Tannoy Little Gold Monitor Review

My Story

Tannoy Little Gold Monitor (aka LGM’s) speakers were my first set or dual concentric Tannoys. I was watching these on eBay for couple of years and always wanted a pair. They do not come up on eBay very often, and when they do, they can reach anything between 600 to 1200 GBP. Purchasing mine was a bit of a coincidence or perhaps a universe giving me signs to purchase these – at least this is how I had to explain it to my girlfriend at the time :).
I found a set on eBay (collection only) from Bristol, which is about 4.5h drive from where I live. This correlated with a business trip couple of days after the auction’s end date. Guess where? Near Bristol… I contacted the seller, made an offer and arranged a mutually convenient collection time. Week after, and I was a proud owner of these beautiful Tannoys.

Speaker Info

Tannoy LGM speakers, similarly to many other Tannoy designes, feature famous ‘Dual Concentric’ construction which means that we have two diaphragms (high and low frequency) combined in one driver and working on the same axis (for more details see the Speaker Info paragraph in the Monitor Gold 15″ Review). Speakers from ‘*** Gold Monitor’ range are the successors of ‘*** Red Monitor’ range and feature minor improvements over them (please don’t confuse these with much older Monitor Red or Monitor Gold drivers).
tannoy little gold monitor lgm speakers review 12 recording studioTannoy Little Gold Monitor speakers were developed with nearfield studio monitoring in mind, and recording/broadcasting studios are where most of these speakers were used (see the image on the left, that was found somewhere on the Internet). Many studios still use them these days. A good while ago I came across news about Sheryl Crow tannoy little gold monitor lgm speakers review 11 sheryl crow housebuying a new house for millions of dollars. I’m not usually interested in this type of news, but there was a photo of Sheryl’s studio-room (check out the image on the right) and I was very pleased to discover that she had the Tannoy Little Gold Monitors behind the mixing desk. Presumably, whoever works in there with Ms Crow, could have asked for any speakers regardless of cost, and yet he or she chosen Little Golds. It appears that despite the age, there is still a demand for these among professional sound engineers.

 

Tannoy Little Gold Monitor Specs
Frequency Response: 55 – 20,000Hz (+/- 4dB)
Sensitivity: 92dB (1W input, measured at 1m)
Impedance: 6Ω (4Ω min.)
Recommended Amplifier: 10 – 200W
High & Low Frequency Driver: Type 3149R 300mm (12″) Dual Concentric with 51mm (2″) Aluminium Dome Compression Driver and 300mm (12″) Paper Diaphragm
Crossover Frequencies: 1,400Hz
Enclosure Type: Bass Reflex
Enclosure Dimensions (HxWxD): 548x400x275mm (23x16x11″)
Weight: 21kg (each speaker)
Production Year: 1990
Price When Launched: Unknown
Equivalent Present Day Price: Unknown
Current UK Price: £600 to £1200 for a pair

 

Look & Feel of Tannoy Little Gold Monitor Speakers

In my humble opinion, together with Tannoy Little Red Monitor these speakers are one of the best looking vintage speakers ever. The enclosures are made from thick MDF with two internal bracings and finished in oiled walnut veneer – good looking and very rigid. Gold treble controls and gold writing nicely contrast with black speaker faces. The treble horn throats are painted gold and gently glare through the centre of the drivers. The drivers are very neatly finished with the baskets made from gold painted die cast alloy with a lot of ‘breathing’ space. The 12in bass diaphragms are made from rigid paper suspended on fabric surrounds that are likely to outlive you. The 2in tweeter diaphragms are made from aluminium and are positioned behind the ferrite magnets. The crossovers are hardwired and feature fairly standard components. Interestingly, there is an additional board attached to the crossover which is responsible for delaying the high frequency signal. As far as I am aware, this was done as a result of using flatter ferrite magnet. Due to type of magnet used, the horn throat was much shorter than in older ranges like Monitor Gold or Monitor HPD, which featured tall AlNiCo magnets with longer horn throats. Shorter horn throat meant that high frequency diaphragm was not aligned in phase with the woofer membrane, thus the time delay circuit.
Internal wires and connectors are decent quality but nothing over the top – computer 4 pin plugs and quite thick copper wires. Overall, Tannoy LGM are great ‘little’ speakers with rigid enclosures, very good finishing quality and plenty of attention to details.

Sound of Tannoy Little Gold Monitor

When I bought these speakers, I first compared them to a pair of modern budget floor-standing speakers – Tannoy Mercury F4. What hit me first, was how transparent and clear Tannoy LGM’s were. The difference was huge. In direct comparison the modern Tannoys sounded like they were playing from behind a curtain, whereas Tannoy Little Gold Monitors sounded like musicians were playing in my living room. But the first impressions can be misleading, so for next two years, these were used as my main speakers and compared with many other loudspeakers during this period.
After living with these speakers for a long time, I can say with confidence that people who like full bodied sound or deep bass will not be too happy. These speakers have -4dB at 55Hz and they rapidly drop below this frequency. In their defense though, whatever bass they do, they do it very well. And the dynamics in the upper bass is astonishingly good.
Midrange and treble is a totally different story. This is where Tannoy Little Gold Monitor speakers exceed. They provide exceptional level of details and transparency. The instruments and vocals sound very natural too. Especially guitars and other string instruments. I have never heard any other speakers playing guitars so beautiful and realistic as LGMs. Listening to Stalkers In Tokyo album by Whitesnake was the closest experience of being on that acoustic performance. However, as we all now, speakers are always some sort of compromise, and Little Golds are no different in this aspect. Great transparency and a lot of details make them a little edgy and brutal. Edgy because on high vocal notes can sometimes sound squeaky. Brutal because they play songs as they are and have no mercy for poor recordings. This is further emphasised by lack of deep bottom end and meant that 70% of my music collection suddenly became less pleasant to listen… Some, more upbeat Bryan Adams‘ tracks just sound unbearable. Something to consider before purchasing Tannoy Little Gold Monitors. Another thing to consider is the depth of soundstage – there is not much of it. The presentation of these speakers is very similar to all other large Dual Concentric Tannoy drivers – a wall of sound. Despite this, they are still very musical and give the impression of being with the artists in the room, just not a very large room.
 

 
 

Tannoy Little Gold Monitor vs Tannoy Little Red Monitor

I was lucky to purchase a pair of Tannoy Little Red Monitors which I still had the Little Gold Monitors. I did not expect any noticeable difference in sound, as both constructions are pretty much the same. I quickly discovered that differences are a lot more noticeable than I anticipated. Although tonally both speakers seem to be identical, the transparency is where the most of differences are. The LGMs are noticeably more transparent and airy than LRMs, which on some well recorded songs can sound astonishingly good. This also makes some tracks with echos, pianos and clapping sound more involving and realistic than on Little Reds. On the other hand, LRMs are more pleasant and less fatiguing to listen – they may not be as transparent as Little Golds but this can be a good thing, especially when it makes you enjoy your music collection more.
In short, Tannoy Little Gold Monitors are more transparent and airy whereas Tannoy Little Red Monitors are easier to listen and enjoy. After all, it all comes down to personal preferences, but if had to choose between them and could only have one set of speakers, it would probably be LRMs.
 
 

Conclusion

Tannoy Little Gold Monitor are one of the most transparent speakers I have ever heard but with a bit of edge to it. Very natural sounding but modest with bass, which spoils the balance of sound and makes them sound a little bright. Ideal for studio monitoring but can be a bit fatiguing when used at home, unless only used with best quality recordings. If you want something more gentle Tannoy Little Red Monitors may be a better option for you. Overall, very impressive speakers but not good as all-rounders.

Balance of Sound: 2.5 grey stars
Neutrality of Tone: 4 grey stars
Transparency: 4.5 grey stars
Soundstage: 2 grey stars
Attack: 3.5 grey stars
Engagement: 3 grey stars
Total Score: 3.5 red stars