SMR logoM&K S-1C 'speaker and MX-200 Sub-woofer Review
There are few loudspeaker companies who enjoy the same level of reverence within the multi-channel world as Miller & Kreisel.  A list of professional M&K users reads like a whos who of surround audio; Dolby, DTS, THX, Pioneer, Sony, Skywalker Sound& and so it goes on.  Alan L. Maier decided to introduce himself to the brand by way of an audiophile-grade pair of monitors and a behemoth sub-woofer, for which the company is most famous.

Many thanks go to Mr. Charles Back for his help and for providing the review sample.

Miller & Kreisel Loudspeaker/Sub-woofer Specifications

S-1C Satellite

Impedance: 4 ohms nominal
Recommended minimum power: 10 watts
Recommended power range: 50-200 watts
Maximum power: 400 watts unclipped peaks
Driver complement: (2) 5¼" woofer push-pull, (2) 1" soft dome tweeter
Frequency response: 77Hz 20KHz +/- 2dB
Sensitivity: 90db/w/m (normal settings)
Dimensions: 21" H × 7¾" W × 10½" D
Weight: 20 pounds each
Finish: Matte bead blast charcoal/optional wood
Magnetic shielding: Yes (optional)
Bi-wire capability: Yes
Price: $995 each.

MX-200 Sub-woofer

Impedance: 15K Ohms RCA/dual
Amplifier power: 200 watts
Driver complement: (2) 12" subwoofer push/pull
Frequency response: 18Hz to 125Hz +/-2dB
Low pass filter: 50Hz 125Hz variable
Low pass filter roll-off: 36db/octave @ 125Hz
Dimensions: 23" H × 15¼" W × 19¼" D
Weight: 82 pounds
Finish: Gloss bead blast or oak/black oak
Magnetic shielding: No
Price: $1,495

(All specifications as per manufacturer)

Miller & Kreisel S-1C Satellite Loudspeaker and
MX-200 Powered Sub-woofer Review

Introduction

     Ask any audiophile for their list of recommended subwoofers and at some point the name of Miller and Kreisel, otherwise known as M&K, will surface as a brand that must be auditioned.  M&K sub-woofers have been a staple of serious audio installations since long before the flourishing popularity of home theater.  M&K also offer a line of satellites and they too deserve serious attention& With that in mind the subjects of this review are the S-1C satellite loudspeakers and the MX-200 subwoofer.

 

S-1C Satellite Loudspeakers

M&K S-1C loudspeakers and MX-200 sub-woofer     Have you ever tried to describe an item and ended up by deciding that you really need a photo?  The S-1C is one such beast!  The 21" tall cabinet is divided into two compartments.  The sealed lower portion contains a pair of 5¼" woofers in a push-pull arrangement as well as all the electrical connections.  The upper portion is narrower and houses a pair of transmission line loaded 1"soft dome tweeters.  Indeed, each tweeter has the appearance of a bass port filled with damping material that protrudes from the rear of the cabinet.  The principle behind the transmission line loading is to absorb the rear radiation of the dome and thus keep it from blending with the front radiation, all but eliminating the time delay that would otherwise occur.  Two grill assemblies are used; both constructed of knit cloth over a metal wire and in essence are acoustically invisible.  Ample acoustic damping is applied around the tweeters as well as inside the tweeter grill to control dispersion.  Build quality is solid, exceptionally so, and the matte charcoal glass bead finish is well applied.  Real wood finishes are an option and my review samples included magnetic shielding, another option.

     Controlled vertical dispersion is a key aspect of the S-1C design.  High frequency radiation from above and below the speaker is limited, reducing reflected high frequencies and thereby improving the stereo imaging.  Stand height is important and in this case I used a pair of Standesign BB-75 adjustable stands, elevating the M&K by 24".  The user can select the dispersion properties as well as high frequency level and midrange sensitivity of the S-1C by using three three-position toggle switches located on the rear panel.  These adjustments allow very flexible room placement, so while I had the M&K positioned 1½ into the room and 8 apart, another environment could easily work out as well.  Also on the rear panel are two sets of gold plated binding posts and a switch which is used in place of a jumper strap to select normal or bi-wire operation.

     Lets do some audio mathematics here& combine controlled high frequency dispersion with transmission loaded tweeters, add the unique push-pull distortion reducing dual woofer system into the equation and what do we come up with?  The answer is rock-solid holographic imaging, a wealth of inner detail and spatial depth plus impressive power handling capabilities.   The S-1C satellites are utterly neutral imparting precious little sound of their own into the musical performance.  For example, I listened to the Marc Johnson album "The Sound of Summer Running" (Verve/Polygram 314 539 299-2).  All of the music not just key notes, airy treble or wide imaging, but all of the music was recreated.  The M&Ks presentation is of a "cool" nature, just as the character of recording itself is.  Every instrument could be picked out and followed easily, - no false "zing", no added "pizzazz" or "sheen" whatsoever.

M&K S-1C satellite loudspeaker     By comparison with several outstanding monitor loudspeakers I have also enjoyed in this system I found the S-1C to be extremely source dependant, taking the "what goes in is what comes out" statement to a higher level.

     A lively recording such as "Dave Grusin Presents West Side Story" (N2K-10021) comes alive and sparkles.   Again, nothing escapes or hides as exemplified by the track 'Tonight' featuring Gloria Estefans spine tingling vocals, which are so often smeared on lesser speakers.  They are refreshingly lifelike here.  Male vocals come alive also, as typified by Jonathan Butlers solo on 'Maria' and John Secada on 'Somewhere'. Piano passages are wonderfully reproduced with full, rich body and weight.

     LP playback produced the most holographic imaging I heard from the S-1Cs.  One of my favorite discs is a copy of "The Great Jazz Trio Direct From LA" which features Ron Carter on the bass, Hank Jones on the piano and Tony Williams on the drums.  I have owned this audiophile pressing for 20+ years and have never heard it sound better.  On the Pat Metheny "Still Life (Talking)" LP I obtained the same sweet and musical results.  No wonder so many of us audiophile are still spinning those old LPs!

     With every format from CD to LP and even FM radio a common trait became blatantly clear.  The drivers blend together with such harmony and integration that the result is not unlike a planar magnetic or electrostatic loudspeaker.  One voice from one loudspeaker as opposed to several voices singing together in mass.  Neither do the S-1Cs draw attention to themselves.

     Speaking of one voice and integration, I have so far omitted one characteristic of the S-1Cs they have no low bass whatsoever by intention.  With a lower limit of 77Hz as a -2dB point, M&K always intended the S-1Cs to be used in conjunction with a sub, which of course leads us to the&

 

MX-200 Powered Sub-woofer

     The M&K MX-200 powered sub-woofer utilizes two of M&Ks upscale 12" drivers in a push/pull configuration theyre driven by a 200-watt internal amplifier.  The MX-200 has a variable 50-125Hz low-pass filter with an additional filter at 125Hz, this yields a roll-off rate of 36dB/octave.  The amplifier panel on the rear provides a pair of line level RCA inputs as well as switches for power, phase and variable crossover control with bypass (for use with a Dolby Digital® M&K MX-200 sub-woofer (rear panel)or THX® processor which has its own bass management) as well as a gain control.  At 23" tall the MX-200 is not too large to fit comfortably into a room but at 82 pounds it is heavy to lug around!  A tightly attached snap-on grill covers both the forward firing driver as well as the opening for the downward firing driver.

     Lets elaborate a little about the push-pull driver configuration that is found in both the MX-200 subwoofer and S-1C satellite.  One woofer is installed in the conventional manor with normal electrical polarity.  A second driver is installed facing inward with the magnet side facing out and wired in reverse polarity however being installed "backwards" the polarity is in phase with the conventionally mounted driver.   For this reason, all mechanical non-linearity in driver motion remains out of phase between the drivers and becomes a null at the speaker enclosure.  This is claimed to significantly reduce even order harmonic distortion.

     Okay, I know what you're thinking.   How does it sound?  You really want to know?  It royally kicks ass!   This is the most capable sub-woofer I have ever had the pleasure of using in my home.  Bass is very quick, extends down to exceptional depths and so help me I cant seem to get it to run out of power!  Using the "How Low Does It Go" article found on this web site as my guide I pulled out Telarc disc after Telarc disc and followed them up with Film and the BBs "Big Notes" (DMP CD-9002).  From canon blasts to synthesized bass-lines to special effects the MX-200 is unstoppable!  To think there was a time when I was content to have extension down to 32Hz from the large Advent loudspeakers I bought 25 years ago HA!

M&K S-1C loudspeakers and MX-200 sub-woofer     The kicker to this entire extraordinary bass capability is that when not called upon to rattle the rafters, the MX-200 is so clean with music that you dont even know its there.   Furthermore the MX-200 integrates with the S-1Cs better than I have ever had a sub-woofer and satellites integrate together before.  I really like this sub-woofer!

 

Summary

     I have had the pleasure of owning and reviewing many fine loudspeaker systems over the years.  Of the monitor or satellite systems I have owned and reviewed, the S-1Cs nudge the best of them out by a hair thanks to their uncanny holographic imaging and utter transparency in regards to conveying musical detail.  To be fair the S-1Cs do require a sub-woofer to complete the system, however look no further as the MX-200 is truly incredible, its musical and powerful at the same time.  Yes, extension can be bought for less money and "thud power" can be bought for much less but we are talking audiophile quality here.

     I used to feel that with a budget of $3,500 for a stereo pair setup, electrostatic or planar magnetic systems were the way to go.  I am re-thinking my philosophy and by the time you read this, the "big brown truck" will have come and taken these speakers away.

     Shame. I will miss them.

© 1999.

 

More information about M&K loudspeakers can be found upon the offical Miller & Kreisel web site

Text © Alan L. Maier; HTML © SMR Home Theatre and Images © Alan L. Maier & SMR Home Theatre cannot be reproduced without permission.  Dolby Digital is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation, THX is a registered trademark of LucasFilm, DTS is a registered trademark of Digital Theater Systems.  The images on this page are digitally watermarked: Digimarc http://www.digimarc.com/

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Last updated 11 March, 1999

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