M&K S-150P THX Speaker, MX-350 THX Subwoofer Page 2

I began my listening evaluation with the Sheffield Lab reference-material CD entitled My Disc. The first few tracks feature music I've become very familiar with over the last two years. Using this disc, I was able to quickly surmise two things: One, these speakers sound phenomenal; two, I want to own them.

Typically, I'd wait until I heard the cinema performance of a speaker before making such a rash decision, but the impulse buyer in me begged that I purchase this set. Track 6 features an instrumental version of "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," which is a personal favorite of mine. At 0:57 of the track, a guitar comes in with fairly equal force in both the left and right channels. I noted a tremendous amount of stereo separation and liveliness of the instruments, with detail and clarity that I've rarely heard—and never heard in a speaker at this price point. I quickly forgot that this speaker was first designed as a cinema speaker. I must have listened to my entire Eagles catalog before remembering my initial objective. The evaluation continued . . . .

Starship Troopers was the first DVD in the player. With plenty of dialogue, action, and surround effects, I figured it would give the S-150Ps a good workout. During each scene, I paid particular attention to the rear-channel effects. The S-150P incorporates a direct-radiating design, instead of the traditional, THX-required dipole. I was amazed at how the rear-channel speakers were able to sound as though they were pointing in three different directions at any given moment. M&K achieves this through what they call the active, phase-focused crossover concept. By design, the crossover allows an accurate response in both time and frequency domains, creating a very wide horizontal and vertical plane and thus optimizing a three-dimensional soundstage.

M&K claims that this technology allows each listener in the room to hear the sound as it is meant to be heard, whether they're seated in on- or off-axis areas. I tested their claim by moving away from the sweet spot and trying several different seating positions. It seemed as though, regardless of where I was sitting (or standing), I was indeed able to hear a very wide and accurately staged image, although not entirely as sweet as the sweet spot. For the remainder of the listening evaluation, I chose to sit in the sweet spot to remain consistent with our testing procedure.

The M&K ensemble managed to blaze through Tomorrow Never Dies, Armageddon, and the Eagles' Hell Freezes Over DVD. The soundstage was huge and extremely wide. On Hell Freezes Over, I noted exceptionally accurate vocals and music—the way it was intended to be heard. Here again, there was a very transparent soundstage and three-dimensional sound. Closing my eyes, I could literally place each instrument's location in the room. This speaker was nothing less than breathtaking.

The subwoofer anchored the system well and delivered accurate bass on music, with a kick drum that seemed to hit me right in the sternum. During tracks from Armageddon, each speaker in the system attacked their individual recorded audio tracks. Every sound was so precise and exact, yet everything blended together harmoniously—it was almost a religious experience.

M&K is currently developing a powered tripole speaker to be used as an alternative for the rear surrounds. We hope to get our ears on these by midyear. Even so, the S-150P THX speaker is, without a doubt, the best offering that M&K has ever engineered. Its design, sound quality, and exceptional performance are sure to set a new mark for what other manufacturers should create. If your tastes in music and theater will accept nothing but the best and the price is within your budget, buy this complete system. If it's a few bucks more than you were looking to spend, kiss up to your boss, get a second job, take a second mortgage on the house—do whatever it takes to bring these speakers into your home.

• Very easy to set up
• The entire room is the sweet spot
• The ultimate theater and music performance

HT Labs Measures: M&K S-150P and MX-350 THX

This graph shows the quasi-anechoic (employing close-miking of all woofers) frequency response of the S-150P (top trace) and MX-350 THX (upper-left trace).

On-axis response of the S-150P measures +/-2 decibels from 200 Hz to 10 kHz. The -3dB point is at 91 Hz, and the -6dB point is at 66 Hz. Impedance is not an issue here, since this speaker is completely self-powered.

Close-miked response of the MX-350 THX subwoofer, normalized to 40 Hz, shows the -3dB points are at 48 Hz on the bottom and 134 Hz on the top, with the Bass-EQ and crossover switches set to "THX" position. The -6dB point is at 29 Hz. With the Bass-EQ switch set to the "extended" position, the -3dB point drops to 23 Hz at the expense of output capability.—AJ

S-150P THX Speaker, MX-350 THX Subwoofer
$1,799, $1,795
(310) 204-2854