The Vimberg Mino Loudspeaker

The first thing to say about the Mino is that it’s a bigger speaker than you expect. The sloping, facetted cabinet and narrow frontal profile do a great job of adding elegance and minimising what might be an otherwise imposing visual presence, but the speaker still stands almost 130cm (or a full four feet) tall and each one weighs 72kg. It is also built in the same factory as the Tidal speakers, with a heavily braced and segmented cabinet constructed in the same environmentally inert fibre-laminate material. Savings come in the shape of off-the-shelf drivers and components, a lacquer finish that’s sprayed rather than hand applied and deep enough to absorb the radius on the edges of the cabinets (as is the case with the Tidal speakers) and milled from solid hardware and footers in aluminium rather than stainless steel. The crossover is built with Dueland and Mundorf components and the binding posts come from Argento. Each speaker sports a 30mm ceramic tweeter, 90mm ceramic midrange (mounted on a precision machined aluminium sub-baffle) and three 168mm ceramic bass units. You can also order the Mino D, with Accuton’s diamond tweeter (at extra cost), an option that’s also available as a later upgrade on the all-ceramic version. The sophisticated dual reflex loading delivers a genuine 89dB efficiency and an F3 figure of around 36Hz, meaning that in-room response should/could stretch down into the mid to high twenties, depending on the room itself. There’s even a properly engineered port plug, should that prove necessary/desirable in your room. Impedance is a relatively benign 4 Ohms (with a 3.8 Ohm minimum at 100 Hz) and the frequency response above 50Hz is almost ruler flat. Like I said, it’s an AWFUL lot of speaker for the money – materially and technically – and suddenly it’s the competition that starts to look seriously over-priced (and under-engineered). It’s an impression that’s only reinforced once you actually start listening to the Mino.

Time to address the elephant in the room – at least the elephant in my (and quite a few other UK) listening rooms. Over the years I’ve reviewed more than a few Avalon speakers and, looking at the Vimbergs it’s hard not to notice the shade of products past, lurking in the shadows – of my sub-conscious at least! Start listening and the Minos shares so many of the Avalon’s strengths that it only serves to reinforce the impression. In one sense, that’s no bad thing, because speakers like the Isis and Time left a lasting positive impression. But it’s also a dangerous example of audio shorthand, because the Mino is so much more besides. Far from being an Avalon clone, this is the speaker that Avalon might well wish they’d actually built themselves: a speaker that not only finally delivers on the promise of so many of those angled, facetted and flawlessly veneered Avalon designs, but does so without the more obvious flaws and at a price that people might actually be able and willing to afford.

From that precursor, anybody who has ever heard an Avalon speaker should deduce that the Vimberg is transparent and neutral in the best sense, majoring on clarity and effortless resolution. Where it diverges from that prototype is in its ability to project body, presence and dynamic impact, musical qualities that all too often escaped all but the biggest and priciest Avalons – hence my comments regarding the Isis and Time. The difference of course is that the Mino weighs in at a disarmingly wallet friendly price – at least as far as genuinely high-end speakers go.