- Written by John E. Johnson, Jr.
- Published on 25 February 2008
I tested the MTS-01's with a McIntosh MCD201 SACD player, BAT VK-5i preamplifier, and McIntosh MC1201 power amplifiers. Cables were Legenburg and Nordost. I found that music averaged about 10 watts with peaks at 120 watts for room filling volume. These speakers are mirror images, so the tweeter is closer to the right edge on one speaker and closer to the left edge on the other speaker. You can set them up so the tweeters are both on the outside edges or the inside edges left to right, and see which setup gives you the best imaging in your particular room with nearby furniture.
Rachmaninoff is probably a favorite of every classical music fan, and certainly me. His music is very difficult to play, and the melodies are very passionate. He was a complex guy, what can I say? In any case, his symphonies are great tests for speakers, and the MTS-01's simply floored me with their ability to present every nuance. Putting that exqisite tweeter in there surely paid off in sound quality. The sound from this Telarc SACD was very focused and detailed, with no hint of boominess or excessive sibilance. The bass was very tight. Yes, the speakers could use a good sub to fill in the lowest octave, but all speakers can use that. However, I was surprised to hear the amount of bass even though these are not really large speakers. You will see why in the bench tests.
They also sounded extremely neutral. No emphasis in the lows, mids, or highs.
Chamber music is probably my favorite in the classical arena, because I usually read the newspaper or a book when I listen to music, and this category is very relaxing. It's not toe tapping music, it's soothing. What I listened for with this EMI disc of Bartok string quartets was the rosin on the strings and definite placement of the instruments across the soundstage. And, that is exactly what I got. That fancy tweeter makes a huge difference, and you are very unlikely to find it in other speakers with this price tag.
Ah, the female voice. It's a killer for many speakers. In this Virgin Classics two-disc set of Italian Opera Arias, Soprano Natalie Dessay is certainly a good test. And, she came through with a perfectly natural tonality (some speakers have problems in the upper bass that cause chestiness, which implies that the singer is a three-pack-a-day smoker), and without sibilance (a 6 kHz problem). The detail presentation gave Dessay a perfect placement in space as well.
Speaking of voices, how about a choir, such as this EMI disc, I heard a Voice: The Music of the Golden Age. A multitude of voices can wreak havoc on speakers because of harmonic distortion. This is because the voice is in a frequency range where the second and third harmonics are still in the midrange area (i.e., the second and third harmonics of 200 Hz are only 400 Hz and 600 Hz, while the second and third harmonics of 10 kHz are at the limits of audibility).
But, the MTS-01's would have none of that. Although the sibilant parts of the voice were from the tweeter, the rest was from the woofers, and the sound quality was, in plain terminology, just terrific.
The MTS-01's come with foam port plugs that, when inserted, will result in the low frequency rolloff being more gradual, but it starts earlier. In other words, it gives you a little more deep bass extension. However, I preferred the speakers with no plugs, because it gives a flatter response to the frequency (50 Hz) where I would have a subwoofer take over. In fact, SVS sent one of their new cylindrical subs to go with the MTS-01's, but they sound so good without the sub, I will review that sub in a separate article.
Below is shown a generic diagram of the effect of plugging the ports on woofers that are designed for such use.
There is also a tweeter toggle that reduces high frequency output by 3 dB. Again, however, I preferred the sound with the toggle set at 0 dB (no rolloff), as I used top notch electronics to drive the speakers. The MTS-01's are very fine sound transducers, so I suggest that if you hear some harshness, you should consider getting new front end electronics so you can listen to your music with a flat response. I have no hesitancy to connect components like the BAT preamplifier and McIntosh power amplifiers to these speakers. They are that good.