MK Sound M Series
3rd May 2008 | 14:38
MK’s M Series speakers may be small, but they boast high-end heritage.
MK has always been proud of its professional audio heritage.
Models from the previous generation have been used by studios belonging to Sony, Skywalker, 20th Century Fox, Dolby and DTS USA.
Previous speaker incarnations
In fact, although the system reviewed here represents the more affordable example of the genre, it's a direct descendant of kit originally designed for DTS' use in their post-production rooms in the States.
Those loudspeakers had a small footprint, with high dynamics, great resolution and potency and, of course, were fully-active and bi-amplified for professional use.
The M Series reviewed here embrace similar philosophy, although they are regular, passive designs.
High quality build
Build quality can be considered excellent.
There's an unpretentious single set of pretty gold-plated connections on the back and lots of shinyness all over. If you want a dust-attracting high-gloss finish you've come to the right place.
Our set came in a lustrous black-cat-on-a-dark-night shade for the fronts (the M7s), but the M4-T rear tripoles - cute as nine-pence - were supplied in white.
You can order either shade, even for the subwoofer, which is something of a rarity. You probably won't want to mix and match as we've done, unless you've got a Madness-themed living room.
The M Series shares a woofer in common with its Xenon Series brethren. It's called the Xenon SB-12 in the Xenon leaflet but called the M-SB 12 in the M-Series bumph.
Either way, it's a simple but posh item. You get a sweepable phase control with a gain and crossover/defeat knob and that's it.
You can connect and carry onwards in both phono and speaker level, so it can be used with or without an off-board crossover in your rig.
I, of course, hooked everything up to the amp and set about working my way through my test disc favourites, and in particular the SF action classic Terminator 2.
One for fashionistas
The three fronts have two tiny 4in drivers to go with the tweeter, while the slightly trapezoidal rears have a small grille on each face, fore and aft, with a dipolar set of 2in weeny speakers to go with their midbass 4in and high frequency maker.
Overall, I think the look is fabulous. The speakers have a very high standard of finish; the grilles are pressed metal mesh with protected edges and neat indentations for the tiny magnetic grips to fit into.
Trendy these days, they are going to hit the fashionistas in the pocket as these are just gorgeous fixings.
Pump up the volume
Performance is a revelation. Although dense spuds, this M7 system really spits out the music and effects.
I realised straightaway, however, why the efficiency or sensitivity figure wasn't quoted in the supplied literature (this is usually in dB and is a measure of how well a speaker turns, say, 1W into sound, measured a metre away. 88dB is normal, 92 would be exceptional).
The fact is, I had to crank the heck out of my reference Acurus amp, with a listening level of 60 out of 70 notches needed. Normally it's enough to break the windows at 50 out of 70!
The tweeters are good but you can hear that this is where some money has had to be saved - although they can make serious rise-times and tear your face off in an explosion, they don't have a lot of refinement. Played loud, there was some sibilance evident.
That said, dynamics absolutely belie the size of these boxes and I'm left wondering if this is something to do with the DTS-driven design.
The sharp 'Proink' of the spark that ignites the truck in T2's storm drain chase is brilliant. It cuts, it booms!
The speakers are fast in the midband and the active sub is a great example of good electronics controlling a far-better-than-normal grade woofer. It is still relevant and scary at 15Hz, clearly detectable during the low, low, low bits of Gustav's Mars (a stupendous release from Telarc in 5.1).
After all, that spec is a tight +/-2dB, not 3, and it's to 20Hz. It's only around 6dB down at 15Hz, making the lows from this system deeper than a snake's belly and loud enough to rattle your windows. This sub really has some proper grip.
The room actually wobbled when the T1000's truck smashed into the concrete pillar - the set does great justice to an iconic cinematic moment.
The class of the system also shines through with the first appearance of Schwarzenegger's Terminator. Papers and empty Styrofoam cups blow around, rustling, then there are electrical sparks and a huge 'WHOOOOMPHH!' as a naked Arnie appears.
Provided you have enough amplification on hand, it can lift you off your seat.
I do feel that, as well as the slight high-power sibilance mentioned earlier, there could have been more weight to the lower midband.
When Arnie's Harley roared around, the engine really lacked some of the throaty weight that the bigger-coned 'regular-size' high-end systems can muster.
However, such quibbles aside, this is a powerful set of small speakers able to deliver a genuinely big sound.