The Vimberg Mino Loudspeaker

 

The other thing the Mino’s share with the best Avalon designs is a vanishingly small musical thumbprint. The transducers in any system generally introduce higher levels of distortion and introduce more obvious musical character. The Vimbergs are the exception to that rule, a clear carry over from their Tidal DNA. Incredibly well integrated and with an astonishingly linear response, the Minos are devoid of the pared-away etching, additive warmth or spatial manipulation that is so obvious in other speakers (especially when compared directly to a speaker as self-effacing as this). Instead, what you feed the Mino’s is what you get: unadulterated, unaltered and unfiltered. The end result? You WILL hear what your amp actually sounds like. You WILL hear the characteristics of your front-end. You WILL hear any shortcomings in your set up and system tuning. But the upside is that you bought that amp and those source components for a reason, while as I’ve already noted, this level of insight doesn’t just help when it comes to setting up the speakers, it makes identifying set up issues and dialling in the system as a whole considerably easier. Once you’ve done that, two things happen: You WILL hear the music that’s actually captured on the recording; you WON’T hear the system reproducing it. Oh sure, listen and you’ll still be able to identify the sound signature of the components in the chain, but just as Vimburg has dialled out the ‘sound’ of the speakers, the speakers let you dial out the intrusive discontinuities in the system as a whole.

Wide open window…

I used the Minos with a range of different amps, the speakers showing a chameleon-like capability to reflect both the sound of the driving amp and the success of the combination. Although I achieved attractively warm and lush results with a couple of different tube amps, the speakers’ preference for a healthy dose of solid-state drive was clearly apparent. Combined with the 200 Watt output of the Levinson 585 integrated amplifier, the Minos delivered a remarkably immediate, intimate, musically emphatic and stable performance, one with real dynamic authority and the sort of rhythmic drive and momentum to send Linn owners into an ecstatic, toe-tapping St Vitus’ Dance. Whether it’s the musical cut and thrust of Richter, Rostropovich and Oistrakh performing the Beethoven Triple Concerto (EMI ASD 2582) or the delicacy and emotional intensity of Janis Ian’s ‘Some Peoples’ Lives’ (Breaking Silence – Analogue Productions APP 027) the performers are placed, solid and present, right there in the room. Whereas that should come as no surprise with the Janis Ian track, given its stellar sonic quality, the EMI is a far from brilliant recording. But it IS a truly great performance – and that’s exactly what the Minos communicate. Traditional notions of neutrality also suggest an absence of musical soul, a focus on the facts of the recording at the expense of its sense – which is why I’ve hesitated to use that term to describe the Minos. It’s not that the Minos themselves possess any special ability to seek out the performance within the recording, but they allow you to ensure that this is exactly what the system does – and assuming that you do just that, I guess it amounts to the same thing: less audio, more music.