Esoteric MG-10 Speakers


Feb 27, 2011
Once I made the choice to move away from the Vandersteen 5As and on to something else I posted them for sale. Fortunately I found a local buyer for them which resulted in a quick and painless sale. Unfortunately, that left me sans speakers for some time as my Rockport Aquilas had just started production.

Sensing impending withdrawals my dealer offered up his newly-acquired set of Esoteric MG-10 demos as loaners. I jumped at the chance to have anything and he followed up with an email stating, "they're very, VERY good!"

He was right.

These have been out for a few years so I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about driver compliment or construction. Detailed information, along with some links to reviews, can be found on Esoteric's product page:

To hit the high points:

2-Way stand-mounted monitor
6.5" Magnesium cone woofer
1" Magnesium dome tweeter
Front-firing port


$2800.00 for the speakers and another $1800.00 for the matching stands.

Both the MG-10s and the larger MG-20s are designed and manufactured by Tannoy for Esoteric. Both look and feel like a "typical" British speaker.

One thing that I really like about the design is that they look good and with a front-firing port should be able to be placed close to a wall. This may be important for an audiophile looking for something that is living room appropriate. This is also a situation where I think that the Esoteric stands are worth the money as a few extra dollars spent on aesthetics may allow for the speakers to be placed a few extra inches closer to their ideal position.


My dealer decided to purchase these without the matching stands (something with which I strongly disagree) and instead provided a pair of 30" tall Plateau stands in black. These work, but they're pretty cheap construction. I don't doubt that the Esoteric stands are much nicer and provide a better home for the MG-10s, but I can understand an objection to stands that cost 2/3 the retail price of the speakers.

The MG-10s are setup for bi-wiring, but do include some jumper leads. As my Transparent speaker cables would pull the MG-10s off of the stands I opted for some Kimber Kwik-12 as the connecting wire. This is an in-wall 4 conductor wire with each conductor being 14 AWG. I had a couple of (mis-matched) lengths of this wire floating around and simply cut the old terminals off, stripped the ends, and attached to the binding posts (audiophile heresy, I know). I wasn't expecting much and simply wanted some music.

I placed the speakers on their stands in approximately the same spots that the Vandersteens had occupied (approximately 60" from the front wall and 20" from the side walls). I set the toe to point at the listening position. Although I've moved them around a little I found that this position worked well and all that I really needed to adjust was toe-in.

Esoteric recommends aggressive toe-in with the speakers pointed at a spot approximately 3ft in front of the listening position. I tried this and, frankly, just didn't like how they sounded in that configuration. With them aimed at the listening position I found that they "beamed" a little and didn't disappear as much as I would have liked. I finally settled on toe in that had them pointing at a spot about 18 inches behind the listening position. In my room this sounded best, but the exercise showed me that they are quite sensitive to toe-in.

Associated Components

Esoteric RZ-1 Integrated (more on this in another post)
Wadia S7i CD Player / DAC
VTL TP-6.5 Phono pre (hooked up, but not used yet in this config)
Basis 2800 Vacuum / Vector 4 / Transfiguration Orpheus (not actually used in this config yet)


The MG-10s are an astoundingly good speaker. If you haven't heard them then you should make some time to audition. Even if you aren't in the market they're worth hearing just to show what can be done in a $2800 monitor.


To be honest I wasn't expecting much out of these as most of the reviews seemed to be filled with the typical audiophile hyperbole and that's always set off a red flag for me. I do trust the ears of my dealer, but also know that we have slightly different listening preferences and I didn't know the context in which he made his assessment.

In other words, my thoughts were along the lines of, "I'm sure they sound fine, but how can anything this small and light knock my socks off?"

First off we need to address the shortcoming that is associated with any speaker of this size and that is bass response. Per Esoteric's specs these are good down to about 41Hz which does cover most of the spectrum of musical instruments, but the bass power associated with these frequencies just isn't there. I'm a firm believer in the fact that good response down to the lowest registers is needed to create the full sense of weight associated with the large instruments that make deep bass notes. With the MG-10s you can hear all of the notes, but there's no weight behind them.

As long as one is willing to live with this fact or supplement with a good sub then this is simply a design trade-off. The bass information that is reproduced does sound "right" with lots of detail and texture and without any strange side-effects from the port.

Ignoring the low bass response I found these speakers to be neutral in presentation. No part of the musical spectrum seemed to be favored over any other nor was there any sign that the designers had tweaked the frequency response to make the speakers give the illusion of better performance.

I've been running these for a few weeks and over that time have found that the MG-10s have the ability to retrieve a fair amount of detail and serve it up in a realistic manner. Hard to reproduce instruments have a natural tonal quality that I've rarely heard at a speaker in this price point. Other details trapped in recordings come through as well and I was very satisfied with the reproduction of hall space as well as the background noise associated with a group of musicians being recorded (breathing, feet tapping, music stands being knocked over, etc).

Imaging and sound stage are what one would expect from a high quality monitor. Driver integration is excellent so there isn't a point in the spectrum where the speakers jump out at you. In my room the sound stage shows excellent width (well beyond the speakers themselves) as well as excellent depth. To me it seems that the sound starts on a plane that is roughly even with the speaker baffles and then extends waaay beyond the front wall of the room. Imaging is precise and on the right recordings there's a very satisfying layering of instruments throughout the entire sound stage.

For the frequencies where the MG-10s have no deficiencies (above 60Hz) the dynamics are very good and I attribute this to the characteristics of the Mg drivers. They are very light and very stiff which makes for a speaker that can reproduce transients with ease.

The final sonic point has to do with listener fatigue as this is a major issue for me. As I've stated elsewhere listening is what I do to relax so a component that favors the audiophile tricks at the expense long-term comfort isn't right for me. After a couple of casual listening sessions with the MG-10s (in which I was very impressed), I finally found some time to do some real listening. After a few hours of spinning various genres I was pleased to note that the system wasn't getting on my nerves. I didn't have any urges to tweak the system or do anything other than load up another disc and play for a little while longer. In my book this is a sign of a good component.


I haven't had time to try the MG-10s with different amplification as my preamp is back at VTL for an upgrade and I was so impressed with the RZ-1 that I didn't see a need to re-cable everything in order to run the Wadia straight into the MB-450s. It should be noted that all of my comments are from the standpoint of using the MG-10 speakers and RZ-1 integrated as a system... and, oh boy, what a system it is!!

I found the MG-10s to be true audiophile-grade components that make wonderful music which has led to some very enjoyable listening sessions. As I said before these really are worth a listen even if you aren't looking for a speaker like this. I've considered it a real privilege to have them on loan for as long as I have.

After having the Esoteric pieces in place for a few days I knew that I had something really special and wanted to figure out how to keep them. This certainly isn't the all-out assault that my main system is, but the MG-10s and RZ-1 are just so damned fun to listen to and live with. I hate to admit it, but for a time I very SERIOUSLY considered selling off the entire main system, buying the MG-20 / RZ-1 system, and pocketing a large amount of cash. I ultimately got over that, but not for any deficiency that I found in these components.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how to re-arrange my office so as to bring the Esoteric components to work with me for the best of both worlds :D

I'll have them for at least another week so if anyone has some specific questions about their performance I'll be happy to provide some first-hand info.

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