I’ve had the Brigadier Mu2 speaker on demonstration for about 3 months now and having spent a fair amount of time with them they are certainly worthy of their own blog post!
Not many people in the UK, or even Europe, will have heard of the Australian loudspeaker manufacturer Serhan & Swift and their awesome little standmount speaker the Brigadier Mu2. I certainly hadn’t until their UK distributor got in touch asking if I’d like to have a listen to them. If truth be told I wasn’t looking for a small stand-mount speaker to add to the brands I represent, but there was obviously no harm in having a listen to them to see what they are all about. If you read on I think it’s pretty easy to surmise what I thought of them!
Based out of the Sydney, Serhan + Swift have won countless awards for their brilliant speaker designs. Co-founder Brad Serhan has been designing speakers for over 30 years founding Orpheus Loudspeaker back in 1984. In 2017 Brad received the Lifetime Achievement Awared from ‘Sound & Image’. Morris Swift is the other co-founder and is a highly skilled electrical engineer and together they make a great team.
Priced at £5000 a pair the Mu2 was designed from the ground up as an exercise to make the best possible speaker they could, no corners were cut and no compromises were made in their design and subsquent construction.
There are 3 primary elements in a loudspeaker, the cabinet, the drive units and the cross-over. They all play a hugely important role in allowing the speaker to perform to the very best of its abilities. If you compromise any one of these elements the overall performance will suffer. There’s no point using the best drive units if the cabinet is built poorly out of the cheap materials and there’s no point putting the best crossover in a well made cabinet if the drive units are not up to the job.
Instead of using ubiquitous mdf to construct the cabinet 25mm birch ply was chosen instead, it is denser, heavier, more expensive, but the multi-layered construction has much better damping properties in comparison to mdf. Whenever you listen to a speaker you will always, to some degree, hear the cabinet singing along in sympathy to the drive units. With its birch ply construction the cabinet of the Mu2 damps the cabinet so well you get to hear so much more of the the actual music and you can’t hear the cabinet.
The highly regardless Danish manufacturer Scanspeak was selected for the drive units, using the brilliant 1 inch ring radiator tweeter and the 5 inch Revelator mid/bass drive unit, both of which are found in other speakers costing a lot more than the Mu2. However, the guys at Serhan & Swift didn’t stop there, they highly modified the gasket on the Revelator drive unit with the sole purpose of reducing cabinet radiation and noise leakage to absolute minimum. Upon speaking to Brad Serhan I learned that they took 2 versions of the Mu2 to Sydney University to compare and the version with the modified gasket lowered radiation by a huge 6dB! By lowering the noise floor it lets the speaker deliver finer levels of details and accuracy.
The capacitors used in the crossovers are all matched pairs and they spend a lot of time fine tuning the crossovers to ensure that every pair which leaves the factory is absolutely perfect and identical to their reference pair.
The tweeters are offset in the cabinet to assist in delivering an even off axis response so the speaker sounds sweet, super accurate, but never artificial or fatiguing over extended listening sessions. The offset tweeter means you have greater flexibility with placement in a room, tweeters on the inside or outside. In reality there is no right or wrong way to do it, it really depends on the room and your distance from the speaker and of course what you like!
From the first track I played on the Mu2 (A Thousand Kisses Deep by Leonard Cohen) it was pretty obvious they were a rather special loudspeaker. All of the engineering that had been put into the speaker was so obvious, they sounded fast, articulate, hugely detailed whilst at same time they were refined and natural with no hardness in the presentation at all.
Given the modest size of the cabinet, bass extension and the level of scale the Mu2 could deliver was an initial concern in the back of my mind. My listening room is a fairly average size (approx 5m x 3.5m with a high 2.6m ceiling) and after exploring a variety of tracks of different musical genres (Portishead, Massive Attack, Daft Punk, Mark Lanegan, Paul Simon, Bob Marley plus lots more) my concerns were swiftly swept aside. Sure, a bigger speaker will always dig deeper and potentially paint an even bigger picture, but that can often be at the expensive of fine detail and agility.
The Mu2 are rear ported and can happily sit pretty close to the back wall without any real trade off in performance. Pulling them away from the wall does open them up a bit further, there’s no magic recipe card here, it’s trial and error in your room ultimately. My demo pair sit with the back of the speaker around 14/15 inches off the wall and they fill my room with plenty of bass and it never gets in the way and never sounds overblown or ponderous like some speakers can. They are not particularly difficult to drive and deliver plenty of dynamics and insight when playing at relatively modest volume levels, of course when you reach for the remote to increase the volume things only improve!
In terms of stands I’m using a pair of Solidsteel SS6 stands. This Italian tripod design is very clever, the top plate of the stand is decoupled from the metal tripod by 3 ball bearings, the stand isn’t heavy by any stretch, but they certainly don’t hold back the performance of the speaker. That said, replacing the supplied spikes with Stillpoints (6 x Ultra SS and their dedicated threaded adapters) certainly improved performance compared to the standard spikes. By doing this bass response become more tuneful and with greater levels of texture. It’s certainly a great future upgrade and something I’m always happy to demonstrate. Stillpoints are now available to order in black as well so they can match the SS6 stands perfectly!
In some systems the money you’d spend on Stillpoints could be better utilised on other parts of the system to be fair, it is totally system dependent and something I’m always happy to advise on.
Whenever I listen to the Mu2 there is one thing in particular they always excel at – they simply make me want to listen to more music. They are so effortless in the way they present the music and all of the aspects of the speaker come together so well they let you hear more of your music, more accurately, more naturally and with more goosebumps – which for me is a bit of holy grail, I know I’m on to something really good if it puts shivers down my spine!
The Mu2 can work in a wide variety of systems, be it solid state or valved based. Anything from a Naim Supernait to a Vitus SIA-025 and everything in-between, including the high performing all in one systems that are available from Linn, Naim and Devialet etc.
I tend to find one of the biggest objections I face when talking to people about the Mu2 is the fact they have never heard of them before – so far everyone who has had a listen has been pleasantly shocked by what they do. I guess it’s easier for someone to feel more comfortable with a more recognised brand name or a brand they may have happily owned in the past and I totally understand that. But before you invest in a new pair of loudspeakers I would urge you to have a proper listen to the Mu2 – I would confidently put the Mu2 up against any similarly priced speaker and beyond from some of the worlds best known brands. Listen and you’ll see if you get where I’m coming from 😉
The Mu2 are priced at £5000 a pair and the Solidsteel SS6 are £480 a pair, but if bought at the same time they are £5200 so there’s a nice saving to be had.
I am genuinely proud to represent and champion this brilliant brand and would be delighted to show you what they are all about. If you have any questions please get in touch.