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Positive Feedback ISSUE 63
Tizo Plus Loudspeakers
as reviewed by Steve Kozle
Tall, Thin and Gorgeous (sounding)...
Dayens is a name that has been steadily gaining traction in North America over the past few years for one very good reason: outstanding value. The company first came to my attention when they introduced their Ampino amplifier—a $700, shoebox sized 25watt per channel integrated that punches waaaaaaay above its weight class. I have had the pleasure of mating the Ampino with a very wide variety of loudspeakers, from budget pairs to exotic, audiophile jewelry type speakers costing over ten times as much as the Ampino. In all cases, the little amp that could acquitted itself admirably and in some cases—those times when an amp and speaker combo unite to form Voltron—the results were jaw dropping. After spending a couple of years in audio bliss with the Ampino, I felt the need to scratch my audiophile itch, and upgraded to their higher-end integrated amplifier, the Dayens Menuetto. An upgrade of this caliber requires a great deal of faith in a company and its products for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that Dayens products are built in Serbia, and not readily available for audition in the US unless you live near their single US distributor in Georgia, which I do not. That said, I'm extremely happy with my new Dayens Menuetto integrated ($1250) - it offers the same open, lively sound, and extremely wide frequency range (1Hz - 200kHz) from a more powerful 40watts per channel. Output that is more dialed in, and just a touch more refined and dignified than the already excellent Ampino. Think: less "jumpy."
My initial experiences with Dayens were so overwhelmingly positive that I was very interested to hear their floor standing loudspeakers—the Dayens Tizo Plus. Tizo Plus are slim and solid, standing 40" tall and weighing 31lbs each, while only taking up less than 1 sq. ft. of floor space each. The speakers are based on a bass reflex design that use a D'Appolito MTM configuration (midrange, tweeter, midrange), an arrangement that is widely regarded to aid with proper dispersion, and the added benefit of increasing voltage sensitivity by doubling up on the mid woofers. The drivers consist of two 3" mid woofers and a 1" ring radiator tweeter that provide a stated frequency response from 43Hz to a stratospheric 40kHz. The speakers feature premium German Mundorf MCap capacitors and MOX resistors, with a crossover point of 2300Hz of and dual rear ports tuned to 43Hz. Sensitivity is a rather low-ish 87dB, and impedance is 8 ohms. Cabinetry quality is attractive wood veneer (walnut, beech, ash, mahogany, or oak standard finishes) over 19mm thick MDF that is hand rubbed with organic oils to maintain the natural look and acoustic attributes. I knew the Tizo Plus speakers were something special when I opened the boxes and saw the way they were packed; an awful lot of thought went into protecting those speakers from the vagaries of shipping. A pair of Tizo Plus loudspeakers are $1999 MSRP.
The first question everyone will ask about how they sound is, "Yeah, but do they do bass?" The answer is simple: yes, they do… within reason. There is only so much air a 3" woofer can move, but it's important to remember that the two woofers on each speaker represent a combined surface area of 6", which in combination with its tuned enclosure and long port, is enough to surprise those who judge a book by its cover at first glance. I suspect that the first visual impression most audiophiles will have is to expect anemic bass and mandatory supplementation of low frequencies by a subwoofer. While not necessarily true, it's certainly beneficial when done correctly. When pairing with a subwoofer or two, the Tizo Plus's quickness of sound mandates the use of a high quality, fast subwoofer that can keep up with the rest of the party. Budget subwoofers from big box stores need not apply, unless you want to dull the Tizo Plus's edge with sluggish, tubby bass. If the budget doesn't allow one to get a quality sub right away, these speakers will still deliver great sound especially in a smaller room; the deepest octaves you'll have to wait for, but real bass, down to 50Hz, is definitely there.
Addressing my previous comment about smaller rooms; this speaker isn't strictly confined to dens and dormers—they are capable of playing plenty loud in my approx. 20' x 15' listening room and sound superb with a cappella and acoustic music, but there is a noticeable lack of heft and impact on the low end without a subwoofer when listening to classical, rock, jazz, and modern top 40 music, despite the serious work ethic of the drivers. Turn up the jams and the little mid woofers nearly jump clean out of their hoops while exuding no obvious distortion. It really is quite a salute to driver quality combined with solid enclosure design. In the grand scheme of things, I feel that just how loud a speaker can play before crying uncle in this price range is mostly academic. Peaks in the high 90's in most listening rooms are plenty loud. Anyone living in a cavernous mansion shouldn't (and most likely wouldn't) buy small, affordable speakers like the Tizo Plus.
Listening to "Don't Take Your Love Away From Me" by VAST through the Dayens Tizo Plus reveals nuances in the back of the mix that I've never heard before; and I've heard that song through many hi-fi systems, including high end headphones. The funny thing is that the album the song is found on was an internet only release as an MP3 file, and through the Tizo Plus speakers it sounds like it was professionally mastered. I'm certainly not implying that the Dayens loudspeakers make bad recordings sound good; these were well recorded songs that were never properly mastered, and the Tizo Plus bring out the micro dynamics and deliver details to the ear that I found shocking from an internet only MP3 album. I believe that the inherent imaging advantages the D'Appolito driver arrangement brings to the mix makes recordings of all types sound their best, with the dual mid bass drivers providing some sheen or gloss over any bright edginess that the highly resolving ring radiator might deliver on less than perfectly recorded albums.
A favorite band of mine over the last 15 to 20 years is Dead Can Dance. I own every album they have ever released and play them during every critical listening session, as well as listening to them casually on a very regular basis around the house, in the office, etc. Their 2005 reunion tour was masterfully recorded live and released in 2006 in high resolution audio in multiple formats. Listening to Lisa Gerrard sing "The Wind that Shakes the Barley" or Bendan Perry singing "Severance" through the Tizo Plus speakers was revelatory, and clearly demonstrates where these speakers excel. The human voice, both male and female, is reproduced with startling clarity and lifelike sweetness to create a sense of realism. I believe that much of the credit for that overall clarity is due to the tremendous capabilities of the ring radiator tweeter. Listening to this live concert CD, the ambient sounds of the crowd shuffling and stirring before a song, and the sounds of the applause afterward are eerily lifelike though the Tizo Plus speakers driven by the Dayens Menuetto.
I also played an old audiophile favorite of mine through the Dayens speakers / amp combination. It's a track I've used for years at home, and at audio shows alike, to give me an instant snapshot of a speaker's capabilities. The track has a wide dynamic range with exceptionally deep bass, and a many layered presentation that delivers subtle details and aural cues hidden under the surface, bobbing up and down in the mix. I'm sure you're familiar with the track I'm talking about. You've probably played it yourself at shows so many times that you can't stand the thought of hearing it ever again.
Patricia Barber? Some Kind of Blue? Sara K.? Keith Don't Go? Nope.
I'm talking about "Ain't Yo Bidness" by the Insane Clown Posse. Disclaimer: I grew up in Michigan with Joe Bruce and Joey Utsler, the two members of The Most Hated Band In The World - but before you roll your eyes and dismiss what I'm saying based on predispositions, I challenge you to play this track on your own system... if you think it can handle it. I can't think of a single other ICP track that I would classify as "audiophile grade," but somehow the boys nailed it with "Ain't Yo Bidness." Considered purely from an audiophile standpoint, and with no concern for the lyrical content of the track, "Ain't Yo Bidness" is a formidable test track for any high end system. Hell, I played it through the Wilson XLF's ($200/pair) during their North American introduction event in Ann Arbor, MI and the room was floored when it was over. Did the crowd like the actual song? I really don't know, but the sonics were insane. "Ain't Yo Bidness" is a flawlessly recorded track full of micro details and whispered passages under the main vocals and beats. The Dayens Tizo Plus speakers allowed me to hear deep into the mix, revealing hidden details (shimmering, whizzing noises) that I have struggled to hear on other systems. With the Tizo Plus speakers, I found myself sitting in my listening room smiling at a song I've heard a thousand times. In my opinion this is undoubtedly due to the synergy between the magical midrange properties of the 3" mid woofers and the startling clarity and resolving power of the ring radiator tweeter, which as I mentioned previously, extends to a published 40kHz.
Like I stated earlier, the Dayens Tizo Plus floor standing loudspeakers are not party rock blasters that you roll into an empty warehouse to start a rave with. These are refined, finely designed, and lovingly built transducers that will fill small to medium sized rooms with delicately detailed, non-fatiguing sound that brings the listener dangerously close to audio nirvana. However, potential customers must understand a few things:
1. These are not highly efficient speakers that will be happy with low power budget amplifiers. The nature of the Tizo Plus speakers design and driver complement equal out to speakers that, although svelte in stature, are relatively power hungry. Their 87dB rating into 8-ohms I find to be relatively optimistic. Driving them with 40-watts per channel produced more than satisfactory results, but moving up to a more powerful stereo amplifier adds an additional sense of effortlessness to the recipe that is lacking with fewer watts. I'm not suggesting mating them to huge amps that cost many times the price of the speakers, but care must be given. Flea powered tube amps and inexpensive T-amps from Parts Express need not apply. Give the Tizo Plus' a steady stream of high quality power and they will be happy to shine.
2. These speakers can, and will energize small to medium sized rooms with exciting sound and a surprising amount of heft in the low end—within reason. That said; don't expect to jam modern hip-hop songs at room shaking levels. The 3" mid bass drivers, while amazing in their own right (especially with acoustics and vocals), simply can't displace the amount of air necessary to drive LMFAO at party levels unless augmented with a subwoofer of commensurate quality. Therefore, a good sub is required for loud playback but care must be taken to avoid a slow subwoofer that will throw tubby, bland bass that drags down the cutting clarity of the Tizo Plus speakers. Dayens does not make or sell a sub, but based on the $2000 price of the speakers, I have had good results with two affordable subwoofers that blend well and won't break the bank: Orb Audio Super 8 and HSU VTF-1. Either of those two blends well with the Tizo Plus speakers, and can hold their own in the speed, tone, and texture department without overwhelming the price of the system as a whole.
The Dayens Tizo Plus floor standers are aristocratic, detailed, and distinguished speakers that produce a sound that opens a window into each recording played back through them. They are startlingly resolving, with pinpoint imaging that allows the listener to hear nuances in songs that were most likely never heard before, and they don't take up much room at all. The Tizo Plus loudspeakers are as decor friendly as most lifestyle (shudder) speakers of today, but provide much higher sound quality. When combined with proper amplification and a subwoofer of similarly high quality, the Dayens Tizo Plus floor standing loudspeakers will find a happy home with adult audiophiles who don't care to have their hair blown back, and pant legs flapping from bloated bass, but would rather hear their favorite recordings with a remarkable sense of midrange openness and clarity combined with treble extension that makes listening sessions not only fun, but rewarding. Steve Kozle
Tizo Plus Loudspeakers