Very few loudspeakers recommended for home cinema were designed solely for delivering the best surround sound.
M&K products are different, with every speaker being conceived and constructed solely for the specific role it must fulfil within a 5.1 system.
For Oscar winning producers, home cinema professionals and film lovers worldwide, M&K loudspeakers continue to be the bench mark against which all other surround speakers are judged.
THESE ARE THE DESIGN CRITERIA THAT EVERY M&K LOUDSPEAKER MEETS….
A PERFECT FRONT SOUNDSTAGE
The majority of a sound in a film will be reproduced by the centre channel making it the bedrock of any quality surround system. This speaker must accurately reproduce the sounds that humans are most familiar with and most critical at detecting – human speech.
In addition to reproducing sound accurately, the centre channel must blend in perfectly with the main left and right loudspeakers to create a seamless front soundstage.
The only way to achieve a perfect front soundstage is by using three identical speakers all placed in the same plane. A different size of speaker or one that is orientated horizontally between two vertically placed speakers will create a different quality and dispersion of sound no matter how carefully it has been designed.
All M&K loudspeaker systems are designed to use identical speakers for left, centre and right (L/C/R) use. Any 5.1 system that is being designed for optimal performance should always start with 3 identical speakers at the same height, orientated vertically. In home cinemas where a projector is used, an acoustically transparent screen is essential so the centre channel can be placed half way or just above the centre of the screens height.
Where a plasma screen will be used the centre speaker must be placed on its side. In this situation a drive unit layout that places the tweeter above the mid-range drivers and not between them will provide the most accurate response. All M&K front speakers are designed in this way.
ACCURATE RESPONSE – IN REAL ROOMS
An accurate loudspeaker may give poor “in-room” response for a number of reasons. The low frequency performance of a loudspeaker will be dramatically changed by being placed close to walls and corners. The best way to tune a speaker that plays bass to the room it is being used in is to move it away from walls and corners. While this approach is fine for the hifi enthusiast, moving speakers is impractical in the vast majority of studios and home cinemas.
M&K pioneered the design and use of “satellite” loudspeakers that play no bass for use in recording studios in the early 1970’s. With no low frequency output, satellite speakers can be placed against walls and boundaries or in free space with almost no effect on their performance.
The result is loudspeakers that are much more consistent from room to room. This approach also creates much smaller loudspeakers that are easier to place for optimal imaging – a critical point especially for centre channels.
CONSISTENCY FROM ROOM TO ROOM AND SEAT TO SEAT
In the vast majority of domestic sized living rooms, you’ll hear more reflected sound from the room than direct sound from your home cinema loudspeakers. Because of this, the quality of reflected sound heard at the listening position plays a huge part in the perceived quality of any loudspeaker.
M&K loudspeakers were developed for use in the tight confines of the recording studio. As the engineer moves from side to side behind the mixing desk, it is essential that the quality of sound remains consistent.
To achieve this, M&K developed a unique Phase Focused crossover that provides remarkably smooth, off axis response. The result is that sitting directly in front of an M&K speaker or off to the side produces a remarkably similar quality of sound. A consequence of this is that the direct sound from the speakers and the reflections from side walls will sound remarkably similar at the listening position.
This approach also avoids the narrow “sweet spot” of sound that most speakers produce. Listeners throughout larger control rooms and home cinemas will enjoy the best sound quality regardless of where they sit.
SMOOTH, DEEP BASS
Deep, accurate bass is one of the most difficult things to achieve in the homes and the studio. Modal frequencies dictated by the rooms’ dimensions will create peaks and nulls in a systems bass response. The result is that even though a speaker system may be accurate, what you hear in the listening position simply will not be accurate.
Tuning a system to provide more even bass response requires either moving the speakers or moving the listening position – neither of which are practical in most rooms.
M&K’s solution to the problem was to redirect all the systems bass to one or more loudspeakers. As the human ear cannot detect where low frequencies come from, this bass speaker or subwoofer can be moved to smooth out the peaks and troughs created by your rooms’ dimensions without having to move either the main monitors or the listener.
Multiple subwoofers can be used to further smooth in-room response and to increase the size of the area that provides the best quality of bass.
A 360 DEGREE SOUNDSTAGE
A surround system should be capable of creating a seamless, 360 degree soundstage.
Most loudspeaker systems recommend identical speakers for front and rear use. While this is convenient for the manufacturer, a different type of speaker is required for surround use to envelop the listener while avoiding distracting “hot spots” – or areas of excessively loud sound.
A speaker that can provide the pin point imaging required for a detailed front soundstage will draw attention to itself if used for surround information. This is particularly disconcerting in home cinema systems where listeners will often sit very close to the rear speakers. With more than one listener in the room, the problem deteriorates further as the relative listening distances between surround speakers varies so much from seat to seat.
In commercial cinemas, multiple surround speakers are used to create the envelopment required. In home cinemas a similar effect is attempted with the use of dipole or bipole rear speakers. These speakers do not fire sound at the listener but rely on sound being reflected off the side and rear walls.
This approach is effective in creating an enveloping rear soundstage but fails to reproduce the detail and localised sounds in today’s discrete 5.1 soundtracks.
Where dipoles or bipoles are used with more than one row of seats, some of the listeners will not be sat in the “null” of the speaker. This means that with this type of speaker design, the speakers will once again act like a direct radiating speaker with all the inherent problems this creates.
M&K rear loudspeakers are a patented Tripolar design which combine the detail and directional clues of a direct radiating rear speaker with the envelopment of a dipole.
The result is a far more even 360 degree soundstage throughout the room with no distracting hot spots.