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Floorstanding loudspeakers

Price: 19 900 zł (para)

Polish distributor: Sound&Line

tel. kom.: 600 974 673
tel.: 12 422 79 30


WWW: Sound&Line

Text: Wojciech Pacuła
Photography: Sound&Line, Wojciech Pacuła

The regular Readers of „High Fidelity” should know already company Sound&Line as we tested some of their products in the past and quite recently – in April – a prototype of Medius speaker was presented during 71st Cracow Sonic Society's meeting, when we discussed a role of capacitors in loudspeaker's crossover. Medius were used because they had crossovers in the separate enclosures which made capacitors exchange much easier (meeting's coverage HERE). Already then we found the sound of a prototype interesting but only now, after another six months of hard work, designers decided they had the product ready for market introduction. I don't call it a finished product, as it happens quite often in such small manufacturer's activity that new improvements are introduced to products – so also Medius Excellence might see some new elements implemented in a future. I wish I tested the final version because readers will compare their impressions with mine not only tomorrow but also in a year and if they listen to already improved version than comparison will be a bit pointless. But there is nothing I can do – it's how the things work, period. Medius line includes three versions: Medius Classic – with crossovers placed inside cabinets, Medius Excellence – with external crossovers, and Medius T-Excellence – also with external crossover but also with all its elements hand-picked and coming from most prestigious manufacturers. I received this middle model for test called Excellence.

Medius Excellence is most likely the most advanced design of all made so far by S&L (at least among those actually manufactured). It is a three-way speaker, with quite unusually aligned bass-reflex cabinet. Inside cabinet there are some dissipative chambers that are supposed to eliminate resonances in bass driver chamber, also in closed mid-range driver's chamber. They are also responsible for smooth coherence between ranges served by all three drivers, plus additionally they have something to do with limiting audibility of bass-reflex (I have no idea how it works – that's what I got from designers). Drivers used for this speaker are of top quality and … price. Tweeter is top (soft) one from Israeli Morel and low- and midrange speakers come from Eton. With very nice veneer and black front Medius look really nice. The external crossovers take size of a quite big amplifier. As explained by designers reasons for taking crossovers outside cabinets were twofold: mechanical and electrical. Mechanical as even very heavy cabinet resonates quite strongly specially at the bottom, where bass driver is located. Resonances influence coils and capacitors that also resonate and induce signal that interferes with music. Electrical reasons are the influence of powerful driver's magnets onto crossover's elements. That is a constant bias, interference to the basic signal. Marcin Michalczyk, one of S&L's designers, says that „coils placed very close one to the other in driver's chamber would cause their inductance to change which in effect would change electrical parameters of the whole crossover in an unpredictable way.”

External crossover is not a novelty but it has always been and still is kind of marketing and sales challenge – you have to convince your customer to buy four boxes and not just two as he expected to buy. Another challenge – you need to connect loudspeaker with its crossover with high quality wire (cable) and that has quite some impact on the final price. So to make their lives easier and costs/prices lower most manufacturers place crossovers inside loudspeaker's cabinet. Fortunately there are some exceptions like wonderful Wilson Audio Duette monitors reviewed HERE or loudspeakers coming from British company Living Voice. The most reasonable manufacturers try to shield crossovers somehow, put them as far away from the drivers as possible, damp resonances (see – Sonus Faber) etc., but these are all just half-measures that can't really replace the ultimate solution – separating loudspeakers from crossovers. The latter for Medius are placed in large boxes made of MDF, finished with natural, beautiful veneer – same one as used for speakers cabinets. Yup, these are definitely interesting loudspeakers.

We've tested so far:


Discs used for listening sessions:

  • HiQualityCD. Jazz Selection, EMI Music Japan, TOCJ-90010, HQCD + CD; HERE.
  • Art Blakey Quartet, A Jazz Massage, Impulse!/Universal Music Japan, UCCI-9043, CD.
  • Basia, It’s That Girl Again, Koch Records/WHD Entertainment, Inc., IECP-10168, HQ CD.
  • Ella Fitzgerald, Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie!, Verve/PolyGram Records/Victor Entertainment, VICJ 011-4052, XRCD24.
  • Frank Sinatra&Count Basie, It Might As Well Be Swing, Reprise/Universal Music Japan/Sinatra Society of Japan, UICY-94601, SHM-CD.
  • Laurie Anderson, Homeland, Nonesuch, 524055-2, CD+DVD.
  • Madita, Too, Couch Records, CR 20472, CD.
  • Nine Horses, Snow Borne Sorrow, WHD Entertainment, IECP-10002, CD.
  • Pery Como, Como Sings, RCA/BMG Japan, BVCJ-37258, K2 CD.
  • Savage, Tonight, Extravaganza Publishing Srl/Klub80, CD001, 25th Anniversary Limited Edition, CD.

Japanese CDs are available at CD Japan

I am familiar with many expensive speakers of similar size and design. I listened only in some places other then my room to Wilson Audio Sasha S/W. Others that I had a chance to listen in my room that I want to mention are: Harpia Acoustic Dobermann [New] (I've used them for two years), Avantgarde Acoustic Uno Picco and Hansen Audio Princess v2. There is one more model I would like to mention - HSR-120 Carbon German Physiks - these are quite different in design but some aspects of how they sound are so extraordinary that I simply need to bring them out also here when comparing famous, outstanding examples of loudspeakers. Mediuses sound much like Hansens. I needed only a short time to realize that in terms of tonal balance, frequency range extension at both ends, micro-dynamics, and high resolution Prince V2 were the most similar sounding speakers. All that regardless the price difference – I'm just comparing some aspects of sound. I don't mean by that that buying Medius will get you exactly same performance – if you spend more and buy Hansens you will get more of everything (not to mention the prestige of Canadian brand), but the differences in performance are surely smaller than price difference might suggest. Also above mentioned Avantgarde speakers offer comparable level of performance – I remember their sound very well and I remember also how impressed were all my friends who listened to them together with me. Yup, I will use mostly these three for comparisons, but I might use some more too. For me listening to Sound&Line speaker was even more interesting than usually because they were so different from my own (till recently) Dobermanns that I couldn't consider them a replacement but rather alternative. That's why Harpias and German Physics will help me to compare sonic aspects different than these mentioned above.

Lets go back to Hansen speakers. I described their timbre as bit warm, with very strong bass, and no brightness in sound. And same goes for Mediuses. The first three recordings included female voices so all these aspects were easily recognizable. To be honest I was a little surprised finding sound bit warm and without brightness in the upper midrange. You might remember that I heard these speakers before during Cracow Sonic Society meeting but it was a prototype. I found them quite interesting but in my opinion upper midrange was bit to rough. I was not a beta-tester for S&L so I didn't push my opinion too much, especially that it wasn't a point of our meeting. Obviously it was not only my impression as the final version is free of this flaw. Now it offers very rich, full-bodied sound and here same description goes for midrange. This sounded similar to Hansens and Avantgardes when it came to timbre and voices presentation. The main difference when comparing Medius to Avantgardes was the size of phantom images which were smaller when presented by Polish speakers and that made them more similar to Hansens. All ladies - Ella Fitzgerald, Basia Trzetrzelewska, and Laurie Anderson (my favorite recently) sounded in a very balanced, pleasant way. „Pleasant/nice” is the key word here - surely it doesn't carry the „weight”of hard facts, but for me it is a very important aspect of the sound as ultimately it decides whether I find some product interesting or not. This aspect of S&L speakers sound is their clear advantage – sound will be pleasant regardless of kind of music you listen to, unless of course composer didn't mean it to sound nice.

So what we get is large, bit warm, focused, intimate sound. In this way I'm trying to elaborate more on „warm” aspect I mentioned before, because the feature we need to look closer at is the ability to differentiate sounds. The device is able to differentiate sounds if it is capable of showing us differences between two similar but not identical signals – for example same instrument but played differently, or played in different environment, to show different emotions, but also to present clearly how distinct masterings of same recording can be, and so on. To make a long story short – device must present all such details in a way, that shows differences to the listener in a way he understands, but it should never be the most important aspect of the sound – it can't obscure the big picture. This last thing is very important because the device should differentiate sounds very well showing lots of detail and so on but it will never be a real value unless tonal balance is also perfect. All that is important when testing Medius because such a warm, rich sound usually means that there is a problem with differentiation and good resolution. Usually, but not always – Hansens are a perfect example – and that allowed me to test Medius speakers without any preliminary negative assumptions.

To set some baseline I usually use different pressings or remasters of same recordings. But a sampler showing difference between regular edition and its HiQualityCD version comes also handy. There is the same music but on different medium. Mediuses proved to be fully capable to present such differences effortlessly. What was important for me was that these speakers were able to show me WHY HQCD was better and not just how it sounded. Regular CD version wasn't so tonally rich, with less dynamics.

The sound was bit more distinct with stronger presentation of treble but that didn't make the general presentation better. Cymbals as played from CD were stronger but less natural. S&L speakers proved to me again that it was better to listen to HQCD, that it was really a step forward. Differences between CD and HQCD are not that distinct but once you listen to better quality you can't go back to the sound of a regular CD.

Just before testing Medius I carried out a test of another Polish product – (power filter) PC-2 EVO from Gigawatt, with LS-1 power cord. Both these elements have a positive effect on system's sound, as they are able to make it less edgy, chaotic. It might look like what they do is softening of the sound, but no, that's not true. After you spend some time with Gigawatt's products in your system you would realize that the sound without them is bit too bright, and it has nothing to do with high resolution. Something like a difference between CD an HQCD. Medius helped me to realize just that. In spite of their characteristic timbre and sonic character, S&L speakers definitely benefited from adding some „body” to the sound, and reducing some distortions (thanks to Gigawatt products). This brightness coming from regular CD, or from a system when juiced from (very good) PF-2 power strip, should give the sound more liveliness or whatever, but in fact it stays what it is – just brightness effecting in worse sound quality.

Timbre that is based on very rich, full-bodied and bit warm sound throughout whole frequency range needs to be supported also with deep, extended bass range. To be honest what I got from Medius in this aspect wasn't perfect (in my subjective opinion), as I preferred the one I got from Dobermanns – but even though I missed in my speakers tightness and extension offered by Medius and Prince v2. The very beginning of I Must from Basia Trzetrzelewska's It’s That Girl Again proved my point nicely. This piece starts with very low, heavy sounding piano. S&L speakers presented correct size of that instrument, its weight and the intentions of this recording's sound engineer. My impression was similar when I was listening to Laurie Anderson. Tested speakers wonderfully presented atmosphere of each recording, this kind of „tension” that you can't find in notes but is there in the music. This is extremely desired feature because after all music is really based on emotions./p>

But lets go back to bass range. Its timbre is again similar to the one offered by Hansens and also somehow to Avantgarde's. It goes very deep and it is very tight – no sign of any roughness. I wish Dobermanns offered such a great timbre and tightness. On the other hand it was Avantgarde's Uno Picco's bass that set such a high standard, and later Ancient Audio's Wings and to some extend also Dobermanns proved that bass could be equally rich, but bit shorter and bit better differentiated. It's a bass range that makes S&Ls offer such a big and surprisingly involving sound. At the other frequency range end designers (there are two of them) decided for something different. Treble is bit warm and slightly rolled-off. Same goes for upper midrange – in prototype it was too forward, now it settled down a bit. This allows to listen to all recordings without any concern for the treble. Quality of Medius tweeter is outstanding – brilliant resolution, that comes together with richness, differentiation, etc. Sound is not so opened as from German Physik's HRS or Dobermanns. The latter could be bit more sophisticated as Medius are, but on the other hand S&Ls could show bit more air around instruments, like German speakers do.

S&L deliver very dense soundstage – each instrument is surrounded with air and coexists with other instruments on the stage very well. That didn't work that well for Harpias, but now I was finally satisfied. Again very similar (in this aspect) to Hansen Prince v2. The difference in favor of Canadian speakers was the deepness of the sound that made also soundstage bigger. Medius somehow focus on the middle of the soundstage. The presence, palpability of the voices is almost hypnotic, as well as any instrument placed in the same spot. Mono recordings also sound very palpable. But everything that is going on in the sides of the stage is presented only in a complementary way, aside the center of the soundstage. General timbre of these loudspeakers presentation makes so called „air” bit dense, „sticky”. When you sit down, relax and listen to the music the great resolution will help you to hear it all – multilayer soundstage, three-dimensionality and so on. But don't expect soundstage to be broader than the space between speakers. Vocals and leading instruments will always play the main role. Just give it a try with some recording of a good vocal and you should realize what I'm talking about.

Medius are extraordinary speakers that for some might be ultimate choice for their whole audiophiles lives. In many aspects they match closely qualities of foreign products costing up to five times more. One of such features is outstanding macro-dynamics. But they are not flawless. What is not perfect (in my opinion) you can find spread along this test but I decided to make some kind of summary, some comments and maybe also add some more information for your convenience. Bass could be bit more tight. Not by much – it's just that quickness and tightness offered by Dobermanns suited me better. It is like with the sound of Wilson Audio speakers, that don't put that much weight to low range, but bass is more precise and better differentiated. Bass range wasn't on the other hand so rich but you can't have it all at the same time, can you? I could easily live with the bass range offered by semi-active speakers like Uno Picco by Avantgarde Acoustic and Wing by Ancient Audio. But most likely you can't achieve such performance with passive speakers. Hansen Audio Prince v2 do one more step than Medius toward such, semi-active kind of presentation. Long story short – I wish bass was bit better differentiated. My second reservation concerns treble and spacial effects. Medius don't offer such an open sound as the others I mentioned before. That means also that soundstage is not that big. Instruments shown as phantom images are not so well defined – they look more like spots than three-dimensional objects in space. Greatly differentiated midrange make this previous small flaw go away when listening to the music but it does exist so I had to mention it. I need to mention midrange too – I loved it but when comparing it to the best competitors I know I need to write what could still be done better. None speaker I know can bit Medius in terms of richness of midrange, only different, immediate and very direct presentation of horn speakers (like Picco) and some fullrange drivers can make better impression. Hansens delivering bit smoother, better aligned midrange can sound close to horn speakers. Midrange delivered by Medius is not perfectly aligned. As I mentioned – when listening to a prototype I discovered bit to exposed upper midrange. Now this flaw is eliminated – you can perceive it as gentle warm up, and sometimes bit of dullness somewhere between upper midrange and treble. That's why the difference in timbre of electronic drums in Don’t Cry Tonight (warm, sticky) and in Only You (dry, bright) (both pieces coming from Tonight by Savage) was not so conclusive, as it was even with Chario Academy Sonnet (that I've been using recently). It is not about total unification but on the other hand Medius are not so thorough when it comes to precise presentation of such differences as Dobermanns were or Wilsons, and also Sonus Faber Electra Amator I owned by Janusz, who usually hosts meetings of Cracow Sonic Society. Harpias tried to do it too well and without proper richness of the sound they generated sometimes kind of a peak in the upper midrange. S&Ls avoid such mistakes but are not perfect in this aspect neither.

This test was a pure pleasure for me as well as listening to Medius. This is the best design made so far by Sound & Line. Not even standmount Enigmas, at least the version I reviewed, offered such a big, emotionally involving sound. At given price level there are very few competitors with similar level of performance. Maybe Harpias but they offer very different character of sound so most of you will easily decide which designer's „philosophy” suits you better. When it comes to foreign competition – I think there is none at this price level, and possibly in the next couple of levels that would offer such a great sound, and would be equipped with such prestigious and dear elements. Of course these are not the best speakers in the world, which I tried to prove here, but considering their price they might be an ultimate choice for many audiophiles.


Medius are products of company Sound&Line based in Cracow. It is a three-way, bass-reflex design. Tweeter is top of the Supreme line by Morel, model ST 1308 with soft, silk dome – it's front's diameter is around 110 mm. Midrange is served by Eton's 5-880/25 HEX, diameter of 115 mm, with very solid, rigid basket, and cone made of company's proprietary material called Hexacone. Its a three-layer sandwich with outer layers made of Kevlar and inner one made of Nomex that is responsible for the stiffness of the cone. The bass driver - 8-472/32 HEX, with diameter of 180 mm, has very similar design with special element in the middle which is probably responsible for cooling of the coin. Cabinets are made of folded MDF and HDF panels – the side panels are bit round. Front and back panels with some extra thickness are flat. Front is covered with black lacquer, and the sides are covered with beautiful natural veneer. You can choose from many available colors and patterns of veneer – some of them generate extra costs for a buyer. Loudspeakers are equipped with small but solid spikes.

Crossovers are placed in separate cabinets covered with same veneer as the speakers are. Signal is sent from them via very solid, gold-plated WBT bindings. There is a switch placed between these posts with three available positions. When you place it in the middle position the bass driver is off. When switch is closer to „+” post than speakers work in a „regular” mode. When switched in opposite direction they work in a mode specially designed for working with tube amplifiers. Designers found also an interesting way to connect crossovers with speakers. On one hand the most puristic solution would be to solder cable at both ends but that would be very impractical solution – just imagine moving speakers and crossovers together. So they decided to use another solution – there is single cable going out from crossover's cabinet for treble speaker, and a double one for mid- and lowrange drivers. Both are terminated with excellent and very durable plugs called speakON made by Neutrik. Contact surfaces are silver-plated. I don't know that for sure but it is possible that I might have been a source of the idea of using speakON plugs as I mentioned them to Marcin Michalczyk some time ago). Anyway it is up to every Customer – he might choose connection with or without speakONs.

As I already mentioned crossover is placed in separate box. There are three different models in Medius line and the elements of crossover and cabling for each of them are different. If you would like to get some more details please contact manufacturer directly. In the particular model I tested - Medius Excellence – designers decided to use ribbon coils, and for bass section coils with toroidal core made by Jantzen Audio Professional. Excellent resistors come from Milles. There are lot of different Mundorf capacitors in different parts of crossover. In the vital spots designers used Mundorf Supreme (the ones we recognized as the best during Cracow Sonic Society Meeting). Drivers are specially suspended to suppress unwanted vibrations. Loudspeakers are equipped with Kharma spikes made of a very hard metal with mounting sockets with additional suspension that also helps to suppress vibrations of the whole cabinet. I don't know the exact crossover points. Each driver is placed in a separate chamber, even the tweeter. For internal cabling Kimber 4/8TC and Chord Epic Twin were used.

Technical data (according to manufacturer):

  • Frequency range: 24 Hz – 20 000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: 88 dB
  • Impedance: 8 Ω
  • Recommended amplifier power: > 9 W
  • Dimensions:(H) 1100 mm x (W) 240 mm x (D) 340 mm
  • Weight: 37 kg
  • Finish: natural veneer

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  • CD player: Ancient Audio Lektor Prime (tested HERE)
  • Phono preamp: RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC (tested HERE)
  • Preamp: Leben RS-28CX (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Polaris II, tested HERE)
  • Power amp: Luxman M-800A (tested HERE)
  • Integrated amp: Leben CS300 (reviewed HERE)
  • Loudspeakers: Harpia Acoustics Dobermann (tested HERE)
  • headphones: AKG K701, Ultrasone PROLine 2500, Beyerdynamic DT-990 Pro, 600 Ω version (reviewed HERE, HERE, and HERE)
  • interconnects: CD-preamp: Wireworld Gold Eclipse 52 (tested HERE; soon to be changed to Acrolink Mexcel 7N-DA6300, article HERE), preamp-power amp: Velum NF-G SE (tested HERE)
  • speaker cable: Velum LS-G (tested HERE)
  • power cables: Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC9100 (CD; reviewed HERE) and 2 x Acrolink Mexcel 7N-PC7100 (preamp, power amp (reviewed HERE)
  • power conditioning: Gigawatt PF-2 Filtering Power Strip (reviewed HERE)
  • audio stand Base
  • resonance control: Finite Elemente Ceraball under the CD (article HERE ) Turntables change continuously, as do cartridges. My dream setup: SME 30 with Series V tone-arm and Air Tight PC-1 cartridge (also in the PC-1 Mono version).