Scansonic MB5 B Loudspeaker Page 2

That sleek-looking enclosure, built from 'high density MDF' (should that be HDF?) has also been modified to optimise air-flow, allowing a reduction in the use of internal damping. Also in the quest for 'better coherence and dynamics', the cabinet is shaped to avoid internal reflections and standing waves, and is braced to reduce vibrations. Meanwhile the top-plate and front baffle are treated to carbon-fibre inlays, albeit purely for cosmetic reasons. The speakers sit on smartly finished aluminium outrigger feet, which are fitted with substantial, easy to adjust, blunted spikes.

sqnote Location, Location...
Scansonic is very particular about the placement of its MB5 B floorstanders, writes Editor PM – 'far apart (9ft) but close to the listener... plenty of toe-in... at least 3ft from rear walls... will tolerate being a few inches from side walls...'. And this advice is well worth heeding for these rear-ported cabinets, however well-braced and limited in internal volume, start to join in if the speakers get a sniff of a rear wall.

Add to this the long run-in time of the reworked bass drivers – the new suspension still seems reluctant to relax – and you'll probably find the MB5 Bs happiest at least 1m into the room. In previous generations it was the planar magnetic tweeter that took its sweet time to come on song, but with Benno's Bs it's all about the bass.

For example, the deceptively simple and thoroughly charming Kate & Anna McGarrigle's French Record [Hannibal HNCD 1302; 44.1kHz/16-bit] was mired in low frequency fluff until the speakers were pulled far further into the room than I'd typically place my significantly larger B&W 802 D3s [HFN Dec '15]. Nevertheless, with bass, organ, tuba and drums all part of this contemporary folk mix there's a lot of grumbling detail to untangle.


Once bathed in fresh air, the MB5 Bs made more than a passing gesture at unravelling 'Entre Lajeunesse Et La Sagesse', one of many collaborations with Canadian poet Philippe Tatartcheff and a joyous, spicy folk instrumentation now released to raise a smile from this locked-down listener.

Partnered with Constellation's Inspiration Monoblocks [HFN Oct '19], the MB5 Bs also delivered more than a few moments of startling reality – Christian McBride's double-bass affording a magnificently deep and thunderously resonant foundation for the opener to Diana Krall's Love Scenes [Universal Music/Verve; 96kHz/24-bit]. Percussion, save for piano, is absent and guitarist Russell Malone's rhythm figures verge on the subliminal, but this is all part-and-parcel of the vibe to Ms Krall's fourth album.

Decibels After Dark
Such is the grip and sheer power of the MB5 B's delivery you'll be tempted to turn up the volume and wallow in the presence in what might otherwise have been background, late-night listening. Frankly, this system can reproduce a visceral weight, power and sheer musical presence that eludes many far bigger floorstanders.

If the original MB 5 would sound effortless, calm and perhaps a little creamy then the MB5 B stands ready to bring more energy, vigour and chest-pounding vitality to the music at hand. Perhaps the 'B' should be retitled 'D' because while this reworked version looks identical, when played hard it reveals itself to be a sonic dopplegänger. OK, so the MB5 B is no evil twin, but it does play Mars to the MB5's Venus...

The ribbon-esque treble unit, unchanged here, sounds deliciously open and extended without a hint of brightness. There is still plenty of 'air' but absolutely no coarseness or brittleness, qualities that feed all the way down through mid and bass to ensure the MB5 B creates large and unforced soundscapes.

Musical Monsters
In conductor Andrew Litton's hands, Stravinsky's The Firebird [Bergen SO; BIS-1974, 44.1kHz/24-bit] is appropriately fleet of foot and the MB5 B expresses this very fluid-sounding recording with a light touch. The string pianissimi in the 'Berceuse' are realistically feathery just as the appearance of Kastchei's monster guardians is accompanied by an appropriately menacing onslaught of percussion.

As I have already indicated, slide these slimline floorstanders into just the right spot and their profile diminishes entirely, leaving a wonderfully unfettered and captivating musical performance. Once the MB5 Bs are on song, you'll be hooked and listening for hours...

Hi-Fi News Verdict
It is very rare to come across two loudspeakers that look ostensibly identical and yet measure and sound like two entirely different models from two unrelated brands. Such is the gulf between the MB5 and GamuT-inspired

MB5 B. Not that the MB5 was anything less than a fine speaker, but if it was merely a good design waiting to become truly great, then it's the MB5 B that provides the necessary flourish.

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