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?!!!
Having checked the net site several times I've found no information on this series. Are upgrades such as crossover components, internal wiring and drivers available? Thanks!
The internal wiring maybe but Ty's crossovers are usually the best you can get. As far as the drivers I am sure he can use the SEAS Excel drivers but his new drivers were customed made and designed. I would call Ty and speak with him.
Almost a year later, I must admit that my initial assessment of the D2s was right on, still an amazing midrange and holographic image and a treble that over time has become even more extended and less edgy. One area that has tremendously improved is bass reproduction and in great part due to new electronic that really brought even more life to the lowest register. I changed to a Pass X1 -Pass X150.5 combo and I feel that I added two subs without losing any finesse. I recommend the Pass-Decade combo very highly. I now wonder how far the Decade could go with even better electronics (I am talking extreme here).
Nice to hear that D2 has lived up to your expectation and more.
Even though I have recently upgraded my Taylo 7U to LSS, I may still look for a D2 (if some good deals come up for used). I will go to AKFest 2010 and check out all $5000~6000 speakers and see which fits best to me. Recently I came across Salk HT3 and it would be good contender to D2.
I got to hear at Ty's his new D2's and D10's. The D2's sounded much better than I was expecting. Fantastic imaging, soundstaging, and overall a very pleasant speaker to listen too. At this pricepoint you can't go wrong trust me.

The D10's did everything the D2's do but better. THey should...more drivers and larger :)