Danes don't lie. Or so Dynaudio reminds us, presumably to stress how their speakers -- honestly, your stuffed golden-eared honor -- tell the truth and nothing but the truth. But how about Swedes? If you consider the Scandinavian monopoly on world-class transducers -- Vifa, Scanspeak, Dynaudio -- there seems to be a whole lot of tell-it-as-it-is going on in them thar Nordic kingdoms; of long winters and plenty of time to face the music if you take artistic license with the truth. So it's telling that Swedish loudspeaker maker Mårten Design would go south of the border for its drivers, the very expensive Accuton ceramic units from Germany's Thiel & Partners.

Time for a brief history lesson. In 1984, Bernhard Thiel, former production engineer for Backes & Müller, invented an electrochemical process that could produce very thin sheets of extremely hard Corundum [to right in Tanzanian mineral form]. This patented process yielded the manufacture of a very rigid, light-weight but highly damped speaker diaphragm. These Al2O3 aluminum oxide units in a sapphire lattice proved to possess an unsurpassed stiffness-to-weight ratio exceeded only by diamond - which the firm has since managed to work into a tweeter diaphragm as well. These ceramic transducers are said to exhibit high internal sound velocity important for elevating breakup frequencies, extending linear range and producing extremely low levels of coloration and distortion. Their concave shape yields uniform energy distribution as opposed to merely high on-axis SPL, with front plates made of acoustically inert zinc instead of plastic or aluminum.

Time for a brief financial lession. Accuton's top-line D²20/6 diamond tweeters retail for $2,800 - each. Various Accuton drivers can be found in Kharma speakers, Lumen White designs, Talon Audio's expensive efforts and Mårten Design models which sport the names of famous Jazz musicians. The driver complement of the $5,000/pr Mingus III two-way tower under evaluation today probably weighs in close to $1,000 retail. If you knew anything about the customary markups required to make a modest living in audio, you'd immediately recognize that little Mingus, up to its hexagonal gills, was veritably loaded with uncommonly expensive hardware. If you didn't mind generalizations, you could feel compelled to think of Mingus the Third as very affordable kharma indeed.

Time for a brief lesson in loudspeaker truth. When you consider how drivers create sound -- via excursion and rarefaction, or, literally, by pushing and sucking air -- you realize that their behavior mimics pistons. That indeed is the operative term: Pistonic behavior. The more a loudspeaker diaphragm can approach ideal pistonic behavior -- linear like a chu-chu train's tie-rods moving back and forth in absolutely concise motions fixed by their attachment to the wheels -- the closer it comes to telling the truth of the electrical signal appearing at its voice coil.

It's here, at the voice coil which moves inside its gap in response to signal voltages, that conversion to physical motion occurs. As modulated pressure waves, this action translates into the sounds first encoded on the CD or LP at your ear drums. Needless to say, said conversion from electrical impulses to physical action is the most critical step in the audio chain. The signal is no longer protected by its relative isolation inside feedback-compensated circuit traces. It's "in the world", interacting with the air-pressure vagaries inside and outside of its box, victim to room boundaries [absorption, reflection, diffusion] and prone to additive and subtractive interferences from other drivers [lobing], the cabinet itself [diffraction] and room geometries [standing waves].

The speaker diaphragms literally let the audio cat out of the bag. Hence, how precisely they translate voice coil motion into atmospheric T'ai Chi, pushing and pulling air without introducing irregularities introduced by poor stance and balance [flexing] or nervous tremors [resonant oscillations or break-up modes], the more perfect the musical Kata or form manifests in three-dimensional reality. Utilizing the most expensive dynamic drivers extant vouchsafes pistonic precision. It takes no cloudy crystal ball to predict that, if implemented properly, such a speaker would be very accurate.

Precisely because of such accuracy, it would also be far more sensitive to proper setup than a fuzzier design which couldn't respond with equal alacrity and was thus more immune to subtle changes. Think of it as thick-skinned versus thin-skinned. The former feels little, the latter responds to everything.

US distributor Dan Meinwald [right] had personally delivered the review pair, braving the grueling trip from Los Angeles to Taos to assure that my personal setup of room and equipment would be copasetic. With high praise for the Audiopax monos -- which he compared to his favorite E.A.R. 100wpc amp and pronounced very rare equals -- he expressed flabbergasted shock and admiration, over how readily my HMS Gran Finale cables could be tuned with the flick of a paddle switch or rotation of an impedance selector. Dan spent an extended afternoon trading music and left assured that despite their modest 30-watt rating, my Brazilian valve monos were up to the task. It was a pleasure to discover, in Dan, another bona fide music lover who's into audio for 100% the right reasons. Unfortunately, this often doesn't equate to stacked bank accounts.

Time for basic specs and dimensions. Dressed in a very attractive flawless Cherry veneer, with large 45-degree, solid wood inserts flaring along the three frontal edges, the rakish time-aligned Mingus III recalls a certain Audio Physic aesthetic. It eschews grills and offers shrouded WBT terminals for biwiring. 41.5 inches tall without spikes, with a 9.25" x 8.75" cabinet foot print, the sloped architecture and one-inch plinth with threaded spike T-nuts create 14 inches of actual depth and 9.9 inches of total width. Removing the plinth -- which is aligned via two dowels -- revealed the front baffle to be slightly thicker than an inch, with the side and rear panels 3/4" but reinforced with 1/2" counter-panels which elicit a skin-chafing 'thonk' for an extremely inert, non-ringy chassis. Removing the densely stuffed polyfill for a look-see, the crossover turned out to be 1st-order simplicity itself, with two paralleled caps, two paralleled resistors and one Alpha-Core Goertz style flat ribbon inductor for a 2KHz transition point.

At 87dB sensitivity and with an F3 of 36Hz and nominal 4-ohm impedance [never lower than 4.2], the Mingus III is yer basic 62 pounds worth of floorstanding 2-way import whose specs recommend high-power, high-current amplification to really get a grip on its ultimate performance. Basic floorstander? My hairy German ass. Herr Mingus is anything but. Call him a well-bred, high IQ gent who, once leashed to the earthiness and warmth of an Italian woman, transcends his propensity for ultra-fast transients and a tonally slightly forward balance to morph into a very potent, high-resolution full-range champ. Okay, replace the Italian beauty with a Brazilian valve amp or equivalent; but you already got zee drift. Mingus is a horn-type dynamic design without horn-loading - very fast, ultra resolved and in need of a dash of warmth and body by way of partnering electronics and cabling. Minus the obvious lack of low bass weight and complete extension, this Mårten Design speaker then approaches becoming an Avantgarde Acoustics cousin, something that would appeal to the same group of listeners and only play second fiddle in scale and ultimate dynamics - at about 1/4 the price. However, it does benefit from horsepower as both Dan's E.A.R. amp and my resident Bel Canto eVo 200.4 proved. Think current, think at least 100wpc, think truly refined full-bodied sonics and an iron grip on that woofer. Then imagine the results ...