Tekton Design Lore Reference Speaker Reviewed

Price: $880.00

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Tekton Design is no longer merely known as the other speaker company from Utah. Today, the company is its own unique phenomenon from the world of audiophile loudspeakers, as head speaker designer and company owner Eric Alexander  has found a way to catch a tiger by the tail in a brutally competitive market. Alexander is one of the most vibrant and prolific (and even a little eccentric) personalities in the audiophile market today. His various speaker designs gained favor with the SET (single ended triode tube amp) crowd because when you are only rocking two or three watts per channel of amplifier power, you need a truly efficient audiophile loudspeaker. And Eric’s Tekton Design makes just such a speaker solution. It turns out Tekton is known for a lot more than just easy-to-drive dynamic loudspeakers, including a unique midrange driver array as well as speakers that have that visceral, impactful feel that also don’t cost a small fortune. 

The Tekton Design Lore Reference is a 96dB-efficient floorstanding loudspeaker that is right-sized for many smaller to moderate sized rooms. Tekton offers many gorgeous and often vivid stock colors, but will allow you to go full car paint with a pretty low-cost upgrade. The Lore Reference speaker has an eight-inch driver at the top with a single tweeter below and then not one but two front-facing ports. The speaker is competitively priced at just $880 per pair.

Tekton Lore Reference Speakers in Philadelphia Flyers Orange
Tekton Lore Reference Speakers in Philadelphia Flyers Orange

What Makes the Tekton Design Lore Reference Speakers Special? 

  • A 96dB efficiency rating takes “easy to drive” to a whole other level. Basically, any amp will power up the Tekton Design Lore Reference speakers—not that we would ever suggest that you use low-grade electronics, but boy does this help the overall system budget. I used amplification from a top-of-the-line Marantz receiver as well as from an older Halcro 7-channel amp for this review.
  • The Tekton Design Lore Reference speakers have some serious sonic slam. All Tektons have that powerful bass and high energy sound, but most are physically larger than the Lore Reference, which are a mere 36 inches tall, 10.5 inches wide, and less than 12 inches deep. The also weigh a very manageable 44 pounds.
  • Being front ported makes the Tekton Lore Reference speakers easier to tune in one’s room.Rear-ported speakers really become more back-wall sensitive than other speaker types or configurations. The front-ported design of the Lore Reference is a bit more like having a ported (as opposed to my sealed box solution) subwoofer that has the output to be able to make your pant legs sway with the music. Tektons like to rock out and have the design credibility to live up to their reputation. They aren’t harsh like a horn speaker, either, as they are much more refined, detailed, and airy sounding in comparison. 
  • Made in America isn’t a cliché in the audiophile world. The speakers made in China today at this price can be amazing, and we will likely mention them later in the review in the Competition and Comparison section. These Tekton speakers are handmade in Utah, though, and that counts for something no matter what side of the aisle you come from. Real workers using CNC machines, paint booths, and doing hand assembly. There’s a sense of hand craftsmanship here. 
  • Custom paint colors aren’t available for most every other speaker in this price range. You can’t get a pair of affordable Monoprice speakers in Bugatti Blue but you can order up a custom pair of Tekton Lore Reference speakers easily. For a very reasonable price, Tekton will paint your speakers pretty much in any color you can dream of and make them look gorgeous when you open the box. 

Why Should You Care About the Tekton Design Lore Reference Speakers?

Not everybody is funded for super-fancy, well-pedigreed, insanely engineered audiophile speakers, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have taste for them. Wilson Audio speakers from Provo, Utah, also have that punchy dynamic sound that many of us love. I know I sure do. Wilsons are obviously also are made in America. They are also very easy to drive and come in gorgeous custom paint finishes. The problem with Wilson speakers for most audiophiles is simply the cost. They are understandably expensive speakers. What if you want that exciting Utah sound and that custom look from a company that is still very approachable and highly involved in the hobby? Then Tekton Design speakers are something that you care about. 

The Tekton Design Lore Reference in a Bugatti-like blue finish
The Tekton Design Lore Reference in a Bugatti-like blue finish

Some Things You Might Not Like About the Tekton Design Lore Reference Loudspeakers 

  • The speakers have a little bit of that handmade feel. To me this is appealing, but perhaps not for everybody. The cabinets aren’t super slick or polished. The little details like the binding posts aren’t ultra-fancy—not that this matters much sonically, but this is a budget speaker and somebody had to make some compromises somewhere. None of these details change the sound, but you might notice. 
  • Tekton Design isn’t big on making grills for its speakers.
  • Sometimes you have to wait for a Tekton Design speaker for a while before it is made.Unless they are out of stock, I don’t foresee this as much of a problem for the Lore Reference as with other Eric Alexander designs, though. 
  • Eric’s biggest breakthrough is his multiple-tweeter patented midrange and that’s not part of the design of the Tekton Design Lore Reference. Many of Tekton’s other speakers for only a little bit more money have this multi-driver, circular midrange concept that can sound pretty fantastic, but you need to spend a little more to get that level of open-sounding midrange. 

Listening to the Tekton Design Lore Reference Loudspeakers… 

From the first blast of horns on “No Reply At All” from Genesis’ Abacab album, the musical energy jumps into the room. The piano trills dance in air with a taught, dry Phil Collins snare drum sound. Collins’ voice is presented with a solid center image and comes across with a resolute sound that shows off some of his raspy vocals in a way that simply isn’t heard on other speakers anywhere near this price range. Any classic rock fan would be impressed with this track and many will be blown away when you tell them that the speakers are well under $1,000 per pair. 

“No Reply at All” by Genesis

Marcin’s wonderfully arranged acoustic cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” is quickly becoming a modern-day audiophile standard. At CD resolutions from a number of streaming services, this percussive track sounded open, dynamic, and packed an ultra-wide image on the  Lore Reference. You can hear, nay feel, the acoustic chamber of his guitar as be beats on it as if he’s a percussionist as much as master of his six acoustic strings. There is so much to enjoy here and this is not just a familiar melody but the track has so many audio goodies to listen for like bending a string out of tune and bringing it back to normal all for effect. 

Marcin’s Zeppelin cover is becoming a fast, audiophile classic demo track

Who says speakers from Utah can’t get funky? Not me, because I cranked up my white Lore Reference speakers with some “Fly As Me” from An Evening With Silk Sonic. The Bootsy Collins bassline has a round, fun, awesome sound when listening on the Lore Reference loudspeakers. During this track, I think I figured out what makes Tekton speakers so appealing: they’re fun. Yes, they are accurate, detailed, and dynamic, but those three together and signing on some good electronics, you are in for a musical treat. 

Will Tekton Design Lore Reference Loudspeakers Hold Their Value?

These speakers are so low-cost that I am tempted to say “who cares” but this is still a relevant question. There is a solid audiophile following for Tekton Design products, including in the home theater/surround world too, so there’s always some people willing to add a pair of Tekton Lore Reference to their setup. These are modestly sized, easy to drive, pretty looking speakers that if you owned for five years and got a $100 per year worth of value, you wouldn’t need much money back when it came time to sell such a speaker. The short answer to long term resale value on the Tekton Design Lore Reference speakers is: yes, they will sell for a good price and likely pretty fast if you ever want to upgrade or change up your transducers.  

Jerry Del Colliano's review pair of Tekton Design Lore Reference speakers with many toys for a two-year-old to round out the audiophile listening/play room
Jerry Del Colliano’s review pair of Tekton Design Lore Reference speakers with many toys for a two-year-old to round out the audiophile listening/play room

What Is the Competition for the Tekton Design Lore Reference?

Monoprice is perhaps the leader in the audiophile market when it comes to insane values. A perfect example of that is their Monolith Audition T5 Tower Speakers, which are measly $240 per pair. They aren’t as easy to drive but not any sort of real-world problem on that front either. They don’t have that heart-thumping effect that you can get when playing just the right kind of music on the Tekton Lore Reference speakers. They don’t come in a lot of colors, let alone custom colors, but they are a fraction of the price and present a very viable, respectable audiophile-grade sound. 

The PSB Alpha T20 speakers are a perfect match both in size and their $849.00 price. The PSB speakers are lighter than the Tektons and aren’t as easy to drive (few will be), nor do they come in fancy colors, but Paul Barton and his team of designers at PSB make a fine audiophile speaker that comes with excellence in research resulting in consistently excellent sound from their products. 

In a strange way, Tekton Design’s own classic design, the Pendragon speakers at around $2,000, can’t be ignored. You get all of the benefits of a Tekton Design speaker plus Eric’s fancy tweeter design. You to have to pay over twice the money but you get an even more powerful, impactful audiophile loudspeaker that has an even bigger reputation than the Lore Reference speakers, thus perhaps even better resale value. 

Ferrari Roso Forte (or something VERY CLOSE TO IT) can be your chosen custom color if you like with the Tekton Design Lore Reference
Ferrari Roso Forte (or something VERY CLOSE TO IT) can be your chosen custom color if you like with the Tekton Design Lore Reference

Final Thoughts on the Tekton Design Lore Reference Loudspeakers 

Most audiophiles have to save their pennies to make incremental system upgrades. That’s just the reality out here in the real world. The advent of Chi-Fi audiophile products have helped on that front as many of these low-priced audiophile components are very strong performers. The sea change happening in the world of new low-cost Class-D switching  amps is another place to find tremendous value. A grand or two now gets you an amp that can give a Class-A design amp costing ten times more a run for its money. What kind of speakers do you put with a system like that? Tektons. 

The Tekton Design Lore Reference speakers are the right size, the right look, and the right sound to make any audiophile happy. Yes, you can go bigger but you don’t have to, especially if you use a subwoofer. They are a little bit of a quirky speaker in terms of their little details, but that is a nothingburger compared to the sound that they make, which is riveting. The Tekton Design Lore Reference speaker for well under $1,000 per pair can energize a mid-sized room like few other speakers in its price class. 

You can spend more on speakers, specifically in the Tekton Design product lineup, but you likely can’t find a better value than the Lore Reference speakers. 

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John Marks

I am mostly in complete agreement with this review; I just have a couple of caveats or quibbles.

1) It’s not the fault of Future Audiophile that Tekton Design has easily-confused product names. This review is of the “Lore Reference.” All fine and good. But the Lore Reference is a “Mid Tower” that costs $880/pair. So therefore, when there is another loudspeaker in the lineup that is the just plain, plain-Vanilla “Lore,” one would be tempted to assume that it has less-fancy parts, and also that it costs less.

Nope. The Just Plain-Vanilla “Lore,” which costs from $1,130/pair up, has as its “base” offering the lovely Audax gold-plated Titanium Catenary tweeter, which the legendary inventor and loudspeaker designer Winslow Burhoe called “a winner.” Furthermore, for an upcharge of $500, Beryllium tweeters (they look like from SB Acoustics to me) are an available option.

2) There is a “Lore Mini” model in the line, at $750/pair, and I have to admit that its name makes sense.

My educated guess (because I designed a loudspeaker prototype with the Audax gold tweeter, and Winslow Burhoe tweaked the cabinet’s woofer loading for me) is that the real “Sweet Spot” in this product segment is the Plain Vanilla “Lore” with its base tweeter, the Audax Gold. While I assume that the Beryllium tweeter is good, I also think that it is likely to be a case of diminishing incremental economic returns. That said, I would advise opting for the Upgrade package.

I think if would be very cool if Tekton could send such a pair of loudspeakers to Mr. del Colliano, so he could do a brief follow-up comparison.

Love the ezine!

John Marks
formerly of TAS and Stereophile

Michael Zisserson

I think you got it right, Jerry. Nice write-up!

The Lore Reference is a pretty tremendous value. They are the speaker my partner’s stepfather settled on after I carefully laid out the countless options at the price point. An audiophile friend of 20+ years decided the same.

My brother, who also is an avid music lover, purchased the Pendragons I reviewed because, to your point the tweeter array and Eric’s utilization of it is pretty incredible. Imagine if I was a salesman vs. a columnist, Tekton would have to pay me commission! Alas, I do it to bring good music in to people’s lives because that is what counts, and helping 3 of our kind find some musical bliss is a definite win.

If imitation is the greatest form of flattery, I am seeing other companies start to surround tweeters with small midranges attempting to mimic the same patented array Eric has. Wonder if there are implications there?

Bottom line is in spite of the Lore Reference no nonsense simplicity, Eric has a great propensity for no nonsense engineering and knows how to be minimalistic to the point of super high value execution.

Too bad I never had the opportunity to evaluate the Symphonies. Though, everything for a reason since it led me to finding a new reference loudspeaker, the PSB Synchrony T-800.

Carlo

After the recent flurry of litigious threats to a YouTube reviewer who pointed out that one design I had a slight cabinet resonance, I would not trust any glowing review of this brand!
Sorry Matey

Keith

The large woofer and the small tweeter are certainly going to cause directivity errors. Where are the measurements?

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