M&K Sound S150/S150t THX Ultra Speaker System Review Page 2

Along with three S150s for the left, center, and right positions, M&K Sound sent four of its S150T Tripole surround speakers to create a seven-channel system. The S150T is just as beautiful as the S150, but with no mounting hole for a speaker bracket, it needs to be flush- mounted to the wall. According to M&K Sound, the S150T is voiced for a wall-mount installation, however. The S150T's Tripole design makes it a unique surround speaker. It uses one of the same 5.25-inch mid-bass drivers found in the S150 coupled with a single 1.1-inch soft dome tweeter for the front baffle, plus two 3.5-inch drivers located on either side of the cabinet that are wired out-of-phase. The 10.4 x 10.6 x 5.9-inch (WxHxD) cabinet has a trapezoidal shape, with the rear wider than the front. The S150T's design gives the listener the best of both worlds—a direct radiator for directional sound combined with a dipole for diffused sound. While Dolby doesn't necessarily recommend dipole surrounds for Atmos setups, I've used the S150 Tripole speakers in my own Atmos setup for a number of years and actually prefer them to monopole surround speakers. But don't take my word for it—audition them for yourself!


One of the things that originally drew me to M&K speakers was their imaging across the front soundstage. By using three of the exact same speakers, there's no audible disconnect when a sound is panned across the front of the room—it's like timbre matching on steroids. This same concept applies to the surround speakers; since they use the same exact drivers found in the S150, panned sounds move seamlessly around the room.

Among the first things I noticed was that the new S150's midrange had a bit more heft. There was an improvement in dialog intelligibility, especially with male voices—something I heard both when watching movies and when sitting through nightly newscasts or sitcoms. Sifting through my earlier testing notes for the S300, I had made the same observation with that speaker. At the time, I chalked the change up to the S300's larger cabinet size, but in hindsight it may have had more to do with the new and improved drivers than the actual cabinets. For confirmation, I popped my legacy S150 center speaker back in and right away noticed a difference. While the older speaker didn't sound bad by any stretch, the new S150 sounded better.

I noticed differences when listening to music as well. Playing the title track from Billy Joel's An Innocent Man SACD, the sound- stage was to die-for, with seamless imaging across the front of the room along with robust depth. Moving on to multichannel recordings such as Luther Vandross' “Dance with my Father” on DVD-Audio, the sulky voice of the late singer floated in the room and each keyboard chord hit with precision.


As much as I enjoyed music on these speakers, movies really made them come to life. With the recent release of Avengers: Infinity War, I've found myself revisiting many of the previous Marvel films for a refresher on the backstories of various characters. When I popped in Iron Man 2, a film that pits billionaire superhero Tony Stark against a ruthless Russian physicist, The DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack wasted no time in supplying demo-worthy material, with Iron Man leaping from the back of a military transport as AC/DC's “Shoot to Thrill” exploded across the soundstage. When a payload door slowly dropped, explosions filled the room as Iron Man vaulted through a pyrotechnic display. With my Anthem AVM60 preamp/processor set for an 80-Hz crossover, the seamless handoff between the main speakers and subwoofers created a full-bodied presentation at multiple listening positions. For example, when Iron Man engaged a crowd, his booming speech, and the reverberation of the crowd's raucous applause through the room, provided a convincing illusion of being a participant in an actual event.

It's rare that a movie franchise improves with subsequent films, but that's certainly the case with Mission: Impossible. The fourth film in the series, Ghost Protocol, was written and directed by Brad Bird, who notches up the action and intrigue to a higher level than the previous three M:I entries. As Ethan Hunt and his team chase a bad guy through a horrific sandstorm, The S150T surrounds did an excellent job rendering the disc's Dolby True HD 7.1 soundtrack. During a high-speed chase, wind engulfed the entire room, yet I was still able to pinpoint discrete effects in the 360-degree soundfield that the M&K Sound speakers created.

In the end, it didn't matter what type of material I threw at the S150/ S150T system, it handled it with ease, conveying the midrange and highs with clarity and unmatched accuracy. The speakers also played at reference level without revealing any sense of strain or fatigue.

Some listeners prefer their sound to be colored in one way or another. I don't—give me what the sound engineer crafted, nothing more, and nothing less. The cynic in me initially worried that this updated S150-based system wouldn't provide the same experience I'd grown accustomed to over the past 15 years, but that all ended up being wasted energy. M&K Sound's updated speakers not just uphold the fine tradition of the S150 line, they improve upon it. Highly recommended.

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DolopT's picture

But too expensive and out of reach for most people. Maybe M&K Sound should focus on making affordable products for audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts who can't afford speaker systems in the thousands of dollars.

dommyluc's picture

Why, surely you jest!. I am so glad these speakers have been released, since they are the perfect match for my Sony DMP-Z1 "aspirational" $8000 digital music player. I finally have a music system to put in my guest bathroom. Now please excuse me while I go out to the kitchen and apply gold leaf to the corn flakes I am going to have for breakfast.
But to be serious: I know that a lot of "bargain" speakers out there are absolute junk, but there are some good brands that put out great products at an great price. Maybe they aren't M7K or Def Tech or Golden Ear, but they are high-performing and affordable to the average person. I just wish S&V would sometimes have some reviews of bargain speaker systems just to see how they compare with some of the bigger names. Not all speakers under $500 are put together with cardboard and used bubble gum.

Al Griffin's picture
DolopT's picture

And Jamo has the right idea. And I'm sure there are other speaker manufactures who are picking up on the more affordable speaker system trend.

DolopT's picture

To me a more doable audio/home theater speaker system price is a maximum cost limit of $2000. So it doesn't have to be $500 or under to be considered a bargain. Just make a fantastic speaker system that's more attainable for the average moderate income person.

dacaudio's picture

There are in fact less expensive options available from M&K that are built with same performance philosophy. There are systems that can be had for half the price of the 150 system and even less.