Eclipse TD712z Mk2 Standmount Speaker Review

Can one driver cut it when rivals have many?

by Ed Selley
Hi-Fi Review

23

Recommended
Eclipse TD712z Mk2 Standmount Speaker Review
SRP: £6,500.00

Introduction - what is the Eclipse TD712z Mk2?

The Eclipse TD712z Mk2 is a single driver integrated stand standmount speaker. Like everything we’ve looked at from Eclipse, this is a statement that requires a little unpacking and we shall do that in due course. After this though, there is no further unpacking to be done. This is the culmination of the Eclipse range - their ultimate expression of what a speaker should be.

This means a question that we’ve asked before has to be asked again with an extra emphasis. A pair of TD712z Mk2s is seven thousands pounds. That’s the same money as the seriously capable Focal Kanta No2 and the superlative Kudos Titan 505. It is a lot of money. All Eclipse speakers are a balancing act; a carefully considered wager with the laws of physics where in exchange for some agreed and fundamental limitations, they reward you in ways that speakers that have a less Faustian relationship with the rules of the universe do not. Taking the result of this tightrope walk to its extreme and asking seven grand for it is a different world though. Can this remarkable device repeat the magic (and I use the term quite deliberately) of its little brother or is this the point where the gamble breaks? Let’s find out.

Specification and Design 

Eclipse TD712zMK2

The TD712z Mk2 is built to the same design principle as all other Eclipse speakers. This means that it is a single driver speaker that removes the need for any form of crossover. Instead, the challenge becomes one of making a single driver produce every frequency required to reproduce music in a convincing fashion. It is for this reason why the TD712z Mk2 must be the last outpost of this design philosophy. Any larger and the driver that resulted would have more bass but its ability to generate treble would be affected to the point where it was no longer a full range driver. This is the last cohesive point of the idea before it collapses in on itself.

The driver that is being asked to carry out this task is a 12 centimetre design. Like every other Eclipse driver measurement, this is absolutely everything that the driver has to give as it includes the surround as well. In essence, this is the balancing act that all Eclipse speakers have to make work. 12 centimetres is not terribly large for a bass driver - it’s roughly 4.7 inches in old money. At the same time, it’s vast for a tweeter. The result of this balance is that Eclipse claims a frequency response of 35Hz to 26kHz. Even allowing for the +/- 10dB rider, this is still a number that borders on witchcraft.

The reason that the driver can do this is a fanatical attention to extracting every last fractional wobble from its excursions and ensuring it becomes sound and not wasted energy. Think Gary Sinise sat in the simulator in Apollo 13 working out how to use the sparse reserves of current to get Tom Hanks back, only ‘Tom Hanks’ is meaningful treble extension. The driver is decoupled from the outer shell of the cabinet and is instead affixed to a mass anchor that removes unwanted activity and ensures that as much power as possible is turned into movement.

Eclipse TD712zMK2

Other Eclipse refinements are present too. The bass port is on axis with the driver to improve the axial flow. The entire shape might look like the designer was upset they didn’t land their dream job of making props for the recent Star Wars Trilogy but every part of the Eclipse’s design, however swoopy and science fiction orientated it might appear is functional. The biggest difference in design terms between the TD712Z Mk2 and smaller models concerns the mounting. Where the 510 and smaller models have a foot that can be substituted for a dedicated stand should you wish, the largest model is available only with an Eclipse stand. This comes in two different heights and is a very elegant piece of engineering in its own right; the locking mechanism that holds the speaker in place against three decoupled points in particular is very lovely indeed.

Of course, the presence of this stand means that to all intents and purposes, the TD712Mk2 is a floorstander. The review samples on the taller stand have much the same footprint in room as the Focal Kanta No2 although, in the interests of fairness, they are shorter. This is far from uncommon, most speakers at this price point tend to wind up taking up much the same amount of room regardless of the size of the transducer itself, but it’s something that has to be weighed against the relatively low sensitivity and limited power handling of the Eclipse. In other words, it needs a given amount of space that is likely to be proportionately more of the room they work best in.

Eclipse TD712zMK2

There’s also the small (or indeed, not so small) matter of the speakers themselves. The TD510 is about the size of a rugby ball for a rough sense of scale. At almost 30 centimetres across at their widest, the TD712Z Mk2 is a rather bigger object. Simply put, there is no way these are vanishing into the background of any space I can think of people occupying. By way of comparison, sat next to the Kudos Titan 505 on its own dedicated stand, the Eclipse is smaller and slighter. It is however there in a way that a conventional cabinet speaker simply isn’t.

Like all Eclipse speakers, there are some mitigating factors. The first is that they are simply beautifully made. I’ve said before that Eclipse is unique because it builds a limited volume, highly specialised product - the sort of thing that would normally have a strong ‘made in a shed’ vibe but does it under the protective aegis of a much larger company. These are not cheap speakers but I’d argue that there isn’t a single area that they cede ground to the Focal in where build and finish is concerned and they are superior to the Kudos in this respect too. If you are willing to embrace the lunacy and make them the focal point of your room, they have the scope to delight. What they aren’t ever going to do is blend in.

 

the TD712z Mk2 must be the last outpost of this design philosophy. Any larger and the driver that resulted would have more bass but its ability to generate treble would be affected to the point where it was no longer a full range driver. This is the last cohesive point of the idea before it collapses in on itself

How was the TD712z Mk2 Tested?

The Eclipses have been used on their stands connected to an SOtM SMS-200 Neo acting as a Roon Endpoint from a Roon Nucleus into a Chord Electronics Hugo Mscaler and TT2 DAC - which also took a feed from an LG55B7 OLED. These were connected to a Cambridge Audio Edge A integrated amp which was also fed a signal from a Rega Planar 10 and Cyrus Phono Signature phono stage. Everything was placed on a Quadraspire QAVX rack and powered via IsoTek mains conditioners. Material used has included FLAC, AIFF, Tidal, Qobuz, on demand TV and some vinyl.

More: Audio Formats - What It All Means

Sound Quality 

Eclipse TD712zMK2

Some of you - those who have read the other reviews of Eclipse speakers here - know how this goes, or at least you think you do. I go on at great lengths about the flaws of the TD712Mk2 but then, at the end, pivot to some tortured metaphors about transient speed and, bosh, off to the content management system we go to upload it. Let me stop you right there because this is not how this one goes. It’s rather more nuanced than that.

The most succinct way I can describe this is that the biggest Eclipse does things that were not even hinted at in the smaller models. Starting at the bottom, the bass response is simply phenomenal. The +/- 10dB rider given to the frequency response is very clearly more applicable to the upper registers than the lower ones; indeed in this room, the basic measurements I can perform suggest that the TD712z Mk2 isn’t showing any appreciable roll off at all before 40Hz and is still fairly comfortable at 30Hz - a degree of room reinforcement is undoubtedly helping by that point though. This is a bigger, fuller sounding speaker than any of the smaller Eclipse models and it can handle spaces you might not realistically expect it to.

The other difference concerns the soundstage that the Eclipse generates. It still has a sweet spot where things work best but that spot is soft sized rather than a point where you need to sit for things to snap into place. This one aspect of the performance alone puts the TD712z Mk2 in a different category to the other models. It functions as entertainment for a whole room rather than a single listener and combined with the room filling ability, this is by far the most user friendly of the range.

Eclipse TD712zMK2

Be under no illusions, it still does things that are almost entirely beyond ‘normal’ speakers. The detail retrieval and cohesion on offer is beyond pretty much anything else that uses a conventional driver. No less impressive is that this isn’t overt either, the Eclipse doesn’t take a tin opener to your music, it simply presents it with an order - a fundamental ‘rightness’ that makes other speakers sound forced. For the most part, crossovers are so intrinsic to the construction of speakers, we accept them as inevitable. To have a peak behind the curtain and experience what happens when they aren’t present is always a little revelatory.

This cohesion and the soundstage combine to make the big Eclipse a sensational partner for film and TV. No onscreen event is too crazed, no dialogue too hard to follow. Given that these can be bought separately. I suspect that five of them would form the core of a truly outstanding multichannel rig. Even in stereo, they delight. During their tenure here, I happened upon Twister on Amazon Prime. For reasons I chalk up to obsessive compulsive disorder, Bill Paxton and marvelling at whoever it was at Dodge who organised the single best bit of product placement in history (“The Dodge Ram! - even when complete houses are being blown away, it still drives around!” etc), I have to watch it.

Now, I confess I have never heard a real tornado and I’m not terribly cut up about that. Even so, I’m guessing that they don’t sound like the ones in Twister which is vaguely akin to a drunken demon complaining about slow table service. Nevertheless, on the Eclipse, they sound magnificent. Little details are extracted and relayed with such a natural and effortless ability that you’re never overwhelmed by the experience, just immersed in it. I would watch Twister on a 14 inch CRT portable but, here, it was a joy.

Eclipse TD712zMK2

There is however, no such thing as a free lunch. In giving more than its smaller brethren, the TD712z Mk2 asks two things of you. The first is relatively clear cut, the second more subjective. The obvious one concerns high frequencies. The larger driver used here has no trouble covering the audible spectrum but there is a little less energy to the upper registers than the 8cm driver of the TD510. The flute in The Fat Boy Goes to the Cinema by The Egg, lacks a little of the oomph that something with a conventional tweeter can muster. Careful system matching should alleviate some of this but it is something to be aware of.

The other is harder to pin down but present nonetheless. The design of the Eclipse still lends it a dizzying turn of transient speed. One lightweight driver, designed to move as easily as possible and surrounded by a cabinet designed to facilitate is never going to sound sluggish. Audible memory is an imperfect thing but checking my notes, revisiting some material from the 510 review and leaving and coming back to the TD712z Mk2, I don’t feel that this biggest member of the family is as sensationally quick as the smaller model though. The laws of physics are starting to bend back and this larger driver and cabinet is paying that price.

The caveat of course is that the real world capabilities of the TD712z Mk2 are much higher than the TD510. You need not be as invested in Eclipse’s core beliefs to be captivated by them and you can do things like have friends over at the same time to listen to them which is something that is genuinely tricky to do with the smaller ones. This is the most mainstream speaker in the Eclipse range; an odd thing to say about a giant egg on a stalk but it is. It will fall to the person holding the money as to whether they feel that something of the sheer magic has been mislaid in creating it. I’ve entertained some of my lockdown hours trying to decide where I sit on this and I honestly still can’t make the call.

Eclipse TD712zMK2
 

It functions as entertainment for a whole room rather than a single listener and combined with the room filling ability, this is by far the most user friendly of the range

Verdict

Pros

  • Astonishing speed and cohesion
  • Impressive bass
  • Very well made

Cons

  • Demanding of their partnering equipment
  • Looks a matter of taste
  • Not as bewitching as the smaller models

Eclipse TD712z Mk2 Standmount Speaker Review

The TD712z Mk2 is the ultimate single driver loudspeaker. Eclipse has managed to take their utterly single minded design philosophy to a place I didn’t feel it could be taken. As an all round performer, this is truly outstanding product; taking the core virtues of the single driver, time domain speaker and getting more out of them than you might imagine such a design could achieve. In doing this, some of the indefinable and subjective magic of the smaller models has been diluted and they remain a demanding partner of equipment with looks you’ll either love or hate. On balance though, they have enthralled me in their time here. This isn’t a speaker for everyone but for more than a few people, it offers characteristics that can’t easily be replicated at any price and for this reason it earns our enthusiastic recommendation.

Recommended

Scores

Build Quality

.
9

Connectivity

.
.
8

Sound Quality

.
9

Ease of Use

.
.
.
7

Features

.
.
8

Value for Money

.
.
8

Verdict

.
.
8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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