Silverline Audio Minuet Supreme Plus Speaker System
AT A GLANCE
Versatile with movies and music
Superb build quality
Needs sub reinforcement
Like David in a world of Goliaths, Silverline Audio’s Minuet Supreme Plus is the kind of small speaker that makes listening to music an addictive pleasure.
Every January, I find myself walking down a hotel corridor lined with audio exhibitors. Sounds like the dream sequence from an audiophile movie, doesn’t it? I’m talking, of course, about the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Pretty much every year, I pay a visit to Silverline Audio, and pretty much every year, the reward is sweet, involving sound. This year, that sound was coming from Silverline’s Minuet Supreme Plus. Remarkably, it was powered by one of those tiny Class T amps you can buy on Amazon for $30. Having reviewed the original Minuet in 2008—and having loved it—I was eager to hear what its successor would sound like in my system with a better amp.
From Hong Kong to California
Silverline Audio Technology was born in 1996 when Hong Kong native Alan Yun relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area to found his second audio company. Yun not only designs his products but also assembles, tests, and packs them. Nope: no helpers. If you call the company, he answers the phone. It’s remarkable to have such a direct link between the mind, ears, and hands of the designer and the loudspeakers in your listening room. You might suspect such a hands-on perfectionist to be tense and off-putting, but in person, Yun is friendly, low-key, and serene.
His loudspeaker lines include a half-dozen floorstanding models at prices from $1,999/pair for the slim Prelude Plus to $90,000/pair for the Ode to Love. Possibly of more interest to the home theater audience are the two stand-mounted speakers, the nonrectangular SR17 Supreme ($7,500/pair) and the more conven- tionally boxy Minuet Supreme Plus. Now that you’ve read all those four- and five-figure price tags, aren’t you relieved that the Minuet Supreme Plus sells for just $699/pair? Incidentally, that’s for the rosewood veneer finish. Black piano finish will cost an extra $50/pair. At those prices, you can add a good subwoofer and still be able to keep the total cost for a surround speaker system below $2,500.
Like the original Minuet, the Minuet Supreme Plus can be thought of as a satellite, since its small woofer needs subwoofer reinforcement for slammin’ movie effects or music with a strong rhythm section. However, it has enough oomph to reproduce dialogue and many kinds of midrange-centric music by itself, so I think of it as more of a mini-monitor, and Silverline files it under the “monitor” section of its Website.
The rectangular box enclosure of the Minuet Supreme Plus is a couple of inches deeper than that of the original Minuet and, at 0.7 inches, about a tenth of an inch thicker. It’s the only Silverline enclosure prefabricated in China. The rosewood veneer and black piano options are upgrades over the previous wood grain vinyl wrap. A two-way design, the Minuet mates a 3.5-inch treated-paper cone woofer with a 1-inch silk-dome tweeter, both made in house by Silverline. (Other Silverline models use Dynaudio drivers from Denmark.) The woofer sits in an injection-molded aluminum basket and is backed with a substantial motor and double spider. Heat dispersion is a big priority in the tweeter: It’s cooled by magnetic fluid and a rear heatsink, enabling it to operate at high levels. The crossover is still second-order, but upgraded parts are now used.
Plain fabric grilles are supplied and attached with pins. On the back, beneath a small port, are heavy-duty transparent plastic-sheathed gold binding posts—two pair, for biwiring or biamping. Silverline no longer offers the center-channel model that complemented the original Minuet, but Yun suggests that a pair of the mini-monitors may “be bridged to become a powerful center channel.” That would of course mean a set of six, with a slight upward adjustment in system price, and the off-axis interaction between two speakers fed with the same signal might also produce questionable results in some listening situations. As I’ve often stated, three identical speakers for left, center, and right are usually preferable.
This revised Minuet has a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, rated sensitivity of 88.5 decibels, and is recommended for use with amplifiers rated from 10 to 300 watts RMS—quite a swing for a mini-monitor. Remember, when I first laid ears on it at CES, it was running off a cheap Class T amp, and Yun says it’ll run just as well with a 7-watt single-ended tube amp. I ran a set of five to action-movie levels in my modest-sized apartment with an A/V receiver. This appears to be the Swiss Army knife of loudspeakers.