|M&K 750THX Select Speaker System
Hardware Review by Yanman
At this year's CES, we headed out to Las Vegas with two goals in mind. First, of course, was to walk the trade show floor and explore the press rooms looking for all the latest and greatest in home theater innovation (our report from location can be found at Yanman Live from CES 2000). Our second goal, more sinister and just as important, was to talk to all the vendors and make key decisions as to the equipment that would make up our primary reference theater. There really was only one name on our list for speakers and that was Miller and Kreisel a.k.a. M&K. This brand of speakers is the same ones that are in use at many post-production facilities mixing some of today's toughest soundtracks (you know like-- Phantom Menace!).
After talking to the rep about the size and positioning of our system, he was quick to recommend the new 750 THX Select system that M&K had just announced. With little knowledge of what THX select was at that time, we decided to take his word for it and test and ultimately chose this system as our reference speaker system. Much to our surprise, this system received favorable review by Home Theater magazine in the issue they were handing out at CES (February 2000). THX Select is a new certification by THX that is designed with smaller listening areas in mind (2000 cubic feet or less). We are planning an up coming article about THX standards in the future.
O.K., we made our choice in January and ordered, so why the long wait for the review? There was a little problem in getting our order; this problem can be called the "joy of back orders"! This will be the first of many reviews that you hear us talk about the problems of back order (look for our review reference HDTV set the TW56x81). Therefore, after about eight weeks of waiting, the six boxes containing our speakers started showing up one at a time. First, the front left and right, then center, then sub and speaker stands, and finally the surrounds.
Now we have been writing DVD reviews here for a while, and had some good full range speakers to test with, but they were mismatched and non-THX, therefore the decision to upgrade. We thought that the change would be noticeable, but only slightly-- boy were we wrong! The differences were dramatic; deeper lows, higher highs, and a better sound match all the way around. Wait a second; we are getting way ahead of ourselves here.
The first thing you will notice as you unpack any of the M&K Speakers is the weight, each of the front speakers weighted in at a whopping sixteen pounds and the stands are over 70! We will explain why the stands are so hefty in a second. The total shipping weight of the entire set up is a scale tilting 257 pounds. Let's all take a moment of silence for Yanman.com's UPS guy (he had to carry this stuff up a flight of stairs).
After unpacking all the speakers, the next step was to assemble the speaker stands. When the two boxes with the speaker stands arrived (each box contained two stands, a pair for the front and a pair for the surrounds), we were shocked at the shipping weight, really 70 pounds, each. What are these things made out of-- lead? This question was quickly answered however as soon as the stands are uncrated, along with the stands themselves, is two 25 pound bags of beach sand. The sand, provided as a counter weight, is placed inside the square stand before mounting the speaker, balancing out the twenty-two pound speaker on top. Without this rather innovative design, you would end up with a top-heavy speaker that would be less stable and could cause vibration and noise. Each speaker is mounted to its stand with a steal plate and mounting screws. While you can certainly find less expensive stands, they would undoubtedly not fit as well, and could even lower the quality of the sound. If you plan to place any of the speakers on stands, we highly recommend using the M&K stands designed for them.
With the speakers in place, it was time to hook them all up, adjust the sound for our listening environment, and run some test music and DVDs (a tough job but someone has to do it). First, there are a number of switches and dials on the back of the subwoofer that must be set (bass level, phase, and low pass filter settings), since are using a THX amplifier to power our system, the settings were all as easy as choosing the THX option. Next, using the test tones from Video Essentials and a SPL meter from Radio Shack, we set the delays and distances for our new setup. These steps are essential when setting up any speaker system in a new listening environment, but unfortunately are often overlooked.
Now on to the good stuff, what better test is there for a new set of speakers than the lobby scene from The Matrix, and the M&K 750THX Select System did not disappoint us. The big sound provided was truly astonishing, with amazing punch on the bottom end. It was difficult to overcome the urge to duck as the bullets whizzed pas your head. M&K has a tradition of producing well-defined bass and low frequency extension and the Sub V-1250THX continues to perpetuate this fine institution. Every movie clip sounds good on this system, from the most bass intensive, surround filled, or just you plain old talking head center speaker rich film, there is nothing it can't handle.
What about music, you ask? Well THX speakers have always gotten a bad rap when it comes to music, people say that it makes the music sound too forward or screws up the imaging etc. Not true in this case, in two-channel stereo these speakers sound great, and for music that is provide in 5.1 they sound even better. Bass of course is this systems strong point, and a very slight fall of details at the top end as the only down side. Still, if you are looking for a superb theater speaker system that also does music, this set up is sure to please.
Speakers are the most subjective of any piece of a Home Theater setup, what one person likes another may hate. The best tip of course is to listen to the speakers first, preferably in your environment, and then make your decision. If you are planning on setting up a THX theater in a room of less then 2000 cubic feet, put the M&K 750THX Select Speaker System at the top of your list, everything else will have a hard time competing. "THX, the audience is listening . . ."