Now that I've been evaluating gear for a few years, it's comforting to have a portfolio of reviews I can look back on and reference when writing new ones. That said, developing a sizeable frame of reference can actually be somewhat of a mixed blessing. On the plus side, it helps to have heard or seen numerous products at a given price point because perspective is gained, particularly regarding a product's value. The bummer is that once you see or hear something totally unique to that class of gear -- even if it's just a single feature on a particular spec sheet -- you get spoiled and expect that from everything else.
• Read more subwoofer reviews from HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore more reviews in our Bookshelf Speaker Review section.
• See more products in our Floorstanding Speaker Review section.
Thankfully, speakers tend to be (comparatively) less complicated than most A/V components. You don't have to worry about the presence of an HDMI port or the number of colors on the graphical user interface. More often than not, the only important question is how good do they sound?
It's been more than a year since the last set of RBH boxes passed through this house -- I reviewed their stylish AC Series loudspeakers in the Winter 2003/04 issue of HDTV ETC. (Granted, we've only been in our new house for six months, but you get the idea. Work with me.) I enjoyed the sound and the looks of the AC Series so much that my decision to review the recently redesigned MC Series was not among the more difficult choices I've made in my life. RBH will tell you, and I can confirm, that the MC Series Mark II (MCI) is a solid step up from the AC Series, both in sound quality and in the aesthetics department (they look real good). And since I enjoyed the AC Series, I knew that could only mean good things...
The MC Series Mark II is comprised of two bookshelves (MC-4C Nall, MC-6C MKII), two center channels (MC-414 MKII, MC-616 MKII), a floorstanding tower model (MC-6CT MKII) and both 10- and 12-inch powered subwoofers (TS-12AP, TS-10AP). Passive versions of these subs are also available. RBH was kind enough to send me a little bit of everything. My review setup included a pair of the towers for the mains, an MC-616 MXII for the center, a pair of the MC-6C MKII's for surrounds and the 12-inch sub. They also sent me an extra pair of MC-616 MKII's. Why? Funny you should ask...
The most interesting speaker in the collection is definitely the MC-616 MKII. Thanks to its unique D'Appolito driver arrangement, sandwiching the tweeter between two midrange drivers, this versatile L/C/R speaker can be placed horizontally or vertically. This means that you can easily use three of them in the front of your system for perfect timbre and tonal matching across your soundstage. Although you could certainly use them for surrounds as well, the smaller MC-6C MKII bookshelf is more than adequate for those less critical surround channels. However, if you're a big fan of full range, multi-channel music, the more powerful MC-616 MKII would be a better bet.
Installation/Setup/Ease of Use
One thing I quickly noticed after unpacking these babies is their relatively seamless construction. This new MC Series features a redesigned baffle and countersunk woofers to hide things like screws and washers you frequently see when removing a speaker grille. The grilles themselves are quite sturdy and use a nice metal (instead of plastic) post for affixing the grille to the speaker face. These posts have plenty of grip to hold the grilles in place, but they also pop off without too much difficulty. With the grilles off, these black beauties looked quite fetching, showing off their silver aluminum cone drivers. In addition to its attractive exterior, the MC Series uses RBH's Resonance Damping Alloy BaffleTM (RDAB) to minimize cabinet vibration and tweeter diffraction.
My only nitpick in the ergonomics department was the binding posts. I found them hard to turn, due to their short posts and a somewhat cramped recess for my big fingers. The carpet spikes/feet on the towers were some what of an enigma. I eventually got them on properly, but it took a few tries and while I wondered, "Does that look right?" They work fine though, once you get them on.Read more on Page 2.