RMAF 2013: Manzanita Audio Solutions


This room was one of the surprise treats of my weekend. The Manzanita CV ($2,500 without stands) is an open-baffle stand mount with a 15″ woofer and a 4″ mid-tweeter. It’s a deceptively simple design, and is of a type familiar to DIY audio aficionados, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

When I entered the room, John Busch was playing a recording of Japanese taiko drumming, and the impact was absolutely fantastic. The resonance of the drumheads and the clacking of the sticks came through beautifully, and thanks to the 15″ driver I could really feel the hit in my chest. NIFTY.

Taiko drumming’s a neat trick, but what about vocals? On went a Sun recording of Elvis singing “Fever.” Oh my. The sound’s big and smooth, and Elvis’s voice seems to effortlessly appear in the air, rather than actually emerging from any single point. I would love a chance to really put these speakers through their paces, because what I heard this weekend really impressed me. This is exactly the kind of thing that got me into hifi to begin with: gear that makes the music immediate and physically felt.

Amplification was provided by a modified Ming Da integrated amp ($4,000), which is imported and modified by Manzanita. Oppo provided the source, meaning that this entire room can be had for under $10,000.




  1. if you we’re buying your first pair of affordable audiophile speakers would you take these or the emerald physics 3 mk ii for 1000 bucks extra? how did they sound in comparison ie. stengths and weaknesses

    • To be fair to yourself, hear them 1st and compare, then decide. The reviewers sensibilities may not be yours and you could be led in a direction you may not cater to. You’ll question the writers, view point in the future. Re: Jon Valin, and the Magico Q-5 speakers, Raidho monitors. Heard them twice, sounded nothing like how the review read. I do, comprehend your asking though, to get other feedback and perspective, in your buying decision!

    • Hi Luke,

      Generally speaking we don’t do “shoot-outs” on this blog, but in this case I don’t think I’ve spent enough time with the Emerald Physics to begin to even give you a personal taste-based opinion. Also, my tastes are kinda weird. 🙂

  2. Pretty cool looking. They appear to be variations on a theme previously performed by Zu and DeVore (O/96/93).

    • In that they’re cheap and they swing? Yeah. But these are low-efficiency (low-80db per watt range) open baffles, not high efficiency boxes. There was nothing even remotely like the Zu sound on offer. While the wide baffle does call to mind DeVore (and Grimm, and Tannoy, and others), I don’t think the sound here has much to do with the sound out of a DeVore O/96.

      These Manzanitas may offer more tactility, but DeVore’s Orangutans offer plenty of their own strengths to justify the price difference.

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