Note to the Reader
This was a demo unit, part of a program organized by Todd the Vinyl Junkie. A big thanks to Todd for his generosity and allowing me a week to fool around with these little eyeballs in the comfort of my home.
As someone who has barely started treading water into the ocean that is the world of speakers, I am not the most qualified reviewer of the Eclipse TD-M1 by a long shot. As a consumer who enjoys music and who has a fair grasp on what good sound sounds like, I can at least give you my honest opinion to help you decide whether these are worth your time and consideration.
I first became really interested in speakers after a private audition of the Sennheiser Orpheus in Dallas – the owner of said headphones also had a gorgeous pair of speakers in the room. To date, that was the audio reproduction experience for me. Period, hands down, game over the most lifelike system I’ve ever heard.
With my current limitations in regards to space (leasing an apartment) and financial flexibility (not enough to entertain the notion of owning high-end 5 figure+ speakers), the treated and dedicated to music listening room is currently an unreachable fantasy of mine that I hopefully get a chance to revisit some years down the line.
Signing up for the Eclipse demo was my optimistic hope at finding a stop-gap – a good sounding pair of speakers that would tide me over until the realization of my speaker dreams. When the TD-M1 arrived, I had minimal expectations but optimistic hopes. I set them up next to my Macbook on the computer desk and plugged them in… only to hear nothing.
After a bit of fumbling and user error on my part, I resigned myself to consulting the manual. A driver download and a few button presses later, I was tentatively hovering over the Play button in my media player.
Let’s not mince words. I was impressed. The sound was clear and enveloping, filling the room with the crystalline vocals of Nagi Yanagi. The fact that the sound was able to permeate my cluttered bedroom caught me by surprise; I was expecting a much more 2D-like presentation.
While running through the playlist, I read a little more about the TD-M1 online. They come with a built in NOS-DAC, play nicely with files up to 24/192kbps and are pre-equipped for battle with a class D amp. Very nice for newbies such as myself who only have the foggiest of ideas as to what other equipment would be necessary to make a pair of speakers sound their best.
Detail is very good. No fatigue from treble peaky songs or mid-range smearing from the thwacks and thumps of bass-driven hip hop. Female vocals with guitar/piano (my own personal fetish) sounded clear and intimate. Quite excellent!
For those of us that may employ the speakers outside of the musical realm (blasphemy!), I made a couple Skype calls and ran through the paces of a couple computer games I had on hand. The TD-M1 performed very impressively – it was a significant step up in terms of audio quality, and I think in doing so it enhanced my enjoyment of each activity. I found the fact that you can adjust the speaker tilt to be a very nice and welcome touch. Originally I had it on stands, but with a quick pull of the lever adjusted it up slightly to the right height. Similarly impressive is that you don’t necessarily have to sit in the “sweet” spot to get the full effect. Even moving around the room doing various things, the speakers sounded very good.
Now for the bad – I personally don’t think these are suited for movies. Low end frequencies sounded rolled off to my ears as I went through my movie collection and fast-forwarded to impact intensive scenes. The TD-M1 would fare rather poorly as a replacement for a proper speaker setup in the living room, but as it was made for desktop usage I personally wouldn’t dock significant points for that. Similarly, it might not have the thump thump thump bassheads crave in their music – I went through some clubby stuff and the nonexistent low end bass energy and impact made it a boring listen compared to some of the other genres I tested.
I tried the wireless playback connecting to my iPhone 5 and was fairly unimpressed with the results. It’s a nice added touch and I could see it coming in handy for parties or easy listening. Just don’t expect the full effect of sitting it down and plugging it into a source directly. In terms of value, I don’t think that these can be considered bang-for-the-buck speakers. If you know what you’re doing and already own receivers/pre-amp & amp combos, audio and whatnot, the TD-M1 will probably fall short of what you can find out there for the $1,300 MSRP tag.
So let’s talk about the intended audience of the TD-M1. It has quite a bit going for it, including:
• A small, compact size
• The design looks sharp and appeals to the eyes
• Instant gratification – No need to fumble around with wires or other equipment
• Plug and play setup, conditions of the room are not that important
I think the TD-M1 will appeal to the following groups
• People who are newer to speakers that want an easy, no-hassle experience
• People who have limited real estate for large speaker setups
• People that place a high priority on aesthetics
Actually, it feels like the Fujitsu/Toyota team had my generation in mind with the creation of such a product. For people living in an apartment/condo that are looking for an entry point into the speaker world in the form of a compact eyeball shaped bundle of wonders at a reasonable price, look no further – the TD-M1 delivers. For everyone else, I’ll leave it to the individual to decide.