Glen Wagenknecht
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: Audio Space CDP 8A CD Player
Wyred 4 Sound Music Server
DACs: Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2, Grant Fidelity Tube DAC 11
Preamplifier: Audio Space Reference 2S, Tortuga Audio LDR6 Passive
Amplifier:Bel Canto 200.4 Tapping TP22
AV Receiver: Pioneer Elite SC-25
Main Speakers: Apogee Duetta Signature, Paradigm Servo 15 subwoofer
Audio Space AS-3/5A
Rack: Codia Acoustic Design Stage 3000 BAB
Stands: Charisma Audio Function stands, Target stands
AV Speakers: JohnBlue M3s
AV Subwoofer: Paradigm PW-2200
Desktop Audio Speakers: Swans M200 MkIII
Desktop DAC/Pre Headphone Amp: DA&T U-2
Cables: Arkana Physical Research Loom, Audio Art SE and Classic cable looms, JPS Labs Ultraconductor 2 speaker cables, Madison Audio Lab E3 Extreme 1 Interconnects/Extreme 2 speaker cables, Signal Cable Silver Reference interconnects and speaker cables, digital optical and coax cable, Audio Sensibility Impact SE balanced interconnects and USB digital cables, DH Lab Power Plus AC cable.
Resonance Control: KAT Audio Terminator 1 Feet, Solid Tech Feet, EquaRack Footers, Weizhi Precision Gold Glory footers, Boston Audio TuneBlock2 footers, Audio Exklusiv Silent Plugs, Audio Exklusiv d.C.d. Base and d.C.d. Footers, Superspikes, CA Electronics Standard Cones, Feet, Cable Clamps, Isoacoustics L8R130, Aperta and L8R200 SUB speaker stands
Powerline conditioning: Exact Power EP15A, Noise Destroyer power filtration
Accessories: TrueHarmonix Black Magic CD Mat, Herbie's Super Black Hole CD Mat
Main Room size: 12' x 17'
Home Theatre: 10.5' x 16.5'
Review component retail: $2'000/pr

It's hard to believe that it's been seven years already since the Mark & Daniel Diamond Plus graced my listening room. In 2009 it was one of the most ambitious implementations of Oskar Heil's groundbreaking folded ribbon designs then attempted. Combined with the firm's development and manufacture of extraordinary small-diameter long-throw woofers and inert artificial marble cabinets, the design was and remains forward thinking and innovative. The speaker could sing with incredible transparency and dynamics, then kick out bass with the power and depth of a floorstander. In 2009 Mark and Daniel set the standard for what could be expected from a small monitor.

The arrival of their new Maximus Mini-Monitor was about to show what one of the smallest but most ambitious of their new models could accomplish for 2017.

For those new to the brand, here is a short retrospective of the company. Co-owners Mark Wong and Daniel Lee combine a blend of technical ingenuity, good business savvy and a Zen pursuit of musical beauty. Designed in Tucson/Arizona, their R&D and manufacturing end of the business is situated in Shanghai/China. Since their 2004 beginnings, Mark and Daniel have built an enviable track record of critical success to earn their place as a well-established respected manufacturer in the community. The Maximus Mini-Monitor is situated one step up from the entry-level Mini. The Monitor likewise marries a long-throw 4" mid/woofer to a remarkable air-motion transformer but gets a bit more of the star treatment.

Its SX4.0q-0.7 upgrades from +/-7.5mm Xmax throw to an even gutsier +/-9mm. The Monitor also gets an increase of internal volume and an upgrade to the new Dreams DM-6b AMT, pushing the xover frequency down from 1'400Hz on the Mini to 900Hz on the Mini-Monitor. For those wanting just the facts, here are the basic figures: dimensions of 26cm/10.2" x 16/6.3 x 18/7.1 HxWxD and weight of 7.2kg/15.8lb each. Claimed response of 50Hz–30kHz with a 900Hz two-way filter. Efficiency of 84dB, power handling >60wpc. Standards colors are solid white or starry black. Special colors available by request. During the break-in period, I had an e-mail chat with chief design engineer Daniel Lee to discuss some of what I was hearing and examine the changes from the older models.

Q: It's been a few years since my previous experience with the older Diamond+. There certainly seem to be a few changes. From what I'm hearing, the transition between woofer and tweeter in your new Maximus Mini-Monitor is much more seamless. Is this a result of crossover changes or an advantage of the new tweeter? 
A: The major changes came from the new modular DM-6b AMT plus a more precisely lined up crossover and enclosure geometry. In general, while the wideband AMT has many advantages over conventional dome tweeters, it is very difficult to control it across the full bandwidth. For instance, above 4KHz may not be reproduce evenly due to one pleated micro ribbon's output interfering with another contingent on distance and frequency. Below 1.2kHz, the volume and shape of the air chamber may have significant influence on the driver's response characteristic. We concluded long ago that the modular AMT design can get the best sound performance in every aspect but, they are really difficult to make.

Q: Another characteristic where you seem to have a major improvement is in the AMT's vertical dispersion. Since it is basically still a planar wave launch, how was that accomplished? Is it due to the smaller woofer matched with the tweeter, or the smaller cabinet? 
A: You are right, it is easier to get that sound character with the Mini-Monitor's smaller woofer. The DM-6b AMT has the same sharp vertical dispersion but may not feel so obvious due to the crossover phase relationships and smaller spacing between drivers of this model.

Q: The Mark & Daniel drivers are really quite unique. Are they built in house or do you have them manufactured by another company to your specifications?
A: We are perhaps nowadays the only manufacturer to make every component for our speakers, including all mid/woofers and AMT drivers, solid-surface enclosures, crossover networks and so forth. The good thing is that we can control parameters and specifications to meet my design targets. The bad thing is that construction is slow and exacting so production quantities are more limited.  

Q: Many manufacturers spotlight the use of premium internal parts. I notice that you downplay that aspect. Why?
A: As an engineer, I did try premium parts but remain unconvinced. At least there was no clear evidence for significant sonic improvement. Test instruments showed no meaningful difference, neither did blind A/B auditions. It's more of a placebo effect.

"In my opinion then, there are no boutique materials worth mentioning except perhaps our WBT terminals and the audio-grade FPP capacitors with low dissipation rate for coupling the AMT drivers in most our models. Affordability is one major commitment we make to audiophiles. Each dollar we add may reflect in three additional dollars for the end user so we must select all parts very carefully. Most our budget and efforts concentrate on the three major components: our Dreams AMT driver, our SX mid/ woofer and our CAM enclosure. They are unique and more expensive than conventional equivalents."