Scansonic MB6 B Floorstanding Loudspeakers Review
Paul Sechi auditions a suave sounding high-end Danish loudspeaker…
MB6 B Floorstanding Loudspeakers
Scansonic's MB6 B represents the brand as a premium-priced floorstander. It’s what most people’s idea of a high-end speaker is – with its tall, narrow and deep cabinet and sloping front and rear baffles. To most of us, it looks every part of the £8,999 (per pair) design that it is.
The drive unit complement is quite something on its own. It comprises four 100mm (the diameter quoted being the inside roll surround) bass drivers, which make up the top and bottom pairs. As well as these, two 100m midrange drivers are fitted, which straddle the ribbon tweeter in a ‘d’Appolito’ alignment. The midrange units and tweeter are isolated in their own internal sub-enclosure, Scansonic says. Crossover points for this 3-way design are 250Hz and 2.6kHz. All bass and mid drivers use a woven carbon cone, rubber surround and look outwardly identical.
It’s hard not to like the stylish cabinet shape or its superb finish. My review pair came in immaculate Satin White with a carbon fibre insert top panel; other finishes include Satin Black or Walnut. The narrow black front baffle combined with the tapered cabinet profile feels more like a stylish piece of furniture than a hi-fi transducer. That cabinet taper is deliberate to meet both aesthetic and acoustic needs; as well as looking pretty, it’s claimed to minimise internal standing waves. The cabinet itself is made from high-density MDF with key structural elements of carbon fibre. Speaker grills are not supplied but are available to order.
Given Scansonic’s history, all the above should come as no surprise. It hails from Danish ‘audio-royalty’ speaker design company Dantax, which was formed in 1971. In the late nineteen seventies, it took over Scan-Speak and added Scansonic to its portfolio. Scan-Speak was spun out twenty or so years later. In 2009 Dantax also took over the Raidho loudspeaker project to develop cutting-edge loudspeakers. So Scansonic benefits from the latter’s advanced audio technology and much more.
Physically the MB6 B is hard to hide at 1,410x180x470mm (HxWxD, not including outriggers). Scansonic recommends using this speaker in medium to large-sized rooms. It’s a two-person lift to get this 37kg behemoth out of its packaging, so factor this in as part of your set-up process. Once out of the box, you need to attach a pair of aluminium outriggers to the bottom of each cabinet, and you’re ready to go. These look classy with integrated and height-adjustable rounded floor spikes suitable for carpeted and hard floors. An A4 card is supplied that outlines general set-up instructions, and there’s a more detailed manual online should you need it.
At the rear of the cabinet near the floor is a pair of well-constructed, vertically orientated speaker terminals accepting spade and banana plugs. There is no bi-wiring option. Above the terminals are three reflex ports that tune the bass cavity for all four bass drivers.
Scansonic claims an efficiency figure of 90dB (with no reference to the measurement method), a minimum impedance of 4 ohms, and a frequency response of 27Hz to 40kHz. As such, this speaker should not be difficult to drive for most modern solid-state amplifiers, and indeed its highish sensitivity should make it an option for users of lower powered tube amplifiers, too.
I used a Primare i30 integrated amplifier for this review, plus Primare CD31 CD player and Bluesound Vault 2i streamer as sources. The MB6 Bs were placed 2.6 metres apart with 80cm of side and rear wall clearance. My listening position was dead-centre, 2.4m from the tweeter. Scansonic recommends toeing-in the speakers, but I started without any toe and moved to a 5 to 6cm toe-in position in later listening sessions.
This is a powerful, expansive sounding, full-bandwidth speaker. It goes satisfyingly low and has bass weight that belies its cabinet volume and drive unit size – you could almost call it an optical and auditory illusion in this respect! Its midband performance is transparent, fast and neutral – both in tone and presence – while the tweeter is a star, being fast, shimmery, delicate and smooth.
Better still, this is an efficient speaker and works surprisingly well at lower volume levels – but it still needs a good dose of current to get it into the zone. Yet when you turn up the wick a bit, it still keeps its game face on – offering up weighty bass, effortless midrange and delicate highs, all without volume-induced flabbiness, forwardness or brightness.
For example, She’s Already Made Up Her Mind by Lyle Lovett is a recording with lots of dynamic range, a wide soundstage and an infectious groove. The Scansonic presented a wide and deep soundstage and excellent steel-string guitar decay from the get-go. Vocals weren’t nasal, and there was no midrange forwardness. Basslines were clearly defined, and the ever-so-important drum slam was tight and well-weighted. Timing throughout the track was excellent and drew me into the song.
To get a sense of musical scale, I spun up Beck’s Round The Bend. The Scansonic showed me that it can pull together a complex passage of music very coherently, as the bass line and drum work were easy to follow with excellent separation and weight. The soundstage was satisfyingly broad, the orchestra sweeping in as required and then decaying away, with highly accurate physical placement of instrument groups. Upper bass and lower midrange detail shone through on this track, undoubtedly assisted by the stiff cabinet, giving musical transients time and space to appear and disappear.
Ben Harper’s Like a King also showcased this speaker’s soundstaging ability well. The introduction sets the scene with solid, punchy drums melding with the intricate guitar work, in perfect time. The MB6 B reproduced this very well, as it did the recorded acoustic which had impressive width and depth, with vocals projecting well. Indeed, the ribbon tweeter positively shone, having an airiness that delivered high frequencies with precision and speed.
This big Scansonic can do delicacy, too. Dot Allison’s Long Exposure is an intricate and gentle piece. I enjoyed the sensation of the instruments and vocals hanging in mid-air, floating out from the speakers with the piano grounding everything behind. Vocals were dynamic and conveyed the emotion as the track waxed and waned. Joe Jackson’s Fools in Love/For Your Love medley was also a joy, with intricately carried piano work, an easy-to-follow and plentiful bass line, and impactful yet deft and nuanced drumming.
Last but not least, drive unit integration is excellent on this speaker – despite each MB6 B having no less than seven drivers! Ed Kuepper’s So Close To Certainty includes a heady mix of violin, percussion and guitar. The violin sounded clear, sharp, fast and never forced throughout the track – nor did it ever display any glare. Snappy percussion dominated my listening room, and each note had plenty of space and time (attack and decay) to work with. I listened to the track repeatedly, at reduced and increased volumes, and could not find a point where the midrange or tweeter sounded excessively forward. Indeed, the cohesion between the midrange and tweeter is excellent, which means you listen to the music and not the speaker.
Scansonic’s MB6 B is an expensive loudspeaker, make no mistake. It’s small car money, so you have a right to expect a lot. After a good amount of time spent with it, I was impressed. Any fears that those multiple, small diameter bass units couldn’t deliver were soon allayed, while its superb ribbon tweeter charmed me. Its floaty, delicate, open sound was an absolute delight to hear. Midband was fast, smooth and precise, and well-integrated with the other drive units.
The result is a gutsy, expansive yet unforced sound. This is further aided by a very quiet cabinet that doesn’t add its own colour to the proceedings; it allows more music to emanate from every song and album. Some speakers are accurate and revealing but can be audibly tiring. On the contrary, the MB6 B was immersive and inclusive, bringing the listener into the music. Fed with a reasonably powerful amplifier and given a medium to large-sized room, it delivers an effortlessly musical experience. This is an essential addition to the audition list for anyone looking to buy a serious pair of floorstanders at or near this price.
Paul is a music appreciation fan of both live and produced music from diverse genres and cultures. Paul was interested in audio at school, did a thesis in acoustics and by day works as a technology strategist including smart environment standards and integration.
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