MUSIC HALL MARIMBA
Music Hall founded in 1985 by Roy Hall who had been in the business for quite a while before, is a manufacturer, importer, and distributor of great value speakers and electronics. The electronics are developed and designed in the United States and manufactured to strict standards in Shenzhen, China. Their turntable line is produced in a factory in the Czech Republic that has been making turntables for over 50 years.
Imported lines the likes of Creek Audio, Epos, EAT Tubes, Whest, Goldring and Shanling are distributed here in the U.S.
The Marimba is a true bookshelf as it is not a large speaker and would fell right at home on the sides of your computer monitor. The dimensions are 11” (279mm) high by 6.5” (167mm) wide by 8.75” (221mm) deep and a whopping 8.6 lbs. (3.9kg). So you see the are not overpowering speakers by any means. Music Hall gives the sensitivity as 87db/W/m with the nominal impedance as 6 ohms. I had to go the their web site to get the impedance as it was not printed on the rear of the speaker. When asked about the oversight, Roy said he simply forgot to put it on the label. Recommended amplifier range is 20-75 watts, of course as is always the case speakers will take a lot more power than their ratings, it is pushing not enough power to its limits that kills speakers.
There a single pair of binding posts on the rear ported speaker that accepts banana, bare wire, and spade connectors.
Per the Music Hall web site the Marimbas feature:
Custom designed low-resonance 1" silk dome tweeter with neodymium magnet
Stiff 5 ¼ in. polypropylene woofer with low-distortion bullet style dust cap and rigid steel chassis
Non-resonant medium density fiberboard cabinet
Extensive internal cross-bracing minimizes cabinet and front baffle vibration
Gold plated binding posts
High purity oxygen-free copper internal wiring
Specially tuned rear port design for extended low frequency response
Optimized voicing for coherent and seamless integration between woofer and tweeter
Curved cabinet to reduce distortion and edge diffraction
Poly-foam insulated enclosure improves mid range and bass performance while reducing cabinet noise
And guess what, your choice of finishes include either black, black or black. The speakers came doubled boxed together and the recommended break in time is 48-72 hours. The Marimba was developed by the most advanced computer system, sophisticated software, and advanced data entry equipment in the industry, the human brain and ear. Well what do you know!
I used three CD's in my review of the Marimbas and I will not sit here and wax poetic about the attributes of high frequency extension, low bass, mid range detail, sound stage, imaging, and so forth because I believe these are not speakers of the norm. I have four sets of speakers on hand ranging in price from $1200 to $5000 and in my mind there is no point of comparing the Marimba to either. These are speaker sare not for audiophile fanboys. they are for the music lover.
My room is 12'x15'x8 with some DIY room correction panels and one big recliner. I will not discuss the placement of the speakers in my room as even if someone has the same size room they will not have the same items in the room as I do, your placement will be different from mine.
Classical, well some of you may turn your nose up to it but name a rapp, rock, jazz, or country collection of songs (performances) that will be around as long. You get the full gamut of instruments in their full natural glory in this genre of music. This version of The Four Seasons by the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra is different from most as it uses period instruments like violin, viola, violoncello, bass, theorbo, organ, and lastly harpsichord. This is not your normal compliment of instruments.
The violins are sweet sounding with the tweeter being somewhat forgiving which is a good thing. The tonality of the instruments were right on. There was enough sound to amply fill my room without pushing the speakers to their limits. Instruments were in their own space not compressed with good tempo and the sound was clean and clear. With the Marimbas, mid range is where it's at, clean clear and down right musical.
So I had to get my piano groove on and this is one great recording on the Reference Recordings label. Whatever genre of music that you like, if it is on this label, grab it. The musicians are Mike Garson -piano with luminaries Brian Bromberg - acoustic bass, Ralph Humphry-drums, and Eric Marienthal - alto saxophone. Our preeminent publisher James Darby recently saw Garson in concert and proclaimed him one of the best jazz pianists on the planet. Garson was David Bowie's keyboardest for years so he can rock, too. Of course, if you record for Reference Recordings you can't be a slouch.
Piano was fast clean sounding but as one can expect from such a small bass driver, it was lacking that full body sound with the lower end foundation, yet the sound was very tuneful. Sax had good tonality with that sax bite that is hard to get. Instruments were placed well within the sound stage and there was actually good depth and dimensionality as in 3D.
Nils Lofgren's Acoustic Live has become a go to demo wonder at audio shows and for good reason; the live acoustic is one of the best ever recorded. "Keith Don't Go" is often heard thundering out of hotel rooms into the packed hallways. If you're not familiar with Nils, he started out with Niel Young's Crazy Horse band at age 17 and later ended up with Spingsteen and the E Street Band for years. Pretty good resume, huh?
This CD starts out with the raucous applause of the audience. Not the usual snap, crackle , and pop semi-up front perspective of my reference speakers but instead a nice easy going laid back splattering of hands being pounded together. The sound stage had good depth and width. What struck me was the total disappearance in my room of the speakers, nothing but music.
Sticks And Stones, the second song on the cd brought forth a rich of guitar tone, bite, and speed. A lot of getting into music is the individual tonality of each instrument together with the harmonic interplay of the various chords and notes. The Marimba had an uncanny knack of letting me hear the music as it was meant to be played.
I had to get to the two main tracks that most people will be familiar with from being played almost to death at shows, “Little On Up” and “Keith Don't Go”. Both were punchy, dynamic, and tuneful and since the two songs did not have any heavy bass the only thing I felt was lacking was a tinge of that guitar fullness. All in all the Marimba acquitted themselves quite nicely.
No matter what genre of music I threw at the Marimba it always came out music.
You know, if these were $5,000 a pair or, for that matte,r $1,500 a pair speakers, I could go on and on about the virtues of a deep, wide, and 3D sound stage, tonality, pace and balance, but with the Marimba all I have is one word - musicality. It just sounds like music and it sounds right and at a good price for my Cheap Bastard tastes.
In my room I did not feel that I needed more bass, but for those of you that do a sub is needed for full extension.
If you are in the market for bedroom, bathroom (I've seen it), kitchen, office or just plain small listening room,give these a shot. Don't be tempted to buy the stuff at Best Buy, even the Andrew Jones Pioneer wonders.These are better for not much more moolah.
The time I spent with these speakers was a joy and Roy Hall should be commended for bringing to market such an affordable, well behaved musical speaker that the average Joe like me can have and enjoy.
Starting a new system you could far worse and be a lot more out of pocket.
Amps: Usher R 1.5 power amp, Yaqin MS 20L integrated amp
Preamp: Belles 21A
Source: Virtue Audio Piano M1 cdp, Onix XCD-88 cdp(transport), Ack Dac 1.2
Interconnects: MG Audio Design Planus Cu.
Speaker Cables: MG Audio Design Planus 2
Power Cords: Six Sons Audio Windigo and Thunderbird, Virtual Audio Testament.
Stands: Alantis Pro 28”