Microlab SOLO9C Review

👤by Tony Le Bourne Comments 📅30-04-14
Performance Testing

Setup, Design & Observations
The first and most notable hindrance to setting up the SOLO9C would be the mass, at close to 10Kg each, weaker people may underestimate the amount of energy required to move these speakers into position. Once done, connecting the cables are relatively simple. For the HDMI pass-through, Set your Blu-ray player to LPCM audio output and connect it directly to the HDMI input on the SOLO9C, then connect your screen/TV to the HDMI output. The other input sources are fairly straight forward to setup.

The design of the SOLO9C is very attractive with a black/very dark brown wooden effect which would easily fit into many living room designs. The build quality is exceptional, from the sturdiness to the dials everything seems in place. The remote, while light, seems strong and perfectly adequate. The remote was tested at a range of 3.5m and seemed to work well within an arc of around 80 with the right speaker in the centre of the line-of-sight, if these are placed on the floor, make sure nothing blocks the right side speaker. The dials freely rotate 360 with tactile feedback given in the form of little clicks, thus increasing/decreasing volume digitally. The top dial also doubles up as an input selector by pressing it in. The only real issue with the build quality, are that the feet are spongy pads stuck onto the bottom, but considering the seem stuck on well, this is more of an oversight. This would mostly affect those mounting the SOLO9C on a laminate flooring and may prefer a more robust solution for the feet without worrying they will wear off after a little moving around.

Testing out the bass capabilities, I ran a low frequency sweep from 10Hz-100Hz, bearing in mind that the SOLO9C is rated for 50Hz-20,000Hz, I was pleased to find that the 20-50Hz range was audible (below 20Hz tends to be outside of human hearing).

At first I decided to play through various music tracks from my phone and immediately it was clear that the sound was impressive, enough for me to instantly realise that my phone is a very poor quality audio source and decided to move on. So I then decided to connect the SOLO9C to my PC to throw a tirade of abusive audio tracks that are capable of shredding through the bass, mids and treble. The 9C was able to articulate the whole range fantastically and competently. I thought it may be best to let the speakers 'break in' for a while before throwing it to maximum volume. I did this by leaving them to play shuffled music for several hours each day over the course of a week, this would have included music from all types and genres. While it is hard to objectively decide whether this break in period had a real effect or not, the audio clarity was decidedly excellent. Nuances in the high tones were present alongside deep bass, while the mid tones and vocals were never drowned out.

Cranking it up to the max volume (numbered 60) was close to committing suicide as face blasting, foundation shaking volume was produced. There was a touch of distortion introduced at max volume, but it was hard to tell if this was from 'being too close' or the speakers inability to handle the volume, to which I suspect a combination of the two. It could even be that the break in period was inadequate.

The volume is scaled 0-60 on the speakers, while volume level may mostly be subjective, this scale is given in consideration to 'home use', I know there are 'louder' speakers, but this is just to give an impression in a home setting.

1-10, being next to silent/ inaudible,
10-20, barely audible/background,
20-30, quiet, light listening,
30-40, moderate listening, good for movies or music
40-50, loud listening, cinematic feel for movies, light party level for music
50-55, very loud, party level, not advisable for everyday listening unless your aim is to anger your neighbours,
55-60, very loud+, this is where there was some distortion noticed, though honestly, I wouldn't recommend using this volume unless you intended on having a street party.

For gaming, in a way, the SOLO9C is overkill, mostly because games tend to have a limited audio compression, but that didn't stop the awesome sound quality and crystal clear separation of in game sound effects. There is little hesitation needed to say that the SOLO9C is fantastic for gaming. The only real negative would be, some may prefer a surround system over a stereo system for their gaming needs.

To test the HDMI input/output, I watched through Pacific Rim and Thor: The Dark World on Blu-ray, having some food and watching a movie with your friends can never be the same on sub par speakers, the audio quality was enveloping, engaging and crystal clear. The bass moves through you leaving every detail there.

Unfortunately I was not able to test a 3D Blu-ray.

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