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We’re accustomed to big sound from tiny speakers because we review a lot of 2.1 configurations that have beefy subwoofers to serve up generous portions of bass. So we were skeptical of the “audiophile quality” claims TBI Audio Systems made for its diminutive—and sub-less—Majestic Diamond I audio monitors. Well, we’re believers now.
It’s not just the size of these speakers that renders them atypical of the products we usually review; they’re also passive, which means you’ll need an external amplifier to drive them (TBI provided us with Sonic Impact’s remarkable $40 Portable T-Amp for this review.) The Majestic Diamond I’s aren’t magnetically shielded, but they use a low-gauss magnet, and TBI says the speakers can be placed in close proximity to a CRT. LCD monitors, of course, aren’t affected by magnetic fields.
Listening to Steely Dan’s “My Rival” (from Gaucho), we were struck by these speakers’ ability to deliver silence between the notes in the song’s arrangement. You don’t hear that in lesser speakers, because they can’t stop resonating between tightly packed notes. We then turned to the guitar and vocals of “If This Is Goodbye” from the Mark Knopfler, Emmylou Harris collaboration All the Roadrunning.
The Diamond I’s proved as adept at delivering Knopfler’s mellifluous baritone as they were at producing Harris’s alto.
Listening to “Beyond My Wildest Dreams,” however, we found ourselves craving just a bit more bottom end, down where the kick drum lives, and for a taste more in the upper register—we wanted more of the drummer’s rim shot laying down its half-time rhythm.
If ever there were an audio system that proves what a tragic mistake it can be to judge the quality of audio components by spec charts, this combo is it: The speakers are rated to handle just 25 watts RMS, while the tiny amp is rated at just 15 watts per channel; heck, the amp can run on eight AA batteries. If you’re looking for a high-end yet transportable audio setup for your digital media player or notebook PC—and have a generous budget—you can’t do much better.
These speakers ensure music notes are delivered to listeners' ears with precision. Mozart would have approved!
A little "oomph" here and there would have made certain songs sound more true.