Mordaunt-Short Mezzo Loudspeakers and Subwoofer Review 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Todd Whitesel   
Thursday, 10 March 2011

I'm a dog lover. I have two English Springer Spaniels, 7 years apart in age, and both are my favorites. I would hate to choose between the two and don't think I could. In the same respect, it's hard to separate my thoughts of Mordaunt-Short's Mezzo speakers from Cambridge Audio's Azur 650R AV Receiver. I lived with both for several months, and the pairing took my living room/entertainment room to a new level. The Mordaunt-Short Mezzo lineup includes six speakers, four of which feature in this review: a pair of Mezzo 2 stand-mount speakers ($795), a pair of Mezzo 6 floorstanders ($1,495), one Mezzo 5 center speaker ($595) and the Mezzo 9 subwoofer ($1,295).

Design & Specs

The Mezzos all feature curved cabinets, which according to Mordaunt-Short, “discourages the build up of standing waves for a cleaner and more realistic sound.” But what truly distinguishes them is  Mordaunt-Short's Aspirated Tweeter Technology (ATT). Each ATT features a 1-inch aluminum dome tweeter positioned at the very top of the speaker cabinet, with half of the tweeter face above the cabinet top. Here, a vented rubber mount runs across the top, capping a series of vents that look something like the pipes of a church organ. Mordaunt-Short tells us the tweeter unit floats in its own enclosure, while and the whole works is engineered to let the tweeter “breathe” and eliminate colorations that may occur in closed-back designs.

Along with the 1-inch ATT tweeter, the Mezzo 2 sports a 6.5-inch aluminum CPC (Continuous Profile Cone) mid/bass driver; the Mezzo 5 features twin 5.25-inch aluminum CPC drivers; while the Mezzo 6 features two 6.5-inch CPC drivers and comes with a base plate and metal spikes, along with rubber caps, for firm footing and to protect wood floors. The Mezzos are bi-wirable, easy to drive, rated at 89dB sensitivity, and can be powered by as little as 15 watts. Magnetic grille covers can easily be removed and/or reattached as desired. The Mezzo sub sports a pair of 8-inch aluminum CPC long-throw drivers and features a sophisticated digital sound processing engine with several filtering and mode options that can be adjusted using a remote or controls on the cabinet. The Mezzo 9 sub's grille, instead, features a tab for removal. The speakers are available in black, oak or walnut finish. My review set (as pictured within) were dressed in walnut.

center

The Sound

The Mezzos are extremely detailed and precise and perform equally well with music or movies. My focus here is on music, because that's where you'll really get the full Mezzo experience. I've read other reviews that describe them as sounding somewhat clinical, and to some extent I agree but not in a pejorative sense. They are undeniably clean-sounding, but it's a natural clarity without coloration or flabbiness. To use an analogy, I would compare the Mezzos to a marathon runner – swift, lean, graceful and efficient. The subwoofer is a powerful beast of many colors, and can be dialed in to your sonic tastes or to compensate for a room's deficiencies in seconds.

As a 5.1 system, the Mezzos impressed me by their coherency and ability to handle everything from hard rock to classical to jazz, as well as movie soundtracks and dialogue. The center channel speaker is often the forgotten hero, since most of the time its focus is the spoken word. Mezzo 5 is an example of how important the center speaker is for top performance in a surround system. Of all its brethren, the Mezzo 5 makes full use of the aspirated tweeter to deliver clean, clear voices, be they talking or singing. Most impressive, though, is the utterly convincing panoramic sound when fed multi-channel signals. In my review of the Cambridge Audio Azur 650R, I noted how realistic and fresh and new surround discs sound through the Cambridge/Mezzo setup. One SACD that kept me coming back was Dennis Kolen's Northeim Goldmine, a multi-channel disc from Germany's Stockfisch Records. Kolen's music recalls folk singers of the 1970s, such as James Taylor, and this recording is a stunner. The sense of space and channel separation is as good as I've heard; Kolen's voice is studio quality through the Mezzo center channel. Meanwhile, the guitar chords and lines have awesome resolution and stability.

For pure stereo listening, the floorstanding Mezzo 6s deliver accurate music reproduction without coloration or boominess. They are smooth and easy on the ear, yet not soft or dull. The 1994 release, Talking Timbuktu, spotlights the prodigious guitar skills of Ry Cooder and Ali Farka Toure. It's also full of dynamic shifts, subtle and otherwise, and with the 6s percussion instruments had a fiery snap and crackle; transients and attacks are fast and decays natural-sounding. And they bring the energy on tracks such as Bob Dylan's “Lonesome Day Blues,” a hypnotic grinder from 2001's Love And Theft. This became my “go-to” track when showing off the Mezzos and Azur for friends, as it revealed the strengths of this system – powerful, precise and captivating.

subwoofer

I think when you spend hundreds – or thousands – of dollars on speakers, you should not only get good sound but sound build and stylish design. The Mezzos answer on all accounts, delivering the audio in a handsome package and comparatively small footprint. Even with this 6-speaker array in my modest 14-foot by 20-foot living room, I never felt like the Mordaunt-Shorts were taking over. They just blended in nicely with the rest of the décor and made my music and movies come alive.

Final Thoughts

The overall (and individual) performance of the Mezzos make a strong argument that these newcomers can hold their own against costlier speakers. This is an excellent speaker system that would work well in most home-theater settings. If you require the heaviest slamming bass, the Mezzos may disappoint, but that's what the sub is for. Pair the Mordaunt-Shorts with an equally excellent receiver and you'll get great results. Purist audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike are strongly encouraged to audition the Mezzos.

System Setup


Cambridge Audio Azur 650R AV Receiver
Mordaunt-Short Mezzo 2, 5, 6 and 9 speakers
Samsung LN32C530 LCD TV
Oppo BDP-80 Blu-ray Disc Player
Logitech Squeezebox Duet
Veloce 75 ohm digital cable
Better Cables Silver Serpent Reference HMDI cable
Better Cables Premium Anniversary Edition Speaker Cables (3 meter/bananas)
Monster Cable 400sw Subwoofer Cable (4 meters)
Monster Cable XP MKII Speaker Cable






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