When it comes to selecting speakers for a two-channel system, there are many paths to audio nirvana. There are countless different speaker designs; some attempt to cover as wide a frequency range as possible, others are designed to perform optimally when paired with with one or more subwoofers in a sub-satellite system. This Power Sound Audio 2.1 rig consisting of a pair of MT-110 two-way speakers and the 15V ported subwoofer takes a pragmatic approach to solving the audiophile riddle.
While I do plan on publishing in-depth reviews of the MT-110 speakers and the 15V sub, that’s going to be a project for 2017. However, rather than sit on this great system for all that time, I wanted to share some first impressions right away.
Unboxing and Setup
The MT-110 speakers came in highly protective packaging that was very easy to open. There’s really nothing to it, I had the speakers on stands and wired to an amp within two minutes of breaking the seal on the boxes. If you want to read about MT-110 specs, click here. The “long story short” of it is packaging pro-audio drivers in a two-way speaker designed for residential use is an approach that yields a great result.
The 15V subwoofer took a tiny bit more effort to unbox due to the sub’s size and weight but was still a cinch for one person to do. Click here to read up on the 15Vs capabilities.
For this first impressions post, I powered the MT-110 speakers with a Classé Sigma AMP5, which outputs 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms. It’s a perfect match for the 8-ohm MT-110s, which sport a power handling rating of 175 watts. A Classé Sigma SSP handled pre-pro duties and I used a 80 Hz crossover with a 24 dB slope with for the sub.
I put the MT-110s on 24″ speaker stands and placed them in the same spot as other two-channel speaker systems I review. The front baffles are 54″ from the front wall and six feet apart. I used Monoprice 12-gauge speaker cable to connect the speakers to the amp.
For critical listening, I sat between the two speakers, forming an audiophile-style equilateral triangle. The primary source for music playback was an HDMI-connected Windows 10 desktop PC with iTunes, Google Play, and Tidal Hi-Fi streaming available, along with a number of locally-stored CDs.
Right away it was clear the 15V subwoofer is one of best bang-for-buck 15″ subs I’ve encountered. It’s not going to win a beauty contest, but it sure does set a high bar for a sub that costs under a grand.
A large driver, large enclosure, plus a tuned port provide more dBs per dollar than I’m used to hearing from a sub-$1000 sub. The 15V is very powerful; it digs deep, with no fear of the infrasonic realm. Sine waves played at frequencies as low as 15 Hz come through clean and strong—here’s no audible distortion or port noise to be heard. Subjectively speaking, the quality of the bass this sub produces is top-notch.
The 15V does not come equipped with built-in parametric EQ, but it does offer a variable Room Size control to compensate for room gain.
The aesthetics of this system are not going to suit everyone’s taste—they are decidedly industrial and minimalist. Audio enthusiasts with domestic partners are all too aware that there’s such a thing as a spousal acceptance factor, and (frankly) these speakers are going to be a tougher sell than speakers explicitly designed to blend in with a home’s interior décor.
There is a flip side to the pro audio aesthetic of the MT-110s. Namely, as attractive as gloss paint jobs are, they are also easy to scratch. Worse still, gloss finishes pick up fingerprints every time someone touches them. Power Sound Audio’s textured black finish may not be as flashy as gloss, but it’s tough as nails and home theater-friendly thanks to its low reflectivity.
One of the most appealing qualities of a well-designed, high-sensitivity speakers like the MT-110s is a talent for providing clean and distortion-free sound at very high levels. It’s seductive; even when the volume is cranked to concert levels, there is no listening fatigue. Overall, the listening experience is incredibly effective at evoking the feel of live music. Whether I listened to the audio-show staple “Keith Don’t Go” from Nils Lofgren Live or “Towers of Dub” from The Orb’s album Live ’93, pumping up the volume acted as a combination time machine and teleporter, bringing the feel of the concerts to the listener—that’s the magic of music.
When it comes to studio fare, I was especially impressed with how tunes featuring mad-tight bass—like ScHoolboy Q’s “By Any Means” from the Blank Face LP—took on a tangible physicality that makes a mockery of lesser subwoofer-satellite systems. This rig could crush a Bose 2.1 rig as easily as an elephant can crush a strawberry, or a Mack truck can squash a worm.
Listening to the opening of Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain” from the album So brought back memories of hearing it as a kid—it was the first song I ever heard played from a CD and I loved being able to savor every little detail of that intro.
Jon Kennedy’s “Rock the Beat (feat Ashely Slater)” is a funky jam that combines a fresh beat with male vocals, acoustic guitar, and a really cool-sounding bass riff that is spacey and deep. The soundstage and imaging on this track makes it a particularly engaging listen, and the MT-110s did not let me down.
Ultimately, I plan to publish a full review of both the MC-110 speakers and the 15V sub. But, as far as first impressions go, this 2.1 system represents a clear value to music lovers who prioritize performance, durability, and value above aesthetics.
The MT-110s and 15V together form one of the more potent 2.1 sub/sat systems I’ve had in my studio. They are a good match in terms of capability and I look forward to hearing more of what it can do. With a system cost of $2200 MSRP, this kit offers more high-quality dBs per dollar than I’ve ever heard come from tower speakers selling at a similar price point. My first impression is this “all business” 2.1 speaker system competes with—or beats—many of the expensive “audiophile” systems I run into at high-end shows.