Performance and affordability are key requirements for anyone seeking out a home cinema speaker package, and Mordaunt-Short seems to have struck the right balance with its new Alumni speaker range.
The range builds on the success of its Genie and Premiere speaker packages. It's a good looker, and the compact satellite speakers are encased in black or white high-gloss cabinets, while the subwoofer is clad in a matt finish to complement the satellites.
The Alumnis are sold as a 5.1 package (on test here) or individually for greater flexibility, and means that you can add speakers and grow your system to a 6.1 or 7.1 layout at a later date.
Much of the brand's speaker technology found in its upmarket Avant and flagship Performance speaker ranges has filtered down to the Alumni range, and the same 25mm aluminium dome tweeter and 75mm Continuous Profile Cone mid/bass drivers are found throughout the models here.
The curved cabinets of the Alumni 2 satellite (£140 per pair) and Alumni 5 centre speaker (£120) claim sonic benefits, and are designed to help reduce standing waves for better sound clarity as well as looking good. They're all Omnimount-ready for those seeking discreet wall mounting installations, and the chunky spring clips allow you to make quality speaker cable connections.
The Alumni 9 subwoofer (£200) packs a lot in to its compact dimensions. It's rated at 120W and drives an 8in forward firing ultra long throw driver.
There's a sizable downward firing port, and both low and high level inputs are incorporated to allow line level from the pre output on a surround sound amplifier or speaker level inputs to run the sub in parallel with the front satellite speakers. Phase, level and frequency tuning controls aid with room and system integration.
The Alumni package sounds as good as it looks, and the satellites blend well together and achieve an expansive soundstage while viewing Casino Royale. Sounds seem to extend outside the confines of the satellite's cabinets and convey an atmospheric wall of sound right at the front of the soundstage.
Pans move smoothly from speaker to speaker without any change in character and voices are clear and natural through the centre speaker. Male voices are underpinned by the subwoofer and achieve an impressive sense of gravitas, while bass effects are handled well with only a minor lack of support for lower mid frequencies at crossover.
The Alumni speakers can take quite a hammering, and the sound remains smooth and even tempered even when listening to The Killers' For Reasons Unknown at full pelt.
If you're in the market for a 5.1 sub/sat speaker system then the Alumni's attractive price and styling make it a worthwhile contender for any shortlist.