Surround Sound Speaker Systems

Affordable Systems Reviews: Mordaunt-Short Aviano and Cambridge Audio Azur 650R


Mordaunt-Short Aviano Speakers


    Aviano 8 floorstanding speaker
  • Sensitivity 88dB
  • Frequency response 35Hz - 22kHz
  • Nominal impedance 4-8 ohms
  • Drive units (1) 1" aluminium dome tweeter
  • (1) 6.5" CPC aluminium mid-driver
  • (2) 6.5" CPC aluminium bass driver
  • Crossover Damped 2nd order with DVP
  • Recommended amplifier power 15-200 Watts
  • Magnetically shielded within 50mm of cabinet
  • Dimensions (h x w x d) 950 x 205 x 320mm
  • 38 x 8.2 x 12.8"
  • Weight 18.5kg (40.7lbs)
  • MSRP $1,495
  • Aviano 1 bookshelf speaker
  • Sensitivity 88dB
  • Frequency response 55Hz - 22kHz
  • Nominal impedance 4-8 ohms
  • Drive units (1) 1" aluminium dome tweeter
  • (1) 5.25" CPC aluminium mid/bass
  • Crossover 1st order with DVP HF
  • Recommended amplifier power 15-100 Watts
  • Magnetically shielded within 50mm of cabinet
  • Dimensions (h x w x d) 275 x 179 x 267mm
  • 11 x 7.2 x 10.7"
  • Weight 5kg (11lbs)
  • MSRP $495
  • Aviano 5 centre speaker
  • Sensitivity 89dB
  • Frequency response 70Hz - 22kHz
  • Nominal impedance 4-8 ohms
  • Drive units (1) 1" aluminium dome tweeter
  • (2) 5.25" CPC aluminium mid/bass
  • Crossover 1st order minimum phase with DVP
  • Recommended amplifier power 15-120 Watts
  • Magnetically shielded Yes
  • Dimensions (h x w x d) 179 x 456 x 229mm
  • 7.2 x 18.2 x 9.2"
  • Weight 7.5kg (16.5lbs)
  • MSRP $449
  • Aviano 7 subwoofer
  • Sensitivity Line-in 200mV (for maximum output)
  • Frequency response 35Hz - 200Hz
  • Drive units (1) 10" CPC aluminium long-throw woofer
  • Crossover Active – variable 50Hz-200Hz
  • Recommended amplifier power 175W active
  • Power consumption 360W (maximum)
  • Dimensions (h x w x d) within 50mm of cabinet
  • Dimensions (h x w x d) 423 x 305 x 361mm
  • 16.7 x 12.0 x 14.2"
  • Weight 17.5kg (38.5lbs)
  • MSRP $695

rating criteria

The speaker system was selected from Mordaunt-Short's Aviano line-up. The Aviano is flanked by the Carnival and Mezzo lines, below and above respectively. I looked at moving up to the Mezzo line, but doing so would have required stepping down to bookshelf units all around, at a total MSRP of $4,080. This would have left $1k for the electronics, which would have necessitated going with the Azur 540R. While I think this might actually be a great set-up for many, I have become a fan of floorstanding speakers which pushed me back toward the Avianos. If I was inclined to outfit a 7.1 or even 9.1/11.1 system, I would have been able to do so with Carnival line for between $1,700-$1,900. That temptation, however, has lessened recently due to a recent realization that most source material available is only encoded with a 5.1 mix. From my understanding, even the few 7.1 mixes on the market are remixed from a base 5.1 mix.

The Aviano line benefits from a number of technologies trickled down from the Mezzo line. The CPC aluminum driver design enables more linear movement of the driver with the reduced inertial mass, allowing for better overall response. The Aviano also benefits from the use of better internal damping similar to that found in the Mezzos. High density, die-cut wadding is used in place of more common loose fiberglass batting. The improved internal damping combined with a rigid speaker box provides a solid platform for the driver arrays. A 1” aluminium dome tweeter can be found across all the Aviano models. The entire line features dual binding posts which allows for bi-amping or bi-wiring, if desired. The "sculpted bullet terminals" do not sacrifice function for form, and take spades, banana plugs, and bare wire equally well. Lastly, all the Avianos feature a curved front baffle to improve dispersion characteristics by limiting the influence of the front speaker face on sound transmission from the driver array. The Aviano line is available in a selection of three very good vinyl finishes: black, dark walnut and rosewood.


Given the budget constraints, and my desire to have floorstanding mains, I elected to go with the Aviano. The Aviano 8 is listed as 3-way tower design, comprised of a 1" aluminum tweeter, and 3 x 6.5" CPC aluminum drivers. The crossover is a 2nd order dual value parallel capacitor (DVPC)


The Aviano line does not contain a dipolar speaker for surround channels, so the Aviano 1 bookshelf speakers were chosen to fulfill that duty, partly to remain within budget and also due to the slightly smaller footprint. The Aviano 5 utilizes a 5 1/4" CPC driver with a 1" aluminum tweeter.


Each speaker line is served by a single center channel. The Aviano 5, in this case, as the name would imply is the center channel for the Aviano line. It is a fairly typical MTM array sharing the tweeter from the rest of the line, and utilizing the same 5 1/4" mid-drivers found in the Aviano 1's.


There is the axiom you can never be too rich or have too much bass. Unfortunately, in this case the two are at odds. At this point all that remains in the budget is $762, which conveniently is just enough for the Aviano 7 subwoofer. The Aviano 9 is just out of reach with this configuration at $995. This is a capable subwoofer with a 175W amp, and 10" CPC aluminum driver. It is rated down to 35Hz, so it will not be able to reach the lowest octaves, but it does enough to hint at the depths found in modern soundtracks. The Aviano 7 is powered by a Class D amplifier and MS has certified the unit to meet EnergyStar requirements.