Zebra Q&A with Susanne & Per Becher, Owners of M&K Sound / Miller & Kreisel
Please give us an outline of your background and your involvement in the audio industry. What can you tell us about the legacy of Miller & Kreisel and why you chose to take it on?
Many years of entrepreneurship is the foundation of our partnership, and as well as having been married for more than 22 years, we have also, for the past 18 years, owned many different businesses together.
When we see an opportunity, we evaluate to see if we feel it will be worth our while, and when the chance arose to take on Miller & Kreisel, the decision was not a difficult one.
Over 14 years ago, Miller & Kreisel Corp. (M&K Sound) went bankrupt and the IP and Trademark was up for sale at an auction in Los Angeles. Even back then, the company had an impressive history behind it and a great reputation within the entertainment industry. The founders had already done some significant work, which amongst other things, included developing the world’s first subwoofer, and also the iconic S150. So, it was clear to us that this was a great opportunity, and we decided to take on the challenge of continuing to develop the brand.
We have been working hard to maintain the basic principles and technologies that made M&K Sound one of the most reputable and popular brands in the music and film post-production – knowing that it is a whole different ballgame to introduce the speakers to end-users, true audiophiles and home theatre enthusiasts.
This has been one of our missions over the past ten years, as well as maintaining our esteemed reputation and continuing to be thought of as the preferred “choice of professionals” for post-production monitors, we have invested a lot of resources in product development to satisfy the growing home theatre market. For this reason, in recent years our in-wall/ in-ceiling solutions have become a significant element of our business, in part thanks to a very close cooperation with our international distributors, whose opinions and input we value greatly.
We have, without a doubt, some of the most dedicated and loyal distributors and custom integrators, and our partnership goes way beyond business alone. Although we are represented in more than 32 different countries around the world, we remain a small-scale business, and all of our partners have become like an extended family.
Studios require the cleanest and purest sound production possible, and professionals need to be able to hear every detail in their recordings without the speaker colouring or distorting the sound.
This offers two benefits for home use:
- You’rehearing the movie/music the way that the artist intended – despite the fact that some people may say they prefer more bass or more treble than has already been accounted for during the recording.
- In many cases,you are not only listening to a faithful reproduction of the recording, but actually through the exact same speakers the professionals are using. There are a lot of good studio monitors out there, but no one offers a greater range of solutions than M&K Sound to bring that experience into your home.
Miller & Kreisel Speakers are designed to be the most accurate for the most discerning listeners, such as sound editors, directors and producers, and those same component parts – tweeters, woofers, and arrays – are used in M&K Sound’s consumer passive products. In fact, the passive products have been developed so carefully and so precisely to match these demands that the trend in post-production studios has been, in recent years, to use the same models sold directly to consumers.
Sub-sat systems hold some considerable benefits over traditional floor-standing and large format full-range speakers.
- Miller & Kreisel satellite speakers have a very large ‘sweet spot’, since the drivers in satellites are all closer together. This leads to the speakers having a smoother off-axis response, meaning every seat in the room will enjoy an optimal experience.
- Bass is hard to reproduce. For a speaker to reproduce bass down to 20Hz (lower end of the audible range), its woofers need to move a greater distance. When this occurs, the sound starts to distort more and more. If your main speakers are trying to reproduce these extremely low frequencies at the same time, then they will also be reproducing vocals and music, which will only add to the distortion even more. Having a dedicated subwoofer (or two) allows the speakers to operate in their optimal range, while the sub is tailor-made to reproduce the low notes.
- Placement flexibility. With bass, your room really matters. Having a separate dedicated subwoofer allows you to place the subwoofer where it blends best with the room and doesn’t produce nulls in listening positions.
- Finally, there is also a cost-benefit. Large full-range speakers can cost much more than a sub-sat combo for the same performance. This is because more materials are required to make the cabinet, plus larger woofers to reproduce bass cost more. In addition, they also typically have three-way crossovers, which cost more than twice as much as a two-way crossover.
The M&K Sound Tripole ® is a unique speaker. There are two typical types of surround speakers; direct and reflecting. Direct radiating (or mono-pole) surround speakers are just like front speakers or bookshelves – they fire sound towards the listening area. Reflecting surround speakers (referred to as Dipole or Bipole) actually fire the sound sideways, and use the walls of the room to create a more diffused surround sound effect. M&K Sound Tripoles ® combine these two types of surround speakers into a single cabinet. Operating as a direct radiating AND a dipole with two full-range side-firing drivers, they preserve the integrity of the recording, while also adding a more diffused sound effect.
The all-new in-wall M&K IW150 Tripole ® takes the exact same drivers and technology from the on-wall Tripole and puts it into an in-wall formfactor. The S150Ts are great speakers when it’s not possible to cut holes to accommodate your set-up, but the in-wall version of the Tripoles actually does a little better job.
With the box speakers, you must worry about wall and cabinet diffraction, but since the in-walls are firing from what us speaker nerds call an “infinite baffle”, the diffraction and reflections are minimised. The IWs also match the grill and size of the IW150 identically, so you get a uniform aesthetic all the way around the room – and you don’t bump into them when you’re getting up to fetch the popcorn!
This is a hot debate amongst home theatre and movie folks the world over, but generally, the answer is yes. Reflected surround sound speakers are not recommended for object-based sound recordings – however, there is still a lot of content out there that is not mixed in Atmos, DTS-X, or other object-based mixes. A diffuse surround still does wonders for older discrete channel surrounds.
There is also a great case for diffuse surrounds for short listening distances (very close to the speaker) and smaller rooms. Plus, the M&K Sound Tripole is not just a reflected surround sound speaker; it also fires directly at the listening area, as recommended with object-based mixes. It simply adds a reflecting element, which creates a more diffused sound field.
Ultimately, it all comes down to preference. While it might not be technically correct to use a Dipole or Tripole with Atmos, you can – and many people like the reflected sound of a diffuse surround speaker.
M&K Sound subwoofers are legendary in design with an illustrious history. What is the significant technology behind the legendary X-Series push pull subwoofer and what do you expect of subwoofer development for the future?
Put simply, the design brief for the X-Series has been to create subwoofers capable of massive sound pressure levels and positively subterranean low-frequency extension, while maintaining the clarity and authority that have made Miller & Kreisel as the market leader when it comes to the lower octaves.
The M&K Sound dual-driver ‘push-pull’ configuration is a well-proven concept that ensures accurate low frequency performance with excellent step response and impulse control. They use a “reversed double driver configuration” – a front-mounted woofer and an identical second, bottom-mounted back-out unit – achieves absolute mechanical linearity with minimal distortion, even when confronted with the most challenging program material.
Creating the next generation of M&K Sound subwoofers was not something we took lightly. With a long legacy of market-leading innovation to live up to, we were proud to present the X-Series back in 2012. It was built to bring new force, authority and clarity to the critical lower frequencies for the listening pleasure of serious music and movie lovers everywhere.”
Now, it is time for the next big leap for our single driver subwoofer, and in spring 2021, we will introduce a new V+ Series, single-driver subwoofer, with a new form factor and a V+15-inch woofer. This will be a powerful beast – but still offering that very low distortion, clarity and the significant touch that only a M&K Sound sub can deliver”.
BLE Room Correction – With all the advancements made over the years, a great speaker still cannot account for bad room acoustics. With BLE Room Correction (coming 2021), some M&K Sound subwoofers will be equipped with automatic room correction that can measure your room and adjust the output of the subwoofer to fit the surroundings.
Wireless Audio Transmission – Wireless audio might not be new and even dates back to 900mhz systems in the 80s and 90s, but technology has advanced to a point where the speed, quality, and latency are now as good as wired connections. These devices are low power and allow you to deliver signal to your subwoofer without the need to cut holes or run wires – allowing for more flexible installation and placement without sacrificing quality. So, this is a development we are currently monitoring.
In general, we will also be continuing with development in the following areas: wireless, more power, distortion-killer rings and double enclosure using multi-layer dampening material in the cabinet walls.
As ever, we will keep an eye on all the details and upcoming trends and developments, and we will implement the features and technology that make sense for M&K Sound products. We do not add features only for the fun of it – they must genuinely offer real improvements to the sound experience, or they simply won’t make the cut. That’s why M&K Sound remains
“The choice of professionals”.
In September this year, we introduced our NEW C15S “behind the screen” 15″ subwoofer, which offers a dedicated 500-watt external amp. The C15S is a powerful black box with a no-fuss design. This is an easy-to-install, invisible, powerful sub that delivers all you need for a seamless home theatre. It is custom-designed from the ground up to reproduce the lowest frequencies which can you hear and feel at loud volumes. The C15S is designed for multi-sub stacking.
Also this year, the S150 speaker is celebrating its “25th anniversary”. There are not many speakers out there that can put ‘25 years and still going strong’ on their resumé, so we are really excited to be reaching this important milestone.
We’ll be celebrating with a very special “25th Anniversary Limited Edition” a stunning space-grey finish featured with a silver plaque with unique number from 1- 250. These speakers have been upgraded using dual-binding posts, Danish-designed crossovers by Jantzen and new Snow-Line wire for increased consistency and quality – they represent a real collector’s item for any audio enthusiast and they’ll be hitting the market in December……We are humbled and very excited about the overwhelming welcome that this Limited Edition has received among our distributors and very loyal M&K fans – so stay tuned across our social media platforms to follow the path of our Limited Edition.
We can’t forget to mention the all new V+ Series Subwoofer, coming in spring 2021 – including V+10, V+12, V+15 varieties.
We have a few more exciting products in the pipeline, but we are not quite ready to reveal those just yet!
Would you please provide a list of your top ten tracks for us to listen to on Miller & Kreisel loudspeakers?
Sure – what about five music and five movie tracks? Some of this will probably sound a bit biased, but several of these classic titles have been sound edited on Miller & Kreisel studio monitors and we love them!
- Adel – Live at Royal Albert Hall
- Chris Botti live Boston
- Hitman 1 & 2 by David Foster and Friends
- U2 – Rattle and Hum
- Steely Dan – A Tribute to Walter Becker
- Star Wars Trilogy (an obvious choice!)
- A Star is Born
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Mission Impossible – Rouge Nation