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To dive right into the deep end of the (room) pool, the Minis got perched on their matching stilts and took up pride of place in the big rig. To give them all the juice they could possibly want, Hegel's monstrous H-10 amplifier delivering between 600 - 900 watts into their load provided steam. To brook no excuses on quality ancillaries elsewhere either, my usual APL Hifi/Esoteric NWO3.0 GO/UX-1 spun the polycarbonates and either Hegel's matching P-10 or Thorens's valved Circlotron TEP 3800 preamplifiers conditioned the signal. Cables were Liveline interconnects and Crystal Cable Ultra speaker links. Total expense overkill in other word. Or, sonic best-case scenario. Here's the provided impedance chart for later reference when I slipped in far smaller and cheaper amps.

The most relevant challenge derives from the 3-ohm stretch between 150 and 500Hz , i.e. smack in the heart of the power zone. The typical port saddle isn't as pronounced as could be and whatever low freqs the speaker would actually deliver hover around +/-8 ohms in fact. Phase angles will add reactance but overall, more punishing loads over a far broader variability range certainly exist. The Hegel's 0.5-ohm stability naturally didn't break even a bead of sweat.

Hola (insert spicier expletive)! This speaker's no joke. Solid to about 55Hz and with attenuated but still useful output to roughly 40Hz, the Mini + had no issues filling my largish space very literally into the deepest farthest corners. Sure, one expects that from micro monitors. Still, it's new-again delight when you come off physically more space-uptaking designs. While the older Ruby in my arsenal has a punchier feistier character, the Mini's mid/tweeter is the more refined unit. While on tweeters, neither is as capable of trailing the finest gossamer decays as the Dynaudio Esotar clones in my big ASI towers. The air-motion transformers let go a bit sooner. There's thus life left in ordinary but superior silk domes.

But forget running any of those solid down to 950Hz before turning on the crossover fade. A mid/woofer truly phenomenal to 2,500Hz where most silk domes like to shake hands tends to be less robust down low if forced to go the distance in a conventional two-way. That's the heart of the Mark & Daniel argument of course. Where the Mini breaks a bit of new ground vis-a-vis the Ruby and original Maximus Monitor (the latter plays in our DVD-video system on Bel Canto kit) is in refinement. The Ruby was primed for punch in an arguably forced alignment. The original Maximus is plain dialed for low bass mayhem at the expense of sounding overly muscular and a tad coarse and steely on top. First off, the Mini Plus is no less robust than its beefier stable mates. Robust in fact is one key phrase of the M&D sonic dictionary. But the Mini is texturally softer and more elegant. Less slam, more glam. Despite how I set up the preceding page, Daniel Lee's tastes appear to have weathered nicely. The new Mini replaces some of the earlier exuberant but care-free attitude with a more care-full handling of the upper registers.

Lest my Esotar comment confuse the issue, a 1-inch silk dome tweeter hasn't sufficient cone area to be useful an octave lower than where it's conventionally used. If you intend to shift the hand-over out of the immediate 2K presence region, you need a driver with more surface. Because an AMT is pleated to disguise a far large membrane than its frame window lets on, it will go lower. In my book, that is the main rationale for M&D's use of these devices. It's not because by implication somehow, an AMT is inherently superior to a small dome (when both compete in the latter's obviously narrower coverage band).

The Mini suffered no dynamic compression at what amounts to happy levels in Casa Chardonne. It thus invited them. That was partially also a function of lower voltage sensitivity. The speaker kicks into high gear later. Be advised that the power response of an AMT far exceeds that of a dollar-sized dome. You could find yourself suffering from delayed listener fatigue, the onset of which you'll be blissfully oblivious to while embroiled in - er, spirited sessions. It's afterwards that your ears could be a bit sore. Think real workout.

That's not due to some inherent brightness. I repeat, there is no brightness here. That you'd notice right away as I did during a Burmester demo in Munich that was so steely and sharp as to cause discomfort within minutes. No, in the case of the Mini, it's the absence of compression and distortion. They conspire with the humongous staging to twirl that knob. Listening louder than you should will wear out your ears every time. The speaker is (mostly) innocent*.

* I say mostly because for comparative levels, my other in-house speakers don't cause this reaction to the same extent. There's something about the dynamic fortitude of these AMTs. Anthony Gallo's famous near-omni tweeter likewise displaces unusual high-frequency mass with its bigger surface but it never struck me in this way. But Burmester's AMTs at trade-show impress-the-heathens levels very much did. I'm thus suspicious of the concept per se, or at least those implementations I've heard to date. My personal antidote with the M&Ds? Stick to normal volumes and all is peachy.

You'll have noted the plethora of room photos. They've been deliberately furnished not to advertise our rental's ground floor but
to drive home the air volume these tiny buggers faced (the second floor they see opens to a door-less third floor via the stair case). If you add to such cubits undistorted happy levels, you'll begin to appreciate the can-do potential of the Mini Plus (plus, the ground floor opens into my office as you'll see below). But, you'll need power too. Subbing in the 50-watt First Watt F5 quite leaned out the sound though suffering no other demerits. Red Wine Audio's 30wpc battery T-amp worked like a charm in the desktop nearfield as did Sutra's 600-euro 10-watt AC equivalent.

Here's my office and our dining nook, an L-shaped area that faces the backs of all speakers in the big rig. I set up the Minis on inverted Ikea thick-wall glass planters for cheap temp speaker stands. Felt pads on top and below eliminated bad vibes in the glass table top and I preferred the translucent look over solid somethings.

For some reason, my Rubies work better in the nearfield. They focus at a shorter distance. For the Minis, I wanted to sit a bit farther away. However, the Minis sounded great sitting down to eat. Anyone who parks them on stands behind a desk should have sufficient 'coherence' meters to really enjoy the Minis as brilliant desk toppers.

At the far lower levels desk top listening justifies, the micro-power Sutra 1.3 from Milano with its beefy power supply was the bomb, its come-on-fast attenuator around 7 o'clock for my needs. Your actual power consumption will thus be predicated upon whether by mini speaker you mean mini or maxi space to fill. If the latter, you'll want a 100-into-8 amp or more. If the former, pounding disco raves are never on the menu. Then something Sutra-esque is perfectly adequate.

Drawing the sonic template: Because our site has spilled liters of ink on the Mark & Daniel brand already, brevity will suffice when it comes to describing le son. From about 3 meters on, the Mini + stages like a demon, with depth so cavernous that it seems to move walls. Macrodynamics are superlative for the breed. Articulation across the band is very high and exacting. Tones have real mass, images true density. Transients can get quite sharp particularly at higher levels. Textural continuity into the low frequencies is very good and while this speaker's cone surface area won't create palpable bass impact on the skin, the ears will hear linear bass halfway into the second octave and a surprising amount of reduced but 'still there' low bass. As such, the Mini Plus sits right at the cusp of being considered 'solo full-range' for most intents and purposes. While the presentation does get a bit lighter in the loafers than from a sizable tower speaker, it squarely does not turn top-heavy. This is no Nuforce S-1 or JohnBlue JB4. For unconditional full-range plumbing no matter what, Mark & Daniel now has its own purpose-designed subwoofer which can double as a stand for all its monitor speakers.

Despite the aforementioned treble dynamics, the Mark & Daniel sound isn't airy per se. Rather, it's meaty and endowed with quite jumpy reflexes. The Mini somewhat tones down the latter compared to the Ruby and Maximus but trades for finer treble response. This lets you see a bit deeper inside the secret life of harmonics. And even though I was doubtful at first, the Mini is most definitely suitable for free-air living room duty. One of the many ICEpower amps offered by various brands would make a perfect driver in such cases.

To ascertain give'n'take between various Mark & Daniel models with and without subwoofer will be for David Kan, our resident expert on the brand. I have a hunch that the next model up in the Plus range -- essentially a Ruby with the new tweeter, faceted baffle and reinforced enclosure -- might well be the sweet spot in the line. But David's next review will have the last word on that.

I'll bow out by returning to Daniel Lee's cited ambition of setting a new standard in the mini speaker category. While I haven't inspected the crossover, it's clear that a lot of care and money were lavished on the enclosure and proprietary drivers. Losing the full mask and magnetized stand-offs (or the holes those mounts left when removed) increased the already high cosmetic appeal; and any serious user should also quickly lose the provided biwire metal jumpers. They're bad for the sound.

The Mini Plus belongs into the precise vivid category of transducers and isn't at all afraid to play loud. If your ears mirror mine, then the Mini also has a loudness sweet spot above which the upper mid/treble air displacement starts to lead the parade.
Perhaps that's a combination of 950Hz crossover point (to lower the accelerated bellows action of the air-motion transformers) and small mid/woofer cone area. But I'll also say that to exceed that sweet spot seems to demand loudness somewhat exaggerated for the size room I imagine prospective target customers would place the Mini in. In toto then, the new Plus generation of Mark & Daniel tweeter and integral perf-metal mid/woofer grill are welcome refinements, all from a firm which hasn't exactly been shy on market enthusiasm as is.
Quality of packing: Adequate.
Reusability of packing: Once.
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Easy.
Condition of component received: Perfect.
Website comments: Recently overhauled and now highly informative.
Human interactions: Always prompt and forthcoming on info requested.
Pricing: High value.
Application conditions: Suitable for 'distanced' desk top applications where 10 premium watts will suffice. Equally suitable for free-air living room setups where 100-into-8 amps become mandatory (or two 50-watt stereo amps for biamping).

Mark & Daniel website