Silverline Audio Minuet Supreme Plus Speaker System Page 2

The review system consisted of five of the mini-monitors with my Paradigm Seismic 110 subwoofer. Other associated equipment included a Pioneer Elite VSX-53 A/V receiver, Oppo BDP-83SE universal disc player, Micro Seiki BL-21 turntable, Shure M97xE cartridge, and Onix OA 21s integrated amp serving as phono preamp. All movie demos were on Blu-ray Disc with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks.

The New Normal
All speakers have coloration, however minimal it might be. Whenever I go from my Paradigm Studio 20 reference setup to a product under review, there’s always a period of adjustment as I get used to the coloration of the new versus the coloration of the old. With the Minuet Supreme Plus (hereinafter referred to as the Minuet), that meant I was aware of a benign warming. The feeling vanished in record time, and I quickly came to regard the Minuets as the new normal, with a midband smoothness and grace that made me seek out favorite digital and analog discs just to hear how they’d sound under the new regime. The only things lacking were low-bass extension and force: The Minuets’ 3.5-inch paper-coned woofers were no match for my Paradigms’ 7-inch aluminum-coned bruisers. But they functioned surprisingly well with an 80-hertz crossover to the subwoofer and just about ideally at 100 Hz.

Red Dawn asks a stimulating question: What would we do if North Koreans invaded America and we had to defend our own territory? Portions of explosions falling above the crossover were reasonably full if not window-rattling. There was a little room-induced bass bloat (I run my receiver without room correction for speaker reviews), though this was not, strictly speaking, the fault of the speakers. They were well behaved during extreme action-movie moments, and later even better with music. Shattering glass was not ear-wiltingly bright.

Bullet to the Head combines the aging Sylvester Stallone’s voice—as deep and threatening as an obscene phone call—with a big, brooding, bluesy score that isn’t unlike a movie-length expansion of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks.” This kept the 3.5-inch woofers busy in the midbass, from the 100-Hz crossover on up, and I could close my eyes and visualize larger speakers. I always had a good idea of what Sly’s next line would be, so the principal source of interest became how the drummer would comment on the action. The Silverlines earned another action-movie stripe with this demo plus a gold star for musical prowess.

I hadn’t intended to demo the speakers with Antiviral, a dark meditation on viruses as the ultimate celebrity fetish. But the music by E.C. Woodley contains several screaming synthesized freakouts that are riveting, and the Silverlines immersed me in this psychotic sound-world like a warm bath. This was the last major demo, and while I wouldn’t trade the mercifully voiced Silverlines for my more timbrally candid reference speakers, the thought did occur to me.

Lush Life
In time for this review, the self-titled duet album of John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman arrived on SACD, replacing (well, supplementing) my famous $1 sidewalk LP. The Minuets left the room. At least it felt that way, because nothing in this classic Rudy Van Gelder recording and mastering job was speaker-bound. Hartman’s rich, supple baritone imaged about a foot in front of the speakers, Coltrane’s sax hovered around the left channel without ever seeming tied to it, and impressionistic piano clouds and gentle drum patter floated around the right channel.

The recording renders cymbals as gentle exhalations, to give Hartman the requisite space, and the Minuets brought out their subtle texture without obliterating them. When I shut down the sub and ran the Minuets full range, they enveloped nearly all of the music from the midbass on up. The exception was the string bass, which needed the sub, especially in the gentle undercurrent of bowed bass that accompanied the heart-tugging final bars of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” (“And there I’ll be/While I rot with the rest/Of those whose lives are lonely, too”). The Minuets could still do a convincing Hartman when running full range; what higher praise can I give?

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When delicacy and scruple were called for, the Minuets behaved like much more expensive speakers, and I could hardly get enough. I played an entire Beethoven symphony cycle: Osmo Vänskä’s traversal with the Minnesota Orchestra in a five-disc SACD set from Bis, the estimable Swedish label. Here the Minuets were in their element, giving the strings just the right feel, incisive at peak moments but not hardened or fatiguing. The Minuet woofers meshed well with my 10-inch sub, so that kettledrums were just weighty enough, and the crossover point wasn’t obvious. Moving the crossover from 80 to 100 Hz, letting the subwoofer do a little more of the work, provided better bass presence, but the difference was very marginal.

My vinyl copies of Traffic’s The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys and Shoot Out at the Fantasy Factory are early U.S. pressings (complete with corner-cut jackets). The slow groove and octave-hopping bass line of the former’s title track came together in a classic little-speaker, big-sound moment as the Minuets joined forces with the Paradigm sub. I have always loved the way these eclectic albums move from mood to mood like stately ships, with long tracks totally liberated from hit-single considerations. The Minuets helped by sprinkling a bit of midband fairy dust over everything, making the carefully studio-crafted textures as fulfilling as Steve Winwood, Jim Capaldi, and company intended them to be. This became even more apparent when I switched from an excellent Island/Capitol pressing of Spark to an inferior Island/Warner pressing, and the beloved textures turned to mush. Worn-out stampers are always a hazard of bestselling albums on vinyl. That the two pressings weren’t just different but dramatically different speaks well of the Minuet speaker’s overall resolution.

Silverline Audio’s Minuet Supreme Plus is a state-of-the-art mini-monitor that makes a perfect foundation for a compact, high-aspiring, moderately priced home theater system—or any other kind of audio system. I had endless fun with it. Alan Yun knows how to make a great loudspeaker.

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Silverline Audio
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COMMENTS
realthing61's picture

Pick me, pick me! These would be an awesome set of bedroom speakers.

Droner's picture

wow, only wish

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