Music Hall is a company known for their affordable audio perspective. Their products generally offer high performance without the high costs and allow the everyman to dip a toe in the waters of audio nirvana without losing an arm or a leg. Music Hall currently offers a wide section of straightforward products that include turntables, phonostages and even DACs. Their most current efforts push into uncharted territory for the company, but still maintain the companies “affordable for all” roots.
The Marimba ($350) is a new loudspeaker from Roy Hall and co. that is a true bookshelf design. The 5.25” woofer and 1” silk dome tweeter are housed in MDF cabinet with “extensive cross bracing” to reduce unwanted vibrations. The 6.6” x 8.7” x 11” footprint of the speaker is compact enough that could truly rest on a bookshelf or desk if need be. In order to sound their best most speakers benefit from a little breathing room. Roy also designed a pair of matching speaker stands that help deliver optimal performance, if your listening area has the spare real estate. I had a chance to talk with Roy in person at this year’s 2013 AXPONA audio show in Chicago. The video below features Roy introducing the new line of products and his vision for the Music Hall brand.
I was impressed with the overall build and polish that Roy put together in this cabinet. A rear bass port graces the back of the loudspeaker, along with a decent pair of gold plated binding posts. The black vinyl finish looks very sharp and the speaker feels very sturdy for the size. The combined weight of both speakers reigns in at 20 lbs.
Bass is usually the first concern with speakers this size, so I decided to start my evaluation there. I was pleasantly surprised with the low-end output. While the specs tell a story that starts at 50 Hz, a quick real world bass test put the starting line a little closer to 40-45 Hz. Not something that would generally make your teeth shake, but enjoyable nonetheless. I noticed a lower extension with the higher priced SVS Ultra Bookshelves ($1k), which produced a more audible tone around 35 Hz, most likely influenced by their oversized cabinets and larger footprint. Even with this output, the Marimba still produced a very likeable impression in the lower regions. Listening to the Skrillex bass-loving track Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites I could still pick up enough of the impact and thump that accompanies the track to make the experience entertaining. Vocal clarity is perhaps where the Marimba shines brightest. Female voices were painted with a very clear center picture, hung upon the soundstage in a very concise location. The Marimba did an excellent job of translating a sense of space for this price range. I was also very pleased with the neutral tonal presentation; it was even more balanced than the treble-leaning SVS Bookshelves. At a 87dB sensitivity the Marimbas did prove to be just a little harder to drive than the SVSs by comparison.
If you are looking for a pair of speakers for a spare bedroom or office that won’t take up too much space but still look the part, you might want to check out the new Marimba by Music Hall. The solid construction and balanced presentation make for a speaker that is easy to sit back and relax to. They offer a sound that is much bigger than the size of the cabinet lets on, all for the price that many audiophiles will pay for a few lengths of cable.
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009LLLRWO/
Here is a video review of the speaker stands I mentioned in the review: