My Favorites of 2007 is comprised of just one product. It would appear that I am developing a pattern in my annual recommendations, of selecting products that stand out for just plain superior value in the increasingly insane structure of high-end audio pricing. Lately, I have noticed several manufacturers raising their prices substantially without readily apparent rationale. They probably feel they can squeeze more money out of their buyers. Oh well, it's the American Way, after all. Is it?
In direct opposition to this erosion of value are the Silverline Audio Minuet speakers. Okay, you can find speakers cheaper than $600 a pair but these little speakers flat-out embarrass the competition. I was floored by them at the Home Entertainment Show this past spring. You can see from the attendee comments on the Silverline Audio website that I was hardly alone. To be sure it wasn't a fluke, I went back to this room four times over the course of the show. Each time, I was equally impressed.
Alan Yun, owner and designer of the Silverline Audio, has put the money where it counts with these - into design and performance. Savings are realized in the faux wood vinyl finish. Do not be put off by this. The Cherry in particular looks very natural. The speakers are also biwirable though I have not tried them this way.
On my recommendation, two friends purchased pairs so I have heard them in my own system. In short, the bass is stunningly good, mids are clear and alive and the highs are sweet and never hurt your ears. They also have a coherence I have never heard from a speaker at this price. There is some very sensible driver selection going on here - as well as brilliant implementation.
There are two reviews of the Minuet linked on the Silverline website. As the Positive Feedback review by Ed Kobesky points out and as you might expect, these are best suited for smaller to medium-sized rooms. You will need a subwoofer for the deep bass but within their range, they are hard to criticize.
Alan recommends stands/listening height as follows: "I'd like a 26" height (excluding the spikes) speaker stand (mine is an old Target R3). The soft dome tweeter of the Minuet has a pretty wide dispersion and it's not necessary to be at ear level. My experience tells me that the optimum is just at the level of my jaw (not the ears) when I'm about 10 ft away from the speaker... adjust to level of mouth at around 8ft."
I am going on a limb here to posit that this speaker may be the performance/value equivalent of the Dynaco A-25 speakers of almost forty years ago. And to top it all off, the Minuet is made right here in the U.S.A. Now this is the kind of patriotism I can get behind!
Oh, I could go on writing about some of my favorite music discoveries of the year; or gloat over the 64 near mint late 1950s premium mono jazz records I picked up for $30 at an estate sale this fall. Or, I could try to muster more enthusiasm for some of the products I reviewed or heard this year. But no, I am going to stick with just this one "best of" pick and save the bandwidth for others.
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