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Product Review - Morel Renaissance Prelude Speakers - July, 1996

By Jeanne Fairbrook

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More Prelude

Morel Prelude Speakers; Floor standing speakers; One Morel MDT-33 28mm soft dome tweeter, one 6.5" Morel MW-164 woofer; Crossover frequency 3.8 kHz second order; Frequency response 34 Hz - 24 kHz + or - 3 dB; Power handling 180 w; Sensitivity 92 dB/w/m; Nominal impedance 8 Ohms; Size 39"H x 8 3/4"W x 11"D; Weight 46 pounds each; Available in (wood veneer) black oak, natural oak, and walnut; $1,495/pair; Morel Acoustics USA, 414 Harvard Street, Brookline, Massachusetts 02146; Phone 617-277-6663; Fax 617-277-2415.

A lot of people think that we ladies don't want big speakers in the living room. That may be true if they are covered in black vinyl, but not so if they are nicely finished in real wood. The Morel Preludes are floor standing speakers with a slim line appearance (see photo). Although the drivers are both top-of-the-line Morels, the cabinets are outsourced, as is the case for many, if not most speaker manufacturers. In this case, the 28mm (a little more than 1 inch) tweeter is at the top, and the 6.5" woofer immediately below, with the enclosure built as a transmission line (a series of internal shelves make the length that the air has to travel to the port longer than the height of the enclosure). This allows a deeper bass response than might otherwise be achievable with a relatively small driver. The port is at the bottom (see photo), and rectangular in shape (2" x 7 1/2"). The woofer (rubberized paper cone) has a 3" voice coil, which provides better heat dissipation than smaller, more conventionally sized, voice coils. It is time aligned 1/2" out from the tweeter which is flush with the front of the enclosure. There is one set of all-metal binding posts on the back, which will accept bare wire, spade lugs, and banana plugs.

I listened to the Preludes firstly with female vocals, specifically Barbra Streisand and Maria Callas. I use this test first, because if a speaker reproduces voices unnaturally, that's it . . . there's the exit. I had never auditioned Morel speakers before, and although I understand they make excellent drivers, an improper enclosure design can produce havoc. Streisand's voice is sweet, while Callas can shatter the windows with her power and vibrato. I have to say I was impressed with the Prelude's ability to handle both of them. There was none of the boomy quality that is a giveaway to poor enclosures. Orchestrals were very nice too, violins clearly defined, violas natural. I am not particular to loud bass, so I preferred them on a rug rather than on a hardwood floor. The Brandenburg Concertos were just right this way (speakers slightly toed in, about 7 feet apart). The port being at the bottom, right next to the floor, resulted in too much low frequency for me when they were on the wood floors, but that is just a matter of taste. I don't care for hard rock, but the fellows in the lab put some on and cranked the volume. The Preludes can perform here too, if you like that sort of thing (they moved them back to the wooden floor to listen . . . something about a kick drum that they wanted to hear with more . . . gusto?) The high sensitivity (92 dB/w/m) should interest those of you with low power single ended triode amplifiers. These are very smooth speakers, no harshness at any volume.

As I mentioned above, I like the furniture look of real wood veneers on speakers. Our review samples were in natural oak. They had a much deeper finish of lacquer than I have seen on other speakers, and it was glossy rather than a semi-gloss. I liked this very much. However, the rounded edges - which reduce diffraction effects - were not finished in the veneer, but simply left in naked MDF. It did not show up from across the room, but close up, it was quite obvious. Of course, this made it easy to measure the thickness of the MDF (3/4"). Really, Morel should see to it that the cabinets are finished on all front-visible surfaces, including the edges. It is not that difficult to steam the veneer and bend it around the corners. Also, the front edges of the inside bottom of the port had deep nicks in the wood (both speakers). Come on guys, be more careful in the assembly room. However, I would rather have these speakers as they are now, than the plastic wood grained finish. I hate that stuff. I don't allow it in my living room at home. My husband has to buy the expensive, high end, real wood finished speakers. He doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he has a strange little smile on his face about the whole thing. Something he isn't telling me? (Mikhael Shabani, of Morel Acoustics USA, informed us at press time that the cabinetry has been improved.)

Frequency Response Test Results (These data represent tests in a real room with furniture, not anechoic tests or simulations, and thus, may be somewhat different than you might experience in your own listening room of other dimensions and contents):

Near field, on axis, 1 meter, grille on, left channel:
20 Hz 64.0 dB   500 Hz 78.9 dB
25 Hz 67.1 dB   800 Hz 78.0 dB
31.5 Hz 69.0 dB   1 kHz 79.4 dB
40 Hz 68.8 dB   2.5 kHz 65.0 dB
50 Hz 79.2 dB   5 kHz 78.7 dB
63 Hz 84.7 dB   8 kHz 84.0 dB
80 Hz 79.8 dB   10 kHz 81.0 dB
100 Hz 69.9 dB   12.5 kHz 80.1 dB
125 Hz 74.3 dB   15 kHz 81.4 dB
160 Hz 77.8 dB   18 kHz 81.5 dB
200 Hz 75.5 dB
Far field, on axis, 12 feet, grille on, left channel:
20 Hz 72.0 dB   500 Hz 77.2 dB
25 Hz 73.5 dB   800 Hz 75.8 dB
31.5 Hz 77.9 dB   1 kHz 80.6 dB
40 Hz 74.0 dB   2.5 kHz 67.9 dB
50 Hz 67.5 dB   5 kHz 74.7 dB
63 Hz 71.8 dB   8 kHz 70.9 dB
80 Hz 82.2 dB   10 kHz 73.4 dB
100 Hz 67.2 dB   12.5 kHz 74.3 dB
125 Hz 64.5 dB   15 kHz 75.1 dB
160 Hz 85.1 dB   18 kHz 75.5 dB
200 Hz 76.2 dB    

No audible harmonics could be discerned even at the lowest frequencies with these SPL. Very nice!

I would say, in summary, that the Morel Preludes are quite melodic, smooth, detailed, and natural. The only concern I have is with the enclosure finish, but other than that, these are a recommended look-see and hear.

Jeanne Fairbrook


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