Mordaunt Short 905C Center channel, review

September 1, 2004

905centerRecently a client asked me, “What’s the most important component in a home theater?” I boggled for a second and thought to my self, “Uh, well it’s all pretty important” but instead I shot back “The center channel of course!” I think they were a little shocked, thinking I’d say the projector or some other similarly high priced piece of the system.

If you think about it, what good would Casablanca be without being able to hear Bogart say the “of all the gin joints….” line? And not just hear it, hear it well, as it was mixed and intended to be heard. Today’s motion picture soundtracks are light years ahead in complexity from the movies of the 40’s and 50’s, when a couple of mono speakers up toward the front of the theater would suffice.

If you can’t easily follow along with all the dialogue in a movie, no matter how much you’ve spent on any part of the system, then you haven’t spent that cash wisely. I often run across ‘hack’ home theaters, where the majority of the budget was spent on the projector or another high margin piece, because the integrator just doesn’t know any better. On the other side of the coin, from time to time, I see systems that actually do have great speakers, and still fail short of that intelligible emotional experience, that only a properly designed and set-up system can provide.

To paraphrase an ad I once saw from Rotel, “If you don’t believe the audio portion of your home theater is important, turn off the sound in the middle of the action”. In short, skimp on the audio portion of your home theater and you’ll likely suffer the same situation I see many of my new clients in, that “well we used to watch it a lot, then we just lost interest” syndrome.

That was a long winded wind up to a center channel review I know, but here it goes. The Mordaunt Short 905C Center channel, part of the Avant line, is a D’Appolito type 3-element speaker. Available in honey and ash black, it measures in at 6.5” high, 19.1” wide, and 7.8” deep. Rated at 15-120 watts RMS, the 905C should be able to accommodate just about any A/V amplifier/receiver.

The 905C is a pleasant looking speaker, somewhat utilitarian looking with the grille on, but hardly unattractive. With the grille off, the aluminish looking drivers have that “tech” look seen in many audio video products of late. I used my current center channel location (top center of my three sound org racks) for the evaluation.

Reference DVD’s used for testing were, Master and Commander – The Far Side of the World (Widescreen Special Two-Disc Set), Kill Bill Vol. 2, and The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers (Platinum Series Special Extended Edition) as well as some VOOM programming. The audio quality so far has been quite good on my setup.

After hook up and the recommend 36 hour break in period, I immediately noticed a wider spread across the sound stage, pretty much making a seamless transition between left center and right channels, along with a better sense of depth and space. This speaker was quite a bit smoother in the high frequencies than my beloved PSB Alpha center channel, a speaker that I’ve been extremely happy with since purchase.

In Kill Bill Vol. 2, Bill’s “Super man speech” in chapter 15, revealed a warmth and delicacy I’d never really noticed before, in other speaker setups. There was a very slight tendency of boominess from the 905C, but it hardly outweighed the other benefits of the speaker.

In The Lord of the Rings – The Two Towers, disc one, chapter three, Sam’s diction seemed to “magicly” (pun intended) improve. The separation between the actors’ voices was noticeably better. Smeagol’s voice gained a more sinister tone in his transformation into Gollum.

Moving onto Master and Commander, the battle scene in chapter 31, was again revealing. I heard better separation in all regards. The dialogue had a distinct intelligibility, while the battle music played in the background, making it easier to follow along. The highs in the cannon blasts had a sharpness I hadn’t noticed before, and made the overall scene more enjoyable.

Lastly I caught some of the concerts on Rave, Voom channel 125. I noticed for lack of a better term, a more realistic cohesiveness between the lyrics and the video. I hadn’t really noticed a “problem” with my old setup, but this speaker just made it more ‘right’.

In summing up, the Mordaunt Short 905C, retailing around $225.00, is a great value. It’s off axis performance and overall tonal accuracy alone makes it worth a listen. I can wholeheartedly recommend this speaker, if you’re in the market for a center channel in this price range. By all means audition one for your self.

Posted by Bryan Greenway | | Filed Under Home Theater Speakers