Scansonic M20 Loudspeaker Page 2

The manual suggests some juggling with spike lengths to give the speakers a slight 'few degrees up on the bow planes' tilt backwards, but even this didn't do the trick when I listened from my not exactly high sofa. Some small wooden blocks I had around helped a bit more – I knew I'd find a use for those cable lifters some time! – but the best results were achieved when lifting the speaker bodily up from the floor by some 20-30cm, in my case with further improvisation using a set of handy bricks.

Light But Tight
I'm sure if you were seeking a more hi-fi-friendly alternative to bricks then such things exist, but I have to say that the only low speaker stands I found seem rather expensive. The Atacama SLX200, for example, would do the job for around £179, but its top plate is 25mm shallower than the speaker, even though the baseplate is more than large enough. In this particular case you would need to check how firmly the Scansonic M20 could be fixed in place.

If that hasn't put you off – or if you happen to listen lounging on bean-bags on the floor – then you'll find the M20 to be a fairly entertaining listen, albeit one very much in the 'light but tight' mould when it comes to bass extension. It's not going to shake your world, as I suggested when discussing the position of the speakers, but the trade-off for this is good speed and rhythmic drive, whether with rock tracks or the interplay of a chamber ensemble. It's no lightweight, and gives a good impression of warmth and substance, and of course has that advantage that it'll do all this even in small spaces without overexciting any tendency of the room to boom.

So, these probably aren't the speakers to buy if you're a fan of full-on dance or electronica, or indeed a devotee of the church organ, as true room-shaking ability isn't really on offer. Listen to a set such as organist Jean-Paul Imber's Passacaglia [Base3Music Base206, DSD128] and the M20s certainly play the tunes well, and present an involving view of the music. Yet the lack of absolute weight in the bass, plus that slight treble softness even with the speakers 'jacked up', mean that the sense of presence of a huge instrument in an even larger space is somewhat diminished. This isn't an album majoring on the pedals and big pipes end of the organ, but all the same it sounds rather lightweight.


The cabinet rear hosts two narrow reflex-loading ‘slots’ while the crossover, split at 4kHz between the bass/mid and treble drivers, exits in dual bi-wire/bi-amp 4mm terminals

Too Easy
Similarly with an entirely different genre, Jazmine Sullivan's Heaux Tales EP [RCA FLAC download, n/a cat no] suffers a little from the lack of low-end conviction, sounding just a bit too easy-listening as a result. These tracks, recorded mainly in Sullivan's Philadelphia home, really need a dash more punch and sting. The same, by the way, applies to British singer Laura Mvula's Pink Noise album [Atlantic 0190296738968]. This is a fine-sounding set, but here it's merely pleasant enough. While there's certainly good drive and clarity to be enjoyed, really this recording would benefit from better low-down punch.

Fed with the familiar symphonic work-out that is Britten's 'Young Person's Guide To The Orchestra', here played by the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra under conductor Michael Stern [from Britten's Orchestra, Reference Recordings RR-120SACD], the strength of these Scansonic speakers is in the detail they bring out in the various instrumental groups, and their speed and lightness of touch. But as the great final fugue builds to its climax, one can't help but want for a bit more grunt and scale.

That said, these speakers don't need massive amplifier power to do their stuff. With a Supernait 3 integrated from Naim, which admittedly falls below the lower limit of Scansonic's suggestion, they were easily capable of going more than loud enough with no signs of stress, while still sounding both open and dynamic.

Big Kick
In fact, the fast but weighty Naim amp brought out the more appealing traits of these speakers, sounding both fresh and fleet of foot with them, even when powering out some vintage 1980s rock in the form of INXS's 1987 Kick album [Mercury 832 721-2]. Here they made the most of the set's big, bold, lush mix without ever threatening the structure of the listening room. And that's the appeal of these speakers: they're entirely enjoyable without ever scaring the horses. Or the neighbours, for that matter.

Hi-Fi News Verdict
If you want a speaker well-suited for smaller spaces, and with more style than a premium standmount perched on a chunk of wood or angle-iron, then the compact Scansonic M20 is definitely a better-looking alternative. However, the trade-off is with a sound that's resolutely compact too, while the diminutive size poses some problems getting your ears on the optimum treble axis. Beanbags, anyone?

Dantax Radio A/S
Supplied by: Decent Audio, Stockton-on-Tees
05602 054669