Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Ross Jones
- Published on 23 March 2009
Design and Setup
The M Series are compact, sealed-design enclosures. There are two L/C/R versions. The M-7 2 1/2 way speaker reviewed here has a 1 inch soft-dome ferrofluid neodymium tweeter, with two four-inch coated pulp drivers handling the midrange/bass. The smaller M-5 speaker has the same tweeter as the larger M-7, but only one four-inch driver for mid-bass.
Refreshingly, there is no dedicated center-channel speaker. Center-channel speakers are a result of the market driving the product design, rather than best engineering principles. When consumers began putting center-channel speakers on top of their TVâ€™s, it looked nicer to lay the speaker down on its side, rather than have a Black Monolith rising from their displays. However, having three identical L/C/R speakers provides ideal timbre matching; simply put, all three speakers sound exactly the same. This becomes especially important considering that most dialogue comes from the center channel, and effect pans across the front of the soundstage move seamlessly from one side to the other without changing the tone or character of the sound.
The M-4T surround speaker is a tripole, sealed-design. The M-4T sports the same front-firing 1 inch tweeter and 4 inch mid/woofer as the M-7, inverted so that the mid/woofer is placed above the tweeter. On each side of the trapezoidal shaped M-4T is a three-inch driver wired as dipoles (out-of-phase). The combination is designed to provide even dispersion of sound across a wide listening area.
All M Series speakers use what MK Sound calls its Phase Focused Crossovers. The M-7 has a rated low frequency response of 80 Hz, the smaller M-5 and M-4T surround speakers are rated to 100 Hz (+/- 2dB). All the M Series speakers are nominally rated at 4 ohms, so youâ€™ll want to make sure your amp/receiver is comfortable driving a 4 ohm load. The MKâ€™s all have removable, metal-mesh grilles that are magnetically attached, and a single set of heavy-duty binding posts.
There are two M Series subwoofers, the M SB-8 and M SB-12. As the model numbers indicate, the M SB-8 uses an eight-inch driver, while the SB-12 reviewed here uses what MK calls its 12â€ MK SuperFast Deep Bass long-throw woofer (the phrase appears in white paint on the dust cap). Ordinarily, Iâ€™d raise an eyebrow by the time I got to the third adjective, but considering MK basically invented the modern subwoofer, I figured it was entitled to a little slack.
The SB-12, which is also a sealed (non-ported) design has a 250 watt RMS amplifier, with rated frequency response down to 20 Hz (+/- 3 dB). This bears repeating: a relatively compact subwoofer (basically a 15â€ cube) that goes down to 20 Hz without benefit of a tuned port.
The subwoofer has a manual low-pass filter adjustable from 40-200 Hz, which can also be bypassed, and adjustable phase control. There are two line-level inputs, as well as matching outputs for daisy-chaining additional subs, and speaker-level inputs. The M SB-12 came in a beautiful Black Satin finish. In fact, fit-and-finish of all the M Series speakers was outstanding, particularly at their modest price level, so that the white unpacking gloves that came with each speaker seemed quite appropriate. But I was anxious to take the gloves off (metaphorically speaking), and see what the new MK was all about.