This was originally posted on Gearslutz, but I thought I would copy it on the blog as well for those that are curious.
I spent months researching new monitors for my Seattle-based mastering studio, and one of the names that kept coming up again and again is Tyler Acoustics. There’s a decent bit of information on their flagship D1x’s online, but I didn’t find a lot of information on the smaller D2x’s, so I wanted to write a review for others who may be considering this monitor.
One of the things you’ll hear the most about Tyler Acoustics, is just how friendly the owner Ty is. When I called to discuss the D2x’s I was interested in purchasing, Ty was the one who answered the phone and happily ran me through all of the options available. All of his speakers are available in 4-5 standard wood finishes, but if you want he can also use one of over 80 custom veneers. There’s a slight up charge for this, but Ty only charges you exactly what he pays for the veneers so it’s a far price I felt. Since I’m based in the Pacific Northwest, I really wanted a sitka spruce veneer and this was only an additional $200.
Because these monitors are primarily designed for audiophile listening rooms where the listener is seated lower than your typical mastering engineer, the tweeters are roughly 12” inches below I needed them to be. Not a problem, as Ty also builds custom stands for his monitors for just this purpose. If you buy the stands with the monitors, he cuts the stand price in half to $200, not a bad deal for custom woodworking!
Shipping and tax are included in the price as well, so with my sitka veneers, two 12” stands, brass feet, and “mastering engineer” discount Ty was offering at the time, the total price for the monitors was $4680. A full refund minus shipping is available if you’re not happy as well, making a large purchase like this almost worry free. All of Tyler Acoustics speakers are built to order, and I was quoted 3-4 weeks before the speakers would ship. Despite a small 3 day delay due to bad weather in Kentucky where these are made, Ty’s shipping time was spot on too.
The Tyler’s arrived on a standard palette with the stands, each boxed individually and heavily padded on the inside. Each speaker weighs about 155lbs in the box, so I recommend having a friend help you get them into your studio. Especially if it’s on the 3rd floor of a building like mine is!
One of the things you hear a lot about Tyler speakers is how well made they are. Unboxing mine I was certainly impressed with the build quality of both the speakers and the stands, which match the shape of the speakers perfectly. In fact, they almost look like one unit when stacked and in place, putting the full height at 64”. With the D’appolito style speaker layout, it makes for a very impressive looking speaker!
I admit, I was a little surprised that there was some tiny chipping (checking) of the veneer on some of the edges. I’ve done a lot of woodworking myself and know this is common with certain woods, and especially when cutting veneers. However I was surprised that no effort had been made to fill these, as it would likely have made them unnoticeable. It’s a tiny thing for sure, and maybe that is just how it’s done with higher end speaker cabinets. But it’s not something I expected to see for speakers costing this much money, even if it is relatively minor. Oh well, easy enough for me to fill on my own if I decide to.
(I am powering these with an Emotiva XPA-2 amplifier, and for comparison my main studio monitors for the last 3 years have been Event Opals.)
One of the other things you will read a lot about when researching Tyler Acoustics speakers, is that they REALLY need about 200 hours to burn in and sound as flat as they are designed to. In fact Ty himself told me this a few times during our phone conversations, give them 200 hours before judging how they sound.
Keeping this in mind, I set about listening and comparing the D2x’s to my Opals, while fine-tuning their positioning in my studio as well. Right off the bat the first thing that came to mind about their sound is that it’s “bigger” than my Opals were, which is no surprise given that the Opals are a much smaller monitor. The D2x’s had a much more immersive sound field, and the low end in particular was much more present than I was previously used to. No excessive, but definitely more revealing of what was happening below say 60Hz.
At the same time, the tweeters felt very dull and restrained in comparison, and while I knew I was hearing more low end, it didn’t feel as accurate as the Opals. The Opals just were a lot more revealing in the high end, it was easier to hear excessive sibilance or cymbals that were too harsh. I chalked this up to the monitors being new and not broken in, and spent the next 8 days playing music and 96kHz pink noise through to fix this.
Every couple of days I would compare them to the Opals again, and even after just a few more days of using them, it was apparent that they were slowly sounding better and better. The highs were opening up a lot, and the low end was getting deeper and more controlled sounding. I know some people don’t believe the “myth of breaking-in speakers”, but in this case the differences in sound were very obvious to me. Especially listening back to back with the Opals which I know very well (easy to A/B via my Lynx Hilo), giving me a standard to compare them to.
I also used this time to fine-tune the positioning as I mentioned. Because I work in a small to medium sized mastering studio, I was noticing that the imaging was very susceptible to small changes in placement. By the time I had roughly 200-240 hours on the D2x’s, I had the placement dialed, and felt they were properly broken in. The highs were much smoother while still being detailed, and the low end response felt a lot flatter than it was initially.
The biggest change in sound over the Opals was the low end for sure though, the D2x’s simply have more of it available making excessive sub-bass issues in the tracks I was working on dead easy to spot (and fix). I will say I was glad that I had added an extra 128 cubic feet of bass-trapping to my studio as part of this monitor upgrade though. I could easily see the low end being too much for smaller rooms without lots of bass-trapping, probably less of an issue for larger studios and listening rooms of course.
I don’t want to start using a lot of nebulous, vague terms to describe how these speakers sound, so I’ll just keep it simple and say they help me work better plain and simple. It’s easier to hear issues in the mixes I’m sent for mastering. Great mixes sound amazing and I’m able to polish just a tiny bit as needed, while poor mixes and all their flaws stand out like a sore thumb allowing me to really zero in on the faults.
Definitely one of the best upgrades I’ve done for the studio, and at a really fair price given the results. Just be sure you have the patience to really burn them in before you start to judge how they sound, as this did make a huge difference I feel. Coming from a smaller near-field monitoring set up, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know a full-range speaker set up and seeing just how much of a difference it can make in my mastering. Looking forward to working on my Tyler Acoustic D2x’s for many years to come.
Happy to answer any questions that people might have as well, just drop me a message or post in the comments!