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RALabs RA Labs Mini-Reference
2 Reviews
rating  4.5 of 5
MSRP 
Description: 


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Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

User Reviews

Overall Rating:5
Submitted by Dave a a Casual Listener

Date Reviewed: November 20, 1998

Bottom Line:   
I really, really like this speaker. In fact, it's my favorite cheapbookshelf speaker, and I have listened to many. It's not the most well-rounded
speaker, like a PSB Alpha, nor does it excel in specific areas, like the
Optimus LX4/5 or NHT SuperZero. What it does do is give shockingly musical
and emotionally satisfying sonics at a bargain price. I have owned several
pairs. The first pair I bought new from RA Labs, then returned them because
I thought they were unexciting. My setup was bad, and I didn't break them in.
The next pair I got was after reading some rave reviews. These were used and
already broken in. The sound was much better, but lacked some ear-grabbing
sound effects, such as detailed highs, 3D-imaging or tight bass. I sold them
when I saw a WTB posting for them (mistake). The 3rd pair I bought used for a
friend of mine who wanted to listen to classical music in the background. That
seemed like something the RA Labs could do well. So, I setup a bargain system,
with a Nakamichi receiver and a Sony CD changer. I got a good price on the
whole set, so I was satisfied and left my friend with the system. I came back
after a while and could not believe the sounds that the RA Labs was making with
such cheap ancillaries. The music was so...real, so non-fatiguing, so
involving and just plain musical. The bass was there, though not standing
out from the crowd. The highs were there, though I wouldn't use the tweeter
for DIY projects. But the mids were exceptionally natural and refined. And the
presentation as a whole was first-rate.

RA Labs went into a coma some time ago. Their Toll-free number is being used
by some other (non-audio) company. But I have heard that they are rising up
again, in England. Their website has a mirror in England which posted a
picture of prototypes for the new Mini-Reference. They look really good,
like cheapo Sonus Faber, because of the hardwood side panels. But maybe
they look too good, because these aren't going to be cheap. Hopefully, they'll
use faux wood and import them into the USA for not too much money. If they
are under $500, theyll be worth buying!

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Duration Product Used:   a Casual Listener



Overall Rating:4
Submitted by Craig Stenstrom a an Audio Enthusiast

Date Reviewed: September 28, 1997

Bottom Line:   
RA Labs Mini-Reference Speakers
Associated components: Phillips CD-721 CD player, AR turntable, NAD 3020B integrated amp, NAD 4020A tuner.

In my recent search for small budget speakers I wasn't able to find any I really liked from my local dealers, so I took a big gamble and purchased some used RA Labs Mini-Reference speakers via the Internet. The gamble paid off. In addition to a smooth sales transaction the Mini-Reference has become my favorite inexpensive bookshelf size speaker. I prefer them to all the speakers I demo'd: Paridigm Atom, PSB Alpha, B&W DM302, NHT SuperZero, and to the speakers they replaced - the original sealed box Celestion 3s.

The Bad News
The Mini-Reference doesn't do a lot of things Hi-Fi speakers are supposed to: They don't have super extended treble, they don't image that great, they don't play extremely loud, they aren't that quick, and they don't retrieve every last ounce of detail. They also sound a little sluggish on Rock music.

The Good News
The Mini-Reference speakers have a natural sounding yet detailed midrange, a warm musical tonal balance, with decent bass for their size and price (-3db @ 55hz). They are quite efficient (90 db) and work well with budget electronics like my NAD integrated amp. Unlike some speakers these are not so fussy that the demand only audiophile demo quality recordings, they sound good with average quality LPs and CDs and FM broadcasts.

NitPicks
The treble while fairly smooth and never irritating is not quite up to the quality of the midrange. The lower midrange/upper bass is perhaps a little richer than real life (but I'm not complaining).

Care and Feeding
They sound their best at least 12 inches from the wall on stands high enough so the tweeters are slightly above ear level. I suggest you remove the grills. I would guess tube electronics would be a good match but I haven't any to try this out.

Details
Size: 14 7/8" x 8 ½" 8 ¼"
Price: $224/pair
Availability: Currently only available through mail order
Phone: 1 941 780 0577
Web site: http://home1.gte.net/bobralab/index.htm

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Duration Product Used:   an Audio Enthusiast




Reviews 1 - 2 (2 Reviews Total)

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