Although I played “Kicho” through my Oppo universal player, which I connected directly to the Mako, I also wanted to hear the Mako on high-res recordings I had ripped to my Mac’s iTunes library. To take my bass test further, I played some favorite tracks from the Kyle Eastwood CD Paris Blue [Rendezvous Entertainment] and again was startled by what I heard. On “Marrakech” Eastwood’s fretless bass sang like I’ve never heard it before, which I was kind of prepared for after my experience with the Blue Chamber Quartet. But these speakers also shine in the midrange and high-end. I was hearing details I’ve missed in auditions of other speakers, effects like subtle brush stokes on a snare, quiet embellishments in the background by a guitarist or keyboardist, intakes of breath by vocalists, the unintended glissandos on strings from a bassist’s or guitarist’s hasty fret changes. The total effect is that the Makos had me listening to my favorite reference CDs again and again to see what I could discover, sort of the way you give a complex, but great movie like No Country for Old Men repeated viewings to see what you’ll catch next time around. These remarkable speakers are completely non-fatiguing, which means at any volume level, you can listen to full recordings and then want to go right on to the next CD and the next.
Given that THX had a hand in developing the Makos (a very LARGE hand), I couldn’t resist seeing how they would fare with standard DVDs played through my Mac. I put on a collector’s edition of the Flashdance DVD, which includes recording of six songs from the movie. Though I was of course listening to the movie soundtrack in stereo, the Makos sounded so spacious and three-dimensional that they offered an almost surround soundlike presentation. And on the “What a Feeling” track, I could hardly keep from stretching out in my chair, dashing myself with water, and doing my best Jennifer Beals impression (but stopped myself just in time in order to protect my office mate from heart failure).
Is the Mako a perfect system? Well, closer than it has right to be for the money. The touch control takes some getting used to. It doesn’t always instantly respond to finer adjustments, so you might find yourself having to first increase the volume so the control syncs with your finger before you try finer gradations of lower volume. I played with that a while and began to get the hang of it, so it’s a minor quibble.
Why would anyone want to spend $400 on a multimedia system for the desktop? That’s an easy question to answer. More and more of us are porting our favorite music to computers. Or we are toting around an iPod that has some of our choice cuts that we want instant access to. I shudder to think what the Piazzolla piece would sound like on some wimpy desktop speakers. But I’ve fallen in love with how it sounds on the Makos. You will, too.