Earthquake VTEK MC6 6.5” Component Speakers
Earthquake’s VTEK MC6 2-way 6.5-inch component set is aimed at giving first time buyers a solid introduction into the realms of enthusiast sound.
- Wednesday 24th March, 2010
Composed and well balanced sound quality. Burly build. Numerous matching models in other sizes and styles to use for rears.
‘Born in the USA’ slogans on the tweeters should actually read ‘Born in China’.
As the old saying goes, ‘you only get one chance to make a good first impression’, and in car audio parlance that means that any entry level priced product must give the car audio first timer a solid performance gain over the factory fitted gear they’re accustomed to. These days that improvement is getting increasingly more difficult to discern, since OEM audio gear itself has improved dramatically in the past couple of years. It is commonplace for cars to be equipped with component sets already, so if you’re going to bother with the time and expense of swapping them out for something else they’d better offer a decent SQ gain, right?
Here, then, is Earthquake’s answer to the dilemma of those seeking a quality speaker upgrade for a modest budget. Called the VTEC MK6, they’re a true 6.5-inch 2-way component set comprising cast alloy frame midrange drivers with carbon fibre cones and 25mm silk dome tweeters. These types of build attributes are normally reserved for high end speaker sets, yet the VTEC MK6 set will set you back just $296RRP.
Earthquake – an American company based near San Francisco – have been a little cheeky by not listing the country of manufacture anywhere on the speakers or packaging. You get ‘Team Quake USA’ printed proudly on the packaging, but there’s no way a speaker set built like this and costing $296 per pair could hail from the USA. It matters little, though, since Asian manufacturing has improved markedly in the past decade, and most USA based audio companies are manufacturing the bulk of their products in the region these days.
That’s fine, as I’d rather have a great product from China than a cheap one from the USA (no, really) and the VTEC MK6 set are no exception. First up, the midrange drivers are based around die-cast aluminium baskets with nice machined edges and painted in matt black. Each is capped by a large iron ferrite magnet that’s wrapped in a neat rubber casing to tidy up their appearance and accentuate their ‘fatness’, while the back plates are finished with nice spun alloy look plates featuring the Earthquake logo and ‘250 WATTS’ to get you excited. I noted that the mounting holes for the baskets offer just four positions for securing them to your speaker mounting positions, and given their large size you’ll probably need to use a spacer of some kind to fit these neatly into your factory positions.
The cones are constructed from genuine carbon fibre that’s been treated to electroplating to arrive at a silver finish. They sure look ‘high-end’ from front on, which is helped by their neat little carbon fibre dust caps. Generous rubber edge surrounds mate the cones to the baskets, while mildly bumped ‘Nomax/Romax’ spiders do the job of suspending the moving mass from the baskets. Connection is made via basic female spade terminals, and Earthquake is kind enough to supply some reasonable gauge speaker wire complete with female spade terminals to make your job of installing them easy. The speaker grilles buck the latest trends of over-the-top styling, instead opting for a simple all black finish keeping the overall visuals more sedated.
The tweeters are known as the VTEK-25C, denoting them as a 25mm silk dome models. The tweeter fitting kit is generous in the extreme, meaning that no matter where or how you need to mount them you’ll be catered for. You get flush, surface and angle mounting cups to choose from, and the tweeters can be swiveled to offer a more on-axis dispersion to the listening position. Steel securing rings are also provided for flush fitment, along with double sided adhesive pads for surface mounting and a myriad of securing screws to keep you busy. Aside from the somewhat cheesy screen printing on the flush mounting rings this is a perfect mounting kit, and I wish all speaker manufacturers offered kits this comprehensive.
Last of all we have the passive filtering networks, which come in fake carbon fibre finish plastic casings featuring gold plated screw down terminals for input and output connections. The internal build quality is pretty line ball for a mid-priced component set, though these are unusual in allowing the midrange drivers’ output to either be low passed at 3kHz at 12dB per octave or to be run full range. This has been done to allow you some tailoring of their response depending on the tweeter placement. With the tweeter mounted close to the midrange driver the low pass can be engaged, while when the tweeters are placed farther away on the top of the dash the LP can be bypassed to allow a better blend between the two. The tweeters’ output can also be attenuated by 3dB by using a second output connector on each crossover.
Installing the VTEK MC6 set for my audition posed no major hurdles apart from the requirement of slightly larger spacer rings than usual to accommodate the chunky cast frames. While my Nissan Murano’s doors are quite cavernous and therefore gobbles them up easily, I can’t say that this will be quite so easy in smaller cars, and with 64mm of mounting depth needed your own car may need spacers so that the magnets will clear the door glass. Meanwhile, the tweeters slotted neatly into the top dash positions of my car and, since this was the case, I set the attenuation for them to -3dB, while I also connected the midrange drivers to the full range option output connectors.
Sitting in my quiet garage I ran the VTEK MC6 set through my usual array of test tracks spanning some better recorded rock’n’roll tracks through to live acoustic numbers and then some more modern pop songs. All the while I had a team of three 10-inch subwoofers aiding with the lowest two octaves, though these were dialed back in the mix as not to overpower what the carbon fibre midrange drivers were replicating in the bass tones.
These speakers, quite frankly, are what I consider a nicely balanced ‘vanilla’ sounding set. By that I mean that they don’t imparting their own sonic signature onto the music, instead sounding essentially colour free – if a little lacking in overall detail compared to more expensive reference sets. First of all that means they aren’t remotely fatiguing, which is obvious in part to do with the use of soft dome tweeters as opposed to more biting metal dome versions. Vocals were dry and slightly raspy, which suited female vocals quite nicely. The upshot of this was that they lacked some of the ‘airiness’ apparent in other designs, but you’re always arriving at a trade off with limited budget to work with and I do think that the balance afforded by the VTEK-25C set are pretty spot on all things considered.
The midrange showed nice resolution that blended well and didn’t offer any untoward ‘honkiness’ even when the speakers were connected for their full range output, though I dare say engaging the LP filter may have cleaned them up a tad further. The overall midbass balance was a little prominent, which added an extra slug of body to acoustic guitar and fattened out the bass lines. This, while not technically ‘accurate’, still arrived at a warm overall sound characteristic that I liked a lot. In conclusion, I am happy to say that this is a speaker set that works a treat with any style of music you can throw at them, while general power handling (given an 80Hz 12dB per octave HP mind you) was also very good.
There’s a hell of a lot to like about Earthquake’s VTEK MC6 speaker set, not least of which is their excellent value for money given the sturdy build quality and good looks at a modest $296RRP. As a sonic proposition I’m happy to report that this set will certainly out perform all but the very best OEM speakers and they are certainly a match for anything else on the market that is comparably priced, though they’ll probably require a little extra surgery come installation time thanks to the over-sized drivers. With an excellent tweeter mounting kit, additional stuff like the supplied speaker wires, well compiled owner’s manual and even a speaker cut-out template, this is one of the best speaker sets on offer under $300. It also worth noting that Earthquake also offer a matching 5.25-inch 2-way component set, as well as coaxials all the way from 4-inch through to 6x9-inch that use the same basic construction – so finding a pair of fit your car or act as rear speakers is a no-brainer as well.
Earthquake is distributed in Australia by:
PO Box 935
Berwick VIC 3806
|Phone||1300 556 585|
|Fax||1300 556 530|