Chances are you've never heard of or seen a pair of Parker Audio 95MK II loudspeakers. Because of that fact, you're probably thinking they're some sort of uber-esoteric, high-end, ultra-expensive loudspeakers from some designer's garage in Munich. Well, you'd be partially right. Park Audio loudspeakers, specifically the 95MK IIs reviewed here, are uber-esoteric and high-end but not expensive. However, they do come from a bloke's workshop, only it's not in Munich ... it's in Kentucky.
The 95MK IIs retail direct from Park Audio's own website parkeraudio.net for a startling $599 a pair in their black finish and $799 a pair for veneer. You can even buy the 95MK IIs as a kit and make a pair yourself for $219. What you get for your money is very simple and straightforward: you get a two-way bass reflex floor-standing speaker with a three-quarter-inch tweeter sandwiched between two five-and-a-quarter-inch drivers. The 95MK II is about as basic as it gets. The fit and finish is not what I'd call furniture-grade, nor can it compete with the likes of Paradigm or Definitive, but that's not really the 95MK II's market and/or appeal.
The 95MK II is designed for a very specific customer, one who fancies himself or herself an audiophile but is very much anti-establishment, the type of consumer who isn't swayed by technical papers and PR mumbo jumbo - in fact, such things would most assuredly enrage a Parker Audio customer. The 95MK II is for a true music lover: as long as the music sounds good, to hell with what it looks like. Which is probably why the Parker Audio 95MK II is designed somewhat specifically for one of my all-time favorite yet very esoteric amplifiers, the Zen SET amp from Decware.
Getting back to the 95MK II's design and performance, it has no crossovers of any kind. In fact, the only real parts the 95MK II uses are Hovland Musicaps in the tweeter section. This means the 95MK II is very revealing, agile and easy to drive. It can be powered to loud volumes by as little as two Watts thanks to its 95dB sensitivity rating. The 95MK II has a reported frequency response of 55-23kHz, which is far from full-range, though the 95MK II's bass output is rather surprising. Overall, the 95MK II is about as sexy on paper and in person as Susan Boyle. However, like Susan Boyle, when it comes to music, it has talent in spades.
The 95MK II is extremely natural-sounding, with zero bloat or the fake syrupy warmth that so many speakers exhibit these days. It has electrostatic-like transparency, speed and detail, yet it can be powered by almost any amplifier and doesn't require quite the attention to set up that electrostatics do. The 95MK II images like a pair of high-end monitor speakers, aurally disappearing, leaving behind a seamless, well-composed and wholly natural soundstage that is about as good as they come and highly addictive. It's not what I'd call a bass-heavy speaker and will come up short in that department without the aid of a quality subwoofer, but what bass it does have is exceptional and extremely musical. Dynamically, the 95MK IIs are almost without rivals, for they can start and stop on a dime, as well as energize all but the largest of rooms on little to no power.
Read about the high points and the low points of the 95MK II on Page 2.
• The 95MK IIs aren't going to win any design awards. However, their
sound is so rich and so utterly pure that you'll quickly learn to
overlook their physical shortcomings.
• The 95MK II's midrange is exceptional, especially when it comes to small ensemble music or female vocals.
• The high-frequency performance of the 95MK II is extremely refined,
which is surprising, considering its tweeter is about as
technologically advanced as a Dodge Aries.
• The 95MK II is exceedingly affordable and easy to drive, making it an
ideal speaker for a budding audiophile or true music lover looking to
build a no-compromise system on a shoestring budget. I recommend mating
the 95MK II to Decware's ZEN amplifier (as does Parker Audio) using
either Decware's own CD player or an Oppo for a total system price of
around $2,000. While two grand is not cheap by today's standards, I
assure you the sound quality and performance you'll be able to achieve
with such a system should and would cost three to five times as much if
you went with any other manufacturer.
• The 95MK IIs, like all Parker Audio products (minus kits and tubes),
come with a 30-day money back guarantee. If it turns out you don't
fancy the 95MK IIs, simply send them back and your money, minus
shipping, will be refunded to you.
• Visually, the 95MK IIs aren't going to be for everyone, even those
who claim appearances aren't everything. Even in their veneer finish,
the 95MK IIs aren't what I'd call lookers.
• At extreme volumes or with poorly recorded music, the 95MK IIs can be
a bit harsh, due to their revealing nature and blistering speed. This
is not a speaker to purchase if the vast majority of your music library
is dominated by artists with three-letter names, symbols or endorsement
deals for everything from soft drinks to iPod accessories, if you catch
• In terms of bass, the 95MK IIs do have it. However, if you're into
big orchestral works or watch a fair amount of summer blockbusters,
you're going to want a subwoofer or two. When mating a sub to the 95MK
IIs, be sure it's high-quality and fast enough to keep up. I recommend
Park Audio's own Trog subwoofer, which retails for $300, though you'll
need to bring your own amplification to the party.
In terms of musical performance and enjoyment, there is little I can
fault I can find with the Parker Audio 95MK IIs. They're loudspeakers
for a true music lover, one who isn't hung up on flashy brand names or
silk-screened logos on their equipment. Are they perfect? No. But I do
like them ... okay, I love them. They're priced right, available direct
to the consumer and are just so much damn fun that it isn't hard to see
why so many Parker Audio customers simply fall in love with them. Sure,
design-wise, they're a fart in an elevator, and no, they can't play
full-range and they're not from a brand your friends have heard of, but
trust me on this: if you love music and are in the market for a
no-frills, pure, affordable speaker, they don't get much better than
the Parker Audio 95MK II.