"They may look like a throwback from the past, but there's more to these speakers than meets the eye reckons David Vivian" Sound Quality
"If you wanted, you could put the Stereo Ms on a chunky pair of stands, run the supplied speaker cable connecting the active speaker to its passive sibling neatly along the skirting board, experiment with positioning, place your favourite chair in the sweet spot and, tablet in hand, trial Raumfeld's unusual retro/new-tech fusion as a main system. But, as part of Raumfeld's bigger multi-room streaming remit, that's clearly not their natural home. Positioned too close together on top of a (admittedly pretty solid) chest of drawers is where they have to impress.
My regular Monitor Audio/Edwards Audio second string setup (speakers again less than ideally speaced) sounds lean, fast, airy and very explicit here and, in almost every respect, qualifies as a 'music lover's' hi-fi system. I'm not sure what to expect from the Stereo M, but I could have hardly imagined it would be quite so different. Running through the usual gamut of internet radio stations, Spotify and USB stick-stored CD rips, the sound seems almost ridiculously smooth and velvety in comparison - amply endowed with 'couth' and sophistication, but lacking a degree of energy and sparkle. Not a turn off by any means, just a bit of a shock. Too much of a shock, actually, to entertain any further comparisons with the Monitor Audio/Edwards Audio system. Instead, I am intrigued to see if I can live and get on with a presentation that is so fundamentally skewed from what I am used to.
I suspect that there are two possible reasons why the Stereo M seems to initially sound like this. One, it really is as flat as three year-old lemonade and doesn't like being placed on bedroom furniture. Or two, it is concealing a big Class D stick and, as is sometimes the case, is simply just choosing to speak quietly unless roused to do otherwise.
Going with the second hunch, I turn up the volume and stand back to hear the results. Although the sound remains very 'controlled' and seemingly low in distortion, the gains in presence, weight and dynamic expression seem almost disproportionately potent, boosting the speakers' ability to imbue music with a sense of life and impretus.
The Stereo M can't quite muster the startling immediacy that characterises some true, two-box active designs. That said, the extra weight and resolution of small details are now beginning to lend music a realism that draws me in, the perceived top end roll off being less of an issue. Fed a CD rip of Don Grusin's sumptuaously produced Geography
album, for instance, the system sounds satisfyingly solid and propulsive with full-blooded tonal colours and nicely resolved timbres. The bass is a genuine surprise, not just integrating beautifully with the coax mid-treble drivers, but digging deep with real grip and rhythmic integrity..." Conclusion
"Respect to Raumfeld. The Stereo M delivers streaming with a hi-fi ethos, letting the music make its own case without the addition of artificial sonic sweeteners..."