Shortly after I had finished the big Model T review, the Mini Ts arrived. They are about one-half the size of the big Ts and are designed for placement on stands.
Fit, Finish & Specifications
Bryston states that the Mini Ts were built to high standards with new driver designs, minimal enclosure resonance and maximal design refinement for the crossovers. All important design elements were thoroughly researched and tested in an anechoic chamber. The custom made drivers feature die-cast aluminum baskets with hefty magnet assemblies and a custom motor system.
Frequency Response: 40Hz to 22Khz (+/- 3dB); Impedance: 4 Ohms (nominal); Sensitivity: 88 dB SPL @ 1 meter with 1 watt (anechoic); Maximum SPL: 100 dB SPL @ 1 meter; Recommended Power: 10 watts to 200 watts RMS; Tweeter: Single 1.0"; Midrange: Single 5.5"; Mid-Woofer: Single 8.0"; Crossover: 160 Hz & 2.3kHz
They measure 22.5” high x 10.5” wide x 10.0” deep (572mm H x 267mm W x 255mm D) and weigh 39 Ibs (17.7 kg) each. Available (and optional) finishes in addition to black ash include natural cherry (vinyl), Boston cherry (vinyl) and hardwood veneer. (For more information, go to www.bryston.com)
The Sound & Impressions
Whenever I think of relatively low priced loudspeakers, many well known mass-market brands come mind — most of which hold no interest for me. Many produce good speakers that work well with a wide range of equipment, but only few qualify to play back and do justice to the music, this is where the mini ts come in — and at $2550/pair (plus stands) represent highly affordable quality by today's standards. The Minis boast remarkable accuracy, overall balance and musicality, sonic elements found in complex loudspeaker designs costing more than double. The technical information is in the specifications, but a few details deserve note:
The Mini Ts do a better job of providing solid bass than any other so-called bookshelf speakers I have encountered at or close to their price range. They can produce or reproduce a true 35Hz at low to moderate volumes with excellent control, whereas most speakers in this price range either give up well above 40Hz or wind up with serious boominess.
The crossover is extremely smooth across the band. Many loudspeakers in the higher price claim advanced technology and components, but still reveal minor problems, the Minis, however, rival much more expensive designs in their seamlessness and integration.
The Minis' radiation pattern is extremely well chosen. Imaging is excellent over a relatively wide listening area, but room interaction remains limited. There are no major shifts in imaging and sound-stage as frequencies rise — a problem with virtually all loudspeaker design, but most noticeable in relatively inexpensive models.
Power handling is simply "great". This is not a rock speaker in the sense that one can drive the eardrums into the scull. Nor can one push bass output to the level of a loudspeaker twice its size. For this, one needs the larger Model T. Nevertheless, the Minis will handle orchestral fortissimos, energetic big band jazz and rock; and they will easily do the blues and small jazz ensembles — and they do all of that very well indeed.
The Listening Room
I placed the Minis right next to their big siblings on my own lead-filled stands and connected them with all the amplifiers I had in house. This included the Bryston 7B SST Squared monoblocks, the Allnic T 2000 and the Tenor 175 S —all connected to the Modwright LS 36.5 preamplifier with cables from XLO, Argentum and Bis. For a few days, I listened to a variety of music with the Bryston amps and thought that there was plenty of sonic resemblance with the big Model Ts. Top/high frequencies were almost identical, as was the upper bass region and lower midrange, but there was a difference in the pure midrange and middle high segments. Upon listening to this system for some time, I decided that the midrange section showed slightly more liveliness than the Model T, perhaps not as neutral or organic in nature, but certainly attractive and actually preferred by this listener. Bass, while not as full-bodied and sonorous as the Model Ts', was nevertheless remarkably deep, tight and fast. When I changed from the inexpensive Argentum cables to the expensive XLOs, bass improved noticeably — an indication that the Minis readily reveal the benefit of good cabling.
Next up, I changed to the Allnic 70 watts/channel tube job. Yes! This combination provided what tube lovers like the most — loads of harmonics, smooth highs, great midrange and astoundingly solid bass. Changing from expensive to inexpensive cables diminished bass resolution and a little of its body, but not enough to miss the musical essence of bass-producing instruments and their timbre. It is obvious to me that the Minis have a good dose of neutrality, though not to the same extent as the Model Ts. However, all changes I made while auditioning (cables amplifiers, interconnects, etc.) were faithfully reproduced, which means that any decent amp or even a —dare I say it — receiver will effortlessly drive the Minis.
Saved the best for the last. I connected the awesome Tenor amplifier, actually to both the Model Ts and the Minis, with the same preamp and same cables. Two things happened: the Model Ts sounded like a $25K pair of speakers and the Minis sounded like a $8k pair of speakers— and I am not kidding. The unlikely combinations proved that both models can reproduce very high quality sound although a fine system can be assembled without breaking the bank and enables upgrading whenever you win the lottery. As I do not have to worry about who is paying for my passion, I choose the Tenor/Bryston speaker combination as the best, but in reality any other good amp will do. Let's not forget that out-of-this-world sound warrants out-of-this-world prices, but it is good to know that paying big bucks is not mandatory when you buy either the Model T or the Mini T.
It is difficult to describe the performance of a single electronic component as it interacts with associated equipment, and an evaluation must take the entire system into account. Reviewing system combinations that uses one loudspeaker — the Minis — and different amplifiers reveals the significance of compatibility or synergy to attain good musical performance. I believe that the Minis have what it takes to achieve great musical performance proficiency ultimately influenced by the back-up amps, preamps, source components and cabling. All systems provided engaging overall sound — effortless, intimate, and musical and involving; the listener will enjoy the texture of the music or vocals no matter what genre or volume level. One of my usual auditioning CDs is the Adagio d'Albinoni performed by Gary Kaar on a classic Amati contrabass built in the 1700s. The instrument's amazing range, its timbre, and overall tonal property is unique and all system combinations revealed its distinctive elements. With the Bryston monoblocks and the Allnic amp, the sound is astoundingly good, but the Mini/Tenor combination manages a deeper listening involvement, the kind that captures the very spirit and soul of this instrument. For my final listening test, I played back another wonderful and revealing CD — Todo Sobre Di Madre CD (Spanish Universal 626208-2). This full orchestral work contains big bass drums, electronic music, violins, trumpet and the kitchen sink. The material is a workout for any and all audio components and the Mini Ts connected to all amps handled it effortlessly and with a perspicuity that allows literally hearing into the performance; this translates into transparency and sound that is never strained or synthetic.
As with my auditions with the Model T, every time I made a change, the Minis changed as well and reflected the back-up components' sonic temperament. This makes it easy to customize sound as the loudspeakers simply play back what they "see" — hopefully it's good enough to play back your music. Almost forgot my final though — the up-and coming subwoofer. If added to the Minis, watch out it should provide real full-range bass down to about 25Hz, and it should be great.
The Inner Ear has never published a list of recommended components — too many variables to consider — but I have no hesitation recommending the Mini Ts, as I am sure they will work well with anything resembling an amplifier