Big sound for big rooms – and a relatively small price tag
- Solid, stylish cabinets
- Huge soundstage with plenty of bass
- Superb detail and imaging
- Bass could be punchier
- Some top-end brashness
- Plastic plinths and grilles
- Affordable floorstanding speaker
- 2 x 7-inch mid/bass drivers and 28mm woven polyester dome tweeter
- Bi-wirable, gold-plated terminals
- Available in Walnut, Light Oak and Black Oak
- Supplied plinths and spikes
- Manufacturer: Tannoy
- Review Price: £399.00
WHAT IS THE TANNOY MERCURY 7.4?
The Mercury 7.4 is a budget floorstanding speaker from the same range as the impressive Mercury 7.2 standmount. According to Tannoy, it’s designed for larger listening rooms that require plenty of volume, so if you’re after large-scale sound on a small-scale budget then these could be the floorstanders for you.
I’ve tested the Mercury 7.4s as a stereo pair, but if so inclined you could piece together a home cinema system using the Mercury 7.1 or larger 7.2s as surrounds, with the Mercury 7C on centre-channel duties.
TANNOY MERCURY 7.4 – DESIGN AND CONNECTIONS
Let’s not beat around the bush – the Mercury 7.4s are plus-sized speakers. Built to fill big rooms, these chunky 44-litre cabinets command lots of space, so only those with larger rooms need apply. And with no curves or flourishes to soften the boxy shape, they’re as no-nonsense as floorstanders get.
But Tannoy has spruced them up in a choice of three fetching wood veneers – our samples sport a classy Walnut veneer, but they’re also available in Light Oak and Black Oak finishes. All three give the Tannoy a timeless quality that will look good in any surroundings.
Less impressive are the two plastic plinths that screw onto the bottom of each speaker. They do the job but they lack the feeling of quality you’d expect from something designed to support bulky 15kg floorstanders. The front grille is similarly plasticky, and held on by clunky plug fixings as opposed to magnets. But without such cost-cutting measures, Tannoy probably wouldn’t have hit such an attractive price – so it’s swings and roundabouts.
The dual rear-ported reflex cabinets are robustly built and provide high-quality gold-plated terminals on the rear. These face upwards to make connection easy, plus they support banana plugs, bare wires and spades.
Beneath the cloth grille, dual 7-inch mid/bass drivers are placed above and below the 28mm woven polyester dome tweeter in the D’Appolito configuration. Tannoy says this improves dispersion and eliminates the ‘sweet spot’.
TANNOY MERCURY 7.4 – PERFORMANCE
In action, the Mercury 7.4s are highly competent speakers that certainly deliver on their promise of a big sound. Crank up the volume on ‘Dirty Harry’ from Gorillaz’s Demon Dayz CD and the track’s slapping drums, groovy bassline and children’s choir tower over you. The violins and cellos in the breakdown have body and detail, followed by a rap from Booty Brown that rides over fierce, wall-pounding beats.
Key to the Mercury’s impressive scale is its deep, weighty bass. Whether you place these speakers close to the wall (with the foam bungs fitted to prevent booming) or further into the room, low frequencies have solidity and presence. It results in a warm, full-bodied sound that becomes even richer and more satisfying as you push the volume higher.
Skip forward to ‘Dare’ featuring Shaun Ryder and Tannoy perfectly captures the track’s relentless energy. There’s wonderful depth and drive to the buzzing bassline and drums, backed by clear percussion and effects. You also get a wide stereo spread – Damon Albarn’s voice seems to float above the music, while Ryder’s remains grounded. The placement and organisation here is terrific.
Miles Davis’ jazz masterpiece Kind of Blue on CD shows the Mercurys’ softer side, revealing gorgeous detail reproduction. On ‘Blue In Green’, the tweeters tease out everything from brushes on snare skins to the hiss of the analogue tape. The saxophone and muted trumpet are imbued with a real-world texture and detail without deteriorating into a wince-fest. It’s a suitably subtle, intimate performance.
This ability to belt out huge, room-filling sound without ignoring crucial sonic minutiae is what makes the Tannoys such impressive budget floorstanders.
But inevitably at this price, they’re not perfect. Bass is certainly big and beefy, but the notes have a slightly soft leading edge – more tightness and attack wouldn’t go amiss.
And while the Tannoy’s play-it-safe tone is great for long listening sessions, it does make for a less exciting and dynamically engaging listen than it could have been.
Trying out some movie material in stereo offers a glimpse of how a 5.1 setup might sound. As Bilbo and company confront some mountain trolls in The Hobbit, the Mercurys’ powerful mid/bass drivers makes the scene big and dramatic.
They lend grandeur to the score as the dwarves charge forward, and there’s a solid rumble beneath the trolls’ thumping footsteps. I did find the trolls’ voices a little sharp, however, and there’s a brash tone as swords and axes clank against each other.
SHOULD I BUY THE TANNOY MERCURY 7.4?
If you’re after some big-sounding floorstanders on a small budget then the Mercury 7.4s will not disappoint. Whether you’re blasting a movie track or spinning a CD, they deliver a huge soundstage with superb imaging, weighty bass and plenty of detail.
On the downside, bass could be tighter and punchier, and the top end could be a little smoother, particularly with movie material. Certain aspects of the design fall victim to the affordable price tag, too. But these niggles aside, Tannoy gets plenty right with the Mercury 7.4s, making them a decent choice if money is tight.
Tannoy’s affordable floorstanders deliver a remarkably big and beefy sound that fills a large room, but lacks the polish and bass kick to compete with the best.