Small monitor speakers behold very special appeal for many audiophiles and music lovers. They’re usually easier to drive and can fit nicely into the wider array of listening environments, that are more then often actual living rooms.
With smaller monitors there are also less problems with rooms acoustics and dealing with the hubris of lower frequencies as loudspeakers radiate much less energy that is too quickly amplified by the corners.
One might think that with the progress of loudspeakers manufacturing and heavily marketed floor standing speakers the wider interest and appeal of smaller speakers would be gone. Wrong assumptions…
Not only long standing audiophiles, but also the younger crowd, coming from ever expanding headphone movement are adapting these small musical boxes. These youngsters might not be able to step up to the upper echelon pricing and grand sized speakers due the space and requiring funds, yet there is no stopping them of implementing mini monitors into their daily enjoyment of the music. Benefits of “headfiers” phenomena comes in many forms.
MEET THE OPHIDIAN
Ophidian Audio was founded by designer Gareth James with clear goal to design and manufacture more distinguish, daring and great sounding high-end audio products. Gareth vision combines well thought out concepts, unique acoustical approaches, CAD, proper voicing of the speakers and implementation of high quality, sound wise high value components.
His passion materialized in M and P series. M represents the first letter of the range, that includes MINIMO, MOJO, MAMBO and P resolving in PROPHET P1 and P2 loudspeakers.
MINIMO is a compact 2-way micro monitor that was designed for use as small desktop monitor, bookshelf loudspeaker or small stand mount speakers. Combination of midbass driver, powerful long throw motor system and special AEROFLEX port system ensure MINIMO’s from the ground up very widened and broader sense of space and depth.
The long throw 90mm midbass unit features a deep rubber surround and a light, stiff aluminium diaphragm driven by a powerful balanced neodymium magnet motor system. AEROFLEX technology enables this tiny speaker to produce deeper and more controlled bass notes than its size would suggest by keeping port velocity to a minimum and ensuring the midbass unit is properly supported throughout its stroke.
By building the port systems directly into the cabinet structure the outer walls are braced and strengthened minimising panel resonances.
Complimenting the midbass is a 27mm tweeter with a Sonolex coated fabric diaphragm and low distortion neodymium motor system. The excellent dispersion characteristics combined with close placement within the small cabinet allow a seamless integration of the drive units and incredibly lifelike, realistic sound reproduction.
AEROFLEX PORT TECHNOLOGY
Ported, vented or reflex speakers as they are commonly known re-use what would otherwise be wasted energy from the rear of the bass driver to boost the low frequencies - much like a turbocharger on a car. The greatest problem which ported speakers face is the velocity of the air in the port.
As velocity in the port rises its ability to limit and control cone movement at these frequencies disappears leading to chuffing noises and wasted energy. While devices such as flares or dimpled surfaces can help smooth airflow they cannot make up for the insufficient port area which many ported boxes suffer.
Our AEROFLEX solution uses a much larger and longer internal port in order to massively reduce air velocity by 200 percent or more while avoiding many of the side effects suffered by full length transmission line designs. Building the port directly into the cabinet greatly increases the structural rigidity and allows the use of thinner outer panels which store less energy and require less damping - in turn improving the quality of the midrange.
AEROFLEX properly loads the driver right up to its maximum excursion enhancing dynamics and ensuring the speaker produces the same tonal balance at high volumes as at low volumes - all within a more compact package.
HIGH DEFINITION CROSSOVER DESIGN
The electrical crossovers in all of Ophidian loudspeakers use only the highest quality components including audiophile grade capacitors, pure oxygen free copper coils and metal-oxide film resistors.
First thing that surprised me was a sense of scale. Ophidian MINIMO micro monitors went way out of their given proportions, by portraying even mightier ensembles and orchestra at the level above expected. Most importantly fundamental acoustical recreation focus anchors pointed towards the qualities usually associated with much bigger speakers.
Similarly, musical pace never strayed away from the correct tempi. Tone, timbre and color followed closely the positive acoustical and tone attributes. These positive attributes established MINIMO monitors on the very different plane then expected.
And, coming to the one and only reality check…
Sarabande From Violin Sonata in B Minor from the Land of the Midnight Sun by Al Di Meola never fails to impress with its simplistic, yet majestic rendition of Johann Sebastian Bach masterpiece.
Sarabande’s notes overlaps with hidden complexity and the atmospheric informations comes as perplexed juxtaposition of subliminal decays and delays forming what might be seen as simple song recording. But… there is more to it and MINIMO’s managed to uncover these subtle changes and definitions without masking, covering and shifting towards its own imprint.
Switching to the much more upbeat and energetic guitar playing from Friday Night in San Francisco. This legendary 1981 live album by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía features one of my favorite live guitar acoustical tracks. Mediterranean Sundance / Rio Ancho is energetic, sublime and full of life. If anyone is not moved by this song when replayed properly then all the Jung and Freud contemplation won’t help :).
Ophidian MINIMO micro monitor managed to evoke the emotional bound surprisingly well and portrayed the space with more believability then expected. While you cannot expect thunderous impacts from this monitors, there were more then enough energetic sparkling to form objective and colossal movement.
Anne Bisson - Blue Mind is another albums that puts quite a stress on any speaker. Opening, title song September in Montreal expands slowly. This song act like a very refined test track covering vocal, impact of the drums, subtleness and airiness of hi-hats, rides and cymbals as well as sudden dynamic shifts.
Of course you cannot expect submarine like bass coming out of this small loudspeakers. Still… There was more then enough air moved in the room to project believable and involving lower frequencies, being cleverly layered with upper bass and mids. Sonic result clearly points toward properly designed crossover.
Acoustic instruments are especially hard to pin right. To get proper timbre and energy reproduced is never an easy task. MINIMO monitors, despite their miniature size managed to offer palpable and pickhammered sonic presentation.
In high end audio music reproduction speakers’ disappearing act is raison d'être and this is something that MINIMO’s really excels at without loosing the focus of instrument or being in absence of scalable atmosphere rendition.
There’s no doubt, that I’ll be always passioned and imparted about small monitor speakers. They can offer instant enjoyment of the music and usually let a wide array of both affordable and lower powered amplifiers to be partnered to the very satisfying results.
As with all things in high-end audio synergy is a key point. Everyone needs to do their homework in finding the great partner and achieve the needed system balance and proper power distribution. With their 30 to 60 watts of recommended power this should not be a problem as there are plethora of integrated and power amplifiers on the market that fall into this category.
Ophidian MINIMO micro monitors are a happy discovery representing surprisingly musically potent speakers, that can instantly engage one into closer/intimate connection with the music and lock into the groove of favorite tracks. With Ophidian ’s one can simply forget about analyzing the music and immerse into the aural excitement. Its the music that acts as Ophidian’s forte.
When set and matched properly the MINIMO’s scale and sense of space are more in the grand and ambitious realms then anything one might associate with the sheer size of this monitors. I liked and loved how MINIMO disappeared in space and managed to portray events with great amount of focus points that are constitutional in creating lifelike aural illusion.
Unlike many contemporary speakers MINIMO’s clearly shows that actual listening took a major part in their development. This goes the same for the crossover where parts needs careful selection in order to achieve final voicing that is tuned to the music! But let me go further. Many modern speakers offers overblown act, that has zero connection with reality. This is usually a primary move to instantly impress listeners. Over the time such oriented sound imprint pushes one towards the annoyingness for next gear stop.
Pushing things out of their proportion and promoting overblown act is one thing, but getting proper sense of scale and proportions is completely opposite. This calls for more down to earth trial and error testing going beyond computations and simulations. It demands hands on prolonged listenings. Yes, this takes time and as with other engineering tasks it results in both greater sound and non the less higher final pricing. You’re paying for what you’re listening! Big corporations can afford larger amount of speakers being produced and ensures much, much lover price of the cabinets and everything included. What you won’t get out of such “deal” almost as a rule is a refined sound ing and voiced performer. Sonic refinement then comes as true benefit of investing into the smaller, boutique and passion driven ventures like Ophidian.
Ophidian follows British school of speaker design with no nonsense approach and implements quite few modern takes, that might be hidden at first. Under the elegant cabinet MINIMO’s is hiding a passionate hearth that pushes life into excellent sounding small speaker staying faithful to the Made in UK tradition.
That for sure comes with the proper price sticker. Still… In the era were people are again looking back to the domestic, hand built audiophile products, Ophidian MINIMO mini monitor speakers represent something unique and of different value. They’re encompassing Gareth James’ love, passion and dedication to create something meaningful, musically potent of valuable difference. And… Gareth succeeded in a great way, without fake ornaments and unneeded paraphernalia.
I’m always more then happy to see younger designer and companies taking part of our beloved, yet still niche industry. We should cherish such prosperous ventures. Especially ones, like Ophidian, that took proper path towards musical reproduction.
• Frequency response - 53hz to 28khz
• Sensitivity - 85dB (2.83v)
• Recommended power - 30 to 60 watts
• Impedance - 4 ohms
• Dimensions - 178mm H x 122mm W x 144mm D* (plus 20mm binding posts)
• Weight - 1.9kg
• Real wood veneers - Oak (pictured), Walnut
• Paint finishes - Satin Black, Satin White
• 90mm aluminium long throw midbass with balanced neodymium motor system
• 27mm neodymium high frequency unit with a Sonolex coated fabric diaphragm
• AEROFLEX port system for a precisely controlled bass performance