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|A Majestic Diamond In The Rough
One look at the little cubes of the Majestic Diamonds and it's obvious that they are designed to blend as inconspicuously with your décor as possible. The stands that TBI included may be wishful thinking. I see a lot of these little Diamonds being placed on shelves and in cabinets where no regular speaker should have to tread. The Diamond's single greatest feature is that they react less negatively to such treatment than any speaker I know of. TBI may have all kinds of high-tech patent-pending explanations for this but I think it boils down to two things. First, when freestanding, the Diamonds produce no bass at all. Anybody who has ever tried placing a monitor in a shelf or against the walls knows that the first thing to get mucked up is the bass. The speaker becomes boomy and vocals in particular get congested as the lower frequencies of the vocal register fall out of balance. But since the Majestic Diamonds have no bass, all such reinforcement from walls and shelves would be a welcome addition, not a detriment (hence the need to adjust the low-pass filter adjustment on the subwoofer downward). And as high as the Majestics reach in the treble, they are more directional than a speaker with a small dome tweeter by virtue of the fact that the larger the driver relative to the size of the wavelength it produces, the more directional it will be. A 3-inch driver will always be more directional than a smaller dome and hence it will suffer fewer reflective and diffractive effects from surrounding structures.
I used the Diamonds in three systems, one of which (close to the wall in the exercise room) plays primarily AM talk radio. Unlike every other speaker in there, the TBIs produced voices that were clear and natural and free from boom. That was really nice for a change. If the Majestics had no other reasons for recommending them, they would receive the highest of recommendations for those who want to place speakers were speakers just should never be placed. It doesn't matter how good a speaker is, you won't get the performance you paid for with such poor placements and spending more than for the Majestic Diamonds is probably a real waste. Of course, I'm not just recommending them for talk radio. It is in such configurations that I'm sure the speakers would require a different setting on the subwoofer from the one I described above.
I also used them in the family room and in conjunction with that system's usual subwoofer. Even though they were a worthy upgrade from the TV's inbuilt speakers for sure, they posed no real challenge for my thrice-the-price Magnepan MC1s.
However, when set upon their stands in the much more demanding main listening room, the Majestic Diamonds fell completely out of their element. With full-range music, the Diamond's limited frequency extension throughout the treble quickly became obvious. You'll definitely want to toe the speakers in until they point right at the sweet spot. Once you move off the speaker's direct axis, treble disappears pretty quickly. As you stand in front of either speaker, the treble is so attenuated as to cause the midrange to sound greatly colored and honky. In such instances, they just cannot play to a large audience.
When optimally set up for a single seated listener, they still were a mixed bag. "Coming Back To You" from the Jennifer Warnes disc sounded generally okay but when she sings the "I" word (as in me), a fairly obvious cardboard-like coloration was clearly present. The opening chimes on "Joan Of Arc" however came as a genuine surprise. They exhibited a presence that I thought was beyond the Diamonds' capabilities even if they were a little short on treble detail. The TBI system threw a large and spacious soundfield with good image specificity and density that was generally believable. It did, however, lack the air and transparency of better regular speakers in their class.
Down low the TBI system excelled. The little Magellan VIP su subwoofer is quite the domesticated beast. It produced the 20Hz bass at the beginning of Strauss' Also Sprach Zarathustra (aka: Theme to 2001 from Telarc's The Very Best of Eric Kunzel And The Cincinnati Pops [CD 80401]) better than all but the largest of floorstanding speakers, though it fell somewhat short of the best subwoofers when it came to articulation and wall-flexing power. Still, for its price and its unobtrusive size, it did very well. On more standard fare, the Magellan really impresses. With no room-facing driver, it doesn't have the sock-you-in-the-chest kind of bass, preferring instead to energize the room and the seat of your pants. The visceral kind of chest-pounding bass can be dramatic but it wears on you eventually. The way the Magellan energizes the room is more natural and easier to live with over the long haul. Once properly adjusted, the tuned bass drums on the aforementioned Jennifer Warnes cut came across as both tonally articulate and big. Now they came out of the corner and were properly lined up against the rear wall of my room.
Stevie Ray Vaughn’s voice came through relatively unadulterated on “The House Is Rockin” (In Step [Epic EK 65874] ) lacking only in the transparency of better speakers. However, the opening distorted guitar riff suffered the same coloration I described as occasionally found in Jennifer Warnes voice. The coloration is hard to describe in a communicative way, possibly because it's rare in today's speakers and I've never come across it before. But like pornography, you'll know it when you - uh, hear it. The Magellan shone through like a little star again on the opening bass lines from "Crossfire', this time projecting both definition and weighty power. Unlike the distorted guitar tones mentioned above, the clean undistorted guitar on "Leave My Girl Alone" came through with notable clarity and correctness. The coloration problem is above the frequencies excited by the guitar and found higher up where the guitar-amp induced harmonic distortions fall. Reese Wynan's backing keyboards were likewise untainted as they rang fairly true to the source. Again on "Wall Of Denial", the VIP su subwoofer more than held up its end of the bargain by impressively reproducing the rumbling bass lines in a manner completely beyond reproach. I was already impressed by how the small sub not only gets the low rumbles right but holds it together all the way up to 130Hz, something not all subwoofers can do. Some affordable subs may get the lower bass registers right (as low as they do go) but you'd better be able to hand off to the speakers by 90 or 100Hz before that large woofer starts mucking up the works. Not so with the Magellan.
It is reported that Stevie was never comfortable with his abilities at playing jazz. Nevertheless, "Riviera Paradise" is a big and jazzy piece where SRV's guitar shares equal time with Wynan's piano and it's a great piece. Through the TBI system, it was communicated well. There were still errors but they were errors of omission - the shimmer of the cymbals was absent but this was still preferable to some of the spitty and grainy tweeters you can find in this price range. Overall transparency was good though not great but the general sound was big, open, warm and natural. The little TBIs actually do piano much better than they have a right to.
When evaluating a speaker system, I usually focus on the midrange first. Once satisfied that the midrange is up to snuff, my next priority is the treble. If the treble is good, give me as much good bass as the budget will allow. Those most suited to the TBI system will prioritize in the opposite sequence, with the bass first because that's what it does best and does very well. Considering their asking price and size, the little Majestic Diamonds are very good below the midrange and do a pretty good job with male vocals, acoustic instruments and even the piano. But they suffer some problems in the upper midrange that can occasionally get in the way of female vocals and electronic fare. The treble is surprisingly good for what it is but it's still what it is - truncated and rolled off. Further, as you move outside the speaker's axis, the treble rolls off even further. I therefore have to conclude that for a carefully chosen and set-up two-channel system, there are better choices than the Majestic Diamonds.
|However, if you are looking to put music in an office, den,|
|bedroom or any other place where you want the system to be heard but not seen, the Diamonds may be preferable to larger and more expensive speakers as part of a three-piece system. Just mount them such that their treble doesn't beam over your head and space them wide enough such that you won't often find yourself beyond their lateral positions. You'll have a system that won't suffer the nasty bass boom of most other speakers. While not perfect, these micros won't misbehave as badly as most other speakers placed on shelves or against the wall.
The Magellan VIP su subwoofer was undoubtedly the star of this show. It's a really honest piece of work. Deserving to be partnered with speakers well in excess of its price, it not only produces astounding bass for its size but it competes well with subs several times its size. To do appreciably better, you'd have to spend a good deal more and start looking at subs that either use DSP room correction or allow for equalization. If you are looking for a subwoofer that can deliver the entire last octave of bass and is small enough to not visually overwhelm even a small room, the Magellan VIP su deserves your strong consideration.
I want to thank 6moons for reviewing our Majestic/Magellan sat/sub system. They have given a fair and thorough review of these wonderful products. In requesting this review, I failed to absorb that the Majestic Diamond, a value-oriented product, would actually undergo a high-end review and failed to provide satisfactory instructions to the reviewer.
In almost every review of a high-end loudspeaker, the reviewer removes the grille if it is easily possible, assuming that this is the best mode of operation with the least obstructions near and around the drivers, especially for the mid and high-frequency drive units. As the Majestic has only one driver, it is a natural to assume that the grille should be removed since the midrange and high frequencies originate from there.
Our unique ETL technology establishes a remarkable amount of driver control from inside the enclosure to assist in matching the acoustic impedance of the small 3" driver over a broad range of frequencies. This is one of the most important attributes for a speaker driver so we use the air mass retained within the grille to assist this task by pre-loading the port (velocity-to-pressure conversion) for driver control and to ameliorate high-frequency beaming of the single driver. Wide dispersion is one of the main attributes of the Majestic Diamond as we have demonstrated many times.
For customers: "The grille should always be left on this product for performance and aesthetics". Please accept my apologies for not mentioning this prior to the review so that your readers could get a more accurate portrayal of this model's performance.
Again I would like to thank John Potis and Srajan for this revealing review.
Jan Plummer, TBI
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