Klegg M6 501 Home Theater System 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Speaker Systems
Written by Brian Kahn   
Tuesday, 01 February 2005

The demand for affordable audio/video systems is on the climb as more and more consumers find that their HDTV-video needs have used up much of their overall home theater budgets. Retailers are scrambling to find slick, thin solutions that work with today’s best, flattest TVs. Klegg Audio is a relatively new, UK-based manufacturer of small surround speaker packages designed to compete in the highly competitive “home theater in a box” (HTIB for short) market. Klegg as a new brand is making impressive inroads in a world where every consumer knows every brand. They have packaged attractive one-stop solutions complete with speakers and surround controllers and, most recently, plasma displays that also wear the Klegg logo.

Klegg’s M6 501 Home Theater System features five beautifully tiny speakers, a subwoofer, amplification and a surround sound processor for a very modest price of $999. This market segment features the likes of Bose, Gallo Acoustics and most of the Japanese mass-market manufacturers, all vying for a piece of one of the largest AV market sectors: people who are looking for affordable surround systems. The M6 system is the smaller of the two 5.1 systems offered by Klegg; the larger system, the M8, follows a similar design but utilizes larger speakers. I visited the Klegg folks at their suite at CES and was shown many new products being introduced by the company, including flat panel displays, in-wall speakers, bookshelf speakers, DVD players and a personal video recorder that also acts as a media convergence hub. Those who desire to keep all the components of their theater systems from the same manufacturer should have no problems doing so with Klegg.

The M6 system features the M6 501PII decoder. This is a small, brushed silver box that contains the surround processor, source inputs, status displays and outputs to the speaker system. Like the speakers, the decoder is a small unit, measuring approximately half the width of a standard 19-inch component. The processor is capable of decoding Dolby Digital, DTS and Dolby Pro Logic II, as well as some proprietary processing and provides a user-adjustable equalizer. The back of the unit features a plug for the power supply, three pairs of stereo inputs, two digital inputs, one optical and one S/PDIF. The unit’s supplies a six-channel single-ended output that’s to be connected to the six-channel input on the subwoofer module. The front of the decoder has a small LCD display, which indicates the input, type of processing and the volume. There are also six small LED lights, one for each speaker, indicating whether the speakers are set for full-range or high frequencies only. All of the functions are controllable from the remote.

The largest component of the system houses the subwoofer, center bass driver and all seven channels of amplification. The unit is about the size of a small computer tower and measures eight inches wide by 16 inches high by 20 inches deep and is available in silver, black or white. There are two knobs on the front control system: volume and relative bass volume. Below the knobs, beneath a silver grille cloth (on my silver sample) is the “center bass module,” a four-inch driver with its own 30-watt amplifier that is tasked primarily with the frequency range of 90Hz to 220Hz. There is an eight-inch side-firing subwoofer on the left-hand side that is said to be able to go down to 40 Hz. The back panel has single-ended inputs for the connection from the decoder/processor module, a power switch, IEC power cord plug and spring-loaded speaker inputs for the satellite speakers.

The Klegg satellite speakers look like ostrich eggs, measuring just under three inches wide and deep and just under four inches tall. The cabinets are fully shielded, made out of a zinc alloy material and beautifully finished in a metallic silver paint. Each satellite has a two-inch driver featuring “Human Acoustic Technology.” According to the Klegg website this means, “Each driver uses a special mix of acoustic materials designed to replicate the natural sounds as received by the human ear.” The satellites are flat on the bottom so they can be placed on any flat surface without risk that they will roll away. To the rear of the speaker, there is a female RCA connector that attaches to the supplied speaker cables.

The M6 system was exceptionally easy to set up. The system comes with easy-to-read manuals and all the cables necessary to get the system up and running. All the user needs to supply is a DVD player and a video display device to complete their AV system. I decided to set up the M6 system in my bedroom. I connected my Rotel DVD player to the M6 processor via the digital S/PDIF cable. I then connected the processor to the amplifier/subwoofer module with the included color-coded six-channel single-ended interconnects. The last set of connections was made between the amplifier module and the satellites. The included speaker cables have the amplifier end stripped to easily fit in the spring-loaded connectors.

I placed all of the satellites, except for the center channel, on Klegg’s matching speaker stands. These are attractive, simple tube stands on heavy cast iron bases. The speaker cables were easily hidden in the stand tube and the silver finish of the stands closely matched the color of the satellite enclosures, making for an attractive package. The side-firing subwoofer with its forward-firing center bass module was placed just inside the front right speaker. Lastly, the processor has an equalizer and the manual makes several recommendations regarding the settings. I did my critical listening with the equalizer in the neutral position.

Music and Movies
After break-in, I played Fourplay’s album Between The Sheets (Warner Bros). The opening track, “Chant,” features a vocal track that I found to be surprisingly full-sounding. The vocals, accompanied by drums and cymbals, were well-reproduced. I found the drums to be a little light on slam, yet very palpable in weight and generously detailed. The drums did not reach as low down as a full-size subwoofer like a Sunfire or a Velodyne, but as low as this system went, it was enjoyable and exciting to hear. The cymbals were very well-reproduced, which a skeptic might not expect from a HTIB type of system, considering that many of Klegg’s competitors sound shrill and brittle on the high frequencies. The highs sounded clear and well-positioned on the soundstage, with a good sense of depth. Overall, these speakers were performing very well and I remained impressed by this level of performance at this price during every moment of my testing. The Kleggs rise above the normal micro satellites, in that there was not a large sonic difference between the satellites and subwoofer. In most micro satellite systems, there is a large gap between the bottom end of the satellites and the subwoofer that makes the listener question whether the speakers are all part of the same system. The Klegg M6 system did noticeably well. I believe this to be due in large part to the center bass driver that helps fill the frequency gap between the subwoofer and satellites. I found the sub frequency drumbeats to be slightly discernable, yet the transition between the subwoofer and satellites to be quite smooth.

I spent most of my listening time with movies, as that is likely how this system will be used. Watching “I, Robot” (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment), I went to the car chase scene. The Klegg system was able to reproduce the hectic battle with a good amount of clarity. As the information moved around the room, the voicing of the speakers remained constant and very close. Any missing detail in my music demonstrations was much less apparent on the movie soundtrack. The Klegg was able to reproduce the dynamics at fairly loud listening levels without distortion or any noticeable compression, while the subwoofer added a visceral kick. The impacts and explosions could be felt as well as heard, despite the small stature of this slick little system.

The Downside
I don’t consider the system’s sonic shortcomings, compared to a full-sized system, as downsides; these speakers are designed to compete with lower-cost micro systems. All of the micro-sized subwoofer satellite systems have inherent shortcomings. For this type of system, the sound’s quality was well above average. Anyone willing to search out Klegg for an audition before buying a system will find the audio performance to be topnotch in this category.

During my listening tests, the M6 system unfortunately made popping sounds whenever I changed channels on my satellite receiver. There was also noticeable background noise when I turned on my television. Perhaps the future Klegg decoder boxes can minimize or eliminate the system’s susceptibility to outside interference. Lastly, the remote is not backlit. This is not unique to Klegg; the majority of AV remotes are not backlit. This troubles me, because these are systems that are clearly designed to be used in the dark. However, my gripe is less with Klegg on this because their price point is such that this feature would have likely crept them beyond the coveted under-$1,000 price class.

This is a great micro system that will give Bose and every other micro system a real run for their money, considering what you get for the money you spend. Simply put, the system’s sound quality is surprisingly good for its size. The fit and finish is topnotch and the price is extremely competitive. With the M6 system, all you need to do is add a DVD player, an HD receiver and a nice thin HDTV video display, and you have one hell of a little system. With many years of reviewing experience under my belt, it takes a product that excels beyond its expectations and price point to excite me. And excite me Klegg did.
Manufacturer Klegg Audio
Model M6 501 Home Theater System
Reviewer Brian Kahn

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