M&K Sound was founded by Jonas Miller and his partner Ken Kreisel. Miller was the owner of one of the largest in the States, a fashionable salon on Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills, selling the best and most expensive audio equipment to the wealthy public. Respected clients often came to the salon, presentations were held at which local bohemia and people from the professional environment gathered, they exchanged opinions and expressed wishes. On the one hand, the future co-owners of M&K Sound were presented with the best examples of acoustic systems of that time, and on the other hand, they could hear reasoned criticism of each model not only from music lovers, but also from professional musicians, sound engineers, and audio engineers. They knew exactly what everyone needed and gradually began making custom speakers. The birth of his own brand was helped by chance – in 1973, Walter Becker from the rock band Steely Dan asked to make a control audio system for recording the new Pretzel Logic album on vinyl. The completed system received enthusiastic responses, the passive subwoofers made a particularly strong impression, and it was then that the partners decided to seriously engage in the development and mass production of speaker systems. The year was 1974.
Success came to the company quite quickly. In 1976, M&K Sound made history by launching the David and Goliath audio system, the world’s first set consisting of a subwoofer and compact satellite speakers. In 1977, the company made another breakthrough with the development of the Servo Volkswoofer, the world’s first active subwoofer. Another feature of the device was a servo drive circuit – feedback between the speaker and amplifier, which helps control the travel of the cone and limit distortion at high volumes. Nowadays, a triphonic or multi-channel set with a separate low-frequency loudspeaker no longer surprises anyone; subwoofers with built-in amplifiers are the de facto standard. And in the 70s, these M&K Sound innovations were revolutionary, breaking the stereotyped ideas about audio technology.
In 1978, having supplemented the Servo Volkswoofer with improved satellites, M&K Sound engineers created the Satellite-Volkswoofer studio kit, also the first in the world in its format. The satellites were equipped with one of the early versions of a phase-coherent crossover, which controlled the direction of radiation and the group delay of sound from speakers of different bands (later these methods of constructing separation filters turned into proprietary Phase-focused technology). In addition, the company’s engineers took the issue of tonal matching of satellites and subwoofer seriously. The kit coped well with the functions of playback monitors and was successfully used by M&K Sound in real-time vinyl recording systems. That same year, the company opened the world’s first direct-to-LP recording studio, producing audiophile records with outstanding recording quality. But the “digital” era was already inexorably approaching, anticipating this, M&K Sound was making test recordings on Sony digital recorders that had just appeared on the market. In order to create the first digital recording studio in the USA, M&K RealTime, in 1983.
Long before home theaters captured everyone’s attention, M&K Sound began assembling and installing systems for full movie viewing in the homes of Hollywood stars and the showrooms of famous film companies. But when the term “home theater” became popular in the 80s, M&K Sound was several years ahead of most competitors: the company already had experience, technology and a solid customer base. And audiophile recordings made on the M&K label and mixed using M&K acoustics served as additional advertising for the company’s products. Therefore, it should not be surprising that M&K Sound speakers have become in great demand in the professional world, especially among Hollywood sound engineers. Looking ahead a little, we will cite the well-known hits of the film industry, the soundtrack of which was made using M&K monitors: “King Kong”, the new “Star Wars” trilogy, “Iron Man”, the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, “Pirates of the Caribbean”, “Chicago” “, “Black Hawk Down”, “Pearl Harbor”, “WALL-E” and many others. Note that these films were awarded an Oscar for sound at different times. Of course, in order to gain a foothold in the studio loudspeaker market, and then remain a leader for many years, the company had to work hard. In 1989, M&K Sound introduced the famous S-100 monitor with a distinctive array of three tweeters lined up in a row and a phase-aligning crossover. This trait has become a family trait and is passed on by “older” M&K Sound monitors from generation to generation. In the same year, the company demonstrated another landmark product, the MX-2000 active subwoofer – the company’s first push-pull device. This model featured a premiere demonstration of technology that gives bass depth, dynamics, and power with moderate cabinet dimensions – this was a new breakthrough that cemented M&K Sound’s reputation as unsurpassed masters in the manufacture of woofers.
By the beginning of the 90s, the home theater industry had developed so much that there was a need to somehow distinguish advertising slogans from truly high-quality reproduction, not inferior in level to movie theater standards – THX certification appeared, or a list of qualities and parameters that high-end audio equipment must satisfy. M&K Sound has not been left out of this process, being one of the first to receive THX certification for its loudspeakers. The company managed to distinguish itself again in 1992 by issuing THX certification for the legendary MX-5000 subwoofer. The exclusivity of this device lies in the following: before it, only a tandem of subwoofers in a DC system could satisfy all THX requirements; the MX-5000 was the first to be tested alone. The company’s highest authority was once again confirmed in 1993, when Dolby Laboratories used M&K Sound monitors to create and demonstrate a new multi-channel recording format, AC-3 (Dolby Digital). Meanwhile, the company continued to develop. In 1996, Tripole models were released – tripole acoustic systems that provide the most uniform radiation pattern and are designed to reproduce the rear channels of a recreation center. In 1997, the M&K Professional division was opened, aimed at the professional segment of the market. In the same year, M&K Sound expanded its product range with built-in acoustics, and in 2000 it demonstrated its first active monitor MPS-2510P.
In recent years, the M&K Sound range has continued to be regularly updated. In 2009, the new 950 series was introduced, creating a bridge between the “home” M&K Sound lines and the professional acoustics of the 150 series. In 2011, the S150 MkII THX Ultra2 monitors with improved M&K Pro tweeters were introduced, and in 2012, floor-standing versions of the 950 models appeared. 2013 was marked by the appearance of X-series reference subwoofers. M&K Sound acoustic systems are still in demand in studios: in 2011, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra chose 150-series monitors to record Carl Nielsen’s complete symphonies. In 2007, the company experienced a change of owners and the associated reorganization, and also changed its American citizenship to Danish. Now the company’s technical headquarters is formed of key specialists from M&K, engineers who previously worked in the M&K Professional division; engineers from Peerless, one of the world leaders in the production of speakers, also joined in the development of new products. In its new guise, M&K Sound has not changed its philosophy of producing uncompromising monitor-class speaker systems. The company managed to maintain the old model range and high production standards, as well as maintain a high pace of updates, proof of this is the release of a completely new line of active subwoofers in 2013.
Since 1995, periodically updated and acquiring almost the status of an icon, the S150 series reigned at the top of the company’s monitor range. Starting this year, the monitor lineup has a new flagship. The S300 line is a development of the ideas of the 150 series with a similar design, but completely new, custom-made Scan-Speak heads. Of course, the S300 monitors, like their predecessors, comply with the highest THX certification – Ultra 2. Note that premium M&K Sound products, which include the S300 series speakers, will be produced under the Miller & Kreisel brand. The manufacturer has high hopes for this series and plans to expand it in the very near future. The junior M-series was supplemented with the MP9 soundbar. Entering a new area, M&K Sound engineers approached the development of the soundbar with the utmost care. In essence, MP9 is three M5 satellites integrated into one housing; the creators did not forget about the branded Phase-Focused crossovers. Therefore, the MP9 cannot be called an ordinary soundbar; the technologies and sound quality of classic M&K Sound monitors are contained in a compact and fashionable form of a “home” loudspeaker. The MP9’s advantages include a black or white lacquer finish, as well as wall mounting brackets built into the rear panel.
M&K Sound, as the company that invented subwoofers, could not ignore this area on the eve of its 40th anniversary. In the X-Series subwoofers we again see the interweaving of established technologies and new solutions: the famous “push-pull” configuration of bass drivers, durable closed-type cabinets made of thick panels, efficient and powerful built-in Class D amplifiers, all-new improved drivers and modified crossovers, wide selection of connectors and settings. The devices provide impeccable quality, dynamics and bass depth, they don’t care where to work – in a professional studio or a top-level home theater.