First Impressions: Transmision Audio M1i monitors

Sometimes, but only occasionally, an every so often kind of thing happens. Today, I had one of those things happen. I got to audition a Transmission Audio M1i monitor.

These things aren’t terribly big, but the sound they throw out — oh my. With a 5″ woofer and four ribbons in the tweeter, the little M1i’s image like I’ve never heard. Crazy good. Easily on par with my much more expensive Merlin VSM-MXR speakers. And in some ways, with some material, [whispering] they might be better.

With that much ribbon crammed into the enclosure, you’d be only reasonable thinking that these $4500 monitor speakers would sound bright (where ‘bright’ = “tipped up treble”). Ok, so maybe that’s what I was expecting. Yeah, well, it didn’t happen.

What did happen, at least on one track, Roundabout, by Yes, was that someone snuck into the studio and stole the side walls. Seriously. It was very deftly done and suddenly the soundstage was 180-degrees in front of me. It was a total WTF moment. [Insert silly grin here].

The woofer is aluminum, so, you’d be right in thinking that they’re really, really fast. And they are. They’re also terrifically resolving. Jeff flipped through his music catalog, picking all kinds of tracks that lifted out little bits of audio oddness, and sure enough, the M1is caught everything. The downside to this is that they’re also resolving enough that they’re also not the most forgiving speakers I’ve heard. The Joseph Audio Pulsars, by contrast, are much warmer and while also resolving, they are way more friendly to your averagely recorded bit. With the Transmissions, you’re gonna hear what’s there, with absolutely no covering up. This is a taste thing, sure, and I know a whole bunch of audiophiles that will go gaga over this sound. Clean, clear, pure, and spooky. Very interesting combo.

This end of the Transmission lineup (which is also has a floor stander, which replaces the single 5″ with a pair of 6″ drivers) are bass-reflex speakers, if that matters. I suppose since the other end of the line, the Megatrend, is a transmission line source, it’s worth noting. I didn’t care. The M1i’s filled the room (and then some) with layers of precisely imaged sound. It was stunning. The speakers disappeared into the room, and I was left thinking “WTF just happened? There’s just no way …” But there was. It was freaky. In a good way!

I also caught a brief demo of the M3MkII. These cabinets produced quite a lot of bass in the listening room, and actually managed to couple really poorly with the room (boom!), so we cut our session short. The distributor told me that they really prefer big spaces to play in, so maybe that was it. Same wacky driver, though!

Jeff at Command Performance A/V in Falls Church, VA, was enamored enough of the little M1i’s to pick up the line. I completely understand!

I want to close this “First Impression” with something that rattled around in my head as I was listening — these speakers would make pretty amazing home theater front speakers. So much so that you may not need a center channel! The off-axis dispersion was pretty wide and full way out to 45 degrees off center. Vertical dispersion was pretty impressive, too, and I found the speakers very listenable even 30 degrees off axis vertically. Personally, I’d opt for 3, one each for L/C/R, but hey, that’s just me. And for those of us with dual use home theaters, a switch over to “pure” stereo leaves you with world class monitors. Ka-chow!

BTW, Jeff tells me that you’re going to want the fastest sub you can find to keep up with these Transmissions. Just an FYI, there, but something to consider if do intend to go the home theater route.

Hopefully, I’ll get more time on these bad boys. They’re something else. If you’re in the neighborhood, I can’t recommend an audition enough. They’re crazy!