This balance of clarity and musical engagement is something that all systems seem to struggle with – most falling too far to one side of the line or the other. The Mino has its spiked feet firmly planted on the median. You can lean the sound one way or the other, simply by changing the source or driving amp, but the speakers’ essential lack of signature removes them from the equation as a whole. Where so many speakers present the challenge of tempering their influence to achieve a natural or preferred balance, the Minos invert that situation, challenging you to create a driving system that meets your needs rather than theirs. In one sense this is audio defenestration without the safety net. But it is also freedom from the tyranny of cabinet colouration, and the losses and distortions imposed by the average subtractive crossover.
The Vimbergs’ monopulse crossover topology is another thing that they’ve inherited from the Tidal speakers – speakers notable for their continuity, linearity and even impulse response. Those characteristics carry over en masseto the Minos, which exhibit not just a seamless linearity from top to bottom, but a similarly contiguous spectral balance and ability to project (controlled) musical energy, irrespective of frequency. There are no unsightly lumps or bumps in the dynamic response, no nasty bands of graining or opacity in the soundstage, no over-loud, thickened or slowed notes in Ray Brown’s running bass lines. Combined with (and significantly contributing to) the almost preternatural stereo perspective and natural sense of scale, those even, uncongested low frequencies give bass notes, whether from strings, wind or drums, an attractive sense of mobility and texture. This isn’t the sort of acoustic bass that falls in dollops to the floor, or that trundles floor-bound towards you – at least not unless the amp dumps the notes there. Instead, it breathes life and dimensionality into the rest of the range – and does it without drawing attention to itself.
At your service, Sir – or Madam!
The Vimberg’s ability to disappear, their ability to stand behind the music rather than between you and it, is perhaps their most important strength. I find myself wondering to what extent this knack they have to pass unnoticed is down to the common diaphragm material used across all of their drivers. It’s an unusual arrangement but one that is intuitively attractive. Certainly, I have no complaints regarding treble extension or high-frequency quality. Indeed, referring back to Ms. Andueza’s mezzo-soprano voice, the transition from mid to treble, the sheer continuity of projection and the natural development of harmonic overtones were exceptional. It makes me wonder, what price the diamond tweeter option on the Mino D? Given Tidal’s spectacular success with diamond drivers, you have to figure they’ll have this one nailed – but believe me, you are far from slumming it if you stick with the ceramic tweeter, and it may well offer its own swings to compensate for the diamond’s roundabouts.