Following on from the critically acclaimed V series, Tannoy, a world-renowned manufacturer of high-end loudspeakers and public address systems have introduced the Mercury VI – a series of budget-oriented speakers that aim to raise the bar for other speaker manufacturers. Tannoy’s mercury range have dominated the budget speaker market for years – and now it’s the turn of this new range to do the same.
The Mercury Vi range comprises the V1i standmounts, v4i floorstanders, VRi rear surround speakers, and the VCi centre. This means that while the Mercury’s are fantastic as part of a traditional stereo setup, you can build an entire home theatre system based on the Mercury line – just add a Tannoy sub and you’re good to go.
Up for review are the V1i standmount (or bookshelf, if you prefer) speakers. These compact, well-built speakers are designed to deliver a truly breathtaking performance on a budget.
Tannoy have retained many of the features of the previous V1 – the woofer, for example, is identical to that found in the previous model. Rather than opting for a radical new design as so many manufacturers do when introducing a new range, Tannoy have tweaked the original V1s taking their performance to an entirely new level.
The tweeter has been replaced with a new Magnesium-Aluminium alloy tweeter, reaching frequencies of 53KHZ – weigh out of the audible range. This may not sound important – after all, us mere mortals can’t hear those frequencies. However, it ultimately results in less audible distortion as the tweeter doesn’t have to strain to reach the frequencies that are at the upper limits of what we can here. The result is a remarkably smooth, natural coherent sound.
Other tweaks include the use of higher tolerance components in the crossover, Tannoy’s DMT (Differential material technology) dampening on the HF capacitors, Silver-plated internal wiring, and improved cabinet bracing.
The V1i’s are supplied in a surprisingly small box. Polystyrene keeps everything in place, though some cardboard corner protectors would’ve been a welcome addition.
Like most Tannoy speakers, the V1i’s come wrapped in cloth – a nice touch further reiterating that, despite being budget-oriented, the V1is are still a premium hi-fi product.
A small instruction manual is supplied (not that its needed) – and that’s it. Its simple and does the job nicely.
The V1is solid, well-made cabinets are constructed from 15MM particle board with an 18MM front baffle. The cabinets offer very low resonance – they don’t resonate internally when tapped, and they’re reassuringly weighty despite being so small. As before, colour choices are limited to dark walnut or sugar maple.
The plastic, cloth-fronted grilles are held in place by rubber inserts, sunk into the front panel. They’re sturdy and don’t flex or fall off like some other magnetic designs. The grilles are designed to be as acoustically transparent as possible – however, for the best experience, take them off when listening – or simply leave them off altogether.
Due to the lack of bolts and fixings, the front of the V1is are clean and well-presented. A 25MM (1”) Aluminium Dome tweeter sits above a 130MM (5”) Paper Pulp Cone woofer, which in turn sits above the single front reflex bass port.
The front-mounted port means the speakers can be mounted on or close to a wall, without risking the bass becoming overpowering. Completing the elegant fascia, you’ll find brushed aluminium trim around the drivers and a tweeter guard, which not only helps with dispersion but also helps prevent cone damage from prying fingers.
There’s not much going on on the back of the V1Is. 2 holes (with M5 threads), spaced 60MM apart allow the use of a standard wall-mounting bracket. The upgraded terminal block contains a single pare of gold-plated +/- terminals – meaning the V1i’s have can’t be bi-wired or bi-amped – for that, you’ll have to step up to the larger V4i model.
I love these terminals – firstly, they’re solid. They don’t flex like the terminals found on cheaper, and even some more expensive, speakers. They can accept banana plugs without the need to remove end caps, but will also accept bare wire or spade connectors should you wish to use those.
As with Tannoy’s higher-end speakers, such as the Revolution DC6T SE's, great care must be taken when positioning the V1i’s to achieve the best possible performance. Tannoy recommend 1.5-4M apart, slightly further away from your listening position.
If your listening room is large enough to position your speakers 4M apart (which would require a room of roughly 5Mx7M), you’re probably not going to be buying budget speakers. That said; During testing, I found the speakers sounded best roughly 1.8M apart, 2.4M from my listening position, angled inwards roughly 20 degrees.
It’s also important to invest in some decent speaker stands – the budget-oriented mission ‘Stance’ stands were used for testing. Your choice of stand is up to you – just make sure the tweeters are at a similar level to your ears.
Get the positioning right, and you’ll be awarded with a sound that can only be described as accurate. Like most Tannoy speakers, the V1is have a very natural sound – acoustic guitars sound like, well, guitars. Drums have the right amount of attack, and human voices sound airy with plenty of room in the sound stage to breathe.
Perhaps the only area where the V1is don’t excel is the bass – which is hardly surprising for a speaker of this size. What bass there is is well-controlled and refined – and the V1is possess an astounding, flowing rhythmic ability that rubs off on the listener. When the notes become too low, rather than bottoming out the V1is simply deliver what they can, so there’s no loss of musicality.
The sound stage is equally good; it’s wider than it is tall, but get the positioning right and it becomes very 3-dimensional. Play Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk, and the orchestra, guitars and vocals flow around you – not to mention the sound of the crowds. Monday morning demonstrates the V1is rhythmic ability – they get stuck in and present an infectious, ‘get up and go’ performance that makes you want more.
Switch to something softer – ‘Reminder’ from Mumford & Sons Bable album is an emotional ballad that demonstrates the V1is ability to portray the sound of an instrument such as an acoustic guitar. The vocals are stunning too – the v1is allowing them to hang suspended in the middle of the sound stage.
The V1is are no ordinary budget speaker; they’re a Tannoy budget speaker. What does that mean? It’s an ability to produce a budget range that doesn’t compromise on sound quality, that I’ve yet to see a company match.
If you’re looking for a small, compact standmount speaker that will waste no time putting more expensive designs to shame, look no further than the V1is from Tannoy. What more do I need to say?