Product Review (October 2001)
Includes the SS-150THX Surrounds
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 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.
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.
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.
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
|Review - At a glance|
& Kreisel S-125 Speaker System
MX-125 MkII Subwoofer
Company Information Source: Manufacturer Loan
Source: Manufacturer Loan
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