RBH MC Series Mark II Reviewed

RBH MC Series Mark II Reviewed

When listening to music on a 5.1 track, the vocals were "smooth and the guitar work came through with crisp detail." When watching DVDs the bass was "adequately tight" while the "midrange and upper-midrange was full and created a wide sound stage. Highs were detailed and never forced." The MC series is "a remarkable performer of both music and movies..."

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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.

Additional Resources
• 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...

Unique Features
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.
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Setting up the MC ensemble was a piece of cake. I kept the extra
MC-616 MKIIs off to the side initially, so I could assemble a
straightforward 5.1 system. Connecting everything to a Yamaha RX-V1500
A/V receiver, I set all the speakers (including the towers) to "Small"
and selected 80Hz as my crossover frequency.

The TS-12AP subwoofer provides a variable Phase control, adjustable
crossover frequency (40Hz-180Hz) and a volume/level control, so
calibrating the sub was fairly easy. Like I said, I set the crossover
at 80Hz on the Yamaha and I turned the knob on the TS-12AP to its
maximum setting (180Hz) to remove the danger of cascading crossovers.
Maximizing your sub's crossover and letting the receiver make all of
the decisions is often the best method when setting up a sub.

Final Take
After letting the speakers run for about sixty hours, I started popping
in some of my reference material. During those first sixty hours, my
initial impressions were good and things only improved from there.
While listening to the Best of Sessions at West 54th (Vol.1), I was
very impressed with how the MC Series handled Suzanne Vega's "Caramel."
Vocals on the 5.1 track were smooth, the guitar work came through with
crisp detail and I was unable to detect unnatural coloration introduced
by the RBH drivers.

Switching over to Stereo mode on the Yamaha, I reached for Sarah McLachlan's
Surfacing and went right to the slow and resonant "Angel." Sarah's
breathing on the microphone is often discernible and it came through
perfectly here. I proceeded to listen to this track in two-channel mode
using the MC-616 MKII, the MC-6C MKII and also the MC-6T MKII. I
alternated between using the subwoofer and not using the subwoofer to
see which models could get along without it.

As expected, the MC-6T was capable of the deepest bass and left
little want for added oomph. The MC-6C is a surprisingly able bookshelf
and its sole 6.5-inch driver did a respectable job with the material,
though I preferred adding the sub to round out the bottom end. The
MC-616 is the best compromise and my favorite speaker in the bunch.
This highly capable L/C/R did a great job with "Angel;" McLachlan's
nuanced voice had startling clarity and I could get along just fine
without the subwoofer. A very respectable 7.1 system could be created
using six of these and the 10-inch sub.

For testing how well a speaker handles dynamic material, there are
few better tests than chapter 14 of Open Range. For anyone who hasn't
seen this great little western, do yourself a favor and rent it today.
The shootout in chapter 14 is in my top five for western gun fights.
From the initial revolver shot to the barrage of shotgun blasts and
breaking glass that follows, the MC Series handled it all with ease.
Bass didn't seem tremendously deep, but what was there was adequately
tight. Midrange and upper-midrange was full and created a wide sound
stage. Highs were detailed and never sounded forced. One thing was
certain when the dust cleared: the MC Series is a remarkable performer
of both music and movies.

Maybe I like RBH because they're American-made and they've been
around since 1976 -- just like me. Maybe I like their speakers because
they have elegant, traditional and unpretentious lines. (I won't be so
bold as to continue the comparisons with myself.) When it comes right
down to it, I like the redesigned MC Series because, considering their
price tags, they sound just great. End of story.

Additional Resources
• 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.

RBH MC Series Mark II
MC-6C (2-way bookshelf)
6.5" woofer, 1" tweeter
120 watts, 8 ohms, 86dB sens
7 3/4"W x 121/2"H x 8 3/4"D
Weight:17 lbs.
MSRP: $749/pair

MC-616C (2-way L/C/R)
6.5" woofers, 1" tweeter 180 watts, 6 ohms, 89dB sens
191/2"W x 7 3/4"H x 9"D
Weight: 24 lbs.
MSRP: $479 each

MC-6CT (2 1/2-way tower)
6.5" woofers, 1" tweeter
200 watts, 6 ohms, 88dB sens
7 3/4"W x 40"H x 111/2"D
Weight: 55 lbs.
MSRP: $1,049/pair

TS-12AP (powered subwooler)
12" woofer
200 watts, 4 ohms, 87dB sens
Crossover: 40Hz-180Hz
MSRP: $899 each

Additional Resources
• 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.

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