This speaker has been a long time coming. There was talk of a Performance standmounter way back in 2004 when the range was first released. So, we waited… and, six years on, here it is.
It's been well worth the wait, too – and not just for the sound (though that's impressive enough), but for the approach Mordaunt-Short has taken to the Performance 2s' design.
The most obvious way these speakers differ from the competition is in their cabinet shape. It's rare to come across a speaker that doesn't have a wooden carcase: most manufacturers use MDF or particleboard, with a handful stretching to plywood.
Wood is cheap to buy, easy to machine and simple to make into a box.
Mordaunt-Short, though, has gone for a complex polymer resin that gets injection-moulded into these elaborately curved cabinets.
Immensely strong and rigid
The complex shape is not only immensely strong and rigid, but also minimises the build-up of internal standing waves.
A heavy, cast metal base completes the enclosure and allows the use of spikes when the speakers aren't used on their dedicated stands.
You'll notice the drilled metal cone that sits behind the metal dome tweeter and exits at the rear of the cabinet.
Mordaunt-Short calls this ATT (Aspirated Tweeter Technology): the design makes use of the rearward tweeter output and delivers it in a way that improves the sense of space with high-frequency sounds.
However, none of this matters if the Performance 2s don't deliver top sound – which, for the most part, they do.
Deep bass not on the menu
Let's get the weaknesses out of the way. These aren't particularly large speakers. They're just 49cm high, so deep bass is out of the question – but we aren't worried simply because they do well for their size, if not their price.
Our second concern is more pressing. Unlike many Mordaunt-Shorts we've heard, these aren't particularly enthusiastic sounding speakers – very measured in the way they deliver rhythm, timing shifts and punch.
They don't ignore such things, but do underplay them to the point where excitement suffers a little.
Some of the drama of the rather oppressive Watch the World Burn from The Dark Knight OST is diluted, for instance.
Not the whole story
That's nowhere near the whole story, though: the engineering shines through everywhere else, and we doubt whether you'll find a more detailed speaker for this money.
The Performance 2s can take something immensely complex like Massive Attack's Flat of the Blade and deliver it with breathtaking clarity; instrumental threads are defined superbly, with a stability and lack of blur that we've not heard anywhere near this price level before.
Their dynamic ability is easy to underestimate, too. The Performance 2s' controlled manner and composure can lead a listener to think that they're a little restrained at dynamic extremes.
The truth is that it goes from quiet to loud with the minimum of fuss and no small amount of skill.
You can add exceptional agility, terrific low-end control and superb stereo imaging to the long list of plus points, too – and let's not forget the excellent build.
The Performance 2s have slight weaknesses, but in most areas they're at least excellent, if not standard-setting, for the outlay – especially when you consider the huge amount of effort that's gone into their design and manufacture.
If clarity sits at the top of your list of priorities, we haven't heard a better option at this price point.
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