In the past I’ve described a loudspeaker’s voicing as imparting either a bottom-up or a top-down tonal signature. The Manger p1 was quite rightly a midrange-outward signature that neither suggested a rising or etchy treble nor an overly enthusiastic bass. That said, while detail abounds throughout the spectrum, the treble region will strike some listeners as just a bit shaded overall—an impression that occurred to me when listening to Joni’s backup harmonies during James Taylor’s “Long Ago and Far Away” on Mud Slide Slim.
The fairy dust really starts to fly when it comes to midrange finesse and soundstaging with genuine acoustic music. In this context the Manger was a classical music-goers dream. For example, the massed vocals of the men’s chorale and women’s chorus during Rutter’s “All Things Bright and Beautiful” were spectacular, as was the individuation of the singers. Overall, for symphonic music, where the tonal and timbral rules of the road are well established, the Manger garners some serious kudos.
With micro-dynamics and transients, the p1’s speed and low-level resolution leave little in the way of sonic fingerprints. Instruments such as acoustic guitar and mandolin are conveyed with both the sting of the steel strings beneath the flat-pick and the underlying resonance rolling off the soundboard. The same holds true for presto piano excursions. In my view, larger dynamic swings on orchestral crescendos are not as open as they are on a comparably scaled conventional loudspeaker. Fair enough, the p1 is a two-way, but it still sounds a bit restrained when it comes to weighty impacts.
Imaging is crystal clear, focused but not overly etched. This is not the highly directed sound of a coaxial, but rather a smooth continuous transmission of sound. The p1 doesn’t have the exacting pinpoint imaging of the ME1 from TAD, but it does scale images like a much larger speaker, offering vertical cues that other compacts often miss. I found the Manger’s very expansive stage and vocal images, more often than not, more authentic and less speaker-like.
Bass response is very good—warmish, defined, and capable of carrying the performance into the forty-cycle range. During the Copland Fanfare, the acoustic-suspension “sound” that I’m partial to was on vivid display with the p1’s excellent grip and pitch control (and absence of port-generated artifacts). However, as the Manger driver hands off the lower frequencies to its woofer, the air from a timpani or bass drum is a bit more of a challenge, dynamically and texturally and tactilely. The midbass doesn’t quite match the speed and the sheer transparency of the responsive Manger transducer in the midrange proper. During Appalachian Journey, for example, there was a little dip of intensity in the power range that reduced acoustic bass rumblings and softened midbass transient response. Prospective owners should note that given the sealed-box design, the p1 does thrive on power to tap its bass capabilities and get the woofer moving. I’m imagining that the active version likely has more control and slam in the low end.
The charms of the Manger crept up on me almost subconsciously. I found myself giving the p1 priority over other speakers I had in the listening queue. Like the Fleetwood Mac hit that urges you to “Go Your Own Way,” so, too, does the Manger p1. Rather than seeking to become the center of attention like so many high-fliers in this industry, the p1 defies high-end orthodoxy by standing back and putting the emphasis squarely where it should be—on the music. It opened a window onto the live event like few other floorstanders in its segment. In sum, I would urge every upstanding music lover to make a date to have a serious listen to the marvelously involving Manger. There’s really nothing else quite like it.
Specs & Pricing
Type: Two-way, acoustic-suspension floorstander
Drivers: Manger Sound Transducer, 8" woofer
Frequency response: 40Hz–40kHz
Impedance: 4 ohms
Dimensions: 10.6" x 44.8" x 8.4"
Weight: 62 lbs.
Price: $11,500–$14,500, depending on finish options