Review: Morrison Audio 19.1 Speaker

Category: Speakers

Review of Morrison Audio Model 19.1

This is my third Morrison Audio speaker, my first being a Model 17 which I thought was the best speaker system I had heard, until I bought a model 19, musical heaven and then Mr. Morrison hinted at something off the charts good, the Model 19.1. I am only beginning to do my listening but it is clear that the 19.1 is an exceptional achievement in music reproduction. I found it very easy to drive (more on that in another chat) and very easy to place in my living space. It just needs 3-5 feet from any wall and the musicians are in business.

I go frequently to concerts, operas, symphony concerts, chamber music and jazz performances which give me a fair idea of how music should sound played by living musicians in real spaces. The new speakers are the closest speakers I have owned to live performances in that the music is clear with the musicians properly represented in a real space and all the instruments present their true tonalities. It is easy to follow musical thoughts and sequences in a live concert and so it is with the Model 19.1's.

Generally, before I started on my Morrison journey, all reproduced music was fairly good but not as clear as it should have been. There had always been a distancing scrim between me and the music. So, here comes the Morrisons and with each iteration, the scrim became less until the 19.1, when it disappeared completely and left me with only the music at whatever quality it was recorded. It is hard to write about speakers with no voice of their own, only representing what is fed them. My only problem is that when I do the unthinkable, read while listening, I keep putting the book down to listen. I'll have to talk to Mr. Morrison about that. The next few sentences reflect the changes after inserting the DBX equalizer as recommended by the aforementioned Mr. Morrison.

So, here is the review after setting up room correction and some things happened that were unexpectedly noticeable, partly because I did not realize how much the room created some of its own sound, though I knew that rooms do become one of the pieces of the home audio puzzle. I thought I had solved most of that with a large area rug and devices to break up wall reflections but I had not completely vanquished the room demons until I used a DBX equalizer to sample and correct for the room.

Now the bass is even fuller and cleaner, the midrange crystal clear and the treble sweet without glare and roughness. None of these were great issues before the correction but the sound is much more realistic with the demons gone. I think as a result of the room correction the spatial presentation and instrument harmonics are much better portrayed. The other day I went to a luncheon at a local university and there was a student trio consisting of oboe, violin and cello and they were wonderful but to the point, the sound of my Morrison 19.1's is of the same clarity and completeness that this trio exhibited. I continue to be pleased and amazed, though knowing Mr. Morrison's previous, I should not be surprised.

Another aspect of the sound is the fact that I am using a pair of Crown XLS 1500 amps which have a crossover function available so that a passive crossover is no longer in the amp to speaker chain and I sure this allows for a sound that is more natural with no real sense of being created by electronics but by live musicians. This amp choice was strongly encouraged by Mr. Morrison and I am glad I took his equalizer and amp recommendations.

So, these changes to an already excellent system, take my home listening experience to a whole new and better level.

The rest of the system is fronted by a Wadia 861 CD player, Linn Sondek with Itok arm and Benz Ruby cartridge. The speaker cabling is by Morrison Audio and the remainder of the cabling is from Monoprice, as good as any cable I have heard at a rediculously low price. My other favorite cables come from Straightwire.

I listen to just about all recorded music and find that some of the most challenging music by Harry Partch is made more enjoyable and spatially cohesive heard through the Morrison's since how Parch places his musicians is critical to understanding what is happening in the music.

The only speaker system I have had that comes very close to any of my Morrison speakers is the Linkwitz Orion. At this point the main difference is the increased clarity of the Morrisons, especially in the bass and a much better representation of space. I have not heard the most recent Linkwitz speakers but they are more expensive than the Morrisons.

My test music includes La Boutique Fantasque, London 410 139-2 which has followed me since I started my audio life, Harry Partch CRI col.2 A compendium of Partch pieces that reward listening. I find that generally vocal music, piano music, operas and chamber music including small jazz groups work well in general equipment evaluation. For me the ultimate test is whether I leave a piece of gear in the system or are compelled to find something better or go back to what I had been using.

Associated gear
Wadia 861 with Great Northern Sound Statement upgrade, Linn table with Ittok arm and Benz Ruby cartridge.

Similar products
Acoustat 2+2, Wilson Audio WATT Puppy, Linkwitz Orion 3.2
I just spoke with Don Morrisson 2 days ago to ask him a question about the output impedance of my pre, and it was nice to catch up with him. He is a brilliant and creative man who doesn't take himself too seriously. I spoke with him about his speakers, which I have always wanted to hear. The 19.1s are up to 10k now, and no doubt worth it.
Good luck with your new speakers...I'm jealous.