Saturday, January 21, 2012
A Moos By Any Other Name...
It's amusing to me that I heard a prototype for the upcoming Moos Mini loudspeakers just a few short hours after watching one of my favorite film scenes of all time back at the hotel. The scene is from Arthur, and Dudley Moore is having a brief discussion with the father of his fiancee in the latter's library--and Dudley is utterly obsessed with the moose head trophy over the fireplace. That scene is responsible for some of my favorite funny movie lines such as "Where's the rest of this moose?" and, more importantly, "This is a tough room...(looking up at the moose)...I don't have to tell you that."
Despite its cute name, the Moos Mini is a serious product. At first glance it looks like a typical small two-way mini-monitor, nicely finished in a variety of bright colors such as red, black and white. The particular model I auditioned in a remote suite at the Venetian, far away from the bustling action at CES, was finished in a sunny "Lamborghini" yellow--or that's at least what the Moos designers called it. When I suggested that the red version might be evocative of another famous Italian automobile marque, they politely declined. These Australians are Lambo men through and through.
When you explore what makes this tiny speaker tick, you'll start to understand what makes it so special. Designed by Australian acoustic design guru Brad Serhan, the Mini uses very high-quality Revelator drivers from Scan-speak (the 5.5" 15W-8530 for the bass and midrange and the ring radiator R2904 for the treble), an enclosure built from the highest quality birch ply and acoustic damping that was designed by NASA for the Space Shuttle so that the astronauts could be protected from the extreme amount of noise during missions. While the prototype I heard at the Venetian was the passive version, Brad wants to introduce the Mini in an active version. The projected price for all of this...just $999 per pair.
For this price, you might think that the Mini is assembled in China. Nope...it's actually assembled by Scan-Speak in Denmark. You might wonder how Moos Audio is going to make a profit at this price; Brad told me that his margins are relatively slim and he's betting the farm that the Mini will be a huge hit. Volume, volume, volume, in other words. After listening to the Mini, I'm convinced it will be a great solution for computer-savvy audiophiles who like their Sound Engine loudspeakers but want something a little more revealing and musical.
An extended listened revealed a mini-monitor that throws up a monster soundstage full of detail. Bass is full and taut, and the imaging is as precise as it gets. Powered by modest amplification and an Oppo BDP-95 digital player, the passive version of the Mini was extremely competitive with other $1000 monitors--so having them powered for the same price ups the ante considerably. Brad told me that there's still a bit of work to do in terms of refining the overall sound and ensuring that the amplification fits into the Mini without affecting the existing enclosure, but he's already been working on this design for a couple of years and it shows. This is a great little speaker.
It's going to be a few more months before the Mini hits the market, but I hope to get an active pair to try out in a few weeks. I really want to test the Moos out as a nearfield/desktop monitor for my software-based music server. I suspect many future Moos customers will be using the Mini in such an arrangement. But even as a stand-alone, this is an exceptional little speaker with a big sound, a sound that will prevent you from asking "Where's the rest of this Moos?"
You can find out more about Moos and the Moos Mini at their website.