Friday, October 9, 2015

Micca MB42x MK III review: Late to the party but I still showed up!

Micca MB42x MK III
Late to the party but I still showed up!

For a little more than a year, the Micca MB42x has been the cheap/budget audiophile darling. Plenty of good user and a few good technical reviews have established these speakers as a solid option for those wanting to take their first step in to good sound reproduction. Having spent time just about every other speaker in the same category it was high time I got myself a pair to see what the hype has been about.

I picked up the newest revision of the speaker the the MK III, the cross overs have been improved to 18db per octave slopes, over the previous 12db per octave and all the drivers have been stamped with MK III on them (though I don't know if the drivers have actually changed at all). 

How do they Sound?

In some ABX testing with the Infinity Primus p143, the Micca's compared very favorably. At times it was very difficult to find a marked difference between the two speakers. The most obvious plus for the Micca's is able to play lower. Though none of the Primus bookshelf speakers are bass monsters. But when there was a lot of energy being played in the 1-4khz band it wasn't all that hard to tell that something was off with the Micca's. Not necessarily bad, or distracting, but different and thus not as "right" as the Infinity's do it. The good news, that it's a relatively gradual hump so it's not a smack in the face, more like a gentle reminder that these are still very budget minded speakers.

While not a rail flat playing speaker, The Micca's are solid performers for the price point. Though it seems that that price point keeps creeping up with their popularity. At between $70-$90 I think these are good options. But if the Micca's ever get back into the $100 range (they are $94.12 with Amazon Prime as of this writing), as they did when the apparent switch to the MK III happened, I think people will be better served by going to the $120+ range of the Pioneers and Infinity's.

Here is the resent price history of the Micca's

I was pleasantly surprised that the Micca's lived up to the hype they have enjoyed the last year or so. If you already have them, I wouldn't upgrade unless you were looking to spend $150 or more, or you needed something bigger/louder.

If you are still deciding on what you want, then overall the Primus p143 is a flatter playing and measuring speaker and much better built. But the Primus also cost about 50% more unless on a deep sale.


Close mic driver measurements 

Starting with the port measurement (RED), this little speaker plays pretty low for it's size. Looks to be tuned about 50 hz or so. Even being 2+ feet from a rear wall, it plays lower than the Infinity p143 with it's short little front port.

The Midrange driver (BLUE) does a pretty solid job, There is a little bit of elevation and jaggedness from 1-1.5khz; which doesn't seem to be too offensive in the close mic measurements but does appear to grow a bit in amplitude in the 1m measurements. This rough patch is followed by a sharp drop followed by a slow roll off.

It looks like drivers are crossed over at 3khz, and the tweeter does a good job of being pretty flat with the grill removed (PURPLE).

1m outdoor and gated measurements, overlayed with drivers.

Overlaying the 1m outdoor and gated measurements (should be accurate to ~600hz) with the close mic measurements. Shows smooth broad hump from about 700hz-2khz, with it's peak matching the roughness out of the woofer, and some of the port noise, though I think that is coincidence. That hump falls back down a bit, at the same point where the woofer has it's notch, and then another bit of a peak at the cross over point. The woofer seems to be pretty capable on the low end, but I think that issues that to exist are related to the woofers upper end response.

Micca MB42x MK III 1m Horizontal axis measurement

The Micca's do a pretty solid job at maintaining good dispersion out to 30 degrees off axis

Micca MB42x MK III 1m Vertical axis measurements

The Micca's appear pretty typical in their vertical axis measurement with a big nasty null that starts at the crossover point.

Micca MB42x MK III vs Primus p153

Micca MB42x MK III vs Primus p153 level matched @ 100hz

This isn't a perfect apples to apples comparison. I thought I had remeasured my p143's when I took the measurements of the Micca's (and a bunch of others), but I seemed to have only saved the measurements to the larger Infinity Primus p153. 

No changes were made to the source or amp, speakers were switched and mic highlight was adjusted to the tweeter.

The p153 plays louder (though not any lower as seen in the level matched graph) in the mid-bass and lower mid-range area which help flatten our the frequency response, doesn't have any hump at 1k, but it does have a bit of elevation past 8k which might makes them a bit bright for some.

So again not an apples to apples comparison, but the p143 shares enough of the same qualities with the rest of the Primus line that some insight can still be gained.

I'm glad I finally got to hear the hype on these little speakers. They sound nice for the price, play pretty deep, look good enough, and are well built. 

Anyone who already has them should feel confident in their choice. If digital EQ is your thing, then they take to that very well and you can get some very impressive results.  

I still like other speakers better, but they are also just a bit more expensive.

I am a little concerned about the price creeping higher and higher though. They are bordering on $100 right now, and at that's getting close to Pioneer and Infinity territory, and depending on your audio preferences I think either of those are a step up form the Micca's.

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