Wednesday, January 2, 2013

My Audio Design 1920S Loudspeakers

Does this speaker look familiar? Well, it should look like the My Audio Design 1920 loudspeaker I reviewed earlier this year, but in a gloss white finish. Same exact size, same drivers, same everything. Except this isn't the MAD 1920, it's the MAD 1920S, and it's slightly different than its little brother. As the MAD website says: "The 1920S is the signature version of our renowned 'World Standard' 1920 monitor. We have reconstructed the cabinet with a more advanced version of our proprietary DRC (Damping Resonance Control) and SWC technology. You can expect a sound that is smooth, open, natural, clear, detailed and unexaggerated. It all adds up to a package that is involving and coherent — like the original 1920 — but with more accuracy, clarity and even better bass."

In high-end audio, a "signature" version usually implies better parts, or a few tweaks here and there that lead to subtle yet noticeable improvements in the sound. But the difference between the 1920 and the 1920S is far from subtle. I don't want to take anything away from the 1920--it is a superb mini-monitor and an outstanding value--but I absolutely love the 1920S. It sounds so much bigger than the 1920 that it's hard to believe it only goes about 3 Hz deeper (55 Hz vs. 58 Hz). The price for this improvement is substantial--the 1920 is sold direct in the US from the MAD website for about $2575 (the price will vary slightly with the exchange rates), while the 1920S will retail in the US for $3450/pair. But it's worth it.

Of the three MAD speakers I've played with this week--the $48,000 Duke Royal Limiteds, the $11,000 Grand MS Maestro Supreme and now the 1920S--the latter pair is by far the most surprising. It's hard to listen to a $48K pair of loudspeakers without having extraordinarily high expectations. But these tiny little speakers shocked me at first listen. They sounded great right out of the box. They retain the smoothness and the refinement of all the other MAD speakers, but they excel at disappearing into the room and creating the type of soundstage that seems to expand well beyond the boundaries of my listening room. With an efficiency of 90dB, they also seemed to be the perfect match for the 12wpc Unison Research Simply Italy integrated amplifier. (Today I also plugged in the Unison Upower, a booster amp that quadruples the power to 48wpc.)

This is the last MAD speaker I get to play with before we head off to CES next week. I've had a lot of fun playing with all these goodies, and it will be tough to pack them up and send them on their way.


  1. Hi Marc,

    In your earlier review of the non-signature version, you mentioned: "My only reservation about these speakers are their rather polite high frequencies."

    How would you characterize the 1920S in this regard?


    1. Hi Stuart. With the 1920S I felt no such reservation about the high frequencies. They sounded open and airy and extended.

    2. Hi

      Does it go well with the unison primo or second?