Neat Exstra and Ministra Iso-Baric Speakers – Now in Store
Drawing from the achievements of a unit higher up in a range, the Neat Exstra has been designed to sit between the Motive and Ultimatum designs. While the bass / midrange driver is borrowed from the Motive and Iota Alpha, the structure of the speaker has been pulled down from the Ultimatum XL6. Albeit in a chassis more suited to smaller rooms.
The speakers are described by Neat as ‘2.5-way iso-baric bass reflex, incorporating integral iso-baric subwoofer’.
Structurally this is easiest to explain from top to bottom, the top part of the speaker is sealed off from the bottom and has two sealed chambers one with a ribbon tweeter the other midrange / bass drive unit. These are attached to a sub-baffle with a decoupling membrane. The lower section houses two bass drive units, one on the bottom of the cabinet and a second housed directly above the first in a sealed iso-baric arrangement. This only deals with low frequencies so acts as an integrated subwoofer.
So effectively the Exstra provides a 2-way infinite baffle speaker in the top section of the speaker with a bass reflex subwoofer housed in the lower.
Although rear ported this has been specifically designed to enable close to wall placement in most rooms. This will come as something of a relief to many as not everyone has the space or inclination to place their speakers a couple of feet away from a wall.
Perhaps fortunately for such a complex approach to speaker design this is not new territory for Neat. The results are a speaker adept at portraying a broad range of musical genres with a bass response which belies their form factor.
Following on from the success of the Exstra, at the Bristol HiFi Show in February this year Neat launched the Ministra speaker.
Fundamentally this is a standmount version of the Exstra speaker. The same black baffle from the Exstra is in evidence with the same finish options for the rest of the speaker. The tweeter and bass / midrange drive unit are the same however in this smaller variant there is no iso-baric arrangement of drive units at the bass of the speaker.
Instead Neat have incorporated a secondary drive unit behind the front facing bass / midrange driver. The front facing unit and ribbon tweeter are in a sealed chamber, attached to a sub-baffle. However with the second rear driver housed inside the cabinet the design becomes a 2-way iso-baric/ regulated reflex one. See image below.
In terms of performance the Ministra is unsurprisingly reminiscent of it’s larger sibling with the constraints that you would expect from the smaller cabinet design (bear in mind that price-wise the Ministra is a comfortable £1000 less than the Exstra). Although impressive for its size you cannot expect quite the same reach in terms of bass as with the Exstra. Similarly the soundstaging though broad is not quite as expansive. Again it is designed with unfussy placement in mind, so if you are looking for a standmount speaker to cover a smaller room then Ministra is a sound option.