Mordaunt’s Holistic Speaker Performance


Mordaunt-short spreads its wings and comes up with a stunner.

The Performance 6 is an excellent example of what what’s been called ‘holistic’ design. This is not to imply any New Age properties but there is a fantastic story to tell of the enabling technologies that inform the Performance 6 and feed naturally into the way it performs.

The story starts with the shape. The largely asymmetric panels reduce internal standing waves, and the curved backbone acts as a mechanical ground for the drivers, which are fixed to it. At the front of the speakers, the drive units are resiliently decoupled to reduce excitation of the baffle. The real interest, however, lies in the enclosure itself, which is not made from a traditional material like MDF,but instead from a structural foam composite formed using low-pressure moulding techniques. The moulding process allows shapes of arbitrary complexity, and walls that can be varied in thickness according to the specific demands of the design.

Better still, the foams can be produced in such a way that the wall density can be varied by depth, in this case with the outer skin being the highest density. By this method, the walls become effectively self-damping – an elegant piece of design work by any standard. A substantial cast iron weight in the base enhances stability and acts as an anti-vibration platform for the crossover. Technology in the service of art.

But there is more. Although the tweeter dome uses an unfashionably low-tech material, aluminium, the vexed question of back radiation is handled in an entirely novel way, by fitting a long rear extension, which instead of absorbing back radiation, allows it to emerge from a logarithmically spaced spiral of holes.

In effect it strips the phase information from the rear output, and thereby reduces the tendency for the front output to ‘beam’ in an excessively directional way. The larger units employ Mordaunt-Short’s favoured smooth dish aluminium diaphragms in an improved form.
Listening to the Performance 6 is to be immediately impressed by the quite individual set of compromises that have been struck. Although the bass is well extended and extremely tuneful, it lacks the weight and drive of some similarly sized speakers, apparently not because of any deficiency in its low frequency behaviour, but simply because the overall balance of the speaker tends to favour the upper midband and treble. In fact, the agility of the bass, the ability to change direction with alacrity when the music calls for it, sets it above much of the opposition. This is a loudspeaker that knows how to respond to changing musical landscapes with a dynamic expressiveness that usually matches that of the music itself.
Conversely, the Performance 6 is an unusually clean and transparent device, palpably low in coloration, and in particular it is free of the usual box-type colorations that many of us take for granted or even expect as they tend to be part of the furniture with the majority of loudspeakers.

This remarkable speaker has some of the transparency associated with certain electrostatic designs, but without the subtle (sometimes not so subtle) colorations that are usually part of the package. The result can in some cases be rather intimidating in the way it responds so literally to the musical cues, for good or ill, but the bottom line is that if the recording warrants that kind of transparency and truthfulness, here is a speaker with the scalpel-like ability to do the job.

Mordaunt-Short Performance 6 |$9400 | speakers |


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