BOOKSHELF SPEAKER REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Jun 18, 2014 5 comments

S300 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

X12 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $17,700

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Realistic, dynamic sound
Outstanding build quality
Carries on the fine M&K tradition
Minus
Expensive

THE VERDICT
M&K’s system is perfect for the movie lover and extremely capable for the discerning audiophile.

It was in February 2000 when I was in a hi-fi store looking at some new electronics and stumbled upon a salesman giving a speaker demonstration to a married couple. I decided to listen in to see if anything piqued my interest. The salesman went through a number of different speakers, and I didn’t hear anything remarkable until his last demo: M&K Sound S150s coupled with an MK350 subwoofer. I don’t recall the exact track he played, but my jaw dropped when I heard the sound emanating from the speakers. It was as if the entire wall came alive, and I couldn’t pinpoint which speakers were active. Much like the wand picking the wizard in Harry Potter, these speakers picked me, and I knew I’d have to own them.

Sadly, it took me three years to convince She Who Must Not Be Crossed to give her blessing, but I’ve been in audio bliss for over 10 years now with a trio of S150s across the front soundstage and four SS150s across the rear of my home theater.

Clint Walker Posted: Mar 28, 2000 Published: Mar 29, 2000 0 comments
M&K reaches new heights in audio engineering.

It's not uncommon for a company to come along and make the claim that they've reinvented the wheel in audio or video. In fact, every year at the Consumer Electronics Show, I chuckle when some yahoo representing one of these companies comes up to me and begins to peddle their wares. Sure, there have been several advancements in audio engineering over the last few decades, but let's face it—no one has truly reinvented the wheel.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Apr 09, 2013 0 comments

The Motion 15 is in my listening room partly because I've wanted to hear it ever since I first saw it about a year ago, and partly because I mistakenly ordered it for our massive "Clash of the Minispeakers" test.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 14, 2006 0 comments
Is pure digital architecture the future of audio?

This month's Meridian Spotlight System consists of four DSP3100 monitors, a DSP3100HC center speaker, an SW1600 sub, and a G91A DVD-Audio/video player, controller, and tuner. If you want to know what happened to the amps, you'll just have to read on.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 31, 2001 Published: Aug 01, 2001 0 comments
M&K's K-5 proves that a small speaker doesn't have to deliver a small performance.

Miller & Kreisel Sound has a habit of being there at the very start of things. The company's timeline stretches all the way back to 1973, when Steely Dan's Walter Becker wandered into Mr. Kreisel's shop and asked him to design a subwoofer and monitoring system for his Pretzel Logic mixing sessions. The rest, as they say, is sub-history. OK, you probably already knew that M&K is synonymous with badass subwoofers, so here's another cool bit of trivia. In 1976, long before the words "home" and "theater" were ever used together in a sentence, M&K introduced their first subwoofer/satellite system. Their pioneering spirit in the pro-sound world is legendary; so, naturally, Dolby Labs depended on an M&K MX-5000 system during their developmental work on Dolby Digital in the early '90s. M&K's list of achievements could easily fill this entire review, so I'll stop myself right now and move on to the subject at hand: their brand-new and most affordable satellite speaker, the K-5 ($149). This little guy, measuring a scant 7.375 by 4.875 by 5.875 inches, can serve with distinction as a front, center, or surround speaker.

Clint Walker Posted: Feb 28, 2000 Published: Feb 29, 2000 0 comments
A tasty trio of tweeters?

I once dated a girl in college who had a unusually large mouth. I was so taken in by the possibilities that I failed to explore the reality—a big mouth equals a loud mouth. Likewise, when it comes to speakers, you can usually get a good idea of the limitations or exacerbations of a speaker by the types and number of drivers it has.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 11, 2009 0 comments
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: Compact satellites with Omnipolar driver array • Eight-inch cube sub with dual 6.5-inch passive radiators • Suitable for small rooms

In a Reflective Mood

It is rare for a carton to put a smile on my face. A lot of cartons trample through my modest living and working space. They are a necessary evil in my work as a reviewer that’s redeemed only by their contents. But the carton that housed the Mirage MX satellite/subwoofer set made me grin when I picked it up in my doorway. It weighed all of 20 pounds, portending a review process without physical rigors. I deposited it in my bedroom along with the other treasures that live there—my books, my LPs, my bags of speaker cable, my collection of styrofoam popcorn and plastic bubble packing, not to mention my bed—and forgot about it until the time came for its debut in the listening room.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
Listening outside the pod.

Mirage's VP of engineering, Ian Paisley, went bipolar way back in 1987. Hold on a sec, let me restate that: Paisley designed the first commercially successful bipolar loudspeaker, the Mirage M-1, in 1987. That speaker garnered raves in all of the audiophile mags and put Mirage on the map. Ah, but do bipolar/wide-dispersion speakers always produce great sound? It all depends. People have criticized some omnidirectional speakers for their overly diffuse, vaguely defined imaging. While I've never owned a set of Mirages, I've been a fan of this sort of speaker since I bought a pair of "direct/reflecting" Bose 501 speakers in '76. Hey, I was still wet behind my not-yet-golden ears, and Bose's dispersion concept caught my fancy. My Bose affair was a quickie, and I eventually settled down for a long-term relationship with a pair of Quad ESL-63 (dipole) electrostatic speakers.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
It's three omnidirectional speakers in one.

Here's a tip for home theater newbies: Don't shop for speakers using just your eyes. That advice holds true for any speaker, regardless of size or price; when it comes to what we euphemistically refer to as "lifestyle" speakers, though, please try to listen before you make a purchase, or you'll deserve what you get. Lifestyle-inflicted design compromises too often exact a toll on performance—skinny towers can sound undernourished, wall-mounted speakers can produce pancake-flat imaging, and pint-size satellites can come up short.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 02, 2011 0 comments
Price: $4,798 as tested At A Glance: Tripole surround speakers • Push-pull dualdriver subwoofer design • Magnetically attached perforated metal grilles

Rikki Don’t Lose This Number

It’s a tragic tale with a happy ending—or maybe happy sequel is more accurate since the saga isn’t over yet. Read on because this is the story of a speaker company that helped shape home theater (and even music recording) into what it is today. Along the way, there’s a sad crash and (spoiler alert) a welcome resurrection.

For those of you who are relatively new to the home theater world (and by relatively I mean within the last 20 years), you probably take the idea of a satellite/subwoofer system for granted. What could be more ubiquitous than the sat/sub system with all the bazillions of HTIBs based on that concept in people’s homes? Very few of us would consider a home theater to be serious if it didn’t include a subwoofer (or multiple subwoofers) placed in the ideal spot for best bass performance. It took someone to be the first to popularize the idea that the requirements for reproducing the best bass response (both cabinet size and room location) are different than that needed for getting the best mid- and high-frequency performance. That someone was Ken Kreisel.

Brent Butterworth Posted: Mar 26, 2013 0 comments

More than any other speaker in this group except perhaps the Polk, the BX1 ($379/pr) looks like a high-end product, with its walnut finish; its 1-inch, gold-finish C-CAM (composite ceramic metal) tweeter; and its 5.5-inch C-CAM woofer. Unusually, the woofer is attached to the back panel, not the front, so its vibration won't be as easily transmitted to the front panel.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 30, 2011 3 comments

Performance
Value
Build Quality
Price: $7,480 At A Glance: Two-way monitors with ribbon tweeters • High-quality parts including silver cabling • Three veneer and two lacquer finishes

No home theater system is complete without both a big screen and surround sound. But it’s no secret that the former is more popular than the latter. Surround’s Achilles’ heel is the audio/video receiver, with its peculiarly named features and labyrinthine menus. On the other hand, speakers are fairly straightforward. They usually have no controls aside from a few on the sub. Cable connection is red to red, black to black. Placement is key to performance but as much a matter of simple experimentation as knowledge. You don’t need to be a nuclear physicist to hear bass get louder when you shove a speaker toward a corner.

Dennis Burger Posted: Dec 03, 2013 0 comments

MASS 5.1 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value
MASS W200 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value
PRICE $1,299

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Unique design
Beautiful imaging
Surprising dynamic capability
Minus
Tight binding posts won’t accommodate some connectors
Horizontal Centre speaker best used upright

THE VERDICT
Big, bold, bombastic sound from a relatively small and quite affordable package

I love double irony, that wonderfully weird phenomenon whereby a seeming incongruity loops right back around and becomes all too apt. Take the guy who names his Chihuahua Killer, for example, which seems like fun and giggles at first glance, until the little bugger tries to eat the face right off of your skull for want of a Snausage. Take also Monitor Audio’s compact MASS (spelled just like that, in all capital letters), a 5.1-channel home theater speaker system that continues the company’s trend of delivering complete home theater speaker systems in increasingly small, though typically traditionally shaped, packages. (Search the monitoraudiousa.com domain for the word diminutive, and you’ll see what I mean.) At first glance, you can’t help but think that whoever decided to hang such a MASSive moniker on a delicately tapered, lantern-like satellite speaker this small certainly had some chutzpah. And lifting one of the dainty 3.64-pound satellites does nothing to abate that initial urge to chuckle, no matter how solidly built and sturdy it may be.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
Little speakers with big aspirations.

It must be something of a conundrum for speaker designers: Today's buyers are demanding more and more from smaller and smaller speakers. The designers' incredible shrinking speakers work their mojo with ever-more-innovative cabinet designs, and their high-tech drivers push the performance envelope. At least that's what they tell me. No doubt some of their more-extreme claims are jive techno babble, but that's OK—the sonic truth will inevitably be laid bare when the pedal hits the metal on the Fast and the Furious DVD. The pint-size speakers better deliver the goods. . .or else.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 31, 2008 0 comments
Speakers for the psychedelic revolution.

It was 40 years ago today (well, just about) that Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play. What a year 1967 was! It was also the year of Are You Experienced by Jimi Hendrix, Disraeli Gears by Cream, Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd, Surrealistic Pillow by the Jefferson Airplane, The Doors by the Doors, and that album with the banana on the cover by the Velvet Underground. A scan of Rolling Stone magazine’s “40 Essential Albums of 1967” also turns up Moby Grape, the Hollies, James Brown, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Arlo Guthrie, the Beach Boys, Tim Buckley, the Kinks—please, a sustained round of applause for the Kinks—Van Morrison, Dionne Warwick, Buffalo Springfield, the Moody Blues, Love, the 13th Floor Elevators, and (a previously undiscovered gap in my listening life) the Serpent Power. Thank God I wasn’t into drugs then. Look at what I would have missed.

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