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USHER DANCER MINI ONE loudspeaker
From Hi-Fi World - March 2012 issue
The Usher Dancer Mini One loudspeaker brings a diamond into your life. Noel Keywood enjoys the sparkle.
Usher, a Taiwanese company, have an impressive factory by global standards and an engineering department, including anechoic chamber, most companies would die for. They rely on advanced engineering to produce a high technology product and our measurements show little compromise to the notion of accuracy. The Be-10 we reviewed in the June 2009 issue was a stunner, but this is a big loudspeaker with a big price tag – £10,000 no less. The Dancer Mini-One reviewed here lies in the same series, with the same cabinet shape and finish, but is scaled down to suit smaller rooms and pockets. It also comes with Usher’s own specially developed Diamond tweeter, recently added to all Dancer series models.
Standing just over one metre tall (1062mm) this loudspeaker hits the common 1m benchmark. At 320mm wide the cabinet is relatively slim and relies on a base for stability. The sturdy curved cabinet is heavy, total weight with base being 37.3kgs. Usher’s website (www.usheraudio.com) shows five finishes, deep gloss Enzo Read and Piano Ivory, plus Walnut, Violin and Maple wood veneers. The veneers have a silk finish; they are not lacquered.
This is a two way loudspeaker with 7inch (178mm) bass unit and 1.25inch (32mm) dome treble unit. They cross over at 2.3kHz according to Usher. The bass unit is reflex loaded by a slot port at the base of the front panel. The rear carries a sturdy bi-wire connecting panel able to accept heavy gauge bare wire, 4mm plugs or spades. Links are removed to enable bi-wiring. The Mini-One is a premium loudspeaker and the quality of cabinet finish, trims and the connecting panel is first class.
Usher explain that diamond coating is a process that has been around for some time, and used on tweeters too. However, it adds too much mass and, sure enough, B&W’s Diamond tweeter does peak up at 15kHz our measurements of the 804D (February 2011 issue) show, confirming this. To avoid this effect Usher have used a laminated dome with diamond-metal-diamond structure that does not resonate sharply in the audio band, they say and sure enough, measurement confirmed this, although there is a peak above 19kHz. So the problem hasn’t disappeared, it has been pushed upward out of the way. It leaves Usher’s DMD Diamond tweeter with a flat in-band frequency response and a sound far removed from the clatter of saucepans that aluminium dome tweeters suffer. Diamond tweeters are known for lacking the metallic zing, even rasp, of metal domes and deliver masses of fine detail.
In our experience though, synthetic materials in loudspeakers demand a very long run in process, far longer than traditional natural materials. Where two days continuous run-in (48 hours) is adequate for most loudspeakers, our B&W 804Ds were obviously not right until they’d been run for 120 hours. B&W don’t acknowledge this need, which complicates the issue about whether a loudspeaker is fit and ready for review. Usher interestingly quote 60 hours minimum and 180 hours as fully run in and that seems about right – but in practice it means the speaker must be run continuously in a room or chamber for seven days, no less. We put 120 hours on ours with overnight and weekend running, even though they came run-in, the importers said. Diamond tweeters I suspect need very long running in. This requirement affects audition. If loudspeakers on demo or under review have not been run for a sufficiently long period they will not be representative and in my experience can sound quite unpleasant. This can skew people’s perceptions of a product and it is a particular difficulty with diamond tweeters. So before auditioning the Dancer Mini-Ones be sure they have been fully run-in and are not fresh from the box, an observation that applies equally to B&W Diamond loudspeakers.