What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Wed, 1 Jul 2009, 11:00am

Epos M12i

Tested at £525
80100
4

Single-minded in their approach, the M12is are still right up among the front-runners

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For

  • Handsome and well finished
  • forceful, rapid sound with detail to spare

Against

  • Fractionally remote treble can be provoked if poorly partnered

It's been over a year since this latest incarnation of Epos' perennially respected standmounter scored the full five in its First Test.

But if a week is a long time in MPs' expenses claims, 12 months is an epoch in loudspeaker terms – so it's high time we unboxed them again and made sure they still have what it takes. 
 
Free of their packaging, the M12is are tallish, beautifully turned-out speakers, their rounded wood-veneer cabinets and overall standard of finish impressive.

The repeated 'epos' logo around the mid/bass unit's surround may read 'soda' from certain angles, but we can live with that.

Speedy, dynamic and solid sound
And if you value a speedy, dynamic and implacably solid sound, you'll live with M12is too.

They're happiest out in a little free space, and when suitably positioned, Professor Longhair's Every Day I Have The Blues is a surefooted romp in the Epos' hands.

The barrelling 12-bar arrangement is impressively timed and effortlessly lucid, with real bite and attack on tap when required.

The low frequencies are taut and muscular, and the M12is demonstrate an exciting eagerness to go loud.
That's not to say they're unsubtle, but they're far from wallflowers when the going gets noisy.

New rivals do it better
Switching to Richard and Linda Thompson's When I Get To The Border, though, demonstrates where these speakers have been caught (and, in a couple of cases, overtaken) by the opposition.

They're not short of the insight and expression the song demands (the vocal harmonies, particularly, are skilfully communicated), but there's a suggestion of coarseness to the upper midrange that's absent in the best rivals.

And there's a slightly remote, detached air about the highest frequencies, a marginally bumpy integration with the midrange – without careful system-matching, the M12is' treble could prove problematic.

Of course, we made the same observations – that these Epos speakers are a low-fat, low-sugar sound, richly informative but not entirely neutral – last year, and it's still the case that a pair of M12is should be on everyone's shortlist.

But they're no longer a default choice, thanks to the efforts of at least two competitors, the Dynaudio DM2/7 and EB Acoustics EB1.  

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