RedShark Review: They may look rather odd, but there is nothing odd at all about the sound quality the Eclipse TD510 MK II speakers deliver from their 4-inch cone. In fact, it is superb.
There’s always been a tension between aesthetics and performance; form and functionality. To put it another way, if it looks good, it doesn’t always mean it is good. “Streamlined” cars in the 1930s looked great but didn’t follow the actual rules for efficient aerodynamics. Some “designer” chairs look daring but are resolutely uncomfortable in practice.
But sometimes, it is possible for a product to look good and to function well, and when you get a good example of this, you can truly say that its form follows its function.
It’s a principle that was first espoused by the Bauhaus architectural and design movement in Germany in the 1920s. Objects and buildings from that era still look modern today, because when function is the motivation behind the design, there’s no room for fashionable trends or fads. There’s only function, and that has its own type of beauty.
If you were to look for examples today, you might find an Audi R8 supercar, a modern airliner - and particularly an aircraft engine. These engines look the way they do because to look any other way would mean that they’re less efficient.
So it’s perhaps no coincidence that Eclipse TD510 MK II loudspeakers look the way they do.
I’ve recently been testing these unusual speakers. They’re large, egg-shaped objects with a single driver (loudspeaker cone). These are not simply loudspeakers in an unusually shaped box. Inside the casing there’s precision engineering to ensure that the greatest advantage of this type of speaker - that the sounds comes from a single point and not from multiple drivers via a crossover - is nurtured, developed and output in the best and purest way imaginable.
These speakers, which are passive and require an amplifier with a suitable depth of talent to drive them, are built according to a single but immensely powerful guiding principle: that a single point source gives the most accurate sound.
Let’s have a look at what this means.
Conventional loudspeakers have multiple driver units, for the same reason that cars have gearboxes. An engine has a narrow range of speeds at which it is efficient. Go outside of that range and the power tails off, and you might ultimately damage the engine. By having a range of gears, you can keep the engine operating within its comfort zone, while being able to travel at a very wide range of speeds.
Loudspeaker cones work best over a relatively small range of frequencies, and this depends on their size. It’s quite easy to understand why small speaker cones, with a low mass, are most efficient with high frequencies. Larger cones have an affinity with lower pitched sounds.
The Eclipse TD510 MK II speakers go against this conventional “wisdom” and sport only a relatively small single cone. While your instincts might suggest that this won’t sound very good, the reality is quite astonishingly different.
If you haven’t seen these speakers in the flesh, don’t read the paragraph above and go away thinking that the TD510 MK IIs look anything less than impressive. They look like something between an electric jet engine and an alien camera-pod. There’s something other-worldly about them and I suspect that they would look good in any kind of surroundings.
But ultimately it’s how they sound that matters.
And the answer is that they sound incredible, but not like any other speaker you’ve heard, however big, and however expensive. You have to reset your expectations with these devices.