02. September 2021 · Comments Off on Mycetias Vulcanian Loudspeakers · Categories: Hifi News, Hifi Reviews, Loudspeakers. · Tags: , , , , ,

MYCETIAS VULCANIAN LOUDSPEAKERS REVIEW

Mycetias are a relatively new brand based in the North of the United Kingdom that makes no-nonsense, value for money loudspeakers and amplifiers. Ian Ringstead checks out the Mycetias Vulcanian loudspeakers for HiFi Pig. The speakers retail in the UK for just £576 or £876 with their matching stands. Ian Ringstead takes a listen.

Mycetias Vulcania Loudspeakers Front

A no-nonsense but good looking design.

Lockdown over the last eighteen months has had a seismic effect on the world in general bringing us all down to earth in one way or another. This review has come about as a result of the Covid 19 pandemic crisis and the way it has placed many people in a very difficult situation. Nick Stephenson from Lancashire has been involved in professional audio work for over twenty-five years designing and building PA equipment and travelling around with bands. When Covid came along to shake our world up Nick suddenly lost all his work overnight and his obvious thought was “What am I going to do?”

His solution was to design and build loudspeakers and power amps to sell directly to his customers and thereby keep his costs down and giving us (the music lovers of the world) an opportunity to own a fantastic value for money product. Mycetias is an unusual name and not a word I’d come across previously and so I looked it up and the definition makes sense in the context of Covid 19 and the speakers’ name Vulcanian. It means in the Latin to English translation “an earthquake accompanied by a rumbling noise”. Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and metalworking. I checked Nick out on Facebook to see what all the fuss was about as there had been quite a few rumbles (excuse the pun, it was intended !!) about his products. The Vulcanian and V2 (which is very similar) have attracted many positive reviews and comments and so this was my chance to experience them.

Mycetias Vulcanian front and back

Decent binding posts, a rear port and no internal damping are all features of the Vulcanian speakers.

DESIGN AND BUILD

The speakers are quite big for stand mounters, so if you decide to go for a pair you will need to factor in a decent pair of shortish floor stands for them. I used a pair of Atacama 20” / 50cm stands but Nick does a custom-made pair to suit for £300. The cabinets are made from birch plywood which is an excellent material that’s used a lot in pro audio and for the classic BBC designs of old such as the LS3/5A. Good quality birch ply is not cheap nor easy to work with, but it is very durable and ideal for pro use.

Fit and finish is very good for the asking price given the size of the cabinets and quality of the drive units. The tweeters are Monacor with a waveguide to aid dispersion. They are 30mm silk soft-dome units with high-temperature voice-coils and ferrofluid cooling handling 100w to give a very smooth response and great transient attack. The two bass units are 6.5 “ 70 w drivers from Vistaton that are coated paper cones using an inverse dust cap and a rubber rolled surround. No internal damping is used and the cabinet is rear vented with a tuned port to aid low-frequency response and efficiency.

The crossover is a two-way passive design 2nd order 12dB per octave and good quality gold plated multi-way binding posts are used accepting 4mm banana plugs, spades or 6mm bare wire. The front baffle has a full face 1.5mm thick steel black powder-coated or bare steel finish grille fitted as standard. Four rubber feet are on the lower surface to aid placement and prevent scratching anything. The finish I received was a golden oak stained Birch plywood, with a varnish finish

SOUND QUALITY

I wasn’t sure what to expect from these speakers, but I wanted to be open-minded given they are a bit of a departure from the normal domestic speakers out there. I am well aware of the pro audio approach to build and design and to the fact that the pro world has a no-nonsense stance on aesthetics and a direct sound. The HiFi market is somewhat different, tailoring sound and looks accordingly for the various markets and audiences they cater for. However, the Mycetias speakers have a look to them that certainly sets them apart from the herd.

The Vulcanians were brand new with no run-in at all as Nick had literally made them for me to review. I gave them a few days to settle in and then got down to some serious assessment. Straight away it was obvious that this design had something special about its sound. A good image was portrayed into my living room with depth and width, and the initial slightly bright nature calmed down with prolonged use as the drivers settled down. I played some Steely Dan from the ’80s the classic album Gaucho on vinyl. The musicianship always shines through and Donald Fagen’s distinctive voice was centred directly in front of me in all its glory. I know their albums very well having listened to them many times over the last forty years and if a system doesn’t gel with their music, then I know something is wrong. The Vulcanians didn’t fail me! The guitars and keyboards shone clearly in the soundstage and their complex interplay was easily picked out. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker were fanatical about production values and used some of the best session musicians out there. This perfectionism fortunately was always backed up by great tunes and lyrics. All this attention to detail was evident with these speakers in place.

Vulcanian Loudspeakers top view

A Monacor tweeter with waveguide is an interesting feature of the Vulcanians.

Supertramp is another go-to band for my musical pleasure and a brilliant test for any component or system. Breakfast in America is an album I love from start to finish and have several versions including the recently acquired MFSL vinyl. Sublime music and terrific dynamics thrill me but I can recall hearing one of their albums at an audio show and being totally underwhelmed. That told me that either the system or room were just not gelling as it was a very expensive system more than capable of excelling. The Vulcanians rose to the challenge and went loud with ease and no obvious strain. Nick claims these abilities on his website and was a design aim (of course) and so for these relatively affordable speakers to achieve this is a pleasure to hear.

Simply Red have a place in my heart for superb tunes and Mick Hucknall’s voice is a real winner in my opinion (many I’m sure will disagree if you’re not a fan). Picture Book was their first album and one track that really impressed was Sad Old Red. Not as well known as the hits Holding Back the Years and Money’s Too Tight to Mention it catches you out with its slow start only to be suddenly amazed by the explosive dynamics with the drums and trumpet knocking you off your seat. I nearly always listen to the vinyl version as it is so good and is a brilliant recording made thirty-six years ago. The whole album shines for me and the Vulcanians didn’t let me down making me smile once again. This is a very positive reaction to what are pretty inexpensive loudspeakers.

I would say the Vulcanians are like an ugly ducklings. My initial reaction to seeing them in the flesh was that they lacked the polished finish I’m normally used to. The rustic finish shows how Nick’s main aim was great sound and value for money above all else. If Nick had gone to the trouble of applying a high-quality veneer or paint finish then the price would have shot up considerably. I’ve visited many loudspeaker factories, and capital investment in CNC machining and woodworking tooling costs tens if not hundreds of thousands. That is why companies usually contract out the manufacture of their cabinets to the experts, but large quantity production runs are required to keep costs down or adversely hike the retail price. Nick does all the building and assembly himself, so passing the cost savings onto his customers. He has kept the design simple and uncomplicated both for his benefit and the customer.

Mycetias Vulcanian Rear posts

A closer look at the binding posts.

CONCLUSION

I can’t fault Nick for his optimism and enthusiasm to do his best to come out of the trauma Covid imposed on us all back in 2020. HiFi has generally ridden the seesaw ride of the last eighteen months pretty well as enthusiasts have chosen to spend any spare cash on new audio equipment to brighten their lives up, especially as travel has been so restricted. Some will have spent a lot on upgrades, but many would have been hard-pressed to justify any changes or simply not had any spare cash.

The Vulcanians are a lot of speaker for the money, look good in a quirky kind of way and offer a sound that is clear and open, smooth, and with a good balance of sound across the frequency spectrum. They are also dynamic loudspeakers.

They are a relatively sensitive loudspeaker (90dB) and so shouldn’t pose a problem with any amps bar the flea-powered variety.

If you are looking for a good value loudspeaker that gives you a whole lot for your hard-earned then these could well be just the ticket.

Nick encourages folk to audition his products at his home if possible, but he will send them worldwide by courier.

AT A GLANCE 

Build Quality:

Simple and honest, competently put together. For the money, I can’t quibble Over the top and luxurious finish wasn’t the design aim here, the sound was

Sound Quality:

Extremely good.

Open soundstage with great clarity and very good top to bottom frequency response

Smooth and very enjoyable quality making long-term listening sessions a real pleasure

Value for Money:

You can’t knock them!

Excellent value when compared with the competition

We Loved:

No-nonsense simple design.

Wide choice of finishes available to order with custom finishes easily catered for.

Solid and deep bass, a smooth and open mid-band with good high-frequency clarity free of any harshness.

We Didn’t Love So Much:

Ultimately for me, the finish was a tricky one for me to accept. Nick’s background is in professional audio and so understandably looks aren’t the main priority. Personal taste also comes into the equation. Many of Nick’s customers praise the build and looks so who am I to judge. It’s all down to personal taste. (I love the no-nonsense look – ed’)

Size-wise they aren’t compact and so in a small room, they do look quite big. It’s best to use low stands from an aesthetic viewpoint and Nick makes dedicated stands to suit separately.

Price: £576 (inc VAT) a pair. Matching dedicated stands £300.

Elevator Pitch Review: Mission accomplished! Nick aimed to produce a fantastic value for money speaker for the masses and has succeeded. If money is tight or you don’t want to spend a fortune on some new speakers the Vulcanians might be just the ticket.

Review equipment: Luxman PD151 turntable, AT OC9 moving coil, Keces phono stage, Gato Audio DIA-250S NPM integrated amp with DAC, Gato Audio CDD-1 Anniversary Edition CD player and DAC, Jern 12WS speakers. Cables TQ Ultra Black speaker cables, TQ Ultra-Black 11 XLR to XLR leads, Way Silver cables, Missing Link power leads and mains block, Atacama Evoque Eco 60 -40 SE2 equipment stand.

 

 

 

 

 

Ian Ringstead

Supplied by Mycetias

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensitivity: 90 dB @ 1w / 1m

Frequency range: 30 Hz – 20 kHz.

2-way passive 2nd order 12 dB/oct crossover.

Nominal overall Impedance: 8Ω.

Recommended amplifier input power: 35w to 130w

Available in Natural birch plywood finish or textured tuff & durable paint finish that is scratch resistant. With x4 Rubberised pvc speaker cabinet feet fitted to the bottom of each speaker cabinet.

Full face 1.5mm thick steel black powder coated or bare steel finish grill fitted as standard.

 

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