Arcam Muso speakers review

arcam muso grilleThe Arcam Muso speakers have been out for a while but now that they’re in the ‘affordable’ bracket I thought it was worth taking these small bookshelf speakers for a spin.

The Arcam Muso are designed to work more as satellite speakers than stand-alone main tune chuckers but, as they are from Arcam, I thought that they might do a decent job.

Muso design

These satellite speakers aren’t the smallest around but they are still small enough to cuddle into corners if you are short of space. At 120 x 155 x 230mm they can easily fit on a shelf or they can be plopped on to some specially designed stands. They come bundled with their own custom rubber pads too, to keep unwanted vibrations out of the mix.

Each Muso satellite is a quality slab of black (or silver) class. They’re well built, and are equipped with smart magnetic clip-on grilles. I’d describe them as stylishly anonymous. The crueler amongst you might call them boxy.

But these aren’t just simple boxes though. Arcam have spent plenty of time in research and development in order to get these small speakers to perform just as well as some of the bigger ones – for size comparison, here’s a Muso stood next to a Tannoy Mercury V1i bookshelf speaker as they were exchanging places on the Atacama speaker stand.

arcam muso and tannoy mercury V1iMuso’s cabinet utilises dissimilar materials in its construction to reduce vibration around the cabinet. The side walls are an aluminium extrusion and the front baffle is made of machined steel. The top, bottom and binding terminal plate are die cast aluminium.

To further reduce sound waves around the cabinet, its component parts are held together with an absorbent compliant adhesive. This means that at each transition between different panels resonance will be damped by the absorption in the material actually holding the panels together.

Muso is based upon a medium power mid/woofer and companion tweeter. The result is a discrete speaker that can reproduce bass information down to 70Hz and still have good dynamics and accurate midrange replay. When used as a full range speaker, the Muso is rated for working with systems of up to 30W using the IEC power rating system. Muso can cope with systems up to 50W, so long as it is not played at high volumes for extended periods of time.

Muso sound

Keeping in mind that the Muso is usually backed up by a few more buddies, as well as the Logo subwoofer, the sound is pretty good through them as a stereo pair.

The Musos are quite… well musical, but I can’t help but feel that there is something missing from the lower register. There is bass there and it is taut, punchy and clear, but I prefer a rounder bottom end, so to speak.

The mid and top range, however, are handled deftly and snares and cymbals come through brightly.

Testing the Musos out with some music from the heavier side of my collection, such as Nile, Meshuggah, and the like (I understand that these might come under what the ‘kids’ are calling Djent) and the bass is there, it’s just not as pronounced. Something noticed in the (not so) Nu-Metal stylings of Disturbed and Korn when also played through the Arcam speakers.

Arcam MusoThe Doors and The Dresden Dolls, however, sounded pretty fine and when I slipped on Charles Mingus ‘In a Soulful Mood’ that’s when the speakers started to make more sense. The basslines came through clearly and supported the drums and brass whist everything had its own space.

Maceo Parker’s ‘Life on Planet Groove’ also fared pretty well through the Musos with the horn section nice and sparky and the basslines remaining taut and in place, although I did feel that the lower-end was starting to miss something again.

Piping through the audio from a DVD (Blade Runner – The Final Cut from the limited edition 5 disc set), this is where the Muso makes its mark. The speakers project dialogue and special effects with great aplomb.

Muso conclusion

Arcam is a well known and well respected brand so I was expecting the Musos to be able to handle anything I threw at them, even given their quite diminutive dimensions – and they pretty much did.

Their (W x D x H): 120 x 155 x 230mm (4.7 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches) size means that they can be placed almost anywhere, against a wall is preferred if you’re using them as a stereo pair. This makes them especially handy for the typical London flat tenant.

Jazz, and music favouring a more acoustic and airy vibe such as The Concretes and The Sundays sound lively and defined. When you start playing tracks that need a fatter, deeper bottom end then the lack of the Logo sub becomes noticeable to me. It might be because I am a bass player by trade, it could be that my listening preference leans towards a rounder, fuller tone; or it might just be that the Musos were designed primarily to be part of a movie-orientated system, preferably in a 5.1 configuration.

As you would imagine then, using the Muso speakers, even just a stereo satellites, gives movie watching greater depth and a more immersive experience.

True, the Arcam Muso are a little bit plain looking but that just means that, when you find a place for them, they’re not going to draw any attention to them, other than the quality of sound that they are sending out.

If you’re looking for some very articulate speakers in a relatively small package, testing the Arcam Musos with or without the additional sub, should be on your shortlist.

Arcam Muso UK price

For a pair of Arcam Muso speakers, you’ll be looking at around £300, but they can also been purchased individually should you be looking to increase your surround sound system.

Arcam Muso specifications
  • Two-way bass reflex loudspeaker system
  • Front ported design allows positioning close to walls or in cabinet fixtures
  • Combined aluminium / steel enclosure – extremely "dead" cabinet
  • Resin damped metal to metal bonding with no visible fixings
  • "SDA" sound dead Aluminium further dampens cabinet resonance
  • 25mm (1") Ultra light Aluminium dome magnetically screened tweeter
  • Aluminium tweeter dome for ultra light weight and maximum stiffness
  • Magnetically mounted, acoustically transparent tweeter sub grill
  • 85mm (3.5") Polymer / Aluminium cone magnetically screened woofer
  • Vented pole piece woofer magnet offering lower distortion
  • Smooth flow, flared "L shape" port offers extended bass response
  • 8 component crossover with air-cored HF inductor on Glass Fibre PCB
  • Gold plated 4mm binding posts
  • Compliant rubber isolation mat included
  • Dimensions (W x D x H): 120 x 155 x 230mm (4.7 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches)
  • Weights: 3Kg / 6.6lbs (3.3Kg / 7.3lbs packed)


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