekton loudspeakers are hand made using largely US sourced parts right here in the United States.
The M-Lores arrived via Fed-Ex in two unassuming little boxes. I say unassuming because unlike a lot of audiophile packaging, the M-Lore boxes did little if anything to announce their presence - no brand label, speaker model number, nothing. Unpacking the M-Lores is a job for one person and involves carefully cutting around the box's center and removing the top half from the bottom. Once the top is removed, removing the four side foam pieces is a snap, allowing the consumer their first glimpse at the M-Lore in the flesh. It's tiny. Thanks to its diminutive size and weight, removing the M-Lores from their boxes and moving them about a room is a relative breeze in comparison to other loudspeakers. Tekton includes some pretty hefty floor spikes to be used with the M-Lore, which simply screw into pre-drilled holes along the bottom of the M-Lore itself.
Once unboxed and with the floor spikes installed, I positioned the M-Lores in my room where my reference Bowers & Wilkins 800 Diamonds once sat. To say there was a bit of a visual "gap" between the two loudspeakers is an understatement, for it was about as wide as the void that separated the two speakers in price - $649 a pair versus $24,000. Still, the location proved to be ideal for the M-Lores, so I left them and allowed them to break in for 72 straight hours before sitting down for my first listen. Something else worth mentioning is that my reference room is 17 feet wide by 23 feet long with nine foot ceilings, which sits right at the edge of the M-Lore's comfort range in terms of room size. Tekton recommends using the M-Lores in rooms smaller than mine in order to experience better bass response; however since I was going to augment the M-Lore's bottom end with two JL Audio Fathom f110 subwoofers, Tekton president, Eric Alexander, didn't see the need to belabor the issue.
I should point out that for the duration of this review I powered the M-Lores using my current reference amplifier, the Parasound 5250 v.2, which churns out a healthy 250-Watts per channel into eight Ohms, more than enough to make the M-Lores sing. I used my Integra DHC 80.2 AV preamp as my preamp for both music and movies. As for sources I utilized my Sony universal Blu-ray player, Dish Network HD DVR and AppleTV/ Cambridge Audio DAC Magic combo. Cabling was courtesy of Transparent Cable and their high performance but affordable Link interconnects ($85/meter) and Wave speaker cables ($200/eight foot pair). As for rear speakers, I went ahead and left my Noble Fidelity L-85 LCRS in-ceiling loudspeakers connected during my home theater demos.
Lastly, I experimented with using the Integra's Audyssey room correction software. I felt it robbed the M-Lores of their essence a bit so I set it to off and instead set the distances, levels, crossover points and such manually. I should also mention that my room is treated with a full compliment of GIK Acoustic products giving my room a fairly balanced sound without having to rely on auto or digital EQs.
The first thing you have to do when sitting down to listen to a pair of high-efficiency loudspeaker like the M-Lore is forget everything you know about traditional or typical loudspeaker sound. Throw it away, for you won't be needing it anymore. Traditional loudspeaker designs, no matter how well designed or manufactured, will sound somewhat veiled in comparison, thanks to all of the "parts" needed to get them to play in a coherent fashion. Years ago, all loudspeakers were high efficiency, meaning we never needed more than a few Watts to reach audio nirvana - a methodology that served us all well for decades. Hell, we look back upon this time period as a "golden age." Well, the M-Lore's sound harkens back to that simpler time and manages to sound nothing like what you're used to hearing from today's modern loudspeaker. And what sound is that? Try effortless. Simply effortless.
Read more about the Tekton M-Lore's performance on Page 2.