Tannoy Reveal 402 Review. What's all the buzz about?

On paper Tannoy Reveal 402 looks like a great deal. It is a small, smart looking studio monitor that can be great choice for someone who want good sounding, unobtrusive desktop speakers. With asking price of around 175euro/200usd they pack a lot of tech inside these small cabinets. Unfortunately smart looks, good sound and good price comes with some painful compromises.

Tannoy 402 is the smallest monitor in their budget studio monitor lineup. It is fully active studio monitor with 4inch plastic woofer and 3/4inch soft dome tweeter. Both drivers are powered by individual 25W amps. Signal fed to monitor comes through active crossover that divides given signal for to two amps at 2800Hz. We can feed the signal to monitor via TRS unbalanced and XLR balanced inputs. There is also 3.5mm jack input that can be used to feed the audio signal from devices like phones, tablets, Bluetooth transmitters etc. This input is part of feature called "monitor link" that allows us to input stereo signal via 3.5mm jack to just one monitor insted of two at once. We do not have to use splitter and send signal to both monitors at once. All we need to do is connect both monitors via cable that comes with monitors, and select left or right side on both of monitors using monitor link switches.

"Four O Two" looks nice and clean on desk and is well finished. It is also 2/3 of size of JBL LSR305 that I use everyday, and that is a big plus. JBL is on the big side, close to what I would consider too big for desktop use. As usual with studio monitors, all the controls, inputs and switches are located on the back side. Unusual and inconvinient is that LED blue light that signals power is also located on back side. Speaking about controls, I have to call out that quality of switches and knobs is not very good. Especially the gain knob is frustrating, because when I set gain on both monitors in the same position there was difference in volume of both monitors. It was not subtle difference either. I was forced to set the gain "by ear" in order to have correct soundstage with strong center image. Big minus.


First word that come to mind when You power up Tannoys and start listening to music is that it sounds mature. This monitors are on the small side but sound they produce is not. We have almost full range of sound (except for low bass), nothing is hyped or hidden. Sound is not as clear as in my JBL LSR305 but much clearer and natural than any consumer speakers I tested.  Both Edifier Luna and Bose Companion 20 that cost around the same (Bose) or less (Edifer)got big problems especially with proper reproduction of midrange. Edifeir was muddier and laid back almost to the point of being muffled , and Bose was a hyped disaster with no highs. Midrange in Tannoy on the other hand is clear, smooth and all voices cut through with ease. There is only a hint of nasal quality to vocals, especially when volume is higher. Also heights are smooth with good detail. Overall they sound slightly laid back compared to JBL. Soundstageing is also nice with precise images and good depth of field, but it lack open, holographic quality of JBL soundstageing. Tannoy's soundstage is slightly congested in comparison. Also sweet spot for soundstageing is big, I could move quite a lot without stereo image falling apart.

Bass response and dynamics is where we have some compromises forced by small size of enclose and small 4inch driver. These are not big compromises and depending on type of music You listen it is more or less evident. When 402 play rock music or acoustic music there is rarely a moment when I wished that they have more extension down low. Kick drums lack just a little bit of initial punch but sound fast, suprisingly full and precise nonetheless. Same goes for bass guitar, that is nicely detailed and easy to follow. Problems start when electronic music starts to play. Tannoy is not able to deliver full weight of those low, big synth notes leaving them slightly lifeless and flat in comparison. I must point out that both Bose and Edifier fall short when we compare their bass response with Tannoy's. Tannoy easily filled my room with sound and has dynamics and available level superior compared to consumer duo, even though 402 starts to sound a bit boxy on high volume levels.

When I started this review I stated that Tannoy 402, all though very capable, comes with some compromises and now is the time to call out most painful of them - loud buzzing amps. My pair had problem with noisy amps that where humming and buzzing, even with gain set to zero and no signal cables connected. I tried to connect monitor to different outlets in my place and there was no difference. One monitor was buzzing slightly louder than the other, but both were audible when sitting 1m away from monitors. This kills all the joy of low level listening because buzzing is audible on quieter passages of music, and I think it is disqualifying for those monitors in nearfield use. I am aware of the fact, that this it is not the problem of ALL the 402's produced, but experiencing that on my own with both monitors I tested show that there are some BIG gaps in quality control at Tannoy factories. Very disappointing.


Tannnoy 402 is good looking, mature sounding, small monitor that would be very easy to recommend to anyone looking for small sized, big sounding solution for their desktop setup. Unfortunately problems with quality of some of it's parts, especially the buzzing amps make it impossible for me to recommend them. You can buy them anyway and hope that You will receive pair that does not have this buzzing problem, but You do this on Your own responsibility. What You will get can turn out to be pair of great studio monitors for sensible money. It can also become a source of Your frustration if You have a bad luck. The choice is Yours

                -great size for desktop setup
                -nice looks
                -big mature sound
                -very good soundstage, big sweet spot
                -nice dynamics, fast bass response
                -cheap, poor quality controls
                -noisy amps
                -boxy sound on higher volumes     
                -a bit flat on bass

Verdict: 6.5/10 (it would be 7.5 if not for the noisy amps)


  1. I read the reviews and wonder. What vibration problem? Components sound? Would it be your grounding problem? Bass is good to be straight. The subwoofer is necessary for mild equalization. Neutral speaker and a great quality price ratio.

  2. I read the reviews and wonder. What vibration problem? Components sound? Would it be your grounding problem? Bass is good to be straight. The subwoofer is necessary for mild equalization. Neutral speaker and a great quality price ratio.

  3. Hi Mika. I am afraid that hissing on 402 was internal problem of monitors, amps i would guess. I tried moving them to different rooms and connecting to different outlets but without succes. If You look at audio gear forums You will see that I am not the only one who experienced this kind of problem. And it is a pity, because this is a serious sounding monitor for good price, but I found them unusable because of that problem.

  4. Tannoy vs KRK Rockit 4... ¿which is better sounding?

    1. KRK RP4 sounds better IMO. Plus it is better built and has no issues with hiss like 402 has.

    2. I master with a pair of 28years old Yammies and get well paid. A lot want to drive a Ferrari without drivers license and havent any notice of DB / EQ pro instrument in de mix.


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