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Audel Malika Mk2 floorstanding loudspeakers

Audel Malika Mk2 floorstanding loudspeakers
Audel Malika Mk2 floorstanding loudspeakers

You don’t get many loudspeakers that are made of plywood today. It’s more expensive than MDF and more challenging to make a cabinet out of; the BBC school likes it, however, and this is one reason why LS3/5As and their brethren retain the strong following that they do. But those speakers are built using sheet plywood assembled into a cabinet. Audel from Sicily takes a much more hardcore approach and machines the internal volume out of multiple sheets, then glues them together to form an immensely rigid enclosure with a very distinctive birch ply exterior.

I have seen a few examples of this over the years but rarely in a floorstander, such as the Malika Mk2, the largest model in Audel’s Classic range. While not precisely entry-level, the Malika Mk2 still sits below the more exotic Prestige range. Malika means queen in Arabic; there doesn’t appear to be a Malik in the Audel catalogue, not yet anyway. She stands nearly 110cm high on her dedicated base but is relatively slim and not too intrusive in the domestic setting as far as serious loudspeakers go.

The cabinet is not just unusual in its construction but also in its use of materials to create a complex internal shape within the box. You could say that it’s ribbed for extra pleasure because those ribs increase stiffness and break up reflections, helping to stop internal energy from hitting the back of the central drive unit. A cut-away of the cabinet interior on the site shows the IRS or internal rib system and horizontal braces and a stepped slope behind the tweeter, even the reflex port is created in machined ply. There are three apertures on the back of the box, all blocked with contrasting ebony veneered covers. The bottom one houses a single pair of speaker terminals, and the top has the crossover behind it. Still, the middle one’s function is less evident until maker Walter Cazan explains that it’s necessary to access the internal volume to place damping materials and dress the cables. The final piece of ebony veneer is on the front around the drive units, creating an attractive contrast to the blonde birch.

Audel Malika Mk2 floorstanding loudspeakers

The drive units in this two-way reflex design mirror those seen in the Audel Magika bookshelf model; they consist of a 25mm tweeter and 146mm mid/bass driver. The latter is a SEAS unit with an injection moulded metal chassis and a ‘New Curv’ cone made of woven polypropylene; it has a bullet-shaped phase plug designed to reduce compression and increase long term power handling. It seems quite happy at higher levels, but the tweeter also limits this aspect. Here Cazan has chosen one of the increasingly popular ring radiator type high-frequency units where the traditional central dome is augmented by a ring that looks like a surround and produces energy. This one is made by SB Acoustics and called Satori TW29R-B, the 29 indicating the total diameter in millimetres.

When the Malika Mk2 first arrived, there were no spikes in the box, which seemed odd, but I set them up and wondered why they appeared ill-equipped to cope with the tilt tests dealt out by EU regs. Only when the web site was checked did it become apparent that something had gone amiss in the Hi-Fi+ warehouse (see review stock dungeon), the two-part plywood bases that raise the speaker by 45mm and spread out the footprint for stability. These have unusually slim spikes in each corner and can be adjusted from above, which is handy, the c.4mm spikes being small enough to penetrate most carpets through to whatever lies beneath.

I started off driving the Malika Mk2 with an ATC P2, a power amplifier with a stiff 150W under the hood that can drive almost anything, including this speaker, which needed a bit more level than expected but nothing extreme. What first struck home was the quality of bass; the drive unit may not be massive, but the cabinet is unusually solid and devoid of plastic tubes. You can hear that in the low frequencies, which are more powerful and extended than expected. The Malika Mk2 can be placed about 50cm in the room and give a reasonably even balance but put it closer, around 20cm and things get more interesting. The bass doesn’t change as much as possible, but the imaging goes from so so to huge; it’s almost as if there are drivers in the back of the box, and the wall reflects their output. Of course, that is not the case; instead, it’s the nature of the box and the choice of drivers that works well in this position. It’s not a flat image either; there’s plenty of depth, and reverb is well served. On Irreversible Entanglements’ ‘Bread Out of Stone’ [Who Sent You? International Anthem], the double bass and drums seem to be physically present in the room, the male voice less so. Hence, but there’s no missing the power of its poetry. It’s a strong performance, no doubt.

Audel Malika Mk2 floorstanding loudspeakers

Familiar tracks like ‘Fool-ology’ [Conjure, Music for the Texts of Ishmael Reed, American Clavé] are borderline revelatory when the image is spread this wide; it doesn’t mean too-large instruments and voices; instead, there is more space between them, which in turn means it’s easier to hear what’s going on. The degree of projection is not quite substantial, but this is probably because of the near-wall siting, which gives the best overall result I achieved. Tonally the Malika Mk2 is pretty even-handed, so much so that it’s a slightly tricky speaker to review; usually, there are characteristics good or less good that becomes clear after extended listening, but this didn’t prove to be the case here. Instead, they revealed every change made to the source and amplification that I tried with them. I had a McIntosh MA352 hybrid integrated driving them for a while, but the pairing didn’t gel, the sound became too forward and critical of recordings, only the best ones sounded good. So I switched to the Moor Amps Angel 6 and simply heard more, so that’s the way things stayed for the rest of the review.

This amp allowed a more elegant and revealing sound with real muscle in the bass; the tonal balance was best with the speakers toed out, e.g. with their axis passing either side of the listening position. Focusing the listener’s axis was not as relaxed or enjoyable, albeit the image precision was enhanced. Still, I preferred the mellower balance and enjoyed ‘So What’ from the evergreen Kind of Blue [Miles Davis, CBS]. The band is so together. The trumpet playing so nuanced that it sucked me in, especially when John Coltrane’s fabulous tenor comes in; this album was arguably the pinnacle of more than one career. With a Schubert orchestral piece, the Audel’s ability to throw up a large scale image came into its own. Rather, too many speakers tend to overwhelm with the power and dynamics of an orchestra; these present it with a realistic perspective. It’s 10th-row listening, not front row, and this allows the sound of the whole ensemble to merge in a meaningful way. By way of contrast, I tried Major Lazer’s ‘I’ll Make Ya’ [Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, Downtown], where the voice of Santigold whips up the beat to the point where things really start jumping, and the sound did indeed change gear and let the energy through in a clean, emphatic fashion.

I found that the Audels worked best with more relaxed-sounding electronics, a Metronome Le DAC being less well suited than an Auralic Vega G2.1, for instance. Similarly cables, this speaker requires a bit more care than usual in system building if you want the best results. The design and build are particularly appealing, as is the ability to place them close to the wall; not enough modern speakers work this way, given that it’s something many of us have to do. The Malika Mk2 is up against a lot of competition, there is no shortage of compelling loudspeakers at this price point, but it has looks and sound quality that should help it stand out. It sure makes a pleasant change from your average MDF box and shows that there is still plenty of potential in plywood.

Audel Malika Mk2 floorstanding loudspeakers


  • Type: 2-way, two-driver, floorstanding speaker with bass reflex loading
  • Driver complement: One 25mm soft dome tweeter with 29mm surround; one SEAS 5.5inch bass/midrange driver with woven polypropylene cone
  • Crossover frequency: 2.4kHz
  • Frequency response: 37Hz–25kHz
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: 87dB/W/m
  • Dimensions (H×W×D):
    1040 × 200 × 252mm (+base)
  • Weight: 23kg/each
  • Finishes: Birch cabinet, ebony cover, beeswax surfaces

Price: £4,999/pair


Manufacturer: Audel

Tel: +39 (0)91 2748377

URL: audel.it

Distributor: Audio Pinnacle

Tel: +44(0)1420 544140

URL: audiopinnacle.co.uk


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