Review: Lenehan ML-1 Monitor

Category: Speakers

The gushing that will drip from my pen in this review could certainly arouse the suspicion that I have some commercial or other interest in Lenehan Audio.
Let me assure you that this is not the case.
The only interest I have is the joy of finding such a marvelously affordable (relatively speaking) loudspeaker that is made right here in Australia.

The first thing that you notice when pulling them out of their flight cases is how tiny they are. The finish is an exquisite paint job, deep and lustrous, with beautifully rounded edges. It reeks of quality.
The next thing that surprises you is the weight of these little boxes and the sense of density. You get the impression that nothing can and will rattle these surfaces.
Pride of ownership is an important factor for many and the sheer quality of these little speakers will offer plenty of that.

You can see what they look like by hopping onto the Lenehan Website. However, pictures don’t do the fit and finish justice. You can only really tell when you are holding them and looking up close.

But that’s enough of fit and finish. What do they sound like?

Now to the sound.
Remember, these are almost shoe box size.
On second thought, forget about their size.
Because tiny the sound is not. And that is without doubt the first thing that strikes you, the sheer size and volume (I don’t mean sound pressure hear but space) that they produce.
A lot of small speakers image well and produce wide and deep soundstages, but, and this is a common but, the musicians and instruments within that soundstage are usually smaller than real life. A kind of shrunken version of reality. In the Lenehan’s case this does not hold true. They produce a large, deep open soundstage populated by far more realistically sized and shaped people and instruments. Small they are not.

The other big surprise is the depth, weight and quality of the bass. Now I am not talking Organ tones down to 20hz or monstrous kicks in the stomach from Bass Drums. Yet these little beauties posses more than enough gravitas to give music the bass foundation that it needs to be believable and enjoyable. The other good thing about the bass is that it is tuneful and controlled. It doesn’t have that built in over emphasis in the upper bass that many mini monitors have built in to give the impression of bass.

As they say, the mid range is where the music lives, and here the Lenehan’s don’t disappoint.
They have a most natural midrange, full of detail, transparency, and tonal purity. And for all that they do not sound sterile or cold but musical and truthful, a rare combination in the Hi Fi world.

Oh, they do have a top end as well. However it doesn’t draw attention to itself. It’s just there, natural, with enough extension to add the air and openness that makes listening to recorded music enjoyable.

I have owned ProAc 1SC’s and Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors for an extended period of time and dappled for a very short time in a pair of Usher Be717’s.
Now audio memory is not to be trusted that much but I am willing to state that the Lenehan’s are significantly superior to both the ProAc’s and Usher’s and somewhat better than the Sonus Faber’s.

In summary, these are fantastic little speakers and deserve to be treated as a genuine competitor to any other small speaker I have heard and owned.

Associated gear
Accuphase DP500. Pre Amp: Xindak XA8250; Power Amp: Xindak XA8800MNE Monoblocs; Rack: Spider Rack; Power Cables: Eupen; Interconnect: Stereovox Calibri; Speaker Cable: Stereovox Firebird.

Similar products
ProAc 1SC
Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors
Usher Be717
Thank's for the nice review. They sound like a perfect match for sound and apartment dwellers with limited space.
I'm stateside (US) and have a pair of ML1's in Titanium Metallic - great speakers. I listened to Ficion FS200's this weekend and preferred the Lenehan's by a wide margin. Amazing considering the ML1s are half the cost of the Ficion's. I partner my ML1s with Naim gear.
Totally agree with this review. I have recently purchased a pair of these speakers and am still amazed how impressive they sound. At first my brain couldn't comprehend how much clean musical bass that was eminating out of these speakers. I actually never thought it was even possible as all the other high end(for me) standmounts (~$2000-$5000) I have heard in the past didn't posess this quality.

The best thing is they also work well with a variety of equipment. Whether it be tube (20watt triode el34) or ss (100watt solid state) amplication.

Highly recommended!
I have recently purchased a pair of the ML1's on the strength of the reviews and comments on this and other audio forums. I agree with the comments in this review. These are fabulous speakers which deliver a very well balanced and superbly integrated sound including a surprisingly deep and taut bass. They have replaced a pair of Usher Be-718's in a second system. Driven by a 150W/ch Musical Fidelity A300, they outperform the Usher's in all areas except top end extension (where the Usher's are outstanding).

Highly recommended for audition if you have a small to medium sized room and value transparency, neutrality, great imaging and excellent soundstage in a small but eye-catching enclosure.
Can anyone comment on the improvements offered by the ML1 PlusR version? I know the ML1 is upgradeable.