Can a half sized MP150 match the sound quality of the full bodied S150mkII?
What is the MK MP150mkII?The MP150mkII is a cut down on-wall version of the recently reviewed S150mkII LCR speaker from MK. It keeps the famous two driver, three tweeter layout but reduces the size of the cabinet so it can be easily wall mounted under a display or behind a projection screen. It is also now available in white so it blends into the average living room unlike its big brother which is only available in black.
So has cutting the cabinet in half taken away any of the performance or created any side effects which might impact on its sound quality? Let’s find out.
Design and connections
Based on the S150mkII the MP150mkII uses the same drivers and tweeters but introduces changes to the design of the cabinet and its size. You can find out more about the drivers and tweeters in detail in the S150 Review and via the MK website. Where the original cubed S150mkII is no looker the MP is designed to fit within living spaces and to be placed under a flat screen TV. The white finish works really well in that kind of environment and along with the white grille hiding the drivers, it can blend away when wall mounted.
We still get a high quality enclosure that now measures 12.3 x 10.5 x 5.4 inches (H x W x D) and weighs in at 7.7Kg. High density board is used to construct the enclosure, with internal bracing designed to make sure there is very little resonance from the cabinet when in use. The front panel is the same layout as the S150mkII but it has a sloping front; this allows for positioning under a TV display so that the speakers are pointing upwards towards the listening position, or placed the other way around to face the drivers down towards the listener when it is placed at, or slightly higher than, the listening height. The dispersion characteristics of the MP150mkII allow the cabinet to be placed flat against the wall surface, yet still provide a superb wide stereo image. MK’s own Phase Focussed crossover technology also ensures that the speaker produces consistent sound pressure and focus, across the listening position, and limiting reflected sound from the floors and ceiling surfaces.
In terms of installation the MP150mkII also allows flexibility of placement and use. It can be used as a main speaker, stand mounted, or wall mounted and on show or even hidden behind a projection screen. They can also be used as height speakers, with the sloping front panel helping to direct sound towards the listening position. The beauty of wall mounting (or placing behind a projection screen surface) is the fact you don’t have any speakers or stands taking up valuable floor space in a living room.
The only real concern we had on first seeing the MP150 was the size of the cabinet and if that would have any negative impact on the sound quality versus the full sized cube cabinet of the S150mkII. We set about testing that with a full MK sound 5.2 system where three MP150mkII were used for the Left, Centre and Right (LCR) channels.
How was it tested?The MP150mkII were used for left, right and centre duties combined with MK S150T tripoles at the rear sides and two MK V12 subwoofers for the majority of the testing period. We also added two MK X12 high-end subwoofers towards the end of the testing period. You can get the full details of the surrounds and V12 Subwoofers in the S150mkII review.
We have had the MP150mkII LCR speakers in use in our cinema test room for over 6 weeks now. We have swapped in and out a number of AV Receivers including the Onkyo TX-NR5007, Denon AVR-X3100W, Yamaha RX-A1040 and a NAD M17 Processor and M27 Amplifier package. Also featured in the system is the JVC DLA-X700 Projector, a Panasonic Blu-ray player and an Apple TV all placed in a light controlled bat cave cinema room. Software used included Blu-rays, CDs and high quality audio streaming from Tidal.
We have been using the same room for testing for over 13 years now and know where the best placements are for speakers and subwoofers, but we still ran EQ tests with the various receivers at our disposal, but for the majority of the testing we didn’t use any EQ. We also had two subwoofers, but did some testing using only one.
Sound QualityThe immediate feeling when switching from the S150mkII to the MP150mkII is that they both sound identical and finding any noticeable differences within the first back to back listening session was very difficult. This was a relief as I had half expected them to sound a little boxier and perhaps a little less powerful than its big brother because of the cabinet size difference,. I am happy to report, however, that there are no obvious negative side effects. It was only after a number of swaps between the two that you could hear that, perhaps, the mid-bass range of the MP was slightly less than the S150mkII and, as such, a change of crossover to 100Hz over 80Hz fixed that issue (without adding any issues of directionality of bass).
I also felt that in comparison the stereo imaging, even when flat against the wall surface was exceptionally good with the MP150mkII and, again, solved what I thought might have been a potential issue. So two big thumbs up at this point where the MP150 could have stumbled given the cabinet design changes to make it more 'lifestyle'. The UK distributor claims that they sell 10 times more of the MP150mkII than the bigger brother S150 and after initial testing and looking for issues that don’t exist, I’m not surprised that is the case. The design and flexibility make it a much more appealing choice for actual living spaces, rather than pitch black cinema rooms. And it sounds identical (to all intents and purposes) to the bigger S150mkII. So you really do get the best of both worlds. Obviously the sloping front panel and shape of the cabinet is a clever design and deliberate in helping to achieve this performance.
Moving on to detailed listening tests and it was also clear that the MP150mkII also manages to capture the same neutral uncoloured sound of its big brother. Put a poor source through these and they are very unforgiving of badly recorded sound mixes and music. There is no hiding the nastier elements with a bit of warmth and colouration like some speakers. Nope the MP150mkII is clinical and detailed with no distortion and a powerful weight and stunning dynamics, which come to life with excellently crafted soundtracks like Oblivion. The clinks and wails of the flyer taking off from the tower with Tom at the controls surround you in a soundstage that is completely believable and downright in your face.
The cohesion between all the speakers in the system, along with the wide dispersion characteristics create an enveloping sound field that you can become lost in. Yes it’s a cliché but the speakers really do melt away and leave you wrapped in some stunning effects. The New York library trap sequence is full of atmosphere, heavy breathing, pulses racing and sweat forming as Tom searches the darkness looking for his drone. You can feel the space he is in with clever echoes in the mix and reflections of shuffling feet as he points his light and gun in every direction. And there, just on the edge of this soundfield, you can just make out he is not alone as there is slight movement around you. The MP150mkII offer a performance exactly the same as the bigger S150, with the same natural and dynamic characteristics.
Moving to music and, as expected, we are treated to excellent stereo imaging with a nice wide soundstage. As we found with the larger 150s, the MPs are excellent with handing female vocals, such as Annie Lennox’s ‘Cold’. There is a fantastic weight to her voice and with such neutral and powerful speakers as these picking out her breaths, before and during lines of the song, is revealing. Integration with the subs at the chosen crossover point also pays dividends as everything just feels complete with no jump from satellite speaker to subwoofer, it is just one cohesive sound with a wonderful expansive field. The vocal appears front and centre where you would expect and without sibilance, even when pushed hard. With even average power amps driving the MP150mkII they provide a pretty stunning performance, with movie soundtracks being the real highlight.
Of course, like the S150mkII before it, some might not like the MP150mkII’s neutral and revealing sound. There is no added warmth or colouration, what is on the track is what you get, warts and all. If like us you value a transparent performance with bags of power and clarity, along with a lack of distortion and a design that can fit into a living room, get a listen to the MP150mkII. They really are a great all-rounder and a superb performer.
- Highly detailed
- Dynamic sounding performance
- No colouration or added sound characteristics
- Excellent build quality and materials used
- Well designed to fit within living spaces
- Can be hidden behind projection screen without losing real estate
- Natural and transparent sound reveals every nuance of the sound mix
- MK clinical sound might not be to everyone's taste
MK MP150mkII Speaker ReviewIf we are being honest when we first saw the MP150mkII speaker we thought it was going to be a compromised product. The smaller cabinet size and the white colour pointed to an attempt at trying to please everyone and as such we feared it would affect the sound quality. However, we needn’t have worried because the MP speakers offer identical sound performance to their bigger brother and the perceived compromises actually become strong selling points for this model. The only slight difference we found was to change the crossover from 80Hz to 100Hz with the MP150 to improve the mid bass response so it matched the larger cube cabinet sound of the S150.
With the colour choice and easy wall mounting the MP150mkII is a flexible speaker that can be placed under a display with the drivers facing up to the listening position, on stands at ear height or even above the display with the cabinet turned around and the drivers firing down to the listening position. And perhaps the real party trick is being placed behind an acoustically transparent projection screen without the need to build a baffle wall like you would with larger cabinets. With the white design and matching grilles you could wall mount three of these speakers under a TV and it would look rather special, without standing out against the décor of the room. It’s a nice solution for excellent sound quality and keeping the rest of the household happy that they are not living in a cinema or showroom.
In terms of sound quality, we have no complaints whatsoever and the performance levels really are pretty special when added to other MK speakers as part of a complete system. Integration with the V12 subwoofers and S150T surrounds was stunning, with a fully cohesive sound that totally wrapped you into the onscreen action. Fast action scenes, bullet casings pinging off the floor or just catching the intake of breath before the next line in a song, the MP150mkII lives up to the MK sound characteristics of stunning clarity, dynamic volume shifts, seamless integration and distortion free playback. The clinical sound might not be for everyone, but if you want to hear every nuance of a sound mix or music track, without any added warmth or colour, the MK MP150mkII is a stellar performer and comes highly recommended.
Value For Money9
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