Who needs big speakers? Anyone who wants to feel the music, which is exactly what makes the Tekton M-Lore towers so much better than any small speaker.
Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer. Steve currently reviews audio products for CNET and works as a freelance writer for Stereophile.
I love little speakers, especially when they're as fine as the Music Hall Marimbas I wrote about recently, but the best little ones can't touch the big guys for sheer power. If you've only heard little speakers at home, you have no idea what you've been missing. Big speakers sound, well, bigger, and more like live music.
That's why I'm so jazzed by the Tekton M-Lore. This 34-inch high tower sports an American-made 8-inch natural fiber woofer and a European-designed 1-inch silk dome tweeter, so the M-Lores can really belt out a big sound.
Tekton was started by Eric Alexander in 2006, but I remember speaking with him more than 10 years ago, from his days at Aperion Audio, when he designed all of Aperion's original models. Those early Aperions were outrageously good, and Alexander also worked for Sound Tube Entertainment, which makes distributed audio systems for large installations in airports and department stores. With Tekton, Alexander is doing exactly what he wants, making terrific affordable speakers in the U.S.. He has a number of patents in speaker design. The M-Lore, like all Tekton speakers is assembled, painted, and tested by Alexander in his factory in Utah.
My M-Lore review samples were finished in satin black; white satin M-Lores are also $650 a pair, but real cherry veneers and cloth grilles are optional extras. Build quality is solid, and the solid-metal, gold-plated speaker connectors are gorgeous. Lots of speakers that sell for five times as much as the M-Lores come with plastic connectors.
The M-Lore is unusually efficient, so I was eager to see how it would sound with my 3.5 watt per channel MiniWatt N3 integrated amplifier. The combination clicked, and Leonard Cohen's recent "Old Ideas" CD sounded rich, especially Cohen's mellifluous pipes! Acoustic jazz and classical music were also well played, I can't think of another set of $650 towers that can touch the M-Lores' rich tonality. The $349 Miniwatt wouldn't be the ideal amp if you want to really crank your tunes. It's sweet and reasonably detailed, but dynamic oomph is in short supply.
My NAD 3020, 20 watt per channel stereo integrated amp had no problems there, and the sound was downright muscular, even at fairly quiet listening levels, but the speakers sounded better and better as I turned the volume up (the M-Lores can handle up to 200 watt per channel amps). That's what you get with tower speakers, and the M-Lores' warm tone was consistent with both amps. Los Lobos "Kiko" CD sounded big and juicy, and the vocals have terrific presence and body you'll never get with bookshelf speakers. The stereo imaging was broad, yet nicely focused. You could of course, use an AV receiver to power the speakers.
The M-Lores were also outstanding in my two-channel home theater. They're very dynamic, lively performers.