Mordaunt Short Aviano 8 (£600)

A handsome design with some likeable characteristics

If you ask me, the bow-fronted Aviano 8 succeeds in looking modern while retaining a certain British reserve. Certainly it’s a notable contrast to the rather garish Teufel, and not just in the looks department.
   A four-driver two-and-a-half-way, the Aviano 8 has three 6.5in drivers featuring M-S’s dished CPC (Continuous Profile Cone) aluminium diaphragms and a 25mm aluminium dome tweeter, nestled behind a protective grille. All three of the 6.5in units operate at the lowest frequencies but the bottom two are rolled-off above around 200Hz, beyond which the topmost continues up to the crossover to the tweeter. A single, small diameter reflex port, without an exaggerated flare, exhausts via the back panel. To judge from the diffraction-corrected near-field measurement, the end result is that the upper bass is peaked up by about 4dB at 100Hz, and rolls off below 90Hz with what is initially a third-order (18dB per octave) slope.
   As befits a speaker at this price level, the Aviano 8 does not – in the context of modern speaker designs, most of which have 4ohm nominal impedance or thereabouts, whatever their specifications may say – present a notably tough load to the amplifier. But it does have lower than average sensitivity.

As far as sound quality goes the Aviano 8 isn’t going to set the world alight but it does a competent job. It plays a little safe, perhaps, in erring on the side of being introvert rather than extrovert but, as already discussed, that’s a valid decision at this price level, where being inoffensive can be no bad thing.
   This slightly reticent nature of this speaker was soon apparent on ‘Honky Tonk Women’. There was none of the harshness evident that this track can, and perhaps should, display but there was enough pizzazz left for The Stones’ raw energy still to be apparent.
   It was a similar story on ‘Well Well Well’. Blessed with a good signal source and amplification, you’d want the Aviano 8 to loosen up a little but the infectious pulse of Sly and Robbie’s powerhouse beat still ruled. This despite a less than ideally tight and tuneful bass, perhaps due to the aforementioned upper-bass hump.
   Although that was much less evident in the two classical pieces, the Aviano 8’s essentially reserved nature was still to the fore. So in the Ravel the piano sounded less percussive, less vibrant than it should and the violin and recording acoustic were slightly veiled too. That generalised sense of acoustic and fuzzing of detail was also evident in Scheherazade, although the climaxes were duly weighty.

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Originally published in the December 2011 issue