Surround Sound Speaker Systems
- Written by Richard Stevens
- Published on 21 January 2010
I've always been intrigued by Mirage speakers. Their brand and styling are unmistakable. Having never owned a pair and only partaking in a few brief demos, I was eager to spend some time with the MX 5.1 speaker system. I knew the MX speaker system was compact but when the shipping company arrived with a box that was smaller in diameter than my reference subwoofer I started to feel a little disenchanted. While I was excited about finally getting my hands on some Mirage speakers, I've never been a fan of tiny satellites. While I understand their usefulness in the marketplace, I've always been a big speaker kind of guy. My favoritism towards large speakers isn't just cosmetic; I haven't heard many satellite speakers that can convincingly fill a room with sound, good sound! Being the open minded individual I am, I put aside my assumptions and put the MX 5.1 speaker system in place.
- MX Satellites
- Amplifier Power: 10 to 100 Watts RMS/Channel
- Drivers: One 0.6" Titanium Dome Tweeter, One 2.5" Aluminum Cone Woofer
- Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal; 4 Ohms minimum
- Frequency Response: 110 Hz – 20 kHz
- Sensitivity: 87dB
- Crossover Point: 3.5 KHz
- Connectors: Integrated Push Terminals
- Dimensions: 4" H x 3.2" W x 3.5" D
- Weight: 1.5 Pounds/each
- MM-6 Subwoofer
- Driver: One Active 6.5" Aluminum Cone, Two 6.5" Aluminum Cone Passive Radiator
- Amplifier Power: 800 Watts
- Frequency Response: 42 Hz - 200 Hz
- Maximum SPL: 104 dB @ 42Hz, Ground Plane, 1M
- Dimensions: 8" H x 8" W x 8" D
- Weight: 10.1 Pounds
- System Finish: High Gloss Back
- System Price: $1,200 USA
The Mirage MX 5.1 speaker system is attractive out of the box. A lot of manufacturers offer black gloss finishes but with the MX, Mirage does it with pizzazz. Mirage advertises the finish as 'High Gloss Black" from the look of the speaker this is more than marketing hype, they really are eye-catching. Mirage also includes a cloth to help wipe away those fingerprints. The magnetic grill sits atop the dome shaped speaker and can be removed to expose Mirage's signature top-mounted design. The speaker itself feels pretty substantial for a light weight speaker, nothing like the home theater in a box stuff sold at your local big-box retailer.
The MX 5.1 system is composed of 5 identical omni-directional satellite speakers and an equally attractive 6.5" subwoofer with passive radiators on both sides, not something you see on everyday compact subwoofers. The subwoofer was clearly designed to match the 360 degree soundfield of the MX satellites. Each satellite can be stand or wall mounted. The wall mount option is made easy by key-hole slots on the back of each speaker. If you prefer stands, Mirage recommends the Sanus HTB-7 speaker stands but most universal satellite stands should fit the bill.
On paper the MM-6 subwoofer is sure to turn some heads; featuring a built-in 800 watt digital amplifier and 6.5 aluminum woofer. The subwoofer itself weighs a little over 10 pounds but like the satellite speakers Mirage clearly paid attention to detail, hence the dual 6 1/2"passive radiators. While I was a little dismayed by its overall dimensions (8 x 8 x 8), Mirage did enough with the MM-6 to keep me fascinated. The sub has a rated frequency response of 42hz-200Hz, comparable to other subwoofers of its size. Around back you'll find common subwoofer controls, 0-360 degree phase control, left and right line/sub in and auto/on/off power mode.
The satellite speakers are video shielded and measure a little less than 4.5 inches high. As one would expect from a speaker this size the frequency response is 110-20 KHz. The low frequency duties should obviously be directed to the subwoofer. Be sure to adjust your crossover accordingly. I set the crossover in my AVR to 120 Hz which worked perfectly. The satellites are 8 ohms and rated at 100 watts each. Efficiency is middle of the road at 87db's, light work for most receivers and amplifiers. The omnipolar design of the satellite's is intended to create a large 360 degree soundstage. Each satellite features a 5/8 tweeter and 2 ½ woofer.
Big sound from a little speaker? Yup. Right away it was obvious that the MX speaker system was no ordinary speaker package. My listening space is rather large but the MX Satellite's did a great job of filling my room with nicely balanced and detailed sound. Dialogue from the center speaker was crisp and intelligible. The sound had a nice height which seemed to float smoothly over each speaker. At high volumes the satellites began to show their limitations, but these aren't the kind of volumes you would maintain for a 2 hour movie. As satisfying as the speaker was I began to imagine what these speakers would sound like in a smaller room where higher volumes wouldn't be necessary.,/
G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra is not a critic favorite but to its credit it does sport a pretty good DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound track. While I won't talk much about the film itself, listening to the audio mix through the MX satellite's was utterly fun. This movie gives the surround speakers a lot of love which the MX's handled wonderfully. The MM-6 subwoofer was a pleasant surprise, mid-bass was tight, punchy and surprisingly powerful. For such a diminutive sub it makes its presence felt. The MM-6 isn't designed to reach subsonic depths but in a small to medium sized room it's capable of highly enjoyable l sound.
CD's were also pleasing. Imaging was pretty good but not quite as good as other compact speakers I've heard. Then again, the MX's are the tiniest speakers I've come across in quite some time. Nevertheless, it was clear to me that the MX speaker system was designed for home theater. While music playback in both stereo in and multichannel were fine, the size of the speaker kept it from giving me the big musical presentation I was accustomed to. Something that wasn't so apparent when watching movies. Even while listening to music the omnipolar design was true to form, creating a deceptively big sound, but in the end the size of my listening room proved a tad too much.
The old adage is true: you can't judge a book by its cover. The MX 5.1 speaker system is downright deceptive. While I still prefer larger speakers the MX speaker is ideal for consumers who want big sound in a small package. In the right sized room the MX's are sure to be a crowd pleaser. The Mirage isn't intended for head banger volumes but will work well in most home situations. The next time someone asks me what my recommendation would be for a compact speaker system the MX 5.1 speaker system will be high on the list. If you like compact speakers, odds are, you'll like these.