Positive Feedback Logo

Silverline Minuet Grand Loudspeakers

01-09-2018 | By Michael Wechsberg | Issue 95

One of the better rooms I heard at the 2017 Los Angeles Audio Show featured the Silverline Audio Minuet Grand speakers. These relatively small, two-way stand-mount speakers were putting out a big, big sound that was dynamic and engaging when I came by. Unfortunately, I didn't have much time to spend in this room, but fortuitously the show organizers and the Los Angeles and Orange County Audio Society did spend more time and voted the Minuet Grands one of their Alfie awards for best speakers at the show. So, when the pair used at the Show were offered up to Positive Feedback for a review, I stepped right up.

My home reference speakers are large floor-standers (Marten Django XL, 3-way, five drivers), but I seem to always enjoy listening to decent two-way designs that are simpler (so less can go wrong), and easier to integrate into the room. The Minuet Grand fills the bill. It is a bass reflex design with a rear port that uses a 5.25 inch mid/woofer employed up to 3000 Hz, and a 1 inch titanium tweeter. Sensitivity is 89dB, nominal impedance is 8 ohms, and the listed frequency response is 40 – 25,000 Hz. The Minuet Grand is only 11.875 inches high by 7.875 inches wide, and a notable 14.125 inches deep. Thus, they seem small looking from the front but are actually quite big. A pair weighs 44lbs. and the very sturdy cabinet is nicely finished in a rosewood veneer on all six sides. Two sets of high-quality gold-plated terminals are provided to enable bi-wiring but I didn't try them that way. A pair of magnetically attached black cloth grills complete the design. Everything about these speakers is first class including the packing materials. Silverline Audio Technology, Inc. speakers always give great value and these are no exception. At $1999/pair they are at the top of the line for this company, but actually perform to a much pricier standard.

Silverline Minuet Grand Loudspeakers

The Minuet Grand is a successor to the Silverline Minuet that has amassed nothing but great reviews. Designer Alan Yun selected new drivers for his latest baby for greater dynamics and to play in larger rooms. The mid/woofer uses a treated paper cone housed in a rigid die cast aluminum basket and provides an extraordinary large excursion. It has an oversized magnet motor and a huge magnet structure (Silverline says it's “humongous”). The new tweeter has an ultralight weight titanium diaphragm selected for its transparency and high-power handling capability. Silverline says the Minuet Grand can be used with amplifiers with power ratings from 7 to 300 Watts! Silverline designed a new crossover for this model to support the dynamics and help provide the precision and transparency that were additional design goals.

Silverline Minuet Grand Loudspeakers

I first evaluated the Minuet Grands in a system built around the AVM Ovation CS 6.2 Streaming CD Receiver from Germany that I recently reviewed for Positive Feedback (HERE). This is an integrated multifunction piece of equipment that can play all types of digital as well as analog music through its own 350W/ch into 8 ohms class-D amplifiers. It lists for $10,995 so might be considered a bit overmatched for the Minuet Grand, but I found this combination to be really outstanding. At the LA Audio Show the Silverline speakers were placed fairly close to the front wall where they did sound terrific (note the 14-inch depth). In my home, however, because of cables and furniture I had to locate the speakers in front of my Martens, so they were well out into the room about 5.5 feet from the front wall and seven feet apart. My seating position was about seven feet from the front line of the speakers so just about an equilateral triangle. The speakers were placed on stands I borrowed from a home theater setup in another room. These stands are taller than most speaker stands so the Minuet Grand tweeters were 41 inches above the carpeted floor, aiming them a few inches above my ears. My reference Marten speakers have tweeters that are even higher at 41.5 inches but are designed deliberately to aim above the listener's ears. For the Silverline speaker evaluation I found sitting on a firm pillow to improve the sense of space and air perceived from the speakers. I also experimented with toe-in, but preferred to aim the speakers straight ahead for the best imaging and tone. I spent about half my time listening without the grill cloths in reviewer mode, and half with. Not much difference but ultimately, I felt the music more realistic with the grills in place.

With the AVM electronics, I used the XLO Signature 3 speaker cables that I found worked best with this unit for my review. I listened to CDs and to high resolution digital files while auditioning the Minuet Grands. The first thing I noticed about these speakers is their ability to disappear and project an exceptionally wide soundstage. Images were very precise and stable, including the center image even though the speakers were pointed straight ahead. The second thing that stood out was the outstanding deep and defined bass emanating from such a small speaker. Now the bass was not as good as from my Martens with three 8-inch aluminum drivers but impressive nevertheless considering only a single 5.25-inch driver is used. Later, I measured the in-room low end response using a test CD and the AudioTools app on my phone. The response began to roll off slowly around 60Hz, but room modes kicked in below that to augment the response, so bass remained strong down to below 40Hz where it began to fade more rapidly. The only time I missed the low end while listening to these speakers was on music samples that I use to evaluate subwoofers and other big speakers where I am very familiar with the bass sound. On 95% of the music I listen to, I felt the Minuet Grands had more than adequate low-end response. As a side note, I used to own Wilson Cub speakers about 10 or so years ago. The Cubs were also a stand-mount, 2-way design with two 6.5-inch paper cone mid/woofers and a single inverted metal dome tweeter, and cost about $7500 back then. Although the Cubs could play extremely loud (they were probably intended primarily for home theater applications) the low end of the Minuet Grands was deeper and more satisfying than my memory of the Cubs. Much of this is probably due to better technology available today, but an impressive accomplishment in my mind in any case.

The Minuet Grands have a very ballsy mid-bass response that works well with all music, especially classical. The midrange sounded smooth with lots of character and nuance. Female vocals carried the correct amount of sweetness, and full-range instruments like piano sounded well balanced. The high end didn't sound as smooth as the midrange but was quite extended with lots of detail and air around the instruments (once I got my ears lined up correctly with the tweeters). Using the AVM solid-state gear, I did hear some strain up in the high end at loud volumes. I'm not sure if this was the speaker, the amplifier, cables or something else.  The Minuet Grands could certainly play loud. I have a relatively large listening space of around 700 square feet, but with a flat 8-foot ceiling. The space has a lot of glass in front and back that tends to rob some of the dynamics (and low bass). My listening room can handle big speakers and big amplifiers, yet the small Minuet Grands had no trouble filling the space with sound and playing at high volume without overloading the room like some other speakers do. Put a check in the box for achieving wide dynamics in a small package. Overall, the Minuet Grands sounded wonderful when mated up with a powerful solid-state amplifier of the class-D persuasion.

Next, I hooked up the speakers to my reference E.A.R. all-tube electronics. This time I used the Kubala-Sosna Emotion speaker cables that I normally use with the Martens. I found I had to remove the Bybee bullets that I use with these cables and the Martens. The bullets seemed to add excessive mid-bass warmth that was mitigated when I removed them. The sound of the Minuet Grands was subtly different with this tube gear. The E.A.R. equipment does not sound much like other tube equipment, having almost a solid-state sound signature except without any of the bad parts. Yet with the Minuet Grands, music seemed noticeably warmer through the bass and midrange than it had with the AVM amps. This was not a bad thing, just different. The lower bass was just as good but with even more detail and definition with tubes in use. I got a better sense of the space and ambiance of the recording venue with the E.A.R. equipment. The ability of these speakers to render ambiance so well is quite exceptional for such an affordable design. Oddly, the width of the soundstage narrowed but seemed deeper with a better sense of layering in depth. This might have as much to do with the cables as with the electronics or speakers (note that the price of the cables I was using was more than the price of the speakers). The high end was a bit smoother with tubes than with solid-state with significantly more transparency, air, and tenderness of fragile high-end detail. The high end was not as delicate or refined compared to that provided by the ceramic tweeters in the Martens but quite good nevertheless. The Minuet Grands also did dynamics well using the tube gear, and they were able to play quite loudly in my space without strain and with just 70 tube watts, however, they did not seem as fast on transients as my reference speakers, and they missed the last word in coherency, pace, and scale. These minor shortcomings were only evident on some really well recorded music with suitable scale, like Kind of Blue from Miles Davis. Here the really big sounds just didn't sound big the way they should. However, the speakers did sound much bigger, more dynamic, and full range than their size would suggest.

The Silverline Minuet Grands are an outstanding achievement in loudspeaker design.

They remind me in many ways of another two-way I reviewed recently, the ATC SCM19AT active towers (HERE), with their precise imaging, great dynamics, and ability to disappear. In fact, I bet the Silverline speakers, as good as they are, would sound even better with good amplifiers built in and thus eliminating the speaker cables. However, considered as they are, these speakers are a screaming bargain and you should not pass up a chance to hear them. They can be used in big rooms and small, seem easy to drive, and will bring out the best in your recordings.

Silverline Minuet Grand Loudspeakers

Retail: $1999

Silverline Audio Technology, Inc.

4425-C Treat Blvd., Suite 178

Concord, CA 94521

Mailing Address:

P.O. Box 30574

Walnut Creek, CA 94598

Alan Yun, President/Designer

[email protected]