Here is a brief hands-on comparison between two popular in-ceiling atmos speaker price points: the $60 Micca R-8c vs the $125 RSL C34e.
I had these two speakers on hand for a week or so listening to them and wanted to give my feedback on them as it seems no one really does any real comparisons of in-ceiling speakers.
First off here is my setup and the method in which I compared the two speakers:
AVR: Onkyo RZ830
Sources: htpc, laptop, Android phone. Direct high-quality movie/music tracks were played.
The 2 speakers were connected as L/R channels on the AVR and all other speakers/sub were disconnected. Connected as 6ohm speakers (the RZ830 doesn’t have an 8ohm option).
12ga oxygen free speaker wire used (no banana plugs/other were used).
The speakers mounted and enclosed inside equally sized boxes.
Distances were measured to replicate approximate MLP dispersion angles for atmos installation.
I tested with the AVR set in pure mode which means no room correction, no sound enhancements, no eq, no other sound manipulation/etc.
Tested both speakers with crossovers at 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 120.
The Micca has selectable settings for the crossover for both the bass and treble of +/- 3db. I left the settings at 0 for each for the comparisons mentioned below (I of course did do some comparisons using the selectable crossover setups myself, but for the sake of this simple comparison I didn’t make use of it in my review below).
Room: 14ft x 25ft with 8ft ceilings, full carpet, large sectional, 12 acoustic panels lining the walls/ceiling.
After getting both speakers set up in boxes and ready to compare it was apparent that the Micca plays much louder than the RSL, so this made my testing a bit cumbersome because now I had to dial in the spl difference between them each time. The Micca sensitivity is listed at a 90db and the RSL is 88db.
Once everything was dialed in equally, I played the RSL speaker by its self through a short audio track I had on hand; it sounded clean and detailed. Next, I played just the Micca through the same audio track, and my very first thought was “wow, that’s much more dynamic/full sounding”. The Micca definitely makes use of the 8” driver for a bit of low-end presence that the RSL lacked. Now, I know a lot of you will be making the comment at this point that the low-end presence or lack there-of doesn’t really matter if it’s going to be used for atmos, but I don’t completely agree as I have heard plenty of atmos height channel content that makes use of stuff below 80hz, but you can decide for yourself of course.
Playing through some movie scenes, the Micca filled the room with sound much better as it again added the low-end presence lacking in the RSL. The RSL never sounded “bad” or “lacking” on its own, but when it was contrasted side by side with the Micca its shortcomings became apparent.
Dispersion: this is where I was confident that the RSL would dominate. I even went into the testing feeling like I would find the RSL the winner solely due to its better design for an Atmos setup…I was wrong. I angled both tweeters towards the mlp, measured off the correct angles as if they were mounted in-ceiling and at my mlp, I found no night and day difference between the two in dispersion or one having a clear advantage for hitting the sweet spot(s) with sound. Hmm. I chalk this up to the decent adjustable tweeter on the Micca I suppose…
: given how equal these two speakers ended up being on the angle/dispersion issue and the significant low-end advantage of the Micca this comparison ended up being an easy win imo for the Micca. Now, I don’t hold the Micca in high regard as some sort of hidden gem of quality in the mass marketplace of in-ceiling speakers, but for the purpose of a home theater Atmos speaker it gets the job done very very well at a great price. I would wager than “most” in-ceiling speakers making use of an 8” driver and directional tweeter will make a great atmos speaker these days.
I hope this has been helpful/informative for those of you shopping for atmos speakers.