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mulveling 08-12-2017 06:29 PM

Upgrading from Canterbury SE to GR
Inspired by tweet's Canterbury GR thread at just the right time, I placed my GR order a few weeks ago, and they arrived yesterday. I'm a longtime Tannoy owner, having run the Canterbury SE for the past 5 years, Kensington SE 3 years before that, and Dimension TD10 another 2 years.

I'd been worried about reports that some have even preferred the old SE over the new GR model, or preferred the SE with ST100/200 supertweeters (I have an ST100b). Furthermore, I'd recently auditioned Focal Sopra 3's, and boy did those sound different from my Canterbury SE -- the Sopra 3's are very lively sounding by comparison, with much more emphasis on detail. Yet I admit I found myself enjoying these Focal speakers -- a first for me with Focal products, as I wasn't blown away by the bigger Utopias, or even the Utopia headphones (I vastly prefer Stax SR-009). The Sopras definitely rendered a very "pleasing" lifelike sound, though perhaps with some potential for the high-tech tweeter to induce fatigue. The bass was punchy and had good weight; very musically satisfying, though with a touch of tubbiness and lacking a bit of extension -- for which the VAC amplification might have been partially to blame.

I mostly heard the Sopras with "audiophile" tunes, of which I'm not a fan. I love that my Canterbury SE serve all genres of music brilliantly. They're perfectly coherent (like single-driver headphones) and endlessly musical; with Tannoy you let the music wash over you, rather than getting pummeled by details. But my Sopra 3 experience was good enough overall that it definitely got me thinking about whether the correct upgrade path was to stick with Tannoys, or to go in a different direction.

For these reasons, I was a bit nervous waiting for the GR to arrive -- unsure whether I'd made a mistake. I'm happy to report that purchasing the GR's was a GREAT choice! Right out of the box, these sound awesome. Much better than my well run-in SE -- with or without ST100b. They're voiced slightly different, but all for the better: more neutral, open open, and dynamic. Treble response is obviously improved. Better 3D imaging. Obviously punchier, a much more lively sound --but without the "in your face" tweeter effect! Notes are both weightier and more clearly defined. But they still retain that neural, rich, organic midrange and tone that the Canterbury SE was famous for. The GR sounds like a perfect fusion of old school Canterbury SE musicality, and modern technicality. And Tannoy definitely raised the level of cosmetics with the GR -- very classy, down to every detail. The worst offender was that horrible large & paper-thin crossover adjustment plate. No, strike that: the worst offender was the pantyhose grill cloth. Both issues are perfectly addressed in the GR.

The SE were rather "wooly" sounding out of the box; it took time and careful gear matching to open them up. The GR's dropped right into my system sounding damn near perfect right from hour 1. I kept listening to these GR's all night, till 3 or 4 AM. It was amazing! I kept wanting more and more, and can't wait to see how they develop with more hours...but I'm already ecstatically happy as-is! It's going to be a good life with these speakers. I loved my SE's; they served me extemely well, produced countless great times (alone, or with other listeners), and their walnut darkened beautifully over the years -- but what an upgrade to the GR! These speakers are extreme music makers. If you're shopping in the $20K - $40K range, I implore you to find a way to get your ears on the Canterbury GR.

New GR's (Audioquest Niagara 7000 is also new):

Night Listening:

The SE's on their way out yesterday!!

tweet 08-12-2017 07:51 PM


Welcome to the Canterbury GR club! :banana:

I definitely know what you mean about wanting more and more. Tannoy should add a disclaimer to the Canterbury GR claim:

Capable of high-volume listening without fatigue...

It's almost impossible to turn the system off at night. I end up listening way too late and then feel miserable at work the next day. :D

Thanks for the excellent write-up and the photos. They look amazing with your setup and will get better by the day. I could tell a big difference by the end of the second week. They are remarkable brand new and change to Wow.

Enjoy your first Saturday night with new Canterbury GR's. You can visit all of your favorite venues and never leave the couch! :thumbsup:

j3brow 08-12-2017 08:59 PM

Upgrading from Canterbury SE to GR
Congrats. Beautiful speakers. I would love to hear a pair someday.

Douger 08-13-2017 12:27 PM

Wow! Congratulations, very glad they are working well for you... I respect your ears and judgment at the highest level!

mulveling 08-13-2017 02:29 PM

Thanks guys. Another night of fine listening in the books. I'm stoked for my other inbound upgrades this next week: CMS Maxxum rack, Innovation Master TT, Rogue Apollo "Dark" monoblocks, 2nd pair of AQ Kilimanjaro speaker cables! Glad I got the speakers first, to better isolate the differences vs. SE.

And I'm still mulling over: a Graham III or Elite, the new Tannoy Supertweeters, and some longer XLR cables for the amps. For next year, I'm really curious about the ARC Ref 6 and Ref 3 -- my buddy's been raving about the 6 in his Tannoy/Rogue system. And to be honest I do get a little bit of hiss noise floor with the Rogue Hera pre -- that's what happens when you pair 96dB Watt speakers with 275 Watts/ch tube amps and 23 dB+ of tube preamp gain. The Ref 6 should clean that up nicely.

Also, maybe I need to slow down a bit :nono:


Originally Posted by Douger (Post 861485)
Wow! Congratulations, very glad they are working well for you... I respect your ears and judgment at the highest level!

The Canterbury SE are a wonderful speaker, and whomever buys mine will be getting a great deal. They were the cornerstone of my rig for 5 years. Lots of wonderful "a-ha" moments in that time, when rolling in just the right tube or cable -- and subsequently basking in the blissful beauty of the resultant sound. They're perhaps a bit "sweeter" sounding than the GR, though time & break-in will see how that sorts out. But I'm really really excited about the GR, so please excuse a bit of my gushing :thumbsup:

mulveling 08-13-2017 02:54 PM

Also, it's wonderful too see that the Tannoy factory is still building awesome speakers. From what little information trickles out, it seems there's been a lot of upheaval and uncertainty in the past year at Tannoy under new ownership. For a while I wasn't sure Tannoy would be filling orders, or continuing in any recognizable incarnation.

They've even stepped up activity on the Tannoy Facebook page! Which is great -- they'd long been terrible about marketing their upper tier speakers in North America. They don't "play the game" by upgrading their line every 1-2 years (personally I much prefer the 5-7 year cycle), but with such high quality products they could be doing a lot better, and I greatly hope to see them succeed.

Douger 08-14-2017 01:39 PM

Great point! It seemed that doom was imminent but they have avoided disaster so far,
hope they keep it up! My SE's are still very satisfactory to me :)

Bluemcintosh 08-21-2017 12:20 AM

Mike. I'm so happy for you !

NZ421291 08-21-2017 06:50 PM


Originally Posted by Douger (Post 861688)
Great point! It seemed that doom was imminent but they have avoided disaster so far,
hope they keep it up! My SE's are still very satisfactory to me :)

My original Canterbury 15's (with 100b Super tweeters) are still awesome- in fact, I couldn't hear much difference between my old Canterbury's & the SE (after I had them rewired & new WBT binding posts)- but the GR was waaaaayyyyy better!!!

Very green with envy- GR's will be my next speaker up-grade- funds permitting.

Rojet2015 08-21-2017 07:15 PM

Congratulations Mike. I enjoy modern design but Tannoy seems timeless.

What size is your room?

Would love to hear these speakers.

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