Like all of Usher’s Dancer models, the Mini Dancer Two is highly detail oriented and revealing, yet by no means cold, sterile or analytical-sounding. On the contrary, the speaker possesses tonal purity in spades, and blessed with a rich, vibrant, evocative sound that pulls you deep inside the music. The speaker is very transparent, but never in a flashy, “hey, look at me” kind of way. Instead, as you listen to the Mini Dancer Two, you may discover that extra layers of subtle inner details and textures in the music simply present themselves in a natural and unfussy way (almost as if the Ushers a saying, “retrieving tons of musical information is no big deal for me, really; can’t all speakers do that?”). On most material there’s a quality of ease about the Mini Dancer Two’s sound that represents, I think, a step forward from what the Be-718 can do.
Though the Mini Dancer Two is not quite as detailed or as effortlessly nuanced as Usher’s flagship Be-10/Be-20 models, it is easily competitive with, and in many cases superior to, the best piston-driver-equipped speakers I’ve heard in its own price class (although there will be stiff competition from Magneplanar’s planar-magnetic Magnepan MG 3.6). In fact, in terms of overall levels of transparency and openness, I found myself intuitively comparing the Mini Dancer Two to speakers about twice its price (or even to more expensive models). These Ushers are simultaneously communicative and informative, meaning they show you what’s going on within the structure of the music, and then help you grasp—on an emotional level—why that structure matters.
Imaging and soundstaging are very good, though as I mentioned above the Mini Dancer Two gives a different and somewhat more distant perspective on the music than the Be-718 does. Be aware, though, that the speaker needs some run-in time (50 – 100 hours) before it fully opens up and develops optimal three-dimensionality. The sound isn’t bad straight out of the box, but it can seem a little constricted and exhibits very faint traces of treble hardness at first. As playing time accumulates, however, the sound becomes smoother and more expansive, while overall bass impact and pitch definition improves. Unlike most of the other Usher models that I’ve reviewed, the Mini Dancer Two seems to image best with the speakers facing straight ahead and not “toed-in” toward the central listening position.
The Mini Dancer Two’s bass reaches significantly lower than the Be-718’s does—down to a claimed 28Hz (the same cutoff frequency Usher specifies for some of the larger, more expensive Dancer models, by the way). In practice this means the Mini Dancer Two can handle bass-rich musical material (for example, music highlighting pipe organs, concert bass drums, 5-string bass guitars, and the like) in a more graceful and satisfying way than the Be-718. A particular strength of the Mini Dancer Two is the smooth, seamless way in which it handles transitions from lower midrange frequencies (think cellos or baritone saxophones, for instance) on down into the bass region—a transition not always handled smoothly in competing speakers.
Does the Mini Dancer Two obviate the need for a subwoofer? The answer depends partly on musical tastes, but I would say that on most material and in most rooms (especially mid-sized rooms or smaller) the Mini Dancer Two offers all the bass output most listeners would ever need or want. Diehard bass aficionados, however, might still want to use a sub to pick up that last half octave of ultra low-frequency content. Let your ears be your guides. The Mini Dancer Twos do not have the sheer bass clout and definition that the larger Dancers do, I suspect because, in the Mini Dancer Twos, the same of pair of mid-bass drivers must not only handle the entire midrange frequency workload, but also the very lowest bass notes. In contrast, the larger Dancers all use one driver to handle midrange frequencies and one or more dedicated woofers to handle low bass content.
In terms of dynamics, the Mini Dancer Two builds upon the strengths of the Be-718, offering a bolder, more expansive and, yes, more explosive sound overall. My impression, formed early on, is that the Mini Dancer Two is a sensitive speaker and one that’s easy to drive, though with one caveat. The Mini Dancer Two presents a relatively low 4 Ohm load, which some amplifiers can handle beautifully, but others cannot. Assuming your amp can handle lower impedance loads, it should have no trouble making the Mini Dancer Two sing and with real gusto.