Sound is one of the most overlooked areas of PC enthusiast-dom. It’s not as exciting as overclocking your GPU and it’s difficult to measure the quality. That said, getting yourself a good set of speakers/headphones can make a big difference to your media viewing and game playing, but the price can be a difficult barrier.
Today I’m looking at a 2.1 speaker set from Microlab known as the M700. It’s supposed to have big bass, big sound without the big price tag. Let’s see if those claims ring true.
Highlights of the Microlab M700 2.1 Speaker System (40 Watt)
- Quality 2.1 subwoofer system with powerful bass effect
- Ideal for digital multimedia movies, TV, CD/DVD and Mp3/Mp4 playbacks
- Microlab M series, your ultimate introduction to serious music entertainment
- Crystal clear satellites for dynamic audio movements with reflex function for efficient speaker design
- Deep bass subwoofer with bass reflex technology
Output power: 40 Watt RMS
Power distribution: 12 Watt x 2 + 16 Watt
Harmonic distortion: < 0.3% 1 W 1 kHz
Frequency response: 35 Hz – 20 kHz
Signal/Noise ratio: > 75 dB
Separation: > 45 dB
Input sensitivity: Satellites – 500 mV, Subwoofer – 130 mV
Tweeter driver type: 2.5″ x 2
Tweeter rated power: 15 Watt x 2 6 ohm
Subwoofer driver type: 5″
Subwoofer rated power: 20 Watt 4 ohm
AC power: AC 220 – 240 V, 50 Hz 140 mA or 120 V, 60 Hz 280 mA
- M-700 subwoofer
- M-700 satellites x 2
- 3.5 mm stereo to 2RCA cable
- User manual
Subwoofer: 165 x 290 x 240 mm
Satellites: 90 x 75 x 180 mm
Product net weight: 4.1 kg
Giftbox dimension: 343 x 358 x 208 mm
Giftbox Net weight: 16.4 kg
Export carton box dimension: 431 x 736 x 355 mm
Export carton gross weight: 20 kg
The M700 is packed well so you shouldn’t receive your new speaker set with any damage or issues. Along with the system itself you get a small setup manual and a 3.5mm to phono connector.
The sub is the main centre piece of the set and features a nice matt black paint job on all but the front panel. Here you have some glossy black plastic that reflects wrinkles in your photography tent.
The clear strip running half way up the panel glows red when the system is powered up and sits just above a turn dial volume control. It doesn’t have any sort of quality smooth feel that you get from expensive sets, but it works well enough. It doesn’t feel like crap, it’s just not beautifully smooth as you get on some.
The right hand side has the… opening that I don’t know what it’s called. Somebody tell me so I don’t feel like a dummy.
The rear panel has some in and out phono connectors, an on off switch and a bass turn dial. Personally I’d prefer if the bass knob was on the front so I can tweak dependant on what I’m listening too – without always leaning to reach the back – but it’s not the end of the world.
The little speakers are very light and feel a little cheap, but they’re put together well where there are no loose parts or sharp edges, it’s all professional. The main section of the front is made up with speaker foam, with a small red line under a Microlab logo.
The satellites come with preattached phono cables for hooking up to the sub. Data and power is sent down the same cable.
CPU: Core i5 750 @ 4GHZ
Motherboard: Asus P7P55D-E
GPU: Sapphire 5850 1GB
RAM: Corsair Dominator 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3
Storage: Samsung F3 500GB 16MB
CASE: NZXT Hades
Sound Card: Auzentech Prelude 7.1
To test this speaker set I used it for several days listening to different genres of music, playing several games, watching a couple movies etc. While I appreciate that this is a subjective test, I think it’s about the best way to test something as real world as sound quality.
Holy shit. How is that such a cheap set has this much power and clarity? I’ve jacked these speakers up to maximum volume on the set itself and on the sound card and I haven’t heard them clip once. That’s with max bass too, which isn’t lacking in any sense. Sure you’re going to get a thumpier lower end if you spend a lot more, but you would have to as these little M700’s are fantastic.
Listen to something hard, listen to something soft, you’ll find that this 2.1 set covers all the bases. Get it? Bass, bases. Oh I crack myself up.
But seriously folks… for music listening purposes, I’d really struggle to name a set of headphones or speakers that produces anything close to this level of audio excellence at this price tag, regardless of genre. I’ve listened to rock, metal, dubstep, classical, hip hop, RnB and everything in between and I’ve yet to listen to something where I go “meh, it could be better.”
I hate to give something 100 per cent praise so how’s this. In some of the softer songs I listened to it can feel perhaps too pumped up, like it could do with a little less punch. When you’re complaining about a speaker hitting you too hard though, it’s a bit of a niggly issue.
Games are good for ambient sound testing. In a gaming environement your attention can be focused on one element while still experiencing peripheral sounds and noises from the environment. Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim was a good choice for this as it features plenty of extra tinkles and bangs from the world around you.
Those used to 5.1 or higher sets are of course going to notice the drop off with a 2.1 system, there’s only so much you can emulate when all the sound is coming from the front. However the M700 does a good job and creates a solid stereo field. Things to your right sound like they’re to your right and vice versa. Behind isn’t quite as well done, but you get enough of a feel that it’s doable.
I tried a couple of other games that I’m playing at the moment, including From Dust and Osmos, which both have lovely relaxing soundtracks and effects. They sound great and it was difficult to pick out any issues at the lower volumes used in these titles.
If you crank things up a bit, you do notice a little loss of clarity with the higher frequencies but that’s about all I could pick up on.
Movies are an important test for a speaker set as they can get incredibly busy with dialogue, music, sound effects and more going on at once. A decent speaker set will let you hear all these elements clearly without muddying them together.
For this I chose the opening fight scene from Blade and a couple of the better action sequences from Equilibrium. In both instances the M700 set didn’t dissapoint, with no muddying of sounds everything was clear. Some of the bigger impacts could have done with a little more punch and I think with everything going on it might be hitting the limit of what the speakers can handle, but they’re still excellent for movie watching. Bass was right there for explosions and music came through beneath the bed of action, but yea, just a little more punch to it would have been nice.
Microlab have created an incredibly impressive kit here. The M700s are an astoundingly cheap 2.1 set with clarity, bass and volume that’s completely uncharacteristic of a system like this. If you like volume too, this is a kit for you. Crank it all the way, go nuts, you’ll notice very little loss in sound quality.
There are of course a few caveats but for under £30, the short list is amazingly short. Some of the higher frequencies can get a little dulled and in busy movies or game sequences you can lose a little of the punch found in music, but apart from that, the only issue people might have is that the bass isn’t as powerful as you get with bigger subwoofers.
All in all, for £30 I’m more than happy saying there is almost nothing out there with the same quality and value for this sort of price tag. If you’re on a budget and want a great, and I do mean great, 2.1 set, this is the one you should buy.
A lot of power, volume goes all the way without quality loss
Punchy music tracks and impressive bass
Fantastic value for money
Loses a little punch during action movie scenes
Little loss of clarity in high end frequencies
Bass would be better with bigger subs