Damon Runyon could have made a big deal out of Francesco Dente's name, 'dente' being Italian for those enamelled things in your mouth. So, if Francesco moved to New York and joined the Mob, he'd probably be known as "Frankie the Tooth". But he doesn't live in New York and he's not a gangster. Instead, he produces loudspeakers in Italy and he just may be the only maker there who has the guts not to rip off Sonus Faber's curvaceous style. His MTD speakers all employ cabinets in the shape of truncated pyramids and they haven't got so much as a splinter's worth of sculpted walnut anywhere to be seen.
'Splinter' is an apt word, as I borrowed for review the very pair which MTD used at the Hi-Fi Show at Heathrow last September, and cosmetically they were the worse for wear. But the MTDs were still handsome in all their mahogany glory; the chips and dents merely readied them for The Antiques Roadshow circa 2040.
Dente, a fastidious and refined individual, would appear to have an obsession about vibration and resonance. In addition to the obviopyramidal enclosures mean no parallel sides and therefore the minimising of internal standing waves -- the is made from exceptionally dense multi-layered hardwoodI think) has applications in boat-building.
Called Lariphon, the material consists of cross-ply layers of wood with a central layer formed from lead-treated rubber. This dampens any residual vibrations while isolating the speaker's internals from radio frequencies. (I didn't try the MTDs next to a TV set to see if the shielding would prevent the greening of your Trinitron. Sorry.) The material is carefully machined using special milling techniques and a special bonding agent is used to fix the cabinet walls. Four high-gloss finishes are available, including ebony, mahogany, 'natural' (which looks like light oak) and something called Palissandro, a reddish finish which my Collins Gem doesn't define but which might be rosewood.
(named after the wee boats which perform way beyond what their size suggests)the in the catalogue,ing,a pointy-toedwhich measures Read more about the MTD TUGs on Page 2.
Fitted to the front of the MTD TUG 19mm 5in (MTD s readilywhat would be ofswitch boosts/cuts thea 5According to Dente, this comes in handy if the speakers are used close to the wall, when the bass is augmented and the treble overpowered. But -- even though the speakers were placed well into the room during my listening sessions
Parts freaks will delight in the component-heavy crossover (which operates at 5.6kHz). Eschewing buzz-word brand names but not cutting corners, Dente has filled the board with mil-spec goodies, as I learned when he disassembled the speaker in my studio so I could take a gander. Among the ingredients are air-core coils made from double-insulated copper which has been 'polyester catalysed against vibrations', high voltage/high current metallic polyproylene MKP capacitors and high power non-inductive 'armoured' resistors; all parts are specified to 1%.
Specs-wise, the TUG is not the beast than I thought it would be, partly because Dente did not want to preclude the use of tube amplification. The TUG's mean impedance, encompassing 28 values measured at thirds of an octave, is 11.5 ohms; sensitivity is a high 96dB at 1m for 2.83V (0.70W). The company claims that the maximum SPLs obtainable are 124dB, but I wasn't even remotely inclined to challenge this. Suffice to say, playback levels were never an issue. Should owners wish to test this claim, the TUG will allegedly handle 250W, with only 194 of 'em needed to reach the 124dB point.
Unaccustomed to speakers so positively gregarious in their willingness to mate with all manner of amplifier, I was able to use everything from the luscious but low-powered Unison Research Simply Two integrated tube amplifier to the monstrous Krell MDA300 monoblocks. In my listening room of circa 4x7.5m, I was unable to make the speakers scream in pain. Indeed, I had to work at making even the Simply Two clip with any audible clues. Quite simply, the TUG is an easy, efficient load which allows it to work in systems with even the humblest of power amps.
What the TUG will not tolerate is any harshness preceding it in the chain. I'm sure I faced that SEAS tweeter before, but I don't recall it spinning into chalkboard scratch antagonism with such ease. This isn't level-related at all. The tweeter simply doesn't ameliorate, mask nor ignore edginess, brightness or sibilance...and still I kept the toggle beneath the speaker in the brighter of the two positions. Why? Because, in addition to sounding 'duller', slower and less detailed, the -5dB position also seems to affect the imaging capabilities. And the TUG, by virtue of its sloped and narrowing baffle, images better than a speaker of its cubic volume tends to do. I was overjoyed to hear that it could position sounds with the skill of an LS3/5A, with nearly the same three-dimensionality.
Where the TUG clearly betters mini-systems, though, is down below. The cubic volume, the port, the sensitivity and the stone-dead cabinet all collaborate on the reproduction of smear-free, fast, deep bass. Though not quite as rich as the similarly-priced Ruark Equinox, the TUG comes close to the British marvel for impact and control.