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Mass Fidelity Core
p2 Noel says & subwoofer
p3 Measured performance
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NOEL KEYWOOD SAYS -

We were all surprised and immediately impressed in the office  by the little Core, simply because it threw out a massive stage of sound that seemed quite divorced from it. I was going to say ‘panorama’, but that isn’t quite the word – and exactly what the Core does and does not do I’ll try to be succinct about. It seemingly generates a small hall, if you can imagine that, in which a performance takes place. There’s a stronger sense of space and proportion than you get from a small conventional stereo system of similar price, plus a nicely solid sense of embodiment to singers and instrumentalists. With Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way (24/96) from an Astell&Kern AK120 connected up optically, Christine McVie floated full size, it seemed, just above the little box - wow! I couldn’t pinpoint the other band members but they too had strong stage presence all the same. 

What I was hearing was massive mono I realised – and I’m not trying to be pejorative. Quite the reverse: some argue that we don’t hear pinpoint stereo in real life – we can’t for reasons of acoustics – and that pan-pot stereo isn’t real, it’s a contrivance. That’s what Mass Fidelity say too – and there’s a strong argument in there. The tiny Core just gave a small hall of sound that could have come from our recently-departed Tannoy Westminster Reference GRs it was so big and three-dimensional – and believable. And this I feel is where the small and inexpensive Core scores: think big, believable sound from almost ridiculously small device. That’s why we were all impressed.

Well one reason. The other was that – as our acoustic measurements show – the small Core is nicely accurate in tonal balance: it reaches low and high smoothly. So cymbals rang and bass had weight.

Being used to stereo at a definitive quality level – think Martin Logan Summit electrostatics and Tannoy Westminster Royal GRs, the Core was intriguing. It sounded unbelievably large and spacious in its sound, yet focused too – unlike simpler devices where sound is dispersed off walls and ceiling – common in the past. Our 6000 cu ft room has no near walls or ceiling (it slopes from 12ft to 18ft ) to support the Core in this fashion, so what we were hearing wasn’t down to strong acoustic reflections, it was down to waveform synthesis. However, the unit needed space around it to project. 

The subwoofer adds weight and is adjustable to aid matching. You get gain, phase and crossover frequency settings. Like all small subwoofers it works manfully to do its allotted task. 

 

 

THE SUBWOOFER

Mass Fidelity also supplies a sub-woofer to partner the Core for those looking for rather more bass impact. As the Core creates its own network there’s no need to physically wire the two - but the sub does need some careful set-up.

It has both crossover and gain controls - and once paired with the Core takes over all bass duties with the former merely handling the mid and treble. This means some time needs to be taken in getting your settings right. Push the gain too high or get that crossover wrong and you’ll hear a rather nasty bass thump. In which case it’s time to lower the levels.

Once done, though, there’s a synergy at work. The sub cuts in when needed and seems to free up the Core to concentrate on what it does best - which is reproducing an immersive sound field in the mid and treble.

So with Leftield’s bass-heavy ‘Dusted’ you really do start to hear some low-frequency impact - but not of the sort that drags the song back into the dirge-heavy category. There’s impact and slam and the sort of sound that makes you smile. It doesn’t dig quite as deep as some other subs I’ve heard from the likes of REL but then again it only costs £299.

Taken together with the Core and you are getting a rather tasty Bluetooth combination for less than £800.



 

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