REVIEW: SERHAN+SWIFT BRIGADIER MU.2 STAND-MOUNT SPEAKERS
Australian Hi-Fi enthusiasts that have been around the scene long enough will have no-doubt heard of Sydney-based designers and all-round good guys, Brad Serhan and Morris Swift. Collectively known as Serhan+Swift, their Brigadier range of loudspeakers are now making waves around the globe having featured at Hi-Fi shows in both United Kingdom and United States in just the last few months. We take a closer look at the Brigadier Mu.2 Loudspeaker in this review.
Solidsteel SS-6 speaker stands - $749 RRP
The masterminds behind the Brigadier Mu.2 loudspeakers are Australian audio designers, Brad Serhan and Morris Swift. Brad was the founder of Orpheus Loudspeakers who later sold the company and pursued a career as a succesful freelance designer for other speaker manufacturers.With a degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Sydney, Morris' passion for Hi-Fi dates back to teenage years.
It is evident when you listen to the Mu.2 that a lot of thought and planning has gone into designing these 32cm x 18cm x 23.6cm loudspeakers. Technically, Serhan+Swift call them bookshelf speakers, but at 10Kg each, stand-mounts would be more applicable here.
In creating the Mu.2 the team (which has over 150 years of experience between them), aimed to produce a loudspeaker that would have a sense of scale that belies its size. Furthermore, they wanted it to provide an even response off axis so that it was room friendly, accurate as well as be involving, and one that did not excite the treble to fake detail.
Driver geeks will have spotted the use of Scanspeak units. To be precise, these are the ScanSpeak Revelator Bass/Mid driver and ScanSpeak Ring Radiator tweeter. Additional tweaks on the already excellent bass/mid driver include the constrained layer damping material used for the gasket in place of the standard Scanspeak gasket. The result has been measured at the Sydney University Research facility and is proven to reduce cabinet radiation by a massive -6dB.
However, this is only part of the story. A high order crossover allows for steeper slopes and so keeps the drive units in their 'power band'. Moreover, it reduces out of band distortion. As you will note throughout this piece, this is not the cheapest route, but by their own admission, Serhan+Swift weren't looking to make the most economical speaker; instead, they wanted to build the best they could.
For example, Solen capacitors are hand trimmed and pair matched before being added, and Air Core inductors arrive over-wound and then custom trimmed to hit the desired value accurately. All of which is very time-consuming, but it is this level of attention to detail that ensures that every single Mu.2 provides the same extreme performance.
Finally, the cabinet. Here 25mm birch ply is utilised for its natural constrained layer damping properties. The quietness of the unit can be heard as the fast decay to the silence between notes to reveal that 'blackness' or 'contrast' we often mention. Around the rear, the quality continues with Cardas Rhodium ‘high purity’ copper binding posts.
Brigadier Mu.2 full specifications
- Speaker Type: 2-way stand mounted, reflex loaded
- ScanSpeak 1-inch Ring Radiator Tweeter: Patented Symmetrical Drive (SD-2) motor, non-resonant aluminium rear chamber, patented phase plug design, large ring neodymium magnet offering extremely low distortion.
- ScanSpeak 5-inch/15cm Revelator Bass/Mid: Patented Symmetrical Drive motor design, low-loss linear suspension, die-cast aluminium chassis vented below the spider, sliced cone (controls cone breakup), low damping SBR rubber surround.
- Low noise floor cabinet
- Frequency Response (typical in-room response): 45Hz - 30kHz
- Sensitivity: 84dB/1m/2.83 volts
- Power Handling (typical music programme): 100 watts
- Nominal Impedance: ~6 ohms
Brigadier Mu.2 review
When the speakers were dropped off, I was instructed not to take it easy with them. Knowing my love for rock and metal as well as other genres it was encouraging that I wasn't being guided to listen to acoustic tracks or female vocals.
Also supplied with the speakers were a pair of Solidsteel SS-6 speaker stands. These not only match the Mu.2 in style but also the two brands appear to be of the same mind - “build it as if the product was for yourself”. That mindset is something to be admired. Solidsteel is a family business working out of Pescara, Italy. The MDF top plate of the stand is decoupled from the tripod by a trio of high-precision ball bearings. The aggressive-looking floor spikes are removable to allow you to fill the legs with damping material. The stands are a vast improvement on my aged Atacamas.
Mu.2 sound quality
Reaching for one of my favourite tracks to test the realism produced by speakers is Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds' 'Red Right Hand'. So, spinning the volume dial on my Musical Fidelity M6si the first chime rings crystal clear through the room, closely followed by the rustling background noises accompanied by brushed snare and high-hat and that relentlessly foreboding, yet groove-laden bass line. A smile is already starting to break at the corners of my mouth and then Nick utters “Take a little walk…” and both my good lady and I look at each other and grin. We then sit and listen, not saying a word. It's as though we dare not speak as we might put the band off as they appear to be in the room with us. The speakers have managed to do that magic trick of disappearing from the room leaving only an unconstrained musical performance.
Even though I had other things to do that evening, I played a song, and then another, until they became albums; then album after album until I had to call it a night as there was work in the morning.
The next opportunity for a listening session I approached the Mu.2 more cautiously. Was that first night just the frisson of experiencing something new? We've all been there, right?
As mentioned, I was told not to be gentle, so I dropped the needle on my original pressing of 'Master of Puppets' by Metallica. As the classical strains of Battery's acoustic guitar intro started, I sank into my chair. I was about to drift off, but then the crunch of the distorted strings had me sat bolt upright. Lars' toms seem to come at me from all sides. Once the track got to full gallop, I was grinning like a loon again. I was transported back to when I first heard it played live on the Damaged Justice Tour in Sheffield, Oct 1988. There was no blurring or smearing of the notes just instantaneous attack followed by blackness whenever there was a stop. I remained seated with only the familiar sound of the needle hitting the run-off making me decide what to put on next.
Getting funky for a moment, it was the turn of 'Winelight' by Grover Washington, Jr. The soundstage was amazingly wide with all the notes standing in their individual space and yet still combining with perfect rhythmic timing.
Thurston Moore was up next and 'Turn On'. The uncomfortable chords in the intro bolstered by bass and sparse drums are dreamlike through the Mu.2 as the long intro suddenly becomes more urgent and frenetic. The discordant chord choices of Moore could easily become unmusical, but the speakers handle everything deftly without missing a beat.
To complete this particular listening session is Sevdaliza and 'Human'. Wow, these speakers can get low down. I shouldn't be surprised as the spec sheet does show the Mu.2 has an in-room bass response down to 40Hz. That is impressive. However, what has impressed me through my time with them is their ability to detail and define individual notes right across the frequency range, no matter what genre of music I throw at them. As important as the bass going low is that it remains musical.
Brigadier Mu.2 conclusion
If you are looking to reproduce a genuinely emotive performance from your favourite music at home, you need to add the Serhan+Swift Brigadier Mu.2 to your audition list. They are involving, accurate and can make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up and give you goosebumps. Failing that, they'll certainly leave you with a big old grin on your face.
The Solidsteel SS-6 did bring out the best from the Mu.2 as I tested them on the two sets of stands I have at my disposal. I also tried other speakers on the SS-6, and there was a remarkable improvement in performance.
For more information visit Serhan+Swift.