Floor-standing Speakers

Usher Dancer Mini Two Floor-Standing Speakers and BE-616 Center Channel Speaker

ARTICLE INDEX

Design

The Ushers Mini Two's arrived to me well packaged in two cardboard boxes sandwiched between small wooden pallets. Two additional boxes held the heavy stands to which the Mini Two's would be mounted onto. By just looking at the boxes, I could tell that these speakers were going to instantly make my PSB Silver I's feel inadequate. Standing at over 4 feet tall and weighs in at 90 lbs each, these are not small speakers - you'll definitely want to take a look to get a sense for their size to determine if your room (and/or spouse) can handle their footprint before purchasing.

Usher has always been known for exceptional design and build quality and that reputation remains firmly intact here - every detail appears to have been addressed and the final product is an undoubtedly handsome speaker with meticulous attention to details. The dominant feature of the cabinet is the handsome curved wood – finished in this case in Pioneer Birch. Two other finishes are available from Usher. To the touch the cabinet is smooth and almost soft – believe me when I tell you, this is one looker of a speaker.

The front baffle is a piano black finish that shines beautifully, but is also a magnet for fingerprints and dust. The two Usher made 7-inch mid range drivers are the predominant feature of the front of the Mini Two's. These are the same drivers used in other members of the dancer line. Sandwiched in between these is Ushers new Diamond series tweeter. This tweeter replaces the very well received Beryllium Tweeter that was present in the BE-718 Bookshelf speakers. All of the speakers in Ushers line that previously used beryllium tweeters now use this new tweeter. According to Usher, this new tweeter offers increased resolving power as compared to the previous Beryllium tweeter. Other companies (B&W for one) have successfully used similar tweeter technologies very successfully.

At the base of the front baffle is a large bass port that runs the entire width of the speaker. Each speaker carries a plaque at the base of baffle denoting its make and model number. Even this plaque is sharply crafted.

Separate from the main speaker is a large, exceptionally heavy, cast iron base into which the speaker mounts with integrated floor spikes. This sucker is heavy: for their size and height, one may be tempted to be nervous about the Mini Two's potential for tipping over – I promise that is not a problem once the speakers are mounted to this base unit.

Along the back of the unit we find very high quality bi-wiring binding posts. Usher includes gold plated jumpers though I did not use them. The build quality and attention to detail are evident here as well.

As a matching center channel, I evaluated the BE-616 center channel. This speaker uses the same mid range units and diamond tweeter as the Mini Two's - an important consideration when choosing a center channel speaker to avoid differences in characteristics that can be distracting as action or sounds move from one side to another. The styling of these speakers is similar to the BE-718 bookshelf's: the piano black body of the speakers are highlighted on either side by curved wood panels mounted using gold plated screws. The front of the 616 also features a bass port above which features a similar plaque as the Mini Two's. The overall appearance is very similar BE-718. This is also a large speaker and was quite a bit bigger than my PSB Stratus C6i center channel and by its largest dimension measures over two feet and weighs north of 50 lbs.

Overall both the BE-616 and Mini Two's ooze style and build quality. Attention to detail seems to have been placed into every aspect of the speakers build and appearance. These certainly have the feel and stature of nicely constructed piece of furniture.