Realistic Minimus-7

“Little only in size, not in performance”, was how Realistic described its Minimus-7 ‘Metal Cabinet Speaker System” back in 1977. In 2021, it’s still surprisingly capable and relevant, as there have been precious few micro speakers released in the intervening forty five or so years.

There’s nothing much to it – a basic 100mm ‘high compliance woofer’ – or mid/bass driver to be more accurate – plus a 25mm plastic dome tweeter. These are set together as close as can be in the speaker’s diecast aluminium cabinet, which is a really impressive and solid piece of work. Despite the dinky dimensions, the speaker still weighs 2.03kg – not bad for something measuring just 180x113x110mm (HxWxD).

Realistic – a brand of the US-based Tandy Corporation – had this little loudspeaker manufactured in Japan, and the quality is evident. It’s a very well finished product that would pass muster today – even its removable metal grille doesn’t ring and the rest of the cabinet feels solid and well damped.

A frequency response of 50Hz to 20kHz was claimed by the manufacturer. My ears say that the former is very optimistic; were they measuring at -9dB points? I’d guess its bass response is closer to 200Hz at -3dB, as you can just hear the top notes on a bass guitar. A power handling figure of 40 watts (music power) was claimed, again equating to around 20W RMS. Impedance is surprisingly high for a small speaker at a bog-standard 8 ohms. No sensitivity figure is given; thanks to its microscopic internal volume and lack of reflex-loading, I’d guess at around 82dB which is vanishingly low.

This is a true bookshelf speaker, designed to sit on a – yes, you’ve guessed it – bookshelf; the manufacturer recommends it should be flush with the front of it. Thanks to its infinite baffle design, I found the Minimus-7 easy to position and it works well in many places that you’d simply never dream of putting a normal ‘standmount’ speaker. By way of comparison, it makes an original Wharfedale Diamond look like a Klipsch La Scala!

Sonically, it is what it is. There’s no doubt you’re listening to a tiny, bandwidth-limited transducer, and the drive units aren’t especially refined either. But it has strengths, and these are mighty. First is its blistering transient speed – this little loudspeaker is blazingly fast. You really find yourself listening to the rhythms of the music and enjoying these very acutely, rather than mourning any particular lack of bass extension.

This speaker’s other talent is soundstaging; it’s virtually a point source and so virtually dissolves into any recorded acoustic it is asked to recreate. This lovely ‘out of the box’ feel means that it sounds far bigger than it really is. There’s a really good sense of depth too, so it’s not just distinguished by it’s left-to-right prowess.

There are plenty of downsides; tonally it’s far from sweet and the treble can sound a little coarse. That’s why, paradoxically, it works best with higher end ancillaries. Still, the overall result is a fun listen, whatever type of music you play. Considering that pairs of Minimus-7s regularly pop up on eBay for £50 or less, there’s a lot to like about this classic micro monitor than delivers a big sound in a small space – just as its manufacturer claimed, all those years ago…

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