Our Verdict 
Deeply impressive: matched with worthwhile partners, the Performance 5.1 system will leave you breathless
For 
Poised, potent and endlessly realistic sound
excellent integration
looks, build and finish
Against 
Needs lots of space to breathe
deserves partnering with a big image and top electronics
Reviewed on

Psychoanalysts would say we're ‘conflicted'. Actually, they might say a great deal more about us, but that's another story.

The root of our present conflict is not childhood trauma, but Mordaunt-Short's Performance 5.1 speaker package. We'd like to spend this whole page extolling the virtues of MS's commitment to uncompromised manufacturing methods and technical innovation, not to mention inventive use of materials.

On the other hand, we're equally keen to go on at length about the Performance's barnstorming, erm, performance, or knee-weakening good looks, and subtle indication of the wealth of any prospective owner. They are 120cm tall, sensually curvaceous, and come supplied without grilles (the better to admire the array of Continuous Profile drivers and the tweeter, which pierces the cabinet like the tip of an errant javelin). They not only look lovely judged as speakers, they're quite acceptable sculptures, too.

Performance is the name of the gameOnce the Performance 5C centre channel and substantial 9W subwoofer have been manoeuvred into position, the effect is at once pleasing and purposeful, even though maintaining that deep, deep grey finish will cost you a fortune in polish.

With a due sense of anticipation, we dropped Kingdom of Heaven into our reference DVD player and sat back. The way the Performance 5.1 delivered this soundtrack was, honestly, hair-raising. The sheer quantity of detail unearthed and transcribed is extraordinary: previously unimagined atmospherics are exposed without fuss and marshalled on the soundstage with the deftest of touches.

More after the break

At the other end of the scale, the Performance demonstrates monstrous dynamic ability – it musters relentless, rigidly controlled attack, moving from a whisper to a shout in an instant, and having no problem keeping the bass prompt and accurate.

The P9W subwoofer might be sizeable, but it's able to stop the big bangs on the proverbial sixpence, and the centre channel sounds as natural as can be, lending dialogue a conspiratorial and naturalistic air, and the whole integrates seamlessly. This is a truly cinematic performance.

Multichannel music isn't wanting neitherThe excellent DVD-Audio remaster of David Bowie's live Stage shows off the Performance's talents superbly: that oddball tweeter gives fantastically crisp treble, and the low end is blessed with considerable weight and dexterity – like an elephant on the parallel bars.

However, it's the midrange that really impresses: vocals are first-person accurate. There's a real sense of recital here, everything knitting with exceptional timing.

Seems we've solved our own ‘conflict' here: no mention of the Performances extraordinarily stiff cabinets or the 6's triamping potential.

But we must end on a note of caution: these speakers deserve a lot of money to be spent around them – say, £5000 minimum for suitable amplification; a similar amount on a projector; and an easy four figures on a DVD or Blu-ray player.

Then there's the small matter of a room big enough to allow the Performance 5.1 to stand in free space. Still, at least you won't have to find spc for an analyst's couch.