September
2020

Country of Origin

France

M5

Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Financial interests: click here
Main system: Sources: Retina 5K 27" iMac (4GHz quad-core with Turbo boost, 32GB RAM, 3TB FusionDrive, OSX Yosemite. iTunes 14.4), PureMusic 3.02, Audirvana 3, Qobuz Hifi, Tidal Hifi, Denafrips Terminator, Soundaware D300Ref SD transport & USB bridge; Preamplifier: Vinnie Rossi L2 Signature with WE VT52/300B or Elrog 50/300B; Power amplifiers: LinnenberG Audio Liszt monos; Headphone amp: Kinki Studio; Headphones: Final D8000; Loudspeakers: Audio Physic Codex; Cube Audio Nenuphar; Aurai Audio M1 [on loan]; Cables: Complete loom of Allnic Audio ZL3000; Power delivery: Vibex Granada/Alhambra on all source components, Vibex One 11R on amps, LessLoss C-MARC Entropic cords between wall and conditioners; Equipment rack: Artesanía Audio Exoteryc double-wide 3-tier with optional glass shelves, Exoteryc Krion and glass amp stands; Sundry accessories: Acoustic System resonators; Room: 4 x 6m with high gabled beam ceiling opening into 4 x 8m kitchen and 5 x 8m living room, hence no wall behind the listening chairs
Second system: Source: Soundaware D100Pro SD transport; DAC/pre: COS Engineering D1; Amplifier: Bakoon AMP-13R; Loudspeakers: Acelec Model One w. Franck Tchang magnesium 360° super tweeters, Zu Submission subwoofer, LessLoss Firewall for Loudspeakers; Power delivery: Puritan Audio Lab PSM-156; Equipment rack: Hifistay Mythology Transform X-Frame [on extended loan]; Room: ~4x6m
Desktop system: Source: HP Z230 work station Win7/64; USB bridge: Audiobyte Hydra X+; Headphone amp: COS Engineering H1; Headphones: Audeze LCD-XC; Powered speakers: Fram Audio Midi 150
Upstairs headfi system: Source: Soundaware A280 SD transport; DAC: Auralic Vega; Integrated amplifier: Schiit Jotunheim R; Headphones: Raal-Requisite SR1a
2-channel video system: Source: Oppo BDP-105; DAC: Kinki Studio; Preamp: Wyred4Sound STP-SE II; Power amp: Pass Labs XA-30.8; Loudspeakers: German Physiks HRS-120; Room: ~6x4m
Review component retail ex VAT: €3'700/pr satin cherry, €3'970/pr high-gloss rosewood

Bibliothèque champ proche.

In googly French, that's a near field monitor. Today it's a 15cm/6" two-way with ultra-light polymer dome tweeter in an ellipsoidal Delrin horn. Proprietary to designer Alain Pratali, the very same tweeter also features in his M1, M3 and M Zero Junior.

The mid/woofer becomes AudioTechnology's polypropylene C-Quenze 15H 520613SD. Its elite Danish driver tech is driven also by the likes of Crystal Cable's most dear Arabesque Mini/Minissimo monitors. Good company.

Box dimensions are 22x28x44cm WxDxH, weight is 12kg, bandwidth 44Hz-19kHz, sensitivity 89dB.

The 3.3kHz crossover sports Rike and Milflex parts with solid-core hookup wiring and WBT terminals. The front-firing slot port is an intrinsic part of the enclosure so not your usual plastic or metal pipe sticking out inward. Unlike the Finnish birch ply used in the M3 monitor, "this isn't generic MDF but ultra high-pressure laminate that's super hard to the core and water repellent."

The Elysian fields. So far yet so near.

Celebrating life not death, Pratali's M5 is specifically meant to be near; even very near.

That could mean the desk top.

It's our consumer version of the recording console. Atop it the quintessential mixing monitor stares down the recording engineer's ear drums. Such proximity minimizes room influence. Direct sound dominates over reflections. Those arrive late thus much attenuated. It's the front-row center perspective.

We face the music before our room applies its unpredictable EQ.

Fram Audio Midi 150 on tripods, Midi 120 on desktop.

Unpadded clarity and directness are our rewards. That is, if our ancillaries are suitable to make that pleasant. With a desktop's limited real estate and passive speakers, that could be tough. Where to stash the upscale electronics? Plan B could thus be the small room like a home office, studio, den or bedroom.

Two pairs of M5 in the designer's den to compare crossovers.

To hop atop my desk, I had the resident COS Engineering H1. With a mere millimetre to spare, it tucks beneath the computer screen's shelf. On that shelf easily clearing the screen could go Simon Audio's i5 integrated. Done and dusted. For Plan B, the smaller upstairs room has Bakoon's diminuitive AMP-13R reign. It would host Track Audio stands from one island over which my chair can front anywhere from 2.5m to reach out and touch. If all of this felt unceremoniously terse, our three prior reviews covered the background of this newer Marseilles brand and its designer in detail. Today we cut all the far-field reflective talk to get up close and intimate in the near field. It's not your typical audiophile setup. But it has many considerable advantages. Those deserve to be highlighted by a review dedicated to just it. So let's.

Moving the chair to within 1 meter or less, speakers duly toed in, could mock up the extreme near field very easily.