Despite becoming a generic colloquial term in the British Commonwealth for more than half a century, is the Tannoy brand a forgotten aspect of the British Sound?
By: Ringo Bones
At least the term Tannoy was used again during a coverage of the recent August 20, 2015 North Korea and South Korea border tensions that resulted in the shelling of its western border over the issue of “Tannoy stacks” by South Korea that were supposedly to be dismantled back in 2004. Which also got the young generation thinking again on what the Hell is a Tannoy?
The term “tannoy” is often used generically in colloquial English throughout the British Commonwealth to mean any public address system or PA system. It is even used as a verb – as to “tannoy”, particularly by those used for announcements in public places. Although the word is a registered trademark, it has become a generic trademark.
But in the hi-fi world, the name Tannoy is a syllabic abbreviation of tantalum alloy – which was the material used in its early World War I era rechargeable batteries used to power vacuum tube based radios of the time. The batteries are known to be simple and reliable enough for use with a domestic battery charger because it has a built-in rectifier composed of two metals – tantalum and a lead alloy – plus a sulfuric acid rectifier that converts alternating current into a pulsing direct current.
Tannoy Ltd. Is a Scotland based manufacturer of hi-fi loudspeakers and public address (PA) systems, hence the colloquial term “I’ve heard it over the Tannoy”; The company – as we know it today - was founded by Guy Fountain in London England as the Tulsemere Manufacturing Company in 1926 but has since been based in Coatbridge, Scotland since it moved there back in the early 1970s.
Despite the excellent performance of its domestic hi-fi loudspeakers speakers, some hi-fi enthusiasts regard Tannoy loudspeakers as cheap and uncouth because of their widespread use as public address (PA) system loudspeakers in railway stations and other public spaces all across UK. Just like Dai-1Chi speakers here in South-East Asia. During the Golden Age of Stereo, Tannoy Dual Concentric loudspeakers are often viewed as the high-quality entry point into the high fidelity audio hobby. While in the pro-audio world, their onstage monitor loudspeakers are perceived as better sounding versions of competing similar-priced products.