SIX-MOONS audioreviews: IV

Two very different proximity effects. To test my suspicion that sheer proximity on the desktop wasn’t unlike standing in a frontal room corner where trapped bass energies compound and boom whilst your seat many metres removed may be blissfully oblivious to those compression zones unless its own placement happened to coincide with a room node, I moved the Mansion Compact into one of my wife’s systems. This is a typical credenza-type scenario up against a wall, with a listening distance of 2.2m. It’s how many people set up a hifi in a studio or bedroom, hence a quite representative final destination for any compact monitor, particularly one as pretty as this.

This is a low-to-medium SPL entertainment center not intended to do Jupiter Ascending blockbusters but character-driven fare like The Good Wife or one of the many cooking videos Ivette enjoys to get inspiration for new dishes. Close wall placement obviously enhances boundary gain in the bass. That’s unlike my desktop where there isn’t a front wall which might load a speaker’s bass. Too, this setup so isn’t about audiophile dweebery, massive lead-shot filled stands on lethal spikes and related excess. This system has to be cosmetically pleasing and unassuming to blend seamlessly into the environment’s background. No altar to stereo allowed. Audiophiles routinely overlook that normal folks aren’t willing to suffer for sonic beauty.

The Coin Audio boxes slipped in without upsetting this balance. They occupied only marginally more width but took up all available depth. Like the Amphions, distance between rear baffles and wall was 1.5″. Cueing up Mercan Dede’s Nefes/Breath album for a serious infrasonic workout that would put maximal stress on potential bass lumps, my sonic dish now was without clots. Despite the wall which might predict serious aggravation of bass issues, putting more sitting distance between ears and open plinths is what did the trick. After all, this company wouldn’t have stuck with the physical design and migrated it intact to the floorstander if it caused problems under normal conditions. In fact, this proximity effect (between front wall and speaker rather than between speaker and listener) wasn’t merely benign but actually beneficial to build out bass reach. For this system’s intended non-mayhem application, good 40Hz bass crossed off all desires and eclipsed what the prior Amphions could do.

This wasn’t just about added extension and power, however. On rhythmically driven prickly fare like oudist Adnan Joubran’s Borders Behind, I heard no bloating or congealed overlay on the midband. Bass gains hadn’t been paid for in articulation coin. Another asset particularly for video was enhanced speech intelligibility from the very dynamic and informative air-motion transformer tweeters. Being able to follow dialogue embedded in recorded ambient noise without having to get loud is a major practical boon especially for late-night consumption.

If offered the Coin Audio monitors to replace her trusty Amphions—this phrasing strategically bypassed the money question to focus purely on looks and sound—I asked Ivette whether she’d accept and if so, why. Using her Jon Favreau written and directed Chef flick as decider, she immediately felt that the Mansion Compact staged wider, deeper and more out of the box. Surprised, she confessed how this enhanced her perception of also visual depth to make the on-screen action feel more multi-layered. She cited better lower bass and how all the voices were richer and more distinctive like in the below scene. Restaurant hostess Scarlett Johansson, owner Dustin Hoffman and food critic Oliver Platt have an uncomfortable exchange due to chef Jon Favreau having been sidelined. His boss elected to play it safe and serve Platt the exact same meal he’d critiqued after their original opening. Seconds late the agitated chef breaches the scene to confront a very bemused foodie writer with a major tantrum. Guests look on and immortalize the exchange on cell phone video which is uploaded immediately to the web to set the real food truck story in motion.

In the subsequent scene where Jon Favreau phones his clueless PR agent for advice, Ivette noticed how that Hollywood woman’s pat delivery was more nasally pronounced than she’d heard before to reveal more about her character. In short, her take on the Coins was that they surpassed the Finns on all counts and particularly so on dimensionality where the Amphions struck her as somewhat flat by contrast. The Danish-designed looks too passed with flying colours. Had my offer been serious rather than a ploy, a bill would have been due in quick succession. Moving right along…