Even before all the components had arrived, we had high hopes that the Mordaunt-Short Mezzo multichannel speaker package would give Dali's all-conquering Ikon 6 set-up a proper run for its money.
After all, the Mezzo 2 standmounters that form the rear channels here scored the maximum five stars in their May 2008 First Test, and the Mezzo 6 floorstanders which go up front did likewise last month.
It seemed that the addition of a similarly talented subwoofer and centre speaker could create a really worthwhile system.
And to be fair, that's more-or-less what has happened. The Mezzo 5 centre channel, with its familial elevated tweeter, may look a little ungainly but it's a crisp, forthright communicator.
The Mezzo 9 subwoofer, usefully compact, nicely finished and packing a stack of adjustability as well as a remote control-cum-sound pressure meter, is promising too. So where has that fifth star gone?
More after the break
Actually, let's consider the positives before we get into that – there are plenty. The Mezzo set-up conjures a wide, tall soundstage, steers effects around it with alacrity and places them confidently.
Its fast, attacking presentation sparkles with detail, and there's sufficient dynamism in reserve to make the most of the inevitable Batman Begins TrueHD soundtrack.
During the many moments of high excitement, the Mezzo 9 subwoofer reveals itself to be more than capable: it digs deep, hits hard and controls the leading and trailing edges of bass notes without fuss.
At the other end of the cinematic scale, when the going gets quiet and creepy, the M-S package ramps up the tension thanks to its fine detail retrieval and focussed, revealing centre-channel dialogue.
But, just as “I speak as I find” can sometimes mean “I'm unflinchingly rude”, the Mezzo's relentlessly forward, direct presentation can become tiring over time.
All of the excitement that's lacking in the B&W package is here, make no mistake, but an occasional nod towards the same system's refinement and restraint wouldn't go amiss. In fact, the B&W and this M-S are at opposite ends of the spectrum – and too much excitement is wearing, just as too little is dreary.
Naturally, you shouldn't dismiss the Mezzo package out of hand. If it's thrills you crave, you'll certainly find a like-minded ally here – but, at the very least, be careful with your system-matching. Paired with a similarly stimulating amplifier, things could get altogether too dramatic