Miller & Kreisel 850 Series Page 2

Moving on to multichannel, I put in my favorite DVD-Audio, Blue Man Group's Audio. Never has PVC piping sounded so cool. A mix of techno, rock, and Blue Man Group's unique instrumentation, this album is worth buying even if you've never seen a Blue Man Group show. Track 5, "Rods and Cones," starts out mellow enough but explodes a minute in, putting sound everywhere. It's a true test for speakers to keep everything together and not sound muddled and mushy. The 850 system never did, and it sounded great in the process. The forwardness that was so apparent with two-channel material wasn't as much of an issue with this selection. Through systems that lack strong midbass and bass, this track doesn't have any impact. Thankfully, the 850 system gives this track the power it deserves. PVC piping has a mostly throaty sound when it's used as an instrument, and the LCR850s' fullness filled out its sound nicely. The V850 sub certainly helped at this point, adding a little more power in the low end. While it did its job well, the sub didn't seem to go that deep. The LCR650 surrounds are a perfect match with the LCR850s. Using the same tweeter and woofer makes for seamless transitions from front to back, and vice versa. Parts of this track sit midway between the front and surround speakers, hovering mid-wall. Through a system that isn't matched, this can sound weird; but, through this system, it was perfect.

I promised editor Maureen Jenson that I would use a different SACD demo disc, but what can I say—it didn't happen. The last track on the Film Music of Jerry Goldsmith SACD is called "The Generals." It's my favorite orchestral demo, as it sounds good when played loud and features a full orchestra mixed for 5.1 channels. Through lesser speaker systems at a good volume, the orchestra can get compressed and muddled. Not so with the 850 system. Even at a high decibel level, I could still distinguish the individual instruments. This is especially impressive with the LCR850 center, which sounds quite good for its size. I've heard other center channels this size fall apart on this track.

On to movies. John Woo's Windtalkers is a flawed movie with some great action scenes. Chapter 9 marks the beginning of the film's best action sequence. You name it, it's here: gunfire, explosions, airplanes, artillery, music, shouting, and flamethrowers. In this scene, the system's forwardness was a plus. The urgency that I didn't like with music made for a more-engrossing experience with movies. The action was just a little more interesting; the suspense kept you a little more on edge. It's great when you can find a set of speakers that adds this much to a movie. I found myself drawn into movies that I've seen dozens of times—now that's impressive.

U-571 had the same outcome. In chapter 8, the good guys take over the bad guys' sub. The gunfire was gripping and exciting through the 850 system. This movie has never really pulled me in, even when I first saw it in the theater. Watching it with the 850 system (which must've been the twentieth time I've seen it), I was actually interested in what was going on, not just listening to it for review purposes. Chapter 15, in which the sub gets depth-charged, again revealed that the subwoofer does not go very deep. It pumps out and keeps up in the frequencies that it's capable of, but it doesn't give off the rumble that large subs do.

So, what does this mean overall? Well, the 850 ensemble wouldn't be my first pick for music. I prefer a more-laid-back, almost mellow speaker for music, and the LCR850 definitely isn't that. On the other hand, movies made this system shine. The 850 raised the excitement level of each movie I watched a notch, and that's not something that I can overstate. After all, adding to the experience is what surround sound is about, right?

For aesthetic purposes, you should definitely consider adding the matching stands ($799/pair). If the attractive light-maple finish doesn't fit your décor, the 850 is also available in medium cherry (again, cherry the wood doesn't really look like cherry the fruit). If movies are your thing, M&K's 850 system is worth an audition.

Highlights

• Excellent performance with movies
• Attractive finish
• Matched all around

LCR850 Speaker $999/pair
LCR850 Center-Channel Speaker $499
LCR650 Speaker $799/pair
V850 Subwoofer $1,199

COMPANY INFO
M&K
850 Series
Dealer Locator Code M&K
(818) 701-7010
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