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Microlab Solo 6C Speakers Review – big sound at a small price

For testing, the Microlabs Solo 6C speakers were connected to the Asus Xonar Essence STX sound card. We have reviewed this sound card before over here.

Firstly, I wanted to focus on some rock and pop MP3 music recordings. I listened to some guitar tracks from Joe Satriani, Steve Vai and John Petrucci and the Solo 6C did an admirable job of reproducing clear tones across a variety of tracks, such as Vai’s ‘Tender Surrender’, Satriani’s ‘Tears In the Rain’ and Petrucci’s ‘Wishful thinking’.

Due to the large physical dimensions of the Solo 6C cabinets, we wanted to test bass response and fired up some digitally enhanced recordings, such as Jean Michel Jarre’s Complete Oxygene audio disc. The woofer was able to resolve a wide range of tones, without sounding flustered or ‘wooly’. The total volume output is vastly superior to any other speaker system that we have tested in this price sector. So much so, that anything above ’45’ volume was painful in our 12×12 foot room. Distortion was minor.

I decided to shift genre’s to ADELE’s ’21’ and again the Solo 6C resolved a fairly impressive level of wide band detail from the recordings, without overexposing bass, or sibilance from the MP3 recordings. Compared against the Corsair SP2500 2.1 speakers we noticed that the Solo 6C woofers didn’t quite extract all the lower frequencies from some of the tracks, but this is always going to be a compromise when omitting a subwoofer from the configuration. Overall however the audio reproduction was enjoyable and forceful enough to fill a medium sized room.

We directly compared against the ever popular Creative Gigaworks T40 Series II speakers, which retail for approximately the same price. The sound presentation was significantly different between the two sets of speakers, with the Gigaworks T40 Series II delivering a nicer balance of tones in the upper range of dynamic reproduction. I favoured the mid tone reproduction from the Gigaworks speakers, although they can sound rather ‘glassy’ with some material.

We initially felt that Microlab might be overly optimistic with their claims of MP3 optimisation, but we did notice that some poorly recorded, compressed tracks lost a little harshness when directly compared against the Gigaworks T40 Series II speakers. For some people the default settings of ‘0’ treble will be very soft, so there is room for audio adjustment via the remote.

The Jose Gonzalez album ‘Veneer’ was brought to life with the Solo 6C speakers, although the bass settings worked best at around 3/8 as any higher could add an unnaturally rich range of string tones to Jose’s acoustic style of play.

Classical music was presented in a warm, flattering manner, even if some of the soundstaging was compressed a little. If you like audio files reproduced with warm tones, then the Solo 6C may just be the solution you want, without breaking the bank.

Next I shifted to PC based gaming and tested with Battlefield 3 and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3. The Solo 6C are clearly designed for music reproduction because I noticed a minor, yet noticeable ‘flatness’ with the soundstaging when moving immediately from the Corsair SP2500 2.1 speakers. To be fair, the SP2500 speakers are three times the price, so it seems a little unfair to make a direct comparison. That said, after I  ‘readjusted’ for a few hours, I didn’t find any glaring problems, with a huge cavernous bass being delivered at 4+ settings. I wouldn’t say these would be a first choice for PC gaming, but most people would be more than happy with the volume on tap and depth of audio frequencies.

I tested with the BluRay disc of Avatar, as well as an older classic from 1991 – Terminator 2: Judgement Day. The Solo 6C have plenty of volume available from the built in amplifier, however the soundstage is not quite as wide as we had hoped, although the opening scene was delivered with plenty of impact. A set of 5:1 speakers would obviously be a better solution if this was a primary focus for a purchase.

Overall, the Solo 6C create a soundstage which is warm, if slightly two dimensional. They work fantastically well with acoustic and rock tracks, lending a feeling of intimacy when listening to a tight rock band or individual musicians. Acoustic music sounds warm, inviting and very enjoyable.

Microlabs have clearly worked hard in trying to reduce the nastier elements of compressed music playback and it really works well. I would recommend a cheap set of speaker stands, because when set up correctly the bass response is much tighter, and dynamically focused.

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