|Anthony Gallo Acoustics MPS-150 Subwoofer|
|Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers|
|Written by Brian Kahn|
|Tuesday, 01 April 2003|
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Music and Movies
When I settled in for an evaluation, I wondered if these speakers could sound as good as they looked. I began with Norah Jones’ debut album Come Away With Me (Blue Note). The Dues’ ability to completely disappear in the soundstage was immediately clear in the first track “Don’t Know Why.” The upper midrange was slightly laid-back, open and relaxed. The vocals were reproduced very clearly. The piano sounded accurate but every so slightly thin, it had presence but not to the same extent as my much larger B&W CM4s. Jones’ voice beamed pleasantly on each track, with the speakers completely disappeared, leaving her voice fixed in space. This is very in-speaker-like and an excellent quality for a speaker of this price range. I experimented with various degrees of toe-in while playing the Jones record and found the best position for me was pointing the Dues straight ahead or just a couple degrees inward, which provided a large sweet spot and good tonal balance.
While playing Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love (550 Music/Epic), the Dues were able to successfully reproduce the extremely wide soundstages, extending well beyond the physical boundaries of the speakers themselves. This is not always the case with speakers that are diminutive in size. The Dues were put on duet duty with Dion’s teaming with Luciano Pavarotti, “I Hate You I Love You.” The Dues again performed well with female vocals and did equally well with Pavarotti’s. Both voices were firmly fixed in space, were solid in body and seemed to be in the room with me. This illusion was no doubt helped by the Gallo’s lack of baffle reflections and solid cabinet, allowing the speakers to disappear, leaving the soundstage with no detectable point of origin. The lower baselines in the song, those replicated by the MPS-150 and not the Dues, were not as detailed or dynamic as I have heard in some larger systems such as my B&Ws or recently-reviewed and comparably-priced Energy Connoisseurs.
I next listened to what I would like to claim as my personal theme song (though I can find few who will agree with me on this), “Staying Power” from Barry White’s album of the same name (Private Label). I was concerned that the Dues’ low-end boundaries might take away from White’s voice, but that wasn’t so. The Dues had significant extension weight to easily reproduce White’s booming bassy voice. Like the Dion album, Staying Power also had a great deal of low-frequency energy that pushed the subwoofer to its limits when the volume was turned up. Those who like their music very loud and very low would do well to purchase two of the subwoofers or experiment with other subwoofer options.
I then moved the Gallos into my surround system, where they took the place of my much larger and far more expensive Martin Logan set-up (see reference system listing below). The center and rear channels were mounted vertically on top of Vantage Point stands. In this system, I used a Pioneer Elite DV-38A DVD Player as a source. Processing and amplification were provided by Krell with their HTS 7.1 and TAS. The crossover on the HTS 7.1 was set for 60Hz. The MPS-150 took the place of an M&K 350THX subwoofer.
I began my 5.1 listening with Lyle Lovett’s Joshua Judges Ruth (DTS), as this would provide quite the test to see if I could improve the Dues’ bass performance in a 5.1 set-up. Lovett’s voice and guitar on “She’s Always Made Up Her Mind” were wonderfully reproduced by the Dues. This track also has a very low bass line that the MPS-150 handled in okay but not stellar fashion. I then switched the Krell’s setting for the front pair of speakers to large and connected the Dues through the MPS via the high-level connections and used my M&K for .1 duty. This put the MPS at ease, as it did not have to deal with as much bass information. The sound was much more coherent and far more dynamic.
Moving on to movies, I placed the MPS back into its .1 position and the Krell crossover went back to 60Hz. A coworker lent me “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (Warner Brothers), which is replete with dialogue, much of it overlapping in the big family gathering scenes. The movie has several sequences with the family together, with many different voices coming nonstop. The Dues had no problem with congestion, easily distinguishing between voices and properly positioning them. I experimented with positioning of the center channel. When they were placed into a horizontal configuration, I found that the C.D.T. tweeter’s wide dispersion pattern caused reflections that caused some degradation in intelligibility, but this disappeared when the Dues were moved to a vertical position. I also noted that the sound was very consistent regardless of my seating position, undoubtedly a benefit of wide dispersion.
Anxious to see how the Gallos would perform with a more dynamic soundtrack, I settled in for another showing of “Black Hawk Down” (Columbia TriStar Home Entertainment). This movie, like “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” also has several sonically congested scenes that are trying for speakers. The battle scenes in the city have many shots and screams coming from all angles. The Dues kept the composition and were able to reproduce each element clearly, making it easy to pick out distinct voices among the melee that formed a 360-degree sound field. The numerous explosions from the grenades and rocket launchers pushed the MPS to its limits at higher listening levels.