- Written by Tyler Stripko
- Published on 17 May 2011
With all the tweaking done, it was finally time to sit down and enjoy some music. As always, I started with the spectacular sounding HDCD recording of Rachmaninoff's "Symphonic Dances" (Reference Recordings RR-96CD). To say I was impressed with what I heard would be an understatement. The M22s were incredibly neutral throughout the midrange. Woodwinds were beautifully reproduced, with just the right amount of body and excellent retrieval of detail. The treble was crisp and clean, and reproduced the chimes with a very natural sense of air. Treble detail was actually a bit better than many speakers I've heard lately and I'll attribute this to the lack of roll-off in the high frequencies. The mid-bass was clean and tight and blended very nicely with my Hsu subwoofer. There were no noticeable holes in the sound where the M22 crossed-over to my sub, so it looks like I had the crossover point right. I didn't detect any noticeable colorization to the sound, just a clear presentation of what was on the disc. If pressed, I'd probably say that the M22 leans ever so slightly towards the cooler side of neutral. The M22s do not add extra warmth or body to the sound, they simply reproduce what they are fed. Imaging and soundstaging were also very good. Instruments hung in space nicely, and I could readily distinguish where an instrument was on the stage. I won't lie and tell you that the M22s were the equal of the Dynaudio X16s I reviewed, but at $1,600 per pair the X16s are nearly four times the cost of a base M22. For me to say that the M22s were close is quite a compliment.
Moving onto some more vocal recordings, I put on Sade's recent "Soldier of Love" (Sony B002YIHO7I) and queued up the title track. Again, I was not disappointed. Sade's voice sounded as sweet and smooth as always, and the military-esque snare drum line was incredibly crisp. I could clearly hear each individual attack on the drum head, without feeling that the notes were being overemphasized. Mid-bass was again very solid and the background bass line was easy to follow. As I was getting into the groove with this one, I slowly cranked up the volume until I was at the 95dB mark. I didn't hear any additional congestion or strain in the speaker at all, so these speakers should certainly be up for some occasional punishment. I also didn't pick up any extra energy in the presence region, where my ears are particularly sensitive. After running through a few more tracks on this disc, I switched over to Diana Krall's "Love Scenes" (SACD Verve B0002DSUEI) and put on track 11, "My Love Is." Again, I was very impressed with how smooth and balanced the sound was. Higher resolution recordings really shine through an accurate speaker like the M22, with a listener being able to hear even more detail and musical nuance.
Next I loaded up the wonderful SACD of Albert King with Stevie Ray Vaughn: "In Session" (Stax B0000AZKLF). "Pride and Joy" wonderfully showcases the incredible talents of both legendary guitarists and sounded great through the M22s. The vocals by both King and Vaughn sounded great, with excellent clarity and intelligibility. The two lead guitars really shined, ringing true without an overemphasis on the treble (which is easy to do when Vaughn's guitar starts a-wailing). As both of my current reference speakers roll off the treble a little bit, the presentation had a bit more bite in the upper registers than I'm accustomed to, but I never felt that the sound was at all harsh or fatiguing. In fact, I actually think I preferred the little bit of extra detail as opposed to the slightly softer sound that my current speakers provide.