Micca MB42 review: Compact, stylish speakers on the cheap

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The Good The Micca MB42s have an unusually stylish and compact design for budget bookshelf speakers. Build quality feels better than average, including binding posts instead of spring clips for connecting speaker wire. And the sound quality is good for the price and size of the speakers.

The Bad Larger budget speakers sound better for the same price.

The Bottom Line The Micca MB42's classy, compact design makes it a top budget speaker when style counts, although Monoprice's MBS-650 sound better for even less.

8.0 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Sound 7
  • Value 9

The Micca MB42 is one of the budget speaker darlings of Amazon, with more than 250 reviews that average 4.6 out of 5 stars. It's not hard to see why. With a manufacturer's price of $100 (though Amazon currently lists them for $60), the MB42s feel like more expensive speakers as soon you pull them out of the box, with a surprisingly high quality look and feel. (Pricing for the UK and Australia is not yet available.) They're also charmingly petite, especially next to other budget speaker faves, like the bulkier and boxier Dayton Audio B652 and Monoprice MBS-650.

Unfortunately, that compact size and style comes with a tradeoff: the MB42s don't sound as good as the larger Monoprice and Dayton Audio speakers. While none of these speakers can rock out a large room, the MB42 sound a little thinner and less detailed compared to its budget speaker competitors, especially on more demanding music like hard rock.

Still, if you love their look, the Micca MB42 speakers sound reasonably good and it's hard to argue with the price. But you want the absolute best sound quality at this price -- style be damned -- the Monoprice MBS-650 is a better pick.

Design: Classy on a budget

Of the three budget speakers we auditioned together, only the MB42s have a sense of style. That comes from a lot of little things: rounded edges on the cabinet, a faux wood grain finish, and superior build quality. Perhaps the biggest aesthetic benefit, however, is their small size, coming in at just 9.5 inches high, 5.8 wide, and 6.5 deep (24cm by 15cm by 16.5cm). Side-by-side, the MB42s look considerably more compact and classy than the Monoprice and Dayton Audio speakers, which have a distinctly generic appearance.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Remove the black cloth grille and you'll find a 0.75-inch (2cm) silk dome tweeter and a 4-inch (10cm) woven carbon fiber woofer. On the back, the MB42s feature sturdy binding posts that accept speaker wire terminated with banana plugs, spades, pins, or stripped bare wires. The binding posts are a nice step-up, especially at this price, as they provide a more secure connection than the spring-clips found on most budget priced speakers, including the B652 and MSB-650.

Sarah Tew/CNET

There's not much else to the MB42s. There's no built-in wireless technology, like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Airplay, nor is there any kind of integrated amplification. That means you'll need a separate amplifier or AV receiver to power the MB42s, along with an audio source like a CD player or Bluetooth audio receiver.

Sound quality: Good, but not great

We auditioned the MB42s on metal floor stands with about 4 feet (1.2 meters) from the wall behind them. Because of the speakers' rear port, they'll sound best with at least 6 inches (15cm) of clearance from the rear wall.

Impedance is rated at 4 to 8 ohms and power handling is specified at 75 watts, but the speaker will be a fine match with most AV receivers or integrated amplifiers when played at moderately loud volume levels. That's true for most small speakers, regardless of their power handling specs. We used two integrated stereo amplifiers, a Dayton Audio DTA-120 and a Peachtree Decco65 for our listening tests.