REVIEW: KRIX MX-5 MODULAR CINEMA SCREEN SPEAKER SYSTEM
You've probably experienced home cinema before, but have you experienced real cinema at home? In this world-first review, we take a close look and listen to the just-announced Krix MX-5 Modular Screen Cinema Speaker System.
Modular Cinema Screen Speaker System
What was it that attracted you to home theatre? Perhaps it was the sound of the Star Destroyer flying overhead during the opening of Star Wars at the cinema. It certainly left its mark on my young and impressionable mind.
Maybe it was when you saw dinosaurs come to life on the big screen in Jurrasic Park? Or could it have been the Dark Knight tearing up the streets of Gotham in his tumbler, in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins?
Whatever moment or experience it was, it likely planted the seed and eventually the desire to recreate the magic of the cinema in your own home.
You may have heard of South Australian loudspeaker manufacturer, Krix Loudspeakers. Even if you haven't, you've likely heard Krix loudspeakers at your local cinema.
Krix has been building commercial cinema speakers since the 1980s. Now an internationally renowned brand, some of the finest cinemas in the world use Krix speakers.
But it's not just commercial cinema speakers that Krix has become famous for. With the company's cinema roots, it's no surprise they create an excellent range of home cinema speakers.
Krix's range encompasses everything from floor standing, bookshelf, in-ceiling and in-wall speakers. While many manufacturers have similar product lines, one of the things that separate Krix from its competitors is its range of dedicated home cinema speakers.
A quick visit to their website is enough to see Krix's dedicated home cinema speakers have more in common with commercial cinema speakers than the domestic loudspeaker designs we're accustomed to.
Krix exhibits MX-30 'Wall of Sound' at Integrate Expo 2018
Krix's MX range, for example, uses the same infinite baffle wall design that made them famous in commercial cinemas in the eighties and continues to be used to this day. And just like their commercial cinema speakers, Krix's MX speakers are modular, designed to be recessed behind an acoustically transparent screen.
The effect is a wall of sound that emanates directly from the screen, just as it does in the cinema. As with most things, though, there are limitations. In this case, it's the need for both an acoustically transparent screen, and a wall recess.
Assuming you've got the space and are still in the planning stage of your home cinema, this may not be a hurdle. Unfortunately, it's not that easy if you're retrofitting an existing cinema room, but certainly worth the trouble, if you have the opportunity.
Sharing the same modular design concept as Krix's MX-30 and MX-20 modular systems, Krix has just announced its MX-10 and MX-5 systems, each stepping down in physical size.
The subject of this review, the MX-5 is not only smaller in stature, but it can even be placed on a shelf, inside cabinetry or directly below the screen.
With an asking price of just $7,995, Krix's MX-5 system consists of matching LCR (left, centre and right) speakers and dual subwoofers. And it's already got installers and enthusiasts scrambling to look at installation ideas.
Of course, this opens up a range of options, including - and dare I say it - the ability to mate the MX-5s with larger screen televisions.
Naturally, you're going to need surround and overhead speakers for Dolby Atmos. For this, Krix recommends either the Dynamix or Phonix speakers for surrounds and the Atmospherix or Hemispherix for height speakers.
Founder, Scott Krix with some of the commercial cinema speakers
The identical LCR speakers feature a two-way design with a single 8” doped paper cone low-frequency driver and 1” ferrofluid-cooled fabric high-frequency driver. All but the drivers themselves and the wave-guide on the front of the cabinets are covered in thick acoustic material to prevent sound leakage and reflections.
The bass reflex cabinets are front vented with heavy-duty rubber feet and gold-plated spring terminals capable of accepting larger gauge bare speaker wire or banana plugs.
With an in-room frequency response of 40Hz-20kHz, nominal impedance of 8 ohms and sensitivity of 92dB, they represent an easy load for most amplifiers and AV Receivers.
The matching subwoofer modules have an 11” doped paper cone driver and downward-firing port. In all other aspects, they share the same design as the LCR channels. It's important to note the subs are passive, which means you will need an amplifier to power them.
Sensitivity for the subwoofer modules is rated at 90dB with a nominal impedance of 4 ohms.
The overall build quality of the speakers could be summarised as 'rugged'. Although well built, the MX-5s are not the prettiest speakers on the market. Which is a fact that Krix acknowledges themselves, stating their modular speakers are designed to be “heard, not seen.”
Situated behind an acoustically transparent screen, Krix recommends the MX-5s be used in small to medium rooms (15sqm to 25sqm) with a minimum screen size of 92-inch (16:9 - 2037x1146mm) or 90-inch (21:9 scope - 2101x900mm).
I placed the MX-5s below my 100” screen and just in front of a centrally located equipment rack. This compromised placement but only option without permanent installation placed the MX-5 system 200mm forward of my usual speaker location, and a tad shy of 3 metres from the listening position.
Ultimately, if I were installing the MX-5 system in my cinema for the long term, its slim dimensions would have made them look at home flush against the front wall. Either way, the MX-5's driver compliment looked quite formidable.
The LCR channels were connected directly to an Anthem MRX-720 AV receiver. Both subwoofers were connected to a Yamaha stereo amplifier, which in turn was connected to the Anthem's subwoofer outputs with room correction performed courtesy of ARC Genesis.
Video was provided by my Sony VPL-VW270ES 4K projector, connected to a Panasonic UB-9000 4K player. The display has been calibrated for both SDR and HDR playback, with custom gamma curves for the latter.
Off to the movies
I began my listening tests by celebrating the start of the school holidays with my daughter, watching Steven Spielberg's Hook. Although dated, the 4K Ultra HD disc has a fantastic Dolby Atmos track considering its age.
Although I had my reservations about placing the speakers on the floor, which placed the tweeters somewhat lower their ear-level, the MX-5s had no such objections. They dug into Hook's Dolby Atmos track with gusto creating a massive soundstage with an excellent sense of both height and width, that wrapped itself around the listener.
The matching front left and right speakers gave the sound a fantastic cohesiveness, bringing the speakers together as a whole. Directional cues and pans, however, were still given the separation they needed to create a sense of space.
Dynamics were excellent, although I didn't quite experience what the MX-5 system was capable of until my daughter had gone to bed: cue, 2018's Halloween on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
As I experienced with Hook, the MX-5 created a massive sense of space in my home theatre. My cinema room was filled top to bottom with the background noise and voices of the institution that housed Michael Myers. As Dana Haines discussed their impending visit with Dr Sartain, her voice took on an echoey character, 'reflecting' the small section of corridor in which she found herself.
As the interview with Michael Myers concludes and the screams of the insane make way to the film's iconic theme song, the speakers well and truly made their presence known. Here the MX-5 system showed it's capable of massive dynamic swings, with a sound that was not just heard but felt.
Krix's brand new MX-5 speaker system proved itself to be a very addictive listen, yet having a characteristic that sounded very different from other speakers I've experienced. Let me explain.
With my much-worn Blu-ray copy of The Wolverine, the listening experience was much the same - everything sounding BIG. The storm and pounding rain at Yoshida's villa, filling my listening room entirely and immersing me.
Dialogue-driven scenes were likewise handled with clarity and enthusiasm, yet strangely unfamiliar to other loudspeakers I've reviewed.
And that's when the penny dropped. I'd realised why the MX-5s are so different from other speakers. I was not listening to home cinema speakers, but rather, cinema speakers for the home.
In terms of timbre, scale and sheer power, the MX-5 system sounds just like what you would experience at your local mega-plex. This resulted in one of the best presentations of The Wolverine I've heard.
Moving onto the DTS-HD soundtrack of Deadpool, the MX5s delivered a faultless performance. With a fantastic soundstage packed with dynamics, the speakers delivered an uncompromising listening experience that was both engaging and exciting.
Wanting to see what the speakers were capable of with lesser soundtracks, I switched to the Dolby Atmos soundtrack accompanying Disney's 4K Ultra HD of Thor. Notoriously quiet and lacking dynamics, this soundtrack can make the best home theatre systems sound lacking.
While the MX-5 system didn't magically transfer the Thor soundtrack into a reference-piece, it did produce one of the better performances I've heard with the dynamically starved Atmos soundtrack.
Where the Thor soundtrack may be lacking, in contrast, Blade Runner 2049 contains one of the best Atmos tracks I've ever heard. The opening scene's tight, punchy bass vibrated and energised my listening room, the only caveat being that it wasn't perhaps quite as tight or fast as what I am used to.
In fairness to the MX-5's subs, I use 10” sealed subs as I favour their faster response. By comparison, with both a slightly larger driver and ported enclosure, they're not quite as fast as a sealed design. But with that said, they only yield a little, and they most certainly make up for in sheer output, which was noticeably better.
Krix revolutionised what was achievable for cinema-in-home with the introduction of its MX modular screen speakers system.
The more affordable, physically smaller and arguably more practical MX-5 system, at least when it comes to installation, delivers both an immersive and exciting home theatre listen. The cohesiveness across the soundstage thanks to matching LCR speakers delivers both natural sound, detail and authentic quality.
Alas, I'm left with no choice but to use the term 'cinematic', and quite emphatically, when describing the performance of the Krix MX-5 modular screen speaker system.
Don't skimp on decent amplifiers to power the system, and you'll experience all of the magic of the cinema in your own home. In my case, the MX-5 system provided one of the most memorable home cinema experiences I've ever had. Simply outstanding - five stars!
For more information, visit Krix.
Krix will show the MX-5 modular screen speakers for the very first time at the 2019 StereoNET Melbourne Hi-Fi Show, in Room 1312 in conjunction with Selby Acoustics. October 18-20.
As the owner of Adelaide based ‘Clarity Audio & Video Calibration’, Tony is a certified ISF Calibrator. Tony is an accomplished Audio-Visual reviewer specialising in theatre and visual products.
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