Minstrel Review, What Hi-Fi?, December 1993

Reproduced from a review in “What Hi-Fi?”, published in December 1993.

Minstrel What Hi-Fi? Review
Royd The Minstrel
Loudspeakers: £259

For Compact, crisp, yet full-blooded, sound
Against Nothing whatsoever
Verdict *****
Another cracking design from Royd; the Minstrels look like they shouldn’t work, but they do – stunningly
Royd 01952 290700

Last time we did a major test on floorstanding speakers, Royd’s Abbots were something of a find, combining a sweet delicacy with intricate music and plenty of heft when rock was on offer. And these latest speakers from the Shropshire company draw on the design of the Abbots, but are a very different concept.

The Minstrels are compact speakers: 62.5cm high, 18cm wide and just 12cm deep, and designed for use on shelves, on their own spiked bases or they can even be wall-mounted. A side-exiting reflex port boosts the speakers’ bass, which can be tuned by having the port either facing a side wall or in towards the centre of the room.

Prices for the Minstrels start at £229 for a black ash vinyl finish and go up to £298 for walnut veneer, with the bases included. The pair reviewed, in a grey textured paint finish, cost £259 with bases.

So the Royds aren’t expensive speakers, and once set up on their bases, which make them lean back so the drive units fire up at your ears, they sound anything but cheap. The speakers are very flexible about positioning, but we found them at their best at least a couple of feet clear of walls, toed in towards the listening position and with the ports facing inwards.

Used like this, the Minstrels grab your attention from the off, throwing up an amazingly solid image. And we mean “throw up”, for there’s never any sense that the music’s coming from low down. Rather, voices and instruments float free above and between the speakers. This makes listening to opera or music theatre, where performers move around the soundstage, a captivating experience. And the soundstage is deep, too, adding to the impression of real performers in a three-dimensional space.

Indeed, so well do these little Minstrels image that it’s easy to spot recordings that are a little iffy in this respect. You get so used to instruments being located precisely and firmly that the odd case of wandering saxophone or piano is painfully obvious.

However, it destroys the illusion somewhat – not since the worst excesses of Emerson Lake and Palmer have we actually known a grand piano to move around during a piece!

But remarkable though the imaging of the Minstrels may be, it’s not their only strength. Striking, too, is their combination of bass weight and agility, giving classical pieces credible scale and ensuring anything driven by electric or acoustic bass really motors. Couple this with an open, revealing and crisp midband and treble and you get a fast, detailed sound.

You have probably guessed by now that we rather like the new baby Royd floorstanders. They look superb in the grey finish, are easy to place, give your amp an easy time thanks to their 87dB sensitivity, and sound quite remarkable.

In a world where there’s no shortage of conventional-looking medium-sized stand-mounted speakers around for this kind of money, the innovative Royds deserve a very close listen. All in all, the Minstrels offer a great sound for not much lute – sorry, couldn’t resist it!

“What Hi-Fi?” December 1993