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D7.5 Review

18-September, 2010 Speaker Review, Toby Speakers’ D7.5 Reference Series  

by Chris Snyder

 

 The Fort Worth / Dallas area is extremely lucky to have a Hi-Fi speaker manufacture that continues doing business as it did since 1968 – with passion for music, the quest for perfect reproduction of sound and a rare desire to provide true value in their speakers. Toby Guynn and staff’s open and friendly demeanor is icing on the cake for anyone seeking a total quality buying experience.

 Toby manufactures and sells all kinds of speakers (see their web site at, http://toby.com/index.htm). I purchased a pair of D7.5s for my dedicated home theater to take over front left & right duties from an older pair of Toby Satellites. I wanted speakers that would compliment my Toby MPC 2010 center channel and could live and breathe in a 21’ x 16’ dedicated room.

 Yes, I am caught up in the world of Blu-ray Disc movies, I freely admit – and with a Meridian front projection system and a ton of media content, who wouldn’t be – but music was and is, my first love. Thankfully the D7.5s deliver in both worlds with a sound quality that is truly exquisite and the best I have had the pleasure of hearing. And in my opinion, a real step forward in sound quality over previous generations in Toby’s lineup. They certainly set the benchmark for others to try and follow.

Music -

First up, the 2 Channel material. I have and do enjoy a wide range of music from classical, jazz, rock, electronic, and more up to date artists in a large CD collection which have I been digging through since I setup the D7.5s The D7.5s provide a rich and dynamic presentation with fast and articulate response and excellent imaging. I smiled ear to ear from the first CD and quickly confirmed I had made the right choice in purchasing these speakers. Jeff Beck’s “Emotion & Commotion” presents an outstanding example of dynamic range with the second track, Hammerhead. This album is Beck at his best. The Art of Noise’, “The Best of the Art of Noise”, provides an immersive number of tracks with the Peter Gunn Theme (The Twang Mix) as a real standout. The Columbia Records SACD stereo release of The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out”, delivers the finest rendition of Take Five that I have ever enjoyed. This track is crystal clear with drums and bass snapping quickly, and when the sax joins in; it is anchored so thoroughly dead center, you could walk forward and place your arms around Paul Desmond. I have played this track for family and friends and everyone steps up to the center channel speaker expecting sound. When they finally realize this is stereo, the response is always the same, “Unbelievable!”

 With multichannel music I have SACD discs, DVD-Audio discs and a dozen Blu-Ray Discs that focus on the audio. These higher resolution formats do not disappoint, providing a bigger and more submersive soundstage, really pulling me into the music. The Beatles “LOVE” is a phenomenal remix of Beatles music for the Cirque du Soleil soundtrack. The DVD version of this two disc album is 5.1 at 96K and the transition from track one, Because, to track two, Get Back, makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up each time I listen. The silky smooth harmonized vocals seam to just float. The cooing dove, ever so subtle, will have you looking for an open window until the kick-drum makes you sit straight up and “get back”. The D7.5s, as LF/RF speakers, just flat out perform, not by drawing attention to themselves but by delivering a sound that is music. Eric Clapton’s, “One More Car, One More Rider”, DVD is a great reference concert DVD. The video is clean, for a DVD, and the Dolby Digital 5.1, or DTS 5.1, surround tracks allow the D7.5s to impress with the acoustic tracks – Key To The Highway, Got You On My Mind, Tears In Heaven, Bell Bottom Blues and Change The World – reproducing vocals and the acoustic guitars’ lovely “twang”. But track seventeen, Layla, steals the show. Not because its Layla but because Eric’s little freestyle intro jam, takes the audience by total surprise before launching into those seven famous notes. This is my favorite DVD demo track. If you can’t be there live, the D7.5s are next best thing to being there. A couple of other music DVDs of note: The Doors, “L.A. Woman”, favorite track Riders On The Storm and Metallica’s, the Black Album, any track.

 Any discussion of SACD must include the release of Pink Floyd’s, “Dark Side Of The Moon”. The D7.5s let you feel the heartbeat in track one, "Speak To Me" and let you disappear into "Time". This album has a stereo track as well as the 5.1 track, and the stereo track is good, but this album is the definition of 5.1 for me. I also enjoy showing off Telarc’s SACD release of “Tchaikovsky 1812” by the Cincinnati Pops. This album is breathtaking, literally. At volume, the canon shots will move the air in your chest! Although a good sub is responsible, the D7.5s compliment with horns and choir that make the Overture come to life. D7.5s deliver big but can release all the emotion in track 3, Capriccio Italien, Op. 45, my favorite track.

 It just gets better with Blu-ray Disc music concerts like John Mayer’s “where the light is”, Jeff Beck’s “Performing this week … live at Ronnie Scott’s”, Incubus’ “Alive At Red Rocks” and David Gilmour’s “Live At The Royal Albert Hall”. I have also purchased, and love, my first music only Blu-ray Disc, “Vivaldi four Seasons, Poncertos for Double Orchestra” from Surround Records. This 7.1 DTS Master Audio disc is what I’d hoped for in the Blu-ray Disc format.

 The D7.5s impress with so much detail, the one thing I noticed over previous speakers is that my music collection seems to play a lot louder due, I suspect, to their greater efficiency. There is no distortion; only how brave I am with the volume control. The D7.5s are totally transparent and sometimes quite scary in how natural the music sounds.

Movies -

 The sound score “makes” a movie for me. A great picture is all well and good, but to suspend disbelief and get totally immersed in the experience, the audio performance has got to be there. With the new HD formats dynamics have increased and this is where good/great speakers will standout. The D7.5s reproduce movie soundtracks with an intenseness which I can best describe as Mike Tyson in his prime, while also bringing out the most subtle of details, delivering dynamic range that’s makes a good movie experience, a great movie experience.

 All of my favorite material includes outstanding Blu-ray soundtracks. The D7.5s have let me rediscover the Matrix, Master And Commander, Pirates Of The Caribbean, Lord Of The Rings, U-571, Transformers, The Fifth Element, Kingdom of Heaven, The Dark Knight and the list goes on. But to pick one title as a reference, it must be House of Flying Daggers on Blu-ray Disc. The reference scene for me, of course, has to be scene three. The PCM 5.1 uncompressed track allows the D7.5s to deliver every drumbeat, every bean toss, and every movement of the blind dancer in this scene. This is a great film visually and the audio mix is one of the best in a film to date, in my opinion. The audio track manages to immerse you into the film in a way that the director surely intended. The D7.5s portray the brilliantly composed mix of music and effects which make this film into an audio and visual feast for eyes and ears.

Conclusion and final thoughts -

 At 33 lbs each, the D7.5s are built to last my lifetime. The fit and finish on these beasts are good and the angled speaker enclosure is a very cool departure from standard SATs in a “box” look. I know the design was driven to improve Sonics but a rocking body always earns an A+.

 If you have read this far, I guess you gather that I really, really like this speaker. I do, and listening to the D7.5s, almost daily since purchase, has rekindled my passion for my music collection. And watching movies at home can truly be called a “Home Cinema” experience. When I have friends and neighbors over for “movie night”, their first response when the movie ends is -The sound was fantastic!

 If sound quality, audio performance and value matter to you, as they do to me, the D7.5s should make your short list as Toby provides all three. If you are lucky enough to live anywhere near the DFW area (Houston, Austin, Denton, Mid-cities, etc.) you owe it to yourself to make the pilgrimage. You can drop in and/or make an appointment, just bring your favorite music and/or movies and be prepared to smile.

Chris Snyder-

Equipment List:

Meridian MF-10 Digital Projector

Meridian DVP 2351 Video Processor

Stewart Filmscreen

Arcam AV9 Pre/Pro

Arcam P7 Amplifier

OPPO BDP-83SE Universal player (Blu-ray Disc, SACD, DVDA, DVDs and CDs) OPPO audio connected to Pre/Pro via analogue

Toby D7.5 – Left Front and Right Front speakers

Toby MPC2010 – Center speaker

Toby Cube 14 Sub

Toby RC-2010 Surrounds

 

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