Anthony Gallo Acoustics MPS-150 Subwoofer 
Home Theater Loudspeakers Subwoofers
Written by Brian Kahn   
Tuesday, 01 April 2003

The Due is the latest creation from Gallo Acoustics, a company famous for making physically round AV speakers. The $599 Due’s name is derived from the fact that the speaker contains two spherical units, rather than the single sphere of past Gallo designs. The two spheres are joined in the middle by a cylindrical tweeter assembly that is unique to Gallo, resulting in a very stylish “un-speakerlike” speaker. Gallo paired the Due with their $750 MPS-150 woofer for low frequency reinforcement. This woofer is also very unconventional in design. The design features two short cylinders, one housing the 10-inch driver, the other containing a 240-watt amplifier and related electronics.

The Dues are refreshingly small, measuring 11 inches tall, five inches wide and five inches deep. The Dues come with modernistic perforated steel grilles that can easily be removed. Removing the grilles leaves the speakers almost an inch thinner and reveals their unique dual spherical shape, making the speakers look even smaller. If the look of the Dues sans metal grilles isn’t to your taste, you can use the Gallo-supplied black fabric grilles for the four-inch drivers. The Due also comes with a simple yet elegant stand that allows them to be positioned either horizontally or vertically on a shelf. Gallo also offers their Wallflower stand, which raises the Due to listening height from the floor. This color-matched stand complements the Due’s styling with its single curved tube stemming up from a heavy oval base. This diminutive speaker’s frequency range is 60 Hz to 40 kHz and is highly efficient at 91 dB.

Each sphere features a four-inch driver, custom made for Gallo. The spherical enclosure, with no parallel surfaces, is inherently strong, reducing unwanted resonance. The Due utilizes Gallo’s S2 technology to increase the volumetric efficiency of the enclosure, making it appear bigger to the drivers than it really is. According to Gallo, the typical volumetric efficiency of most enclosures is between one and two – the Due enclosure with Gallo’s S2 technology has a volumetric efficiency of 10. The S2 technology utilizes a shredded polyolefin material suspended in a fine mesh that couples to the driver at lower frequencies. The added mass provides greater control of the driver and increased efficiency for greater dynamic range.

The four-inch drivers are separated by Gallo’s unique C.D.T. tweeter. “C.D.T.” stands for Cylindrical Diaphragm Tweeter. The C.D.T. is, of course, cylinder-shaped, providing an extremely wide dispersion pattern of 120 degrees. The tweeter is made out of a silver coated Kynar (high-tech plastic) diaphragm, with silver wires attached to each end. This assembly is wrapped around a polypropylene core that absorbs the driver’s backwave. The current is passed across the face of the driver, causing it to expand and contract, a technology similar to the piezo tweeters of yesteryear.

The C.D.T.’s surface area is more than 12 times that of a conventional one-inch dome tweeter. Despite the large surface area, the moving mass weight is lower than that of most conventional drivers, as there are no voice coils, formers or surrounds. The design allows for a great deal of output without breakup or distortion and also greatly contributes to the speakers’ large sweet spot.

The MPS-150 subwoofer is made of two similarly-sized components, each measuring 5.5 inches high with an 11-inch diameter. One enclosure holds a custom-made 10-inch driver. It is connected to the other enclosure with a single quarter-inch phono plug-tipped cable. The second enclosure holds a 240-watt class A/B amplifier. The amplifier enclosure features a recessed area with both high and low level inputs and outputs, control knobs for crossover level, continuous phase adjustment and relative volume. Also on this panel are a standard IEC power cord connector and power switch with positions for on, off and auto.

I first set the Dues up in my two-channel system. I placed the Dues on the optional Wallflower stands. I positioned the stands six feet apart and two feet from the front wall, with the Dues facing straight ahead. The MPS-150 was fed via its low-level input. My source unit is a Theta Data Basic CD Transport, feeding a Perpetual Technologies DSP/DAC combination. The Krell 300iL integrated amplifier provided amplification.

The Gallo speakers were ridiculously easy to set up. Everything was straightforward, making the clear instructions practically unnecessary. The Dues’ stands, both Wallflower and desktop, were easily assembled. I found the four-inch drivers needed a long break-in period, so I let them play nonstop for one week before I did any serious listening.

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.

The Downside
The Gallo Dues’ sonic performance left little room for criticism, considering their diminutive size. Of course the Dues have limited bass extension, but I cannot blame speakers of this size for not having extended bass. That is just a measure of physics and the main reason why so many subwoofers are being sold these days.

Within the Dues’ operating parameters, I would have liked sharper overall imaging. I found that I could only obtain a sharper sonic image by toeing the speakers in to the point where the sacrifice in tonal quality was not worth it. The image is good as compared to other small speakers in the Dues’ class, but it is not razor sharp, as you will find as you open up your checkbook further.

The MPS-150 subwoofer is somewhat limited in its capabilities. I found the MPS-150 to be lacking when used as a true subwoofer. It is better used to supply lower mid-bass and reach slightly into the bass region. In the lowest octaves, the unit struggles, but if you move it up a bit, it nicely extends the frequency range of the Dues. If aesthetics are not a concern for the subwoofer, I would experiment with a few other subwoofers such as the Sunfire Subwoofer Jr. ($900) that should not only extend the Dues’ lower frequency response, but also provide true bass as well.

The Dues are the most stylish small speakers I have had in my possession in quite a long time. I placed them into my office system and constantly had people poking their head in to ask about them. Their sound was equally impressive for speakers in this class. The Dues would be well-suited for those seeking a higher quality and better-looking alternative to Bose and other similar mass-marketed small speakers.

Recommending the Dues is a no-brainer. They are small, look great and sound great. As part of a sexy home theater, they keep up in the looks and performance category in ways other more mainstream speakers cannot.
Manufacturer Anthony Gallo Acoustics
Model MPS-150 Subwoofer
Reviewer Brian Kahn

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