Review: Magnat Quantum Edelstein compact speakers

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This week we tested a pair of compact speakers, the Magnat Quantum Edelstein. Those who had the opportunity to listen to them during the latest hi-fi and home-cinema convention could not believe their ears. It was with a certain amount of doubt that we decided to take a closer look at the specs of this ?precious stone? (edelstein in German), fitted with a 4.3 inch medium/bass driver and silk dome tweeter.

Le tweeter à dôme en soie est monté sur une large suspension
The silk dome tweeter is mounted on a wide surround

The manufacturer announces a frequency response between 34 Hz and 50 kHz. Pretty uncommon numbers for this type of speaker, especially as it seems to defy the laws of physics. Anybody with a notion of acoustics knows that a 4.3 inch driver cannot deliver frequencies below 60 Hz in a convincing way, unless it’s paired up with a horn… even then, it seems far fetched. Our curiosity was such that we had to give this gem a try in our own living room.

Test configuration

To properly judge the performances of this very small speaker, we listened to it with different amplifiers and various cables: Yamaha A-S2000 (coupled with the Pioneer N-50 network reader), NuForce DDA-100 and Denon Denon Ceol N-8. In other words, a powerful amplifier, a fully digital amplifier and a reputable mini hi-fi stereo system. All of these components were linked using Viard Audio HD Premium HP and Viard Audio Silver HD 12 cables with spade connectors. We used Viard Audio Premium HD RCA-RCA and Viard Audio Premium HD S/PDIF cables. As per usual, our source material was based on studio and CD quality FLAC files stored on a Synology NAS.

La Denon Ceol N8 excellente partenaire des Quantum Edelstein, ici avec des câbles Viard Audio Silver HD12
The Denon Ceol N8 – a great partner for Quantum Edelstein, shown here with Viard Audio Silver HD12 cables

Build

La face avant est superbement finie... on aurait tort d'utiliser les caches fournis.
The front panel is so well finished that it would be a shame to use the supplied cover.

The pair of Magnat Quantum Edelstein speakers we used was a white model. The speakers are shipped in a compact box and protected by expanded polystyrene foam and a non-abrasive cloth bag.

Once out of the box, the Magnat Quantum Edelstein impress by their small size and the quality of their finish. The speaker is made up of an MDF structure with solid aluminium plates on the front panel and under the speaker. The bottom part of the speaker is also reinforced with a thick plate of transparent tempered glass placed between the aluminium layer and the speaker.

La face inférieure de l'enceinte, en aluminium massif brossé
The back panel of the speaker is in solid brushed aluminium

The front panel is protected by a magnetic cover with acoustic fabric. Once we take the cover off we can observe an elegant brushed aluminium design which lets us see each driver’s cone. The rims are bevelled and polished.

The 4.3″ medium/bass driver is fitted with a half roll surround and a white composite cone with a flat dust cover. The coated silk dome tweeter is mounted on a large surround. The finish is flawless.

The side and back panels are coated with an absolutely gorgeous glossy white lacquer finish. At the back of the speaker is a small, yet relatively long, flush circular bass-reflex port which visibly shows that Magnat did their best to reach the lowest resonance frequency possible with such a small volume. The screw terminals are compatible with spade connectors, banana plugs and speaker wire of approximately 4 mm².

Les borniers sont fixés dans une plaque en alumium
Les borniers sont fixés dans une plaque en alumium
Les borniers plaqués or sont recouverts de plastique pour un vissage plus sûr
Les borniers plaqués or sont recouverts de plastique pour un vissage facilité
La base de l'enceinte Magnat Quantum Edelstein est composée d'un sandwich de MDF, de verre trempé et d'aluminium massif pour éliminer toute vibration parasite.
La base de l’enceinte Magnat Quantum Edelstein est composée d’un sandwich de MDF, de verre trempé et d’aluminium massif pour éliminer toute vibration parasite.

What is to be expected from such small speakers?

Most of the time, a rather skimpy result mainly focusing on high frequencies and a weak bass delivery.

There are some exceptions to this statement and the Magnat Quantum Edelstein are part of the very selective club of small audiophile speakers.

The sound stage is very open, there is no projection despite medium frequency centred balance. Vocals are clear, very articulated and not overdone. The treble is remarkably refined after about 30 hours of use. Such precision can only be explained by the choice of well adapted technology: neodymium motor, extremely good quality passive filter components, great control of the impedance curve in the filter and bass-reflex design.

The two drivers are equally precise and the tweeter is never overwhelming. Although, it does take a certain amount of time to break it in.

A little shy in the lower end of the sound spectrum but real potential

The bass range is quite discreet but the Edelstein is not to blame for it. The 34 Hz announced by the German brand are indeed reachable, but with an attenuation of about 10 dB. The articulation of low frequencies is nonetheless very good.

The strong point of this speaker is its detailed and vivid medium frequency delivery, which provides the listener with a truly enjoyable experience and lets him/her focus attention on the music until the very last note.

This balanced listening can appear to be a problem with poorly balanced music (dance music, electro, etc.) but not with good recordings. While listening to Radio France’s FM stations, this small speaker did an outstanding job with sound placement and conveyed human voices perfectly.

These speakers should be used with a precise goal: either for close listening by setting them on a desk and pairing them up with a warm and soft amplifier (tube amplifier, digital amplifier such as the NuForce DDA-100 or NAD D7050 for instance), or to listen to jazz or classical music from a few metres away. In other words, do not expect a striking impact in the low frequencies.

Listenings

Too Old to die Young Now, Brother Dege (FLAC 16/44,1)

The bass drum is correct and rather surprising. The strings are very impressive.

Lo Chiamavano King, Edda Dell’Orso & Luis Bacalov (FLAC 16/44,1)

The stereo is very noticeable and offers a lot of space. Edda Dell’Orso’s voice, supported by the backing vocals, is expressed with much enthusiasm.

La voix Edda Dell'Orso sur ces Magnat Quantum Edelstein nous a conquis.
Edda Dell’Orso’s voice on these Magnat Quantum Edelstein speakers really impressed us.

Girl from Ipanema, Stan Getz et Astrud Gilberto (FLAC 16/44,1)

The type of track that will make you forget how small these speakers are. The stand-up bass is precise, the saxophone never shrieks: the music takes us on a journey.

I Want to hold your hand, The Beatles (FLAC 24/44,1)

Nothing is lost here, not a word, not the slightest intervals during the chorus.

Time is on my side, The Rolling Stones (FLAC 24/192)

Good overall balance, with yet another very noticeable stereo effect, especially due to the excellent master found on HDtracks. The drums on the right side are clear, the tambourine is well in the centre and fades slightly at times, while the guitar groans on the other side. The reverb in Mick Jagger?s voice places it at the back of the stage.

Conclusion

The Magnat Quantum Edelstein is a superb speaker which stands out for the clarity of its medium frequency delivery. Rarely has such a small speaker been able to create such a wide and deep sound stage. We can point out its lack of impact in the lower range of the sound spectrum, but it can be fixed with good equalization (possible with most hi-fi amplifiers). The quality of the components used for this speaker is obvious and it’s a pleasure to turn the volume up without being immediately overwhelmed. A long break-in period will be necessary and the use of high quality cables is absolutely recommended to fully enjoy the qualities this Edelstein has to offer.

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