Neat Ultimatum MFS review

With these Neat standmounters, you'll struggle to find a more enjoyable listen for the money Tested at £3390.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

This Neat MFS standmount is an immensely capable speaker and a top class entertainer, too


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    Dynamics, drive and insight

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    great timing

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    excellent build


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    The dedicated stands are a must, and they cost £845

Why you can trust What Hi-Fi? Our expert team reviews products in dedicated test rooms, to help you make the best choice for your budget. Find out more about how we test.

Ultimatum is Neat's high-end speaker range, ?and the MFS standmounter is the rather exotic ?entry-point.

Spending this kind of money on a pair of speakers is a serious investment, but in this case you've really got to add another £845 for the dedicated stands – these are a must if you want ?to hear these Neats as intended.

So, what we're looking at here is a pair of medium-sized standmounters that cost more than four grand ?and lack any cutting-edge cone materials or clever cabinet materials.

Sounds like bad news? ?Not at all. The MFS is a carefully developed product packed with clever ideas, and tuned to the nth degree by engineers who judge a speaker's performance by listening to music rather than relying on test equipment.

This may sound obvious, but you might be surprised at just how little listening many manufacturers do.

Five-drive-unit design impresses?
This monitor is a complex design. Each cabinet houses no fewer than five drivers. On the front panel you'll find an inverted titanium-dome tweeter sitting above Neat's in-house paper-coned mid/bass unit.

On the top panel there are two more tweeters, in this case of the ribbon variety, and these augment the main front-firing driver's output.

The fifth drive unit sits inside the cabinet: it's another mid/bass unit and loads the one on the front panel, isobarically. In essence this lets the MFS deliver far more bass than you'd expect from speakers that stand just 38cm high.

The enclosure is an intricate affair with the front and top panels decoupled from the rest of the cabinet by a polyethylene membrane to reduce structural resonance.

The baffles are 45mm thick and are made of a birch plywood, polyethylene and MDF sandwich. This combination of materials results in a stable and well-damped foundation ?for the drive units to work from.

As is Neat's way, ?the crossover is simple and of high quality.

Immensely easy to like
Once mounted, the MFSs are immensely easy ?to like. They're dynamic and fast, delivering hard charging tunes such as Radiohead's ?15 Step with exceptional composure and drive.

These Neats have a lovely cohesion across the complete frequency range and time impeccably.

Once set-up away from walls and with a hint of angle, they also offer an expansive sound stage – no doubt helped by the upwards-firing tweeters – and deliver a huge amount of scale and authority for their size.

Much of the credit has to go to the bass performance: this is very powerful and in no way short-changes the listener. This is not a case of great bass for such ?a small speaker; it's a case of great bass, period.

Normally at this point in a review we'd tell you about shortcomings in performance. In this case we're not, because the MFSs are beautifully judged.

As you'd expect they do the typical standmounter things well: speed, imaging and articulation are all top class. However, they also excel in the areas where small speakers struggle.

They go loud, deliver deep bass and produce an impressive amount of sonic authority.

Every once in a while we come across equipment that doesn't merely replay the signal fed to it, but actually sounds as if it's enjoying itself. That's these Neats all over. We love them

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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