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I live in New Orleans and have owned their entry level SA505 (discounted). I currently own the Mantra 10s which are the lowest in own Mantra line (a large bookself)
Good Qualities: Overall very balanced speaker. Very smooth a tad bit of warmth and "bloom". Still not far away from natural. Very natural. Excels at jazz, small to medium scale acoustic music and piano. Overall musical speaker. Most things sound good.
Weakness: Bass. The bass these speakers do produce is enjoyable and realistic but they don't go low. If you a bass head these are not for you. More about resolution paired with musicality.
The inability to do low bass is not a killer but on some tracks of bass heavy music the bass does not stack up well. but its the minority of songs in my collect. The speakers do intergrade the bass they do have well with most music.
Obvious with out the bass you lose impact on recordings and maybe classical and large scales work are not what the could be with more bass.
They other weakness is that some electronic music or heavy distortion or filters can sound bad. Its really a crap shoot because it handles some music with that well and other it just does not do well. It might actually just be a the recording quality as opposed to the speaker.
Overall I am very happy and have thought about moving up the line. While not huge on bass if I start looking at 5-6k I want it.
I have not heard the 50s but just heard there Ranger Series 6k paired with expensive Audio Research tube amplification. I really like the speakers. I need to hear more and personnel don't thing Audio Research is a good performance/cost ratio. I would have liked to hear them with something like Ayre electronics or something more resolving with the Ranges to see how they do. Also I would like to turn it up more to see if I would be satisfied with the bass output.
Heard System Audio with NAD, Audio Research and Exposure.
I run mine with a VPI Scout and Dynavector 10X5. Very happy.
Thanks for all the help. Darkstar1, were your comments about the problems with the bass exclusive to the Mantra 10's or across the entire line? I was wondering if the Mantra 50's would provide enough bass. While not a bass heavy listener, I would like to have a full sound consistent with the recordings. I guess one could always supplement the speakers with a subwoofer?
Honestly when you are looking at speakers the size of 5 and 10 you are not going to get deep bass. Generally speaking smaller speakers don't have low bass.
For the size and money of the 50 you can find something with more bass. Will it be as good or better is a question only you can answer.
If you go with a bookself I would not hesitate going with system audio. They do compare well with bigger and higher priced names. If I was getting bigger speakers I would ask my self if I need more bass in a speaker that cost that much.
I recently bought a pair of System Audio Mantra 50s. I think that mine may still breaking in, but I will offer some observations.
I do not have a wide experience with different equipment (I do not change mine very often). My previous speakers (which I still have) are B&W Matrix 802 S3s. I also owned Acoustat 2+2s for years. I do visit hi-fi dealers every now and then for a listen.
The most distinctive characteristic of the Mantra 50s is that they are fast speakers. They have a speed and delicacy which brings to mind planar speakers.
Their tall slender build mimics a vertical a line source to some extent. Imaging is very good. This type of build should also reduce floor and ceiling interactions.
I would say that they are pretty neutral: neither forward nor laid back; maybe slightly warm. They seem to more forgiving of less than perfect source material than the other speakers I have owned.
As far as bass, mine measure pretty flat to about 40Hz in my relatively small 11’x13’ room. The bass may be a little lacking in weight and scale compared to my B&Ws. It does seem to have plenty of punch, though. I also bought a subwoofer (JL Audio) to supplement the bass; I cross it over at about 45Hz.
They are said to be not very picky about amps. They seem to work fine with my Audio Research 100.2 solid-state amp.
I (and my fiancée) find the speakers very attractive.
As mentioned in other posts, there are only a handful of System Audio dealers in the USA (I bought mine at Wilson Audio in Metairie, LA). I think that they are much better known in Europe (there are a good many listings of used, mostly older SA speakers for sale in Europe on the various websites; only occasional USA listings).
I think that the System Audio Mantra series speakers have recently been discontinued. It looks like they will be succeeded by the Legend series. There are also the less expensive Saxo series and the more expensive Pandion series.