Editor's Note: "Audio High Product Profile" is a new column by Michael Silver, resident audiophile and home theater expert for the Mountain View, California audio/video store. Each month Silver profiles one of the store's favorite products for AAJ, and offers special incentives for AAJ readers to purchase products, either in store or online.
Welcome back for our second Product Spotlight. This month we're featuring a speaker that is our biggest selling productand with good reason. The Tetra 120U is a small, relatively inexpensive speaker that was designed for home theater, but it's so good that many clients purchase it for their two-channel systems, often replacing much larger, more expensive speakers. The Tetra 120U sells for $1800/pair ($900 each). The 120U is Tetra's first truly universal speaker, one that delivers great sound on any type of music or soundtrack. It can be used in two-channel or for a surround system. You may use the 120U for just the rears, for the fronts and rears (perhaps with a Tetra 505C center) or for every speaker in a 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1 configuration.
Tetra 120U with and without Grille
Tetra Speakers, Inc. is an Ottawa, Canada-based company with long roots in the music industry. They have been designing and manufacturing speakers for the past twelve years, and the President / Designer worked in the audio industry for many years before that. Although Tetra has spent very little money on marketing over the years, they have managed to get their name in every major audio publication and web site with many positive reviews, awards, and other accolades. The Tetra 120U won the Audiophilia Best of Show award. It is also our choice for the best speaker for the money of every speaker in every line we sell (which is several hundred). In fact, it's the best speaker we've ever heard for the money, and we're not the only ones who think so...
Musicians Who Have Fallen for Tetra
Over the years a number of professional musicians, producers, and recording and mastering engineers have fallen in love with the Tetra sound. The reason they all give? Because it really sounds like music. When Benny Golson first heard the Tetra 506 speakers he was literally jumping up and down exclaiming, "I've played with Coltrane hundreds of times, and that is what he sounds like! THAT is what he sounds like!"
Herbie Hancock fell in love with Tetra speakers several years ago and has a complete 7.1 Tetra setup in his home theater and a 5.1 setup in his recording studio. He recently upgraded his recording studio from the 506 mains to the new flagship 606 mains. He used the 506s in his studio for the making of his Possibilities CD, and he has donated that speaker back to us to help raise money for cystic fibrosis research. (If you are interested in purchasing this unique, signed pair of speakers, see our web site for more information.)
Ron Carter also purchased the 506s and recently upgraded to the new ($33.3K) 606 speakers. When Ronthe most recorded bassist of all time, with over 2500 albums and CDs to his creditfirst heard these speakers in his home, he remarked not only on the sound of the speakers, but how well they reproduced the hall he recorded in. He couldn't believe that they reproduced not only the instruments but everything that was going on in the room so perfectly. He was astonished.
Other musicians with Tetra speakers include Keith Richards, Wynton Marsalis, Robert Silverman, Buster Williams, Lenny White, DD Jackson, Dave Holland, and many others.
On September 9 of this year we produced a jazz benefit concert featuring Buster Williams, Kenny Barron, and Lenny White (watch for the CD soon on our web site). Buster had already bought a pair of the Tetra 120U speakers before the concert. He brought Kenny and Lenny to our store to hear them, and they were wowed by them. We also listened to many other speakers varying greatly in price (we have speakers on the floor that range from under $200 up to $70,000). Lenny came back into the area for a gig two weeks later and found his way back to our store to purchase a pair. Kenny is flying us out to NY to dress his whole studio with the Tetra sound.
Why do all of these people get so excited over Tetra's modest little speakers?
All Tetra speakers are voiced by ear with great care and with no rush to market. The Tetra 120U, for example, took over two years to perfect. We had the privilege of hearing many of the prototypes, and along the way we would say, "That sounds great!" And Tetra would say, "Nope. We can do better." And they did.
Tetra uses the best-quality drivers and other parts, and they pay lots of money for them. Most speaker manufacturers (including the most famous and best marketed) have gone to China to get inexpensive drivers to improve their profit margins. Tetra refuses to do that. And it shows in the quality of their products.