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Reviewer: Srajan Ebaen
Source: Zanden Audio 2000p/5000s; Ancient Audio Lektor Prime
Preamp/Integrated: Supratek Cabernet Dual; ModWright SWL 9.0SE; Wyetech Labs Jade; ModWright LS-36.5 [on review]

Amp: Bel Canto e.One S300; AudioSector Patek SE; Coda CX and CSX [on review]
Speakers: Mark & Daniel Ruby with OmniHarmonizer; Volent Paragon VL-2 [on review]

Cables: Crystal Cable Ultra loom; Crystal Cable Reference power cords; double cryo'd Acrolink with Furutech UK plug between wall and transformer
Stands: 2 x Grand Prix Audio Monaco Modular 4-tier
Powerline conditioning: 2 x Walker Audio Velocitor S fed from custom AudioSector 1.5KV Plitron step-down transformer with balanced power output option
Sundry accessories: GPA Formula Carbon/Kevlar shelf for transport; GPA Apex footers underneath stand, DAC and amp; Walker Audio Extreme SST on all connections; Walker Audio Vivid CD cleaner; Walker Audio Reference HDLs; Furutech RD-2 CD demagnetizer; Nanotech Nespa Pro
Room size: 16' w x 21' d x 9' h in short-wall setup, with openly adjoining 15' x 35' living room

Review Component Retail: $2,950/pr; optional Omni-Harmonizer $950/pr

Women call it a makeover, engineers a redesign. Whatever you want to call it, Mark & Daniel's Maximus Monitor had it done. Unlike a tummy tuck, boob job or face lift to boost sagging flesh, the Maximus didn't really seem in need of a secret visit to the vanity clinic of the famous but fickle.

The company that makes it is a fresh up'n'comer after all. It's not a stale old timer. It mustn't convince punters that its 5-year old models still have relevance. Heck, I doubt the average HiFi shopper had even heard of Mark & Daniel one year ago, never mind actually listened to their Maximus two-way monitor.

Nonetheless, here is Maximus The Second hot in pursuit of the same rejuvenating gene that recently spawned the Topaz and Sapphire as upgraded Ruby variants. David Kan reported on that development elsewhere.

If we ask Mark and Daniel why, we'd be told "because we could." This speaks loudly to their focus. Creative and driven people never rest. If they
discover new tricks during the development of a new model, they itch to spread those tricks around, well-rehearsed production protocols be damned. This certainly keeps the manufacturing personnel on its toes. With M&D, the recipe is design in Tuscon/Arizona, manufacture in Shanghai/China - and they've recently moved into a new and bigger facility, testament to internal expansion and growing demand for their products. For ingredients, think in-house developed and patented under-hung long-throw mid/woofers; in-house designed and fabricated flat or curved air-motion transformers with low crossover points between 500 - 1000Hz; artificial marble cabinets in various stock and custom colors; 2-way circuits exclusively; and optional ambience omni tweeters covering 7kHz to 24.

Maximus The First was a 6.5" two-way with +/-10mm of linear throw on the mid/woofer, the DM-1 concave AMT with 30-degree lateral dispersion and three small rear-firing ports in a 13.5 liter or 0.47 cubic feet rectangular enclosure. Frequency response was 40Hz to 22kHz, impedance 4 ohms but dipping to 2.8, sensitivity 85dB and crossover point 800Hz, the latter a 1st-order slope for both the hi- and low-pass. Though very compact, the Maximus Monitor weighed a substantial 14kgs or 31lbs. The only thing deadlier in the M&D arsenal of stand-mounted weapons was the 8-inch Aragorn, sporting heavily beveled front/side edging that began in points at the front's lower corners and then widened its cutaway angle heavily to profile the fascia as a trapezoid - narrower on top than the bottom.

That was the profile for the new Sapphire as well, floating sans grille in the above group shot. It's an Aragorn shrunk to barely house its smaller 5.2" mid/woofer, with the flat and narrow AMT atop. Maximum The Second too adopts this new upscale cosmetic. Were that all, it'd be just a makeover of course - new look, same old innards. And that's the best movie stars manage. Money won't buy a better disposition or character. The engineers at Mark & Daniel however weren't content to stop there. (Original Maximus Monitor with optional OmniHarmonizer below.)

Explained Daniel: "We've incorporated a few exciting changes beyond the more streamlined cosmetics. The enclosure walls have been strategically reinforced on the inside which has increased the weight just a bit to now 14.7kg or 32lbs, formerly 14kg/31lbs. We also lowered the F3 to 36Hz from 40Hz while simultaneously increasing the bass alignment Q. This meant adapting the compliance of the rubber surround, going to a somewhat softer suspension. A side benefit of that is that this speaker will now break in faster. In conjunction with this tuning change, we decided on two ports over the earlier three based on extensive listening tests in the field. We of course also realigned the crossover network which additionally now benefits from superior quality capacitors."

Lower bass, better damping, stronger cabinet, refined looks, upgraded components. It seems the Maximus Monitor -- whose nomenclature remains unchanged, the above references to First and Second were merely intended to help distinguish the versions -- has spent its time in the clinic well. The 8" Aragorn with its 15mm of linear excursion of course remains king of Mark & Daniel's monitor lineup for top SPLs and fiercest low-end crunch. Still, the Maximus Monitor has grown up to inch a bit closer to its big brother, no financial penalties attached.

Having never heard the original Maximus Monitor or Aragorn, don't expect any comparisons. My A/Bs will be restricted to 5.2 incher versus 6.5 incher - Ruby vs. Maximus. Because I own
the Ruby and the optional OmniHarmonizer in the Jade Yellow finish which isn't solid like all the others but speckled like granite, Daniel Lee suggested sending the Maximus review pair in the same color. This would make the addition of the OmniHarmonizer visually integrate and photograph better. I agreed.

The Maximus Monitor is also available as a sideways model with rotated AMT. The admirably linear impedance curve is essentially a flat four ohms from 200Hz to 40kHz, below which it shows the expected saddle response of the ported alignment.

This proved to be an excellent decision.

Upon unpacking, seriousness telegraphs instantly not merely by the considerable heft of what really remains a compact though chunky cabinet. There's the telling absence of any jumpers. As delivered, this speaker has to be bi-amped - or at the very least biwired. Of course I had plenty of jumper straps in my audio tool box. Still, I got the high-performance message implied by the lack of provided straps. So I pondered what kind of system I should put together to best welcome this ambitious monitor. As we shall see, therein lies a tale. High current delivery would be mandatory of course. Ditto for low amplifier output impedance for proper damping. This meant transistors so I obeyed reason. All the while, my heart's childish sonic blueprint based on direct-heated triodes kept reasserting itself. That yardstick interfered incessantly with accepting the many obvious transistor-based merits as being completely sufficient.

Without argument, the unique FirstWatt F3 Power JFET amplifier makes the best treble of any sand amp I've heard yet. While my Yamamoto A-08S produces equivalent output for the same input voltages due to its higher internal gain, the 45 SET proved sorrily incapable of driving the curved air-motion transformers, never mind having the omnis piggybacked. Ugly distortion very quickly disabused me of that silly though hopeful notion. My Melody Valve HiFi I2A3 integrated, attenuator fully opened, wasn't as extended and open as the F3 in the treble. It too returned to the sidelines of prospective but ultimately rejected tweeter amps.

With a colossal 26dB of max gain in my all-valve preamp from Oz, the F3's low power output had no issues achieving the necessary SPLs. Conversely, the 30dB-gain AudioSector Patek SE on the woofers played so much louder even with the Supratek's bass pot at max attenuation that I completely overdrove and clipped the Patek. Keen on testing that combo -- 10-watt F3 on top, 50-watt Patek SE below -- I inserted a Music First TVC between preamp and Patek. Now I could attenuate the bass signal by 24dB. Although more complex than ideal in terms of boxes and cables, this setup worked splendidly and noise-free. More to the point, it also sounded good.

I also tried Anthony Gallo's Reference SA bass amp in lieu of the Patek. I set the Gallo to fullrange operation (to bypass its low-pass functions) and then used the dual-mono attenuators to slowly ramp up the woofers' output below the F3-driven tweeters until tonal balance locked in. While this did eliminate one box from the scenario, the Gallo amp simply wasn't as refined as the Patek. In fairness though, its very low bass was better damped and more extended.

The next setup saw two Patek SEs in action, one per speaker. Due to gain poisoning however -- 26dB in the Supratek added to 30dB in the Pateks -- I now lacked any useful volume control range. I went from mute to deaf in a mere few clicks. Instead, the far lower-gain Wyetech Labs Jade got swapped in. This was another combo that worked well. Obvious right off the bat was that hitting the speaker's port frequencies to elicit an unduly elevated response saddle as can happen with the single port's higher frequency of the Ruby would not be an issue. No riding the resonance here. The extra bass and the downshifting of the main air motion transformer's reach also meant that tonal balance was a bit warmer than with the Ruby. The other quite instant gratification was the smoothness of the upper midrange and treble range, not at all hot as the increased off-axis response of the curved AMT might perhaps suggest. Nor were there obvious material colorations from the bigger pleated diaphragms nor any creaks from their bellows action. In short, I was off to good things right away. The hunt for truly great things proved more elusive, however...

In established Mark & Daniel fashion, the thin grill mask is once again attached via magnetized stand-offs that screw into threaded retainers flush with the synthetic marble baffle. It's an elegantly simple and effective solution that helps to maintain domestic harmony while coming off in one snap when the resident audiomaniac gets serious.

Even very early into the listening, the twin-ported alignment of the Maximus seemed to benefit driver behavior over the smaller speaker. The Ruby's single port causes such powerfully compressed jets of air that tree leaves many feet behind it shudder on bass transients. Splitting vent duties between two ports makes for more efficient pressure release. The sound appears more relaxed and less tautly sprung than on the Ruby whose nearly unnatural bass prowess for its size is a forced alignment that comes with a price - very steep amplifier requirements. As well, the higher sensitivity rating of the Maximus halves the power requirement even though the speaker remains most appreciative of low-impedance current. Like the doubled efficiency rating, pricing over the Ruby doubles too to raise the question of value. That's exactly why the Ruby in its earlier review walked away with an award. It was obvious already then that at the very high mark the firm sets with its entry-level offering, the more upscale models couldn't possibly keep adding goods at that steep a clip. There couldn't be an even higher value-for-money proposition elsewhere in the line. At least that was my thinking before the Topaz and Sapphire models launched. David Kan reviewed the original Maximus and is well familiar with the full line of M&D monitors now. He will undoubtedly have an opinion once his review of the two new Ruby models concludes.

Exactly what the revised Maximus Monitor adds over Ruby to perhaps become more attractive to some though not necessarily to others while considering price is a tantalizing question. Being that the Maximus is designer Daniel Lee's favorite monitor in his line, I was curious. Still hunting for that "tube magic from transistors" mirage, I experimented with my Eastern Electric M520 outfitted with Mullard/Blackburn GZ34 rectifiers and EI 6CA7s, both as integrated amp and stand-alone amp. While it offered more tone and texture than the transistors, low bass was clearly far less defined and in fact recessed, loose, woolly and boomy. It wasn't the kind of compromise a potential Maximus Monitor owner should make. Neither would I. Off to the sidelines went the M520 in what quickly became quite the amplifier reject pile.

A pair of Pass Labs XA60 monos would in fact have been ideal. Sadly, this wasn't something my growing arsenal of reviewing tools includes yet. That's not to say push/pull valve amps can't work. The Eastern Electric worked -- too hard though and not effectively enough. It left overall definition and bass under the table. Here it was not the loudness of the dog that mattered but his bite. Plenty of amps apparently underpowered on paper might play plenty loud if they pack sufficient gain. They simply won't clamp down hard enough on these woofers to get them to completely perform across the full range they were so deliberately designed for.

More than is usual with standard 90dB speakers, what the Maximum ultimately sounds like depends squarely on your amp. As an exceptionally fairly priced full-range but small box, amplifier mates will tend to be similarly value-oriented. If so, the speakers could fall victim to the old muscle-over-finesse syndrome otherwise known as the power-is-cheap rationale. Raw wattage these days may be cheap but superior sonics aren't synonymous by a long shot.

From that perspective, one could well be inclined to call the same-priced WLM Diva Monitor the better speaker - not because it is but because its 97dB sensitivity allows it to run off a superior valve amp like for example the 18wpc Almarro A318B. That $1,850 SET integrated will outperform most $1,850 amps that can properly control the Maximus - in my book at least.

That's the crux of Maximus ownership. Were it priced like a JMlab Mini Utopia or worse, a Magico Mini, you'd already own the perfect amp of course. With Mark & Daniel's strong value proposition however, that may not be a given at all. That's why, for the money, easy-to-drive speakers that tango like new lovers on a fistful of watts tend to make sexier sound. The kind of amplifiers that waltz such speakers around work less and sing better. In general. There's always exceptions. As it happened, I did have a valve integrated not yet shipped back to its rightful owners that proved perfectly suited for the Maximus in power -- 50 watts -- and by costing a mere €1,680. Enter the Melody SP9.

As a push/pull KT88 amp with 6SN7 drivers and a 5AR4 rectifier, the Melody SP9 is an off-the-charts value, built like the proverbial brick shack, dead quiet and outfitted with a high-quality resistor ladder stepped attenuator. It's fatter and slower than a superior triode amp, especially so when not driving speakers that won't tax it. The very qualities that make it less than ideal for highly sensitive speakers (and where its 2A3
stable mate decisively pulls ahead) quite transformed the SP9 on the Maximus. Granted, LF damping was rather superior and bass quantity ultimately more correct with the chip amps yet their overall mien also was drier and less voluptuous. On the SP9, bass had more mass, growled with more menace and was just a tad elevated for that lovely Yankee-style presentation Europeans like to make fun of.

From the lower midrange on up, the Melody's tone was clearly more saturated to fill out the Pateks' stronger image outlines. Transients overall slowed down which wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Ideally though, I would have loved to combine the speed and articulation of the Pateks with even more power, the tonal mass of the SP9 and the treble and harmonic refinement of my 45s. Then an unexpected e-mail from Audio Zone's George Tordai in Canada arrived: "I was just reading your intro on the Maximus Monitor and wanted to write to you with good news. As you might not know -- I didn't in fact -- we negotiated with Daniel and Loren for the Canadian distribution of their line after having come across the speakers at David Kan's house last August. After listening to the Rubys at David's, I was immediately bitten. It was the first time I'd heard a 2-way speaker with the soundstage and dynamic punch and bass close to that of a JBL200.

"Needless to say, back at the shop with my first demo pair using my Audio Zone AMP-2 monos, I experienced the same lack of juice with 50 watts per channel you did and quickly went into clipping mode. I realized these puppies needed current of the 2-ohm kind. I got to work that weekend with Michael Kerster of Sonic Frontiers fame and we developed the Audio Zone D-1 stereo and D-2 mono amps. Don't get queasy but yes, they're "D-Class" but sport an analog power supply. Using our preparatory modified Hypex modules from Denmark with a traditional power supply, these amps are specifically designed with the Mark & Daniel line in mind. The D-1 is a 100wpc stereo amp and the D-2s are 200-watt monos, both ratings into 8 ohms. No problems with 2-ohm loads here. Paul Candy had an audition of our room at the Montreal show. He's anxiously waiting to review the Aragorn with our D-Class amps. We had very good system synergy and our "White Room" got voted "Best System of Show". Using two 100-watt stereo D-1 amps in Montreal to bi-amp the Aragorn (more efficient than the Maximus) with our PRE-T1 TVC and a C.E.C X51 transport and an Audio Zone DAC-1 with Dynamic Design Cables, we came in at under $13,000 and beat out mega-dollar exhibitors like mbl, Kharma, Tenor etc. We are just completing an active preamp to round out the product line and get this system up to Paul for review. It might be worth a try to run your Maximus Monitors with a pair of D-2 monos off your Music First preamp. Production of the D-Class amps will not begin until the fall of 2007 and we will have a 220V version for Europe available."

Unbeknownst to George, his e-mail cut straight to the heart of what I was still wrestling with when it arrived. These speakers show so much promise that they clearly deserve an amp tailor-made for them that's the same kind of value. Then reader Jeff Pietsch wrote in: "Many years ago I purchased a Unison Unico after reading a 6moons review and auditioning the amp. It drives my VMPS 626rs. I've been very satisfied with that purchase and rolled much glass since. More recently, my aging bedroom set was finally KO'd by the family dog. Sparing you the messy details, I replaced the speakers with M&D Rubies and boy can they sing. In fact, every night when I listen to them, they make me want to puke all over my Maggies at work the next day. While I'm still fond of my 626rs, your preview of the Maximus has really got my attention and I'm busily calculating how long I would have to save up." It'll depend on just exactly what Jeff means to wring from the Maximus and hence, what he'll allocate for amplification. I shall paint an intermediate and composite best-case portrait of the speakers. This portrait is assembled from the diverse amplifier combinations I tried up to that point.

First off, the beefy composite cabinet must be a core contributor as to why the Maximus is so highly dynamic and capable of playing very loudly and resolutely without breaking up. There's no apparent cabinet talk and hence, no fuzzies. Low-frequency extension is rock-like in its unwavering solidity and -- this is key -- unforced. It does not at all sound like an obvious trick achieved by distorting balance or stealing here to settle a debt there. Because the speaker establishes so profoundly where the fundamentals and rhythm makers of the music are at play, its realistic tonal balance can readily handle the extra harmonic tizz which the optional omni can add on top. I would, however, caution against the OmniHarmonizer if your amp's upper treble performance isn't duly sophisticated. It's the bane of transistors to be compromised there when compared to the best valve amps.

To get the best from the Maximus involved not only many musical chairs of amp swapping but overcoming a foregone conclusion that the omni tweeters had to always be part of the picture. Even at their -5dB minimum output setting, they occasionally produced too much energy depending on what amp, exactly, drove them.

Incidentally, the most current version of the OmniHarmonizer substitutes a rotary switch for the three prior hot terminals which still fix the attenuation values on mine. This allows for finer gradations and adds an additional dB of roll-off for a total of 6. It's surprising how potent small changes of output above 7kHz telegraph. They can make the overall sound appear either dull, very airy and sparkly or hard by varying degrees.

Coming from a copasetic omni presentation, listening to the Maximus solo lacks sparkle to my ears. Because the speaker is so endowed in the nether regions, I consider the add-on ambience tweeter less of an option and more of an immediate or eventual crowning touch. It balances the ferocious growl and kick below with whipped airiness on top.

Another maximus suit is timing - no confused hammer falls on

piano, no blurring of images. Even though the alignment is ported and thus by nature resonant, I heard no obvious ringing when the amplifier was in control. Forget conventional tube amps there, they simply won't provide low-enough output impedance and current deliveries in the challenging bass range to master this alignment. Coincident with the rhythmically snappy timing, the Maximus is also an imaging and layering champ as one expects from physically compact two-ways, especially those of inert construction. One minor handicap of the low sensitivity is that the speaker sounds better at medium to high levels than very low ones. If your rental arrangements enforce sustained background levels to keep the neighbors happy, the Maximus isn't ideal. It wants to be in 2nd or 3rd gear before its torque kicks in fully.

The Maximus is far from a lean speaker not merely because of its sock-'em bass. Its drivers too lack the intrinsic zip or whitishness lesser transducers can be plagued with that advertise themselves with maximum speed. In that regard, the larger and curved air motion transformer is an advance over the Ruby equivalent which has less body and more flash.
It's the general subject of speed however -- or more to the point, optimum drive and control of the drivers -- where my own tool box of amplifier mates never quite hit the jack pot. These speakers never sounded quite as open, quite as fleet and quick to let go of the notes as I remained certain they should. The Bel Canto e.One S300 was best in this regard followed by the Pateks but nothing I had on hand really seemed to wake them up fully. Interesting for prospective Maximus owners should be the Audio Zone D-2 monos, targeted at $1,995 [stereo version left]. There also are the new V2 NuForce amps. David Kan had excellent results with the V1s and various Mark & Daniel models.

Further in that vein, there also are the Channel Island monos on the market, the DIY Cable EX-700 Exodus monos and the big Bel Canto Design Ref1000s. For purposes of this review, what presented itself in the muscle amp arena were Coda's new 450-watt CX monos and 330wpc CSX stereo amp, class A/B topologies with 50/25-watt of class A bias respectively before the circuits transition into A/B. As 4-ohm loads on the Coda monos, the Maximus now saw 900-watt power reserves on its tail, sufficient as Rolls Royce would say.

Simultaneously, Ben Lau's $5,000/pr Volent Paragon VL-2 monitor from Hong Kong arrived, a real stroke of fortuitous timing that helped identify the Maximus Monitor's strengths and limitations. The VL-2 runs a proprietary dual ribbon tweeter and mates it to the Titanium 7-inch mid/woofer that was made famous by Alon Wolf's original Magico Mini.

Driven from the same electronics, the only difference in this A/B was the single- versus biwired nature of the two speakers which ran Crystal Cable Ultra runs either way. On the minus ledger for the Maximus but coincident with its lower sticker was the Volent's across-the-board higher resolution, superior articulation and more refined, open treble. The lower the volume was turned, the more the Volent left the Maximus in the shade. In this comparison, the Mark & Daniel monitor turned truly opaque and veiled at background levels, a serious price to pay for its low level of sensitivity even when backed by massive power.

Popular wisdom has it that loudspeaker drive units sound like their cone/dome materials. In this instance, there were definite parallels. The VL-2 ribbon's barely-there mass and material delicacy was faster, more extended on decays and more responsive to micro impulses. Its expensive Titanium-sandwich mid/woofer had crisper attacks and faster reflexes, again for superior tracking of the truly minuscule stuff. The Maximus drivers sounded heavier, slower and warmer.

In fact, increasing drive power to these Coda levels made this speaker even warmer and more massive. That's due, I suspect, to its mid/woofer's truly beastly low-frequency prowess, an area where it exceeds the more expensive challenger from Hong Kong. With zero port boom in evidence now that the Coda monos controlled it and a clear penchant for high volumes, I felt compelled to increase the omni tweeter's output from -5dB to -2.5dB to add weight to the other end of the scale. It counterbalanced the "I need to stinking sub" antics of the Maximus which must be heard to be believed.

To my ears, succumbing to the lure of unnatural LF extension from his enclosure, Mark & Daniel's designer knowingly sacrificed degrees of fine resolution. Those might be tied to loosening the suspension compliance of his mid/woofer for a lower F3. While this revised driver does play silly loud and low, it appears less well damped than the Ruby's smaller driver - regardless of amplifier power and damping factor which was categorically overkill at this juncture. Playing Mercan Dede's Su and Nefes albums at pant-flapping party levels became an aural spectacle of disbelief. Plainly, Maximus is a Rock star of coliseum-filling allure and slam.

Switching to the Jacques Loussier trio for finely tickled ivories and sophisticated drum kit workouts across various triangles and cymbals however demonstrated the alter ego effect of those very Rock qualities. There the Maximus leaves definition and finesse under the table, resulting in the usual trigger reflex for the remote and higher SPLs. Which it'll deliver until the cows come home, with a grin and egging on your thumb for more. Granted, this assessment arose in the context of the Volent Paragon monitor. Its steeper price should buy more and unequivocally does though the Maximus outbasses and outlouds it in the end.

To conclude, Mark & Daniel's Maximus Monitor is a purpose-bred specialty design for the most bandwidth and potential SPLs from the smallest feasible enclosure. To fully arrive, it requires stout muscle and damping factor and no matter what, wants to be played at upper medium to loud levels to completely shine. It's ideal for dual-duty music/movie systems where, categorically, no sub will be required though terrifyingly massive infrasonic impacts can elicit the occasional port chuffing from an unrealistic combination of displacement, trapped air volume and exit compression. The speaker is voiced distinctly warmish, a savvy choice since it'll require muscle amps to drive. You won't need a single tube in a Maximus system to avoid a lean clinical sound.

By comparison, the Ruby is even harder to drive but of higher resolution and apparent speed. Unlike the Maximus and for search 'n' destoy spectacles, the Ruby in a home-theatre setup will benefit from a subwoofer and should then be crossed out to ease amplifier demands.

The more you maximize the strengths of the Maximus, the less the OmniHarmonizer will be optional to balance out the bass registers with sufficient air at the opposite end. That makes the Maximus into a $4,000 rather than $3,000 proposition - fullrange for all but the most unreasonable bass fanatics. Here's an instance where model name, expectations and delivery synchronize for once. While ultimately not the most refined or extremely resolved, when it comes to LF extension, slam, loudness and density, the Maximus in this price range might well be the mother of all monitors to produce the mostest. Maximus in other words. Unleash hell.

PS: A week after this review published, I received an e-mail whose headline read "Taming the Maximus with auto formers". The idea is so simple and brilliant, I wish I'd had it myself - but the credit goes to Mike Garner, the president of TweekGeek: "I am a dealer for Mark & Daniel loudspeakers and have a bit of experience with them. I have recently tried Paul Speltz' Zeros with the Maximus and have found that they work very well when it comes to matching the Maximus to a low-powered amp. I am currently running the Maximus with a Trends Audio TA-10. The autoformers made the biggest difference in warmth at low volume levels and driver integration at all volume levels. It might be worth a try with your low- powered tube amps." For those not familiar with these devices, they're multi-tapped impedance transformers that can present a 4-ohm speaker to the amplifier as an 8- or 16-ohm load instead.

Quality of packing: Cardboard with solid foam cradles
Reusability of packing: Can be reused at least once
Ease of unpacking/repacking: Very easy
Condition of component received: Flawless
Completeness of delivery: Included glue-on rubber bumpers, magnetized grill stand-offs, grills, full-size brochure
Quality of owner's manual: Full-line documentation, exceptionally complete and professionally presented
Website comments: Recently revised, highly informative and complete - available in Chinese or English
Warranty: 1 year
Global distribution: Company manufactures in Shanghai with American offices
Human interactions: Professional and courteous, timely responses to questions
Other: Black or white composite marble cabinets standard; custom finishes available for surcharge. Unlike wood veneers, these finishes are impervious to discoloring and far harder to scratch or damage.
Pricing: Distinctly affordable for the quality of construction and custom high-performance drive units employed.

Application conditions: Mandates high-power amplifier with high damping factors to control alignment; must be biwired. Rear port requires some distance from the front wall to perform best.
Final comments & suggestions: Optional OmniHarmonizer isn't entirely optional for best performance. That requires jumpers to connect to tweeter terminal.
The next page reports on a running change made in the production of the Maximus after the review
Manufacturer's website