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Comparing the Mark & Daniel to the Apogee and M&D's smaller Monitor Mini made for an interesting polarization of priorities and benchmarks. The Monitor Mini tonally resembles a Martin Logan ESL hybrid, a touch lean and massively detailed. The Maximus is closer to a Duetta Signature, near equivalent in overall bandwidth, comparable in tonal weight at the bottom, a touch leaner directly in the vocal range (think transparency of a Quad panel), similar to the Duetta Sig ascending from there and actually a bit cleaner. Essentially, if you find the description modeled on the full-range panel spectrum, you 'd be correct. Detail, dynamic behavior and sheer responsiveness follow suit, equivalent but not identical through the spectrum.
Imaging and soundstage demonstrate similarities and differences between Maximus and panel or omni presentations. The Mark & Daniel produces a very wide very deep sound field over a generous range of acceptable listening height including standing. It produces stable expansiveness on the artificial soundscapes of the 24/96 recording Endless River from Pink Floyd as well as the wide-open orchestral slapstick splendor of the 1712 Overture from Telarc's album of the same name by P.D.Q. Bach. In this respect the Maximus was very similar to the rival Clearwave Resolution Be monitor, with the Resolution showing slightly superior focus and dimensionality. The M&D behaved more like an Apogee or Magnepan in its production of image size and soundstage scale, a touch bigger and more diffuse.
The contribution of the omni as utilized in the Maximus is quite subtle. The overall soundstaging becomes more immediate and slightly more forward than a traditional full-range dipole, bipole or omni. Prioritizing first arrival time gives the M&D something of a split personality. It leans more to the character of a reference studio control monitor on imaging but with a tonal balance and responsiveness that falls more into ESL and ribbon territory. Vocal lines in a choir and positioning are distinct, wooden instruments have requisite body and texture but the perspective is a little less laid back than some panel lovers may be used to. It is worthwhile to note at this point that these observations were made with the Tortuga Audio passive preamp which is geared for absolute transparency. Front-end substitution with the Audio Space Reference 2S 300B brings greater romance to the picture on both the tonal and soundstaging fronts, pulling the performance of the Maximus Mk2 closer to the classic panel perspective. The performance difference is less in the frequency domain but rather in the timing. Ultimately, system matching to taste and listening priority is attainable without compromising the speaker's inherent strengths.
Looking back on my description puts the capabilities of the Mark & Daniel Maximus Monitor Mk2 in a remarkable light. It's legitimately full range, leaving many supposedly full-range floorstanders looking bass shy. It's so rich in features, technology and materials that it can run head to head against tough competition many multiples of its price and doesn't suffer in the attempt. That leads to a very practical conclusion. At $4'500/pair, the Maximus Monitor Mk2, by any reasonable definition, is a state-of-the-art contender in compact speaker design. It manages to deliver top performance at a real-world price, making it accessible not just to the wealthy few but the everyman audiophile. It can be beaten but prepare to bring a sizable wallet. That makes the Mark & Daniel a benchmark budget reference – our personal reference.
Quality of packing: The product arrived in three extremely thick-walled cardboard containers. Inside there were double-thick cardboard boxes. The speakers and parts then were protected by polystyrene end caps.
Reusability of packing: Very sturdy for multiple journeys where required.
Condition of components received: Perfect.
Delivery: Delivered by DHL.
Website comments: The website information covers the entire product line, current and legacy with attention given to driver information, history and company philosophy.
Human interactions: E-mail response was quick and informative.
Warranty: Mark & Daniel provide a two-year full warranty to any model of their speakers and amplifier from the date of purchase. The warranty is against defects due to faulty workmanship or materials.
Final comments & suggestions: The Maximus Monitor Mk2 is a rare shining gem clothed in a choice of different colored artificial marble.
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