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As required by the vendor give-away, this is my review of the TBI TWEP51 tweeter set.





On hand for my test we had the following reference tweeters:


  • TBI TWEP51 (the focus of this review)
  • LPG 25nfa
  • SEAS 27TAFNC
  • DLS Iridium1
  • Hertz HT 25
PACKAGING

It's been a while since I've purchased retail components but I must say the packing for the TBI tweeters is very complete. They supplied mounting hardware for flush, surface, and pedestal-angle mounting and even provided a crossover for those looking for a plug-and-play upgrade to their existing system. Since I am running active I grabbed the flush mount cups and put everything else back in the box for safe keeping.

For additional photos of the packaging and a complete list of what is included please check out bobditts review.

INSTALLATION

Installing these tweeters in my car was a breeze, especially since I already had sail panel pods built for the LPG 25nfa. You can see below that both tweeters use identical flush mount cups but the chamber on the back is noticeably different for the TBIs. Their shallow depth makes installation anywhere easy.





LISTENING

After initially connecting these, my first impression was they were very detailed in the upper range (especially for a soft dome) and produced a very clear interpretation of all the music I threw at. They were also more sensitive than my previously installed tweeters (Hertz HT 25) so it was clear that I would be lowering the gain on the amp once I was committed to installing them.

For reference, my current setup is composed of a DLS A5 powering a 12" DLS OA12 Infinite Baffle subwoofer (300w) and a pair of Hertz HV 165 midbass drivers (85w each). A DLS A8 powers a pair of tweeters (40w each) and rearfill speakers (40w - but currently turned off).

To accurately review the tweeters I removed the driver's side and used the head unit balance control to A/B test them against the other tweeters I had on hand. I listened from both driver's seat and passenger's seat to get the best idea of how each one sounded.

VS LPG 25NFA

Although these two tweeters look almost identical aside from the color of the housing, they sound very different. The LPG is soft and subtle with little to no high end detail compared to the TBI which brings out enough detail in cymbals for a veteran drummer to note the brand and model. If you enjoy the mellow sound of your LPGs and can't stand metal dome tweeters, the TBIs are not for you. However, if you feel your LPGs are lacking detail, the TBI would be a great upgrade.

VS SEAS 27TAFNC

The SEAS came the closest of all the tweeters I tested to providing the same level of detail as the TBIs. However, the sound curve I imagined in my head while listening to the two was completely different. The SEAS would emphasize the lower range (think sssssybalance) while the TBI would emphasize the upper range (think sizzling cymbal crashes). The SEAS would sound full but lacking the high end shimmer while the TBI in comparison would sound thin but very detailed. I think with a bit of tuning either tweeter could be made to sound like the other, but out of the box I am not a fan of the SEAS at any crossover point. I might be biased but I've spent many hours on it and can never get it to sound "pleasant" at moderately loud volumes. Hearing the TBI along side it was refreshing, knowing that the same detail can be achieved without ear fatigue.

VS DLS Iridium1

The TBI was so much more sensitive than the DLS tweeter that I was unable to get a fair level match between these two...mainly because my PPI DCX-730 display has conked out and I can't adjust anything. I didn't spend much time with the DLS because it was so quiet in comparison but again, the TBI had more detail while the DLS was pretty flat sounding. Nothing stood out with the DLS beyond what I usually hear while the TBI had me taping along with the high-hat on songs because I'd never heard it rendered so transparently from the other highs.

VS Hertz HT 25

The Hertz could keep up with the TBI detail but similar to the SEAS it did it in a different manor. It did a poor job of handling loud volumes in comparison to the TBI but at moderate volumes actually produced a richer sound, especially noticeable in guitar work. The TBI again had the edge on high end detail but I was surprised that Hertz mid-level line could keep up so well. I was left with a little more ear fatigue from the Hertz than the TBI due to the fuller low end but I'd be happy with either of these tweeters in my car.

ADDITIONAL LISTENING

After stacking them up against all the other tweeters I was eager to install both again and try out some different tracks. I have since put about 2 hours of listening on them and have been enjoying every minute of it...still with no EQ or level changes. With the windows open, they can over power wind noise with clear and detailed highs. They blend pretty well with my mids but occasionally I hear the mids breakup at loud volumes and I'm itching to change the crossover point to see how low the TBIs will go. Rock music sounds fabulous, jazz sounds natural, and classical sounds soothing.

CONCLUSION

The question I keep asking myself is, are these worth the $200 price tag? In comparison to the SEAS ($62) and LPG ($86) I find it hard to answer. Yes they sound better and more detailed, but the SEAS comes pretty close for 1/3 the price. If the option was running the TBI with no processing or running the SEAS + purchasing an EQ for $150, I'd probably pick the TBI...but that's an easy answer since I already have a $300 EQ (albeit the display is broken). But I must say, these are the best sounding tweeters I have personally listened to out of the box. I want to put them up against the DLS on another day but I don't think the DLS will provide the same detail...otherwise I would have heard it by now.http://www.walmart.com/swap/SwapEntry.do?isBuyCD=false&dslURL=%2Fswap%2FLoadMain.do&closeWindow=false&niURL=%2Fthird_party_redirector.gsp%3Fvendor%3DLIQUID_AUDIO%26service%3DCATALOG_SERVICE%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fmusicdownloads.walmart.com%252Fcatalog%252Fservlet%252FAlbumServlet%253Fid%253D237957
 

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Nice review. I would like to hear a comparison with some tweeters more in its price range. Like the Cal 27, MD102, Hertz ML28/Space 1, L1 pro etc,,,,
 

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Me too...if anyone would let me borrow theirs :)
If I hadnt just installed my L1pros I would've been game. In fact, I posted over a month ago about my drivers being available for Klippel testing, but that thread apparently has been ignored :rolleyes:

Anyways, thanks for the informative test. ;)
 

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Thanks very much for the review. I think you did a good job of trying to stay neutral and objective - especially since I really didn't know exactly how you felt about these tweeters till the last dog was almost hung. Instandard reviewer style, you managed to showcase something nice about every driver involved and recognize that just because you enjoy music in one manner, another person may enjoy some other sort of sound. Its not always easy to do that in a review - and you did well.

Did you mention the crossover frequency you were stuck with - or did I miss it? Also, the slope? IT'd definitely matter to those running two way systems. I'm in the process of switching to three way right now (along with moving) and am adding a set of Scan m12s, but as a part of the change, I am looking forward to using my Hiquphon tweeters at 4-5k+ instead of 3.15 and down, since I know that the lower frequencies ask a lot out of a 3/4" dome, although they really do quite well at 3.15, I suspect they will really come into their own higher than that.

It was also good to note that you had sail panel mounted them so those who were concerned about possible brightness could also consider that a kick mount location would change the likely tenor of the driver significantly.

I heard a lot about the top end to the extent that I worried that perhaps the mid high end was overshadowed by the lush cymbals? I tried a set of Zapco reference (not top line but first down with blue cones) SQ drivers a while back and that is exactly the impression I got from them! Man some of the cymbal shots were just incredible! Then I realized that I was so overwhelmed by them that it seemed like maybe other things were being glossed over. All in all, a very enjoyable sound though and definitely easy on the ear!

Yhanks again - as an official tweeteraholic, I was waiting to hear the word on these. I'm still planning to try either the Scan Illuminators or the Scan Air Circs as my next tweeter, but I'll be reading the reviews in the meantime =)

Less
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I specifically did not mention the crossover point and slope because I didn't want people to focus on that. It was the same for all tweeters so its up to the reader to decide whether one or more tweeters required a different crossover point.

I also didn't mention it because I don't know exactly what it is (thanks to the display not working on my DCX-730). However, if you read my review of the Hertz HSK components I did a few months ago the last setting I mentioned was 3.7KHz @ 24db/octave. That is probably as accurate a guess as I can make but it is entirely possibly I went as high as 4KHz or 4.2KHz in an effort to tame the HSKs.

Oddly enough, out of all the tweeters, the only one that really struggled with the crossover point was the Hertz...and I mentioned that in my review at the time. It is a little smaller than the others so I guess that makes sense. They struggle with loud volumes and produce detail at the cost of sounding spitty...but at moderate volumes they are a great matchup to the HSK mids.

After a few more days of listening I'm pretty sure the TBIs can handle 3.7KHz @ 12db/octave instead of 24db/octave. I never had that much luck going that low with the LPGs. If only I could make some changes!
 

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Great Review!

Happy to hear that TBI is puttin gout a quality product.
Hopefully we can see it tested against some higher priced peers..

ANT
 

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Thanks very much for the review. I think you did a good job of trying to stay neutral and objective - especially since I really didn't know exactly how you felt about these tweeters till the last dog was almost hung. Instandard reviewer style, you managed to showcase something nice about every driver involved and recognize that just because you enjoy music in one manner, another person may enjoy some other sort of sound. Its not always easy to do that in a review - and you did well.

Did you mention the crossover frequency you were stuck with - or did I miss it? Also, the slope? IT'd definitely matter to those running two way systems. I'm in the process of switching to three way right now (along with moving) and am adding a set of Scan m12s, but as a part of the change, I am looking forward to using my Hiquphon tweeters at 4-5k+ instead of 3.15 and down, since I know that the lower frequencies ask a lot out of a 3/4" dome, although they really do quite well at 3.15, I suspect they will really come into their own higher than that.

It was also good to note that you had sail panel mounted them so those who were concerned about possible brightness could also consider that a kick mount location would change the likely tenor of the driver significantly.

I heard a lot about the top end to the extent that I worried that perhaps the mid high end was overshadowed by the lush cymbals? I tried a set of Zapco reference (not top line but first down with blue cones) SQ drivers a while back and that is exactly the impression I got from them! Man some of the cymbal shots were just incredible! Then I realized that I was so overwhelmed by them that it seemed like maybe other things were being glossed over. All in all, a very enjoyable sound though and definitely easy on the ear!

Yhanks again - as an official tweeteraholic, I was waiting to hear the word on these. I'm still planning to try either the Scan Illuminators or the Scan Air Circs as my next tweeter, but I'll be reading the reviews in the meantime =)

Less
It seems as though you are discounting the reviewers' observations and opinions. You
stated that you had tried some other tweeter that seemed to have "overshadowed" the mids.
Since you haven't listened to the TBI tweeters, you should be hard pressed to compare
them to other speakers. The sound quality and performance of brands other than TBI,
you'll find, don't perform the same. TBI is not an 'also-ran' type of tweeter. From what
I've read, there is a new technology at work here.

My own installation made wonderful improvements across the audio band. Before you pass judgement on the TBI tweeters, try a pair, they offer a money back guarentee.
You have nothing to lose but a better sound in your auto. My friends who have heard
my system, then tried TBI tweeters, are belivers too. (A couple of them install-
ed a pair in the rear and are more than happy with the result.) I'd really like to hear your response after trying a pair.

Happy listening,
Golddustdaddy
 

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I'd just like to note that the testing is somewhat flawed because there will be a difference in frequency response between the tweeters mounted on the left side of the car vs that of the right side due to tweeter angle and differences in acoustics...even when using the same tweeters at both left and right side.

Sorry for being an ass... Just wanted to point that one out.
 

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:confused:
Since your only two posts are in TBI threads and both of your posts sound like advertisements, am I safe to assume that you have some sort of affiliation with TBI? It's not a problem if you do, it would just be good to clarify.

If the tweeters perform well, and according to the review, they do, let them speak for themselves. If we can get some measurements that would be even better.

Didn't seem like Less discounted the review at all, he simply discussed the review and mentioned his own similar experience which may have some relevance here.
:confused:

No advertisements, I just wanted to share a discovery. Highs seem to be a problem in all of audio (as you alluded to in your initial post). Because of my find of the TBI tweeters I wanted to share it. A friend suggested that I investigate the Diy Mobile Audio site to learn more about car audio. I'm new to the field. I have a pretty good home system and would like to have great 'quality' sound im my car.

I want to research some equipment and experiences others may have to share so that I can avoid some costly mistakes. Working within a budget
is a must for me. I'm going back in the posts to learn more. Since I have
a late start, I've got some catching up to do.

I was under the impression this site was a place to share information and
communicate with others with simular intrests.

A prudent question is one-half of wisdom.
FB


Listen on,
Golddustdaddy
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I'd just like to note that the testing is somewhat flawed because there will be a difference in frequency response between the tweeters mounted on the left side of the car vs that of the right side due to tweeter angle and differences in acoustics...even when using the same tweeters at both left and right side.

Sorry for being an ass... Just wanted to point that one out.
Angles of the tweeters are the same.
I sat in both driver's and passenger's seat during review.
Acoustics may be different, but each tweeter was unique enough that the differences between left and right sail panels is irrelevant. If I had come to the conclusion that one tweeter was very close to another, I would have done some swapping around to reduce the variables...but it wasn't necessary in this case.

On a side note, my wife (without any prompting) came to similar conclusions as me after listening to the system for 20 minutes. She said the highs are unbelievably detailed...but she feels like the lower end (aka upper midrange) is lacking as a result. Perhaps they need more break in time and perhaps I need to do some tuning...but take it FWIW.
 

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I'm curious to know what is going on behind the scenes of that glued on chamber. Do you feel like taking a peak? If you don't want to unglue it, the clips are easy to spread and the dome lifts off easily and maybe you can see something from the top side. I'd love to see how they modified/changed the LPG tweeter design if it is an LPG tweeter in disguise.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Prolly not going to be pulling them apart. They sound pretty good and are built solid. There are obvious sound differences between the two tweeters so whatever they're doing...it is significant. They share the same housing, but I doubt there is much else similar.
 

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In terms of the size, how do they compare to the DLS'? Do they have a strong off-axis sweetspot? I'm very tempted to see how these would sound in kicks in place of my UR1's...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
My DLS Ir 1"s are much deeper than these and require a smaller opening. To install the TBIs you will probably have to make a wider opening.

I didn't experiment too much with angling as I already angled the tweets in my car. Moving my head around the car doesn't appear to make a huge difference so I'm guessing the dispersion is pretty uniform.


I believe I mentioned in the other review thread that I am now running my DLS Iridium 6.5 drivers for mids. They are a much better match and allow the subtle details of the TBI tweeters to shine through. My Hertz drivers were a little too harsh in the upper midrange which detracted from the quality of the TBIs. I'm very happy with the setup now and I haven't found any music that it can't handle.
 

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On a side note, my wife (without any prompting) came to similar conclusions as me after listening to the system for 20 minutes. She said the highs are unbelievably detailed...but she feels like the lower end (aka upper midrange) is lacking as a result. Perhaps they need more break in time and perhaps I need to do some tuning...but take it FWIW.
Thanks for the review. I wish the vendor would offer us a forum discount so that more people would try them. I wonder if the freq response is sloped to favor the higher frequencies, in which case the nigher frequency content would be at a higher output level than the upper midrange? Have you been able to do any EQing to remedy this by boosting the upper midrange or cutting the extreme highs?
 
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