Tannoy Little Red Monitor Review

My Story

Since purchasing Tannoy Little Gold Monitors, I always wondered if there is much difference between them and Tannoy Little Red Monitor speakers. In my opinion both look equally good, but the LGMs replaced LRMs, so logic would suggest that there should be some improvements there. I was lucky enough to pick up a pair of Little Reds from a gentleman not too far away from where I live. They belonged to his late father and were in a pretty nice used condition. I still had the Tannoy LGM at the time, so I was able to run side by side comparisons.

Speaker Info

Similarly to many other Tannoy designs, Tannoy LRM speakers feature famous ‘Dual Concentric’ construction which means that we have two diaphragms (HF and LF) combined in one driver and working on the same axis (for more information about this please see the Speaker Info paragraph in the Monitor Gold 15″ Review). Speakers from the ‘*** Red Monitor’ range are predecessors of the ‘*** Gold Monitor’ range. To my knowledge the Red Monitor range was produced throughout the 80s, whereas the Gold Monitor range was a much shorter run and was produced in the late 80s and early 90s. Please don’t confuse these with much older Monitor Red or Monitor Gold drivers.
tannoy little red monitor lrm speakers review 11 recording studioTannoy Little Red 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 tannoy little red monitor lrm speakers review 12 the magic numbers sitting on tannoy lrmuse them these days. I came across a photo of The Magic Numbers band, where one of the group members is casually sitting on the Tannoy LRM – see the image on the right. I was approached by couple of UK based recording studios asking if I had any LGMs or LRMs for sale, so there is clearly still a demand for these among professional sound engineers.

 

Tannoy Little Red 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: 1980s
Price When Launched: Unknown
Equivalent Present Day Price: Unknown
Current UK Price: £600 to £1200 for a pair

 

Look & Feel of Tannoy Little Red Monitor Speakers

In my opinion, similarly to Little Gold Monitors, Tannoy LRMs are among the best looking vintage speakers ever. The enclosures are made from 18mm chipboard and finished in oiled walnut veneer. The front baffle is slightly reassessed and finished in the same oiled walnut veneer, giving the speakers classic vintage look. They do not feature any internal bracings but there is a black rubber damping material (Dynamat-like) attached to the walls – most likely to help with deadening enclosure resonances or tuning them to a desired frequency. The treble level controls are done via small rotary switches. These are known for oxidising and overtime causing issues with treble reproduction. This is probably the weakest part of this design.
The treble horn throats are bare aluminium and gently glare through the centre of the coaxial drivers. The drivers are very neatly finished with the baskets made from gold anodised die cast alloy and a lot of ‘breathing’ space. The 12in bass diaphragms are made from rigid paper suspended on fabric surrounds which are not going to deteriorate with age. The 2in tweeter diaphragms are made from aluminium and are positioned behind the ferrite magnets. The crossovers feature fairly standard components. Interestingly, there is an additional board attached to the crossover via wiring loom (visible in the cabinet photo below) and is responsible for delaying the HF signal. As far as I am aware, this was done as a result of Little Red Monitors using flatter ferrite magnet as opposed to taller AlNiCo magnet used in older Monitor Red drivers. Flatter magnet dictated shorter horn throat, which meant that high frequency diaphragm was not aligned in phase with bass driver, hence 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 LRM are great ‘little’ speakers with very good finishing quality and plenty of attention to details.

Sound of Tannoy Little Red Monitor

There is something very magical about the sound of vintage Tannoys and the LMRs do not disappoint in this area. Very similar character of sound and tonality to other Tannoy constructions from that period, yet with some subtle differences.
Let me start with saying that music lovers who like full bodied sound or deep bass will not be happy with the LRMs. These speakers have -4dB at 55Hz and their frequency response rapidly drops below this level. However, the bass they produce is very good indeed – fast, dynamic and with plenty of resolution.
In contrast, they do not lack any midrange or treble. This is where Tannoy Little Red Monitor speakers surpass a lot of other constructions. They provide great level of details, decent transparency and very musical and engaging sound. Vocals and string instruments sound especially natural. The reproduction of guitar sound is among the best ones I ever heard. This is clearly shown on tracks like Where Shall I Be by Eric Bibb, where you forget about everything else because Mr Bibb is playing n your living room.
In my experience it is very hard to find speakers that are very transparent and not edgy. Tannoy LRM present good balance between being transparent enough for you notice it but not enough to sound very edgy. Some listeners may still find them fatiguing but to my ears they present a good balance.
Similarly to other Tannoy dual concentric designs, the illusion of soundstage depth is lacking. The speakers throw a wall of sound but in my experience never give you a feeling that musicians are playing from way behind the speakers. Despite this, they are still enjoyable to listen and give the impression of the artists performing in your room.


 
 

Tannoy Little Red Monitor vs Tannoy Little Gold Monitor

Before I had I chance to compare both constructions side by side, I thought that there will not be any noticeable difference in sound, as ultimately, most of the design and construction aspects are pretty much the same. When I started the listening tests, I quickly discovered that the differences are much more noticeable than I anticipated. Saying that, tonally both speakers seem to be identical, but where the differences are is the transparency. The Little Red Monitors are not as transparent as Little Gold Monitors, but thanks to that, they are a lot more tolerable, which means that you can enjoy more of your music collection. This suits tracks like Norah Jones – Waiting which sounds much smoother on LRMs. One of my favorite Rod Stewart’s songs, Maggy May (from the MTV Unplugged album), sounds too edgy on LGMs but is a lot more enjoyable on LRMs. On the other hand, some well recorded songs can sound astonishingly good on Little Golds, due to additional transparency and airiness.
In short, Tannoy Little Red Monitors are easier to listen and enjoy, whereas Tannoy Little Gold Monitors are more transparent. 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 Red Monitor speakers are quite transparent and very natural sounding but modest with bass. This makes them perfect for acoustic recordings but tracks relying on bass will make you feel that something is missing. They are easier on the ear than Tannoy Little Gold Monitors, so if complete transparency is not your key priority and you still want a musical Tannoy sound, they may be just right for you. Overall, great sounding speakers but not good as all-rounders.

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