Tannoy Mercury 7.4 Review 31


I’ve had a certain fondness for Tannoy’s Mercury range since purchasing a pair of Mercury V4s shortly after their release. They formed the basis of my first true hi-fi system, at the time fronted by Yamaha amplification and a vast array of source components. Components came and went, though the V4s remained the one common denominator for many years before a move into high-end audio saw them replaced. They were an effortlessly musical speaker with an exciting presentation that, though at times a little bright, delighted album after album.

And it’s not just me for whom the Mercury range symbolises an introduction to true hi-fi. The range has existed for many years, the earliest reference I can find at the time of writing being the 1987 Mercury S. Now in its 7th generation, the 4 models in the current Mercury range boast a fresh new look and new internals, though retaining the accurate, engaging sound that has made the multi award winning Mercury range a firm budget favourite for more than 30 years.

The Mercury Range

Four models including 2 standmounts, a flagship floorstander and a centre channel make up the Mercury 7 range. The new mercury cabinets feature extensive internal bracing and quality wood-grain effect finishes in black oak, light oak and walnut, with dark cloth grills hiding attractive driver trims. High tolerance components including quality capacitors and low-loss, laminated iron core inductors feature in the crossovers, and high purity silver plated oxygen free copper cabling is used throughout. Colouration is further reduced through the use of Tannoy’s DMT (differential materials technology) which dampens unwanted vibrations and is used extensively in the cabinet to driver interface and crossover component mounting.

New drivers were designed for this range too. 5” (127 mm), 6” (152 mm) and 7” (178 mm) mid/bass drivers were developed utilising Tannoy’s latest multi-fibre paper pulp cones, offering deeper, punchier bass than previous designs. A new computer optimised half-roll rubber surround provides exceptionally high excursion while not over damping the cone. The smoothly profiled cones feature no dust caps improving dispersion and offering a more accurate midrange reproduction than their predecessors.

The new 1.1” tweeter uses a soft woven polyester dome, coated with a micro layer of nitro-urethane. This lamination process dampens the dome, pushing its breakup frequencies far beyond the audio range resulting in an extended frequency response of over 32kHz.

The Mercury 7.1 is the smallest model in the range, packing a 5” (127 mm) mid/bass driver and a 1.1” (28 mm) high frequency driver into a 4.7 litre, 160 x 270 x 194.7 mm (W x H x D) cabinet weighing 2.7 kg. Its larger 7.2 standmount sibling features a 6” (150 mm) driver and the same tweeter in a 9.4 litre, 193 x 292 x 266 mm cabinet weighing 5.0 KG. Both are rear ported, and feature 2nd order low pass and 3rd order high pass crossovers crossing over at 3.4kHz.

Sensitivity is rated at 87 and 89dB (2.83 volts at 1m) for the 7.1 and 7.2 respectively. Continuous power handling is 40W for the 7.1 and 50W for the 7.2, with peak power handling rated for the 7.1 at 160W and 200W for the 7.2. Recommended amplifier power is 20-80W for the 7.1 and 20-100W for the 7.2.

The flagship 7.4, supplied for this review, packs a pair of 178 mm (7”) mid/bass drivers and the 1.1” Mercury 7 tweeter into a 44.0 litre, 308 x 955 x 314.3 mm (W x H x D) 15 kg twin rear ported cabinet. Capable of 75W continuous and 300W peak power handling, frequency response extends from 32Hz to 32kHz via a 2nd order low pass, 3rd order high pass bi-wired crossover crossing over at 2.4kHz. Recommended amplifier power is 20 – 150W, and the sensitivity is high at 93dB, 2.83V / 1m.

The centre channel incorporates a pair of 127 mm (5”) mid/bass drivers and a 1.1” tweeter and is acoustically voiced to match the rest of the range, ideal for dialogue in a home theatre setup. Its twin rear ported cabinet measures 400 x 160 x 167.3 mm (W x H x D) and weighs 4.4 kg. Recommended amplifier power is 20 – 120W, continuous power handling is 60W, peak power handling is 240W and sensitivity is rated at 91dB. The crossover point is 3.5kHz. All models in the range have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms and are an easy load for any quality amplifier whether it be a budget 2 channel model, a basic home theatre receiver or something more upmarket.

The Mercury 7.4

Unboxing the 7.4s supplied for review, I was immediately impressed by the apparent quality of the cabinet. The finish is exceptional too. Despite their size the 7.4s aren’t particularly imposing, even in a small room. They measure slightly taller than the quoted measurements suggest – 970 mm from the top of the plinth, and 1005 mm from the floor when levelled.

The 7.4s are supplied with a pair of stabilising feet which form a plinth when screwed to the underside of the speaker via 4 included Philips screws. Carpet spikes are provided, as are protective cups for hard floors. The spikes are designed to couple the speaker to the floor, improving the bass response and physical stability. If the speakers are directly placed on a springy carpet or an uneven hard floor, the back and forth movement of the cones will cause the cabinets to move, if only slightly. Spikes not only give the speaker more grip, preventing any unwanted movement, but they also equally distribute the vibrational energy that builds up in the cabinet to the 4 corners of the plinth rather than its gravitational centre and allow it to evenly disperse. Not only that, but the spikes help to prevent the transfer of vibrational energy from the cabinet into the floor, and vice versa. External vibrations cannot be eliminated unless the speaker cabinet is suspended in zero gravity, but they can at least be reduced and any reduction in vibration is a good thing.

On the front, the cloth grills come pre-attached. They stand slightly proud of the front of the speaker with a surrounding gap. Removing the grills exposes the 2 7” drivers positioned above and below the tweeter which smooths dispersion over the crossover region, improving the 7.4s performance on and off axis. Trims surround the drivers with a slightly rubberised texture and a Tannoy logo on the tweeter surround, and the driver fixings are visible.

A terminal plate and a pair of bass ports feature on the back. The terminals are high quality, gold plated and angled upwards so they don’t protrude too far from the rear of the cabinet even with large plugs. They feel solid when connecting tight banana plugs, and they’ll happily accept large spades or bare wire too. Bridging plates required for single wire operation are pre-fitted. The speakers were wired with single runs of Rega Duet cable for the review as I don’t believe bi-wiring to be a worthwhile effort. Bi-amping however (the process of using a separate amplifier for each speaker or for the high and low frequencies) can produce excellent results when quality components are used.

Positioning the 7.4s isn’t particularly difficult, though a bit of breathing room makes all the difference. Though better suited to larger listening rooms, they can work in a smaller room providing you don’t site them too close to a rear wall or a corner. As always, setting them up such that an equilateral triangle is formed between them and your listening position is a great place to start. I set them as such, pointing straight toward a small sofa. When seated, the tweeters should be roughly at ear height. If your triangle is particularly large, a small degree of toe-in (10-15 degrees or so) will give a more focused stereo image.

The 7.4s were tested using my resident Marantz amplification. Arcam’s £849 A29, also on loan for review was also used. A Cambridge 851N streamer and a Technics 1210 turntable fitted with an Audio-Technica AT150SA moving magnet cartridge were the source components.

The 7.4s were given a week in the system to run in before any serious listening took place, during which the mid range relaxed significantly, the bass tightened and the highs softened as the drivers settled. Once settled I sat back for some serious listening, dropping the needle on ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ from the 2012 stereo reissue of the Beatles ‘Please Please Me’. The stereo spread was as wide as it was deep, with excellent instrument placement and a beautifully rendered reverb effect. The bass was taught and refined, and by the time the track had ended, and the amplifiers volume had risen far beyond the sensible point of its scale, I knew I was in for a treat.

Eric Clapton’s ‘Lay Down Sally’ is a simple track with some brushed drums, a bass, a couple of guitars and some female backing vocals to accompany Eric’s own. It’s an ideal test track that when played via the 30th anniversary release of ‘Slowhand’ demonstrated the 7.4s ability to retrieve and present detail in an easy to follow and extraordinarily musical fashion. Each note of the bass line is delivered on point, as are the guitars and vocals, each individual backing vocal standing out though at the same time forming a cohesive harmony. Eric’s own vocal hangs in the air between the speakers, each breath he takes between lines audible as if he were standing before you.

Detail retrieval is a particular trait of any Tannoy, and the 7.4s are certainly no exception. Whether it’s the size of a kick drum, or the material of its beater. The rattle of the cords on the plywood of the Cajon. The body of an acoustic guitar, or the buzz of an electric amplifier. The depth of a vocal, or the breaths taken by the singer. All are portrayed in glorious detail.

The overall tonal character is one of warmth and body. They go deep too, as demonstrated by George Ezra’s ‘Budapest’ which has a throbbing bass line throughout which is lapped up by the 7.4s large drivers. These are speakers capable of reproducing the scale of a grand piano or the dynamics and special effects in your favourite blockbuster with apparent ease. They’re not at all fatiguing, and can be listened to for hours on end.

The Mercury 7.4 is a truly capable loudspeaker, and a versatile one too. They’re able to deliver massive transients with ease and authority, while preserving the most delicate detail. The extraordinary dynamics, effortless musicality and cohesion these speakers demonstrate is beyond anything I could have expected at this price. The mercury 7.4 takes everything that made the Mercury range great and improves upon it in every area. The result is an outstanding speaker that truly deserves to bear the Mercury name. Highly recommended.


About Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the Tannoys with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

Share Your Thoughts

31 thoughts on “Tannoy Mercury 7.4 Review

  • Steve

    Hi Ashley; first of all, thanks for a great review on Tannoy Mercury 7.4’s, I’ve just bought these speakers and I’ve noticed that the tweeters on these speakers are too low from the floor, so when I seat on my listening chair my ears are around 20cm (8″) higher then the tweeters, is that o.k? Should I tilt the speakers back a bit by adjusting the spikes? Or should I just leave it as it is? Thank you.

    • Ashley Post author

      Thanks for your kind words on the review. Honestly there is no right or wrong answer here. There is no harm in tilting the speakers back a bit, though do check to make sure you didn’t go so far as to make the speaker unstable. You could also try raising the speakers on some blocks to see if you preferred that sound, and if so some more aesthetic plinths wouldn’t be difficult to construct if you’re DIY minded. There is no harm in the tweeters being slightly lower, but equally you may find you prefer the sound of them being directly level with your ears; and some even prefer them to be slightly higher, so experiment and see what sounds best to you in your room.

  • HMM

    I got good discount and took the risk to buy these speakers about 5 months ago when there were no available online reviews and I could not audition them from a local store.
    The sound quality is not perfect, as I found the high frequencies can be squeaky for certain tracks, and the overall sound lacks refinement when compared to my Q Acoustics 3050 bookshelf speakers. But the Tannoy do add some bass, and being floorstander, they sound much bigger and open for classical music listening.
    For the price I got them, about 320 GBP delivered, they are capable tower speakers for budget listening and not fussed about equipment pairing, easy to drive.
    Certainly worrying that there will be little to no resale value in a few years time when I wanna upgrade, since lots of people would simply look at the What HiFi’s lowly scored 2 stars review and turn away. WHF did give the Tannoy Revolution XTF6 & XTF8 perfect scores not so long ago… so I don’t think there is too much bias or favouritism for other brands?
    Mind you, I do find it odd that Tannoy released these speakers so long ago and only now bothered to do any marketing and sending the product to reviewers etc. I think the lack of marketing effort is costing the speakers at least half a star.

    • Ashley Post author

      What equipment and cables are you using with the speakers? I can’t say I noticed any excessive treble (and I am particularly sensitive to such things). As for the resale value, not everyone buys equipment based on major publication reviews. Some sellers attempt to use an award or given star rating as a selling point, though having been buying and selling hi-fi for years I’ve never had an instance where quoting a review resulted in a quicker sale or increased profit. Depending on how long you keep the speakers, whether they are a current product when you sell them and their physical condition, you can usually expect to get around 50% of what you paid regardless of what WHF or any publication has written about them. Some of the first Mercury models from the 80s still fetch over £100 in good nick, as do models from the likes of Celestion KEF and Wharfedale, even those that weren’t favourably reviewed at the time.

      I do see where you’re coming from with the marketing, though with the recent news concerning the transfer to Music Group and the possible closure of the Scotland factory, new product releases were somewhat overlooked by the press who were too busy reporting on the possible factory closure. I personally lost contact briefly, partly as a result of my own failure to find out who was taking over public relations in a timely manor. However now that all that is sorted I’m confident that new products should be on review soon after release.

  • DM

    Ah a thorough and informative review at last!! I too am considering these to replace my V4i`s. The larger bass drivers are what I`m looking for and maybe a tad less “coarseness” to the top end would be welcomed. In your opinion how do both compare? Is it worth the extra outlay for the 7.4`s over the V4i`s? I paid £200 for the V4i`s and like them but the cheapest I can find the 7.4`s is £399 – double the outlay. I have recently auditioned Eclipse 3`s, QA 3050`s and even Dali Zensor 7`s but all lacked in one way or the other where the V4i`s just sound more balanced overall. Before committing I would just like a second opinion (there is no stockist anywhere near me to arrange a demo). Your feedback would be very much welcomed!

    • Ashley Post author

      Glad you enjoyed the review! I never heard the V4is, though I did hear the V1is and of course the original V4s. The 7.4s were in my opinion less coarse at the top end than the V4 and to a lesser extend the V1i. The bass is better controlled too; the V4s could get a bit out of control at times and I’d imagine the V4is are similar as the bass drivers are the same. Definitely worth an audition and I’m confident the extra outlay would be justified.

      • DM

        Took your advice and ordered some and wow, astonishing performance for the money. Lovely controlled low end with crisp treble although I would say the midrange is very slightly lacking but that`s being very picky. However What Hi-Fi have just reviewed these and only awarded 2 stars!! I`m astonished to think they feel the QA 3050`s are in a different league as I definitely didn`t hear the evidence! This reinforces what I have thought for a long time – the more a manufacturer advertises (and pays as a result), the better the reviews. I have seen evidence of this in many different products. What is your honest opinion of this review? Do you think there is any merit in anything they state or are the very wide of the mark??

        • Ashley Post author

          Glad you like them. Re the WHF review, unfortunately you’re right in that those who pay the advertising do seem to attract the better reviews. tannoy are a company who, quite rightly, spend their money on making great products rather than placing costly advertisements, and sadly that sometimes leads to reviews where the honesty is, shall we say, questionable. I also think a star rating is complete BS because there is no criteria on which the stars are awarded. You can’t quantify the performance of a product with a star rating unless you test every single product in its category at the same time. The only area where you could fairly award a star rating is specifications and measurements, both of which can be measured and a star rating could be given based on the numbers. I could mention the yearly awards too where certain manufacturers win year after year…

          This is why I started Audio Appraisal. I wanted to publish honest, unbiased reviews that people could trust. I receive no advertising from brands (besides the occasional discounted review sample) and when I accept a sample of a product I do so with a mutual agreement that the review will be an honest one, good or bad.

    • Ashley Post author

      Find something within budget that looks nice, is big enough to fit your equipment, and is rated to take the weight. Most equipment will work well on any shelf. As long as it sits level (any good rack provides a means to level at least the bottom, if not each shelf), provides good ventilation (which any open rack will) and is stable, it’s good enough. Some of the racks out there are hugely overpriced. You can also go down the DIY route, plenty of great designs out there including the TNT FleXy Table. Lots of people have built DIY racks using Ikea Lack tables, often called Lack Racks. I’m working on one of those myself currently, and will be documenting it here when it’s complete.

      • Eugenio Amorin

        Thanks for the feedback, Ashley, much appreciated. Your comment ‘…some of the racks out there are hugely overpriced’ is quite reassuring since we get exposed to a lot of marketing hype re the wonders some racks are purported to perform with these racks then priced out of this world. Will consider your suggestion and build one myself eventually taking the tips you dished out, into consideration. Thanks once again.

        • Ashley Post author

          The key to a good rack is vibration isolation. A rack should, where possible, prevent mechanical vibrations from one component interfering with another, vibrations from the speakers interfering with the components, and disperse any vibrations quickly into the ground. No rack is perfect; the only way to truly eliminate vibration is to suspend the components in zero gravity which is almost impossible. In most cases, the spikes on a rack should help to control the vibration. The spikes on the bottom, usually 1 beneath each leg, will evenly and quickly disperse vibration and help to prevent any external vibrations (from speakers, footfall etc) entering the rack.

          Some racks go further, introducing shelves also mounted on spikes. These are intended to further isolate each component and can work well, however in most designs the surface area of the shelf supports isn’t large enough to be an issue anyway. Some believe that rigidity is of greater importance, and that the shelves of a rack should be rigidly locked together as in the FleXy table above, or the Optimum international designs including the Prelude.

          Then there’s the issue of mass. Some go for a high mass rack, while some believe that a low mass rack is best as a high mass rack will store more vibrational energy. This is the primary reason for my experiment with the Ikea Lack Rack; Ikea’s tables are largely hollow and filled with a paper material, and thus are very light. They’ve been known to work well under turntables in particular, where a low mass support is generally preferred. This Article is worth a read; I have not tried the rack and can’t prove or disprove the claims made regarding its performance, however it does do a reasonable job of explaining the effect of mass on a hi-fi system.

          • Eugenio Amorin

            Quite enlightening Ashley, it appears to boil down to the effect of vibration on hifi equipment and the best way to minimize it for optimal reproduction of music. Thanks for explaining it in as simple terms as possible for my (our) understanding. That will also mean there are different grades of racks depending on the ability of one’s equipment to exploit their various qualities.

  • Eddie

    Nice review, as you might recall, I also lived my v4 s , and I’m wondering how these would be with a simpler amp such as a Yamaha 501 ?

    • Eugenio Amorin

      The Mercury 7.4s are highly recommended by Ashley but has What Hi Fi actually reviewed this model and given them 3 stars?

      • Ashley Post author

        There is no criteria detailing how a star rating is awarded, so the stars mean nothing. Even if there were, the rating would still be based on a subjective opinion. It is impossible for any reviewer to accurately remember each piece of equipment, and to award a consistent star rating based on comparisons to every current product of a similar type. The only area where star ratings could apply would be when comparing the measurable performance of a product, but few publications do this. This is the reason I don’t award star ratings here, as I think they’re unfair and unnecessary.

  • Eugenio Amorin

    Ashley, your reviews are excellent and very informative to those of us who consider ourselves audiophiles with a huge appetite for improving our knowledge and listening experiences. I need your thoughts on the combo of the Tannoy Mercury 7.4 that you have just reviewed and a Cambridge CXA80 (which I currently own and use with a pair of Aero 6). Unfortunately, I do not have the luxury of being able to audition the 7.4 and would want your opinion on combining this pair of speakers with the CXA80. I was also looking at the XT8F which is in a much higher price bracket. Your thoughts will be very much appreciated., thanks, Eugenio

    • Ashley Post author

      Thanks Eugenio for your kind comments on my reviews, your feedback is much appreciated. In answer to your question, I’m confident that the Mercury 7.4s would be a fine match with the CXA80. When I reviewed the CXA80, I did so with a pair of Tannoys (albeit higher in the range than these) and the combination was exceptional. That said, the CXA80 is a great amp and the higher end XT8Fs would probably be my choice. But they are a bit brighter, so it really depends what kind of sound you’re looking for. Your current Aeros are very good speakers, what is it about that that makes you want to upgrade? Is there a particular aspect of their performance that you don’t like?

      • Eugenio Amorin

        Thanks for the prompt response, Ashley. Re my desire to upgrade, I would want a bit more sweetness in the higher frequencies and a bit (just a wee bit) more depth in the lower frequencies though I agree with you that the Aeros are very good speakers. I listen to a wide range of music though with a leaning towards smooth jazz and classical music. And to give some background to my set up, the CXA80 is complemented by an Audiolab 8200CD cd player but there is a tinge of dullness with the set up which I rightly or wrongly attribute to the Aeros. Those are basically the reasons why I want to upgrade to the Tannoy 7.4 and if in your opinion, the 7.4 will noticeably improve the performance of my set up (though the XT8F will be the eventual preferred choice if I decide to stretch my budget).

        • Ashley Post author

          I think the 7.4s would be an improvement. They certainly offer the sweet high end and low end you’re after. I’ve not yet had the opportunity to spend a great deal of time with the XT8Fs (I’ve only heard them briefly), but I hope to do so in the very near future and may then be able to offer a better opinion.

          • Eugenio Amorin

            Thanks for sharing your thoughts and giving me your candid (and informed) opinion, Ashley, much appreciated. Looking forward to enjoying more reviews from you to enhance our music listening experiences, kudos.

              • Eugenio Amorin

                Good to know Ashley, looking forward to it. However, re our previous exchanges, would you be in a position to recommend some good quality speaker cables for the combo, CXA80/Mercury 7.4? Thanks

                • Ashley Post author

                  Absolutely. I use Van Damme UPLC-OFC 6 mm cable in my system. They do a 4 mm variety too along with a couple of smaller ones. The 6 mm range is the best, the 4 mm range is almost as good and would be more than adequate. There’s no need to spend a fortune on cables. Van Damme is used in studios and on tours all over the world. It’s simple, high quality cable without the usual marketing BS associated to push up the price. Rega’s Duet is very good also and similar to the Van Damme 4 mm, though it’s a little on the expensive side.

                  • Eugenio Amorin

                    OK, I will look out for the Van Damme UPLC-OFC (4 mm category) as suggested, thanks a lot for the prompt response, much appreciated.

        • Chris

          Hi, I bought these speaker fo my friends, who asked me to help setting up some audio stuff in newly build ed house. after long discussions we decided to go for the tannoy’s 7.4 and yamaha rn602 streamer/ amp. I’ve had these tannoys for about two weeks.

          my guess. THEY ARE FANTASTIC!!! excellent detail, briliant soundstage. And every breath they take – you can feel that comforting easiness. whether plugged to 50 or 100w amplification. Much better when bi wired. They might be not quite same as some dual concentric tannoys.. but. my first thought was – DC6T special edition got mixed up with precision 6,4. Such airiness with well controlled expanding bass kick when necessary.

          I was installing systems for many people. Really different price ranges. from 600 up to 15k pounds.

          These tannoys will surprise You.

          about what hifi. for me. review based on poetry isn’t really review. they never give any measurable comparison. Most likely not even give you picture about close competition. However I do respect them. They’re not perfect. far from it.

          Kindest Regards

          Chris