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My Audio Design 1920 Loudspeaker

When It’s All About

the Music

 

 June,2012

 

 

 



One of the numerous problems that I tend to encounter whenever I attend a high-end show is the gnawing feeling that there was either a room that I promised someone I’d visit and forgot, or that I went into a room focusing on seeing just one particular component and completely missed other great products in that same room. This usually happens while I’m reading someone else’s show report and see them enthusing over a product in a room that I visited but didn’t notice. That was the case with the My Audio Design 1920 loudspeaker from England.

The MAD loudspeakers were in the same room as the new Bob Carver Black Beauty mono amps, Purity Audio preamp and King Sound loudspeakers, so needless to say that those products got my attention more so than did the MAD 1920s, which were part of a small setup off to the side. Besides, the 1920s are the epitome of a British monitor: small, aesthetically bland, and upon first listen, very polite sounding. On the other hand the lovely Carver tube amps and huge King Sound King II loudspeakers were screaming, “look at me!” and of course, I did.

But MAD’s Timothy Jung didn’t let me get away without spending a few minutes listening to the 1920s, though in all honesty, my attention was long gone by then. But I gave him my business card anyway figuring that his little speaker may be worth reconnecting with some time after the show. Sure enough, a few weeks later I received an email from Jung asking if I’d be interested in a review of the 1920s. I wrote back that I would, though frankly, I couldn’t even remember having heard them at the show. So I went to visit the My Audio Design website to learn more about this proper British speaker builder.

About My Audio Design

MAD was co-founded in 2005, by Tim Jung (who had been designing speakers since he was twelve) and a few other professional musicians and engineers. Jung was trained in psychotherapy and specialized in group analysis. He used the skills he learned conducting group analysis into loudspeaker design, leaving the musicians he works with to call him the “MAD Conductor.” He prefers to think of himself as more of a conductor R&D analysis. “Without the emotional input from our musicians, and the technical expertise of our designers and engineers, we can never produce speakers of the calibre that we do,” said Jung. “We design products in unique way, combining the musical sensibilities of top British musicians and the technological advancement of the transducer and material technology. Our emphasis is on musical coherence allied to aesthetic perfection.”

MAD has a vast offering of loudspeakers which encompasses five different lines. The 1900 Series looks to be their least expensive line and the 1920s are the smallest model.


Design and features


The 1920 is a two-way design featuring a 1” neodymium tweeter and 5.7” ultra precision mid/bass driver. The cabinet is made with MAD’s proprietary DRC technology, which combines layers of materials of varying density, which reduces resonance. The front baffle is covered with what looks like a black velvet material. The cabinet measures about 11” x 7.5” x 9” (HWD) and weighs about 12 lbs. It has a rear port so it can be placed near a rear wall to enhance bass. Also on the back are a set of five-way speaker posts and a silver nameplate that is attached to the speaker using double-sided tape. All in all, the 1920 is actually a pretty elegant looking speaker in that uniquely British way. Internally, the 1920’s crossover is point-to-point wired with silver solder and 99.99997% pure copper wire. The circuits use diamond silver capacitors with 99.997% diamond silver conductors and audiophile-grade air/iron core inductors. The review pair came in a fairly attractive walnut veneer, but other colors are available.

I wasn’t provided stands for the 1920s so I used a pair of 26” high Tyler Acoustics stands that I had on hand. They worked famously. The fit-n-finish of the speakers was fine and actually didn’t look half bad sitting on the Tyler stands. But of course looks aren’t the most important part of a speaker evaluation so I won’t spend more time on the subject.

System and setup
I set the 1920s up in my secondary listening which is about 12’ x 12’ with 8’ ceilings and carpeted floors. The speakers sat about 2’ from the rear wall and were spaced about 8’ apart on center. My listening position was 8’ back from the front baffle of the speakers and my ear height was about 40’, just slightly above the height of the tweeters. I used my 300 watt Vitus Audio RI-100 and 80 watt Consonance A120 integrated amps and the OPPO Digital DV-980H universal disc player. The system was connected with all Morrow Audio cables. I also sat an Entreq Vibbeater atop each speaker to add weight and tame any stray cabinet resonance. The price and power of the A120 was more in line with the MAD speaker, so I used it for most of my critical listening. Now that I was set up, I could focus only on the music which is what this is all about anyway, right?

Musically speaking
There was no break-in period required of these speakers so I just gathered my stack of discs, closed the door and got started.

Now admittedly, there was nothing about these speakers that told me that I would be wowed by them once I started to play music. It was obvious that the 1920s were intended to stir memories of the legendary Rogers and Spendor LS3/5a or even the Linn Kans. At the very least I expected them to be musical and image well. But Oh-My-God! The first song I played was Melody Gardot’s “Baby I’m A Fool” from her My One and Only Thrill CD [Verve]. Sitting in the dark, in quiet intimacy of my listening room, it was as if she was oozing out of the 1920's and right into my ears. Her elegantly jazzy voice hung in the air, allowing me to enjoy even the moistening of her lips between pauses. The 1920s do some job of imaging and filling in the soundstage without becoming overwhelmed by it. The orchestra that supports her seems to occupy real space and the instruments maintain cohesion and don’t smear over each other. The bass is not shockingly deep, but is more than good. I would have liked to have had a good subwoofer on hand, but I didn’t mind because what the 1920s do well, more than makes up for it. Track 3, “Who Will Comfort Me,” was another song that came to life through the 1920s. A Hammond organ is used on this track and it really comes through with all of its richness and resonance intact. That’s something that I haven’t even noticed from much larger speakers including my own reference Escalante Design Fremonts.

The next disc was drummer Kendrick Scott Oracle’s The Source [World Culture Music]. Track 5, “Journey” is a wonderful tune which features the vocals of one of my favorite new singers, Gretchen Parlato. The music is rendered with what I call “intimate dynamics,” meaning that you can hear so deeply into the music that it sounds louder and more detailed than you would imagine for playing at relatively low volume levels. Track 6, “VCB,” is a brief showcase of Scott’s percussion skills, and they are considerable. He plays cymbals to great effect on this tune and the realism with which the 1920s portray this song is stellar. The decay of the cymbal crashes realistically linger but are not harsh or bright. Instead it’s… well, musical.

As you would expect the musicality of these speakers is far and away their best trait, but that’s among many wonderful traits. But these speakers don’t try to be all things to all music lovers. Some folks will just never do without deep, deep bass or speakers that can faithfully reproduce a pipe organ. But if live music, particularly jazz, is your thing then you will be delighted with this speaker. I played one of my favorite live discs, Patricia Barber Live: A Fortnight In France [Blue Note]. Track 3, “Crash” is an up tempo and dynamic tune that showcases Barber’s band, particularly her drummer Eric Montzka, whose playing really benefits from the 1920’s ability to deliver fast transient response and pace. Barber’s own work on piano is also great in this regard. Track 8, “Norwegian Wood,” serves to remind of the uniqueness of Barber’s voice and again plays to these speaker’s strengths. Not only is the breathy quality of her voice captured well, but so too is the feeling and atmosphere of the venue in which she is performing. Having heard Barber a few times at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill jazz club, listening to her through this system was an enjoyably familiar experience.

Conclusion
As you could tell from the way I started this review, I truly didn’t have any great expectations of these speakers. But I was also reminded of what’s most important in audio system evaluation: the ability to reproduce music. That is where the true beauty of the MAD loudspeakers shines through.

I should note that I didn’t find out about the $2,999 price tag for the 1920s until I was nearly finished writing this review. I immediately thought of how much competition there is in the under $5,000 category, namely the $4,000 Penaudio Cenyas and $3,600 Lawrence Audio Violins.

But the My Audio Design 1920 loudspeakers will stand up to this competition without flinching, and should be considered by anyone looking for a speaker in this price range. This is not a speaker that will make people take notice unless they’re playing music. At that point you will be hooked and will come to appreciate them for what’s most important… playing music.





Specifications
My Audio Design 1920 Loudspeaker
Drivers: HF 22 mm Neodymium supersonic tweeter, LF 145 mm ultra precision mid/bass driver
Frequency Response: 58 Hz-40 kHz
Crossover Frequency: 2000 Hz
Sensitivity: 90dB@1w@1 metre
Dimensions: 280 x 190 x 230 mm
Weight: 5.5kg
Price: $2,999.00/pair

Address:
My Audio Design
6 Whitehorse Road
London Croydon
CR0 2AX
Tel: 0208 123 9789
E-mail:sales@madengland.com
Website: http://www.madengland.com