Article Index
Usher Dancer Mini-X Diamond
page 2
page 3 Sound quality
page 4 Conclusion
page 5 Measured performance
All Pages

If you equate diamond tweeters with a ringing, bright treble then the Mini-Xs might come as a bit of a surprise. Instead, Usher’s DMD design gives a smoother response than some others. High frequencies are very much present and correct but devoid of that sometimes-piercing ‘tizzy’ sound diamond or metal-domed tweeters can exhibit. What that equates to is a very refined yet detailed portrayal of music.
    Listen to something with plenty of atmosphere – such as Cowboy Junkies’ ‘The Trinity Sessions’ or David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir’s ‘Hearing Solar Winds’ – and you can hear the sounds reverberating in the acoustic space they were recorded in.
    In the David Hykes piece in particular the DMD tweeter captured the high-pitched overtones produced by the choir with astonishing detail without ever sounding shrill or edgy.
    Overall, there’s a slightly forward nature to the Ushers which means images are pushed into the room, hanging deliciously between the speakers.
    Jan Garbarek’s ECM recording ‘In Praise Of Dreams’ positively soared from the Ushers – the soprano saxophone sounding clean and finely-etched with the subtle synthesizer embellishments rumbling clearly beneath.
    Even pushed to neighbor-bothering levels here the Ushers stayed controlled and poised throughout.
    And it has to be said the Mini-Xs do respond to a good dose of power. Usher quotes an 87dB sensitivity level and they thrived on the end of Quad’s impressive new 150 Watts per channel Platinum Stereo amplifier (see review this issue).
    The combination brought an impressive depth to YoYo Ma’s ‘Songs Of Joy And Peace’ with the cello having a rich tonality. Yet again the delicate decay of notes fading away was admirably well captured.
    Switching to a less powerful 50 Watt per channel Arcam amplifier and, while the Ushers never sounded anything less than musical, the dynamics previously on offer became somewhat softened.

Despite being relatively large for a standmount, basic physics dictates that the Mini-X is never going to have prodigious amounts of low-end heft. And, after all, Usher has its larger floorstanding models for those looking for room-shaking subsonics.
    But to its credit the bass the Mini-X does provide is both powerful and realistic – sounding tight, solid and tuneful. Usher seem to have avoided the temptation to engineer in any artificial upper bass hump which means you get a low-end that is very consistent.
    It means if the bass is there you’ll definitely hear it, but at a realistic level that retains its place in the overall musical spectrum.
    I’d say the sturdy construction of the Mini-Xs is playing a big part here as there is no sense of the cabinets adding any colouration to the music.
    Take Leftfield’s ‘Rhythm And Stealth’ for example. This slice of 1990s dance music electronica positively thumps along – and, unfortunately, thump is exactly what it does through some loudspeakers. Not with the Mini-Xs. They take the extended lows in their stride with no energy-sapping overhang, so the album pounds along energetically.
    Yes, subsonics are missing but the Ushers are so musically satisfying you really don’t notice.
    Similarly on Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s ‘Bright Moments’ CD you can hear the power of drummer Robert Sly’s sledgehammer beats while Henry Pearson’s supple bass bristles with energy – providing the perfect foil for Kirk’s improvisations at the top of his saxophone’s register where yet again that DMD tweeter comes into its own.
    Nothing seemed out of place through the Ushers – every element of the music occupying its correct place within the sonic palette.
    If there’s one criticism to be made it’s that on first listening the Mini-Xs will not sound as exciting as some rival speakers – especially those with more sharply-etched diamond or ribbon tweeters.
    That’s a consequence of their overall smooth balance and something that actually rewards long-term listening better. The chances are you’ll still be enjoying them when their more immediate-sounding brethren have started to grate on the ears.


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