Tangent is a Danish company that makes a whole range of audio products including loudspeakers, radios, sub-woofers, docks and wireless audio products. Originally established way back in the 1970’s as a specialist loudspeaker company they expanded their lineup in 2005 by introducing hi-fi separates and table radios as well. Their objective, putting it in their own words is “fundamentally correct design can produce a product capable of achieving excellent performance and affordability”.
The Classic BT is essentially an active stereo speaker packaged into a single wooden cabinet. However that is a rather simplistic description of what is a superlative blending of craftsmanship and aesthetics. The cabinet is a fairly large oval box (600 x 230 x 320 mm wxhxd), wrapped in a sumptuous walnut finish. An ashwood option is also available. It weighs a reasonable 4.5kg and has a beautiful wooden remote with all the major functions on it, since there is no other way of operating the Classic. Additionally a wooden stand is supplied that can hold an iphone/ipod or similar sized smart phone in an upright position. This stand is not a dock in the sense that there is no connection wired or wireless to the speaker itself. The whole front of the speaker is covered in a non-removable grille with a folded fabric tangent logo, in red, inserted into the seam between the grille and the cabinet, at the right bottom. The rear consists of two bass reflex ports, an Aux in, an USB connection for charging and a dc power connection. The other input to the Classic is by means of a blue tooth wireless signal, which presumably, the BT in the model name refers to. The amplifier in the speaker is specified at 2×50 watts, however no impedance rating or any other details are provided. The bottom of the speaker has two rubber feet, the one at the front being slightly larger than the rear foot, such that the speaker is slightly tilted upwards towards the listener.
Connection & Setup:
As a wireless speaker, the Classic uses the Bluetooth data exchange standard. Connection is quite simple, just turn on the Bluetooth in your smart phone or computer, search for devices and hit the pair button on the Classic remote after having turned on the unit with the power button. The paired device is recognized as Tangent Classic and you are good to go. The aux in connection can also be used by employing a 3.5mm to 3.5mm male connector from the headphone out of the smart phone/computer to the aux in jack. The smart phone or computer will detect the Classic as headphones completing the connection, just press aux on the remote to start listening.
Since this type of a speaker is most likely to be mounted on a desk, nightstand, or perhaps a credenza, and not the formal stereo speaker setup of stands and racks, I placed the Classic on my work desk. In the first position, slid all the way to the end of the desk, the rear ports were only 15cm away from the rear wall and initial listening caused the music to boom unpleasantly. Consequently I moved the Classic forward on my desk so as to leave at-least 1m behind the unit from the wall. This sounded better but was inconvenient as the speaker was sitting half way in the middle of my work area. Eventually the listener will have to decide how best to place the unit, but balanced sound will require significant clearance from the rear wall. One more feature included in the unit is 5 fixed equalization settings – Flat, Classis, Pop, Rock & Jazz that can be accessed on the remote. These settings had a very subtle effect, and I preferred the flat setting most of the time.
How does it sound?
I started off by listening to a Coldplay’s recent album, Ghost Stories – Parlophone (320kbps, MP3). Listening to the track Midnight, which has a profusion of synth bass, the presentation was quite weighty, but I did detect some midbass prominence and congestion to the sound. Moving on the track Ink, Chris Martin’s voice sounded slightly chesty, perhaps a result of the same midbass hump. The stereo separation, while decent enough for drivers mounted in a single cabinet was not as good as individual speakers arranged in a stereo setup. Moving onto a similar rip of Led Zeppelin’s recent release Houses of the Holy (Deluxe Edition Cd1) – Atlantic (320kbps, MP3) and listening to the track The Rain Song, there was a reasonable spread of the soundstage laterally spanning the width of the Classic and instrument images placed around the centre vocals of Robert Plant, like Jimmy Page’s guitar riffs to the left. Obviously the scale of the presentation was miniaturized on account of the stature of the Classic, but it was adequate enough to listen to, albeit casually. One fact was undisputable at this point that a wired connection with a 3.5mm plug sounded superior to the Bluetooth connection. Next I decided to move onto lossless FLAC files played back from my laptop. Listening to Adele’s 21 – Columbia (16/44.1, FLAC), the benefit of using lossless files was very evident. There was better stereo separation, smoother and extended highs and overall better resolution conveying the emotion in Adele’s voice. Encouraged by this, I decided to check if source improvement in the form of a USB, Digital to Analog converter would further enhance sound quality. I hooked my Meridian Explorer USB DAC to my laptop, which in turn was hooked up to the Classic via the 3.5mm plug, and listened to FLAC files via J River media center v19. Lee Ritenour’s 6 String Theory – Concord (16/44.1, FLAC), features various guest artists and the first track Lay it Down has John Scofield accompanying Lee on the guitar. This is where the Classic began to shine. The guitar riffs were distinctly well rendered and overall sound was more refined and clearer. Moving to a high resolution download of Counting Crows’ August and Everything after – Geffen (24/96, FLAC), the sound quality jumped up a notch with excellent vocal rendition and expanded dynamic range. It is on this album that I noticed that the Classic could play quite loud, its 50 watt per channel amplifier, adequately filling my large, 8m x 5.5m room.
Options for the Listener:
As you read through my listening session, you will be able to conclude that the best performance from the Classic BT will be via a wired connection. Unfortunately this defeats the very purpose of the wireless Bluetooth convenience, but that is the current state of wireless technology for music, which involves a slight compromise over great convenience. Secondly you will also discern that addition of a high quality DAC and playback of higher resolution files improves the sound quality significantly, but here again, not only is the wireless convenience conceded, but also there is the additional cost and complexity of another component in the form of a DAC. Ultimately the listeners will have to decide what options and sound quality levels will suit them best, but whichever option they choose, one fact is undeniable, the Classic BT is an extremely stylish and convenient way to listen to music.
- Sources: Panasonic P81 Android smart phone, Sony Vaio laptop running J River Media Center v19.
- DAC: Meridian Explorer.
Tangent Classic BT, Wireless Speaker
Price: Rs. 42,990
Warranty: One Year