All it takes is one glance at the Micro Ti surround sound system to know that Anthony Gallo, the system’s creator, is an engineer who literally and figuratively thinks “outside the box.” Nothing else looks, or performs, quite the way that this system does. But Gallo doesn’t take different approaches just for the sake of being different; instead, he’s looking to introduce innovative solutions to real-world design problems, always with an eye toward delivering more/better sound for less money.
At the heart of the Micro Ti system are five softball- sized satellite speakers serving as wall-, table-, or stand-mount L/C/R/surround modules that feature 3-inch, full-range, paper-damped titanium drive units housed in sphere-shaped metal enclosures. Those spherical enclosures may look a bit odd, but they are far more rigid than a boxtype enclosure of equivalent size, have no parallel walls to cause internal reflections or standing waves, and no sharp edges to cause diffraction. What’s more, Gallo stuffs the enclosures with proprietary “S2” damping material that—get this— effectively changes the spring constant of the air inside, giving the tiny spheres the acoustic properties of higher-volume enclosures. Finally, Gallo goes with light, stiff, inherently well-damped fullrange titanium drivers (rather than separate tweeters and mid-bass drivers) because he believes crossover networks almost always degrade sound quality. The system’s 100-watt, TR-1 sub is pretty innovative, too, housing a 10-inch woofer in an all-metal, cylindrical enclosure that looks like a depth charge you might see in a submarine movie.
Tip: The Micro Ti system needs plenty of break-in (about 50 hours worth) before it sounds its best.
If you looked up the term “midrange purity” in an imaginary A/V Enthusiast’s Dictionary, you’d probably find a photo of the Micro Ti satellites there. Stated simply, the Micro Ti satellites offer levels of midrange focus, detail, and nuance that would normally be associated with much more costly speakers, and those same virtues carry right on down into the bass range thanks to the excellent TR-1 sub. Surround sound imaging is particularly good, too, partly because the main channels use identical speakers for perfect voice-matching and partly because the Micron’s low-diffraction spherical enclosures never tug at your ears the way box speakers sometimes do. Instead, you sit at the center of a seamless, 360- degree hemisphere of sound—not in the presence of five isolated blobs of sound as with some systems.
While the Micro satellites sound exceptionally big for their size, they are extremely small speakers— meaning that this system never does quite achieve the big, full-throttle dynamics that some of the larger systems in this class can. What’s more, the Micro system is relatively low in sensitivity and so requires powerful electronics in order to sound its best. But perhaps the system’s most significant limitation involves somewhat rolled-off treble response (from about 8kHz on up). Extended break-in helps improve treble response, but does not completely eliminate the problem. For this reason, I suggest using the Micro Ti with a receiver that features a good room/speaker EQ system that can help restore missing treble energy.
On well-recorded material, the fully broken-in Micro Ti system wows listeners with detail and finesse that extends from the upper midrange right on down into the bass range. In the opening minutes of Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, small details—the creaking of the ship’s hull, the sound of crew members’ footsteps passing on the deck overhead, and the low, almost subliminal sound of the hull passing through the sea—add up to a delicious and really compelling sense of realism. The same thing happens on fine music recordings. I put on the First Impression Music reissue of guitarist Pepe Romero’s classic Flamenco [FIM K2HD-mastered CD], and was simply blown away by the purity of Romero’s guitar tone, by the clarity of the accompanying flamenco dancers’ footwork, and by the system’s almost spookyreal 3D imaging.
But if Flamenco shows the system’s strengths, it also reveals its weaknesses. Ideally, Flamenco should convey an almost ethereal sense of high frequency detail and of the “air” surrounding the performers, but the Micros can’t quite capture either aspect of the recording (a certain elusive level of treble nuance is simply missing). EQ can help, but it’s not the same as having more extended treble response in the first place. Next, on the more exuberant dancer’s foot-stomps in Flamenco, you should be able to hear and feel the almost slap-in-the-face abrupt “pop” of shoe heels hitting the floor. Yet through the Micro Ti system, those sounds seem clear, but ever-so-slightly compressed.
On the whole, this system’s strengths far outweigh it shortcomings, especially for those who prize bass and midrange subtlety, plus dynamite 3D imaging, all produced by a system whose main speakers are almost unbelievably compact.