Product Review (October 2001)
Miller & Kreisel
S-125 Speaker System

Includes the SS-150THX Surrounds
and MX-125 MkII Subwoofer

Over twenty-five years ago I recall visiting a local high-end audio store and hearing an M&K system for the first time. This rare setup consisted of a pair of satellite speakers and a subwoofer. The sound was incredibly clean and the subwoofer blended seamlessly with the main speakers. Today, M&K offers a wide selection of both THX and non-THX speakers with the same basic concept of separate satellite speakers and subwoofer. They also have a large selection of professional products found in studios across the country including Dolby Laboratories, Digital Theater Systems, and the THX division of Lucas Films Ltd.

We recently had the opportunity to review an S-125 speaker system which included a pair of S-125s and an S-125C magnetically shielded center channel. The surrounds consisted of the THX-Ultra certified SS-150THX tripole speakers. The bass was handled by the MX-125 Mk II subwoofer. The front pair of S-125s sat on top of a pair of LDM-125 speaker stands which brought the center of the front two channels right to ear level. All five channels were driven by our Parasound HCA-2205AT five channel THX-Ultra power amplifier as well as the Parasound AVC-2500U THX-Ultra A/V controller. We used a variety of source material including two channel SACD, DVD 96KHz/24-bit Super Audio Disc, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS 5.1 to evaluate this system.

The S-125
The S-125 speakers are tall and thin measuring just over 6" wide with the drivers setup in a line. The front pair of the S-125 speakers are angled slightly inward toward the listener to improve imaging. As with any speaker pair, the angles of the left and right speakers need to be tweaked to optimize the soundstage. The center channel is also angled downward for better on-axis response when placed on top of a rear-screen television. The front baffle of the S-125 is not parallel with the rear of the cabinet, nor is the sides completely parallel. This trapezoidal design helps improve the sonic qualities of the S-125 by preventing sound from bouncing back and forth inside the cabinet.
Parallel surfaces tend maximize the slap echo effect, so M&K chose to minimize this with their cabinet design. Other M&K speakers such as the S-85 (used as mains or surrounds) and SS-150THX surrounds use the same drivers as the S-125 to achieve a matched timbre for seamless panning of sound from front to back.

The S-125 driver arrangement has two 5-1/4" adjacent woofers with a single tweeter next to them. This is different than the more common D'Apollito (woofer-tweeter-woofer) configuration frequently seen in the industry. The center channel (S-125C) exhibited detailed and articulate qualities over a very wide listening angle making it ideal for the many seating positions in a home theater environment. M&K claims the Phase-Focused crossover has much to do with this wide listening window. Many speakers I've listened to have a sweet spot with a lobing effect as the listener is moved off-axis. These speakers had a surprisingly uniform off-axis response.

The back of the S-125 has two sets of inputs for selecting either the Normal or Bright Midrange Timbre crossover characteristics. According to M&K, the Normal mode follows their Q-curve response, which is said to have an extremely musical tonal balance. The alternative Bright Midrange Timbre input is a tonal characteristic more suited for absorptive room environments much like what is found in many movie theaters. Our listening environment worked best with the Normal mode, so we used this for the majority of our listening tests.

SS-150THX
M&K provided us with their THX-Ultra approved surrounds for this review. The SS-150THX surrounds are sonically matched with the S-125 front channels. This matched timbre brings a smooth continuity to sound as it moves throughout the room. The front baffle of the SS-150THX consists of a single 1" dome tweeter and single 5-1/4" woofer which when combined, handles the mid-bass to high frequencies. In addition, the SS-150THX houses a single 3-1/2" driver on each side of the cabinet with one firing forward while the other fires backwards. These smaller drivers increase the diffused surround field.

We tried both the dipole and tripole modes to hear the sonic differences. What we found was depending on the source material one configuration worked better than the other. When the rear material was more ambient in nature, we liked the dipole mode. Sound didn't appear to come directly from the surround speaker, but rather spread around and behind us. In contrast, DVD-Audio 5.1 and DTS 5.1 material sounded the best when we ran the speaker in the Tripole mode. This gave us the best timbre match with the front speakers. Ideally we would like to have five identical channels for most of the DVD-Audio and DTS music we listened to. However, the tripole mode radiates sound from the front as well as the sides for the best of both worlds. We currently have our surrounds setup in the tripole mode and it works very well for almost all material.

MX-125 MKII
M&K's MX-125 subwoofer houses two long-throw 12" woofers in a push-pull configuration. These are the same drivers used in the THX-Ultra certified MX-350 MkII subwoofer. This design has one driver facing into the room while the second driver faces up into the bottom of the cabinet. Both drivers are wired electrically out of phase, but acoustically in phase with one another, doubling the amount of acoustical power into the room. According to M&K, this push-pull speaker configuration virtually eliminates even-harmonic distortion by canceling out driver non-linearities. The rear panel has a control for setting the low-pass filter crossover frequency as well as a bypass switch for systems that use a THX processor. In addition, there is a switch for controlling the phase of the subwoofer (zero or 180 degrees). This can be particularly useful in maximizing the bass output based on the placement of the subwoofer in the room.

The bass we experienced with the MX-125 MkII was clean, articulate and powerful. The dual driver design is largely responsible for the high output capability of this subwoofer. The Active Headroom Maximizer circuit that M&K has employed in this subwoofer design prevents the all too common clipping associated with overdriving. We didn't use the internal low-pass filter because our THX processor took care of this for use. One nice thing about using a THX processor is the satellite speakers and subwoofer are in phase at the 80Hz crossover frequency. As a result, the subwoofer blended in very nicely with the S-125 front channels. The only issue that may raise concern is the possibility of magnetic interference due to the lack of magnetic shielding. This was not a problem for us with our 58" RPTV, but direct view monitors may be more sensitive.

System Performance
Imaging was superb with two-channel source material. Livingston Taylor's Isn't She Lovely on Chesky's 24/96 Test DVD revealed details not previously heard. We found the S-125 characteristics a bit on the bright side, but without any distortion or fatigue even at high levels. We were also impressed with the detail and accuracy we heard from our two-channel SACD sample material. One of my favorite DTS 5.1 cuts is Nineteen from Steely Dan's Gaucho release. The S-125s played this incredibly loud without a trace of harshness.

Movies were equally enjoyable with this speaker system. We used the introduction scene from Saving Private Ryan as a test and due to the aggressive surround material and deep bass, felt like we were right there on the beach. Not a pretty place to be. Whether it was the bullets whizzing by, the impact of explosions, or subtle low-level sounds, the M&K S-125 speaker system had the uncanny ability to provide us with an incredible and realistic experience.

We really enjoyed these speakers over the past couple of months. The performance of the S-125 trio, SS-150THX surrounds and the MX-125 MkII subwoofer proved to be a complete and satisfying sonic experience for both music and home theater. This system was excellent and we consider them to be some of the best sounding in their price range. The great sound coupled with the solid build quality and ten year warranty (5 years on the subwoofer amplifier) offered by M&K, makes this system difficult to beat. If you're looking for a speaker system that performs extremely well in both music and home theater, run to your local dealer and listen for yourself. You won't be disappointed .
- Kevin Nakano

Review System:
Display: Pioneer Elite PRO-610HD 58-inch HD-Ready TV ISF calibrated.
Set-top Box : Panasonic TU-HDS20 HDTV/DSS Satellite Receiver.
Dish: RCA DSA8900E DirecTV Plus Elliptical dish.
Preamp/Processor: Parasound AVC-2500U DTS/DD Preamp/Processor.
Amplification: Parasound HCA-2205AT THX-Ultra Five Channel Amplifier.
DVD/CD/SACD Player : Sony DVP-S9000ES DVD/CD/SACD Player.
Room Treatments : Echo Buster panels and Bass Buster towers.
Audio Analyzer: Sencore SP295 Audio Analyzer.



Review - At a glance
Miller & Kreisel S-125 Speaker System

Features:

S-125, S-125C

  • One 1" soft dome tweeter
  • Two 5 1/4" polypropolene drivers with rubber surrounds
  • Phase-focused crossover
  • S-125C is magnetically sheilded
  • Frequency Response: 77Hz-20KHz ± 2dB
  • Weight: 17 pounds
  • Dimensions: 18.5" H x 6.25" W x 8.25" D
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • MSRP: $1150 (S-125 LR pair), $625 (S-125C Center)

    SS-150THX

  • One 1" soft dome tweeter
  • One 5 1/4" polypropolene drivers with rubber surrounds
  • Side Firing 3 1/2" drivers
  • Phase-focused crossover
  • THX-Ultra certification
  • Frequency Response: 100Hz-20KHz ± 3dB
  • Weight: 11 lbs. each
  • Dimensions: 10.5" H x 8" W x 6.5" D
  • Warranty: 10 years
  • MSRP: $1299 pair

    MX-125 MkII Subwoofer

  • Drivers: (2) 12" long-throw MK125
  • Push pull configuration virtually eliminates even harmonic distortion
  • Built-in 150 watt RMS amplifier
  • Active Headroom Maximizer IV design to prevent clipping
  • Adjustable 50Hz-125Hz low-pass filter with bypass
  • Frequency Response: 20 - 125 Hz ± 3dB
  • Weight: 64 lbs
  • Dimensions: 23" H x 15.25" W x 19 5/8" D
  • Warranty: 10 years, 5 years on the internal amplifier
  • MSRP: $1399

    Company Information
    Miller & Kreisel Sound Corporation
    9351 Deering Avenue
    Chatsworth CA 91311
    818-701-7010 FAX: 818-701-0369
    Website: www.mksound.com

    Source: Manufacturer Loan

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