Markaudio-SOTA Cesti MB Wide Range Single Driver Loudspeaker
Markaudio-SOTA's Cesti MB cabinets at first glance may look like simple rectangular boxes but the reality is far from this. The cabinets are manufactured from high density fiberboard (HDF) and rather than being formed as a basic rectangle they have pleasantly rounded corners, the sort of curve which would match a 1950's iconic Eames chair very well, for some reason this springs to mind. The Cesti MB cabinet is very inert, the knuckle rap test results in sore knuckles and a very solid sound, no qualms here. The speaker grill is removable, this has been well thought out as there are no fiddly clips or any need to risk ripping off a nail when removing the grills. They are secured via magnets which are not at all visible.
When removing the grills you are greeted by the single aluminum cone. Looking more closely reveals the baffle is not the usual flat slab, instead there is a sculpted waveguide which is intended to give you the option to tweak the spread of the soundstage, you can either have the waveguides flowing inwards or outwards. It's a nice touch and visually when the grills are off it adds interest. Again eschewing simplicity Markaudio-SOTA have gone the extra mile by making the cabinets individually in left and right mirrored configurations.
The first thing to strike me was that I'd needlessly been concerned about how the MBs would handle bass. Of course it's not got the 16Hz extension and brute force my 18 inchers but the MBs do great job given that the specification is for 40Hz extension; the bass is tight and tuneful. It doesn't sound as though low frequencies are missing or reduced; it seems the bass alignment has been well chosen. Playing the classic Fleetwood Mac track The Chain – the bass guitar strings were amazingly well reproduced for such a small speaker, there was power, a welcome lack of overhang, 40Hz lower extension or not, I felt that nothing was omitted.
I came to the conclusion that the MBs have very low coloration allowing the rest of the system to show its colors. This was brought home strongly when I tried a pair of newly developed Temple Audio Class D monoblocks; these employ a balanced circuit topology. I could hear the benefits of this new design immediately via the MBs and it turns out the same differences could be heard as easily as with my big rig, which includes very much more expensive speakers. I was then able to try a range of power supplies (battery, smps and two linear types), the effects were very plain to hear with the MBs.
The Cesti MBs are fabulous speakers which provide at least as much musical enjoyment as much more expensive speakers. In my dedicated listening room I can use what is for most folks domestically unacceptable equipment. Such massive speakers can provide a greater scale, ultimate volume levels and bass extension than the Cesti MBs but as to which is more musically rewarding as opposed to impressive is another question. Musically the Cesti MBs have it nailed and they are domestically desirable as well.
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