Anyone in the market for small speakers such as the RC-Micro should also check out the systems from Energy's sister company, Mirage (both are part of the Klipsch family). The stylish Mirage MX 5.1 goes for $1,200, while the Nanosat 5.1 system can be had for less than half that.
The RC-Micro 5.1 System didn't require a lot of fussing to get the best possible sound. Once the subwoofer and speakers were wired up, we turned the sub's crossover knob all the way up to its maximum setting (150 Hertz). In order to adequately blend the sound of the satellites and subwoofer, a receiver with adjustable crossover makes all the difference (not all of them have that capability). Meanwhile, if your receiver has an auto setup feature, it may not select the proper crossover setting. Best to confirm that it's correct, and--if not--manually reset the crossover. For instance, on our test receiver (the Denon AVR-1909), the 120Hz setting sounded best to our ears.
As we set up the RC-Micro 5.1 system we noted one small problem: the satellites tended to move about as we played movies and music. The movement was caused by the wires tugging the smooth-bottomed, lightweight speakers out of position; a bit of double-backed tape on the bottoms (or some generic stick-on rubber feet) will keep the speakers where they're pointed.
We used the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull Blu-ray to stress test the RC-Micro 5.1 system with a modern Dolby TrueHD soundtrack. We quickly learned the wee systems handled even the most torturous scenes, like the ones where Indy (Harrison Ford) and his crew go over a series of waterfalls in an amphibious vehicle. The whoosh and thunder of the falls came through loud and clear--a remarkable feat for a system as small as the RC-Micro 5.1.
The sound was so open and dynamically alive we weren't thinking about the speakers' size. Dialog was full-bodied and articulate; again, we didn't hear the sort of cramped, cupped-hand coloration endemic to tiny center speakers. Even better, the front and surround satellites worked well together, so they created an immense, room-filling soundstage. That quality contributed to the RC-Micro's ability to mimic the sound of a larger system.
Indeed, the speakers sound great, but it was the way the subwoofer so seamlessly meshed with those speakers that put the RC-Micro 5.1 at the head of the pack. With most very small systems, we zero in on their missing mid-bass, which tends to thin out the sound on movies and music. Not this time, though--if anything, it was the opposite experience.
So far so good, but could the system play music without betraying the satellites' wee dimensions? Piano jazz would be a tough test, so we played a couple of tracks from Mike Garson's Jazz Hat CD in stereo, and came away mightily impressed with the sound. Garson's grand piano was all there, the low notes had plenty of weight, and the middle and upper registers were clear. We might quibble about the satellites' lack of upper treble sparkle, but the overall sound was well balanced.
John Mellencamp's Life Death and Freedom CD also fared well, up to a point. The sound at moderately loud volume was good, but nudged higher, we could detect the sats straining and the sub's composure went south. Reducing the overall volume restored our faith in the RC-Micro 5.1's abilities.
Summing up, Energy's RC-Micro 5.1 is simply one of the best-sounding, mini, packaged speaker systems we've heard to date. It's highly recommended for movies and music, and easily justifies its $1,000 price tag.