Mordaunt-Short Festival 3, 1982, made in England

Edited from a new product announcement in The january 1982 issue of Gramophone magazine:

Mordaunt-Short Ltd., Durford Mill, Petersfield, Hampshire GU3 I 5AZ have launched a range of new versions of their popular loudspeakers. The Carnival 3, Festival 3 and Pageant 3 all employ the company's own DSB208 bass/mid-range driver, with the benefit of a slight increase in internal volume and a change of width-versus-depth ratio to reduce colouration effects. A fabric finish offers some economy over wood veneers with no sacrifice either in performance or appearance. The Festival 3 (£197.80) is a 520 x 255 x 220 mm, two-way reflex with 25mm dome tweeter. seventiesstereo

These sound very promising so far.

Manufacturer: Mordaunt-Short
Model: Festival 3
Year of construction: 1982
Made in England
Color: ...
Dimensions: 520 x 255 x 220 mm (HxWxD)
Weight: 2x? kg

Technical specifications
Design: two-way reflex
Woofer: 1x ?? mm
Tweeter: 1x 25 mm

Endurance (nominal / Musikb.): ??? W
Frequency response: ??? Hz
Transition regions:
Impedance: 8 Ohm


Esthetics: audiokarma
A unique esthetic design, particularly when it first came out. The wrap around cloth is somehow extremely attractive to me. It has this sort of "vintage chic" about it. The wood top really ties it together and makes the brown fabric look fitting somehow. Maybe I'm young enough, and these are dated enough, that I'm finding them as a "new" design and that's why I like em'.

Build quality:
Cabinets and trim are all well done, as you'd expect. Beneath the "sock" the modest black particle board is almost mocking; like, "Yep. I can sound this good made of this material... whatcha got?!?!" The wire terminals appear to only fit banana plugs, could be an issue for some people I suppose. And at last I must say, these drivers are gorgeous, and in fantastic shape. The rubber surround is still supple and the dome tweeter looks really fresh. Even the sock's cloth is of really nice quality, it looks like it would tear easily but it roughly has the tensile strength of a dish towel lol Yes, I waaaaay overanalyzed the sock.

Frequency Response:
Starting at the top, they extend wonderfully high. Best extension I've ever gotten out of a 25+ year old speaker. Response continues quite flat downwards until the mid-midrange where it dips a bit. Very midcentric sounds like vocals of almost every kind are fairly subdued in presentation (not to be confused with dynamics tho!). From there downwards the bass is also fairly weak. Lower midrange and bass frequencies sound like they might benefit from an additional woofer, and adjusted crossover frequencies, to breath life into the midrange. All in all though, I'm being very critical. The bass-light response is not a large detriment.

Sound Signature:
It's difficult for any bass-light speaker or headphone to every sound anything but "clinical". The Festival 3's are no different, but I will give them credit for still possessing a great balance between very sterile and very harmonic. It's easy to mistake the recessed midrange for flatness, but it's more complex than that. For some reason, that aspect, in conjunction with very crystalline, shimmering (never sibilant!) highs, makes for the most expansive sound stage I've ever heard. Very forward sound signatures generally make recordings sound intimate; I guess the opposite is true --> The Festival's reserved signature produces a spacious stage. Now, I hesitated to use the term "reserved" because that would indicate that they have some level of lifelessness; but they do not. Intimacy vs distance is a better parallel.

Imaging and Dynamics:
As I inferred earlier, although the midrange and bass frequencies roll off a tad, that doesnt mean these speakers lack any form of impact or liveliness. They actually are quite upbeat. Albeit, not extremely loud, the sub-bass frequencies sound just fantastic. <50Hz drops are lovely to hear; they have a sublime depth to them rather than a "thud" and shortened decay you often hear in older woofers. But the best part is that tweeter... They have this ethereal effortlessness about them. Never getting ringy at all, they really add a lot of excitement to the dynamics. Songs like "Bron-y-Aur Stomp" by Led Zep are soooo alive! Not quite as accurate as my studio monitors, but a joy to listen to for sure!

In terms of imaging, I urge you to take note of how expansive the staging is. Now that you can picture that, you can see how such great tweeters now make it easy to pinpoint sources of sound. I get a very clearly defined image of the recording, perhaps because of the broad sound stage... I dunno, but after hearing these I've concluded they definitely are related.

Equipment (Context)
I've only listened to them so far on my 78' Marantz PM300 integrated amplifier with vinyl (Hitachi PS-10) and digital (Samsung Galaxy S1 (great Wolfson DAC)) via 3.5mm to RCA cable. Soon I will let them visit my computer setup where they can be placed on a more powerful amp with a very aggressive midrange, a lovely ASL tube preamp, and a good desktop DAC. I'm anticipating for the midrange to really pop... I'll come back with an edit when I have time to set it up.

Well, let me put them on a scale of 1-10 for you. I rate them at 6 or 7. But I LOVE them. That's because I'm being realistic here. Assume 1 is a terrible public address fullrange speaker in church basement that essentially produces more distortion than reproduction of signal... Also assume 10 means mortgage-worthy exotics like focal utopia's or something of that sort. A 5 would be an average consumer set of home theater towers, maybe A Klipsh F-30? I'm estimating here.

The Festivals would see a boost if you factor in the "nostalgia" and "under $100" factors... I mean, at this kind of price, I'm dealing with an equivalent modern speaker costing $400+

I really like these speakers

Hope you enjoyed the read!

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