Tyler Decade D2s: review

Being neither a Golden Ear nor a pro reviewer, I will spare you the usual buzz words and audiophile terminology to focus on my impression of the Tyler D2s in layman's terms.

Background and goals:
I have been a monitor lover for ever and I listen to all kind of music from Eminem to Bach at real SPL (read: loud). I moved into a fairly large room (30*16) three years ago and attempted to find speakers that would image like monitors with the depth and gut-blowing impact of a floorstander. I tried no less than 8 models in the sub $6,000 (my price limit) that I won't name to avoid a spitting contest between brand afficionados. Some were expensive older design speakers, others were current models with newer materials, all well-reviewed with the usual "giant killer" attribute that means, humm, nothing at all! Results have been fairly consistent and going two opposite ways: I either had the slam and depth or the imaging, rarely both and when I did with 2 of the models, I had the same problem: as the speaker was played louder and louder, its personality changed, either toward an aggressive and preeminent treble or toward overwhelming bass (double 8" or single 10" configuration). The last model I owned before the D2s were Tyler Woodmere 2s which, while doing the low to medium SPL really well did not make me happy at higher SPL: overwhelming bass and loss of driver integration and an overall too polite character. It may have been a function of associated equipment or room acoustics and not the speakers themselves but in the end I did not feel I had achieved the goal of finding a "super monitor" also capable of filling a large room and hitting my guts with class. Ty being the class and honesty act he is offered me his D2s as he had a feeling that they were what I was looking for.

Biais and taste:
I have been particularly impressed by Avalon speakers but I cannot justify the required investment into Indra and have been discouraged to buy Opus Ceramic by my dealer as they are said to be fragile and ceramic drivers prone to blow up at high SPL. Other speakers that impressed me lately for their ability to rock loud while keeping composure and imaging are the Wilson Sophia 2 and JM Lab Electra Be 1037 but again, out of my price range. This is where I have been for the last 2 years: trying to find a $6,000 floorstander that can do what the Sophia 2 or the Indra do in their respective price range.

Associated equipment: Music server + BC Thingee USB conv + DAC Audiomat Tempo 2.5 + modded Unico SE integrated

- Speakers have been playing for about 150 hours since I got them 2 weeks ago so they are essentially broken into. Placement is according to the Cardas method which has proven to work really well for me over and over in this room with a variety of speakers.
- The look: based on pictures posted on Audiogon, I was not sure I would like their look. In fact, this kept me away from them as a possible choice until I decided to give them a try for their sound - sometimes speakers look much better (or worse) in person. In fact, the D2s in person are true beauties, very classy and pure lines with a fit’n finish that is among the very best as usual for Tyler pieces. They are ideal size for my room in terms of the visual obstruction that any speaker that size end up representing and they are not “in the way” like Woodmere 2 were.
- D2s are not overly sensitive to placement per say but they respond really well to placement options as a “tuning” approach; I found that they benefit from being way into the room as they image mostly behind with little in-your-face projections. They ressemble most Avalon speakers in the way they image (back and back diagonal) except that they benefit from not being too far apart, 8 feet maximum in my room, unlike most Avalons which tolerate larger spread. I would not recommend them to people who must have them against the wall and spread too much apart like a long wall placement may induce.
- Bass: as tight as it gets, may be the only “weakness” for someone buying large speakers and hoping to get subwoofer type of bass. The bass is extremely well-controlled and provided the amount of depth and impact I was looking for, even at high SPL it never loses control. Not as complete and life-like as the bass of a Sophia 2 but very resolving and big on impact.
- Midrange: clarity and resolution supreme, I do not remember hearing better than that even with the many hi-end monitors I owned or tried at home. Female voices are to die for and are not artificially emphasized as often.
- Treble: superb extension, often on the limits of too much resolution on poor recording but always within the acceptable limits, very rarely aggressive. For fun, a friend of mine lent me his old Triangle Titus and the D2s have more resolution, detail and clarity than Titus while not being aggressive as the Triangle. Well-done
- Overall tonal balance: they are NOT polite or warmish like some older Tyler designs and the DO NOT sound like big-rich-sluggish or even boxy floorstanders. As a matter of fact, I think the D stands for Dynamite and not Decade!!! These speakers have bite, lots of bite and are as clear, transparent and resolving as one would want before leaning toward surgically lean. They are not harsh at all, just very resolving.
- Character across different SPLs: this is where I believe the D2s are phenomenal speakers (FOR ME). They have the ability to maintain the exact same monitor tonality and balance from low to very high volume, just playing louder and opening more and more. To that end, I find them much superior to the Woodmere 2s, at least in my room and with my equipment and the integration remains impressive across all SPLs. In addition, they are truly holographic across all frequencies and SPLs and it is almost impossible to spot any sound emanating from the drivers themselves. To that end, they give nothing to Avalon Indra or Ceramic and disappear better than Sophia 2.

In my quest for reasonably priced and fairly large floorstanders that can hide a heart of super monitors and are able to play loud, very loud without sounding strained as many resolving monitors I know, the D2s appear to be almost perfect. Whoever is willing to compromise on ultimate bass extension and texture in favor of amazing imaging, resolution and holographic transparency should try these speakers with neutral to slightly warm electronics. If I had the space, money and time to do the swapping I would like to have the D1s in my room to see if they give the last bit of bass fullness that I find missing on the D2s…but it may come at the expense of the mega “monitor-like” character of the D2s which is what I like above all. If I had the money, I would still buy Avalon Indra over the D2s (but not Sophia 2 or Electra 1037) but at 4 times the price, is this really an insult to Tyler?!!!
Beheme very good description of your D2s and speaker expectations. Using Linbrook Sigs now with D1s arriving any time your experience is giving me a idea of what i can expect. I am a little concerned with placement i have a large room but cant get the speakers more than 3 feet from the face wall. Time will tell. Thanks for the info.
Did you get the black or copper colored tweeter? Wonder how the copper looks live. The pics make them look kind of pink/purple.

What finish are yours please?

I am trying to better understand the tweeter brightness or neutrality issue. Are they toed in at all? The amount of toe in can dramatically impact the warmness of a speaker. I also wonder if the speaker will "tame" a little over time with additional burn in.

I have some D1's on order, but I asked Ty about how warm sounding they were as I much prefer a warm, full bodied sound.

Congrat's on your purchase and I am glad you are so happy!

Ty seems like a nice guy and this is my first experience with Tyler speakers. I expect them in a few weeks.

I am hoping the D1's have all you say is found in the D2's, but with more powerful bass and a warmer , full presentation in the mid/highs.
I got the copper tweeter and ribbon mahogany finish, the exact same as pictured in Tyler's ad. I have the grills on but the copper is copper, not purple at all. Don't get me wrong, there is no brightness or harshness but lots of resolution-details that my placement choice may also emphasized; A cymbal hits you like a cymbal should but violins are never strident. I guess to answer you, they are not warm either, at least not with my set up and this could all be due to the combination of my input tube selection in the Unico SE hybrid and my silver speaker cables. I have very little toe in, may be 10 degrees max.
Nice review, thanks. I have a pair of D2's on order to replace my Linbrook Sigs. How would you characterize the low-end of the D2 vs. the Linbrook (assuming you have heard one?) Ty said the imaging is perhaps a bit better on the D2 than the D1, which is why I went that route. I nearly got a D1, but was afraid it would be "too much" low end. The LSS seems just about right in that department. The bass is faster I assume, and the speaker easier to drive, which is a good thing for us tube lovers. I could still upgrade my order to a D1 if I really wanted to....but am not sure it would be the best move, and plus, couldn't I just get a sub to handle that low-end if I really needed it? I listen to alot of jazz and orchestral music, but have sometimes found that too much low end can be a bad thing unless you have a room that can handle it.

Any other comparisons between the D2 and Linbrook that you can share?
I heard LSS only once and in a different system-room so this is hardly enough to compare them but I would say that if the LSS are in the same vein as the Woodmere 2s then the D2s will be tighter in the bass department. I agree that the D2s appeared on paper to be the right trade off between imaging and low end and as you said, a sub is always an option. Too much bass or an inability to find optimal placement for both top notch imaging and bass response is what has kept me away from larger floorstanders all these years. I am happy to report that D2s show none of these nasty bass issues.
I will soon upgrade my amplification to separate tube pre-SS amp combo and will report if the bass texture and bloom that I would ideally want are improving with some better front end than the Unico SE input stage.

What is it that you guys are trying to improve upon by trading in your LSS?