Caveats 1) I am a bit deaf, not uniformly across the frequency spectrum, so what sounds good to me may not sound good to you, or vice versa. 2) Only remotely comparable speaker systems I have listened to are B&W Nautilus 803s and 805s, plus Sonus Faber Home. So if you wonder why I keep harping on about these, they're my only basis for comparison. 3) I am very picky. I like clarity, neutrality, transparency, and precision. 4) My CD recordings may not be that wonderful. The Batcave Sound System Three M&K MPS2510P active speakers for the front channels. Four S85s (monopoles) for surrounds. S85s are driven by a pair of (oldish) Denon power amps. Subwoofer: the famous Velodyne HGS-18. Processor: Tag McLaren AV32R-bp192. Began with a Pioneer 656 playing an SACD recording, then switched to a Sony DVD player for films. Video System The projector retails for £18,000. (Yes, you read that correctly, eighteen). There is also some video scaling circuitry. The Room Lot of flat, hard surfaces which are rather unforgiving. (Floor has some carpet but is basically wooden). Right hand wall is all shelves. The Look When you first see the Velodyne sub you feel afraid. From Velodyne's website it is 23.5" x 21.25" x 18.5". It looks larger; looms like the black monolith in "2001". It's even scarier when you take the grill off. The speaker cone is 18 inches across. You expect to be knocked across the room like Michael J Fox at the beginning of "Back To The Future". The 2510Ps (on stands) are smaller than you might expect - 12.5"x10.5"x14". Note the depth if you have a small room - lots of stuff round the back, cooling fins and so on, so they stick out a long way from the wall. The S85s are tiny. Video Performance Combination of video scaling and projector is amazing. Output is effectively 960-line progressive scan. Picture must be 10, maybe even 12 feet wide; you can't believe anything could blow a TV picture up that big without looking like crap. It looks incredible - I've seen cinema screens less good. No convergence problems or anything like that. Colour saturation is splendid. Contrast is great. The detail in the animals' fur in "Dinosaur" was beautiful. Of course it will bring out any imperfections in the video source. "The Phantom Menace" has been mastered with the sharpness control turned way up to make it look good on a typical fuzzy TV set, but on this thing you get spurious dark or bright lines round the edges of things. Ugh. Only real downside is it needs some heavy-duty cooling, and I could quite clearly hear the fans. They're not loud, but if you are a fanatical audiophile they would probably be enough to annoy you. Anything below about 30-40 dB I can't hear at all, but the noise was quite distinct when the sound system was off. Music Performance We started with an SACD recording (can't remember what). The instruments came through nicely, especially the saxophone. The vocals I was less happy with: a definite harshness there. We then switched to some classical CDs I had with me. Started with movement 3 of Saint-Saens' "Organ Symphony" (good test of a subwoofer's music abilities), then had the "Barber Of Seville" overture (Rossini) - nice fast, high stuff on the violins - and then Tchaikowski's overture to "Romeo and Juliet" - starts very eerie and mysterious, lots of lush, romantic stuff later. (I've found that the ability of a system to handle acoustic instruments is often a good guide to its overall precision and clarity). The subwoofer impressed me - most of the time I wasn't aware of it except as a feeling of pressure in my ears and a (disconcertingly strong) vibration in the floor boards. Occasionally I noticed when it hit some kind of room resonance. This is what a subwoofer ought to do - the more you are aware of sound coming from it, the less well it's working. You shouldn't notice it at all except when you switch it off and suddenly everything sounds cold and thin. The main speakers were just a shade dissapointing for music. The treble was very fine, very precise, and most of the time the overall sound was basically good, but somehow there was a hard-edged quality to it, a slightly harsh effect. I noticed it most with the trumpets - they blared, a rather metallic sound. The sound reminded me a little of B&W's Nautilus 805s. I'd say the M&Ks are better, but not by as much as I was hoping. Modern music would probably sound better. There was also a slightly boxy quality to the speakers from time to time - suddenly it reminded you that you were listening to something coming out of a box 1 foot across. In fairness the acoustics of the room probably didn't help, and the left and right speakers were also set a distance apart that is appropriate for having a centre speaker between them, but means they were really too far apart for stereo imaging. Film Performance We began with a bit from "K2" - people hanging off the sides of mountains, cracking ice-bridges in caves, and the occasional avalanche - then had the pod race sequence from "The Phantom Menace" (a great test of the surround channels and sub), the opening "game" sequence from "Toy Story 2", and a little bit from "Dinosaur" (3D computer animation). It was clear right from the start that this was what the system was designed for. There was still a hint of both the harshness and the boxiness that I'd noticed with the music, but they were much less noticeable. (Dialog was probably the most affected. Again, it reminded me a bit of B&W's Nautilus HTM2 centre - slightly sibilant, slightly rough, but not unclear. By contrast a cheaper centre speaker like B&W's CDM CNT - £400 - sounds absolutely shocking: fuzzy and muffled.) The Tag processor did a great job of zooming sounds all over the room. What impressed me the most was the precision and the subtlety during the quieter sections. When Buzz Lightyear was tiptoeing along the corridor of Zerg's fortress the gentle plink-plink of his footfalls was beautifully clear. The crowd sounds in the pod race scene made you feel like you were standing right in the middle of them. If volume is important to you, don't worry - these things will puncture your eardrums before they hit the top of their range. The weakest part of the system, as you might expect, was the S85 rears. These simply weren't in the same class as the fronts. I noticed the deficit when the pod racers went into the underground cave section of the track, or when the Tuskan raiders' bullets ricocheted off the racers. Also the side speakers were a shade too localised for my tastes. I think it would have sounded better (more diffuse, anyway) with some M&K tripoles. Overall You need to remember what it is you're buying with the 2510Ps. Eric is offering them at what looks, at first glance, like an utterly astonishing price - they're as good as or better than the consumer S150P, and yet they cost £1400 each rather than £2200. But in fact, while Eric's price is certainly extremely good, the price of the consumer product is actually grotesquely inflated by M&K's UK Distributor, Gecko. Also remember that this is an active speaker: don't think of them as being speakers costing close to £3000 for a pair, but as speakers that cost £1400-£1500 for the pair with some REALLY good and beautifully well-matched power amps making up the rest of the cost (~£1500 for two channels). So they should really be competing head to head with something like the B&W Nautilus 805s or Sonus Faber Grand Pianos. And at this level they trounce the competition. (They are dedicated satellites, of course, which means that they can't function properly without a subwoofer). I'd take the M&Ks without any hesitation over Nautilus 805s, unless you're so strapped for cash that you can't afford even a half-decent sub. Put them up against Nautilus 803s, however, and it's less clearcut. The 803s I think are purer, clearer, less brazen, and remind you less that you are actually listening to speakers. For stereo listening I think the 803s are probably the better choice - but then at £3500 for the pair without amplification they damn well ought to be. (Having said that I'd have to listen to both systems in a similar acoustic environment to be certain. I heard the 803s in a listening room at Graham's Hifi which they obviously worked very hard on optimising. The Batcave is probably closer to a real living room.) It's trickier when thinking about a home cinema system. The 803 sides and HTM1 centre are pretty well matched, but it's still not perfect; with an M&K setup you're actually using the same speaker at all three front positions, so the soundstage is immaculate. More importantly the Nautilus 800 series really doesn't have a satisfactory surround speaker. The SCM1 isn't bad, but it's (obviously) in the same class as the 805, not the 803 or HTM1, and it's also monopole only. There is no doubt in my mind that M&K 2510 monopoles or 2525 tripoles would do a substantially better job of the surround channels, especially the active versions. B&W obviously want people to buy from their new Signature range, and I've read reviews which suggest that Signature 805s are a significant step up from the Nautilus 805s, so the SCM1s are probably better too, but it really sticks in the throat to have pay so much extra for the finish on the case. So for creating an all-round soundstage, the M&Ks probably have the edge. So there you are: the M&K speakers are beautifully controlled, splendidly dynamic, but with perhaps a hint of harshness, especially on CD material. They're best suited for surround film sound. And there's no question that, at Eric's prices, they're superb value for money.