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Usher Dancer Mini One
p2 Sound quality
p3 Conclusion
p4 Measured performance
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The Dancer Mini-Ones were run in using pink noise and then Monitor Audio’s peculiar De-Tox disc. As they had been used by importer Hi-Audio they were pretty well used by the time serious listening began.


I started off using our in-house Musical Fidelity AMS50 Pure Class A amplifier. Most loudspeakers are developed using solid state amplifiers and used with them too, so this is an initial benchmark reference point. As our frequency response measurements suggested, the Dancer Mini-Ones were light in balance, their broad treble lift pushing percussive transients forward. Amy Winehouse sang ‘Tears Dry on their Own’ crisply from centre stage and drum strikes cut out of the loudspeakers strongly. Fine detail was thrown outward and initial transients of hand claps jumped out. The diamond treble units were sparklingly clean in their handling of cymbals and metallic percussion instruments but overall the sound was a little on the hard side. Bass was firm and went low but it wasn’t prominent.


Usher like a technically accurate sound and the Dancer Mini-Ones were no exception. They image nicely and I could hear right around Amy Winehouse at the microphone but our AMS50 has a dry delivery and it wasn’t a symbiotic partner for these Ushers. So our Icon Audio MB845 Mk II valve amplifiers were given 30 minutes to warm up and I continued with them.


With the MB845 MkIIs, bass became bigger if a little soft around the edges due to its lower damping factor, but it had plenty of presence and the loudspeaker’s sense of control was good. Where this combo worked was in allowing the Usher’s excellent midband insight to be a benefit rather than a drawback, a strength of a good thermionic source. Amy Winehouses’ vocals stretched out, hard wrought against a clear background, fine decays around cymbals, drums slowly fading away around her. Treble wasn’t as sugar sweet as that from B&W's Diamond tweeter, but the Dancer Mini-Ones were a better integrated and more balanced loudspeaker overall, without the one-note treble of the B&Ws. They displayed treble emphasis with the ‘Back to Black’ album and this persisted with Angelique Kidjo’s ‘Fifa’ album. ‘The Sound of the Drums’ had nice rolling deep bass and plenty of it, with an emphatic note structure. Percussion stretched across a wide sound stage in front of me, in the plane of the loudspeakers. Cymbals were ringingly strong and clear and quite obvious, even with the loudspeakers pointing straight down the room, not angled in. But this album does have strong treble and the Ushers did not disguise the fact. They are dry and very analytical, setting up an intensely detailed sound stage on which every little nuance is heard. The way the Dancer Mini-Ones laid out backing vocals in broad sweep across the end of the room was impressive.


Lady Gaga’s vocals stood out against a background of thunderous bass from ‘Bad Romance’, synth staking out a simple theme at left, interjections from far right, with Gaga’s strenuous delivery given good force centre stage, elaborated by intense detail. The tweeter had some sting though; it takes no prisoners. This is likely explained by a steep resonant peak above 19kHz. Diamond coated tweeters tend to be like this; B&W’s diamond tweeter peaks lower down.


Whilst Rock sat firmly between the loudspeakers, as it is mixed, the Dancer Mini-Ones opened out impressively to display the scale of the London Symphony Orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s ‘March Slave’. Kettle drums thundered weightily, cellos were intense whilst pipes and horns played out the military theme in a sense of clear open space. The fast pace and tight timing of the LSO was beautifully portrayed, if again cymbal crashes were a little intense.


The wide open sound stage and excellent imaging of the Ushers was again apparent with Nigel Kennedy playing Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’. His violin was intensely lit, full bodied and perfectly placed on the sound stage. The English Chamber Orchestra stretched out majestically behind him, sitting in a clear open space. I would have preferred a little less emphasis on the upper harmonics of the higher strings but in exchange I heard the richness of the instrument and the whole picture hung together beautifully.


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