Silverline Audio Minuet Speakers
|Silverline Audio Minuet Speakers
|A Modern Mini with a Golden Voice
Shortly after writing my review of the updated version of the overachieving Silverline Audio Prelude loudspeakers, Silverline’s CEO Alan Yun called me and intimated that he would be adding a new speaker to his lineup. He elaborated that the new speaker, the Minuet, was quite small, measuring a scant 9″H x 5.5″W x 7.25″D. Although it was difficult for me to comprehend how great sound could manage to emanate from such a diminutive box, Alan seemed very enthusiastic about its performance, so I agreed to have a listen.
The day the speakers arrived I unboxed them and realized they were even smaller than I had imagined. But their Dark Rosewood vinyl-clad cabinets seemed very solid and although the cabinet edges were not rounded, the fit and finish was really quite good.
The Minuets are a two-way bass reflex design incorporating a 3.25” pulp-paper cone mid-woofer with a butyl-rubber surround, and a 1” silk-dome tweeter with a very low-mass diaphragm. They have a claimed frequency response of 60Hz to 28kHz and a sensitivity of 88dB/watt. The Minuets use a second-order crossover at 3,500Hz, which is the same slope and crossover point found in Silverline’s larger Prelude speakers. The nominal impedance is 8 ohms and recommended power is 10 to 300 watts/channel (indicative of a very robust and dynamic speaker). Both light Cherry and Dark Rosewood vinyl veneers are offered.
I initially installed the Minuets on 22-inch high stands, which I tilted back slightly to fire at an upward angle because the short stands positioned the Minuets under ear level. Thirty-inch stands would have been more appropriate, but I didn’t have stands of that height.
I recall playing a rather complex track from Lily Allen’s Alright, Still CD [Capitol CDP 0946 3 75466 2-8] and being surprised to hear slightly more detail across the broad soundstage than my Preludes had been able to muster. “Hmmm,” I mused, “these little upstarts are serious!”
The Minuet is a very well balanced monitor that is quite transparent and detailed. It can throw a credible, well-focused multi-layered soundstage as well as any speaker I have heard. While the low bass is most definitely cut off, the Minuets do very well at articulating the upper bass, with surprising authority and no sense of bloating or artificial resonance.
During the course of my listening I used the Minuets with an 18Wpc EL-84 tube amp and the Kavent A210 integrated hybrid amp (100Wpc), both with excellent results. Due to their relatively high efficiency and high power handling ability, I believe the Minuets are capable of sounding very good with a wide variety of amplifiers—but they seem to sound especially sweet when there are tubes in the electronics chain.
Don’t Stop the Dance
Although some folks may judge the Minuet’s bass performance adequate for their needs or purpose, my feeling is that they benefit greatly from the use of a decent subwoofer. The specified lower limit of 60Hz seems about right to me with some room-boundary reinforcement, such as being placed fairly close to the front wall. However, if you use them with a quality subwoofer they can be placed out further into the room where they will image best.
I first tried the TAD subwoofer, which is a 12-inch, front-firing design and that worked fairly well to allow the Minuets to sound like a full-range system. But by far the best result I achieved was to combine the Minuets with Silverline’s own Prelude speakers to form a very respectable near full-range system (the Preludes produce very good bass down to the mid-30 Hz’s). And the fact is that Alan Yun claims that the Minuets blend very well with the Preludes when used as satellites in multi-channel surround systems. I did not use them this way, but have every reason to believe his claim, as you will see.
Since both speakers have the same crossover point and slope, all I did was stack the Minuets on top of the Preludes with the tweeter down. I placed a mouse pad between each speaker pair for isolation and to protect the finish. Next I bi-wired the two speakers from the same amp and left the Prelude’s tweeter disconnected, for as it turned out, the little Minuets have the more transparent and detailed tweeter. I pushed the front baffle of the Minuets back a quarter inch or so to achieve proper time alignment (derived by ear) and I was in business.
I must tell you that the result of combining the two Silverlines was an eye opener. The Minuet/Prelude combo seemed to blend so seamlessly and synergistically that you’d swear they were designed to be used that way. The stacked towers were capable of performance that transcended that of either speaker by itself. I even suggested to Alan Yun that he market a speaker system based on this design, but he stated that he was not in a position to do so at the present time. Too bad! I had detailed, dynamic, and spacious sound flying all around my room with these puppies.
John Mayer was dancing around singing the very soulful “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” from Continuum[Aware/Columbia 82876 79019 2]. The guitars wept their blues harmony with sincerity and emotion, and my Silverline “Slender Stack” was able to portray their sound in a convincing heartfelt manner. It was apparent that the tubes in my Kavent hybrid amplifier were doing their thing with aplomb. The Minuets made sure that no details of musical nuances were masked or lost.
Listening to Rodrigo y Gabriela CD’s song entitled “PPA” [ATO 0030 88088-21557-2], I was blown away by the depth, dimension and sweet sound of the melding of the pair’s acoustic guitars. Their guitar-thumping percussive accompaniment leaped from an amazingly lifelike and holographic soundstage. If you don’t already own this CD, get it, as I view it as a truly mind-bending cathartic event that should be experienced by every true music aficionado. I recommend covering the listening chair’s cushion with a plastic sheet while listening just to be prudent.
Another recording that sounded freaky-good on the Silverlines was the Broadway Cast recording of Jersey Boys [Rhino R2 73271]. To hear the instrumentation and crisp percussion combined with the layers of vocal harmony is a truly magnificent experience. It is a great nostalgic romp for those who grew up listening to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. The Minuets added a stability and precise focus to the myriad sounds in this complex recording to make it seem all the more real.
It appears that Alan Yun has added yet another winner to his fine stable of speakers. In the Minuet he has created a very transparent mini-monitor that not only provides very natural sound and incredible musical imagery, but one that is also very robust and can reproduce impressive dynamic contrasts quite cleanly.
As noted, the low bass is not to be found, while the upper bass is articulate, taut, and free of colorations. When used with a top quality sub-woofer (and they are very deserving), or stacked atop a pair of Silverline Preludes as I described earlier, the Minuets become extremely satisfying and convincing as the heart of the resulting full range speaker system.
I can also make a strong case for using a set of Minuets combined with a sweet tube amp in an intimate office or bedroom system, as their resolution and imaging quality stay intact even at low listening levels. However you slice it, the Minuets are great monitors that compare very well to other brands at twice their asking price.
Design (Bass Reflex): 2-way
One 1″ silk dome tweeter
One 3.25″ pulp paper cone mid/woofer
Frequency Response: 60 – 28,000 Hz
Sensitivity: 88 dB
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
Crossover Frequency: 3500 Hz
Recommended Power: 10 -300 watts RMS
Dimension (H x W x D): 9″ x 5.5″ x 7.25″
Shipping Weight: 15 lbs./pair
Speaker Connections: Bi-wire
Cherry in vinyl
Dark Rosewood in vinyl
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