This is a review of the very excellent T+A Pulsar ST 20 floor standing speakers. They are really really nice. I am very impressed and really enjoying this dynamic and forgiving sound.
T+A Pulsar ST 20 unboxed and initial impressions
My first impressions were/are very favourable. I am anyway a huge fan of T+A as I have written many times. My first exposure to them was with their original all in one Music Receiver which beat my Naim Uniti 2 into second place a few years back (I have the new E Music Receiver here to review next week which I am looking forward to). I then had the HV series and the former, valve based, V series which was stunning. Of all of it, I would have traded in a lot of electronics with glowing green lights (!) for the R series which was one of my highlights of last year.
As I have written before the T+A Criterion loudspeaker range is well worth a listen if you’re in the PMC twenty/twenty5 area. I am listening to these T+A Pulsar ST 20s with the T+A DAC 8 DSD and the AMP 8 (reviewed here), this is a very well matched system.
these are very nice speakers to listen to
These T+A Pulsar ST 20 floor standing speakers are very slim and attractive, the bass reflex at the front is different but adds to the expectation. I have the white high gloss version, they are also available in a gloss black. I feel they look better without the speaker grills, but I probably would I suppose.
The speakers have a three-way driver system driving two bass units a wide band range mid range unit and a high-end tweeter. The cones (all four on each speaker) are made of aluminium, making them lightweight and dynamic. They have various thicknesses and diameters giving them their range. The driving magnets are ‘are extremely powerful, while the magnet and suspension systems are of highly sophisticated design, and made from the finest materials available.’ T+A are suggesting this design and arrangement make for a dynamic and fast set-up, I can vouch for that, these are very clean and are nice speakers to listen to.
I am unclear in mind if these are transmission line style speakers. I have ended up ‘toeing’ in these speakers with my various bits of wood a fair bit to derive the correct soundstage for my liking. This might imply they are given their directional nature as indeed the Criterion range. There is nothing in the documentation or on the website to support this view.
Dimensions H x W x D (Incl. terminal) 92 x 19 x 32 cm without base.
Included in the box are speaker spikes that need to be assembled and some spike shoes, adding another 5 or 6 centimetres, I would estimate.
The quality is evident and one aspect I am particularly enjoying is that they do not weigh a
tonne and they are particularly easy to set-up. Although they are lighter there is plenty of depth and bass here. The finish of the speakers, with rounded corners, is a nice feature. The terminals are similarly impressive and substantial and they afford bi-wiring if you have the cable.
There are some bookshelf versions of these floor standers, that are called R20s, they too look similarly attractive.
A cntrolled and rounded performance from the Pulsars is demonstrated with ‘In Rainbows’, deep, powerful, moving
I have driven the T+A Pulsar ST 20 mainly with the T+A DAC 8 and AMP 8 using Atlas Hyper bi-wired cables. I’m using a combination of a Bluesound Node and a laptop with Tidal Masters available from the desktop App into the USB. I’m also using the laptop to stream some DSD files to the DAC 8 DSD.
Towards the end of the test, I’ve had a good listen with the new T+A E Series Music Receiver, using one of those old-fashioned CDs, very novel! Finally I plugged in my faithful Roksan K2 inegrated amplifier with some very contemporary vinyl!
Although the speakers were run in by the T+A agent I left them for a couple of days to settle in with a Radiohead playlist on repeat, just so they got themselves in the mood for what was to follow. This is always a plan (unless it is my new Ryan Adams 48 song, ‘Top 10 playlist’).
Overall with the T+A DAC 8 DSD and AMP 8
As you may have read, I’m coming off the back of having the amazing Focal Sopra No2 speakers so much current listening is going to clouded by their superior sound, and price. However, these Pulsars are lovely with a deep and powerful base line and fine wide image that I have found eventually (after a fair amount of moving and pointing I have to say, see above). There is, what I can only describe a nice subtlety to the sound that is forgiving yet powerful. The mid-range complements the powerful bass line very nicely.
I have found that they need driving (turning up!) to release the full depth and bass, interesting because I have plenty of power here with the DAC 8/AMP 8 configuration. I note a slightly lower, or maybe average, sensitivity of 87dB confirming my observation, this, however, should take nothing away from their performance. The solid and satisfying bass in ‘National Anthem’ from Kid A is as good as you would like from this system. This track also validates the claims of T+A that the speakers are fast; they are, with the presentation remaining crisp and clear, the drivers recovering sufficiently to prevent the tracks like this one becoming cluttered and tiresome.
With the E-Series Music Receiver
T+A E Series Music Receiver
To be honest there was not a huge difference for me when I swapped the speaker cables to the new T+A E Series Music Receiver (called the R 1000 E). The speakers, again, were nicely matched and did require ‘turning up a bit’. The speaker performance was little different and the full powerful sound was maintained, I’m very pleased with the midrange and treble in this configuration. The resolution of this set-up is also very nice indeed and pianos, in particular, have a nice sound (for example Coldplay’s ‘Everything not Lost’).
With my own Roksan K2 Integrated Amplifier
Nominal Power Ratings:
AMP 8 – 110W, 4 Ohms (T+A)
R 1000 E – 180 W, 4 Ohms (T+A)
Roksan K2 – 190W, 4 Ohms (Henley Design)
I thought I would plug the T+A Pulsar ST 20s into my old Roksan K2 instead of using fancy electronics (with all respect to Roksan, indeed, I suspect the more powerful K3 would match these really nicely). Bearing in mind the K2 has been parked at the side of my room for a while now, it drove these speakers with ease and in partnership with my RP3 turntable gave me a very authentic sound which I was very pleased with. With the K2 the Pulsars performed beautifully, and with a crackly piece of vinyl (George Thorogood and the Destroyers – Move it on Over), the mid range is outstanding. A more controlled and rounded performance from the Pulsars is demonstrated with ‘In Rainbows’, deep, powerful, moving. At a push, I would go as far to say the K2 outgunned the AMP 8 in some respects, particularly in the raw joy of analogue v digital.
I think these are excellent speakers at this price range (c£2,700) and they demand a listen if you are seriously looking. In fact, the more I hear the T+A DAC 8 DSD and AMP 8 the more I like them, indeed these too demand a listen if you are considering green glowing electronics in the near future. Finally, the Pulsars perform equally as well with more affordable set-ups such the K2/RP3 combination as described above.
Appearance without the grille
Powerful audio presentation
Spikes and shoes, delivered
Front facing bass reflex
I could keep them – in place of my own KEF R700s
For more information, take a look at T+As English website.
The T+A Pulsar ST 20 retail near £2,700, the bookshelves are a more affordable £1,300. Brexit, starts here.