Microlab M1910, 5.1 Speaker System Review
Performance and Testing
As the microlab M1910 is intended for both PC and home cinema use we will be testing it with a variety of inputs and with a varienty of media.
PC test set up. Intel i7 3960X, Gigabyte X79 UD3 Corsair Vengeance LP Memory Corsair HX850 V2 Corsair Force GT 60GB Coolermaster Storm Trooper. The M1901 was attached directly to both the analogue and digital outputs of the motherboard and tested with a variety of music, video and games.
Home Cinema Set up. Samsung BD-F5500 3D Blue-ray player. The M1910 was connected by SPDIF to the player and a variety of films and music played.
We listened to and viewed a large selection of music and media before selecting familiar tracks with which to make our judgements on the systems performance. For those wishing to reproduce the testing for comparative purposes the following media was used.
Massive attack Mezzanine Track 1 Angel. The system should be able to differentiate between the bass signals at the beginning of the track while still be able to pick out the mid and high frequency sounds such as the glockenspiel/wood blocks used at the start of the track.
Underworld, Underworld, Track 13 Born Slippy. All elements of the mixed percussion should remain separate and distinct.
Kylie Minogue Fever, Track 3 Can't get you... The system should be able to clearly differentiate between the low, mid and high range frequencies.
Beethoven fuer elise. The test system should be able to clearly differentiate the high frequencies of the piano chords, whilst at the same time maintaining the flowing movement of the music.
Saving Private Ryan, Opening Beach landing scene. The system should be able to accurately place the movement of Gunfire around the listening position.
Star Wars Episode III, Opening Space battle scene. The System should be able to accurately track the movement of the space craft around the listening position. The Explosions should carry both weight and direction. Speech should be clearly distinguishable.
Apocalypse Now. Air assault on the village. The Music (Wagner's Ride of the Valkyrie), should be deep and clear whist at the same time allowing the listener to identify and individual gunshots explosions and speech.
World of Warplanes. The test set up should be able to clearly identify the movement of aircraft around the listening position. Gunfire and explosions should carry weight and differentiation.
BF3. The test system should be able to clearly differentiate the location and direction of gunfire. Explosions should be deep yet still crisp and defined.
We tested the M1910 with the pure audio tracks first and found it surprisingly musical out of the box and able to project a decent stereo image. In particular, the sat speakers handle mid and high tones very well indeed. At low to medium volume levels. the system copes well with little adjustment to levels required. Cranking up the volume however necessitated a bit of time spent balancing the output of the Sub as it had a tendency to dominate. This is fine if you like your music bass heavy, but thankfully adjustable in five positive and negative increments if you prefer your tympanic membranes intact at the end of a listening session. On the whole the system coped well with all the music thrown at it, with the only caveat being that at the very highest volume levels (for some strange reason the max volume level is numbered 32) the bass became quite muddled, perhaps due the to ninety degree angled bass port, or perhaps just because we were reaching the limits of the system.
Turning to video, whether on the desktop or positioned for home cinema use, we were again pleased with the performance of the M1910. Having taken the time to carefully position the speakers and set the levels to suit the listening position we proceeded to put it through its paces. The opening "Beach assault" sequence to Saving Private Ryan was first on the menu An accurate sound stage is crucial to the overall effect of this scene and we're pleased to say the M1910 passed this test with aplomb, being able to totally immerse us in the action. The system was also equally adept when tested with the other two titles, with the sub bashing out the Explosions and low end whump of the Hueys in Apocalypse now while the sats took care of the "crack crack" of gun fire.
Finally the Gaming test. Again having taken time to set the system up properly we were pleased with the results. The M1910 was able to accurately plot the movement of sound around the listening position, giving a feeling of much greater feeling of immersion than standard stereo. The 5.1 set up left us with the feeling of having a slight edge over players using conventional Stereo set ups.
We think it's worth pointing out that size of the M1910s satellite speakers ultimately limits its ability to fill a large room with sound. On the desk top it's excellent. In a smallish lounge, dorm room or bed room it's also fine and certainly better than the speakers found in your TV our any soundbar on the market. Stick it in a decent sized lounge though where by necessity the speakers will need to be further apart and it starts to struggle to fill the space. Putting the speakers too far apart causes them to become sonically and spatially isolated