Vimberg Mino loudspeaker

The priciest loudspeaker ever to have taken up residence in my listening room was the Akira from German company Tidal Audio (footnote 1), which I reviewed in the November 2018 issue of Stereophile. Designed by Tidal founder and CEO Jörn Janczak, the Akiras cost $215,000/pair! "The sheer resolution of the Akiras continued to astonish me throughout my auditioning," I wrote in my review, concluding that "The Akiras are the best-looking, best-built, best-sounding speakers I have had in my listening room—as they should be at the price."

Ah, the price. As good as the Tidal loudspeakers sounded and as heroically as they were engineered and built, I don't think I ever really came to terms with what they cost. So my ears pricked up when I read in Robert Deutsch's October 2018 report from the Toronto Audiofest that Janczak had launched Vimberg, a loudspeaker brand that, while still expensive in absolute terms, would be much less so than the Tidal models while preserving the Tidals' sound quality. At $31,000/pair, the subject of this review, the Vimberg Mino, resembles the Akira in being a large three-way floorstander using Accuton drive-units from the German company Thiel & Partner, but is one-seventh its price.

The Mino
This is a fairly heavy tower, weighing 159lb. The high-density fiber laminate enclosure is deeper than it is wide and is extensively braced. It is first veneered, then finished in high-gloss black or white piano lacquer. (This lacquer coating is half the thickness of that used in the Tidal models but is still impressively thick.) The enclosure's front baffle and rear panel slope back, which makes the speaker unstable until its complex-shaped outrigger stands have been bolted to its base. These are milled from aluminum, with the rear stand raising the back of the speaker a couple of inches higher than its front.

320vimberg.close1

Mounted vertically in-line on the baffle, the three 6.6" Accuton Cell long-throw woofers are fastened to aluminum mounting rings so that their convex aluminum-honeycomb cones stand proud. This alarmed me when I unpacked the speakers from their flight cases, so I took extra care in handling them, not to apply any force on those black woofer cones. The woofers are reflex loaded with a pair of flared ports, each 3" in diameter. One port is positioned near the speaker's base, the other 10" below the top panel; the upper port can be blocked with a rubber plug, which has a spherical metal knob to facilitate removing it, to optimize bass performance in a particular room: just one sign of the attention to detail that characterizes the Mino's design.

Above the woofers, a flush-mounted, polished aluminum insert carries the 3.55" Accuton Cell midrange unit and the 1.18" Accuton Cell tweeter, decoupling these drivers from the baffle. These both use ceramic diaphragms, specifically a porous material called "alpha corundum," which is produced by heat-treating then anodizing a thin aluminum foil, so that it is completely oxidized, after which it is converted into its final form via a proprietary process. The result is a diaphragm that is light and stiff, but also well-damped—three properties that are necessary in a drive-unit. The Mino can also be ordered with diamond-diaphragm tweeters, these again sourced from Accuton, for an additional $8500/pair.

320vimberg.tweetmid

The crossover is mounted to a heavy plate at the base of the enclosure, using high-quality capacitors, resistors, and inductors from Mundorf and Duelund. The internal wiring is sourced from Mogami, and electrical connection is via a single pair of fiber-reinforced polymer Argento binding posts, just below the lower reflex port.

Overall, the Mino is an elegant-looking loudspeaker, impeccably finished and impressively engineered.

Setup
As the Mino is close in size to the Magico M2 that I reviewed in the February 2020 issue, and has a similar drive-unit array, I started with the loudspeakers in the same positions as the M2s. After some experimentation, I ended up with the Vimbergs' woofers 72" from the wall behind them and 125" from my listening position. The left speaker was 33" from the LPs that line the left sidewall, the right 42" from the books that line the right sidewall. I then installed the bolts into the outrigger feet, adding the knurled knobs to their tops and screwing them in until their polished ends touched the wooden floor beneath my carpet.

Vimberg supplies machined aluminum coasters with Teflon-glider inlays that can be inserted beneath the bolts to protect floors that are higher in quality than mine, but I preferred the sound without these.

Listening
Once I had finalized the positions of the Vimberg Minos, I started my serious listening, driving the speakers with Lamm M1.2 monoblocks. With their upper ports blocked, the Minos reproduced the 1/3-octave warble tones on my Editor's Choice CD (Stereophile STPH016-2) with full weight down to the 40Hz band. The 32Hz tone was boosted by the lowest-frequency mode in my room, the 25Hz warble was readily audible, and I could just hear the 20Hz tone. The warble tones sounded very clean, implying low distortion. Playing the tones again with the upper ports open, the 50Hz and 63Hz bands seemed a little higher in level than they had with only the bottom ports open. The half-step–spaced low-frequency tonebursts on Editor's Choice spoke very cleanly down to 32Hz, with no emphasis of any of the tones. When I listened to the cabinet walls of both speakers with a stethoscope while these tones played, I could just hear some vibrational modes in the midrange, but the enclosure seemed extremely inert overall.

COMPANY INFO
Vimberg
US distributor: Wynn Audio
20 Wertheim Court, Unit 31
Richmond Hill, Ontario L4B 3A8, Canada
ARTICLE CONTENTS

COMMENTS
Ortofan's picture

... it ends up costing 31K/pair?

For an example of an impressively engineered speaker, see this review of the $600/pair ELAC Debut Reference DBR-62:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/elac-debut-reference-dbr-62-speaker-review.12232/
https://www.elac.com/series/debut-reference/dbr-62/

JHL's picture

...ignorance.

davip's picture

When a speaker "...sounded hollow if I stood up but evenly balanced, uncolored, and smooth when I sat up straight with my ears level with the Minos' tweeters, 41" from the floor" then that is not 'impressive engineering', especially when 10s-of-$1000s is being asked for them. My engineered-by-the-impressive Ed Villchur AR18s don't do that, all £100 of them. There's ignorance here all-right, but it's not his...

JHL's picture

...escapes you. If you're in the entry level audio ranks, where *everything* hinges on what a speaker does where your ears are not, then maybe you're never going to appreciate anything beyond an obsolete ancient shoebox. Besides, this speaker has superb axial response in both planes.

There's infinitely more to a fine loudspeaker than our current ignorant obsession with directivity. There's infinitely more to audio than trolling threads behind articles on things we can't afford either, wishing we had a real high end contender when we decidedly do not. That's a definite point.

My '96 Honda gets 34mph, damn that infernal Lamborghini.

davip's picture

Funny, but clearly a tool. I keep my "...obsolete ancient shoebox" not because I "can't afford" anything better, but because it has no crossover in the bass/mid, because being an acoustic-suspension design it can be used in real rooms and has superb bass-control (which this blousey, port-infested monstrosity, with it's need to be measured-to-the-inch from room-boundaries and have its port-bungs removed with different tracks, does not), and because its paper-cone tweeter makes the treble of uncompressed (i.e., analogue vinyl) audio sound divine. I've kept that 'shoebox' since 1980 because I have yet to hear anything play Music better. Instead of going to Germany to audition a £15k secondhand Magico M5 -- which after much deliberation looked like being the closest modern analogue to my 'shoebox' -- I decided to spend the money on records instead (and not worry about panzerholz delamination).

Cable and DAC-purveyors love mouthy plonkers like you. You should buy the reviewed loudspeaker -- I think that you have a Definite need for both of those port-bungs...

JHL's picture

...are you.

Since you're doubling down on ancient - I'm dead certain in more ways than one - the AR18 was a goofy little chipboard 8" two-way you typically set right down on the orange shag and hoped it could eke out 7.5kHz up to the solitary corduroy recliner. It was bound by its infinitely shabby physics to produce enormous holes when you moved, by the way, that absolutely being the provenance of those terribly obsolete, gigantic lossy stiction devices you call woofers and that equally inadequate bronze age two octave tweeter, all tied up in a nice geometric asymmetry guaranteed to null like the vacuum of space.

But you heard some Magicos once and ... damn that Villchur was a *god* of the shoebox. So goes the anonymous comments thread enlightenment of backwards audio hordes; the damn kids. Hundred dollar ebay shoeboxes got it all over 2020 high end speaker engineering. They just do.

Kal Rubinson's picture

My engineered-by-the-impressive Ed Villchur AR18s don't do that, all £100 of them.
Villchur sold the company in 1967. Wasn't the AR18s a Teledyne product?

Charles E Flynn's picture

The photo in this thread agrees with your memory:

http://www.classicspeakerpages.net/IP.Board/index.php?/topic/4161-ar18s/

Bogolu Haranath's picture

ELAC Debut Reference DBR-62 is a bookshelf speaker with two drivers ...... The DFR-52 is a floor-stander with four drivers ....... The floor-stander does not have as much bass extension as these Mino speakers ...... Nevertheless, both those ELACs are very good values for the money, and are designed by a talented designer .......

A better comparison would be the Revel Ultima Salon2 ($22,000/pair, reviewed by Stereophile) and the Revel Performa F328Be ($15,000/pair) :-) ........

invaderzim's picture

If it is expensive it can't be well engineered? You think that Andrew Jones wouldn't have made anything different with those speakers if his budget were higher? I'm not saying his aren't well made speakers but there is always trade-offs.
Two things I don't understand are a dislike for anything expensive and why people read a publication that reviews expensive items if they dislike that.
It is bit like reading a car magazine and commenting on reviews of exotic sports cars that if they want to see a really well engineered car they should look at a Toyota Corolla.

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

a '94 Toyota Corolla, which I bought used in '95. I don't think it's better engineered that the Wilson Alexia 2s in my listening room, but they do take me different places.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Time for a hybrid Prius :-) .......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

They are available with Apple CarPlay, Amazon Alexa and JBL sound system :-) ........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

..... and, they cost less than Wilson Aexia2 :-) ........

tonykaz's picture

Toyota conquered the entire Automotive transportation Industry with that beautifully engineered transportation system. Obama asked us at GM why we didn't/ couldn't build a car like it. ( serious Egg on Face ) Today Toyota is No.1 Auto Maker Globally with Tesla right up there as No.2.

Your "under appreciated" comment has me pondering that you are not educated enough to appreciate great engineering, even when you own it.

Toyota has another masterpiece : the Hilux truck. ( the one that Top Gear couldn't kill )

Wilson is 90% Marketing with nothing special engineering. ( nice drivers from Europe and dam good crossovers )

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

According to Google Volkswagen is number 1 in the world for the past few years ........ I think Toyota may be number 2 :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

However, according to Google ...... The No.1 best selling car 'ever' in the world is, drumroll please, Toyota Corolla ...... Second best selling car 'ever' is, Volkswagen Beetle .......

tonykaz's picture

I owned a NEW 1968 White Beetle with the optional ( $100 ) manual sunroof. A window needed to be open in order to fully shut the Air tight Cabin Door. 60 hp, top speed 82 mph., 30 mpg.

VW captured 10% of the entire Auto Market with the Beetle. We at GM eventually caught and crushed the Beetle. We thought we could do the same with Honda and Toyota, we spent $80 Billion Dollars on advancements while Toyota was investing in Human skill set developments. They killed us.

Most of the Toyota and Asian Cars still exist somewhere whilst our domestic Cars have rusted out long ago ( and melted down to make Toyota hubcaps )

The Corolla is genius !! Buy one when you're 18, drive it 300,000 plus miles, buy another in 30 years and drive it for another 300,000. Two cars for an entire lifetime. Kinda like a Stereo 70 Amplifier.

Tony in Venice

invaderzim's picture

" 72" from the wall behind them and 125" from my listening position."

I'd be listening from my driveway.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

JA1 usually positions the speakers in his garage and, listens to them from his driveway ........ JA1 wants his neighbors to enjoy great music as well :-) ..........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Everybody should convert their automobile garage and build an impressive looking listening room like JVS (see, AudioStream) :-) ........

Ortofan's picture

... located in a converted two-car garage.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Unfortunately, Mr.Hirsch didn't get a chance to listen to Alexia2s, D'Agostino gear, dCS gear and Nordost cables :-) ..........

Kal Rubinson's picture

" 72" from the wall behind them and 125" from my listening position."

Wow. I just measured my setup dimensions and they are the same.

cgh's picture

116" would be so much more... golden.

Kal Rubinson's picture

How would that take into consideration the space behind the MLP?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Eikon Audio Image1 integrated loudspeaker system ($25,000, system price) would be perfect for KR's listening room :-) ........

cgh's picture

I was being silly. 116/72 ~= 1+sqrt(5) / 2 vs 125/72

Kal Rubinson's picture

Ah. That;s OK. I was being perverse.

tonykaz's picture

Well, you said it better than any of us complainers about those Crazy Money Wilson prices and marketing. Thank you for validating our opinions.

We traditional Audiophiles seem to have Magnapan pricing policy as our Reference Standard for established "Value for Money" in Class A Loudspeakers.

Of course, Stereophile ( from it's beginnings ) has been a dam good judge of Value while occasionally Show-casing a "Robb Report" type of Luxury Lifestyle extravagance. ( I'm not an applauder of outfits that aim and build for the Marie Antionette Caste )

This Publication might stand alone in properly showcasing superb sound quality gear at price points attractive to beginning hobbyists and in sharing curious adventures into the exciting world of musical discoveries. Most Journalist contributions are made by significant, recognized authorities having had the rich benefit from JA1 leadership & guidance and now the continuation by JA2 ( how the hell did you find this guy? )

Stereophile continues to strength-en

Tony in Venice

JHL's picture

It's terribly important we not applaud outfits that aim and build for the Marie Antionette Caste. Bloody paramount.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

However, we can always applaud the audio equipment built, which are fit for Marie Antoinette :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

... also had excellent measurements and gave JA1 "all I need for musical and sonic satisfaction."
https://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-reference-5-loudspeaker

The Reference 5 is now on sale at less than half the price of this Vimberg speaker:
https://us.kef.com/reference-5-ultimate-floorstanding-speaker.html

tonykaz's picture

Raymond Cooke OBE is turning in his Grave, just as I am twisting myself in anxiety over these loudspeakers being Chinese and not British Made. I knew Raymond Cooke, visited him in Maidstone, had a tour of his operation and sold his various Loudspeakers to USA customers.

I've tried to reconcile this neurosis but can't escape to a place of KEF harmony. Of course, I'm not in the Audio Industry and don't have to adapt. For me, KEF is British and I continue to have a spot in my heart for British.

Thanks for consideration

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I think, both the KEF Reference and the KEF Blade models are made in the UK :-) .......

tonykaz's picture

You can Google image the Ref 5 for clear photo of rear description plate which clearly states Made in China in exactly the location that it's required to be.

All reviews of these KEFs ( any model ) will not mention China. ( it must be some sort of rule relating to advertising relationships )

I was hoping to see UK instead of China. People that take their Love to China loose me. ( and most Americans )

Any product with a Made in USA sticker will outsell any product with a Made in China sticker hidden in small print somewhere on the rear of the device.

Made in USA stuff is serviceable, China stuff is difficult to service ( Often impossible ).

Re-Sale residual values on China stuff is horrible.

However

China does have Audio Brands that feature outstanding quality : Caylin

Tony in Venice

funambulistic's picture

It seems every time KEF comes up, you bring up China. This is a good series of comments regarding the Q150 if you need a refresher: https://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-q350-loudspeaker

That being said, Mr. Bogolu is correct: the KEF Q and R series are designed in the UK and manufactured (for cost reasons, obviously - have to remain competitive in the tight speaker market) in China, but the Reference and Blade (and Muon) speakers are designed and manufactured in the UK. I don't know what Google images you have seen, but all the ones I can find show the rear plate with "Made in UK' on it (again for the Reference and Blade). Perhaps you Googled R series (R5) instead? If anything, you should be touting that a Chinese company is having speakers manufactured for them in the UK!

Bogolu Haranath's picture

You may be referring to the comments made under Stereophile KEF Q350 review, not Q150 review :-) .........

funambulistic's picture

Thanks!

tonykaz's picture

Yes, you're right.

I did see the Made in China before I started complaining all over again.

I was around for KEF's beginning as a proud UK outfit. I imported KEF then and knew Raymond Cooke back then.

Still, I'm disappointed in our loved Brand Names being corporate sold to Asian High bidders and I'm worried about the Asian Business Model not living up to our traditional expectations concerning Service and Market Values.

Of course, KEF and it's new owners can do as they dam well please but I expect our trusted reviewers to do their due-diligence on all the aspects of ownership of these Products, part of which is to reveal hidden secrets that will change or modify purchasing decisions.

There is a Social Cost to buying Asian

Tony in Venice

ps. we should expect and anticipate that some reviewers would choose to own KEF for their own purposes, presuming the loudspeakers are as good as the reviews read. Some do, the little 50 variant seems to have a home in quite a few reviewers closets.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I'm waiting for Wilson speakers to be sold to some 'Asian outfit' ....... Then we can all afford Wilson speakers :-) .......

Ortofan's picture

... the UK.

https://img.canuckaudiomart.com/uploads/large/2506809-kef-reference-5.jpg

KEF has been owned since 1992 by GP Acoustics, part of the Gold Peak Group based in Hong Kong.
http://www.gp-industries.com/manuf_acou.htm
http://www.goldpeak.com/

tonykaz's picture

I hope you're right

I have a close look the next time I'm near a pair.

Tony in Venice

Bogolu Haranath's picture

KEF R11 ($5,500/pair, EISA award winner), could be a good competition for these Mino speakers :-) .......

mtrot's picture

My dream speakers, after hearing them twice at audio shows. Now, just to win the lottery!

Jason Victor Serinus's picture

Please remember me in your will after you win.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

That number now has gone 'viral' ....... Millions of people are gonna play that number :-) .......

windansea's picture

Magnepan has a beta (or skunkworks) system that people are calling the "30.7 for condos". Look it up, seems to be a game-changer in terms of bottom-end dynamics finally matching ribbon speed. Check out the listener reactions, you'll see that it seems like a true breakthrough. The problem that Magnepan has is it might be superior to their flagship products, even though it's relatively compact, so they don't know how to price it without cannibalizing their most expensive products. Stereophile may encounter a similar problem-- what if the "30.7 for condos", even if priced at $10K, sounds way more lifelike than speakers that cost multiples more? PS: the maggie solution appears to be an array of small woofers in an open-baffle setup, with some digital EQ tweaking for seamless integration with planar mids and ribbon highs.

JHL's picture

...the Carver Amazings, at least in essential part: The open-baffle woofers, although in the Carver's case, EQ was effectively built in to the under-damped bass section as it countered dioplar cancellation...

windansea's picture

Thanks for the heads-up, did not know of this-- Bob Carver has to be considered a genius. However, his "Amazing" model uses big woofers. Look up the "30.7 for condo"-- it's like 6 or 8 small woofers (6.5"), surprisingly small. Maybe the secret sauce is the execution, not the concept, to match the snap and punch of small woofers with the accuracy of low-mass mylar and aluminum ribbon airpushing elements. (PS: Carver also seems ahead of his time with his switching amps anticipating Class D. But again the modern execution is superior and makes all the difference.)

JHL's picture

...with four 12" woofers the Amazing's larger area bass section will have, for any given matched frequency, lower acceleration, ergo no less bass "speed"* than smaller woofers, at least by that basis. If it reached a lower frequency it'll also have more group delay, and there we may well deviate from comparison.

Moreover, execution is indeed key.

*Bass speed is a misnomer. By definition any transducer tracing signal in its passband has sufficient acceleration. Speed is only a factor if the driver attenuates instead. Even so it'll typically do that as a function of motor reactance before it does as a factor of diaphragm acceleration.

windansea's picture

Can you please restate for me (a simpleton) in terms of mass and momentum? I figure that any larger mass will have a harder time getting from A to B, especially with air resistance.

JHL's picture

Mass factors in acceleration unless acceleration is insignificant. Your car only attenuates acceleration at full throttle.

Audio wavelengths have a long enough period that as long as a diaphragm delivers nominal passband sound pressure level, it's not lagging. If it were to alter the waveform it'd reduce *SPL* and still not suffer a time displacement.

If it did lag we'd see phase rotation and attenuation but in speakers that arrives in the driver's stopband, well above its usable bandwidth. Even so up there we'll usually run into motor limits well before we run into mass limits.

In fact, a smaller driver excursing at a given frequency *and level* has to accelerate faster to do the same work. It has further to move.

windansea's picture

thank you. I'll have to read that several times before I achieve satisfactory understanding. (eg, I have to look up motor limits)

Herb Reichert's picture

the "30.7s For Condos" and indeed, they accomplished some of the most vivid, transparent, properly-scaled, and just plain life-like reproduction I've ever encountered. (The woofer really did integrate well.) Wendell has good ears.

just sayin'

hr

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Great ..... We are waiting for a review by Stereophile (may be HR is the chosen one) :-) ......

Bogolu Haranath's picture

What size woofer(s), are they using, and how many? ...... Are they open baffle type? ....... Can you tell us? :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Does it look like Magnepan's own DWM bass panel? :-) .........

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I'm sure there is an 'omerta' agreement here :-) ........

Jim Austin's picture

Stereophile will review this speaker at the appropriate time, but for now it remains a prototype. Questions about the technology behind the woofers are valid, but for the moment there are no answers: They're not easy to see at demos, and Magnepan isn't telling. (I asked.)

Jim Austin, Editor
Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

In my opinion, HR's opinion is good enough ....... They should put them into production right away :-) .......

windansea's picture

Sounds like Herb already digs it. I'd rather see a review from a Luddite like Art Dudley. Can it overcome skeptical ears?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Please, not AD ...... AD probably is gonna try his favorite 2 Watt SET tube amp ....... That most likely won't cut it ...... We don't want a bad review from AD, do we? :-) .....

David Harper's picture

Call me crazy but somehow a speaker that costs $215,000 does not strike me as "well engineered". It is,after all,only a speaker. Not a Porsche.And the 2020 Carrera starts at UNDER $100,000!!!!!Now that's value engineering

John Atkinson's picture
David Harper wrote:
Call me crazy but somehow a speaker that costs $315,000 does not strike me as "well engineered". It is,after all,only a speaker. Not a Porsche.

See my 2018 article on high-end audio prices at www.stereophile.com/content/conspicuous-consumption. When you look at a product's price, be it a loudspeaker or a Porsche, the critical factor that influences the price is whether it is derived from a "markup" (materials) driven model, or from a "contribution" (overhead) driven model. A contribution-driven price, like that of the Tidal speaker, will always be higher than a markup-driven price.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

David Harper's picture

Mr.Atkinson, very enlightening article.

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