Pros: attractive little speakers; real walnut veneer; quality drivers; good sound once equalized
Cons: too bright if not properly set up; no real bass; can't play loud without strain
A colleague of mine came up with some Realistic Minimus 7Ws recently. These are tiny little speakers from the late 1970s, measuring only about 8” tall x 5” wide x 4 ¼” deep. I had read good things about them on the internet but had never heard them until they appeared at the shop the other day. They are finished in real walnut veneer (though many Minimus 7s without the W designation are black), and appear to have high quality drivers, so I hooked them up to the recently reviewed Cambridge Audio A500 integrated amplifier and a Kenwood KT-7300 tuner to give them a listen.
Initially, they sounded really bright, with not much bass, and trebles that were clear but too prominent. I missed the Klipsch KSB 1.1s that we had been using as shop speakers. But the walnut veneer of the Minimus 7Ws had potential (it was pretty seriously scratched up but appeared to be of good quality), and the drivers ( 4” woofers and 1” soft dome tweeters in acoustic suspension cabinets) looked too good to sound so grating, so I decided to bring the speakers home and see what I could do.
At the shop, their clarity had been good, but their balance was all wrong. There was discussion of capacitor replacement on the various internet discussion sites, but new capacitors don’t generally change a speaker’s tonal balance. I decided to leave them intact and hook them up to a truly vintage receiver and see what I could do with tone controls and speaker placement.
At home, I dusted off my trusty (1971) Kenwood KR-5150 and hooked up the speakers, placing them on the floor on either side of the receiver. Hook up is by little push connectors that do accept decent speaker wire. The sound was better than it had been on the testing table at the shop, but it was still too bright.
I flashed back to my early teenage years (when most receivers had a “Loudness” button that boosted the frequency extremes at low volumes), reduced the treble to the 9 o’clock position, and pushed the “Loudness” button on my Kenwood KR-5150.
Of course there was no deep bass, but there was now some sense of warmth, and the trebles sounded clear but not so bright. I listened to local classical and jazz stations and enjoyed the music. But I wasn’t done.
After listening for a few hours, I lay the speakers on their backs, so I’d be further off axis relative to the tweeters, and so the speakers would be better coupled to the floor. As I write, I’m listening to classical music from this little system, and it sounds quite good. Jazz also sounded quite good last night. I have the “Loudness” button engaged, the treble cranked back to between 8 and 9 o’clock, and the bass cranked back to 11 o’clock (to temper the effects of the Loudness button a bit). The sound is warm and fairly detailed, roughly comparable in overall quality to my “kitchen system,” which consists of a KLH Model 21 radio with a single KLH Model 26 cabinet as an extension speaker. Inside that cabinet is a generic 8” woofer and a Dynaco A-25 tweeter.
For just a minute, I cranked up the volume to see what the little Minimus 7Ws sound like when played loud. They became harsh pretty quickly, so I backed off.
How can I conclude? The Realistic Minimus 7Ws are not Rogers LS-3/5As in disguise. They are balanced very bright and become harsh if you play them too loud. But if you find a pair at a garage sale for $20, or a really nice pair for more, I’d say it’s worth it to snap them up. If you pair them with a vintage receiver, engage the “Loudness” button, and reduce the treble a few notches, they sound quite civilized at low to moderate volume levels. But it’s obvious that they are quite sensitive to room placement. If you use them in a den, try putting them on their backs (or sides, perhaps) on a high shelf as close to the wall as possible (for bass enhancement). Hiding them in a corner might work well too, as bass is enhanced by corner placement, and the tweeters wouldn’t be aimed directly at the listener. They might also make good computer speakers, as their sound is clear and they’re quite small.
A note about the tweeters of the Minimus 7Ws: they are soft domes are not protected by any kind of screen, though the speakers did originally come with fabric grilles. The pair in my possession came with “squished” tweeters, but I was able to remove the tweeters (four Philips screws), take them apart (three Philips screws) and gently poke the domes back out from behind with my index finger. They’re still dimpled, but at least they’re not totally squished. The hardest part was getting the things back together. A gentle hand and some patience are required.
I’ve read on the internet that there were later versions of the Minimus 7 that weren’t as good as the earlier versions. I can’t speak to this, as this is the only pair I’ve played with. The tweeters on these have a “Peerless” kind of look, though I don’t know who actually made them. The woofers also appear to be of high quality.
The walnut veneer doesn’t have particularly fancy grain, but it did finish up nicely.
Realistic Minimus 7Ws are recommended if you’re looking for some attractive, inexpensive, very small speakers to play around with.
Thanks to wsmuch for adding the Minimus 7 to the Epinions database!