Eclipse TD-M1 audiophile desktop speakers review
I have met the Eclipse TD-M1 and their larger stablemates a couple of times at shows but never had the opportunity to take some home for a run. Since they have recently seen quite a dramatic price drop I thought that now would be a great time to see if I could spend some quality time with the TD-M1, and the answer was yes.
Why have I been so interested in the Eclipse TD-M1 speakers?
Well, not only because they look great, but the way they have been constructed and the reasoning behind their shape also intrigued me.
Eclipse TD-M1 speakers design
The TD-M1 is a 2.0 system, so all you get is a pair of discrete speakers without a sub-woofer to boost the low end. Pretty much the opposite of the Edifier system I most recently had hooked up to my computer.
The ovoid shaped speakers are said to preserve the purity of the waveform, ensuring the accuracy of its sound reproduction. I have heard similar reasoning from makers of the non-box variety of speakers.
The theory is that by losing the flat internal surfaces found in more box-like speakers, internal vibrations and echoes are diminished.
This promises to give you a more precise sound, reproducing rises and falls with a greater purity, through presenting an “accurate waveform” and thanks to the lack of parallel surfaces, there should not be any standing waves or unwanted resonance.
Mounting the 8cm full range driver on a five-point diffusion stay, isolating it from the enclosure, further reduces vibrations. This is all rounded off by the sturdy mass anchor.
Having the driver not directly connected to the cabinet, but instead connected to that aforementioned mass anchor, ensures that the driver energy isn’t lost to the mounts. The anchor in turn mounts to the cabinet at three separate points to improve its resonant behaviour. The driver relies on the firmness of the mount and the rubber surround to seal correctly at the front.
The speakers have a quoted frequency response of 70Hz to 30kHz which is impressive to say the least from a single driver, but that is also down to the clever cabinet design. They also have an integrated 24bit/192khz digital-to-analogue converter (DAC), so there’s no need to run and external DAC.
The Eclipse TD-M1 speakers are designed very much with the Apple user in mind and so are AirPlay compatible. Being an Android and PC user I was OK with this as my plans were to test the TD-M1s in my computer system anyway. I will admit to having iTunes though.
You can connect your TD-M1s to your home network and stream music from sources that offer AirPlay and are connected to the same network, but they also offer a direct AirPlay connection. That is, you can stream from compatible devices directly to the speakers, without using a network at all.
Other connectivity options are available, of course. There’s a USB A socket for your iPhone, iPod or iPad (which charges them as well as providing an audio input source), a USB B port for connection to a PC or Mac, and a 3.5mm AUX socket to connect external devices such as a TV or CD player, or just about anything that can take headphones.
If you own an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you can control your TD-M1s through an iOS app. This lets you put the speakers into standby mode, choose an input source, adjust the volume and mute the sound altogether. I am hoping that the iOS app is more stable than the Android one.
The closest I got to using the Android app was connecting with the speakers over Wi-Fi and seeing the speakers in the app… then it all dropped out again. This may have been due to me running Android Marshmallow on my Nexus 6P though.
According to the demo, you can adjust the dimmer which reduces the brightness of the LEDs after use, set the automatic standby time, and switch the DAC filter on or off.
You can access your networked tunes via DNLA control using UPnP apps. It would’ve been nice to be able to do that from within the Eclipse app but then these speakers are aimed more at the Apple side of things but that would have been a distinct plus for these speakers. This is easily resolved, however, by using third party software. Something which cannot help the lack of Bluetooth, unfortunately.
As there is no remote, other than your mobile device, the controls available to you are touch sensitive areas on the main speaker’s base. These are a power button and a volume slider with volume up/down areas. The power on/off are also doubles as an input source toggle and a switch between network and direct Wi-Fi modes. These all work well once you learn where they are placed. You can just about make out the down arrow next the row of slider dots in the photo above.
I like the way these controls are neatly integrated into the base of the right speaker, with LEDs that fade away after use so they don’t spoil the speaker’s aesthetics. I think a strong grasp of industrial design is needed if you are aiming to attract the more discerning Apple user, and it looks like Eclipse has this in spades.
The LED indicator in the centre of the base shows what source is being used and its current state according to colour and whether it’s steady or flashing. It did take me a while to learn the order of the indicator lights but if I can do it…
The TD-M1 are available in Apple-friendly colours too – but, as a PC user with a nice home-made white and blue machine I shall just stick my tongue out at that. Anyhow, the Eclipse speakers come in white or black and it’s the black ones I have had on loan. In my opinion they look great with the grilles off and sat either side of my black monitor on a white desk.
They have a lovely shiny finish and, I am pleased to report, are not the hideous fingerprint magnets I was expecting them to be at all. It still makes them tricky to photograph though!
The TD-M1s look and feel like quality items. They are both suitably weighty and robust. You are able to adjust the speakers to different angles (granted I had to be told this as I didn’t notice this skill in the instructions) – you can position them at 0 degrees and 20 degrees of elevation. This is achieved by laying the speakers down and flicking open the locking lever. An easy operation once you know that a) the speakers can do this and b) locate the sturdy lever (check the cut away diagram near the top of this article).
These angles pretty much cover the uses of the speakers – on a desk or shelf at below head height. You can also buy the optional tall floor stands and wall or ceiling-mounting brackets should you wish to.
The length of the connecting cable between the speakers gives you some idea of their planned and designed usage as a more near-field affair rather than pumping out tunes in a large room.
Eclipse TD-M1 speakers sound quality
Thankfully, my intention was to hook up these fine looking speakers to my PC and right from the off I new that the Eclipse TD-M1 speakers were going to be something special.
The ovoid design and vibration-reducing features have certainly paid off and, kicking things off with some classical strings, the sheer purity and clarity of the top end from this little pair of speakers really has to be heard to be believed.
I was told that I should pay attention in particular to female vocals and, as a lover of Kate Bush, Florence Welch, and Tori Amos (to name but a few), I thought I’d try some of their more vocal-led numbers.
Vocal reproduction is indeed especially noteworthy. Amongst the tracks played were ‘A Sorta Fairytale’ by Tori Amos, ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ from Florence and the Machine’s Unplugged session, and ‘The Song of Solomon’ by Kate Bush.
Every note and nuance is reproduced with precision, giving a natural warmth, intimacy and depth that I was not expecting from speakers of this size.
Mid-tones are crisp, rich and clear too. The sound stage as a whole is beautifully realised, with each individual element finding its own place whilst still being integrated into the overall audio picture.
Subtleties and intricacies come to the fore and this is one of those rare occasions that I have experienced ‘holographic’ imaging from compact speakers – this is generally something reserved for well placed floorstanders as far as I have been aware up until now. I did find myself closing my eyes and feel that I was almost able to reach out and touch the band.
Looking at Eclipse’s presentation that came with the speakers, they recommend having the crossover point just in front of the listener which involves some quite aggressive toe-in but this seems to do the trick.
As previously remarked earlier in the review – the Eclipse TD-M1 are best suited to near-field listening and with that toe-in so that the audio meets just in front of your face, rather than pointing to your ears… nice doesn’t quite do the effect justice.
The lack of a subwoofer could prove to be the TD-M1’s Achilles’ heel, however, so it’s time to turn to music with more of a defined bass angle as this is where I was expecting a weaker performance from the tiny driver.
First up was the trip-hop of Portishead and Massive Attack. Tracks from these two can usually weed out the imbalance between low and high ranges thanks their mix of vocals, breaks and really bass-heavy samples. Example of tracks played: Angel, Inertia Creeps, Blue Lines, from Massive Attack; Numb, We Carry On, Undenied, by Portishead.
Whilst it might be true that there was a lack of trouser rattling bass, the low end certainly isn’t without definition and drama. What I did notice was how quick these speakers are able to react from tempo and mood changes in the music.
Moving over to my usual staple of rock and metal and the TD-M1s gave it a good showing with the bias mostly on focused, driving bass rather than dance-style floor fillers. Saying that though, crossover acts such as Skindred and their mix of reggae/dub and metal comes through nice and fat (phat?) on tracks such as ‘Hit the Ground’ and ‘Dollars and Dimes’.
Lively, true and intense is the best way I can describe the Eclipse TD-M1.
Eclipse TD-M1 speakers review conclusion
The Eclipse TD-M1 speakers look great. That’s a given. I love their retro-futuristic aerodynamics, similar to how cars and everything else was designed in the 50s. However, the TD-M1 have a scientific reason for their shape.
To my ears, all the clever maths and audio tech that has gone in to designing and building the Eclipse TD-M1 really do pay off.
They sound lovely with clarity, honesty, focus and a spatial airiness that really lend themselves to jazz, classical and those looking for accurate vocal reproduction and timing.
These speakers do not colour your sound and those looking to feel mo’ bass for huge Hip Hop or dance jams may need to look towards an Eclipse subwoofer and passive speaker combination.
For me, I find it hard to fault the TD-M1 – apart from the pesky app and lack of Bluetooth, neither of which are deal breakers for me for speakers this good.
Eclipse TD-M1 speakers price and availability
The Eclipse TD-M1 are available now for £799. More details are available from the Eclipse website.
Eclipse TD-M1 speakers specs at a glance
Speaker unit: Full range speaker with 8cm cone
Method: Bass reflex box
Playback frequency: 70Hz to 30kHz
Rated output: 20W (THD: 1%)
Max output: 25W (THD: 10%)
Harmonic distortion: 0.08% (at 10W output, 1kHz)
S/N ration: 90dB or higher
Resolution: 60dB or higher
Input: Wi-Fi, USB B, USB A, 3.5mm stereo mini
Dimensions (WxHxD): 155 x 242 x 219mm
Weight (pair): 5.3kg