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Shifting gears, I called up a new recording of a live collaboration between banjo virtuoso American Bela Fleck, and legendary Malian singer Oumou Sangare. Odd as this may seem, it is a rather natural match up, as the banjo is similar to the African instrument, the kora, and Fleck has performed virtually every type of American music, many which have their roots in Africa. The M25 allowed the majesty of Sangare’s vocals, Fleck’s complimentary support, and the backing band to each have their own space, and yet to gel as one.
I also found myself spinning a lot of Nick Drake, a performer I have been fascinated with for years, who tragically died in 1974 at the age of 26. His three studio albums are fantastic examples of a marriage between an otherworldly gifted artist and a sympathetic producer, in this case, Joe Boyd. The title track of his final album, Pink Moon, features Drake’s nylon string guitar, and cello-like voice. I have heard this track on many, many speakers, and the M25 was up to the task. It rendered Drake’s voice and guitar with nuance, and sense of presence that allowed the song to transcend from recording to performance.
I also ran through a bunch of albums with good bass content and, quite frankly, was amazed at the M25's ability in this area. The key words here are control and articulation. There was convincing bass weight as well. There was absolutely zero overhang or smearing of the low frequency that I could detect. Since I found the M25 to be extremely clean, extended, and sweet sounding in the treble, this would have been easy to hear.
U2's 2001 masterwork, All That You Can’t Leave Behind, is filled with tracks featuring rumbling bass guitar, like “Elevation”, Beautiful Day”, and “New York”. Through the M25, these songs sounded exciting with an excellent sense of momentum and drive. It really takes a well-designed speaker to offer dynamics, natural excitement, and delicacy and nuance. That is what you have here with the M25.
Finally, the midrange of the M25 was one of the purist I have heard from a sub $1000 speaker. As noted, voices were very well presented, in an impressively natural way, and the same applies to strings and the lower registers of acoustic guitar and piano. A live recording of Piano Concerto No.5 by Camille Saint-Saens, performed by Jean-Yves Thibaudet on piano with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, was lush, layered, and simply beautiful. The only thing missing was the sense of scale much larger speakers can muster.
To offer up a quick comparison, the last mini monitor I reviewed was the Anthony Gallo Acoustics CL-1, priced at $500 per pair. The Gallos were a bit more vivid, bringing you maybe one row closer, and offered up a very exciting presentation. The Gallos are fine speakers, with a long pedigree, but the M25 was bit more balanced and weighty over all. The higher cost of the M25 certainly, in part, covers the more substantial cabinetry and high quality finish.