VERDICT Small and slim floorstanders look timid,
but sound huge. Refinement and musicality score high marks, delivering
source material with confident realism. Good slam up to medium volumes.
Critical of ancillaries and recordings, though.
PRICE R 7000.00
SUPPLIED BY Extraordinary AV (021) 704-2885.
My review list noted delivery of a pair of
floor-standing, British-made Royd loudspeakers. I expected something quite
large, which meant some help with packing and unpacking the presumed
When the Royd Doublets did arrive, only a single,
not-so-heavy box contained two slim and quite unassuming floorstanders,
finished in simulated black ash veneer. Yes, I was mildly disappointed,
having though that a weekend of vintage rock would be a nice change from
the eclectic jazz and ethereal classics I often use for reviews.
Mounted on a neat, rounded plinth with three
spikes, the Doublet stands just short of 900 mm tall, is 181 mm wide and a
fairly shallow 161 mm deep. Low mounted gold-plated binding posts allow
bi-wiring. More unusual are the twin 32 mm bass ports, which exit through
the side panel in a mirror image arrangement.
You either have both ports facing into the room
(and at the other speaker) or towards the walls. The final choice requires
some experimentation, and is very dependent on speaker location - I moved
them well into the room, far away from side walls and corners, but with
the bass ports firing outwards.
Toeing them in allowed precise image focusing,
but narrowed the soundstage to some extent, so I ended up facing them
For all its plain-Jane appearance, the Doublet
isnít just any old speaker. The team at Royd has done its homework well,
with the accent on efficient operation, neutrality and transparent
operation. Signal paths have been kept particularly clean, with only the
simplest of crossovers, and no low-pass control for the mid/bass drivers.
The three-driver complement consists of two
identical 135 mm mid/bass drivers, constructed from with heavily
impregnated paper cones on aluminium formers, mounted in a cast aluminium
basket and driven by dual, high-power ceramic magnets. Unusual is the
absence of a dust cap. These two drivers frame a centre-mounted soft-dome
The internal construction explains the two bass
ports. The enclosure actually consists of three chambers. The two mid/bass
drivers each operate in separate, single-vented chambers of roughly the
same capacity, while the tweeterís chamber is completely sealed.
Key specifications include an 89 dB sensitivity
rating, a nominal 6 ohm impedance and a fairly optimistic 30 Hz to 20 kHz
frequency response. Peak power handling capacity is 200 watts, but
amplifiers delivering 25 watts or more should already be sufficient.
Donít judge the Doublet at face value. Relative
to its understated, compact experience, it provides the sonic goods with
flair and enthusiasm. Thatís especially true of the staging, which can
be almost holographic, while refusing to be restricted to physical room
The air-rich soundstage provides impressive scope
for detail, especially since clarity is another strong talent of these
They are able to dissect what would appear to be
muddled or over-complex recordings when heard through other systems with a
certain elegant assertiveness that peels away and serves up layers of
information that would otherwise simply be glossed over.
There is a negative side to this, of course - the
Doublet is not particularly forgiving, and wonít shirk its
responsibility to point out shortcomings in source components or
recordings. On the other hand, a fine CD such as the Pat Metheny Bandís Imaginary
Day is presented in every glorious, lush detail, on a stage that
provides full scope for the inventive instrumentation.
Pace and punch rivals much larger speakers, too -
perhaps 30 Hz is not that optimistic, after all. The bass has thrust and
presence, although their composure will start getting a little fuzzy at
the edges at very high listening levels. But then, these arenít meant to
be party boom boxes.
Texture, rich tonal hues and the full emotional
content of a recording are accurately and fluidly explored by the Royds,
and their musical integrity is never questioned. That they are able to
communicate so intimately with the listener is a measure of excellence
often missing from speakers costing substantially more.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Royds, not only for
their ability to translate music with unwavering truthfulness, and their
boundless staging and presence, but also because they provided an
objective, trustworthy performance that made judging the contribution of
each component in the system chain that much easier.
As such, this would be an ideal reference
speaker, capable of placing even high-end components under a fair but
critical spotlight. That they still involve and entertain in the process,
makes the Royd Doublets one of those classic speakers that should enjoy
enduring popularity among discerning music listeners and audio enthusiasts
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