|Miller & Kreisel 5.1 THX Powered System (S-150P/MX-350)|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Tuesday, 01 August 2000|
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Miller & Kreisel (M&K) frequently used in professional audio and DVD/film scoring studios has long been known as a pioneer in the field of separate satellites and subwoofers. This type of configuration allows the satellites to be smaller and to be positioned where they will produce the best imaging without worrying about bass response. Those of us with large tower speakers have spent many hours moving them around a few inches at a time, trying to find that perfect compromise position that allows the speakers to both image well and have a smooth, extended bass response. The separate satellite and subwoofer combination as used in the M&K systems allows the satellites to be positioned for optimal imaging and the subwoofer(s) placed for optimal bass response. Of course, if it were this easy to get incredible sound, everyone would be doing it. The satellite and subwoofer configuration presents its own problems, mainly the integration between the subwoofer and the rest of the system.
The system as reviewed consisted of five S-150P THX satellites ($1,899 each) and one MX-350 THX subwoofer ($1,899). All of the speakers feature their own built-in amplifiers. That’s right, there is no need to spend any more of your home theater budget on amplifiers, it’s all included in the speakers. The S-150P THX is THX Ultra certified. THX has two levels of certification, Ultra and Select. The THX Ultra certification is normally reserved for systems that are capable of playing louder and filling a bigger room. The S-150P’s THX Ultra certification ensures that this system will be capable of playing clearly at loud volumes in all but the very largest of rooms.
Each S150P satellite has two built-in identical amplifiers, one for the tweeters, the other for the midrange. Total amplifier power is over 180 watts. The separate amplifiers eliminate the need for a passive crossover, increasing efficiency and detail as well as dynamic range. M&K utilizes a new proprietary active phase-focused crossover. This technology does more than focus on the on-axis frequency response: it also considers and optimizes off-axis frequency response, as well as the on- and off-axis phase response. The phase characteristics of the individual drivers must be carefully matched to achieve a cohesive and seamless response. The driver complement consists of two 5.25-inch midrange drivers and three one-inch tweeters. The back panel of the satellite is dominated by a large heatsink, which never heated up during the review session to the point of being uncomfortable to touch. The back panel also features both RCA and XLR inputs, as well as pass-throughs. Other back panel features include switchable level and crossover controls.
The MX-350 THX features two 12-inch-long throw drivers, powered by a 350-watt amplifier. Upon opening the MX-350, I found that it looked very similar to the MX-200 (not the current version) that I had purchased many years ago and have been using ever since. My main complaint with the MX-200 was its lack of detail. I was curious as to how the MX-350 would compare. Like the MX-200, the MX-350 utilizes M&K’s favored push-pull configuration. This configuration has one driver facing the front of the cabinet, with the second driver’s backside firing downwards. This unique configuration acts to cancel out distortion as well as increase output by 6dB. The MX-350’s back panel features dual RCA inputs and switchable crossover and level controls, which allow the continuously variable controls to be switched in or out of the system. The panel also has two position phase and EQ switches. M&K designed this unit to be utilized in higher-end systems and therefore there is no provision for speaker level inputs.
I have recently re-configured my system, placing all of the source components in a closet in the next room over from my theater room. I had previously run a great many cables through the walls, but I was not able to get my wiring guy out in time to run enough in-wall interconnects for the whole system. I ended up carrying my system into the theater room – well, at least some of it. I used my B&K Reference 20 controller, Toshiba SD-2108 DVD player, Denon DCM-460 CD changer and a Pioneer CLD-704 Laserdisc player. I placed the satellites on Vantage Point Contours speaker stands and hooked everything up with Monster Cable M550i interconnectors. I found the vertical axis dispersion to be very important. I was therefore very thankful for the Contours stands, which had enough height options to allow me to get the satellites properly positioned. The black satellites on the silver and glass stands were also visually stunning, winning praise from my female friends.