We auditioned TFX with our faithful Hellboy II Blu-ray, and after a rigorous workout with the movie’s key test scenes we couldn’t help being impressed by this nimble and surprisingly potent little system.
The clarity and crispness of the sound is instantly apparent, making high-frequency effects like smashing glass and rustling leaves sound realistic but without a trace of brightness or harshness. When the Elemental hurls a car at the helicopter in chapter 12, the creature’s screech and the resulting explosion are handled with pleasing composure – some systems pierce your eardrums with this bit.
This natural, easy character continues even when we push our Onkyo amp to anti-social levels. Midrange reproduction passes muster too, allowing the centre speaker to articulate dialogue clearly and naturally. The sats and sub integrate well, providing a tightly locked, cohesive soundstage, and the subwoofer does more that pump out shapeless rumbling – there’s real variation, nuance and dexterity to its bass tones.
During quiet moments, TFX does a decent job of teasing out the finer points of the soundtrack. When we first enter the Troll market, the dizzying array of delicate sounds whizzing around the soundstage is spellbinding. It may not dig out the very last iota of detail but at this price the amount of texture it reveals is remarkable.
TFX can also flex its muscles when it needs to – Hellboy’s fight with Wink at the Troll Market is beautifully staged. Listening to the vigorous effects, the enthralling interplay between channels as characters fly through the air and the taut bass that backs up every kick and punch, it’s hard to believe that it’s all coming from such a compact and affordable system. We’re not sure it has the lungs to fill a massive room, but for average-sized spaces it’s up to the task.
A speaker system that offers sound quality this good for just £400 can only result in an unequivocal thumbs-up, and that’s exactly what the Tannoy TFX gets. Much like its stablemate, the HTS-101, TFX shows remarkable sonic poise for a sub-£500 system, plus solid build quality and a stylish design make it a chic addition to your living space. Our only gripe concerns the fiddly speaker connections, but when that’s the only negative you know you have a winner on your hands.