TPI Type. RN1 Monitor Review by Al Unsworth
TPI Aerospace are based in Leicestershire, UK. They manufacture high-performance loudspeaker systems and amplification for professional recording environments, high-output PA and professional cinema applications.
They also produce other high-end equipment including a fully discrete class-A mixer called the Type. 14 and an anti-vibration system for Technics 1210 turntables.
I first came across TPI at the Atlantic Records studio in London. Atlantic have installed the TPI Monitor 300’s in a custom built soffit wall mount as their main monitors. To my ears they sounded superb. Therefore I was pretty excited to get the chance to try their smaller nearfield sibling - the RN1s.
The monitors I have for review are the TPI Type. RN1 nearfield monitors with their matching PM161 amplifier.
Unboxing the monitors and amplifier definitely deserves a mention - the monitors are rather heavy but to help with unboxing there is a rather neat integrated handle built into the packaging. Once the top layer of foam protection is removed you grab the handles and lift the monitor or amplifier easily out. The amount of times I’ve struggled unpacking/re-packing heavy equipment. This really is a brilliant idea. Why does nobody else do this? The same system is also in the optional custom flight cases. Check out the YouTube video here (link) Straight away, you realise that you are dealing with some very serious equipment! For a manufacturer to think this much about the design for the packaging alone, is very impressive.
As mentioned before the monitors are rather heavy, particularly for a passive 2 way design, dimensions are 415Hx238Wx289D in mm. The carbon fibre fascia with the custom drive units and the composite cabinet in white look fantastic, by far the best looking monitors I’ve ever seen. The quality of the finish is impeccable. Exactly the same applies to the amplifier construction. (Specifications for the monitors and amp below). The HF driver is a custom 25mm silk dome linear-drive and the Bass driver is a custom 180mm paper cone linear-drive unit. Custom made high-power drive units are individually tested and critically matched to provide optimal efficiency and frequency response, they also feature TPI's patented phase-beating crossover technology which ensures the output signal is free from unwanted crossover distortion and phase aberrations.
The acrylic composite (the technical name is Aluminia Trihydrate Reinforced Polymer) cabinet feels particularly dense when held or tapped. TPI claim this advanced aerospace composite is used to remove unwanted cabinet resonances from the loudspeaker. The same finish surrounds the amplifier. The feel and look of the cabinets and amp are just super high quality.
The Amplifier itself is designed and manufactured in the UK by TPI. It comprises of completely unique TPI circuitry and is of Class AB topology with Fully Discrete TPI D-OpA Class A front-end sections for each channel. This is a really refreshing change to the standard off-the-shelf far-eastern class D modules which have found themselves into virtually every other monitor brand these days with few exceptions. Inputs on the amplifier are XLR and outputs are speakon, which mate to the speakon inputs on the back of the speakers. High quality TPI three-meter Loudspeaker cables are included, these have soldered Neutrik Speakon Cables and are covered by a rather fetching olive-green fabric braid. Power for the amplifier is indicated by green LEDs on the front of the amplifier’s heatsink, one for each channel as the amplifier is designed and laid out with full dual-mono construction.
In the studio: I know it’s all about the sound but I can’t get over how good these look. As you can see from the picture I have another high end British monitor manufacture as my main monitors plus the horrortones. Additionally, but not pictured, I have NS10s and my main monitor’s for mixing are my old trusty KRK 6000’s which I’ve had for maybe 25 years. I use ProTools with Burl converters and the Cranesong Avocet as monitor controller. Before I got into mixing I couldn’t wait to try some reference tracks. These vary from classical, pop, rock, dance etc. Straight away the imagining and depth of field was excellent but the detail from low mid upwards was superb, I was hearing nuances and other details very clearly. The low end wasn’t as prominent as some other speakers but I need to remember these are near fields and for the size they do deliver solid, well extended bass response. I had mixes to do for 3 different artists and very different styles. Punk band, pop artist and world music artist, so a good variety of music. The punk band with punchy drums and screaming distorted guitars can be quite fatiguing over time but I found using the RN1’s this wasn’t the case. With the pop and the world music artist, both are female singers - very talented and dynamic sounding. I usually spend a lot of time on vocals, automating levels, EQ and tidying up sibilance etc. The RN1s excelled in helping me in this area. The detail I could hear was perfect and it also made me focus and concentrate and immerse myself in the music for longer periods than normal! The world music track has a lot of interesting instrumentation and percussion and I spent a lot of time working on these sounds but it was very satisfying listening to on the RN1’s. After getting the mixes to a stage where I’m ready to send to the client, I do the usual going around various speaker systems to see how the mixes translated from the studio, the big one being the car test. The mixes translated very well and I was very happy with the results. The RN1s certainly delivered and more - I was very impressed! As a side note, the 161 amplifier is outstanding. I hooked it up to my home system replacing the Quad 520 amp into my Rogers Studio 1’s, the monitor controller is a Dangerous source. The detail went up another level and it gave a bit more punch to the sound. I also hooked it up to the NS10s, they still sounded crap. So if you’re in the market for an amplifier the PM161 is a must to try (there is also a 19” rack mount available).
To conclude: The world of speakers is such a subjective topic and you can only decide yourself what to go for. For me, the RN1s are exactly what I like sonically being able to hear every detail in the music, well balanced frequency wise and accurate stereo imaging. Being completely designed and manufactured using the best components in the UK to an unbelievably high standard does make you feel proud that there are still companies like this pushing the boundaries in technology. If you’re in the market for new monitors these are definitely worth a demo.
These ultra-modern TPI’s match my Ferrari perfectly.
- Frequency Response (±3dB): 40Hz - 20kHz Freestanding
- Power Rating: 250W Continuous Pink Noise 400W Peak
- Sensitivity: 90dB SPL. 1 Watt @ 1mtr. MAX SPL 111dB
- Horizontal Dispersion: +/-80° (averaged 200-12kHz)
- Vertical Dispersion: Angle +/-20° (averaged 200-12kHz)
- Crossover Frequencies: 5 kHz TPI Hybrid Phase Beating System
- High Frequency Transducer: 1 x 1” HF/ Custom Textile Dome Linear Drive Motor
- Mid bass Transducers: 1 x 6.5” Mid bass Custom Paper Cone Linear Drive Motor
- Acoustic Loading: Resistive Line Loaded Reflex
- Enclosure Material: Alumina Trihydrate Reinforced Polymer
- Finish: Satin Polished
- Input Connectors: 1 x Neutrik Tour Grade NL4
- System Dimensions (HxWxD): 411 mm x 238 mm x 298mm
- Net System Weight: 18 kg
- Optional Accessories: Padded Ballistic Cordura Luggage, Mass Loaded Stands
- Colours Available: Cosmos, Neutral White - Natural Carbon Fibre Custom Colours available to special order