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The Great Painters - MayFly MF-201A Loudspeakers with MF-201A Stands

11-26-2022 | By Michael Laurance | Issue 124

Most times, equipment reviews begin smoothly, and progress from there. Occasionally, though, they start with a bit of thud. In this case, my review of the MayFly 201A loudspeakers began with a disheartening rattle. The shipper had apparently not been kind in their transit of the four boxes. Upon connecting the speakers, it was readily apparent that something was amiss, with barely any sound coming from the left speaker. What I can say, wholeheartedly, is that Trevor May stands behind the product, and was on a Zoom call with me within 24 hours. Through a bit of guidance, I had disassembled the cabinets to reveal a broken crossover, and MayFly rushed a new pair of updated crossovers out immediately. With one small specialty tool and a few slightly scraped up knuckles, I had a fresher pair than had arrived to me just days ago.

Since the MayFlys now had new components, a solid 100 hours of break-in seemed prudent prior to any real evaluation, so I let the music play, and play, and play. Once they were finally ready for the reveal, positioning them proved to be both a simple and ridiculously rewarding task, but more on that in the listening section.

The MayFlys are like almost nothing I have seen in speaker design before, so it is crucial here to cover the "what" as much as the sonic aspect. Not to worry, there will be plenty to discuss about how they sound!

What They Are

Originating out of Ottawa, Canada, the MayFly concept is distinctive, even at first glance. The cylindrical design of the MayFly MF-201A speakers ($3500/pr), built up with thin layers of birch, barely hints at the secrets hidden within. Inside the cabinet is an incredibly unique Skyline Diffuser. Think of the diffusers that we mount on our walls lining the internals of the CNC cut, laminated cabinet. This, along with the cylindrical shape, serve to help eliminate internal midrange reflections.

The internal Skyline diffuser is adapted by May from the wall-mounted panels commonly seen in studios and listening rooms. Made to eliminate aberrations such as reflections and echoes, May curves this panel and creates slices of 24 different rows which, according to May, better controls midrange and bass response. "I was inspired to start Mayfly Audio Systems after reading the BBC paper on skyline diffusers and later visiting a local CNC woodworking shop. Putting the two together I wondered what the benefits of putting a diffuser inside a loudspeaker cabinet would be. The prototypes measured great, sounded great, and looked great to everyone, so I figured I had a winner," stated May.

A flat front houses the coaxial driver and bass port. The aforementioned driver consists of a clear, 7-inch woofer and center tweeter. Frequency response is given at 40Hz- 20kHz with an 88 dB sensitivity rating. Rated power handling is 100W, and resistance is 8 ohms.

However, this is not the first speaker with a cylindrical design and a flat front. In fact, it is not even the first to be in my listening room. My mind immediately harkens back to my own Spica SC-50 bookshelf speakers from the 1970s. Renowned as the "imaging kings" in their day, their reputation still remains. While the Spicas are a simpler construction, my curiosity is off the charts as I begin to set the MayFlys up in my room.

Included with my demo setup are the MF-201A stands ($899/pr), which perfectly match the speakers and feature dowels that that speakers slide down onto. This creates a snug fit and seamless appearance, with a 35" overall height resulting in the tweeter being at 30.5" high, which I found ideal from my seated position.

Not included with my demo, but available from MayFly, are the MF-301A subwoofers, or what they call a "deep bass module," for $10,000/pr. These are larger cabinets of the same design utilizing a 9.5" aluminum cone driver.

On the rear of the speaker is a single pair of binding posts. I found these to be of high-quality material and they mated securely with my banana plug cables.


Streaming the opus, "Chimera's Wreck," by Porcupine Tree (via Qobuz 24-bit/44.1kHz) demonstrates the simply remarkable ability of the Mayfly 201A's to paint a sonic mural in a listening space. Although many speakers have graced my reference system, never have I encountered a pair of loudspeakers with this knack for effortless imaging. The soundstage feels much more than a left and right—instead, it is a smooth wall of audio, emanating beyond the eight-foot spread that they are placed in.

The MayFlys possess a sonic signature that is somewhat more reserved. While I have heard other speakers described as "bass-forward" or "mid-forward," the 201A have more of a treble-back. Not that they lack any detail or sparkle. Quite the contrary—the upper end is there, however, not as in-your-face as so many speakers I have heard of late. It requires a slight adjustment period, but I found to genuinely appreciate and enjoy after just a few moments.

With such impeccable imaging and soundstaging, my mind wandered to mono, thus my fingers venture over to John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things," (24-bit/192kHz) where the MayFlys become one with the room and provide a living performance of the track. They transform my small-ish listening space into something even more intimate. Each instrument commands a striking place across the wall, from in front and behind the speakers. There is depth here that brings the illusion of the jazz club stage.

On Tool's "Invincible," (24-bit/96kHz) a pair of guitars play arpeggiated chords far left and right. The stark separation between the two guitars, even as drums and vocals come in, is outstanding. Vocals fly in from slight right and yet above the right-hand speaker. There is distinct percussion in each channel, which I haven not noticed fully until this moment. The track breaks down to a heavy rhythm, where the MayFly MF-201A also demonstrate their range. While, in my system, they are paired with a subwoofer, the MayFlys are doing the heavy lifting. The sub is supplementary, below 50Hz. There are powerful, but extremely well-mannered lows emanating from MF-201As. Even with a bit of volume behind them, they maintain composure, never losing a hint of the refinement that I have heard in any other recordings thus far.

Spinning vinyl now, Peter Gabriel's "San Jacinto" from Plays Live immediately throws great brushstrokes across the sonic canvas. The rhythmic keyboard opening brings width, but also penetrates the room, reaching behind me in a holographic illusion. Once again, the bass plunges to depths that make me raise an eyebrow at the unassuming 7-inch drivers. The concert transmits as an event into my room, alive and present. At this point, I should take the record off and move on to the next platter, but this listening session is far too engaging. As the bass drum pounds in "Solsbury Hill," I cannot help but lose myself for a moment in this experience. The Mayflys "bring home" how stripped down this particular performance is—it is almost raw in places, being just a couple instruments for a large part of the song.

Finally switching over to a Columbia half-speed mastered copy of Paul Simon's Greatest Hits, Etc., "Still Crazy After All These Years" seems tailor-made for the 201A's. The tremolo of the electric piano warbling back and forth lays a warm bed for Simon's smooth vocals. Even the saxophone feels buttery coming through the Mayflys, giving the song a more syrupy texture than I have ever heard. As previous, I am fully engaged, and let the record spin. By the time I get to "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard," I am grateful that I stuck around on this disc. The MayFlys soar to another level with this song, with guitars hard left and right, main vocals coming from somewhere towards the right side of the room, and little vocal noises emanating from somewhere in the far-left space—way out in space. Bass originates from the wall behind. It is an immensely enjoyable listening experience that would otherwise be only accomplished with a 5.1 system.

Wrapping It Up

There's that line in the song "(Rock) Superstar" by Cypress Hill: "It's a fun job, but it's still a job." Every once in a while, a piece of gear comes into the listening room that makes this job (and it is a job), extra fun. I mentioned the word "engaging" earlier in the review. That sums it up best. The MayFly MF-201A loudspeakers are some of the most engaging speakers I have ever spent time with and made this review remarkably fun. And after all, isn't that why we invest in our systems? Listening to music should be one of the most enjoyable things we do, and my time with the MF201As was just that—incredibly enjoyable. At less than five grand a pair, that is tough to beat. Besides being the imaging champions that the MayFlys are, they excel at pulling the listener in. Expect long listening sessions, and extended time with your music collection, as I did.

Mayfly grants a 30-day trial period on the speakers, and warranties them for two (2) years.

201A Loudspeakers

Retail: $3500/pr

MF-201A stands

Retail: $899/pr