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Set Up & Listening
I set the 1920Ss up on 26” Sound Anchor stands, with about 20 degrees of toe in. I drove them with my McIntosh MA6600 200 watts per channel integrated amp, connected via recently reviewed Transparent "The Wave" speaker cable. I never had to play with position or associated gear after that; they were unfussy.
I started off the 1920S monitors with a nice dose of heavy rock n roll from Velvet Revolver, Stone Temple Pilots, and Guns N’ Roses. Maybe it seems a bit sadistic when evaluating monitors, but let me tell you, I was quite taken aback at how coherent and composed the 1920Ss remained even when the volume was cranked past the comfort level. Imaging was spectacular, and I heard little details in the mix I had previously overlooked. Of course, the only thing that was absent was realistic heaviness of bass guitar and bass drum, but I have to say, this was not a deal killer in any way due to the overall balance of the speaker.
I then went on a serious Richard Ashcroft bender. Ashcroft is the criminally overlooked mastermind behind the great English band, The Verve. His solo albums are very well recorded and an amazing tapestry of modern electronic and alternative rock. Ashcroft’s voice was rendered just superbly; as a matter of fact, it maybe my favorite rendering to date. The somewhat dense arrangements and creative embellishments such as strings and percussion were amazingly easy place in the mix. Goose bump moments don’t come often, but they were here in spades, especially on tracks from Ashcroft’s masterwork, Alone With Everybody, such as “Song For The Lovers”, "I Get My Beat”, and “On A Beach”.
The 1920S was terrific on jazz as well. Various live recordings I cued up from Pat Metheny, Pharoah Sanders, and Omar Sosa, all sounded textured and tonally correct. I can see why MAD says their speakers are suitable for professional use. Their capabilities with dynamic swings and their ability to play loud are beyond what their size would indicate. Maybe this corroborates MAD’s claims about their cabinet engineering.
The essence of the 1920S came down to balance and tonal correctness. Naturally recorded voices, piano, and percussion let you suspend disbelief, and sit back enjoy musical performances. These are not speakers that offer tweeter sizzle or mid-bass bloat in an attempt to impress in the short term. These speakers were voiced as “keepers”.
As mentioned above, I have a bit of a history with British-made mini monitors, and I have heard a good number of variations. Times have changed, and speaker design has made advancements that would have been hard to predict thirty-five or forty years ago. The use of computer-aided modeling, better partnering components and cables, and the availability of higher quality parts have changed the game. That being said, an original Rogers LS3/5A or Spendor variation still sound damn good, but they don’t compete technically with today's better offerings.
MAD has taken a lot of the old LS3/5A goodness -- namely, the seductive midrange and engaging musicality -- and brought it to the modern listener. The 1920S goes deeper, has a more open top end, and is easier to drive than BBC style monitors of yesteryear. The workmanship on the 1920S is classy, and they offer a pride of ownership. At approx $3500, the Signature version of the 1920 are not cheap for a two-way, for sure, but they offer excellent performance within their class. I strongly recommend an audition if you are looking for a modern sounding monitor that retains the virtues of the classics in this category. This is a high fidelity loudspeaker.