EVOLUTION ACOUSTICS MMMicroOne
$4,000 PER PAIR INCLUDING STANDS
JAMES L. DARBY
-2014 BEST SMALL SPEAKER-
This is the second Evolution Acoustics speaker we have reviewed. The first, the MMMiniTwo, set a pretty high bar. Of it we said, “The Evolution Acoustics MMMiniTwo time after time, without fail, through thousands of different musical selections across every musical style, decade and century, gave us the most musically enjoyable, exhilarating, rewarding and satisfying musical experience we had yet relished in our 30 plus year audio journey. While we are not sure what the “MM” designation really stands for, in our book it’s Maximum Mojo.”
So now, we are about to do the unspeakable - the unthinkable - ╩and compare the $39,000 MMMiniTwo (scantily clad model not included) to the $4,000 c! True, it sounds unfair and possibly even unethical. But, if you know anything about StereoMojo, we are never unfair and never, ever unethical. The reason behind the madness is that the MMMicroOne has much more in common with its big brother than they are disparate.╩ Also, I might mention that in audio blogs all over the net, the little MMMicroOne has been compared favorably to a very heavily advertised $165,000 speaker, the Magico Q7. Really. But we’re not getting in the middle of that. We deal in facts we know.
Fact one: both Evolution Acoustics models employ stacked, multilayer construction of their cabinets Which makes them structurally inert and sonically diffuse. Cabinet resonance is a major factor in speaker performance because cabinet vibrations cause sound waves that conflict, compete with and degrade the pure sound waves produced by the drivers. When a box vibrates, it puts out waves in every direction that can cause phase, timing and frequency distortion that confuses the ear/brain path with thousands of micro echoes that have to be filtered out and adjusted to make sense out of the projected sound. Images become blurred and smeared which is the opposite of what the drivers are trying to do.╩ It also causes ear fatigue, which manifests itself in short attention spans. After listening for time, your mind starts to think of other things you could be doing and you otherwise just become uncomfortable with continued listening. Bad. Very bad.
Linda and I can attest to dozens and dozens of listening sessions lasting four hours or more with no fatigue; these speakers make you want to listen more.
╩Fact two: both models used drivers that are designed and engineered by EA ; there are no off-the-shelf drivers here. What you get are Pleated Diaphragm Air Velocity tweeters and Ceramic Matrix mid woofers. What you do not get in the $4000 model are separate cabinets that house woofers self powered by 1000 W amplifiers that plunged to the depth of 15 Hz or lower - in room response. However, what you do get is a very solid 35 Hz bottom end that many floor standers can’t achieve. That’s low enough to cover anything a bass guitar can dish out and about 99% of everything else that is considered low bass.
Just look at this driver. That's a very light weight ceramic cone controlled by a massive magnet. Control is the operative word. The other is SPEED. Big magnet, feather-weight cone = speed that sounds like an electrostat. Speed gives you the note, the whole note and nothing but the from beginning to end. Heavier, more cumbersome weight means slower response which reveals itself by not quite catching the leading edges of all things percussive from bells, drum sets, cymbals, all the way up to harps and pianos. The result is a less musical, less realistic performance. The MiniOne misses nothing. Players play and singers sing with a truthfulness not often heard, especially in a speaker this size and price.
Full range? No. In room bass falls off below 35 Hz which still gives you 90% of everything on the down low. Therefore, if you are a pipe organ aficionado, you do not want these as your main speakers - unless you add a high-quality, very fast subwoofer.╩ Good luck with finding one with the speed of the speakers. Nothing worse than a bass player lagging behind the beat in the pocket. You may not recognize the struggle of the sub to keep up, but you just feel like something is off; not quite right. You'll be less drawn in and immersed. Speed does kill after all.
What needs to be pointed here is that there’s a difference between low frequency quantity as expressed in hertz versus low frequency quality for which no measurement exists.╩ Things like texture, tunefulness, musicality and feel can’t be measured except by our ears, but they are very important qualities that set apart one speaker from another. For example, through many speakers a bass guitar sounds like a bass guitar, but there are many sonic qualities that differ from one bass guitar to another.╩ Go into any music store and you’ll see dozens of different brands and styles of bass guitars. They all sound different. How the strings are played is important. That’s what sets one player apart from another.╩ Good speakers will let you hear those differences if you listen for them. Great speakers convey those differences without having to listen for them; they are just there.
Of course, that applies to every sound on a recording. Here, let me use this analogy. Take the Khachaturian Piano Concerto in D flat major. It just happens to be my favorite piano Concerto. I performed it for my junior year recital in college. Someone just starting out learning to play the piano would take one look at the music and set aside. Way too complex and difficult. Someone who studied classical piano for several years but doesn’t really have much talent might have the courage to attempt it, but probably would not fare very well.╩ This is the type of thing we see on shows like American Idol and others. A few of these kids can technically hit the notes, sometimes even remotely close to pitch, but just don’t deliver a moving performance. (The same goes for many that pass as rock stars or other musical celebrities, though they might look good on a video).╩ Now say you have an advanced student that has adequate technique and practices until he can play every note on the pages exactly as written.╩ The problem with that is that no “music” exists on the written page. Its just ink on paper. Where the real music happens is when a true artist brings it to life, takes the inked notes and turns them into living, breathing, emotionally moving performance.
It’s the same with stereo equipment.╩ Some speakers can barely get the notes right while others can play all the notes flawlessly but do not render living, breathing, realistic emotionally moving performances.╩ The quandary emerges when people disagree about the particular artist’s interpretation of the music.╩ I have dozens of recordings of the cacciatore and piano Concerto in D flat major. They are all different. A few make me want to stand up and applaud at the end. Others not so much.╩ Maybe it’s tempo or some nuances that presented challenges or opportunities that were either glorified or missed altogether. But every one of them expresses a point of view on the piece -╩ if the friggen stereo was capable of letting me hear those nuances, challenges and opportunities where the artist either triumphed or failed.╩ Get it?
╩Real music is full of subtleties, even if it’s a grunge punk band that does nothing but play loud scream into the microphone.╩ There’s great ones and putrid ones (I almost said “rancid” but that’s an actual name of a band╔.╩ There’s probably one named “Putrid” as well╔).╩ Therefore, speakers must be able to reproduce those subtleties if we are to call it something akin to " realistic”.
Cutting to the chase, what you really want to know is, “Does the evolution acoustics MMMincroOne do all the things you just described?” Right?
╩Answer: Oh HAIL yes!
╩For the most part, you can read the review of the $39,000 speaker and assign all of its attributes to the $4000. Except for the low bass. I’m not gonna lie. I miss those low frequencies. I’m spoiled. But, if I had a situation where I was limited to small speakers like these, I have not heard any stand mount speaker that I would take over these; and I’ve heard many small speakers priced at $25,000 and more. And yes, I would much rather listen to these than many, many large speakers that cost many times more and even go 15 Hz or so lower if those 15 Hz suck.
Lastly, let me talk about the speaker stands. They are included in the $4,000 price and it’s a good thing they are because they make a significant improvement in the overall sound of the speakers. The stands use a mechanism to attach themselves; with resonance controlling material in between, so firmly to the speakers that you would think the stands are just an extension of the speakers. Perch the speakers on anything else and you’re going to have less performance. But knowing Jonathan Tinn, I’m sure it was not an option to have the stands be an option because he’s such a perfectionist that he wouldn’t want anything in his control to compromise the sound of his speaker.╩ He can’t control the rest of your system, but he can control what his babies sit on.
╩Let me say this in parting; if he charged you four thousand dollars just for the speakers and then tacked on another two grand for the stands, the MicroOne’s would still be the steal of the century. And you would want to buy the stands if you heard them.
The╩ Evolution Acoustics MMMicroOne’s╩ are recommended for anyone who╩ highly values music reproduction in situations where larger speakers will not work.╩ I played them in both small rooms (10X12X9) and the main listening room (25 x 30 with high ceilings) and the MMMicroOne’s were very much at home either place.
╩The sensitivity is rated at 87dB so have a good 60 to 100 W per channel. You don’t want to clip ceramic drivers. Maximum power is stated at 250 W per channel. Even better.
We consider the Evolution MMMicroOne as a giant killing, hi-end grand larceny. But hey, what's a little felony between friends?
Because of the outstanding price to performance ratio, we have given the EVOLUTION ACOUSTICS MMMicroOne our highest
MAXIMUM MOJO award. Congratulations to JONATHAN TINN and EVOLUTION ACOUSTICS
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