Speaker Shootout! MB Quart QLS-1030 vs. Energy C6

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Carlo Medina, Jul 9, 2003.

  1. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    MB Quart QLS-1030 vs. Energy C6 Shootout

    Last Monday night was “Speaker Shootout Night” at my apartment. In one corner were my five-year old Energy C6 (from the previous Energy Connoisseur line) and in the other corner were my new MB Quart QLS-1030 speakers.

    Click here for background info on MB Quart.

    A Personal Note: I actually buy from Yawa in-store, since they are local to me. I was in the market for a new receiver and when I got there, David and Bill showed me the new line they were carrying (you guessed it, MB Quart). They were hooked up to the receiver line I was going to audition (NAD). I had my trusty test CDs with me and put the bookshelf models to the test. In a nutshell, I was so impressed I asked about the towers. They offered to let me take home a pair for trial and comparison, with my C6s, in my apartment, with my equipment, and my source material. Since I’m on good terms with them, if I was unhappy I could return the speakers with no strings attached.

    Suffice it to say, the 1030s staying at my house. I have my own opinions of them, but I wanted to hear what my friends thought – they have no attachment to Yawa and are music and movie lovers, though not necessarily HT aficionados or audiophiles – I guess enthusiast, or just simply fans, might be a better descriptor. I wanted their opinions to see if I wasn’t just deluding myself in hearing differences between the two, and just to see what their preferences were. I asked each to bring some demo material we could listen to, and Monday night was when we all had free. By then I had broken in the 1030s with about three weeks of pretty heavy use (4-6 hours a day solid, music, movies and TV – I left the sleep timer on when I went to work, leaving 2 CDs to play for 2 hours while I wasn’t home).

    Pre-Test and Testing Protocols & Equipment:

    DISCLAIMER! – I am not a professional double-blind tester, this is simply me and my friends trying to give each speaker a fair evaluation in relation to each other. The following is our attempt at remaining unbiased, I apologize in advance if faults in our testing method are obvious to those who are better at this than we are! [​IMG]

    First off, I was careful to try and minimize any biases with the reviewers. I told them I wanted their honest opinion and comparison, that I was auditioning speakers and comparing them to my old C6s, and that if for any reason I was unhappy I could return them with no penalty. I did not inform them of any specifications or reviews for either speaker line (though they all had been exposed to some degree to the C6s for movies in the past at my house, we generally didn’t do critical music listening on them).

    Pre-shootout (night before) I did level matching comparisons with the Radio Shack Analog SPL Meter. I found that the 1030s were about 3db louder than the C6s at the same wattage (I guess maybe more efficient? They are rated at 4ohms rather than 8ohms for the C6s). So I knew that when I had the listeners I would have to adjust the volume +3db for the C6s in order to make a level playing field (trying to reduce the “louder is better” phenomenon).

    My equipment is an NAD T762 receiver (yes I pulled the trigger on that too!), I used AR 14-gauge speaker wires, both pairs 8 feet long, both pairs terminated with pins (supplied with the wires, installed by me), both pairs from the same spool, both broken-in for approximately 50 hours. Both sets of speakers were connected via the top set of binding posts (both are biwirable but were not for this test) and I used the standard gold-plated connectors supplied with each speaker to connect the two sets of binding posts. Connected via analog inputs to the T762 was my Sony CDP-CE535 5-disc CD changer (1 foot 75ohm, gold plated RCA cables). Everything was “flatlined” – there was no use of tone controls (defeated) or DSP processing of any kind. I do own a subwoofer but it was not used in this test, as I wanted the full range of the main speakers to be evaluated, so the full range of sound was sent directly to the test speakers (sub set to Off in the receiver setup).

    Both sets of speakers were set up about 10 feet from the listeners, 1.5 feet from all walls, in standard stereo configuration. I had an MBQ/Energy MBQ/Energy configuration so as to not give one speaker the edge by being the “outside pair.” All were equidistant from the listener and toed-in towards the listening area.

    Prior to A/B’ing, I warned the listeners that this would be a single-blind test, that they should refrain from trying to identify the speakers and just concentrate on the sound they heard. I would be playing a passage (1-2 mins) from each selection and playing the exact same passage again on the second pair. I would be mixing up which pair went first, and maybe even throw in a curve of playing the same speaker twice just to see if they were actually listening or already had a predetermined idea of what each speaker should sound like (they actually laughed at this but I was serious). I would go back and forth after giving each pair a chance to play the material if they needed further listening for comparison. I was the only one who knew which speakers were “Speaker 1” and “Speaker 2” for each test, and these I alternated randomly, and level matched accordingly (+3db for the Energys).


    Test/Comparison Material
    (CDs were used for the comparisons, no DVD-A or SACD material)

    Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms (remastered CD, circa 2000)
    Dave Matthews Band: Before These Crowded Streets
    Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here (Shine On Box Set version)
    Pink Floyd: Dark Side of the Moon (Shine On Box Set version)
    Norah Jones: Come Away with Me (Redbook layer of SACD)
    Exotica (some latin CD that "K" brought, I'm not familiar with it, I'll update the CD info when I hear back from him)
    The Empire Strikes Back: Special Edition Soundtrack (2 disc version)
    Natalie Merchant: Tigerlilly
    Yo-Yo Ma: Simply Baroque
    Smashing Pumpkins: Siamese Dream

    Testing, Results & Comments

    There were three reviewers, referred to as “M”, “K” and “H” for purposes of this post. I took comments from them after listening to each passage of music (about 1-2 minutes) on both speakers. On several occasions I replayed both speakers because one or more listeners was unfamiliar with the source material, but on the whole they were familiar with most of the music before testing.

    Note: I am summarizing, as they had more in-depth comments which I can reprint later if someone so desires. Also I am paraphrasing as they did NOT know which speakers were which (I added the names in myself), as the stereo imaging was that good for both pairs, it sounded like the music was coming from “the front” and not from one pair or the other. Admittedly though they could tell towards the end which was which, even when I switched them around in order. So for purposes of their comments I’m adding in the names “MBQ” or “Energy” even though they didn’t use the names since they didn’t know which one was which. Gathering their comments though, they were surprisingly consistent with their comments for each speaker line.

    “M” preferred Energy on most tracks because the bass was a little heavier. He noted that the mids and highs were not as pronounced as they were on the MB Quarts, and the separation was better for the MBQs. But he likes bass and the bass on the Energy was more “there”, more present. But on things like the violins, cellos and vocals, he felt the MBQs sounded better.

    [editor’s note: I believe that the C6 had more “mid-bass” presence, but did not go as low as the 1030s did. The 1030s had more of that “chesty” bass, the kind that you feel in your chest, as well as hear. Reviewer “M” is an admitted “basshead” who admitted that the mid-bass presence was the only category that the Energy excelled in, and since that is his area of preference...however, at louder volumes (85db and higher), he did prefer the 1030s as the low-bass presence really made itself known, and the C6s really seemed to bottom out, getting boomy rather than bass-y...go figure]

    “H” & “K” both preferred the sound of the MBQs. They thought that the mids and highs were superior on virtually every track we tested, whether it was rock, classical or everything in between. “K” mentioned that while the bass seemed to be louder on some passages of rock music, it was kind of “boomy” and not well defined. He liked the lower bass extension of the MBQs rather than the boominess in the “Mid-Bass” (his word) range for the Energys. They used phrases like “not even close” when describing the mid & high frequency performance of the MBQs when listening to the Yo-Yo Ma and female vocalists like Norah and Natalie. They, as was “M”, were able to pick out the Energy and MBQ speakers after a few trials, after listening to both pairs, based on their different tonal characteristics.

    I’ll post my thoughts later in this thread, as I didn’t have time to do my own write-up.

    [EDITED for spelling & grammar]
     
  2. Jass G

    Jass G Auditioning

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    Wow, that's a pretty extensive review.

    YAWA sells that for $1099/pair back to a while ago.

    How about the 830 Model? It is cheaper and looks great, too.

    Anyway, great review
     
  3. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Thanks Jass,

    The 830s and 1030s were nearly identical, the only difference is an additional 5.5" driver (they both have two 6.5" drivers and the same 1" titanium tweeter). I've heard both, and the main reason I went with the 1030s was because it was taller.

    I have a lot of furniture in the apartment and the off-axis listening (which I do a lot, while on the PC or in the kitchen) is better if the speaker can clear the sofa and futon. Otherwise, they were very close in sound (though I didn't do extensive testing at Yawa on this). Actually MB Quart's bookshelf models were very good too, those were the ones that got me interested in auditioning the bigger speakers.

    I really think MBQ is onto something with their tweeter technology. Very good speakers, especially for the price.
     
  4. Jass G

    Jass G Auditioning

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    Yes, Carlo, you are right on that.

    I am still a college student (grad student AKA 24+ yr older)

    I actually found that i could own a pair of high end bookshelf for a reasonable price. The 530 fits in perfectly.

    However, i need to get a CD Player and a Receiver first. Guess i need to save up a little bit.

    Some of my college friends are trying to save up for a 1911 pistol. [​IMG]

    Well, i rather save up less and buy two 530's.[​IMG]
     
  5. Erik Farstad

    Erik Farstad Supporting Actor

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    Great review but not surprising either given the tonal quality and distinctive characteristics of both Energy and MB Quart speakers. Glad you like your new speakers![​IMG]

    E
     
  6. Jass G

    Jass G Auditioning

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    Hi all:

    one of my friend, his nickname is hifi-nerd, told me that this 1030 is not THAT great becoz the sensitivty is below 95.

    Well, i am kinda blind to those specs. Can you guys help me here?
     
  7. Erik Farstad

    Erik Farstad Supporting Actor

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    If sensitivity below 95 means speaker are not good...then my Martin Logan SL3's really suck then being at 89!!![​IMG] Jass...your buddy is mis-informed..a higher sensitivity just means that they'll be easier to run (don't need a huge and powerful amp to push them...like you would if the sensitivity was lower). Just an FYI...[​IMG]

    E
     
  8. Jass G

    Jass G Auditioning

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    Well, you bet!

    He is a material science major at my school and doing his PhD. He is doing some related research projects on sound and speakers i guess. I already forwarded your message to him. Thanks[​IMG]
     
  9. Robert_Z

    Robert_Z Screenwriter

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    Energy C-6 is probably one of the best somewhat affordable speakers ever made (that I have heard). I was in love with my C-4s and regret selling them. Have never been able to get my hands on a pair of black C-6s. When I do, I will boot the new C-5s out the door with great haste, and live happily ever after. [​IMG]
     
  10. Erik Farstad

    Erik Farstad Supporting Actor

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    So I'm not the only one who likes the older Energy C-line compared to the newer ones?! [​IMG]

    E
     
  11. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Erik, you are absolutely not alone! I am friends with another dealer who still stocks Energy, and he runs the old C6s at home and has never been motivated to "upgrade" to the new C-line. Simply put, he says "nothing in the new Connoisseur line measures up to the old C6."

    Which is why I was so surprised to find myself liking the 1030s so much in comparison to my C6s. I've been in and out of Yawa for five years now and nothing they had that I heard (and granted I stay under the $2K per pair price range) had even remotely made me want to upgrade...
     
  12. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Okay, my own personal thoughts/mini review

    I'm pretty much in line with what the guys said. I came to these conclusions before, but was glad to see it was validated by other ears.

    The highs and mids are more present, more "there" - and yet there is more spaciousness and openness too. I do think that the bass is more accurate on the MBQs, using the AVIA sweep they go down to 30hz and lower without too much dropoff (can't give exact measurements I have an SPL analog meter and am not too suave at using it). The C6s definitely had a more bass-y sound, but I thought at times it was just a tad boomy, not as well defined as the MBQ.

    Now I don't like "bright" speakers like B&W. I don't think the MBQs are bright, or even forward. I think they have a better presence at the upper frequencies than the C6, but are not overpowering or inaccurate.

    Bottom line, I've been enjoying these speakers now for a month and can't get enough of listening to music on them. I'm digging out CDs I haven't listened to in a while just to hear new life breathed into them. Also am now in the market for an SACD and DVD-A player so I can really push these MB Quarts!

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. Alan Wong

    Alan Wong Auditioning

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    Carlo, thanks for your informative review here. It's what made me buy my MB Quart QLS-830s and 330 center from Yawa. I'm not an audiophile but these sound great for the price I paid.

    I got a NAD receiver as well, T752. It's a great setup for my family room.

    I'm glad I found this thread as I was originally looking at PSBs and bang for the buck definitely goes to the MB Quarts, which Bill at Yawa agreed with. It didn't matter to him which speakers I got, as I was going to spend the same amount of money for either one.

    Alan
     
  14. rin

    rin Stunt Coordinator

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    Carlo, congratulations. Glad to hear that you like your new speakers. I haven't visited Bill in a while but next time I'm out that way I'l have to give those MB's a listen.

     
  15. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    Rin, maybe bright was the wrong descriptor - more like "forward."

    And to be honest, I only heard one set of B&Ws and that was from a long time ago, when I went with the Energy C6 out of a pack I was auditioning. So that descriptor may not have been accurately reflective of the entire B&W line. The one I auditioned had an "in-your-face" quality to it that I didn't like.

    Alan, yes I definitely agree with Bill's assessment. In fact, at the prices Yawa is selling these at, I'm not sure there is a better bang-for-buck deal. Definitely not in their inventory.
     
  16. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    One more thing: those sale prices at Yawa are higher than what they were. Apparently the US dealers weren't happy with Yawa getting a great deal by clearancing MBQ of over half-a-mil worth of merchandise.

    So if you're interested, CALL or EMAIL Yawa (and tell 'em you heard about it through me - that helps keep me in the "good" with them, if you know what I mean!) and the prices will be lower than what you see on the website, and I'm not talking just a bit lower, either (think 20% or more off of the SALE price (not MSRP) for the higher models, a little less savings on the lower models). [​IMG]
     
  17. rin

    rin Stunt Coordinator

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  18. Greg Thomas

    Greg Thomas Second Unit

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    Since these speakers are 4 ohm, you'd pretty much have to buy a NAD or maybe a H/K receiver or get seperates, right? I don't think other receivers will handle 4 ohm loads.
     
  19. Carlo Medina

    Carlo Medina Executive Producer

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    My Sony 555ES handled them fine until I upgraded to a T762. Some mass-markets handle 4 ohms fine, others don't (I think some lower end Pioneers say not to use 4ohm speakers).

    And trust me, the 555ES was not a powerhouse, so if that receiver could drive them, I would think most mass market receivers that do not explicitly say "no 4 ohm speakers" could handle it.

    Rin, it's cool to stick up for your babies. Just odd to admit they roll off at 18khz as a way of sticking up for them. [​IMG]
     
  20. chris.y

    chris.y Auditioning

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    I am new to this forum and am compelled to tell you guys that this thread has been extremely helpful. I didn't realize that MB Quart made speakers for the home and ended up talking to the Yawa guys and trying the speakers out.

    I auditioned the B&W CDM line (7NT floorstanders), the NHT Evolution line and also spent some time listening to Monitor Audio Gold/Silver. Using my reference classical symphony (Beethoven 7), the MB Quarts sounded as good or better than any of the above -- great detail and sound stage. Also, the floorstanders go deep (down to 28Hz).

    My (new) system:
    MB Quart 1030's in the front
    MB Quart 330CTR in the center
    MB Quart 530's for surrounds
    NAD T752
    SVS PB1-ISD on order

    I've been really pleased - thanks for the recommendations!
     

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