What Hi Fi Sound and Vision Thu, 27 Aug 2009, 3:00pm

MJ Acoustics Xeno XM1

Tested at £230
40100
2

Even at this modest price-point, anything but ‘very good indeed’ just doesn’t cut it, and the MJs don’t have the competence of others

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For

  • Good looks, fine finish
  • capable of great eloquence in the midrange

Against

  • Treble is easily provoked
  • short of dynamic ability
  • can get shouty at volume

It might be passé these days, but there's no denying that the gloss-black finish of the MJ Acoustics Xeno XM1s makes them look expensive.

Curved edges add to the impression of quality, and when the Xeno XM1s are parked on a speaker stand, they are (to our eyes) a very attractive speaker.

Unfortunately, that's as much front-running as the MJs do. They're by no means a disaster, but listened to in isolation there are areas of concern.

Served a straightforward tune such as The Easybeats' Gonna Have a Good Time, the XM1s reveal their sonic preferences right from the off.

They're action-packed in the midrange and into the lower reaches of the high frequencies – vocalists especially walk a fine line between immediacy and stridency, while the top end is assertive-going-on-raucous.

Partnering is crucial
Any hint of clamour in either the recordings you play or the electronics you play them through will be seized upon and spotlit by the MJs – which is good news if your system is terminally laid-back, but a bit of a worry otherwise.

Integration between the two drivers isn't the smoothest, and there's a lack of dynamic headroom that means audio peaks and troughs are rolled more-or-less flat.

On the plus side, the XM1s retrieve and display a good level of detail – our copy of The Fascinations' Girls are Out to Get You certainly sounds multifaceted – and offer a convincing, if slightly confined, soundstage.

The XM1s are intimate and articulate through the midrange if sympathetically partnered, and control the low stuff well, too.

The trouble is that most speakers in this price range can boast the same.

All the Xeno XM1s have over others is the nicest build and finish, and for everyone but fanatical interior decorators, that just isn't going to be enough.

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