The Vimberg Mino Loudspeaker

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.

Get the Minos set up properly and, for all the detail clarity and focus, there’s no shortage of musical purpose or vigour. Bowing sounds properly energetic and drums definitely sound properly hit. What’s more, that utter transparency means that although it’s an exacting process demanding the requisite care and attention to detail, you can hear the impact of adjustments so clearly that it is also remarkably easy. As with many relatively compact, full(ish)-range speakers, height off the floor is critical. Thankfully, the Vimberg comes with nicely engineered spikes and footers, complete with allen heads to make really precise angular adjustment easy. Depending on the height setting that you arrive at, the large, knurled knobs that fit on top of the spikes may or may not lock against the outriggers. In my case they didn’t. Substituting a set of Track audio M8 nuts doesn’t look as nice but the sonic and musical benefits are massive. Besides which, putting the knobs on top of the nuts hides them anyway…